Richard Owen: biologia sem Darwin

sábado, março 12, 2011

Richard Owen



368 pages | 20 halftones, 2 tables | 6 x 9 | © 1994, 2009

In the mid-1850s, no scientist in the British Empire was more visible than Richard Owen. Mentioned in the same breath as Isaac Newton and championed as Britain’s answer to France’s Georges Cuvier and Germany’s Alexander von Humboldt, Owen was, as the Times declared in 1856, the most “distinguished man of science in the country.” But, a century and a half later, Owen remains largely obscured by the shadow of the most famous Victorian naturalist of all, Charles Darwin. Publicly marginalized by his contemporaries for his critique of natural selection, Owen suffered personal attacks that undermined his credibility long after his name faded from history.

With this innovative biography, Nicolaas Rupke resuscitates Owen’s reputation. Arguing that Owen should no longer be judged by the evolution dispute that figured in only a minor part of his work, Rupke stresses context, emphasizing the importance of places and practices in the production and reception of scientific knowledge. Dovetailing with the recent resurgence of interest in Owen’s life and work, Rupke’s book brings the forgotten naturalist back into the canon of the history of science and demonstrates how much biology existed with, and without, Darwin.

Review quotes

"A marvellous achievement. . . . Owen comes into clearer focus than ever before. . . . Rupke does us great service in restoring parts of the Victorian world usually neglected in favour of the quest for origins."—Janet Browne, Times Literary Supplement

"The figure of Owen emerging from the pages of Rupke's book is a far more substantial one than we have been led to expect, not a saint, by any means, but one of the architects of modern biology who has been sadly mistreated by the orthodox history of science."—Peter Bowler, Times Higher Education

"Riveting. In relating bitter Victorian debates Rupke shows how science affected great social and religious questions still urgently relevant today."—Financial Times

"One of the many strengths of Rupke's impressive book is the way in which the institutional framework is convincingly integrated with the style and content of Owen's science. . . . This is carefully documented, exciting, and convincing history."