A few new Darwin articles

In Nature:

“Global Darwin: Revolutionary road”

James Pusey

Abstract In China, under the threat of Western imperialism, interpretations of Darwin’s ideas paved the way for Marx, Lenin and Mao, argues James Pusey in the third in our series on reactions to evolutionary theory.

[Global Darwin is a series in Nature, see this post for the first two entries]

In the Journal of the History of Biology:

“Darwin’s Sublime”: The Contest Between Reason and Imagination in On the Origin of Species”

Benjamin Sylvester Bradley

Abstract Recent Darwin scholarship has provided grounds for recognising the Origin as a literary as well as a scientific achievement. While Darwin was an acute observer, a gifted experimentalist and indefatigable theorist, this essay argues that it was also crucial to his impact that the Origin transcended the putative divide between the scientific and the literary. Analysis of Darwin’s development as a writer between his journal-keeping on HMS Beagle and his construction of the Origin argues the latter draws on the pattern of the Romantic or Kantian sublime. The Origin repeatedly uses strategies which challenge the natural-theological appeal to the imagination in conceiving nature. Darwin’s sublime coaches the Origin’s readers into a position from which to envision nature that reduces and contains its otherwise overwhelming complexity. As such, it was Darwin’s literary achievement that enabled him to fashion a new ‘habit of looking at things in a given way’ that is the centrepiece of the scientific revolution bearing his name.

In Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A:

“Between the Beagle and the barnacle: Darwin’s microscopy, 1837-1854”

Jardine Boris

Abstract The discovery of a small collection of Darwin manuscripts at the Whipple Museum of the History of Science (University of Cambridge) has allowed a reconsideration of Darwin’s interest in and knowledge of microscopy. Concentrating on the years between his return from the Beagle voyage and the publication of the major taxonomic work on barnacles, this paper recovers a number of important aspects of Darwin’s intellectual and practical development: on returning from the Beagle voyage he acquainted himself with the work of C. G. Ehrenberg, and this informed both his private and public work; then through the 1840s Darwin transformed himself from a fascinated observer and consumer of others’ work into an expert on microscopy. I characterise this move as a piece of clever manoeuvring, and discuss more generally the kind of scientist—gentlemanly and expert—that Darwin was attempting to become.

In Endeavour:

“Savage selection: analogy and elision in On the Origin of Species

D. Graham Burnett

Abstract Darwin famously built the ground-breaking argument of On the Origin of Species out of an analogy between artificial selection (‘breeding’) and what he called ‘nature’s power of selection’ – or, more famously, ‘natural selection’. For years, historians of science have debated the origins of this analogy and philosophers of science have disputed exactly how well it works. But is Darwin’s argument really an analogy? A closer look at what the world-travelling naturalist of the Beagle has to say about selection among ‘savages’ opens a more complicated story.

In Current Biology:

“Evolutionary history of the Falklands wolf”

Graham J. Slater, Olaf Thalmann, Jennifer A. Leonard, Rena M. Schweizer, Klaus-Peter Koepfli, John P. Pollinger, Nicolas J. Rawlence, Jeremy J. Austin, Alan Cooper and Robert K. Wayne

Abstract After visiting the Falkland Islands during the voyage of the Beagle, Charles Darwin remarked on the surprising presence of a wolf-like canid unique to the islands. One hundred and forty years after its extinction, the evolutionary relationships of this unusual canid remain unresolved. Here, we present a phylogenetic analysis based on nuclear and mtDNA sequence data from the extinct Falklands wolf and find that its closest extant relative is the South American maned wolf. Molecular dating analyses suggest that the Falklands wolf and several extant South American canid lineages likely evolved in North America, prior to the Great American Interchange. The Falklands wolf was the sole representative of a distinct South American canid lineage that survived the end-Pleistocene extinctions on an island refuge.

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