Before and After Darwin: Origins, Species, Cosmogonies, and Ontologies, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Before and After Darwin

Origins, Species, Cosmogonies, and Ontologies, 1st Edition

By M.J.S. Hodge


362 pages

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This is the first of a pair of volumes by Jonathan Hodge, collecting all his most innovative, revisionist and influential papers on Charles Darwin and on the longer run of theories about origins and species from ancient times to the present. The focus in this volume is on the diversity of theories among such pre-Darwinian authors as Lamarck and Whewell, and on developments in the theory of natural selection since Darwin. Plato's Timaeus, the Biblical Genesis and any current textbook of evolutionary biology are all, it may well seem, on this same enduring topic: origins and species. However, even among classical authors, there were fundamental disagreements: the ontology and cosmogony of the Greek atomists were deeply opposed to Plato's; and, in the millennia since, the ontological and cosmogonical contexts for theories about origins and species have never settled into any unifying consensus. While the structure of Darwinian theory may be today broadly what it was in Darwin's own argumentation, controversy continues over the old issues about order, chance, necessity and purpose in the living world and the wider universe as a whole. The historical and philosophical papers collected in this volume, and in the companion volume devoted to Darwin's theorising, seek to clarify the major continuities and discontinuities in the long run of thinking about origins and species.


’An invaluable resource…’ Scientific and Medical Network 'This […] collection of previously published papers by Jonathan Hodge not only brings to light a number of essays published in now hard to find places but also offers an unparalleled opportunity for tracing the historiographic trajectory of a leading Darwin historian over more than thirty years of intellectual achievement.' Metascience 'Incisive is a good word to describe Hodge’s famous scholarly style. As some of these papers and reviews demonstrate, he gets to the crux of any issue effortlessly, and often with astonishing directness. Who else can pack such brainy 'oomph' in the space of just a few pages, and in the unconventional form of a review article, instead of some long-winded monograph-length treatise? That, I suspect, is one reason the collection includes so much trenchant work… a splendid collection that should be required reading for anyone interested in Darwin, Darwinism and the history of evolutionary thought.' Science & Education

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; The Very Long Run: Origins and species before and after Darwin; Canguilhem and the history of biology. Cosmogonies and Ontologies After Buffon: 2 Cosmologies (theory of the Earth and theory of generation) and the unity of Buffon's thought; Lamarck's science of living bodies; Lamarck's great change of mind; The history of the Earth, life and Man: Whewell and palaetiological science; The universal gestation of nature: Chamber's Vestiges and Explanations. The Structure and Content of Darwinian Theory Since Darwin: The structure and strategy of Darwin's 'long argument'; Darwin's theory and Darwin's argument; Discussion: Darwin's argument in the Origin; Knowing about evolution: Darwin and his theory of natural selection; Generation and the origin of species (1837-1937): a historiographical suggestion; Biology and philosophy (including ideology): a study of Fisher and Wright; Natural selection as a causal, empirical and probabilistic theory; Index.

About the Author

M.J.S. Hodge is Senior Fellow in the Division of History and Philosophy of Science in the School of Philosophy, University of Leeds, UK.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General