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Principles of Geology (Penguin Classics) Abridged Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0140435283
ISBN-10: 014043528X
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Book Description

In 1833, the Scottish geologist Charles Lyell published the final volume of his groundbreaking trilogy, which profoundly influenced Charles Darwin. With infectious enthusiasm, Lyell describes the composition of the Earth's crust, examines volcanic formations and marine fossils, and explains rock stratification, separating geological formations into three periods. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

SIR CHARLES LYELL (1797-1875), British geologist. Lyell is most famous for his great geological opus: The Principles of Geology: Being an Attempt to Explain the Former Changes of the Earth's Surface, by Reference to Causes now in Operation (3 vols 1830-33). Jim Secord is a lecturer in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge and is the author of Controversy in Victorian Geology (1986).
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Abridged edition (June 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014043528X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140435283
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.2 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #595,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Geoff Bond on December 1, 2008
Format: Paperback
It was on reading Darwin's The Voyage of the Beagle that I became aware of Charles Lyell. Darwin went to the trouble (in the 1830's) of having the volumes of Principles of Geology sent out to him in South America as they were published. Lyell's seminal importance was hammered home when Darwin in The Origin Of Species, could only advance his ideas thanks to Charles Lyell's insights.

In this volume we are treated to Lyell's razor-sharp intellect cutting through prevailing humbug to construct an amazingly accurate picture of the history of the earth's crust. Above all he challenged (with all due respect) religious orthodoxy of a Creation in recent times.

Lyell also takes up and successively demolishes many of the erroneous, flabby-thinking, and sometimes cranky theories put forward by various researchers in the field.

Lyell's argument for the immense antiquity of the earth is persuasive and provided the foundation for Darwin's argument for evolution, which required immense periods of time to work.

He points out how, as rocks get more ancient, so the proportion of extinct marine creatures increases. This was the second insight to inspire Darwin: that in the history of the earth, most species that have ever lived have become extinct. Lyell struggled with the notion that species could die off and others "be called into existence", yet he had the courage to follow his logic to the correct conclusion. He even said that: "In the universal struggle for existence, the right of the strongest eventually prevails...
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Yothgoboufnir on May 2, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Lyell's contribution to science is most often reduced to a bullet point in a list titled "Influences on Darwin". In fact, Lyell stands as a bridge roughly halfway between Newton and Darwin. Call him, if you will, the missing link. But it seems a funny thing happens when you contribute to one of the greatest breakthroughs (evolution) in the history of thought: your work is only seen in relation to its intellectual cousin and, thus, much of the heart of your contribution is overlooked. This might even be expected, but what is a little more surprising is that even those Lyellian insights of major importance for Darwin never make it into the bullet point.

* Lyell 1830: deep time, gradualism, 'present key to past'

A variety of scientists, including Lyell's (and Darwin's) forerunner Hutton, were already discussing gradualist change over deep time spans, by the time Lyell came on the scene. Lyell presented more empirical evidence than his predecessors -- an unabridged copy of 'Principles' is a hefty package. You might never get through it unless you're stuck on a sailing ship for three years. And, at least as importantly as the extensive cataloging of evidence, Lyell did a wonderful job at articulating the reasoning behind a different kind of science. Much of the discourse on Earth history before Hutton and Lyell was basically either Biblical literalism or unrestrained fancy: both kinds of "cosmogony" worked with an understanding that prehistoric Earth operated on "principles" very different from those at work presently. In consequence, anything went in making up stories about the past. Lyell argued that, instead, scientists needed to restrict themselves to testable hypotheses.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Kiwi on July 22, 2010
A ridiculous price for a book created by automated OCR scanning. The General Books LLC version is created by automated OCR scanning with abosolutely no editing in any form whatsover. There may be numerous typos, there's no Table of Contents. What you're getting is a scanned in copy of the original. There are far far better versions (professionally edited I might add) available at a fraction of the cost. Don;t be fooled into buying the General Books LLC version, it's a ripoff (as are the 500,000 other "books" available from this publisher).

The version of the book yhou see when you "Look Inside" is from another publishers version.

The other reviews associated with this General Books LLC version are from other and better imprints of the book.
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Format: Paperback
Charles Lyell(1797-1875) was a British geologist, developer and popularizer of the notion of geological Uniformitarianism, as well as a strong influence on Charles Darwin. He also wrote The Antiquity Of Man. This book was written between 1830-1833, and was subtitled, "Being an Attempt to Explain the Former Changes of the Earth's Surface, by Reference to Causes Now in Operation."

Uniformitarianism is frequently summarized with the statement, "The present is the key to the past," but Lyell never makes this statement (it came from James Hutton). Lyell's work is an extension of the earlier work of James Hutton and John Playfair. Perhaps the most striking thing to the modern reader of Lyell's book is the degree to which topics other than geology are covered (it contains such chapters as, "Cosmogony of the Koran," for example).

He strongly rejects the notion that the "worldwide flood" of Noah caused the geological record, "in the narrrative of Moses there are no terms employed that indicate the impetuous rushing of the waters, either as they rose or when they retreated, upon the restraining of the rain and the passing of a wind over the earth. On the contrary, the olive-branch, brought back by the dove, seems as clear an indication to us that the vegetation was not destroyed, as it was then to Noah that the dry land was about to appear.... For our own part, we have always considered the flood, if we are required to admit its universality in the strictest sense of the term, as a preternatural event far beyond the reach of philosophical inquiry...
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