On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection
‘Origin of Species’, originally written in 1859, helped lay the foundation for many of the theories of evolution that would shape thinking for the next century. According to Glick, its greatest impact on German biological practice lay in the introduction of historical modes of explanation for the observable phenomena of living nature. The historical approach to nature was rejected, not only by the opponents of evolution, but also by the idealist evolutionist. Whether they favored a teleological or a reductionist biology, the idealists could not see the point of a theory that emphasized the irregularities and exceptions in the organic world. In the timeless real of idealist thinking, unchanging laws worked out an inevitable destiny. But Darwin taught his followers to look at living beings one by one. Thus prompted, they recognized, as if for the first time, the surprising fact of anomaly and the wisdom of an open-ended theory.” (Glick, Comparative Reception of Darwinism) Garrison calls this work the most wonderful piece of synthesis in the history of science.