Update on “A History of the Ecological Sciences”

Over two-and-a-half years ago I posted the links to a series of articles in the Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America: “A History of the Ecological Sciences.” Then there were 27 installments, all by Frank N. Egerton, and now he’s up to #36 (Update: I added #37-42 on July 30, 2012):

1. A History of the Ecological Sciences. Early Greek Origins. Volume 82(1): 93–97. January 2001

2. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 2: Aristotle and Theophrastos. Volume 82(2):149–152. April 2001

3. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 3: Hellenistic Natural History. Volume 82(3):201–205. July 2001

4. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 4: Roman Natural History. Volume 82(4):243–246. October 2001

5. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 5: Byzantine Natural History. Volume 83(1):89–94. January 2002

6. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 6: Arabic Language Science—Origins and Zoological Writings. Volume 83(2):142–146. April 2002

7. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 7: Arabic Language Science—Botany, Geography, and Decline. Volume 83(4):261–266. October 2002

8. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 8: Fredrick II of Hohenstaufen: Amateur Avian Ecologist and Behaviorist. Volume 84(1):40–44. January 2003

9. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 9: Albertus Magnus, a Scholastic Naturalist. Volume 84(2):87–91. April 2003

10. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 10: Botany During the Renaissance and the Beginnings of the Scientific Revolution. Volume 84(3):130–137. July 2003

11. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 11: Emergence of Vertebrate Zoology During the 1500s. Volume 84(4):206–212. October 2003

12. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 12: Invertebrate Zoology and Parasitology During the 1500s. Volume 85(1):27–31. January 2004

13. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 13: Broadening Science in Italy and England, 1600–1650. Volume 85(3):110–119. July 2004

14. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 14: Plant Growth Studies in the 1600s. Volume 85(4):208–213. October 2004

15. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 15: The Precocious Origins of Human and Animal Demography and Statistics in the 1600s. Volume 86(1):32–38. January 2005

16. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 16: Robert Hooke and the Royal Society of London. Volume 86(2):93–101. April 2005

17. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 17: Invertebrate Zoology and Parasitology During the 1600s. Volume 86(3):133–144. July 2005

18. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 18: John Ray and His Associates Francis Willughby and William Derham. Volume 86(4):301–313. October 2005

19. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 19: Leeuwenhoek’s Microscopic Natural History. Volume 87(1):47–58. January 2006

20. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 20: Richard Bradley, Entrepreneurial Naturalist. Volume 87(2):117–127. April 2006

21. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 21: Réaumur and His History of Insects. Volume 87(3):212–224. July 2006

22. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 22: Early European Naturalists in Eastern North America. Volume 87(4):341–356. October 2006

23. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 23: Linnaeus and the Economy of Nature. Volume 88(1):72–88. January 2007

24. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 24: Buffon and Environmental Influences on Animals. Volume 88(2):146–159. April 2007

25. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 25:American Naturalists Explore Eastern North America: John and William Bartram. Volume 88(3):253–268. July 2007

26. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 26. Gilbert White, Naturalist Extrordinaire. Volume 88(4):385–398. October 2007.

27. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 27: Naturalists Explore Russia and the North Pacific During the 1700s. Volume 89(1):39–60. January 2008

28. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 28: Plant Growth Studies During the 1700s. Volume 89(2);159–175. April 2008

29. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 29: Plant Disease Studies During the 1700s. Volume 89(3). July 2008

30. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 30: Invertebrate Zoology and Parasitology During the 1700s. Volume 89(4). October 2008.

31. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 31: Studies of Animal Populations During the 1700s. Volume 90(2). April 2009.

32. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 32: Humboldt, Nature’s Geographer. Volume 90(3). July 2009.

33. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 33: Naturalists Explore North America, mid-1780s–mid-1820s. Volume 90(4). October 2009.

34. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 34: A Changing Economy of Nature.Volume 91(1). January 2009.

35. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 35: The Beginnings of British Marine Biology: Edward Forbes and Philip Gosse. Volume 91(2). April 2010.

36. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 36: Hewett Watson, Plant Geographer and Evolutionist. Volume 91(3). July 2010.

37. A History of Ecological Sciences, Part 37: Charles Darwin’s Voyage on the Beagle. Volume91(4), October 2010.

38a. A History of Ecological Sciences, Part 38A: Naturalists Explore North America, mid-1820s to about 1840. Volume 92(1), January 2011.

38b. A History of Ecological Sciences, Part 38B: Naturalists Explore North America, 1838–1850s. Volume 92(2), April 2011.

39. A History of Ecological Sciences, Part 39: Henry David Thoreau, Ecologist. Volume 92(3), July 2011.

40. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 40: Darwin’s Evolutionary Ecology. Volume 92(4), October 2011.

41. A History of Ecological Sciences, Part 41: Victorian Naturalists in Amazonia—Wallace, Bates, Spruce. Volume 93(1), January 2012.

42. A History of Ecological Sciences, Part 42: Victorian Naturalists Abroad—Hooker, Huxley, Wallace. Volume 93(2), April 2012.

Heart of Darwin

From Atlantic.com:

The places in and around London that shaped the naturalist as a young man
by Richard Conniff

Heart of Darwin
In paintings and sculptures from the last years of his life, Charles Darwin gives the impression of a man deeply wishing he could be somewhere else. At the National Portrait Gallery in London, he keeps his rumpled hat clutched in one hand, ready to bolt for the door. At the Natural History Museum, he has his coat folded across his lap, as if yearning to shed the burden of fame and slip quietly into oblivion. On the £10 note, his eyes are haunted beneath a vast furrowed brow, and there’s dismay behind that biblical white beard.

This image of Darwin is everywhere, and that seemed to me, on a recent trip to London, to be a pity.
Read the rest of this piece here.

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

John Locke (Born 29 Aug 1632; died 28 Oct 1704). English physician who was the most important philosopher during the Age of Reason. He spent over 20 years developing the ideas he published in most significant work, Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) which analysed the nature of human reason, and promoted experimentation as the basis of knowledge. He established primary qualities, (ex. solidity, extension, number) as distinct from secondary qualities identified by the sense organs (ex. colour, sound). Thus the world is otherwise silent and without colour. Locke recognised that science is made possible when the primary world mechanically affects the sense organs, thereby creating ideas that faithfully represent reality. He was an acquaintance of Robert Boyle.

Darwin invited as Beagle naturalist In 1831, Charles Darwin returned home from a geology field trip in North Wales to find letters from Revd. John Henslow and George Peacock informing him that he will soon be invited on a scientific voyage of HMS Beagle. He was 22 years old, and had just graduated from Cambridge University. The offer was to be a naturalist on H.M.S. Beagle for a two year survey of South America, leaving on 25 Sep. Although he immediately accepted the offer, his father and sisters were opposed. They regarded it as an idle pursuit that would delay his expected career in the clergy. His father, however, was prepared to change his mind, but only if Darwin could find a qualified man who viewed the exploit as worthwhile. Darwin spent the next two days doing just that.

Oops, Richard made a mistake.

TV: "Darwin’s Garden" Profiled Tonight on Thirteen Voices

First, thank you so very much to Karen James (not nunatak) of The HMS Beagle Project for sending me the catalogue and map accompanying the “Darwin’s Garden” exhibit she got during her visit as a graduation gift. Second, Gloria Park of Thirteen/WNET New York informed me that tonight, “NEW YORK VOICES, Thirteen/WNET’s award-winning weekly public affairs series, will air a special half-hour documentary on the current Charles Darwin exhibit at The New York Botanical Garden.” The press release:

THIRTEEN/WNET’S NEW YORK VOICES EXPLORES THE UNTOLD STORY OF CHARLES DARWIN TUESDAY, MAY 20 AT 10:30 P.M.

30-Minute Special Features Exhibit Presented By The New York Botanical Garden

Thirteen/WNET’s NEW YORK VOICES captures the multifaceted exhibition chronicling Darwin’s lifelong fascination with plants and flowers currently on display at The New York Botanical Garden.

The NEW YORK VOICES special premieres Tuesday, May 20 at 10:30 p.m.

Using Darwin’s original manuscripts and writings, The Botanical Garden demonstrates his contribution and impact to science, highlighting our understanding of natural selection and evolution today. Using the plants and flowers that appeared in his drawings such as primroses, climbing plants and orchids, the exhibit also recreates Darwin’s garden and greenhouse where he conducted many of his bontanical experiments.

NEW YORK VOICES host Rafael Pi Roman speaks with biologist and author Dr. Edward O. Wilson about Darwin’s legacy. The program will also examine the latest perspectives on Darwin’s theories from scientists, environmentalists and scholars who presented at a symposium earlier this month as a part of The Botanical Garden’s exhibit.

The program concludes with a tour of The Botanical Garden’s children’s exhibit featuring their hands-on, interactive displays introducing young visitors to Darwin’s theories and adventures around the world.Visit www.thirteen.org/nyvoices to watch the most recent episode or search our archives.

Darwin’s Garden: Exhibit and Related Symposium in New York

What happens while I lay in bed sound asleep? Well, Karen of The H.M.S. Beagle Project beats me (she’s six hours ahead of me) to posting about another Darwin exhibit and event. Honestly, I planned to post it this morning anyways, when I saw it advertised in the latest Natural History magazine last night while listening about the Beagle Project on Atheists Talk (mp3 direct link).

Curated by Darwin historian David Kohn (The Darwinian Heritage, Darwin on Evolution), Darwin’s Garden: An Evolutionary Adventure opens at the New York Botanical Garden on April 25 (until June 15). From the website:

Charles Darwin is best known for his theory of evolution and other natural history achievements, but little is known about his enduring and insightful work with plants and the important role they played in formulating his ideas. Yet from cradle to grave, botany played a pivotal role in Darwin’s life. From counting peonies and playing under the apple trees in his father’s garden as a boy to collecting “all the plants in flower” on his famous voyage to the Galápagos as a young man and testing the sex and sensitivity of plants at his home, Down House, in his later years, plants were a lifelong preoccupation for Darwin.

Darwin’s Garden: An Evolutionary Adventure explores the untold story of Darwin’s botanical influences, his research, and his contribution to our understanding of plants, and ultimately, of life in general. The exhibition is featured in three Botanical Garden venues and includes an “evolutionary tour” of living plants that demonstrate key points on the tree of life, which links all living beings through a common ancestry.

Along with the formal exhibit, there is reproduction of Darwin’s garden, a symposium in early May, and an interactive children’s exhibit (with activity).

Damn, New York is way over on the east coast, and I am in the middle of the continent… If anyone goes to see the exhibits or symposia, please share….

For anyone interested in Darwin and his botanical work, due out in this spring is The Aliveness of Plants: The Darwins at the Dawn of Plant Science by Peter Ayres. From the publisher:

The Darwin family was instrumental in the history of botany. For Erasmus (1731–1802), it was a hobby, for Charles (1809–1882) an inspiration, and for Francis (1848–1925), a profession. Their experiences illustrate the growing specialization and professionalization of science throughout the nineteenth century. Ayres shows how botany escaped the burdens of medicine, feminization and the sterility of classification and nomenclature to become a rigorous laboratory science.

To San Francisco sans Academy of Sciences

I’ll be in San Francisco for an afternoon in a few weeks, in between visiting my family in Southern California and my wife’s near Sacramento. I’m thinking about what we should do/see that afternoon… and of course the one place I would really like to see, the California Academy of Sciences, is closed until Fall of this year! They are moving into a whole new green facility in Golden Gate Park…

From the Academy’s short Science in Action Podcast:
Green Message
Historic Trek
The New Academy


Anyone have suggestions for an afternoon in SF with a two year old?

Today in Science History

Born this day:

Charles-Marie de La Condamine (Born 28 Jan 1701; died 4 Feb 1774). French naturalist and mathematician who became particularly interested in geodesy (earth measurement). He was put in charge by the King of France of an expedition to Equador to measure a meridional arc at the equator (1735-43). It was wished to determine whether the Earth was either flattened or elongated at its poles. He then accomplished the first scientific exploration of the Amazon River (1743) on a raft, studying the region, and brought the drug curare to Europe. He also worked on establishment of a universal unit of length, and is credited with developing the idea of vaccination against smallpox, later perfected by Edward Jenner. However, he was almost constantly ill and died in 1773, deaf and completely paralyzed.

Sir T.W. Edgeworth David (Born 28 Jan 1858; died 28 Aug 1934). Sir T(annatt) W(illiam) Edgeworth David was a Welsh-born Australian geologist who produced an extensive study of the geology of Australia, including the first geological map of the Sydney-Newcastle Basin. He also researched the evidence of major glaciations in Australia of the Upper Paleozoic time (from 345- to 225- million years ago). In 1897, he drilled to a depth of 340-m at Funafuti Atoll in an effort to verify Darwin’s theory of the formation of coral atolls. Whereas his results supported Darwin’s ideas, they were short of absolute proof. He served as scientific officer of the Shackleton Antarctic Expedition from 1907-9, and led the party that first reached the southern magnetic pole on 16 Jan 1909, which was on land at that time.

Anthropologist Eugene Dubois was also born today (see Paleoblog and Professor Olsen).

ESA Bulletin Series: "A History of the Ecological Sciences"

Thanks to Kevin of The Other 95% for pointing me to this series of articles from the Ecological Society of America’s Bulletin. Up to its 27th installment, “A History of the Ecological Sciences” covers natural history topics from antiquity through the 19th century. It remains a current project from Frank N. Egerton, a retired historian from the University of Wisconsin who has written extensively on the history of ecology, including History of American Ecology (1978) and Hewett Cottrell Watson: Victorian Plant Ecologist and Evolutionist (2003). ESA has made a convenient page for finding all the articles at once, but here are the links as well:

1. A History of the Ecological Sciences. Early Greek Origins. Volume 82(1): 93–97. January 2001
2. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 2: Aristotle and Theophrastos. Volume 82(2):149–152. April 2001
3. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 3: Hellenistic Natural History. Volume 82(3):201–205. July 2001
4. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 4: Roman Natural History. Volume 82(4):243–246. October 2001
5. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 5: Byzantine Natural History. Volume 83(1):89–94. January 2002
6. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 6: Arabic Language Science—Origins and Zoological Writings. Volume 83(2):142–146. April 2002
7. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 7: Arabic Language Science—Botany, Geography, and Decline. Volume 83(4):261–266. October 2002
8. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 8: Fredrick II of Hohenstaufen: Amateur Avian Ecologist and Behaviorist. Volume 84(1):40–44. January 2003
9. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 9: Albertus Magnus, a Scholastic Naturalist. Volume 84(2):87–91. April 2003
10. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 10: Botany During the Renaissance and the Beginnings of the Scientific Revolution. Volume 84(3):130–137. July 2003
11. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 11: Emergence of Vertebrate Zoology During the 1500s. Volume 84(4):206–212. October 2003
12. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 12: Invertebrate Zoology and Parasitology During the 1500s. Volume 85(1):27–31. January 2004
13. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 13: Broadening Science in Italy and England, 1600–1650. Volume 85(3):110–119. July 2004
14. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 14: Plant Growth Studies in the 1600s. Volume 85(4):208–213. October 2004
15. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 15: The Precocious Origins of Human and Animal Demography and Statistics in the 1600s. Volume 86(1):32–38. January 2005
16. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 16: Robert Hooke and the Royal Society of London. Volume 86(2):93–101. April 2005
17. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 17: Invertebrate Zoology and Parasitology During the 1600s. Volume 86(3):133–144. July 2005
18. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 18: John Ray and His Associates Francis Willughby and William Derham. Volume 86(4):301–313. October 2005
19. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 19: Leeuwenhoek’s Microscopic Natural History. Volume 87(1):47–58. January 2006
20. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 20: Richard Bradley, Entrepreneurial Naturalist. Volume 87(2):117–127. April 2006
21. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 21: Réaumur and His History of Insects. Volume 87(3):212–224. July 2006
22. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 22: Early European Naturalists in Eastern North America. Volume 87(4):341–356. October 2006
23. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 23: Linnaeus and the Economy of Nature. Volume 88(1):72–88. January 2007
24. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 24: Buffon and Environmental Influences on Animals. Volume 88(2):146–159. April 2007
25. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 25:American Naturalists Explore Eastern North America: John and William Bartram. Volume 88(3):253–268. July 2007
26. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 26. Gilbert White, Naturalist Extrordinaire. Volume 88(4):385–398. October 2007

and

A few interesting sites…

Just some sites I came across today:

MIT OpenCourseWare, free online course materials covering a wide range of topics. Of interest here are History of Science, Toward the Scientific Revolution, The Rise of Modern Science, History and Anthropology of Medicine and Biology, Social Study of Science and Technology, Nature, Environment, and Empire, People and Other Animals, and Darwin and Design (literature).

The Darwin-L Archives, a discussion group for academic professionals in the historical sciences that was active from 1993–1997. The site notes that “[i]n spite of its name, Darwin-L did not focus specifically on the work of Charles Darwin, but rather covered the entire range of palaetiology from an explicitly comparative perspective, including evolutionary biology, historical linguistics, textual transmission and stemmatics, historical geology, systematics and phylogeny, archeology, paleontology, historical geography, cosmology, and historical anthropology.”

Museum Studies e-Journal from the University of Oklahoma, first issue has an article about the role of podcasting in museums. Also at UO, their history of science collections, online being some digitized books, scientist portraits, and image gallery.

Linnaeus’ ‘Systema Naturae’ on Display

Linnaeus’ personal copy of his Systema Naturae (1st edition, 1735), an important document for the emergence of taxonomic classification of living organisms, was put on display at two American locales to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Linnaeus’ birth (see this link for posts with Linnaeus celebration information). First, it was on display at the New York Botanical Garden from November 8-10, including some talks, one with Edward O. Wilson. Then it went to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History from November 13-14 as “A Tribute to Carl Linnaeus,” part of a symposium, “Three Hundred Years of Linnaean Taxonomy.” The blog of the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) originally posted on this, and digitized versions of Systema Naturae are available at the BHL or Botanicus.org.

Also, a copy of Systema Naturae was recently sold by the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh through Christie’s. More at PhiloBiblos, Antiquarian Book News, the Evening News, and the Edinburgh Paper. And Science magazine’s Gonzo Scientist writes of Linnaeus’ culinary work.

Book Review: Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150-1750

Wonders and the Order of Nature is more than just a collection of stories about marvels. As a cornucopia of contexts, this book provides a wealth of social, cultural, religious, and political forces behind the history of wonders and the history of the emotion of wonder itself. In several ways, however, Daston and Park offer some broader themes. In their sweep through six centuries (from the High Middle Ages through the enlightenment), they show how the passions of wonder and curiosity have defined what objects were worthy of study and collection (and use) by European elites, be they courtly princes, natural philosophers, medical men, or theologians. Within those definitions emerge a multitude of boundaries – natural/unnatural, domestic/exotic, learned/lay (cultivated/vulgar), particulars/universals, theology/secularism, natural/artificial, empiricism and reason/ignorance, common/rare, physical experience/text experience, utility/futility, and ordinary/extraordinary – that help to understand how European elites viewed wonders and connected them to their lives.

Always with a dictionary at-hand, I found this book difficult at times to grasp a larger picture and yet redeemed as the authors summarized the main themes in each chapter. Chapter 1 places wonders geographically (or more exactly topographically), where marvels were “compiled, collated, analyzed, and multiplied.”[1] Most important here is the boundary between the domestic and the exotic. Marvels were found on the margins of Europe, to the east in Asia and Africa, and to the west in, at one time, Ireland, and later in the sixteenth century, the New World of North and South America. Recalling Pliny, the English monk Hidgen said “Nature plays with greater freedom secretly at the edges of the world than she does openly and nearer us in the middle of it.”[2] How geography defined marvels said something about the society of those experiencing the marvel. Marvels on the margins reflected Nature acting against her own laws, while marvels (of a different sort) that appeared within European society were considered horrors, signs of sin from the people. Those marvels on the margins were often exotic races such as the Cyclops (part of the natural order), while marvels at home were singularities: a monstrous birth, a comet, or blood-rain (ruptures of the moral order). While horrific marvels at home caused fear, exotic marvels, since they were not local, were viewed with tolerance. Part of this tolerance emerged from a view of relativity. Earlier readers of texts about monsters thought the exotic races barbarous and threatening. Medieval readers, however, saw exotic races through the eyes of those exotic races; they were no longer perceived negatively. Despite this new perspective, Europeans still expressed their superiority over exotic races.

While some viewed the marvels of the East as pleasurable (and non-threatening), Augustine placed them in a theological context. Representing the omnipotence of God, marvels should evoke religious awe. An Augustinian practice – by fellows like Bartholomaeus, Thomas, and Vincent – was to pore over catalogues of marvels and “bring out the moral sense.”[3] “He told of wonders,” a Christian author wrote about Pliny, “and I speak of morals.”[4] According to Daston and Park, the principal difference between singularities (prodigies) and marvelous (exotic) species “lay in their signification rather than their form.”[5] If a marvel were on the boundaries, then they represented symbols of the “power and wisdom of their Creator” or “figures of some higher theological or moral truth;” if they were found within society, then they acted as signs of God’s pleasure or displeasure “with particular situations or actions,”[6] and required immediate documentation because they “engag[ed] immediate human interests.”[7] Another aspect of the exotic versus domestic nature of marvels I found interesting is that travel writers relied on eyewitness experience in their accounts of visits to the east because “they needed to present their narratives as both literally and morally true.”[8]

In the next chapter, Daston and Park discuss wonders as physical objects and commodities of material culture rather than how they were significant to their observers or fit into literary culture as textual objects. As physical objects, wonders represented the wealth, power, and cultivation of those who owned them, and thus emerges the objects’ association with courts and nobility. The medieval collection was not a museum, for objects were not “prized for cognitive or philosophical reasons,” but rather a collection of treasures as a “repository of economic and spiritual capital.”[9] Daston and Park describe medieval collections as having “little resemblance to early modern or modern museums” and that they “functioned as repositories of wealth and of magical and symbolic power rather than microcosms, sites of study, or places where the wonders of art and nature were displayed for the enjoyment of their proprietors and the edification of scholars and amateurs.”[10] I somewhat disagree with this statement, for some modern museums were created and continued to represent the power and wealth of their donors or proprietors, and were intended for use by the wealthy and upper class citizens of society. Although offering their collections to public institutions, museum historian Marjorie Schwarzer notes that some self-made tycoons of the early twentieth century in America “expressed power through acquisition.”[11] Isabella Stewart Gardner named her art museum after herself and gained a “great increase in social stature.”[12] Thus, some modern museums retained symbolic expressions of wealth and power (but probably not magic), not only by what they collected but also how they displayed their objects. Almost the entire collection of museums in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was on display, a symbol of the institutions extent of acquisitions.

Although accessible to European elites, medieval collections were essentially off limits to laymen. It seems that by restricting access to treasures, the wonder they elicited from laymen was not only enforced, as Daston and Park note, but in some manner even constructed by those keeping them restricted. “[T]he wonders of the Crista were not generally available for popular contemplation,” and “ordinary laymen had to wait for one of the special festivals when the treasure was exhibited to the avid multitude, resulting in intense and sometimes rowdy scenes.”[13] Had these wonders of spiritual and economic capital been open to the masses more regularly, would they have elicited the same wonder and caused the same rowdy scenes? Chapter Two closes with a discussion of wonder at court. Daston and Park show how collections of marvels held social, economic, and political means for princes and dukes. Whether to impress court visitors, as symbols of Eastern conquest, or as symbols of wealth and power, courtly princes made “repeated and specific use of the marvelous as an elaborate system of emblems and signs to dramatize both their particular historical situation and their political aims.”[14]

Chapter Three looks beyond the role that wonders played for courtly princes and theologians of the Middle Ages to the place they held for natural philosophers in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. According to Daston and Park, natural philosophers generally rejected wonders as worthy of inquiry not only because of their rarity but because of their unknown causal mechanisms. They viewed them as irrelevant to their work and as being outside or beyond the course of nature. Despite Aristotle’s claim that wonder, as ignorance of the causes of natural phenomena, and the study of particular natural phenomena created inquiry to search for those causes, Latin natural philosophers used Aristotle’s emphasis on causal mechanisms as the basis for their dispelling of wonders. In order to make sense of the natural order, these natural philosophers did not study particulars – individual marvels – but instead sought to understand natural variability through “elaborating general statements about the causes of certain types of phenomena.”[15] They studied universal principles rather than particular phenomena, and instead of observing natural phenomena, the natural philosopher’s task was “to refine and distill the universal truths he found in books and received from his teachers.”[16] Thus, the work of Latin natural philosophers of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries did not rely on direct experience.

From Thomas Aquinas we get three types of physical occurrences. Wonders and the Order of Nature is not concerned with the supernatural (miracles), but with both the natural (naturalia) and the preternatural (mirabilia, marvels, wonders, you name it). There were problems with distinguishing between these three realms, but for the most part wonders and the passion of wonder associated with those wonders belonged to the preternatural. “Because wonder was associated with the ignorance of causes,” write Daston and Park, “it was a peculiarly unsuitable passion for one whose entire discipline was organized around the causal knowledge of nature.”[17] In their attempt to “make wonders cease,” natural philosophers in the fourteenth century posited explanations by natural causes without seriously invoking divine or demonic intervention. Moreover, they claimed that particular wonders, as objects which had to be experienced to be known, could not become part of natural philosophy.

Daston and Park move to Latin medical writers in their fourth chapter. Working for princely patrons who admired wonder and wonders, medical writers thus viewed wonders with attraction rather than the distaste of Latin natural philosophers. Because these physicians, involved in elite medical practice, “began to explore the therapeutic powers of particular marvels,” wonder and wonders emerged as part of natural philosophy, and, Daston and Park write, “lay at the heart of much philosophical writing” by the middle of the sixteenth century.[18] That particular phenomena became important as objects of philosophical reflection and wonder itself was reclaimed as a philosophical emotion led to a new philosophy, preternatural philosophy, which was concerned with adding personal experience of wonders to previous textual evidence, and used wonder as a tool for philosophical inquiry. Objects used by physicians and collected by apothecaries were not only wonders, but most were also exotic, associating them with elite practice. The marvels that poured out of the New World in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries provided much new natural material for study, especially for medicines, and reformed the ways in which “nature herself might best be explored.”[19]

The practice of collecting natural objects for their own sake, and not as objects that were collected by courtly princes, followed from global explorations. These collections helped to add practical use to the Greek and Roman texts on medicine and natural works. They also were places for research and tools in “professional and social self-fashioning.”[20] Like the collections of princes, however, marvelous natural history collections also transferred “the emotion of wonder from the objects themselves to their erudite and discriminating owner.”[21] Sixteenth-century collectors preferred particulars rather than universals, and thus sought specific explanations for individual phenomena. Ficino went beyond this and sought “overarching, speculative, and synthetic accounts of nature.” Daston and Park describe Ficino’s work as “a view of nature and natural philosophy that emphasized the power of human knowledge to transform the material world.”[22] The emotion of wonder as used by sixteenth-century collectors was now “passed through a professional lens.” A philosophical elite knew which phenomena were worthy of his attention, for this wonder was “a finely graduated register of response that only the best-informed and the most philosophically sophisticated could deploy.”[23] A new age of wonder emerged in both natural philosophy and the literature and art of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

As the centerpiece of Wonders and the Order of Nature, Chapter Five is a retelling of Daston and Park’s original work that ultimately led to this book.[24] In their 1981 article on monsters, they provided a chronological account of the views of monsters held in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries – horror giving way to pleasure giving way to repugnance. They have changed their approach for this book, and now claim that chronology is ambiguous, for the ways in which people perceived monstrous births – horror, pleasure, and repugnance – occurred simultaneously and were not demarcated in time. Monsters could evoke horror or terror as signs of divine wrath signaling collective sin, pleasure as sports of a benign nature and ornaments of a benevolent creator, or repugnance based on anatomical, theological, or aesthetic grounds. As prodigies, monsters were ruptures in the physical order. As sports, they were objects of spectacle – such as a means for parents to make money – not just for princes and medical men but for laymen at marketplaces and fairs or expressions of “nature’s creative variety.”[25] As errors, or objects of repugnance, monsters “violated the standards of regularity and decorum not only in nature, but also in society and the arts.”[26]

Chapter Six discusses how marvels became part of natural philosophy in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century scientific academies, such as the Royal Society of London and the Paris Académie Royale des Sciences. Naturalists in these circles weighed the credibility of marvelous reports and looked at “problems of evidence, explanation, and experience” in their study of nature in these centuries.[27] They devised new ways of understanding their roles as inquirers into the natural world. They were “the curious,” a combination of “a thirst to know with an appetite for wonders,”[28] and their discipline was “a slow and meticulous exercise in self-restraint,” a “discipline for the mind.”[29] They sought to understand the particularity of phenomena and through this, understand the normal, by looking at facts rather than explanations or theories. It became important to verify facts, to determine whether or not marvelous reports were sound or invented. Part of this verification was probably social, for a “delicate economy of civility governed the reporting on wonders.”[30] As gentlemen and members of scientific circles, it proved difficult to contradict their testimony of marvels.

Wunderkammern – cabinets of curiosity – are the subject of the seventh chapter. In opposition themselves with the Aristotelian opposition between art and nature, Wunderkammern displayed artificialia alongside naturalia, juxtaposing in collections, even in single objects, nature’s elegant economy with the extravagance in expenditure of labor and materials. “Nature does nothing in vain,” while art is “careless of function” and prone to useless ornamentation.[31] In some sense, combining art and nature in a single object, like the ornamented nautilus shell created by Bartel Jamnitzer of Nuremberg (p. 279), not only contrasts nature with art, but also juxtaposes nature with man’s ability to control and manipulate nature (in the form of mining the metals used in art). For the owners of Wunderkammern, they held “hidden assumptions and aims,”[32] and mainly served to show off the prince’s magnificence to visitors (usually of a political nature), or in the case of scholars and physicians, to “stupefy visitors with wonder” culminated from learning rather than wealth.[33] Objects also showed how art imitated nature, such as trompe l’oeil paintings and casts from nature, or how nature imitated art, as in swirls of marble resembling clouds and figured stones. These imitations garnered wonder rather than the objects themselves. The contrast of art and nature in Wunderkammern also pointed to questions of nature and theology: was nature art, or artisan? If nature produces art, then what does that say about God’s sovereignty? According to Boyle, God did not need nature as an assistant. To Enlightenment naturalists and collectors, “[n]ature had become ‘the Art of God,’ no longer able to create art on her own.”[34]

Chapter Eight discusses the shifting relationships of wonder and curiosity as emotions, at times aligned and at other times opposed. The final chapter is about how wonder and wonders were no longer important to European intellectuals, and how marvels waned from prominence, although not completely disappearing. Very quickly Daston and Park counter the argument that “the new science” of the seventeenth century dismissed marvels by means of objective and rational explanations. Instead, Enlightenment intellectuals ignored marvels on metaphysical, aesthetic, and political grounds. Daston and Park argue that it was “neither rationality nor science nor even secularization that buried the wondrous for European elites,” and that “Enlightenment savants did not embark on anything like a thorough program to test empirically the strange facts collected so assiduously by their seventeenth-century predecessors or to offer natural explanations for them.”[35] A broad theme emerges in the last paragraph of this chapter. Daston and Park write that for all participants involved in the emotion of wonder and experienced wondrous objects from the twelfth through eighteenth centuries, “the natural order was also a moral order in the broad and somewhat old fashioned sense of moral as all that pertains to the human, from the political to the aesthetic. Hence the aberrations of nature were always charged with moral meaning.”[36]

If we look back through the examples offered by Daston and Park, we begin to see this theme of wonder and wonders fashioning the self: topographically, the occurrence of wonders in the European center spoke of sin, while the knowledge of wonders at the margins testified to European dominance, and therefore superiority, of the East; courtly princes used their collections of exotica and other wonders to impress others with their power and wealth, as well as create wonders of themselves, such as Philip the Good of Burgundy as “a new Alexander;” natural philosophers rejected wonder because it stood for one’s ignorance of causes, and thus defined their intellectual status; early natural history collections were involved with “professional and social self-fashioning”[37] and represented the ability of their physician/naturalist owners to know what was or was not worthy of wonder, making wondrous the wealth and power of their philosophical intellect (a philosophical elite); for those studying “strange facts” through scientific societies, natural history was a “discipline for the mind, a slow and meticulous exercise in self-restraint,”[38] a practice only a select group could be involved with – to be a naturalist within scientific societies was often to be a gentlemen, one with indispensable time and hardly concerned with daily life and trivial matters; Wunderkammern symbolized the magnificence and taste of their princely owners or the ostentatious intellect of their scholarly owners, with objects juxtaposing art and nature representing Europe’s technological and intellectual status; and for the philosophers in the first half of the eighteenth century who sought to remove the “fear of divine wrath and wonder of divine intervention” from marvels, the vulgar were women, the very young and very old, primitive peoples, and the uneducated masses, all those not involved in philosophical inquiry of the natural world, and they were “barbarous, ignorant, and unruly.”[39] “The ‘order of nature,’ like ‘enlightenment,’” according to Daston and Park, “was defined largely by what or who was excluded.”[40] As much as this book is about the emotion of wonder and the objects of that wonder, Wonders and the Order of Nature is about how European elites largely defined themselves – how their place in society related to others morally or intellectually – through a “process of exclusion” and by how they understood the marvelous.

[1] Lorraine Daston and Katharine Park, Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150-1750 (New York: Zone Books: 1998), p. 25.
[2] Daston and Park, Wonders and the Order of Nature, p. 25.
[3] Ibid., p. 41.
[4] Ibid., p. 41.
[5] Ibid., p. 52.
[6] Ibid., p. 52.
[7] Ibid., p. 65.
[8] Ibid., p. 62.
[9] Ibid., p. 74.
[10] Ibid., p. 68.
[11] Marjorie Schwarzer, Riches, Rivals & Radicals: 100 Years of Museums in America (Washington, DC: American Association of Museums, 2006), p. 70.
[12] Schwarzer, Riches, Rivals & Radicals: 100 Years of Museums in America, p. 10.
[13] Daston and Park, Wonders and the Order of Nature, p. 77.
[14] Ibid., p. 101.
[15] Ibid., p. 114.
[16] Ibid., p. 118.
[17] Ibid., p. 124.
[18] Ibid., p. 133.
[19] Ibid., p. 147.
[20] Ibid., p. 158.
[21] Ibid., p. 158.
[22] Ibid., p. 164.
[23] Ibid., p. 167.
[24] Lorraine Daston and Katharine Park, “Unnatural Conceptions: Monsters in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century France and England,” Past and Present 92 (1981): 20-54.
[25] Daston and Park, Wonders and the Order of Nature, p. 201.
[26] Ibid., p. 202.
[27] Ibid., p. 220.
[28] Ibid., p. 218.
[29] Ibid., p. 230.
[30] Ibid., p. 249.
[31] Ibid., p. 277.
[32] Ibid., p. 273.
[33] Ibid., p. 267.
[34] Ibid., p. 301.
[35] Ibid., p. 361.
[36] Ibid., p. 363.
[37] Ibid., p. 158.
[38] Ibid., p. 230.
[39] Ibid., p. 343.
[40] Ibid., p. 350.

Animals in the History of Science

First, Thomas at Biomedicine on Display has a post about historian of science Jim Endersby‘s new book, A Guinea Pig’s History of Biology. Harvard University Press describes the book as “how this curious creature [guinea pigs] and others as humble (and as fast-breeding) have helped unlock the mystery of inheritance.” Jim has reviews and information about the organisms discussed in the book at his website. He also has another book out next year, Imperial Nature: Joseph Hooker and the practices of Victorian science, which he describes:

The book uses the career of Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817–1911) to explore three of the major themes in the historiography of Victorian science: the reception of Darwinism; the consequences of empire; and, the emergence of a scientific profession. Each of its nine thematic chapters looks at a particular scientific practice – such as travelling, classifying or writing – and examines its role in Hooker’s work and its broader significance as a way of placing science within the rapidly developing social world of nineteenth-century Britain.
Endersby runs a website devoted solely to Darwin’s botany-buddy, Joseph Dalton Hooker.

Second, the fourth edition of the Missing Link podcast is up here (or here with show notes). In this episode, “Constant Companions,” historian of science Elizabeth Green Musselman “considers some of the animals – big and small, welcome and unwelcome – that have accompanied us humans on our journeys through the history of scientific and medical discovery.” She provides two essays, “The Dog Who Would Be Naturalist” and “No Flies on Me.” It’s worth a listen… (the photo to the left is a cover from the Montana State Board of Health’s Special Bulletin of April 1916. The caption at the bottom reads “There Are No Flies on Me”)

"What’s New" at Darwin Online

These were added to The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online between October 29 and November 1, 2007:

Lubbock, J. 1870. [Attempt, at the behest of Darwin, ‘to insert the words, “whether married to a first cousin” in the census.] Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates, 3rd series, 22 July 1870, col. 817; 26 July 1870, cols. 1006-1007). Images

Two newly discovered descriptions of Darwin’s specimens:

Cobbold, T. S. 1873. Notes on Entozoa—Part I. [Read 10 October] Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 47 (18 November): 736-742, 1 plate. Images

Cobbold, T. S. 1874. Notes on Entozoa. Part II. [Read 2 January] Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 48 (3 February): 124-8, 1 plate. Images

Venn, J. A. ed. 1944. Alumni Cantabrigienses… Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Part 2, vol. 2, pp. 228-9. [Darwin family entries] Images

Chancellor, Gordon. ‘A man who has seen half the world’: Introduction to Beagle field notebook 1.9

Darwin, C. R. 1871. A letter from Mr. Darwin. The Index, a weekly paper devoted to free religion (Toledo, Ohio) 2 No. 51 (23 December): 404-5. Images PDF

[Darwin, C. R.] 1871. [Letter praising Truths for the Times]. The Index, a weekly paper devoted to free religion (Toledo, Ohio) 2 No. 25 (24 June): 196. Images

Barlow, Nora ed. 1967. Darwin and Henslow. The growth of an idea. London: Bentham-Moxon Trust. Text Images Text & images PDF (reproduced with the kind permission of the Bentham-Moxon Trust)

Educating Darwin: His “brilliant establishment” at Cambridge

Michael Ryan at Paleoblog posted about today’s Darwin-history tidbit, also here:

from Today in Science History:

In 1827, Charles Darwin was accepted into Christ’s College at Cambridge, but did not start until winter term because he needed to catch up on some of his studies. A grandson of Erasmus Darwin of Lichfield, and of Josiah Wedgwood, he had entered the University of Edinburgh in 1825 to study medicine, intending to follow his father Robert’s career as a doctor. However, Darwin found himself unenthusiastic about his studies, including that of geology. Disappointing his family that he gave up on a medical career, he left Edinburgh without graduating in April 1827. His scholastic achievements at Cambridge were unremarkable, but after graduation, Darwin was recommended by his botany professor to be a naturalist [gentlemanly companion] to sail on HM Sloop [?] Beagle.

See this letter for his “brilliant establishment.”
Darwin and Christ’s College” by John van Wyhe
Admissions books of Christ’s College, Cambridge at Darwin Online
Christ’s College Darwin sculpture update at The [Old] Beagle Project Blog

Today in Science History: John Gould & Alexander von Humboldt

From Today in Science History:

John Gould (born 14 Sep 1804; died 3 Feb 1881): English ornithologist whose life work produced 41 lavishly illustrated volumes on birds from all over the world, containing in all about 3,000 plates, all lithographed and hand-painted. Of these, his Birds of Australia was particularly significant (1840-69) as the first comprehensive record of the continent’s birds and mammals. With its plates of the birds were descriptions, notes on their distribution and adaptation to the environment. He assisted Charles Darwin with identification of the specimens collected during the voyage of the Beagle. By informing Darwin that the finches belonging to separate species, he provided essential information giving Darwin insight leading to his later development of the theory of evolution.

Charles Darwin’s correspondence to and from Gould.
Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, 5 parts on birds (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 1838-1841) by Gould

Alexander von Humboldt (born 14 Sep 1769; died 6 May 1859): (Baron) Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt was a German natural scientist, archeologist, explorer and geographer, who made two major expeditions to Latin America (1799-1804) and to Asia (1829). During the first, equipped with the best scientific instruments, he surveyed and collected geological, zoological, botanical, and ethnographic specimens, including over 60,000 rare or new tropical plants. He charted and made observations on a cold ocean current along the Peruvian coast, now named, the Humboldt Current. In geology, he made pioneering observations of stratigraphy, structure and geomorphology; he understood the connections between volcanism and earthquakes. Humboldt named the Jurassic System.

Charles Darwin’s correspondence to and from Humboldt.

"What’s New" at Darwin Online

These were added to The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online on August 28 and 29, 2007:

Lyell, Charles. 1863. The geological evidences of the antiquity of man with remarks on the origin of species by variation. 3rd edition, revised. London: John Murray. Images [Images from Google books]

[Recollections of Darwin at Cambridge by John Maurice Herbert] (2 June 1882). Text
[Recollections of Darwin by Rev. John Brodie Innes] (nd). Text
[Recollections of Darwin by William Allport Leighton] (c. 1886). Text
[Recollections of Charles Darwin] (c. mid 1880s). Text

"What’s New" at Darwin Online

These were added to The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online on August 24, 2007:

Improvements to the search engine and search results pages: for example, Darwin is now the default name and English the default language.

Darwin, C. R. 1861. Dun horses. The Field 17 (27 April): 358. Text Images Text & images

Darwin, C. R. 1861. Influence of the form of the brain on the character of fowls. The Field 17 (4 May): 383. Text Images Text & images

Bennett, T. 1861. Dun horses. The Field 17 (18 May): 431. Images

Darwin, C. R. 1861. On dun horses, and on the effect of crossing differently coloured breeds. The Field 17 (25 May): 451. Text Images Text & images

‘Eques (Argyllshire)’. 1861. Dun horses. The Field 17 (8 June): 494-5. Images

Darwin, C. R. 1861. Dun horses. The Field 17 (15 June): 521. Text Images Text & images

Herschel, J. F. W. 1840. A preliminary discourse on the study of natural philosophy. Part of Dionysius Lardner’s Cabinet cyclopædia. London. Images [Images from Google books]

Pliny the Elder died today in 79 A.D.

I only offer this information because next week I will be reading selections from Pliny’s Natural History along with a chapter about him in Roger French’s Ancient Natural History.
Richard Carter, FCD adds Pliny to list of top scientists

Wikipedia: Pliny the Elder

From Today in Science History:

Died 24 Aug 79 A.D. (born 23 A.D.) Roman savant and author of the celebrated Natural History, in 37 volumes an encyclopaedic work of very uneven accuracy that was nonetheless an authority on scientific matters up to the Middle Ages. He prepared this as a digest of two thousand ancient books written by nearly five hundred writers. He was mostly undiscriminating regarding the accuracy of the content. Though he rejected, for example, the possibility of immortality, he also rejected Pytheas’ valid theory that the moon was responsible for tides. Correctly, he accepted the spherical form of the Earth. As another example, he included various theories on the origin of amber, one correct among others fanciful and wrong. The book dealt in subjects ranging from astronomy, geography, and zoology. He died in the eruption of Vesuvius, too anxious to witness the event to retreat from the ashes and toxic gases.