||While it certainly can be said that Darwinism refers to the version of evolutionary theory originating with Charles Darwin (1809-82), providing any more precise definition is actually extraordinarily difficult. The reasons are manifold. For one thing Darwin\'s theory of evolution (which involved also commitments to common organic descent, gradualism, and the multiplication of species) encompassed a range of mechanisms for effecting organic transformation; as well as natural selection, Darwin also spoke of sexual selection, family selection, correlative variation, use inheritance and directed variation (Mayr, 1985; Provine 1985). Besides this there is much to be said for the view that Darwinism is itself a historical entity that has evolved over time (Hull, 1985). What it was to be a Darwinian was different for different people at different times and in different places â€” and all of these Darwinisms bear different relationships to Darwin\'s own theories. Indeed on some readings, Darwin himself would not qualify as a Darwinian! (see La Vergata, 1985). Evidently Darwinism is a group or system of ideas more related by family resemblance than by genetic identity. For all that, in the Origin of species (1859) Darwin did specify one major mechanism â€” natural selection â€” by which the transmutation of species could be effected. (A similar theory was simultaneously put forward by Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913).) Here Darwin showed how the multitude of living things in our world, so finely adapted to their environments, could have come into being without any recourse to a divine master-plan, in a plain, causal, naturalistic way. Given the self-evident facts of heredity and variation among organisms, and the Malthusian parameters of population increase, Darwin argued that a struggle for existence must take place; it followed that those who survived were better adapted to their environments than competitors (Young, 1969). This was essentially a theory of reproductive success in which relatively superior adaptations increase while relatively inferior ones are steadily eliminated. As Gould (1980, p. 11) summarizes Darwin\'s insight:
(a)Â Organisms vary, and these variations are inherited (at least in part) by their offspring;(b)Â Organisms produce more offspring than can possibly survive; and(c)Â On average, offspring that vary most strongly in directions favoured by the environment will survive and propagate: favourable variations will therefore accumulate in populations by natural selection.The implications of Darwin\'s theory of natural selection were far-reaching. It was, for example, a non-progressivist account of organic change. It assumed that variations in animals were random (or at least obeyed laws as yet unknown) and therefore that there was no inevitable movement of evolutionary history towards some ultimate goal. In this way the older teleological conception of nature was profoundly challenged (cf. teleology). Additionally, Darwin had come to the realization that the real units of organic history were populations, not types or species. The change from one species to another was simply the byproduct of the process of a population becoming increasingly adapted to its particular environment. Here then was an explanation of population change that accounted in naturalistic terms for differential reproductive success among organic groups.
And yet, in its mode of expression, Darwinian evolution was hardly conveyed in a neutral style. Janet Browne (1996), for example, has disclosed the profoundly imperial tone that pervaded much biogeographical writing in the Darwinian frame, a perhaps not surprising state of affairs given that a vast array of bio- and zoo-geographical data were gathered by colonial officials (see also Ritvo, 1987; Mackenzie, 1990; cf. imperialism). Besides, Darwin\'s theory of natural selection was replete with metaphor, perhaps the most significant of which was the analogy he developed between the selective activity of breeders and natural selection (Young, 1971; Secord, 1981). To him, Nature was translated into the idioms of breeding, into the language of management husbandry. Indeed it was precisely this species of conceptual manoeuvre that allowed critics to urge that Darwin had simply transferred the attributes of Paley\'s God to nature.
The network of Darwinian commitments, of course, had repercussions beyond biology and biogeography. Disciplines from anthropology to zoology registered at least some of the currents of the Darwinian vision. At the same time, Darwinism had a considerable cultural impact, although interpreting the significance of this \'revolution\' has proved to be an infernally stubborn problem (Bowler, 1988). Some have seen its significance as the triumph of science over religion, the substitution of natural law for natural theology, or the shift from a creationist to a positivist episteme (see positivism). Others, like R.M. Young, stress the ideological continuity between religion and science, regarding both as socially sanctioned ideologies (see discussions in Gillespie, 1979; Moore, 1982; Young, 1985; Brooke, 1991). Recent biographies of key figures in the drama â€” notably Huxley (Desmond, 1994; 1997) and Darwin himself (Desmond and Moore, 1991) â€” have disclosed a network of Victorian scientists intent on wresting cultural authority from the church (see also Barton, 1983).
Given the ambiguities over the term \'Darwinism\' and the fact that it cannot be reduced just to an acceptance of the natural selection mechanism, it is understandable that the percolation of Darwinian themes into geography did not take place in any systematic way. Notions like change through time, interrelationships between organism and environment, organic analogies and selection and struggle certainly became commonplace in the geographical literature (Stoddart, 1966; 1981). But these, as often as not, were derived from the Lamarckian version of evolution which emphasized that organisms could consciously adapt themselves to their surroundings and pass on acquired characteristics to offspring. Still, whatever the sources, aspects of the evolutionary paradigm found expression in almost every subdisciplinary specialism of geography. Davis\'s cycle of erosion expressed his interpretation of landscape evolution, though hardly in any specifically Darwinian sense given the absence of sexual reproduction; Clements\'s plant geography displayed his fascination with organic modes of thought; the Russian geographer and ichthyologist Lev Semyonovich Berg developed a Darwinian theory of \'nomogenesis\' which, by emphasizing mutations, allowed for evolutionary \'jumps\'; Ratzel\'s anthropogeography disclosed his organismic conception of the state and provided a human geographical articulation of Moritz Wagner\'s Lamarckian-based migration theory; Whittlesey\'s scheme of sequent occupance and Fleure\'s geographical anthropology and anthropometric cartography were also evidently imbued with evolutionary thinking. Besides these individuals a variety of key issues within the geographical tradition drew heavily on evolutionary motifs. Statements of environmental determinism by figures like Semple, Huntington and Taylor were invariably couched in evolutionary categories (Livingstone 1987); the transference of ideas about community between sociology and ecology, and expressed within geography in the tradition of human ecology, disclosed an evolutionary political economy (Mitman, 1992); debates about acclimatization were similarly connected up to questions about heredity and adaptation (Anderson, 1992; Livingstone, 1992a); and early theoretical statements about regional geography, such as those of Herbertson and Geddes, were supported by appeals to the need for elucidating evolutionary mechanisms in specific contexts (Livingstone 1992b).Â (DNL)
References Anderson, W. 1992: Climates of opinion: acclimatization in nineteenth-century France and England. Victorian Studies 35: 135-57.Â Barton, R. 1983: Evolution: the Whitworth gun in Huxley\'s war for the liberation of science from theology. In D. Oldroyd and I. Langham, eds, The wider domain of evolutionary thought. Dordrecht: Reidel, 261-87.Â Bowler, P. 1988: The non-Darwinian revolution: reinterpreting a historical myth. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Â Brooke, J.H. 1991: Science and religion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Â Browne, J. 1996: Biogeography and empire. In N. Jardine, J.A. Secord and E.C. Spary, eds, Cultures of natural history. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 305-21.Â Desmond, A. 1994: Huxley: the devil\'s disciple. London: Michael Joseph.Â Desmond, A. 1997: Huxley: evolution\'s high priest. London: Michael Joseph.Â Desmond, A. and Moore, J. 1991: Darwin. London: Michael Joseph.Â Gillespie, N.C. 1979: Charles Darwin and the problem of creation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Â Gould, S.J. 1980: Ever since Darwin; reflections in natural history. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Â Hull, D.L. 1985: Darwinism as a historical entity: a historiographical proposal. In D. Kohn, ed., The Darwinian heritage. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 773-812.Â La Vergata, A. 1985. Images of Darwin. A historiographic overview. In D. Kohn, ed., The Darwinian heritage. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 901-75.Â Livingstone, D.N. 1987: Human acclimatization: perspectives on a contested field of inquiry in science, medicine and geography. History of Science 25: 359-94.Â Livingstone, D.N. 1992a: \'Never shall ye make the crab walk straight\': an inquiry into the scientific sources of racial geography. In F. Driver and G. Rose, eds, Nature and science: essays in the history of geographical knowledge. Historical Geography Research Series, no. 28: 37-48.Â Livingstone, D.N. 1992b: The geographical tradition. Episodes in the history of a contested enterprise. Oxford: Blackwell.Â Mackenzie, J.M., ed., 1990: Imperialism and the natural world. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Â Mayr, E. 1985: Darwin\'s five theories of evolution. In D. Kohn, ed., The Darwinian heritage. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 755-72.Â Mitman, G. 1992: The state of nature: ecology, community, and American social thought, 1900-1950. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.Â Moore, J.R. 1982: 1859 and all that: Remaking the story of evolution-and-religion. In R. Chapman, and C.T. Duval, eds, Charles Darwin. A centennial commemorative. Wellington, NZ: Nova Pacifica, 167-94.Â Provine, W.P. 1985: Adaptation and mechanisms of evolution after Darwin: a study in persistent controversies. In D. Kohn, ed., The Darwinian heritage. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 825-66.Â Ritvo, H. 1987: The animal estate: the English and other creatures in the Victorian age. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Â Secord, J.A. 1981: Nature\'s fancy: Charles Darwin and the breeding of pigeons. Isis 72: 163-86.Â Stoddart, D.R. 1966: Darwin\'s impact on geography. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 56: 683-98.Â Stoddart, D.R. 1981: Darwin\'s influence on the development of geography in the United States, 1859-1914. In B.W. Blouet, ed., The origins of academic geography in the United States. Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 265-78.Â Young, R.M. 1969: Malthus and the evolutionists: the common context of biological and social theory. Past and Present 43: 109-45.Â Young, R.M. 1971: Darwin\'s metaphor: does nature select? The Monist 55: 442-503.Â Young, R.M. 1985: Darwin\'s metaphor. Nature\'s place in Victorian culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Suggested Reading Bowler, P.J. 1984: Evolution. The history of an idea. Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press.Â Kohn, D., ed., 1985. The Darwinian heritage. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Â Oldroyd, D.R. 1980: Darwinian impacts. An introduction to the Darwinian revolution. Milton Keynes: Open University Press; Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press.Â Ruse, M. 1979: The Darwinian revolution. Science red in tooth and claw. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.