The Cuvier Geoffrey Debate
For scientists, no event better represents the contest between form and function as the chief organizing principle of life as the debate between Georges Cuvier and Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire. This book presents the first comprehensive study of the celebrated French scientific controversy that focused the attention of naturalists in the first decades of the nineteenth century on the conflicting claims of teleology, morphology, and evolution, which ultimately contributed to the making of Darwin's theory. This history describes not only the scientific dimensions of the controversy and its impact on individuals and institutions, but also examines the meaning of the debate for culture and society in the years before Darwin.
The Philosophy of Zoology Before Darwin
Jean Octave Edmond Perrier was a French zoologist who lived through the tumult of British Darwinism and Lyellism, and reminds us in this revealing account that French scientists had much to contribute to such perennial topics as evolution, catastrophism and creationism. While very much a product of the Third Republic, Perrier’s account also aimed to outline timeless issues and permanent advances in taxonomic and developmental biology since classical Greece and Rome. In this aim he succeeds with surprisingly modern perspectives for a book first published in 1884. Perrier was born May 9, 1844 at Tulle, the son of the principal of a school which now bears his name, Lycée Edmond Perrier. In 1864 he was accepted to the École Normale Supérieure, where he was strongly influenced by Louis Pasteur and Henri de Lacaze-Duthiers. After working for three years at a high school in Agen, he obtained a post of naturalist-aid at the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle (1868), advancing in that institution to Chair of Natural History of Molluscs, Worms and Corals (1876–1903) and then Director of the museum (1900–1919) and Chair of Comparative Anatomy (1903–1921). Previous directors of the museum included many of the scientists he discusses in this book: George Cuvier (1822–1823, 1826–1827, 1830–1831), Isidore Geoffrey St Hilaire (1860– 1861), and Alphonse Milne-Edwards (1891–1900). Perrier’s own research on echinoderms and earthworms took him on several expeditions in 1880-1885, mostly to Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, but also to the Caribbean.
Evolution Driven by Organismal Behavior
This book proposes a new way to think about evolution. The author carefully brings together evidence from diverse fields of science. In the process, he bridges the gaps between many different--and usually seen as conflicting--ideas to present one integrative theory named ONCE, which stands for Organic Nonoptimal Constrained Evolution. The author argues that evolution is mainly driven by the behavioral choices and persistence of organisms themselves, in a process in which Darwinian natural selection is mainly a secondary--but still crucial--evolutionary player. Within ONCE, evolution is therefore generally made of mistakes and mismatches and trial-and-error situations, and is not a process where organisms engage in an incessant, suffocating struggle in which they can't thrive if they are not optimally adapted to their habitats and the external environment. Therefore, this unifying view incorporates a more comprehensive view of the diversity and complexity of life by stressing that organisms are not merely passive evolutionary players under the rule of external factors. This insightful and well-reasoned argument is based on numerous fascinating case studies from a wide range of organisms, including bacteria, plants, insects and diverse examples from the evolution of our own species. The book has an appeal to researchers, students, teachers, and those with an interest in the history and philosophy of science, as well as to the broader public, as it brings life back into biology by emphasizing that organisms, including humans, are the key active players in evolution and thus in the future of life on this wonderful planet.
ETIENNE GEOFFROY SAINT HILAIRE 1772 1844
A professor at twenty-one and member of the Napoleon's Egyptian expedition at twenty-six, Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire was a man of one idea, which he formulated when he was twenty-four. Nature, he thought, had formed all living beings with one single plan. This was a revolutionary idea—and one vigorously opposed by Geoffroy's colleague Georges Cuvier, a great anatomist and one of the giants of French science. In 1830, their long-running disagreement erupted into furious public debate. Geoffroy argued that all vertebrates shared the same basic body plan not just with each other but with insects as well. Cuvier strenuously disputed this idea, which he saw as tantamount to a belief in "transformism"—arguing instead that each species had its own special and permanent form. With Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Hervé Le Guyader provides an analysis not only of that infamous debate but also of Geoffroy's bold intuitions about anatomy and development. Featuring Geoffroy's published version of the 1830 debates—translated into English for the first time—the book also illustrates how Geoffroy's prescient insights foreshadowed some of the most recent discoveries in evolutionary and developmental biology.
The Philosophy of Biology
Is life different from the non-living? If so, how? And how, in that case, does biology as the study of living things differ from other sciences? These questions are traced through an exploration of episodes in the history of biology and philosophy. The book begins with Aristotle, then moves on to Descartes, comparing his position with that of Harvey. In the eighteenth century the authors consider Buffon and Kant. In the nineteenth century the authors examine the Cuvier-Geoffroy debate, pre-Darwinian geology and natural theology, Darwin and the transition from Darwin to the revival of Mendelism. Two chapters deal with the evolutionary synthesis and such questions as the species problem, the reducibility or otherwise of biology to physics and chemistry, and the problem of biological explanation in terms of function and teleology. The final chapters reflect on the implications of the philosophy of biology for philosophy of science in general.
The Evolution Wars
The Evolution Wars draws on history, science, and philosophy to examine the development of evolutionary thought through the past two and a half centuries. It focuses on the debates that have engaged, divided, and ultimately provoked scientists to ponder the origins of organisms—including humankind—paying regard to the nineteenth-century clash over the nature of classification and debates about the fossil record, genetics, and human nature. Much attention is paid to external factors and the underlying motives of scientists. In these pages you will meet Charles Darwin's ebullient grandfather Erasmus, the contentious Frenchmen Georges Cuvier and Etienne Geoffroy Stain-Hillaire, new creationist Phillip Johnson, the brilliant J. B. S. Haldane, outspoken Richard Dawkins, and many other stars of the debates. The Evolution Wars explores the ten greatest controversies surrounding evolution in world history, with emphasis on recent times, including the infamous Scopes trial of the 1920s: the search for human origins and speculation about the “missing link,” spurred by the discovery of “Lucy;” the debate surrounding the new theory of paleontology proposed by Stephen Jay Gould; and the rise of teaching “creation science” in public school as a subject on par with evolution. Although the author takes a strong stand on the side of evolution, he also shows respect for dissenting viewpoints. Thus, the book is intellectually rewarding not only for evolutionists but also for opponents of evolution theory, especially those who want to see how one of the great ideas of Western civilization resonates through time, both within and beyond the scientific community.
Following form and function
The concepts of form and function have traditionally been defined in terms of biology and then extended to other disciplines. Stephen T. Asma examines the various interpretations of form and function in science and philosophy, reflecting on the philosophical presuppositions underlying the work of Geoffroy, Cuvier, and Darwin, among others. In the Continental tradition of Canguilhem and Foucault, Asma's treatment of the historical form/function dispute analyzes the complex interactions among ideologies, metaphysical commitments, and research programs. This is a highly significant contribution to the history of science, the history of philosophy, and disputes within contemporary biology.
What is evolution? What is a gene? How did these concepts originate and how did they develop? This book is a short history ranging from Lamarck and Darwin to DNA and the Human Genome Project, exploring the conceptual oppositions, techniques, institutional conditions and controversies that have shaped the development of biology.
At the Water s Edge
Offers an examination of the twin evolution of the earliest marine life--one branch that came ashore and evolved into turtles, dinosaurs, and eventually humans; and the other that crept back into the water and became whales, dolphins, and other underwater life. 20,000 first printing.
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