Journal of the History of Biology 19 (1):79-130 (1986)

Six schools of thought can be detected in the development of evolutionary theory in German paleontology between 1859 and World War II. Most paleontologists were hardly affected in their research by Darwin's Origin of Species. The traditionalists accepted evolution within lower taxa but not for organisms in general. They also rejected Darwin's theory of selection. The early Darwinians accepted Darwin's theory of transmutation and theory of selection as axioms and applied them fruitfully to the fossil record, thereby laying the foundation for the new research areas of phylogeny and paleo-biology. The enthusiasm of the early Darwinians faded when the fossil record and the problems of its interpretion became more widely known. The pluralists of the turn of the century invented and adopted a wealth of hypothetical mechanisms in order to explain individual features of the fossil record. They failed, however, to provide one coherent theory. Dissatisfaction with this situation led to adoption of a dogmatic neo-Lamarckism, which was regarded as a coherent theory providing a fruitful research program. The rejection of the Lamarckian mechanism early in this century left paleontologists with only one kind of evolutionary mechanism: inner causes.Like many neo-Lamarckians several orthogeneticists were highly interested in adaptation and did not see any contradiction between the inner causes of evolution and adaptation. The dominance of stratigraphical research programs in paleontology led in the 1930s and 1940s to a decrease in interest in adaptation. Stratigraphical records of taxa were accepted as meaningful in the context of evolutionary theory. Orthogenesis and the new concepts of saltation and cyclicism were amalgamated into one theory : typostrophism. This theory dominated German paleontology for decades after the war and only recently has the synthetic theory been seriously considered.Evolution was never very intensively discussed in German paleontology in the hundred years after Darwin's book. Most information used here comes from textbooks or from papers given on special occasions. It has been impossible to summarize how members of one school defended their views or discussed the ideas of competing schools.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/bf00346618
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 72,607
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Ontogeny and Phylogeny.Stephen Jay Gould - 1978 - Philosophy of Science 45 (4):652-653.
Punctuated Equilibria: An Alternative to Phyletic Gradualism.Niles Eldredge & Stephen Jay Gould - 1972 - In Thomas J. M. Schopf (ed.), Models in Paleobiology. Freeman Cooper. pp. 82-115.
The Comparative Reception of Darwinism.Thomas F. Glick (ed.) - 1988 - University of Chicago Press.
The Primary Factors of Organic Evolution. [REVIEW]E. D. Cope - 1896 - Ancient Philosophy (Misc) 7:301.

View all 8 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

The Creation of the Essentialism Story: An Exercise in Metahistory.Mary P. Winsor - 2006 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 28 (2):149 - 174.
“A Temporary Oversimplification”: Mayr, Simpson, Dobzhansky, and the Origins of the Typology/Population Dichotomy.Joeri Witteveen - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 55:20-33.
The Reception of Darwin in Late Nineteenth-Century German Paleontology as a Case of Pyrrhic Victory.Marco Tamborini - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 66:37-45.

View all 13 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Individuality and Macroevolutionary Theory.Marc Ereshefsky - 1988 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1988:216 - 222.
The Search Hypothesis of Emotions.Dylan Evans - 2002 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 53 (4):497-509.
Selection, Indeterminism, and Evolutionary Theory.Bruce Glymour - 2001 - Philosophy of Science 68 (4):518-535.
Twentieth Century German Philosophy.Paul Gorner - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
One Theory to Fit Them All: The Search Hypothesis of Emotion Revisited.Yaniv Hanoch - 2005 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (1):135-145.


Added to PP index

Total views
15 ( #703,613 of 2,533,656 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #389,210 of 2,533,656 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes