Chapter

The Meaning of Evolution and the Ideological Uses of History

in The Meaning of Evolution

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 1992 | ISBN: 9780226712024
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226712055 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226712055.003.0006
The Meaning of Evolution and the Ideological Uses of History

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The term “evolution” had been appropriated in the seventeenth century to refer to Jan Swammerdam's theory of the preformation of the adult within the embryo. By the later part of the eighteenth century, Johann Heinrich Autenrieth was using evolution to describe the growth of embryo, not sparked into its adult form, but gradually changing through the permanent forms of lower species until the adult form was achieved. The thesis that the embryo recapitulated the morphological types of those species below it became a directive idea for a number of leading biological researchers from Germany and France. Most of them came to believe that the embryo traversed the forms that species underwent through in their gradual transformation.

Keywords: evolution; Jan Swammerdam; Johann Heinrich Autenrieth; adult preformation; embryo

Chapter.  3831 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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