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Charles Darwin and the scientific mind

Stack, D. (2019) Charles Darwin and the scientific mind. The British Journal for the History of Science, 52 (1). pp. 85-115. ISSN 0007-0874

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1017/S0007087418000973


The idea that there exists such a thing as a ‘scientific mind’, or an identifiable ‘psychology of science’, has enjoyed an early twenty-first century revival among some psychologists, and historians have been slow to respond to the implicit challenge this represents to established historical understanding. This article contributes to the reassertion of a contextual reading of the scientific mind by probing Charles Darwin’s understanding of the term, and the self-analysis of his own psychology he undertook in his ‘Recollections of the development of my mind and character’ (1876). Drawing upon a broad range of Darwin’s published and unpublished works, this article argues that Darwin’s understanding of the scientific mind was rooted in his earliest notebooks, and was far more central to his thought than is usually acknowledged. The article further delineates the differences between Darwin’s understanding and that of his half-cousin Francis Galton, and argues for the importance of treating the ‘scientific mind’ as a culturally conditioned construct, rather than as an ahistorical, psychological entity.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > History
ID Code:72739
Publisher:Cambridge University Press


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