Joseph Hooker Takes a “Fixed Post”: Transmutation and the “Present Unsatisfactory State of Systematic Botany”, 1844–1860

Journal of the History of Biology 39 (1):1-39 (2006)
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Abstract

Joseph Hooker first learned that Charles Darwin believed in the transmutation of species in 1844. For the next 14 years, Hooker remained a "nonconsenter" to Darwin's views, resolving to keep the question of species origin "subservient to Botany instead of Botany to it, as must be the true relation." Hooker placed particular emphasis on the need for any theory of species origin to support the broad taxonomic delimitation of species, a highly contentious issue. His always provisional support for special creation waned during the 1850s as he lost faith in its expediency for coordinating the study of plant geography, systematics and physiology. In 1858, Hooker embraced Darwin's "considerable revolution in natural history," but only after Darwin had carefully molded his transmutationism to meet Hooker's exacting specifications.

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