Grandeur in this View of Life: Darwin and the Ocean World
Abstract:Darwin's experience during the Beagle voyage shaped both the form and the content of his scientific work. His experience was both aesthetic and emotional, appreciating the wholeness of nature, and analytical and conceptual, understanding the world through theoretical structures. Contrary to what he wrote, his theories, derived intuitively, had primacy over facts. The coral reef theory, for example, was worked out in South America, and could not be proved by factual observation. The criterion for acceptance of such theories is not truth but usefulness: Darwin thus viewed theories as tools for understanding rather than as factual generalizations. His achievement was thus not to provide answers to problems but rather to show how to seek them.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1983-07-01
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