Darwin5 - Darwin's Precursors and Influences Natural...

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Darwin's Precursors and Influences Natural selection Richard Owen (right) as an old man Some historians believe that Owen tried to claim priority for natural selection, but it was clear that he was never entirely happy with evolution. However, had he not been as difficult a man as he was (although of many virtues, and having suffered from the revisionism of the Darwinian tradition), he may have become a supporter of Darwin, for the foundations of his views were not so very different from Darwin's 8 . Nevertheless, there is no real evidence that he in any way gave the idea to Darwin. Richards (1992) thinks that Owen had been slapped down in his youthful transmutationist views by the geologist Sedgwick and orthodox religious leaders in 1837, and that he ran up his orthodox colours then. In a review of his own response to the Origin , an anonymous reviewer noted that "so far as we can gather from his communication, he denies the Darwinian doctrine, admits the accuracy of its basis, and claims to be the first to point out the truth of the principle on which it is founded" 9 . Owen may have some justice on his side, but the evidence is ambiguous, and there is no sign of his direct influence on Darwin concerning natural
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Darwin5 - Darwin's Precursors and Influences Natural...

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