Journal of the History of Biology 38 (1):67 - 83 (2005)

Lack of consideration of the complex European scientific scene from the late 18th century to the mid-decades of the 19th century has produced partial and often biased reconstructions of priorities, worries, implicit and explicit philosophical and at times political agendas characterizing the early debates on species. It is the purpose of this paper firstly to critically assess some significant attempts at broadening the historiographic horizon concerning the immediate context to Darwin's intellectual enterprise, and to devote the second part to arguing that a multi-faceted European debate on the transformation of life forms had already occurred in Europe around 1800. Of this debate, contrary to long cherished views, Lamarck's was only one voice, amongst many. Naturalists active in different national contexts elaborated solutions and proposed doctrines that shared several viewpoints, yet clearly stemmed from a variety of disciplinary traditions and problematic contexts.
Keywords adaptation  Darwin  domestication  evolution  history of life  history of the earth  Lamarck  spontaneous generation  transformism
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DOI 10.1007/s10739-004-6510-5
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