Development of Evolution Theory

By VikramS
  • Erasmus Darwin - Influences (2)

    Erasmus Darwin - Influences (2)
    Darwin based his predictions on David Hartley’s psychological theory of associationism, which is a theory that claims that one mental state is always similar in some way to its previous mental states. This theory of associationism can be very much related to evolution. He also cited James Burnett and Lord Monboddo, two proto-evolutionary thinkers, in his 1803 work Temple of Nature.
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    Erasmus Darwin

  • Erasmus Darwin - Works (1)

    Erasmus Darwin - Works (1)
    Although Erasmus Darwin, Charles Darwin’s grandfather, wrote botanical works, poems on evolution and writings for the education of women, his most well-known scientific work is that of Zoonomia. In this work he predicts what evolutionists after him believe, including the belief of evolution. He also predicted the law of natural selection, where he writes in Zoonomia that there are “three great objects of desire” for every organism. Those three are “lust, hunger and security.”
  • Erasmus Darwin - Works (2)

    Erasmus Darwin - Works (2)
    The final evolutional theory that he predicted was the survival of the fittest, saying that “the strongest and most active animal should propagate the species, which should thence become improved”.
  • Erasmus Darwin - Influences (1)

    Erasmus Darwin - Influences (1)
    There are few scientists which are cited by Darwin as influences on his work when it comes to evolution, as the theories that he predicted were only predictions and it was only later when scientists found proof to back his predictions. Having said this, the predictions he made still needed proof.
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    William Paley

    Day of birth unknown
  • William Paley - Works (1)

    William Paley - Works (1)
    William Paley was an English Christian apologist, utilitarian and philosopher. He is best known for his most recent work, Natural Theology; or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity. In this work, he argues against the idea of evolution, instead suggesting that the reason the natural world works as harmoniously as it does is because of a higher deity, for example God, is overseeing the progress of each species.
  • William Paley - Works (2)

    William Paley - Works (2)
    He was also known for his support of modern ideas such as letting women get jobs and for the poor to steal from the rich if it is necessary.
  • William Paley - Influences (1)

    William Paley - Influences (1)
    A lot of William Paley’s most well-known work, Natural Theology, was based on the works The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of the Creation (1691) by John Ray, Physico-Theology, or a Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God from his Works of Creation (1711) by William Derham, while holding the prestigious title of Boyle lecturer, and works from Bernard Nieuwentyt (1750).
  • William Paley - Influences (2)

    William Paley - Influences (2)
    These three scientists have probably influenced Paley to have a commonly-held view of evolution in the Enlightenment – that the happiness and harmony existing within nature was that of God’s - as that tends to be the view held within his work.
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    Jean-Baptiste Lamarck

  • Jean-Baptiste Lamarck - Works (1)

    Jean-Baptiste Lamarck - Works (1)
    Jean-Baptiste Lamarck is famous for his two main themes within Lamarckian evolution, which is the first coherent theory of its kind. The first theme was that animals evolve according to their environment. Lamarck cited blindness in moles, teeth in mammals and the absence of teeth in birds as examples for his first theme.
  • Jean-Baptiste Lamarck - Works (2)

    Jean-Baptiste Lamarck - Works (2)
    His second main theme was that life was structured so that events would happen in order and that many different body parts of each organism contribute to the organic movements of animals. He argued that these evolutionary “forces” are necessary results of an organism adapting to its environment.
  • Jean-Baptiste Lamarck - Influences

    Jean-Baptiste Lamarck - Influences
    Jean-Baptiste Lamarck’s main influence appears to have been his mentor, Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, who was one of the top French scientists of the day. Buffon has been claimed by Ernst Mayr to be “the father of all thought in natural history in the second half of the 18th century.” In 1779, he helped Lamarck gain membership to the French Academy of Sciences. Lamarck then became a Royal Botanist in 1781 and travelled across the world to see foreign botanical gardens and museums.
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    John Stevens Henslow

  • John Stevens Henslow - Works (1)

    John Stevens Henslow - Works (1)
    John Stevens Henslow was a Christian mineralogist turned botanist. Natural history had been close to his heart since childhood. He was chair of Mineralogy at the University of Cambridge and later he became a professor of botany. His considerable skill at taxonomy helped him publish A Catalogue of British Plants, relying on the herbarium he organised since 1821.
  • John Stevens Henslow - Works (2)

    John Stevens Henslow - Works (2)
    Ten years later Henslow was offered a place on the HMS Beagle to study plants in South America, but he turned the offer down, proposing instead that his protégé Charles Darwin go in his place.
  • John Stevens Henslow - Influences

    John Stevens Henslow - Influences
    One of John Stevens Henslow’s main influences towards the natural sciences was his childhood love towards them. Other influences appear to be from his chemistry and mineralogy teachers at university, Professor James Cumming and Edward Daniel Clarke (respectively). Another of his influences was Adam Sedgwick, the Woodwardian Professor of Geology at the time, with whom he went on a geological study tour in the Isle of Wright.
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    Charles Lyell

    14 November 1797 – 22 February 1875
  • Charles Lyell - Works (1)

    Charles Lyell - Works (1)
    Charles Lyell was a British lawyer and geologist. He is best known for his views of uniformitarianism, a theory which was “An attempt to explain the former changes of the Earth’s surface by reference to causes now in operation” (Principles of Geology). His belief that the earth was older than 300 million years was not one commonly held in his time.
  • Charles Lyell - Works (2)

    Charles Lyell - Works (2)
    He based this on his study of stratigraphy, the study of rock layers. Lyell theorised that the different layers of rock corresponded to different geological periods. His geological understanding helped Darwin’s argument of long-term evolution.
  • Charles Lyell - Influences (1)

    Charles Lyell - Influences (1)
    Charles Lyell had many influences impacting his many fields of study. His uniformitarianism goes back to James Hutton, its creator, and John Playfair, who helped popularise it. Jean-Baptiste Lamarck was also another key influence in Lyell’s works. In a letter he wrote to Mantell, who had given him one of Lamarck’s books, he said: “I devoured Lamarck… his theories delighted me”.
  • Charles Lyell - Influences (2)

    Charles Lyell - Influences (2)
    His last key influence seems to have been William Buckland, a geologist who wrote the first full account of a fossilized dinosaur, which he called Megalosaurus.
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    Robert Chambers

  • Robert Chambers - Works (1)

    Robert Chambers - Works (1)
    Robert Chambers was a Scottish publisher, geologist, evolutionary thinker, author and journal editor. His most popular work is titled Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, possibly one of the most controversial evolutionary works to be published. In Vestiges Chambers argues that the evolution of a species can be likened to the evolution of stars.
  • Robert Chambers - Works (2)

    Robert Chambers - Works (2)
    The work also implied that God might not be able to actively maintain the happiness and harmony that William Paley described, which had a huge potential of helping unions and revolutionaries yet also had a huge potential of angering the Anglican community and naturalists, thus endangering the current social order. Nevertheless the book was immensely popular and created a lot of discussion on the streets.
  • Robert Chambers - Influences

    Robert Chambers - Influences
    Many of Robert Chambers’ key influences were other evolutionary thinkers with whom he could discuss ideas. This was due to his being elected onto the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1840. He was able to discuss evolution, physiology and mental philosophy with Sir Charles Bell, George Combe, his brother Dr. Andrew Combe, Dr. Neil Arnott, Professor Edward Forbes, Dr. Samuel Brown and others.
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    Charles Darwin

  • Charles Darwin - Works (1)

    Charles Darwin - Works (1)
    Charles Darwin was an English naturalist whose theory of natural selection is arguably one of the greatest advancements made in scientific thinking, proved with a lot of convincing evidence in his most famous work On the Origin of Species. In fact this work was so convincing that about 10 years later evolutionary was commonly accepted as fact.
  • Charles Darwin - Works (2)

    Charles Darwin - Works (2)
    Darwin argued that all species of life had common ancestors from which they descended, and that different species evolve to adapt the environment they are in. He explained that it is possible for very complex organisms to evolve by small random changes due to the incredibly large amount of time each species has had. Another influence he had was that of A. R. Wallace, who developed his theory of evolution almost in parallel to Darwin's. They regularly exchanged their ideas.
  • Charles Darwin - Influences (1)

    Charles Darwin - Influences (1)
    Charles Darwin’s interest in geographical distribution of fossils and organisms, something that aided him when creating his natural selection theory, was heavily influenced by Alexander von Humboldt, who is considered one of the fathers of biogeography. Darwin was also a notable geologist and was inspired by Charles Lyell and his ideas of uniformitarianism.
  • Charles Darwin - Influences (2)

    Charles Darwin - Influences (2)
    Another person Darwin was clearly influenced by was Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, although he disagreed with Lamarck on his theories about the mechanism of evolution. Darwin believed that small, random changes over a large timespan is sufficient to account for the complexity of organisms, where Lamarck saw evolution resembling “a ladder of life”, with species striving to get to a higher level of evolution.
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    Alfred Russel Wallace

  • Alfred Russel Wallace - Works (1)

    Alfred Russel Wallace - Works (1)
    Alfred Russel Wallace was a British naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist and biologist. Wallace devised the idea of evolution through natural selection almost parallel to Charles Darwin’s similar research, which was acknowledged by Darwin in his work On the Origin of Species. However Darwin was quicker to publish his work and thus received all of the fame for conceiving the idea of evolution through natural selection.
  • A.R. Wallace - Works (2)

    A.R. Wallace - Works (2)
    He was also considered one of the “father[s] of biogeography” and the 19th century’s greatest authority when it came to the geographical distribution of animal species.
  • A. R. Wallace - Influences (1)

    A. R. Wallace - Influences (1)
    Alfred Russel Wallace was influenced heavily by Charles Darwin, with whom he exchanged ideas. But Wallace was also quite politically active. Since childhood he was exposed to the radical political ideas of Thomas Paine and the Welsh social reformer Robert Owen, and it is possible that these two influenced his scientific thinking. Wallace was also a prominent social activist since 1873 and it is likely that the “revolutionary” aspects of evolution theory appealed to him.
  • A. R. Wallace - Influences (2)

    A. R. Wallace - Influences (2)
    His concepts of evolution were profoundly influenced by Robert Chamber’s controversial work, Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation.