Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Growth of Biological Thought: Diversity, Evolution, and Inheritance” as Want to Read:
The Growth of Biological Thought: Diversity, Evolution, and Inheritance
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  148 ratings  ·  9 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 biology ...more
Paperback, 974 pages
Published January 22nd 1985 by Belknap Press (first published 1982)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Growth of Biological Thought, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Growth of Biological Thought

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.31  · 
Rating details
 ·  148 ratings  ·  9 reviews


Filter
 | 
Sort order
James F
Feb 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Kristopher
Jan 22, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy-texts
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
Tyas
Sep 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biology
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.
Adrienne
Jan 08, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Mark Bowles
Aug 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Alan Clark
Nov 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very thorough and interesting, although I did skip a few pages where it told me more than I wanted to know. The English is not too difficult, but could have been plainer.

Mayr does go astray a little where he criticises some biologists, especially Richard Dawkins, for the idea that it is the single gene rather than the whole gene pool that is the unit of selection. However, reading "The Selfish Gene", (Immortal Coils chapter) shows that Dawkins is aware that the whole gene pool must be considered
...more
Tran Trung
evolution, diversity, inheritance in biology
Paul Bauer
Aug 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A masterpiece.
Gregory
Nov 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
A pleasant little book in case you have a few hours to spare.
That's a joke.
Samantha
rated it liked it
Mar 01, 2008
Lara Wechsler
rated it it was amazing
Oct 04, 2015
Sheikh Tajamul
rated it really liked it
Mar 04, 2016
Siavash
rated it really liked it
Nov 11, 2007
Jon Collins
rated it it was ok
Jul 21, 2015
Nicole floyd
rated it really liked it
Jan 28, 2019
Imed
rated it it was amazing
Aug 26, 2017
Katrina
rated it liked it
Oct 04, 2007
Craig McConnell
rated it liked it
Jan 08, 2012
Carlos Eduardo
rated it it was amazing
Feb 23, 2015
DB
rated it liked it
May 06, 2014
Richard Willis
rated it it was amazing
Feb 12, 2019
James D.
rated it it was amazing
Nov 18, 2014
Jonas Gehrlein
rated it really liked it
Jul 10, 2015
T
rated it really liked it
Nov 22, 2014
Ann
rated it it was amazing
Sep 05, 2012
Priyanshu Srivastava
rated it it was amazing
Dec 29, 2014
Jyotiskar D
rated it it was amazing
Jan 04, 2015
Geoff
rated it it was amazing
Jul 13, 2008
John
rated it really liked it
Feb 18, 2016
Jim Loy
rated it it was amazing
Mar 13, 2017
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Evolution
  • Evolution: The First Four Billion Years
  • The Variety of Life: A Survey and a Celebration of All the Creatures that Have Ever Lived
  • The Theory of Evolution
  • The Plausibility of Life: Resolving Darwin's Dilemma
  • Ontogeny and Phylogeny
  • Evolution: The History of an Idea
  • Darwin
  • Life on a Young Planet: The First Three Billion Years of Evolution on Earth
  • The Origins of Order: Self-Organization and Selection in Evolution
  • Adaptation and Natural Selection: A Critique of Some Current Evolutionary Thought
  • Animal Behavior: An Evolutionary Approach
  • Charles Darwin: Voyaging
  • Man's Place in Nature
  • Sociobiology: The New Synthesis
  • An Introduction to Genetic Algorithms
  • Wetware: A Computer in Every Living Cell
  • Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and the Making of the Animal Kingdom
89 followers
For the computer scientist, see Ernst Wilhelm Meyr

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 Darw
...more
“Generalizations in biology are almost invariably of a probabilistic nature. As one wit has formulated it, there is only one universal law in biology: 'All biological laws have exceptions.' This probabilistic conceptualization contrasts strikingly with the view during the early period of the scientific revolution that causation in nature is regulated by laws that can be stated in mathematical terms. Actually, this idea occurred apparently first to Pythagoras. It has remained a dominant idea, particularly in the physical sciences, up to the present day. Again and again it was made the basis of some comprehensive philosophy, but taking very different forms in the hands of various authors. With Plato it gave rise to essentialism, with Galileo to a mechanistic world picture, and with Descartes to the deductive method. All three philosophies had a fundamental impact on biology.” 0 likes
More quotes…