Article ID: CBB000771333

From Linnaean Species to Mendelian Factors: Elements of Hybridism, 1751-1870 (2007)


In 1979, Robert C. Olby published an article titled 'Mendel no Mendelian?', in which he questioned commonly held views that Gregor Mendel (1822-1884) laid the foundations for modern genetics. According to Olby, and other historians of science who have since followed him, Mendel worked within the tradition of so-called hybridists, who were interested in the evolutionary role of hybrids rather than in laws of inheritance. We propose instead to view the hybridist tradition as an experimental programme characterized by a dynamic development that inadvertently led to a focus on the inheritance of individual traits. Through a careful analysis of publications on hybridization by Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), Joseph Gottlieb Koelreuter (1733-1806), Carl Friedrich Gärtner (1772-1850), and finally Mendel himself, we will show that this development consisted in repeated reclassifications of hybrids to accommodate anomalies, which in the end allowed Mendel to draw analogies between whole organisms, individual traits, and 'elements' contained in reproductive cells. Mendel's achievement was a product of normal science, and yet a revolutionary step forward. This also explains why, in 1900, when the report he gave on his experiments was 'rediscovered', Mendel could be read as a 'Mendelian'.


Description An “analysis of publications on hybridization by Carl Linnaeus, Joseph Gottlieb Koelreuter, Carl Friedrich Gärtner, and Mendel.” (from the abstract)

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Authors & Contributors
Kampourakis, Kostas
Tudge, Colin
Kemp, Martin
Edelson, Edward
Carlson, Elof Axel
Allen, Garland E.
Science and Education
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Endeavour: Review of the Progress of Science
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Perspectives on Science
Jonathan Cape
Oxford University Press
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press
University of Pittsburgh Press
Trafford Publishing
Wallstein Verlag
Mendel, Gregor Johann
Darwin, Charles Robert
Galton, Francis
Vries, Hugo Marie de
Fisher, Ronald Aylmer
Johannsen, Wilhelm Ludvig
Time Periods
19th century
20th century
20th century, early
17th century
18th century
21st century
Great Britain
Royal Society of London

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