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Description - Evolutionary Theory and Victorian Culture by Martin Fichman

Although Charles Darwin was a central figure in the 19th-century development of evolutionary theory, we often tend to overlook the crucial role played by other leading thinkers of the time. For example, Alfred Russel Wallace independently arrived at nearly identical conclusions as Darwin on the origin and evolution of species. Furthermore, the phrase 'survival of the fittest', which most people now associate with Darwin, was actually coined by philosopher Herbert Spencer to describe the key mechanism of natural selection. And in the cultural debate on evolution no one played a more prominent role than Thomas Henry Huxley, known as 'Darwin's bulldog'. This absorbing study of the Victorian controversies over the cultural meaning of evolution broadens our perspective by emphasising the contributions of these and other prominent individuals. Martin Fichman traces the emergence of science as a definitive political and cultural force in this critical period, showing that evolutionary biology was at the epicentre of these profound socio-cultural transformations. His astute analysis of the often vehement Victorian debates on the political, religious, racial, and ethical implications of evolutionary thought reveals how science came to be inseparable from the broader culture. He also relates nineteenth-century controversies to cultural debates in the twentieth century, in particular the notorious Scopes trial (1925) and the ongoing debate about 'scientific creationism'.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781591020035
ISBN-10: 1591020034
Format: Paperback
(230mm x 155mm x 13mm)
Pages: 256
Imprint: Prometheus Books
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Publish Date: 1-Nov-2002
Country of Publication: United States

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Author Biography - Martin Fichman

Martin Fichman is professor of Humanities and History at York University and the author of Science, Technology and Society and Alfred Russel Wallace: A Biography.

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