Book Review 1 - Joseph Dickinson Book Review 1 The Rise of Modern Science 2 October 2019 My Thoughts of A Man and His Influence Peter Bowler presents an

Book Review 1 - Joseph Dickinson Book Review 1 The Rise of...

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Joseph Dickinson Book Review 1 The Rise of Modern Science 2 October 2019 My Thoughts of A Man and His Influence Peter Bowler presents an account of Charles Darwin's contributions to science, history, and culture. The book “Charles Darwin: A Man and His Influence,” is able to provide a decent summary of the important times in Darwin's life, touching briefly on each significant aspect. Much of the book is written in a more technical way and is a bit too wordy, giving me the feeling that he was repeating himself at some points. I had a difficult time maintaining my interest while I was reading some of the chapters. Certain areas deserved more coverage, like the reaction when Darwin went public with his theories. I would have liked to have a broader scope of the scientific community and its reaction to his first published “On the Origin of Species.” On the positive side, this book does give some good sight into Darwin's relationships with other prominent scientists of his time and there are some moments where the slowness of the book becomes more interesting. This specifically occurs in the section that covers Darwin's voyage of discovery aboard the Beagle. For the most part of the book, it comes off as a history of ideas with some biography thrown in. Overall a bit dry, but filled with bursts of interesting information. I would have to dig a bit further into the history of the time to see the reactions of the scientific community to Darwin’s natural selection theory. Bowler states in regards to the young life of Darwin and his decision making
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process, “To what extent did the radical intellectual background off the Darwin family clearly illustrated by the opinions of Erasmus Darwin predispose him to challenge the orthodox view of nature? How did this radical background interact with the more conventional education he received at Cambridge?” (Bowler, p. 34). While I do fondly appreciate the curious mindset of Bowler, I think these questions should be more than rhetorical. Bowler states specifically that these are just some of the questions that need more clarification, but does nothing to bring any clarification to light. For someone who supposedly had so many resources during their research, Bowler overlooks the answers that he poses as important.
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  • Fall '16
  • Karl Schweizer

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