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Darwin's Ghosts: In Search of the First…

Darwin's Ghosts: In Search of the First Evolutionists (edition 2012)

by Rebecca Stott

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3072236,351 (3.72)23
Title:Darwin's Ghosts: In Search of the First Evolutionists
Authors:Rebecca Stott
Info:Bloomsbury Publishing (2012), Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Reference, e-book, Adobe DRM ePub

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Darwin's Ghosts: The Secret History of Evolution by Rebecca Stott



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The author reviews the record of evolutionary thought prior to Darwin. Darwin famously said "evolution was in the air", and it was. From the time of Aristotle to the time of Darwin, we see individuals proposing evolution sporadically, though many of these individuals proposed to refute, or simply had a very strange view of evolution. The author writes in lucid prose, avoiding jargon, and telling history like a story rather than a dull recitation of facts. One could take issue with some of the stories, since it is likely that the information presented about thoughts going through the author's head are, at least in part, speculation, but in other cases come from journals or other collected writings. In addition, other than one rather convoluted, awkward, nearly incomprehensible sentence, the book is well edited, without the major grammar, spelling, and syntax errors that have become so common in modern publications. Definitely a worthwhile book for anyone interested in the history of science. ( )
  Devil_llama | Sep 15, 2016 |
დარვინის თეორიამ დიდი ცვლილებები გამოიწვია ადამიანის აზროვნებაში. მისი " სახეობათა წარმოშობა" მიიჩნევა ერთ-ერთ ყველაზე მნიშველოვან და გავლენიან წიგნად რომელმაც შეცვალა წარმოდგენები სიცოცხლეზე, სამყაროზე, შეცვალა სოციალური დამოკიდებულებები, იმოქმედა სახელმწიფო წყობილებების ფორმირებებზე და ა.შ.
მაგრამ დარვინის ბუნებრივი გადარჩევა არ აღმოცენებულა აბსოლიტურ სიცარიელეში. დარვინამდე და მისი მოღვაწეობის პარალელურად იყვნენ ადამიანები ვისაც ანალოგიური ან მსგავსი იდეები ქონდათ. იყვნენ ე.წ ტრანსფორმისტები, რომლებსაც მიაჩნდათ რომ სახეობები და თვით ადამიანიც კი ადრეული სახეობების მუტაციით ჩამოყალიბდა.

ეს არის წიგნი დარვინის აჩრდილებზე, რომლებიც ანალოგიურად ეძებდნენ პასუხებს, რომლებიც ხშირად იდევნებოდნენ ორთოდოქსული შეხედულებების მქონე მეცნიერებისგან და რელიგიისგან.

ბიოლოგიური ევოლუციური იდეების ჩასახვასა და განვითარებასთან ერთად საინტერესოა რომ წიგნი ასევე დამსახურებულად არის სეკულარიზმის, დეიზმისა და ათეიზმის განვითარების ისტორიაც, რადგან ევოლუციურ შეხედულებებს ხშირად თან ახლდა თავისუფალი აზროვნება, რელიგიური ჩარჩოებიდან გასვლა და საყოველთაოდ აღიარებული შეხედულებების უარყოფა.
რეკომენდაციას ვუწევ ყველა მკითხველს ვისაც ევოლუციის და ზოგადად მეცნიერების ისტორია აინტერესებს. ( )
  Misha.Kaulashvili | Aug 22, 2016 |
Joy's Review: The title's a bit silly, but the book is excellent. Each chapter describes someone who wondered, studied and investigated the 'transmutability' of species. All courageous men- since for most of them the religious powers at the time were (and sadly, often still are) scandalized by such theories and studies. I'd read another of Stott's books any time; she is an excellent non-fiction writer, presenting science history as the stories of individuals asking 'why'. ( )
  konastories | Oct 1, 2013 |
Interesting, but goes a bit too far into "you-are-there" history for my taste (describing what Darwin's study looked like or probably looked like--sure, okay, fine; describing Darwin raising his head as the butler brings in a letter--definitely not okay). ( )
  savoirfaire | Apr 6, 2013 |
An accessible and engaging look at free thinkers and scientists who preceded Darwin with pioneering insights and discoveries into evolution and natural selection beginning with Aristotle. ( )
  Sullywriter | Apr 3, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
Stott’s history begins with proto-evolutionary thinkers such as Aristotle, the 8th century Muslim writer Jahiz, and Leonardo Da Vinci, and eventually concludes with Erasmus Darwin (grandfather of Charles), Jean Baptiste de Lamarck, Robert Chambers, and Alfred Russell Wallace. Common to all of these thinkers was the realization that nature defies most attempts at drawing sharp lines of demarcation.
A second recurring theme is the lengths to which our heroes frequently went to avoid running afoul of religious authorities. Since evolutionary thinking has been heretical in most times and places, scientists pursuing such investigations were forced to be circumspect in expressing their views.
added by jimroberts | editSkeptic, Jason Rosenhouse (Nov 28, 2012)
“Darwin’s Ghosts” unfolds like an enjoyable and informative TV series, each episode devoted to a fascinating character who provides a window into the world of ideas of his time. It doesn’t offer a definitive chronological prehistory of Darwinian ideas, but it does help us see the necessity of bold and ambitious thinking. And, right here, right now, it has additional value. Stott reminds us that even if evolution is currently fought over more brutally in the United States than elsewhere, this fight has a long and stubborn ancestry, one that is by no means peculiarly American or entirely modern.

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Just before Christmas in 1859, only a month after he had finally published On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection, Charles Darwin found himself disturbed, even haunted, by the thought of his intellectual predecessors.
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Christmas, 1859. Just one month after the publication of On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin received an unsettling letter. He had expected criticism; in fact, letters were arriving daily, most expressing outrage and accusations of heresy. But this letter was different. It accused him of failing to acknowledge his predecessors, of taking credit for a theory that had already been discovered by others. Darwin realized that he had made an error in omitting from Origin of Species any mention of his intellectual forebears. Yet when he tried to trace all of the natural philosophers who had laid the groundwork for his theory, he found that history had already forgotten many of them.

Darwin’s Ghosts tells the story of the collective discovery of evolution, from Aristotle, walking the shores of Lesbos with his pupils, to Al-Jahiz, an Arab writer in the first century, from Leonardo da Vinci, searching for fossils in the mine shafts of the Tuscan hills, to Denis Diderot in Paris, exploring the origins of species while under the surveillance of the secret police, and the brilliant naturalists of the Jardin de Plantes, finding evidence for evolutionary change in the natural history collections stolen during the Napoleonic wars. Evolution was not discovered single-handedly, Rebecca Stott argues, contrary to what has become standard lore, but is an idea that emerged over many centuries, advanced by daring individuals across the globe who had the imagination to speculate on nature’s extraordinary ways, and who had the courage to articulate such speculations at a time when to do so was often considered heresy.

With each chapter focusing on an early evolutionary thinker, Darwin’s Ghosts is a fascinating account of a diverse group of individuals who, despite the very real dangers of challenging a system in which everything was presumed to have been created perfectly by God, felt compelled to understand where we came from. Ultimately, Stott demonstrates, ideas—including evolution itself—evolve just as animals and plants do, by intermingling, toppling weaker notions, and developing over stretches of time. Darwin’s Ghosts presents a groundbreaking new theory of an idea that has changed our very understanding of who we are.
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Evolution was not discovered single-handedly, Rebecca Stott argues, contrary to what has become standard lore, but is an idea that emerged over many centuries, advanced by daring individuals across the globe who had the imagination to speculate on nature's extraordinary ways, and who had the courage to articulate such speculations at a time when to do so was often considered heresy.… (more)

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