Nature, Man and God in the Geography of Nathaniel S. Shaler

Dissertation, Queen's University of Belfast (United Kingdom) (1982)
Abstract
Available from UMI in association with The British Library. ;The basic thesis underlying this examination of the life and work of Nathaniel S. Shaler is that the revitalization of geography during the nineteenth century, as the study of man's interaction with his environment, was part of a continuing debate, both in the United States and Great Britain, on man's place in the natural order, and that a contextual interpretation of the discipline's modern reemergence requires the historian to transcend not only the now conventional disciplinary boundaries but also distinctions between science and pseudo-science. Indeed J. K. Wright, suspicious perhaps that falsity can be truth in disguise, prophetically asked some five and a half decades ago: "Is not the history of error, folly, and emotion often as enlightening as the history of wisdom?" More specifically, I want to argue that the work of Shaler as a founding father of American academic geography mirrors the nineteenth century currents of thought in geology, theology, biology and sociology--disciplines hitherto conducted within a framework derived from natural theology--and that it, like them, exhibits the fundamental reorientation in the conception of the relations between nature, man, and God which was necessitated by the Darwinian revolution
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