Chapter

Darwin's choice

Nicolaas Rupke

in Biology and Ideology from Descartes to Dawkins

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780226608402
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226608426 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226608426.003.0007
Darwin's choice

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Ideology, especially in relation to science, has a negative connotation and is used in a pejorative sense. During the past few decades, historians of science have begun to argue that all biology is and was embedded in sociopolitical ideology. Ernst Mayr has insisted that Darwinism was not an ideology, but rather an “anti-ideology” that for the first time in history attributed the origin of species to natural causes. This chapter challenges the view that there was no scientific alternative to Darwinian evolution. On the contrary, it contends that a naturalistic theory of the origin of species existed long before Charles Darwin, that this theory represented a scientific alternative to Darwinism, and that Darwin refused to engage with it for reasons of strategy. The chapter also argues that the Darwinian choice did good to the life sciences but also caused damage as a result of scientific shortcomings that were essential to Darwin's positions. In other words, it supports the contention that Darwinian biology bears the hallmark of an ideology.

Keywords: ideology; biology; evolution; Darwinism; Charles Darwin; life sciences; origin of species; Ernst Mayr

Chapter.  10080 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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