Article ID: CBB001422092

The History and Reception of Charles Darwin's Hypothesis of Pangenesis (2014)

unapi

This paper explores Charles Darwin's hypothesis of pangenesis through a popular and professional reception history. First published in The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication (1868), pangenesis stated that inheritance can be explained by sub-cellular “gemmules” which aggregated in the sexual organs during intercourse. Pangenesis thereby accounted for the seemingly arbitrary absence and presence of traits in offspring while also clarifying some botanical and invertebrates' limb regeneration abilities. I argue that critics largely interpreted Variation as an extension of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859), while pangenesis was an extension of natural selection. Contrary to claims that pangenesis was divorced from natural selection by its reliance on the inheritance of acquired characters, pangenesis's mid nineteenth-century reception suggests that Darwin's hypothesis responded directly to selection's critics. Using Variation's several editions, periodical reviews, and personal correspondence I assess pangenesis popularly, professionally, and biographically to better understand Variation's impact on 1860s and 70s British evolutionism and inheritance.

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Authors & Contributors
Richards, Robert John
Glickman, Stephen E.
Engels, Eve-Marie
Glaubrecht, Matthias
Donohue, Kathleen
Gardiner, Brian O. C.
Journals
Journal of the History of Biology
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Journal for General Philosophy of Science
Journal of Biogeography
Filosofia e História da Biologia
Metabasis
Publishers
Herder
University of Chicago Press
Linnean Society of London
Prometheus Books
Harvard University Press
University of Chicago
Concepts
Evolution
Natural selection
Darwinism
Heredity
Species concept (biology)
Biology
People
Darwin, Charles Robert
Wallace, Alfred Russel
Vries, Hugo Marie de
Spencer, Herbert
Galton, Francis
Weismann, August
Time Periods
19th century
18th century
20th century, early
Places
Great Britain
Southeast Asia
United States
Institutions
United States. Dept. of Agriculture
Linnean Society of London
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