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Principles of Geology (Penguin Classics) Abridged Edition
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* 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.Read more ›
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...Read more ›
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.
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...Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Charles Lyell was a long-winded know-it-all like most evolution advocates. This book was full of speculation. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Carmen Box
Not for the faint-of-heart of the weak-of-spirit. This book is looong and boring, but it is worth it! Read morePublished on June 3, 2014 by Matt Lemmon
The first 130 pages are difficult to read . The first word and the last word on most of the first 130 pages are missing, some of the pages are missing. Read morePublished on April 19, 2013 by Charles O'Ryan
Fully agree with the other 1 star reviews--this reprint (from "FP Pubs", or Filiquarian Publishing) has been very poorly scanned, with many pages blurry, or often with one whole... Read morePublished on September 24, 2012 by JFL
Affordable is one thing...unreadable is another. Amazon you should get this unreadable OCR copy of a Harvard College original off your "shelves". Read morePublished on April 22, 2011 by Martha Beck
Penguin Classics has done it again with this excellent edition of Charles Lyell's (1797-1875) pathbreaking study on geology. Read morePublished on August 25, 2010 by Ronald H. Clark