My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is an important book in the story of the history of natural selection.
One of the most frequently cited discoveries that is conveyed in its pages (pp 72-73) is Eiseley's unique discovery that Darwin (1844) - in a private and unpublished essay - replicated Patrick Matthew's (1831) unique Artificial versus Natural Selection analogy of differences. In that essay, to which Eiseley directs us, he shows hus that Darwin even replicated the precise example Matthew used of the differences between plants raised in nurseries and those selected by nature in the wild. Eiseley then notes that Darwin cited that example as Matthew's in his 1868 book The Descent of Man - but only because Matthew had claimed priority for his theory in the press in 1860.
Eiseley concluded that this was too great to be a coincidence and that Darwin had lied when he claimed no prior-knowledge of Matthew's book - which contains the full hypothesis of natural selection
What Eisely missed, however was that professor David Low - Matthew's Perth Academy schoolmate - had twice been first to second use unique "Matthewisms" in his books - which Darwin read. And in his 1834 book Low also replicated Matthew's great and original explanatory analogy.
What Eiseley also missed was that in the Origin of Species Darwin (1859) also replicated Matthew's analogy of differences - only that time he used different examples to explain it.
What is so important about Eiseley's book is that by uncovering what he did in the literature, he enabled us to see further than what Darwin wrote about his so-called "independent discovery" of a prior-published theory to find a purer form of truth in the history of the discovery of natural selection. .
Ths is a classic book for anyone interested in the history of the discovery of natural selection. I highly recommend it to you for your personal library.
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