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Evolution: The History of an Idea 25th Anniversary Edition, With a New Preface Edition
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Also, unlike many other texts on this subject, Bowler does not descend into triumphalist or other such ideologies that remove science from its own social context. In the words of the author, "Finally, we must look more closely at the problems the historian faces as he tries to chart the rise of scientific evolutionism. In particular, these problems arise from the normal view of science as an objective search for knowledge and the suspicions of many critics that scientific theories are themselves value-laden contributions to philosophical and ideological debates" (Bowler, pg.4). He does an excellent job of explaining not only the theories and their evidence but does so by relating them to their own social and historical context. His analysis is also distinguished from many of its predescessors (and descendents, unfortunately) by its breadth and scope.Read more ›
Throughout the book, it seems like philosophers (at least in the West) desired a purpose and direction of evolution, if not a Director. Lamarckianism (inheritance of acquired characteristics) also seemed to have continual appeal and in the later editions of the Origin of Species, Darwin himself was leaning more that way. The continual difficulty of direct evidence and incomplete fossil record, leads to ongoing speculations.
Although generally dry/scholarly there are a few fun side-diversions, such as Kammerer's midwife toad. Bowler also highlights other key figures such as paleontologist Georges Cuvier and "Darwin's bulldog" Thomas Huxley. I would have like more history of how the general public accepted the idea, perhaps by tracing the teaching in schools or textbooks. Readers of this might also enjoy Dawkins "The Blind Watchmaker".
I would recommend this book for any biologist or amateur biologist.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The various topics good. There are many new insights on a issue that has much been written on. Good argumentation in all chapters.Published on August 24, 2013 by Prof A. J. Antonites
Bowler's book has become a classic, and justifiably so. He traces the history of the idea of evolution, beginning long before Darwin, and the heated controversies it led to,... Read morePublished on April 19, 2009 by Alex F Stop