Article ID: CBB358189530

The Making of John Tyndall's Darwinian Revolution (2020)


One of the most influential imagined histories of science of the nineteenth century was John Tyndall's Belfast Address of 1874. In that address, Tyndall presented a sweeping history of science that focused on the attempt to understand the material nature of life. While the address has garnered attention for its discussion of the conflict at the centre of this history, namely between science and theology, less has been said about how Tyndall's history culminated with a discussion of the evolutionary researches of Charles Darwin. Tyndall presented Darwin as a revolutionary scientific practitioner, whose virtues of patience, self-denial, and observation led him to his epochal theory of evolution and thus justified the extension of science into realms previously under the purview of theology. Tyndall was criticized at the time for his ‘vulgar admiration’ of a man of science who was still very much alive, and who could not possibly live up to such ‘fulsome adulation’. What such critics failed to realize, however, is that Tyndall had historicized the living Darwin within the context of his own philosophy of history that he cultivated years before, a philosophy that integrated the moral lives of heroic individuals within a progressive history of science itself.

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Authors & Contributors
Livingstone, David N.
Engels, Eve-Marie
Mazzeo, Marco
Werth, Barry
Voss, Julia
Sloan, Phillip R.
Osiris: A Research Journal Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Science and Education
Journal of Historical Geography
British Journal for the History of Science
University of Chicago Press
Southern Illinois University Press
Random House
Oxford University Press
Science and religion
Natural selection
Natural theology
Darwin, Charles Robert
Tyndall, John
Spencer, Herbert
Huxley, Thomas Henry
Blackwell, Antoinette Louisa Brown
Wallace, Alfred Russel
Time Periods
19th century
21st century
20th century, early
20th century
18th century
17th century
United States
Great Britain
Belfast, Ireland
Toronto (Ontario)
Edinburgh (Scotland)
Presbyterian Church

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