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Evolution Before Darwin (Paperback) (Pietro Corsi)

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In many people's minds, biology was mired in confusion and superstition until Darwin came, and then there was light. But evolutionary ideas have a long history, and moreover to this day, in France, Lamarck is revered as Darwin's great predecessor, not as 'the man who got it wrong'. Evolution was a topic of much debate in France, and also to a lesser extent in Germany and in Italy. Early in the 19th century, geology was all the rage, while arguments about time and the nature of species - were they created, did they change with time - was much discussed. So why did a Darwin appear in England? And moreover why at the end of the 1850s? And why was the response and public take-up of evolutionary ideas so rapid and positive? These are the questions Pietro Corsi considers in this book. He describes the debates in France, Germany, and Italy surrounding Lamarck's ideas about changing species, against the backdrop of changing political climates (the defeat of Napoleon and its aftermath). And while Continental Europe was convulsed by the 1848 revolutions, and Italy was in the throes of unification, in England perceptions of evolutionary ideas shifted from being associated with dangerous Continental radicalism and atheism, to part of reform and progress. Corsi shows how intellectual opinion shifted in England, driven by such figures as Baden Powell (grandfather of the founder of the boy scouts), and fierce debates on science and religion. The intention of this book is not to undermine Darwin, whose accomplishments as an individual require no justification, but to put him and his work in historical context, and more pertinently in the context of social, political, and intellectual developments in Britain and the Continent. This is an extraordinarily rich and novel discussion involving the history of the development of perhaps the single greatest idea in the life sciences, written by one of the foremost scholars in the field.
In many people's minds, biology was mired in confusion and superstition until Darwin came, and then there was light. But evolutionary ideas have a long history, and moreover to this day, in France, Lamarck is revered as Darwin's great predecessor, not as 'the man who got it wrong'. Evolution was a topic of much debate in France, and also to a lesser extent in Germany and in Italy. Early in the 19th century, geology was all the rage, while arguments about time and the nature of species - were they created, did they change with time - was much discussed. So why did a Darwin appear in England? And moreover why at the end of the 1850s? And why was the response and public take-up of evolutionary ideas so rapid and positive?

These are the questions Pietro Corsi considers in this book. He describes the debates in France, Germany, and Italy surrounding Lamarck's ideas about changing species, against the backdrop of changing political climates (the defeat of Napoleon and its aftermath). And while Continental Europe was convulsed by the 1848 revolutions, and Italy was in the throes of unification, in England perceptions of evolutionary ideas shifted from being associated with dangerous Continental radicalism and atheism, to part of reform and progress. Corsi shows how intellectual opinion shifted in England, driven by such figures as Baden Powell (grandfather of the founder of the boy scouts), and fierce debates on science and religion.

The intention of this book is not to undermine Darwin, whose accomplishments as an individual require no justification, but to put him and his work in historical context, and more pertinently in the context of social, political, and intellectual developments in Britain and the Continent. This is an extraordinarily rich and novel discussion involving the history of the development of perhaps the single greatest idea in the life sciences, written by one of the foremost scholars in the field.
Number of Pages: 256
Genre: Science
Sub-Genre: Life Sciences / General, History
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Oxford Univ Pr
Author: Pietro Corsi
Language: English
Street Date: December 22, 2017
TCIN: 16188535
UPC: 9780199565580
Item Number (DPCI): 247-28-0332
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$29.95
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