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Bentley Glass,Owsei Temkin and William J Straus

Forerunners of Darwin

Forerunners of Darwin is a collection of essays looking at what was written about evolution before Darwin published his theory. Following a substantial introduction, the book has two main parts, dealing with the 18th and 19th centuries respectively. The 18thcentury part has essays on some of the main writers on the subject of this period, such as Maupertuis, Diderot, Linnaeus and Herder. The 19thcentury part deals less with individual writers, and more with considerations of some of the philososophical ideas of evolution and the objections to them, including plenty of discussion of the idea that 'Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny'.

This book was published nearly 50 years ago and some of the essays were written nearly a century ago, so it won't give you the latest thoughts on evolution, and it isn't particularly easy to read. But as a historical work it does have the benefit of being closer to the arguments which are written about. It also shows that objections to Darwinism weren't just on religious principles, which it's all to easy to believe today. If you want to know about the details of the arguments about evolution which took place before and during Darwin's lifetime then you'll find plenty of interest in this book.

Product Description

Published to commemorate the centennial of the publication of Darwin's "Origin of Species", this volume brings together several important essays on the history of the idea of evolution. Included are discussions of Maupertuis, Buffon, Diderot, Kant, Herder, Lamarck, and Schopenhauer by such leading scholars as Arthur O. Lovejoy, Bentley Glass, Owsei Temkin, C. C. Gillispie, Francis C. Haber, and Jane Oppenheimer.