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OEB 204R - Pre-Darwinian Evolutionary Thought or return to Course Catalog Search

208148 – Section 001   

Faculty of Arts and SciencesOrganismic and Evolutionary BiologyWilliam Friedman
TermDay and Time
Spring 2018-2019  (show academic calendar)W   12:00 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.
4  (show credit conversion for other schools)
Credit Level

The publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859 marked a major turning point in the understanding and broad acceptance of a non-miraculous evolutionary explanation of biodiversity. Yet, Origin was by no means the first publication on the topic of descent with modification. For more than a century before Charles Darwin published Origin, evolutionary ideas were being advanced, discussed, and keenly debated. This seminar will explore the birth and early development of evolutionary thought between 1748 (Telliamed, Benoit de Maillet) and 1859 (Origin). Among the roughly 50 pre-Darwinian evolutionists are a number of now largely forgotten natural historians, physicians, clergymen, atheists, philosophers, and poets. Central to the readings and discussions will be an analysis of how the worlds of botany, agricultural domestication history, comparative animal anatomy, and paleontology - as well as materialist views of the workings of the universe - all played important roles in preparing the world for Charles Darwin?s magnum opus (Origin), the most important book written in human history.

FIRST COURSE MEETING (JAN. 30) WILL TAKE PLACE IN H.U. HERBARIA, ROOM 125. All subsequent meetings will take place at the Arnold Arboretum - the Walnut Room in the Weld Hill Building. Undergraduates are particularly encouraged to consider this course.

Exam Group

Cross Registration
Eligible for cross-registration
With permission of instructor/subject to availability

MIT students please cross register from MIT's Add/Drop application.