Darwinism and Other Essays

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Macmillan and Company, 1879 - 283 páginas
"In the present age, when the number of scientific inquirers has greatly increased and the interchange of thoughts has become rapid and constant, it takes much less time for a new generalisation to make its way into people's minds. It is now barely eighteen years since Mr. Darwin's views on the origin of species were announced in a book which purported to be only the rough preliminary sketch of a greater work in course of preparation. But, though greeted at the beginning with ridicule and opprobrium, the theory of natural selection has already won a complete and overwhelming victory. One could count on one's fingers the number of eminent naturalists who still decline to adopt it, and the hesitancy of these appears to be determined in the main by theological or metaphysical, and therefore not strictly relevant, objections. But it is not simply that the great body of naturalists have accepted the Darwinian theory: it has become part and parcel of their daily thoughts, an element in every investigation which cannot be got rid of. With a tacit consent that is almost unanimous, the classificatory relations among plants and animals have come to be recognised as representing degrees of genetic kinship. One needs but to read constantly such scientific journals as Nature, or to peer into the proceedings of scientific societies, to see how thoroughly all contemporary inquiry is permeated by the conception of natural selection. The record of research, whether in embryology, in palaeontology, or in the study of the classification and distribution of organised beings, has come to be the registration of testimony in support of Mr. Darwin's hypothesis. So deeply, indeed, has this mighty thinker impressed his thoughts on the mind of the age that in order fully to unfold the connotations of the word "Darwinism" one could hardly stop short of making an index to the entire recent literature of the organic sciences. The sway of natural selection in biology is hardly less complete than that of gravitation in astronomy; and thus it is probably true that no other scientific discoverer has within his own lifetime obtained so magnificent a triumph as Mr. Darwin. The comparison of the doctrine of natural selection with the Newtonian theory is made advisedly, as I wish to call attention to some differences in the aspect of the proofs by which two such different hypotheses are established"--Book. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
 

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Acerca del autor (1879)

John Fiske was born in Hartford, Connecticut on March 30, 1842. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1865, he opened a law practice in Boston but soon turned to writing. His career as an author began in 1861, with an article on "Mr. Buckle's Fallacies," published in the National Quarterly Review. Since that time he had been a frequent contributor to American and British periodicals. Early in his career Fiske also achieved popularity as a lecturer on history and in his later life was occupied mostly with that field. In 1869 to 1871 he was University lecturer on philosophy at Harvard, in 1870 an instructor in history there, and in 1872 to 1879, assistant librarian. On resigning as librarian in 1879, he was elected as a member of the board of overseers, and at the end of the six year term, was reelected in 1885. Since 1881 he had lectured annually on American history at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, and since 1884 had held a professorship of American history there. He lectured on American history at University College, London, in 1879, and at the Royal institution of Great Britain in 1880. A large part of his life had been devoted to the study of history; but at an early age, inquiries into the nature of human evolution led him to carefully study the doctrine of evolution, and it was of this popularization of European evolutionary theory that the public first knew him. Fiske's historical writings include The Critical Period of American History, 1783-1789, The Beginnings of New England, The American Revolution, The Discovery of America, Old Virginia and Her Neighbors, Dutch and Quaker Colonies in America, The Mississippi Valley in the Civil War, and New France and New England. John Fiske died in 1901.

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