Article ID: CBB246935870

‘Great is Darwin and Bergson His Poet’: Julian Huxley's Other Evolutionary Synthesis (2018)


In 1912, Julian Huxley published his first book The Individual in the Animal Kingdom which he dedicated to the then world-famous French philosopher Henri Bergson. Historians have generally adopted one of two attitudes towards Huxley's early encounter with Bergson. They either dismiss it entirely as unimportant or minimize it, deeming it a youthful indiscretion preceding Huxley's full conversion to Fisherian Darwinism. Close biographical study and archive materials demonstrate, however, that neither position is tenable. The study of the Bergsonian elements in play in Julian Huxley's early works fed into Huxley's first ideas about progress in evolution and even his celebrated theories of bird courtship. Furthermore, the view that Huxley rejected Bergson in his later years needs to be revised. Although Huxley ended up claiming that Bergson's theory of evolution had no explanatory power, he never repudiated the descriptive power of Bergson's controversial notion of the élan vital. Even into the Modern Synthesis period, Huxley represented his own synthesis as drawing decisively on Bergson's philosophy.

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Authors & Contributors
Echeverria, Begona
Meer, Jitse M. van der
Ruse, Michael
Regal, Brian
Richards, Robert John
Erlingsson, Steindór J.
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Journal of the History of Biology
Biology and Philosophy
Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science
History Today
University of Chicago Press
Manchester University Press
University of California, Riverside
Reaktion Books
Modern Synthesis (biology)
Natural selection
Huxley, Julian Sorell
Haeckel, Ernst
Darwin, Charles Robert
Osborn, Henry Fairfield
Ehrenfest, Paul
Bergson, Henri Louis
Great Britain
United States
20th century, early
19th century
20th century
20th century, late
London Zoo

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