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JULIAN HUXLEY, GENERAL BIOLOGY AND THE LONDON ZOO, 1935-42

Cain, J; (2010) JULIAN HUXLEY, GENERAL BIOLOGY AND THE LONDON ZOO, 1935-42. NOTES REC ROY SOC , 64 (4) 359 - 378. 10.1098/rsnr.2010.0067.

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Abstract

While Secretary of the Zoological Society of London (1935-42), Julian Huxley used that institution to undertake several types of reform related to his promotion of 'general biology'. Huxley's goal was to place synthetic, analytical and explanatory work at the centre of the life sciences. Here, zoological specifics served only as instances of generic processes. Huxley's campaigning fitted both into his own lifelong obsession with synoptic views and into much larger transformations in the epistemic culture of the life sciences during the interwar years. However, such campaigns also had their detractors, and the Zoological Society of London provides a superb example of the backlash provoked against these reforms. In 1942 that backlash led directly to Huxley's dismissal as Secretary of that society. This episode serves as a reminder to understand the plurality of views in play during any historical period. In this case, general biology was resisted in a factional dispute over what should be the priority of the life sciences: objects versus processes, induction versus explanation, and particulars versus generics.

Type:Article
Title:JULIAN HUXLEY, GENERAL BIOLOGY AND THE LONDON ZOO, 1935-42
DOI:10.1098/rsnr.2010.0067
Keywords:Zoological Society of London, evolutionary synthesis, new systematics, epistemic culture, organismal biology, professionalization, EVOLUTIONARY, BEHAVIOR, PROGRESS
UCL classification:UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Science and Technology Studies

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