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Distributed for French National Museum Natural History

Cuvier’s History of the Natural Sciences

Nineteen Lessons from the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

Available for the first time in English, Georges Cuvier’s extraordinary History of the Natural Sciences from Its Origin to the Present Day draws on a series of 1829 to 1832 public lectures to provide a detailed chronological survey of the natural sciences spanning more than three millennia. This second of five volumes demonstrates further how Cuvier’s encyclopedic knowledge, incomparable memory, and fluency in many languages in addition to French, made him the ideal person to investigate and interpret firsthand the scientific literature of Europe. Heavily annotated with detailed commentary, the series not only supplies a set of useful references on a vast ancient literature not easily found elsewhere, but also offers new insight into the breadth of this human endeavor and the renowned French naturalist’s concept of the natural sciences, filling an important gap in philosophical thought between the time of Carl Linnaeus and Charles Darwin.

800 pages | 40 figures | 6 1/2 x 9 1/2 | © 2015

Biological Sciences: Natural History


“Cuvier, a little bit like his contemporary Goethe, was one of those universal thinkers, whose intellectual and practical range was truly staggering. . . . As Cuvier moved into the seventeenth century, the traditional issues of the life sciences continued to merit discussion, but obviously in part a function of the way in which society was becoming increasingly industrialized, . . . the focus starts to move more toward geology and mineralogy. One thing that becomes very obvious as one reads through Cuvier’s treatment of these topics is the extent to which science is starting to encroach on the domain of religion, for instance, in whether or not the fossil evidence really does offer support for the biblical account of Noah’s Flood. Cuvier does not take on himself the task of deciding these issues, but clearly they are at the back of his mind. And this surely points to the lasting interest of these lectures. To what extent does Cuvier’s treatment of these issues, as well of other matters such as the lasting influence of Greek thought, especially that of Aristotle, reflect in the actual science that Cuvier did himself, and . . . the ways in which these matters continued in the thinking of others, notably that of Charles Darwin?”

Michael Ruse, author of "The Gaia Hypothesis" | Quarterly Review of Biology

Table of Contents

Foreword by Jean-Pierre Gasc

1. Early Sixteenth-century Anatomists and Zoologists
Lesson 1: The Early Anatomists, Successors to Galen
Lesson 2: Falloppio, Eustachio, Harvey, and Their Contemporaries
Lesson 3: The Early Zoologists: Belon, Salviani, and Rondelet
Lesson 4: The Works of Conrad Gessner and Ulisse Aldrovandi

2. European Travelers and the Early Dutch Naturalists
Lesson 5: European Travelers in the East and West
Lesson 6: Contributions of the Early Dutch Naturalists

3. Sixteenth-century Botanists, Mineralogists, and Chemists
Lesson 7: Sixteenth-century Botanists
Lesson 8: Early Botanists Continued
Lesson 9: The Early Mineralogists
Lesson 10: The Early Chemists, Mysticism and Alchemy

4. The Scientific Method and Foundations of Societies and Academies
Lesson 11: The Scientific Method: Bacon, Galileo, and Descartes
Lesson 12: The Foundations of Societies and Academies of Science

5. Seventeenth-century Advances in Chemistry, Physiology, and Anatomy
Lesson 13: Seventeenth-Century Advances in Chemistry
Lesson 14: Seventeenth-Century Anatomy and Experimental Physiology
Lesson 15: Advances in Comparative Anatomy
Lesson 16: Further Advances in Comparative Anatomy

6. Seventeenth-century Advances in Zoology and Botany
Lesson 17: Zoology in the Second Half of the Seventeenth Century
Lesson 18: Botany in the Second Half of the Seventeenth Century

7. Seventh-century Advances in Mineralogy
Lesson 19: Contributions of Travelers, Advances in Minerology, and a Summary

Table of Contents

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