Cultures and Institutions of Natural History: Essays in the History and Philosophy of Science

California Academy of Sciences (2000)
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Excerpt from Cultures and Institutions of Natural History: Essays in the History and Philosophy of Science This volume consists mainly of papers delivered at two meetings cosponsored by the Museo Civico di Storia Naturale in Milan and the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. The first, on the Culture of Natural History, was held in Milan, November l4-l 6, I996. The second, on Institutions of Natural History, was held in San Francisco, October 5 - 7, 1998. They followed two earlier conferences on Biology as History (pinna and Ghiselin I996; Ghiselin and Pinna I996) likewise held in Milan and San Francisco. We intend to continue the series of meetings and have publications based on them in commemoration of the Academy's sesquicentennial in 2003. The emphasis here is mainly upon natural history museums and the kind of science that goes on in them. Although the essays were originally written to stand by themselves, when arranged in chronological order they suggest a common theme. To paraphrase Darwin, the culture and institutions of natural history have been, and are being, evolved. They have adapted to local circumstances, diversified, and sometimes even progressed. We may hope that the future holds more than just retrogression and extinction in store. Read as case studies the essays provide valuable insights into not just how, but why, the institutions have come into being and subsequently been transformed. Previous generations had quite different ideas than we do about how a collection of naturalia is supposed to function and how it should be organized. And there were con icting goals and serious disputes about policy, much as there are today. Often, though not always, the institutions turn out to be very different from what had been envisioned by their founders. About the Publisher Forgotten Books publishes hundreds of thousands of rare and classic books. Find more at This book is a reproduction of an important historical work. Forgotten Books uses state-of-the-art technology to digitally reconstruct the work, preserving the original format whilst repairing imperfections present in the aged copy. In rare cases, an imperfection in the original, such as a blemish or missing page, may be replicated in our edition. We do, however, repair the vast majority of imperfections successfully; any imperfections that remain are intentionally left to preserve the state of such historical works."



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