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Darwin-L Message Log 5:136 (January 1994)

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.


<5:136>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu  Tue Jan 25 11:39:16 1994

Date: Tue, 25 Jan 1994 12:49:56 -0400 (EDT)
From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu
Subject: Tools, historical questions, and the character of Darwin-L
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: University of NC at Greensboro

Just a short note to echo John Langdon's message, and to head off possible
misunderstandings about the range of discussion that appears on Darwin-L.  Our
subscribers come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and include quite a few
people who are interested in the history of ideas in the historical sciences.
As a consequence, we often talk about the origin of various ideas in natural
history, the evidence for those ideas, how they were viewed by other
historical scientists, and so on.  For example, I asked yesterday whether
anyone could point me to a particular reference on Aristotle's cyclical view
of history.  Someone else might inquire what Lyell's evidence for the eternity
of the earth was.  This does not mean that I believe in a cyclical universe
nor that the other party thinks the earth is eternal.  As I read the question
Polly Winsor asked about the role of tools in human evolution it was a
strictly historical question: who was the first person to propose the idea
that tools in some way freed humans from natural selection.  Polly and her
colleague are both historians of science, so I am inclined to think this
reading of her question is correct.  The fact that the notion in question is
false is somewhat beside the point of her inquiry.

Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner

Robert J. O'Hara (darwin@iris.uncg.edu)
Center for Critical Inquiry and Department of Biology
100 Foust Building, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A.

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