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Darwin-L Message Log 3:96 (November 1993)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.


<3:96>From p_stevens@nocmsmgw.harvard.edu  Wed Nov 24 06:29:20 1993

Date: 24 Nov 1993 07:29:31 U
From: "p stevens" <p_stevens@nocmsmgw.harvard.edu>
Subject: physics and history
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

Taking up some points made this last weekend, I am not sure to what extent
Cuvier really bought into the idea that natural history and physics were that
close.  From Toby Appel's book, it seems that he felt that natural history was
preminently a discipline of description, and could not be reduced to
mathematics.  You could of course suggest the fairly recent dalliance of
systematics with Popperian philosophy was an attempt of history (that is, a
part of the systematic community) to ground itself in the philosophy that leans
towards the physical sciences.

Connections with crystallography seem much closer, and not simply in the work
of peole like Hauy, A.-P. de Candolle, and Whewell; even Theodor Schwann (in
his "Mikroscopische Untersuchungen...", I seem to remember) invokes a
comparison with crystals.  Maybe this linkage in more common in botanical (or
botanically-inclined) authors.

And don't forget chemistry, and the analogy between chemical affinity and
biological affinity...

Peter Stevens.

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