“The value of this brief and highly readable book, which will take its place high on the centennial works about Charles Darwin, is the relaxed and intimate familiarity of Ruse with his subject. Darwin's background, his predecessors, the context of his life, and the significance of his contributions over a vast intellectual domain, are provided as though by a close friend or member of the family.”
EDWARD O. WILSON
University Research Professor Emeritus
Author of Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge and many other works
"Michael Ruse is a master science story-teller. In Defining Darwin, he tackles fundamental issues in philosophy and history of evolutionary biology with great originality and depth. Clarity of expression and vivid language make the reading facile and, indeed, thoroughly enjoyable. Defining Darwin is an important addition to the extensive Darwinian literature enriching the celebration of Darwin’s two hundredth anniversary."
FRANCISCO J. AYALA
University Professor and Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences
University of California, Irvine
Recipient of the US National Medal of Science in 2001
Author of Darwin’s Gift to Science and Religion and Human Evolution:
Trails from the Past
“In this volume, Michael Ruse has collected some of his best and most incisive essays, done at the interface of history and philosophy. The chapters move from considerations of Kant on evolution through animadversions on the architects of the new synthesis to efforts at arbitrating a settlement in the warfare between science and religion. Darwin stands as alpha and omega in these pieces. The cumulative effect is like that of a plunge into a mountain stream—clear, bracing, and powerful enough to sweep you away.”
ROBERT J. RICHARDS
Morris Fishbein Professor of the History of Science, University of Chicago
Author of The Tragic Sense of Life: Ernst Haeckel and
the Struggle over Evolutionary Thought
Michael Ruse is one of the foremost Charles Darwin scholars of our time. For forty years he has written extensively on Darwin, the scientific revolution that his work precipitated, and the nature and implications of evolutionary thinking for today. Now, in the year marking the two hundredth anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of his masterpiece, On the Origin of Species, Ruse reevaluates the legacy of Darwin in this collection of new and recent essays.
Beginning with pre-Darwinian concepts of organic origins proposed by the great German philosopher Immanuel Kant, Ruse shows the challenges that Darwin’s radically different idea faced. He then discusses natural selection as a powerful metaphor; Alfred Russel Wallace, the co-discoverer of the theory of evolution; Herbert Spencer’s contribution to evolutionary biology; the synthesis of Mendelian genetics and natural selection; the different views of Julian Huxley and George Gaylord Simpson on evolutionary ethics; and the influence of Darwin’s ideas on literature. In the final section, Ruse brings the discussion up to date with a consideration of “evolutionary development” (dubbed “evo devo”) as a new evolutionary paradigm and the effects of Darwin on religion, especially the debate surrounding Intelligent Design theory.
Ruse offers a fresh perspective on topics old and new, challenging the reader to think again about the nature and consequences of what has been described as the biggest idea ever conceived.
Shipping Weight: 2lbs
Michael Ruse (Tallahassee, FL) is the Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy and director of the History and Philosophy of Science program at Florida State University. He is the founding editor of the journal Biology and Philosophy and the author or editor of The Stem Cell Controversy (with Christopher Pynes); Cloning: Responsible Science or Technomadness? (with Aryne Sheppard); Taking Darwin Seriously; Philosophy of Biology; and But Is It Science? (with Robert Pennock), among many other works.