Whately on species

Given the mythology that species were defined by essences prior to Darwin found in nearly every textbook, I find this passage, published in 1826 by Archbishop Richard Whately (1787–1863), first in the Encyclopaedia Metropolitana (a project initially proposed by Coleridge) and then as a separate textbook, very telling. Whately was Archbishop of Dublin in the Read More…

New species book contract!

Hi all. I have signed a new contract with Taylor and Francis for my revision of the species book, which is now to be known as Species: The History and Philosophy of the Idea. Much will be new in it – I will be fixing and expanding on many topics, adding an entire review of the Read More…

Prichard on species 2

James Prichard wrote his Researches into the physical history of mankind in 1813, in which he argued not only that humanity was a single species (a view called monogenism), but that they were effectively the same in their intelligence and faculties. In the course of this, he spoke repeatedly about what counted as a species. In the Read More…

Species Rewrite

I’m thinking of doing a rewrite of Species: A History of the Idea. Do my readers have any suggestions or wishes for it? Let me know in the comments. Some ideas: Make the subtitle and the content: The History and Philosophy of the Idea More stuff on the 15th century More on the modern debates More Read More…

A nineteenth century view on classification

The principle upon which I understand the Natural System of Botany to be founded is, that the affinities of plants may be determined by a consideration of all the points of resemblance between their various parts, properties, and qualities; that thence an arrangement may be deduced in which those species will be placed next each Read More…

Speciation – A brief history: The late eighteenth century

After Linnaeus had settled on the older mechanism of hybridisation of genera with other genera or with varieties formed by geographical conditions as the cause of new species, the topic began to pick up speed. Hybridisation remained the usual method as late as the 1830s (e.g., in Lindley) but two developments were crucial in the Read More…

Are species theoretical objects?

[Note: this is a paper that has sat in my drawer for a while now. I am posting it to follow from my last post on the theological origins of species. If species are not ranks in biology, what are they?] It is often claimed that species are the units of evolution, but this is Read More…