Man's Place in Nature

Front Cover
Courier Corporation, 2003 - Science - 184 pages
0 Reviews
Known as "Darwin's Bulldog" for his impassioned defense of evolutionary theory, Thomas Huxley published this, his most famous book, just a few years after Darwin's The Origin of the Species. Unlike Origin, this book focuses on human ancestry and offers a concise, nontechnical survey of the state of mid-nineteenth-century knowledge about primate and human paleontology and ethology. Man's Place in Nature concurs with Darwin's assertion of the absence of a physiologic and psychic structural line of demarcation between humans and apes. Huxley ventures further than Darwin, however, by making the first attempt to apply the principles of evolution directly to the human race (an issue that Darwin skirted). Despite Huxley's acknowledgements of the wide gulf represented by the human capacity for rational speech and language, some Victorian readers were scandalized by the application of Darwinian theory to humans and by Huxley's evidence of the fundamental similarities between the human brain and the ape brain. A landmark of scientific progress, this immensely readable book reflects the stylistic gifts that made its author a popular public speaker.
  

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Selected pages

Contents

ON THE NATURAL HISTORY OF THE MANLIKE APES
9
ON THE RELATIONS OF MAN TO THE LOWER ANIMALS
71
ON SOME FOSSIL REMAINS OF MAN
139
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2003)

Thomas Henry Huxley PC FRS (4 May 1825 - 29 June 1895) was an English biologist (comparative anatomist), known as "Darwin's Bulldog" for his advocacy of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Huxley's famous 1860 debate with Samuel Wilberforce was a key moment in the wider acceptance of evolution, and in his own career. Huxley had been planning to leave Oxford on the previous day, but, after an encounter with Robert Chambers, the author of Vestiges, he changed his mind and decided to join the debate. Wilberforce was coached by Richard Owen, against whom Huxley also debated whether humans were closely related to apes. Huxley was slow to accept some of Darwin's ideas, such as gradualism, and was undecided about natural selection, but despite this he was wholehearted in his public support of Darwin. He was instrumental in developing scientific education in Britain, and fought against the more extreme versions of religious tradition. In 1869 Huxley coined the term 'agnostic' to describe his own views on theology, a term whose use has continued to the present day (see Thomas Henry Huxley and agnosticism). Huxley had little formal schooling and taught himself almost everything he knew. He became perhaps the finest comparative anatomist of the latter 19th century. He worked on invertebrates, clarifying relationships between groups previously little understood. Later, he worked on vertebrates, especially on the relationship between apes and humans. After comparing Archaeopteryx with Compsognathus, he concluded that birds evolved from small carnivorous dinosaurs, a theory widely accepted today. The tendency has been for this fine anatomical work to be overshadowed by his energetic and controversial activity in favor of evolution, and by his extensive public work on scientific education, both of which had significant effects on society in Britain and elsewhere.

Bibliographic information