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Owen's Ape and Darwin's Bulldog: Beyond Darwinism and Creationism Paperback – February 18, 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press (February 18, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780253220516
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253220516
  • ASIN: 0253220513
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,060,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Owen's Ape and Darwin's Bulldog introduces a brilliant, new and insightful perspective into the philosophy behind Richard Owen's methods and reasoning." —Evo Edu Outreach, 2010

"Part history of science, part history of philosophy, part philosophy of science—but all in the service of the pragmatic dimensions of science in society. I know of no other book quite like this one." —Jason Scott Robert, Arizona State University

"Cosans's analysis is thought-provoking and informative, exemplifying an overall point that has been increasingly accepted: a scientist's interpretation of what s/he observes is best understood within its historic context." —Journal of Anthropological Research, Vol. 66, 2010

"A fascinating new look at the Owen-Huxley controversy [that] gives us important insight into a hitherto thinly discussed aspect of the Darwinian Revolution. I much enjoyed reading it and learnt from virtually every page." —Michael Ruse, author of Darwinism and Its Discontents

Owen’s Ape and Darwin’s Bulldog sheds new light on one of the most celebrated episodes in the history of evolutionary biology. Cosans’s careful analysis draws on history, philosophy, and even his own dissections, to reveal a complexity hitherto underestimated.Frederick R. Davis, History, Florida State University,
Tallahassee, QUARTERLY REVIEW OF BIOLOGY, Volume 84.4 Dec. 2009

"In conclusion, the reviewer recommends this book strongly for all specialists and students, including palaeontologists and palaeoanthropologists." —Zentralblatt fur Geologie und Palaontologie, 11, 5/6, 2009

From the Inside Flap

A few months after Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species, Thomas Huxley challenged Richard Owen at a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and set off a debate about apes, brains, and human evolution. Owen’s Ape and Darwin’s Bulldog explores that first debate about Darwin's theory of evolution.

Huxley, a rising star in comparative anatomy and a protégé of Darwin, stood in contrast to Owen, the driving force behind the creation of the British Museum of Natural History. Owen's perspective was based on careful anatomical observations and on an interest in theories of evolution that had been proposed prior to Darwin's Origin. Huxley, soon to be known as Darwin's bulldog, built his case against Owen based in part on a different philosophy of how to practice science. In investigating the origins of this dispute, Christopher E. Cosans considers a tangled context of ideas stemming from the works of Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Thomas Malthus, Robert Chambers, Charles Darwin, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, Adrian Desmond, Nancy Cartwright, and Hilary Putnam.

Conventional wisdom is that Huxley discredited Owen, yet this book makes clear that Owen's anatomical claims had much more support than most historians and philosophers of science assume. Owen believed in developmental theories of evolution, which were precursors to modern evo-devo theory.

The Owen and Huxley debate is a perfect study for understanding relationships between science, ethics, and society. The story sheds light as well on current philosophical notions of scientific practice and how they influence our understanding of the history of science.

More About the Author

Chris Cosans studied Neurobiology, Anatomy, Ancient Greek and Philosophy of Science at the University of Chicago where he earned a B.A., a M.S. in Anatomy and a Ph.D. in the Conceptual Foundations of Science. He has taught science, philosophy, interdisciplinary humanities and business at various schools including St. John's College in Annapolis, George Washington University, Virginia Tech and Purdue University. The subjects of his articles range from philosophy of anatomy, neuroanatomy, history of science, to business ethics. His work in anatomy has included research on the turtle visual cortex, working with a medical school's Human Gross Anatomy course, and dissecting a Rhesus Monkey following the directions of Galen's Anatomical Procedures. For his book Owen's Ape & Darwin's Bulldog, he dissected various chimpanzee, monkey and human brains. Cosans is presently a graduate student in Applied Economics at the University of Maryland.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David A. Rintoul on July 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is a muddled attempt by a non-scientist to critique science and scientists, based on a startling number of misconceptions and errors. These include a nearly desperate teleological desire, and a misguided application of sociopolitical theory to the process of science. The debunked linkage of Darwin to Huxley to Hitler is, of course, invoked. In several cases Cosans quotes from the work of others, followed by an analysis that depends upon an interpretation that is exactly the opposite of the section just quoted. Scattered throughout are conflations of social and biological science, compounding these problems of poor scholarship. He ignores the fact that although individual scientists can (and do) import values into data interpretation, the global, self-correcting nature of science means that such mistakes are short-lived. It is unfortunate that the two main subjects of the book, Richard Owen and Thomas Huxley, are mere sideshows for Cosans' major thesis, i.e., science is mistaken in attempting to construct a "value-free description of the world." This could have been an interesting historical account of an important period in the history of science, but it is, instead, a dreary teleological apologetic based on a misunderstanding of science and the scientific method. (This review is excerpted from my review in Choice, the review journal of the American Library Association.)
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By ekmou on April 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book outlines the little known discussions of Darwinism from both a biological science and economic perspectives. This is a unique application of Darwinism, and Dr. Cosans does it very successfully. The writing is excellent and accessible -- no fancy words to try to make the writer look important. Dr. Cosans tries to make us rethink so-called "known facts."

Overall, this is an impressive look at the other side of Darwinism from a logical scientific perspective, incorporating economic applications as well.

It is recommended for both philosophy and business university programs, although advanced high school classes would find it useful.
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