Darwinism and the Linguistic Image: Language, Race, and Natural Theology in the Nineteenth Century

Overview

In the nineteenth century, philology—especially comparative philology—made impressive gains as a discipline, thus laying the foundation for the modern field of linguistics. In Darwinism and the Linguistic Image, Stephen G. Alter examines how comparative philology provided a genealogical model of language that Darwin, as well as other scientists and language scholars, used to construct rhetorical parallels with the common-descent theory of ...

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Overview

In the nineteenth century, philology—especially comparative philology—made impressive gains as a discipline, thus laying the foundation for the modern field of linguistics. In Darwinism and the Linguistic Image, Stephen G. Alter examines how comparative philology provided a genealogical model of language that Darwin, as well as other scientists and language scholars, used to construct rhetorical parallels with the common-descent theory of evolution.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

British Journal of the History of Science
The emphasis throughout on how analogies can influence belief is important and persuasive. All told, Alter has provided a rich and rewarding account of the often subtle connections that bound the nineteenth-century sciences of language and life.

— Gregory Radick

British Journal of the History of Science - Gregory Radick

The emphasis throughout on how analogies can influence belief is important and persuasive. All told, Alter has provided a rich and rewarding account of the often subtle connections that bound the nineteenth-century sciences of language and life.

Booknews
Historian Alter explains how Darwin drew models and examples for his theory of evolution from the new discipline of philology, even though analogues of languages descending from common ancestors provided no real scientific evidence for biological evolution. He analyzes the argumentative strategy implicit in such comparisons, and considers the long-term consequences in both biology and the humanities. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknew.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Stephen G. Alter is an assistant professor of history at Gordon College in Massachusetts.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface and Acknowledgments
Prologue: Science as Indirect Discourse 1
1 Comparative Philology and Its Natural-Historical Imagery 7
2 From the Early Notebooks to The Origin of Species 15
3 The Darwinian Circle and the Post-Origin Debates 35
4 The Convoluted Path to The Descent of Man 72
5 A Convergence of "Scientific" Disciplines 108
Epilogue: Conjectural Genealogical Reconstruction, Antiquarian Aesthetics, and the Plausibility of Common Descent 146
Notes 149
Essay on Sources 185
Index 189
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