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The Growth of Biological Thought: Diversity, Evolution and Inheritance
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The Growth of Biological Thought: Diversity, Evolution and Inheritance

4.28 of 5 stars 4.28  ·  rating details  ·  81 ratings  ·  8 reviews
No one in this century can speak with greater authority on the progress of ideas in biology than Ernst Mayr. And no book has ever established the life sciences so firmly in the mainstream of Western intellectual history as "The Growth of Biological Thought." Ten years in preparation, this is a work of epic proportions, tracing the development of the major problems of biolo ...more
Paperback, 896 pages
Published July 1st 1985 by Harvard University Press (first published 1982)
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A very thorough and intricately researched text, this is an outstanding overview of the history of biological and evolutionary thought ranging from Aristotle to late 20th century views. Mayr provides clear discussion of relevant issues and broad conceptual overviews in ways that are helpful and (sometimes) interesting. At times Mayr gets very detailed with regards to historical debates, and provides a fairly unbiased view of both sides (much of the time). At times, however, Mayr's attention to d ...more
James F
This book is a conceptual history of evolutionary biology, divided into three parts, on the history of systematics, the history of evolutionary theory, and the history of genetics. The author was himself one of the founders of the modern "evolutionary synthesis", so his account is very authoritative.

He says in the introduction that he may be "accused" of writing a textbook of biology disguised as a history; in fact I did learn a great deal of biology I hadn't known previously from the book. It d
Mark Bowles
A historical context is often required for a complete understanding of scientific controversies within a field. In the discipline of biology, such a book did not exist until Ernst Mayr wrote The Growth of Biological Thought; Diversity, Evolution, and Inheritance. This book attempts to fill this gap in the literature and provide a history of ideas of biology. Prior studies in the history of biology focused on lives on biologists' and discoveries, yet they did not analyze the major concepts, idea ...more
Yeah well, to be frank, I haven't really finished this book. It's SUPER-EXTRA-THICK, tracing the growth of biological thought (well, of course: it's in the title), and it's like some sort of Bible to me - I can check it time and again if there is something I need to know, from Aristoteles to Darwin, from Harvey to Simpson...

Just amazing. An unparalleled feat.
I can't ever really say I enjoyed a huge science textbook (especially with no pictures!), but Mayr's book was fairly easy to read and understand and was VERY thorough, even if he is a little defensive about biology the entire time.
A pleasant little book in case you have a few hours to spare.
That's a joke.
Tran Trung
evolution, diversity, inheritance in biology
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Ernst Walter Mayr (July 5, 1904 – February 3, 2005) was one of the 20th century's leading evolutionary biologists. He was also a renowned taxonomist, tropical explorer, ornithologist, and historian of science. His work contributed to the conceptual revolution that led to the modern evolutionary synthesis of Mendelian genetics, systematics, and Darwinian evolution, and to the development of the bio ...more
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