Full Title: The Revolution in Geology from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment
Editor: Gary D. Rosenberg
This volume explores how modern geology began to take shape during a momentous period of Western civilization when a revolution in understanding spatial relationships transformed the paradigm of nature and the affairs of humankind. From Renaissance artists’ conceptualization of landscape to Baroque anatomist Nicholas Steno’s geometric studies of the hills of Tuscany, the study of anatomy facilitated the structure of early modern geologic thought. Isaac Newton’s organic alchemy appeared antecedent to modern geochemistry, and Athanasius Kircher’s biologic analogies of Earth presaged Hutton’s paradigmatic model. Papers on Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson’s geological and paleontological studies, on British resistance to French evolutionary theory, and on Darwin’s refutation of the argument that natural laws require a law-giver reveal that, from the Enlightenment on, this spatial reorganization facilitated the idea of evolution and of the individual’s potential for change in the new social order of democracy. Anatomist, artist, and astronomer, Galileo’s “il lume naturale” inspired Charles Peirce’s modern essays on historical science that bring geologic thought to the debate over the anthropic principle in cosmology.