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Darwin's Sciences

  • ID: 3048752
  • Book
  • 264 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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Darwin’s Sciences is the only scientific biography of Charles Darwin to focus purely on his research in various fields, his results, and the implications of those results for his time and ours. Disseminating the latest research findings, both published and unpublished, this book offers an up–to–date, intensive and extensive view of Darwin’s life and accomplishments. Uniquely, it sets his discoveries and publications against various contexts, viewing his achievements in light of his life, his culture, and the scholarly commentary generated over time by the “Darwin industry”, without overwhelming the reader with too much contextual detail and complicated critical or ideological interpretation.

Darwin’s Sciences is a biography with a difference: rather than proceeding chronologically, it is organized according to discipline, with separate chapters centering on geology, zoology, botany, social science, and ethics – the intellectual topics and scientific specializations that interested Darwin throughout his life. It challenges the popular conception of Darwin’s career as culminating in one great work (On the Origin of Species), showing
how the great naturalist’s lifelong interest in the gradual, incremental ways living forms change and adapt generated a series of long– and short–term projects and publications. Taken as a whole, Darwin’s distinct accomplishments as geologist, zoologist, botanist, and social scientist support, explain, and amplify his ground–breaking, paradigm–shifting theory of evolution by natural selection.

This book sheds light on Charles Darwin the person, drawing extensively on his correspondence, notes and autobiography, the accounts of his contemporaries and descendants, and cultural history, to uncover Darwin as a paradoxical figure who was both a conventional yet progressive country gentleman and an intellectually brave yet emotionally reluctant iconoclast. This text is an insightful and interesting resource for biologists (undergraduate, postgraduate and professional), particularly evolutionary biologists interested in the deeper implications of Darwin’s research, or those taking courses on Darwin in History of Science programs, and general readers interested in learning more about Darwin.

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Preface vii

Acknowledgments xi

1 Introduction 1

2 DarwintheGeologist 12

3 DarwintheZoologist 44

4 DarwintheBotanist 93

5 Darwin the Social Scientist 152

6 Coda: Darwin,Worms, and theWorld 208

Bibliography 218

Index 237

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Duncan Porter
Peter Graham
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