Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Hodge, Jonathan. Review of Michael Ruse, et al., eds. CAMBRIDGE COMPANION TO THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES. NDPR (May 2009).

Ruse, Michael, and Robert J. Richards, eds. Cambridge Companion to The Origin of Species. Cambridge: CUP, 2009. It will be as well to begin with a clarification and a declaration of interest. As readers of NDPR will know, Cambridge University Press has for some years now been publishing a series of volumes on the philosophers: their Cambridge Companion series. A few of these volumes have been devoted to scientists. There is one on Darwin, now out in a second edition. It is edited by Gregory Radick and myself. The same press has also been publishing a series of Companion volumes on particular books. The volume under review here is devoted to Darwin's Origin of Species, first published in 1859. There is only a little overlap between the two Companion volumes. Each has a chapter by John Brooke discussing Darwin's religious views, but the emphasis is different enough that interested readers will want to consult both. Again, Darwin's analogy between natural and artificial selection is discussed in both volumes and also naturally enough his theory of natural selection. There is no chapter in the Origin volume on the structure of the whole argument of that book. However there is a chapter -- by the philosopher of biology, Kenneth Waters -- on just that in the Darwin Companion. As for philosophy: the Origin volume has only one chapter (by Tim Lewens) by a philosopher writing with philosophers in mind. The Darwin Companion has half a dozen. The contents of this Origin volume are diverse. The editors' introduction usefully gives synopses of all the chapters. After the short first chapter, by Michael Ruse, on how and why Darwin came to write the Origin as he did, the remaining chapters fall into four groups. The first group is devoted to the topics Darwin himself takes up in his book, in the order he adopted. So we have a chapter each on: the selection analogy, variation and inheritance, natural selection, species, the principle of divergence, the objections Darwin anticipated and countered, geology, biogeography, classification, and embryology and morphology. Then there is a second group, of three chapters: on Darwin's botany, on his rhetoric, and on his religion. Next come three chapters on the legacies: for literature; for political thought, and for philosophy. Finally, there is a chapter on the Origin as a book rather than a text: its production, publication, sales and so on. . . . Read the whole review here:

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