Charles Darwin: The Man and His Influence
There can be no doubt of Charles Darwin's major role in the development of modern science and thought. Darwin has become an almost mythical figure in the emergence of modern culture; yet he was by no means the first person to publish evolutionary ideas and his theory of natural selection was not generally accepted by his contemporaries. The publication of the Origin of Species excited much debate and controversy, at once challenging the very foundations of Christian belief, and yet appearing to underpin the Victorian concept of progress and the ability of science to explore areas hitherto obscured by religious dogma. Today Darwin's achievements still evoke powerful and contradictory responses. Peter Bowler's study of Darwin's life and influence combines biography and cultural history. He sets out to disentangle the complex motivations that have led people to their various evaluations of Darwin the scientist and Darwin theory. He shows how Darwin's contemporaries were unable to appreciate precisely those aspects of his thinking we consider of importance today. Darwin was a product of his time, but he also transcended it by creating an idea capable of being exploited by twentieth-century scientists and intellectuals who had very different values from his own.
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