By James A. Secord
This booklet goals at severe targets and achieves all of theirs. It professionals ides x essentially new interpretation of the Cambrian-Silurian dispute in keeping with exacting examine and considerate interpretation. It additionally relates the dispute either to the overall social heritage of British geology and to the unique own reviews of Sedgswick and Murchison. Secord writes transparent, rigorous prose and gives lots of invaluable illustrations. One can't ask for extra" - William Montgomery, technology "Secord provides a dazzlingly targeted account of this clinical trench struggle and its social outcomes. One finally ends up with a marvellous feeling for the main taxonomic companies in Darwin's more youthful day: mapping, ordering, conquering 'taming the "chaos" of the strata. All of those after all had social and imperial ramifications; and Secord mentions geology's ethical allure (in aiding a divinely-stratified construction) to a beleaguered elite motive on subduing the reduce orders. We additionally get an excellent perception into the bitty slay those taxonomic organisations advanced. . . . What comes throughout is how? our supposedly 'inert' taxonomic constructs nonetheless mirror their contingent background" - Adrian Desmond, London evaluate of Books "James Secord presents a desirable background of 1 of the main celebrated altercations in 19th-century science-the controversy over the right kind boundary among the Cambrian and Silurian divisions within the oldest fossil-bearing rocks. by means of integrating the social and technical points of the clash, the writer opens up a number new ways to the heritage of common technology within the Victorian period. the result's a brilliant tale of the human results of clinical partisanship and a major contribution to the examine of the particular perform of technology" - eu magazine of Engineering schooling" [Secord's] ebook needs to turn into crucial interpreting for any critical pupil of the background of the earth-sciences however it additionally
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Extra resources for Controversy in Victorian Geology: The Cambrian-Silurian Dispute
In more detailed mapping, virtually all the individual rock formations were followed out at full length, and the details of every outcrop in the region recorded. But such a procedure was relatively rare in the exploratory investigations char acteristically pursued by the gentlemen geologists. These stratigraphical relations of the rock beds with one another, often called their "physics," provided the foundation for establish ing the geological succession in a particular area. This area could then become a type, to serve as a standard for spreading strati graphical order to other regions.
Like Lyell, Darwin, Fitton, Murchison, and Greenough, most pos sessed independent incomes of varying size and security. A few, notably Buckland from Oxford and Sedgwick from Cambridge, 13 Geologist 1842,1: 162; Ramsay, Diary, entry for 10 Mar. 1847, ICL(R): KGA Ram say 1/8 f. 28r. The dominance of a small group of individuals in determining the con sensus on any particular issue in the Geological Society is illuminated by Harry Collins's concept of a "core-set": see Rudwick 1982a, 1985, and Collins 1981b.
13 With a few outstanding excep tions, most notably Adrian Desmond's work on vertebrate palaeon tology, Mary P. 14 What follows are the guiding principles that direct the present account. To begin with, I believe that past science can best be approached from the standpoint of general social history, as the product of par ticular people working in particular places in particular circum stances. 15 It can also be applied to questions dis cussed both inside and outside the boundaries of a scientific com munity (despite common assumptions to the contrary, sociological explanations in history need not always invoke issues of politics or class).