Phrenology and the Origins of Victorian Scientific Naturalism

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Ashgate, 2004 - Science - 282 pages
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Through a reassessment of the science of phrenology, particularly the work of George Combe, Phrenology and the Origins of Victorian Scientific Naturalism challenges the orthodoxy that Charles Darwin's 1859 work The Origin of Species was the most influential work of Victorian science. Instead it is argued that Combe's phrenological work, The Constitution of Man in Relation to External Objects, published thirty one years previously, not only outsold Darwin's book, but also prepared the ground into which his evolutionary theories were dropped.Phrenology and the Origins of Victorian Scientific Naturalism also sheds light on all kinds of works in Victorian Britain and America which have previously been unnoticed or were simply referred to with a vague 'naturalism of the times' explanation. By restoring Combe and his work to centre stage it provides modern scholars with a more accurate picture of the Victorians' view of their place in Nature.

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About the author (2004)

John van Wyhe is Affiliate Researcher in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK.

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