Sparks of Life: Darwinism and the Victorian Debates Over Spontaneous Generation

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Harvard University Press, 2009 - 304 Seiten
How, asks James E. Strick, could spontaneous generation--the idea that living things can suddenly arise from nonliving materials--come to take root for a time (even a brief one) in so thoroughly unsuitable a field as British natural theology? No less an authority than Aristotle claimed that cases of spontaneous generation were to be observed in nature, and the idea held sway for centuries. Beginning around the time of the Scientific Revolution, however, the doctrine was increasingly challenged; attempts to prove or disprove it led to important breakthroughs in experimental design and laboratory techniques, most notably sterilization methods, that became the cornerstones of modern microbiology and sped the ascendancy of the germ theory of disease. The Victorian debates, Strick shows, were entwined with the public controversy over Darwin's theory of evolution. While other histories of the debates between 1860 and 1880 have focused largely on the experiments of John Tyndall, Henry Charlton Bastian, and others, Sparks of Life emphasizes previously understudied changes in the theories that underlay the debates. Strick argues that the disputes cannot be understood without full knowledge of the factional infighting among Darwinians themselves, as they struggled to create a socially and scientifically viable form of Darwinian science. He shows that even the terms of the debate, such as biogenesis, usually but incorrectly attributed to Huxley, were intensely contested.
 

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Sparks of life: Darwinism and the Victorian debates over spontaneous generation

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With impressive scholarship, Strick (biology, Arizona State Univ.) examines the major books, articles, lectures, and letters on, as well as experiments and institutions involved with, the origin of ... Vollständige Rezension lesen

Inhalt

1 Spontaneous Generation and Early Victorian Science
19
2 Molecular Theories and the Conversion of Owen and Bennett
35
3 Bastian as Rising Star
62
18701873
78
A State of Flux
105
6 Germ Theories and the British Medical Community
129
Tyndalls Campaign as the Final Blow
157
Conclusions
183
Glossary
197
Timeline
199
Cast of Characters
202
Notes
207
Sources
274
Index
276
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Über den Autor (2009)

James E. Strick is Assistant Professor of Biology at Arizona University.

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