Owen's Ape and Darwin's Bulldog

Owen's Ape and Darwin's Bulldog : Beyond Darwinism and Creationism

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After Richard Owen criticized Darwin's Origin, he was labeled a "creationist" by many, and his work on ape anatomy was derided by Darwin's "bulldog" Thomas Huxley.In this close analysis of Owen's texts, Christopher E. Cosans argues that Owen's thought was much more sophisticated than Huxley portrayed it.In addition to considering Owen and Huxley's anatomical debate, Owen's Ape and Darwin's Bulldog examines their philosophical dispute.Huxley embraced the metaphysics of Descartes, while Owen felt philosophy of science should rest on Kant's claim that sense-perception does not tell us how things-in-themselves "really are." Owen thought the creationist-Darwinist dispute was unproductive, and held that both 19th century special creationists and Darwin's suggestion in the Origin that God created the first life forms unnecessarily brought supernatural causation into science.With the hindsight of how the theory of evolution has progressed over the last three centuries, the Owen-Huxley debate affords the history and philosophy of science a case study. It sheds light on theories of knowledge that have been advanced by Quine, Wittgenstein, Hanson, and Putnam. Owen's Ape and Darwin's Bulldog also examines Malthus, Mill and Marx for the influence of economic thought on early evolutionary theories, and considers broader ideas about how science and society interact.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 192 pages
  • 154.94 x 228.6 x 12.7mm | 317.51g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 29 b&w photos
  • 0253220513
  • 9780253220516
  • 2,092,796

Review quote

Cosans's analysis is thought-provoking and informative, exemplifying an overall point that has been increasingly accepted: a scientist's interpretation of what s/he observes is best understood within its historic context. Vol. 66, 2010 * Journal of Anthropological Research * In conclusion, the reviewer recommends this book strongly for all specialists and students, including palaeontologists and palaeoanthropologists. 11, 5/6, 2009 * Zentralblatt fur Geologie und Palaontologie * Owen's Ape and Darwin's Bulldog introduces a brilliant, new and insightful perspective into the philosophy behind Richard Owen's methods and reasoning. 2010 * Evo Edu Outreach *show more

About Christopher E. Cosans

Christopher E. Cosans teaches philosophy at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.show more

Flap copy

A few months after Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species, Thomas Huxley challenged Richard Owen at a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and set off a debate about apes, brains, and human evolution. Owen's Ape and Darwin's Bulldog explores that first debate about Darwin's theory of evolution. Huxley, a rising star in comparative anatomy and a protege of Darwin, stood in contrast to Owen, the driving force behind the creation of the British Museum of Natural History. Owen's perspective was based on careful anatomical observations and on an interest in theories of evolution that had been proposed prior to Darwin's Origin. Huxley, soon to be known as Darwin's bulldog, built his case against Owen based in part on a different philosophy of how to practice science. In investigating the origins of this dispute, Christopher E. Cosans considers a tangled context of ideas stemming from the works of Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Thomas Malthus, Robert Chambers, Charles Darwin, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, Adrian Desmond, Nancy Cartwright, and Hilary Putnam. Conventional wisdom is that Huxley discredited Owen, yet this book makes clear that Owen's anatomical claims had much more support than most historians and philosophers of science assume. Owen believed in developmental theories of evolution, which were precursors to modern evo-devo theory. The Owen and Huxley debate is a perfect study for understanding relationships between science, ethics, and society. The story sheds light as well on current philosophical notions of scientific practice and how they influence our understanding of the history of science.show more

Table of contents

List of IllustrationsAcknowledgmentsIntroduction: On the Origin of the Darwin WarsAnalytic Table of Contents1. The Parable of the Hippopotamus Major2. Philosophical Anatomy and the Human Soul3. Evolution and the Discovery of the Gorilla4. Does the Brain Distinguish Human from Beast?5. Economics and Values on the Eve of the Origin6. The Values and Metaphysics of Darwin's Origin7. Why Owen Rejected Darwin's Analysis8. Huxley's Hippocampus Counter-Attack9. The Dissection of a Metaphysical Dispute10. Ethics, Experience, and TruthAppendix 1. Excerpt from Owen's 1851 Article on Ape and Human Brain SizeAppendix 2. The Concluding Pages of Owen's Anatomy of Vertebrates (1868) on Evolution, the Origins of Life, Metaphysics, and Theology BibliographyIndexshow more

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