Talk:1860 Oxford evolution debate
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The article as it stands is far too revisionist, and relies too much on Lucas (a protagonist of Wilberforce) and Brooke. They do not consider the evidence of the letters of Alfred Newton, a careful and scrupulous man who was on the committee for the 1860 BA Meeting. Newton's biography by Wollaston is an essential source. Also, Thomson gives no refs at all; two excellent Huxley biographers have underestimated the significance of Newton's letters: Desmond (in Huxley) mentions Newton, but only tangentially; Bibby (who produced a PhD and several biographies of Huxley) seems to have omitted Newton entirely (I have not read the PhD dissertation). Quite extraordinary. Here's the ref:
- Wollaston AFR 1921. Life of Alfred Newton: late Professor of Comparative Anatomy, Cambridge University 1866-1907, with a Preface by Sir Archibald Geikie OM. Dutton, NY. Macdonald-ross (talk) 16:39, 20 April 2008 (UTC)
Also, the following reviews all except Newton, and still concludes the traditional account is broadly substantiated:
- Jenson, J. Vernon 1991. Thomas Henry Huxley: communicating for science. U. of Delaware Press, Newark. Chapter 3 is an excellent survey, and its notes gives references to all the eyewitness accounts except Newton. The great majority of these accounts do accord with the traditional version.
The main evidence for Hooker's effectiveness is Hooker himself. Others noted that Hooker had joined the Darwin supporters, but as to the overall effectiveness of his intervention, that's moot. Macdonald-ross (talk) 14:46, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
- No. See Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal (New Series) 12: 275-277 (and perhaps other contemporary summaries, as may be available on Google Books and/or Biodiversity Heritage Library). Huxley's defense is more famous because of Wilberforce's "grandmother" gaffe, but Hooker perhaps even topped it with his tongue-in-cheek remark that, as according to Wilberforce no scientist would defend Darwin, he (as one of the most eminent botanists of his day) "could not presume to address the audience as a scientific authority" but would defend Darwin nonetheless.
- Huxley's remark is a bit of a low blow and certainly more memorable to the general public, but to the audience there and then (who were aware of Hooker's scientific credentials) Hooker's quip must have been the more scathing attack on Wilberforce. (Imagine Einstein debating Lenard with "as a mere Jew, I cannot be expected to have any idea of physics, but...")
- NEVER RELY ON TERTIARY SOURCES if secondary sources are available! Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 11:50, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
Was Darwin a "Professional"?
As part of its section on "Reaction and Legacy" the article describes Darwin (with Huxley and Hooker) as a "professional" (presumably meaning a professional scientist). But is this strictly true for Darwin? Clearly science was something that he devoted his adult life to and that he approached in an intellectually systematic way -- both aspects of "professionalism." But Darwin was in the fortunate situation of being a man of property, who did not hold a full-time paid position anywhere (his service on the Beagle was not salaried) and never had to rely on his earnings from science (such as his publications) to live on. Nandt1 (talk) 10:12, 10 December 2009 (UTC) I have now taken a crack at redrafting the relevant section of the article on this point. Nandt1 (talk) 20:40, 11 December 2009 (UTC)
- Seems a good point, worth trying to find a source for improving this: Sedgwick and Wilberforce were of course clergymen, but Owen was a professional as I recall. Darwin was in a way one of the last gentlemen amateur scholars, but supported Huxley's campaign for a new professionalism in science and science education. Will try to recall where I read something on those lines... dave souza, talk 21:29, 11 December 2009 (UTC)
It is certainly an idea that is reflected in parts of Desmond and Moore's Darwin biography. Mine is an old copy from 1994 and I think there might have been later revisions, but see, in particular, their final chapter on the campaign for Darwin's burial in Westminster Abbey. Nandt1 (talk) 16:34, 12 December 2009 (UTC)
- The version of Desmond & Moore's Darwin that I'm using is the 1991 book as reprinted in Penguin paperback in 1992, the American publication of it in 1994 got a changed title (Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist) but as far as I know there's not been any significant revision to the book. . dave souza, talk 23:59, 12 December 2009 (UTC)
- You got a choice? The rest of us, we just got a common ancestor. . . dave souza, talk 21:25, 11 December 2009 (UTC)
Was the argument about evolution or about natural selection?
An issue the article doesn't seem to cover is that Owen's Edinburgh Review article publicly proclaimed that he was already a proponent of theistic evolution, in a form that rejected Darwin's natural selection for "ordained continuous becoming" – see Bowler 2003, p. 186, also Secord 2000, Victorian Sensation p. 512. So, the argument was more complex than the simple evolution vs. creationism that it seems at first glance. Wilberforce's position isn't clear to me: Darwin and design: historical essay :: Darwin Correspondence Project states that "Wilberforce’s own review of Origin suggests that he was not in fact opposed to transmutation, only to Darwin’s particular explanation for it." . . dave souza, talk 00:15, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
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