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Celebrate Darwin's bicentennial by exploring how Darwin 'defined' evolutionary biology

Michael Ruse is one of the foremost Charles Darwin scholars of our time. For forty years, he has written extensively on Darwin, the scientific revolution that his work precipitated, and the nature and implications of evolutionary thinking for today. Now, in the year marking the two hundredth anniversary of Darwin's birth and the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of his masterpiece, On the Origin of Species, Ruse reevaluates the legacy of Darwin in this collection of new and recent essays, DEFINING DARWIN: ESSAYS ON THE HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY (Prometheus Books, $26.98).

Beginning with pre-Darwinian concepts of organic origins proposed by the great German philosopher Immanuel Kant, Ruse shows the challenges that Darwin's radically different idea faced. He then discusses natural selection as a powerful metaphor; Alfred Russel Wallace, the co-discoverer of the theory of evolution; Herbert Spencer's contribution to evolutionary biology; the synthesis of Mendelian genetics and natural selection; the different views of Julian Huxley and George Gaylord Simpson on evolutionary ethics; and the influence of Darwin's ideas on literature. In the final section, Ruse brings the discussion up to date with a consideration of "evolutionary development" (dubbed "evo devo") as a new evolutionary paradigm and the effects of Darwin on religion, especially the debate surrounding Intelligent Design theory.

"Michael Ruse is a master science story-teller. In Defining Darwin, he tackles fundamental issues in philosophy and history of evolutionary biology with great originality and depth. Clarity of expression and vivid language make the reading facile and, indeed, thoroughly enjoyable. Defining Darwin is an important addition to the extensive Darwinian literature enriching the celebration of Darwin's two hundredth anniversary," said Francisco J. Ayala, University Professor and Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of California, Irvin; author of Darwin's Gift to Science and Religion and Human Evolution: Trails from the Past; and recipient of the 2001 U.S. National Medal of Science

Ruse offers a fresh perspective on topics old and new, challenging the reader to think again about the nature and consequences of what has been described as the biggest idea ever conceived.

Joe Cain, Science and Technology Studies at University College London calls DEFINING DARWIN: ESSAYS ON THE HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY, "an easy-to-read tour of Darwin and the history of evolutionary ideas... a fine survey of what's really important about Darwinism."


Contact: Jennifer Kovach
Prometheus Books

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