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Before and After Darwin: Origins, Species, Cosmogonies, and Ontologies

By: MJS Hodge

350 pages, no illustrations


Hardback | Aug 2008 | #179440 | ISBN-13: 9780754659389
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £90.00 $114/€101 approx

About this book

This is the first of a pair of volumes by Jonathan Hodge, collecting all his most innovative, revisionist and influential papers on Charles Darwin and on the longer run of theories about origins and species from ancient times to the present. The focus in this volume is on the diversity of theories among such pre-Darwinian authors as Lamarck and Whewell, and on developments in the theory of natural selection since Darwin.

Plato's Timaeus, the Biblical Genesis and any current textbook of evolutionary biology are all, it may well seem, on this same enduring topic: origins and species. However, even among classical authors, there were fundamental disagreements: the ontology and cosmogony of the Greek atomists were deeply opposed to Plato's; and, in the millennia since, the ontological and cosmogonical contexts for theories about origins and species have never settled into any unifying consensus. While the structure of Darwinian theory may be today broadly what it was in Darwin's own argumentation, controversy continues over the old issues about order, chance, necessity and purpose in the living world and the wider universe as a whole.

The historical and philosophical papers collected in this volume, and in the companion volume devoted to Darwin's theorising, seek to clarify the major continuities and discontinuities in the long run of thinking about origins and species.


Introduction; The Very Long Run: Origins and species before Darwin; Canguilhem and the history of biology. Cosmogonies and Ontologies After Buffon: 2 Cosmologies (theory of the Earth and theory of Creation) and the unity of Buffon's thought; Lamarck's science of living bodies; Lamarck's great change of mind; The history of the Earth, life and Man: Whewell and palaetiological science; The universal gestation of nature: Chamber's Vestiges and Explanations. The Structure and Content of Darwinian Theory Since Darwin: The structure and strategy of Darwin's 'long argument'; Darwin's theory and Darwin's argument; Discussion: Darwin's argument in the Origin; Knowing about evolution: Darwin and his theory of natural selection; Generation and the Origin of Species (1837-1937): a historiographical suggestion; Biology and philosophy (including ideology): a study of Fisher and Wright; Natural selection as a causal, empirical and probabilistic theory; Index.

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M.J.S. Hodge is Senior Fellow in the Division of History and Philosophy of Science in the School of Philosophy, University of Leeds, UK.

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