Erasmus Darwin (Zoonomia, 17 94), though a zealous evolutionist, can hardly be said to have made any real advance on his predecessors; and, notwithstanding the fact that Goethe had the advantage of a wide knowledge of morphological facts, and a true insight into their signification, while he threw all the power of a great poet into the expression of his conceptions, it may be questioned whether he supplied the doctrine of evolution with a firmer scientific basis than it already possessed.
Brown wrote a criticism of Darwin's Zoonomia (1798), and was one of the first contributors to the Edinburgh Review, in the second number of which he published a criticism of the Kantian philosophy, based entirely on Villers's French account of it.
In his Zoonomia (1794) he expounded a theory of life and disease which had some resemblance to that of Brown, though arrived at (he says) by a different chain of reasoning.
His most important scientific work is his Zoonomia (1794-1796), which contains a system of pathology, and a treatise on generation, in which he, in the words of his famous grandson, Charles Robert Darwin, "anticipated the views and erroneous grounds of opinions of Lamarck."
Erasmus Darwin, the grandfather of Charles Darwin, set forth ',in' Zoonomia a much more definite theory of the relation of variation to evolution, and the following passage, cited by Clodd, clearly expresses it: "When we revolve in our minds the metamorphoses of animals, as from the tadpole to the frog; secondly, the changes produced by artificial cultivation, as in the breeds of horses, dogs and sheep; thirdly, the changes produced by conditions of climate and season, as in the sheep of warm climates being covered with hair instead of wool, and the hares and partridges of northern climates becoming white in winter; when, further, we observe the changes of structure produced by habit, as shewn especially by men of different occupations; or the changes produced by artificial mutilation and prenatal influences, as in the crossing of species and production of monsters; fourth, when we observe the essential unity of plan in all warmblooded animals - we are led to conclude that they have been alike produced from a single living filament."
Darwin, Zoonomia (London, 1794); J.
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