The Cambridge Companion to the 'Origin of Species' (Cambridge Companions to Philosophy)

The Cambridge Companion to the 'Origin of Species' (Cambridge Companions to Philosophy)

Michael Ruse

Language: English

Pages: 424

ISBN: 052169129X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin is universally recognized as one of the most important science books ever written. Published in 1859, it was here that Darwin argued for both the fact of evolution and the mechanism of natural section. The Origin of Species is also a work of great cultural and religious significance, in that Darwin maintained that all organisms, including humans, are part of a natural process of growth from simple forms. This Companion commemorates the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Origin of Species and examines its main arguments. Drawing on the expertise of leading authorities in the field, it also provides the contexts - religious, social, political, literary, and philosophical - in which the Origin was composed. Written in a clear and friendly yet authoritative manner, this volume will be essential reading for both scholars and students More broadly, it will appeal to general readers who want to learn more about one of the most important and controversial books of modern times.

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inquiries and the study of breeders’ writings,” the inhibiting influence of Chambers’ 1844 Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, and a final push motivated in part by a letter from Alfred Russel 28 mark a. largent Wallace – before Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection finally emerged into the public’s view (Secord, 164; Chambers; More Letters, 1: 118). Imagining Darwin’s theory as coming into existence with his instant appreciation of Malthus’s description of the struggle

conviction that modifications would be progressive. Darwin seems to have soon recognized that the direct influence of surroundings on an organism could not account for its more complex adaptations, and so he began constructing another causal device. He had been stimulated by an essay of Fred Cuvier, which ´ eric ´ suggested that animals might acquire heritable traits through exercise in response to particular circumstances. He rather quickly concluded that “all structures either direct effect of

and not in its sense as universal, that is the primary meaning encountered in the Aristotelian biological treatises, a point that is important for the subsequent discussion (Balme 1962). The positions developed as criticisms of the Aristotelian theory of universals took the form of either “nominalism” – the claim that Originating Species 69 universals are only “bare names” that do not denote any shared form or essence in things – or “conceptualism,” developed particularly in the early modern

Aristotelian Realist foundations (Larson 1971). Within the Linnean hiearchy, only taxa at the next-to-lowest category level were to be designated as a “Species.” Divisions below this – groups forming the Linnean category “Variety” – were only accidental variations within the group sharing a single form defined by the species definition. There were no fundamental difficulties, except practical ones, in applying this same logic to the classification of inorganic entities, and Linnaeus himself

important for many reasons, not the least of which was that, being away from his Cambridge mentors, Darwin was forced to think independently. This was shown particularly in geology, the science that was most important to him in these early years. Darwin became enthused with the uniformitarian thinking of Charles Lyell in his Principles of Geology (1830–33) and broke with the catastrophism of people like Adam Sedgwick (1831), a professor of geology at Cambridge and the man who had taken Darwin on

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