“A Great Complication of Circumstances” – Darwin and the Economy of Nature

  title={“A Great Complication of Circumstances” – Darwin and the Economy of Nature},
  author={Trevor Pearce},
  journal={Journal of the History of Biology},
  • Trevor Pearce
  • Published 2010
  • Economics
  • Journal of the History of Biology
In 1749, Linnaeus presided over the dissertation “Oeconomia Naturae,” which argued that each creature plays an important and particular role in nature’s economy. This phrase should be familiar to readers of Darwin, for he claims in the Origin that “all organic beings are striving, it may be said, to seize on each place in the economy of nature.” Many scholars have discussed the influence of political economy on Darwin’s ideas. In this paper, I take a different tack, showing that Darwin’s idea… 
The economy of nature: the structure of evolution in Linnaeus, Darwin, and the modern synthesis
We argue that the economy of nature constitutes an invocation of structure in the biological sciences, one largely missed by philosophers of biology despite the turn in recent years toward structural
The Darwinian muddle on the division of labour: an attempt at clarification
The conceptual confusion into which Darwin plunges, when using a so-called economic argument to defend his thesis of the maximization of beings in a given territory due to division of labour is shown, and several hypotheses are proposed to explain these shifts, recurring in Darwin’s texts, from one conception and from one application to another, of the division of Labour.
The Economy of Nature: The Structure of Evolution in Linnaeus, Darwin, and Toward the Extended Synthesis
We argue that the economy of nature constitutes an invocation of structure in the biological sciences, one largely missed by philosophers of biology despite the turn in recent years toward structural
Kant, Linnaeus, and the economy of nature.
  • Aaron Wells
  • Philosophy
    Studies in history and philosophy of biological and biomedical sciences
  • 2020
Beyond Generalized Darwinism. I. Evolutionary Economics from the Perspective of Naturalistic Philosophy of Biology
This is the first of two articles in which I reflect on “generalized Darwinism” as currently discussed in evolutionary economics, concentrating on the roles of theory and model building, generative replication, and the relation between selection and self-organization.
The Major Metaphors of Evolution: Darwinism Then and Now
This book argues that a return to Darwinism to recover useful but discarded ideas and to extend it forward while removing barriers between specialized areas of research to integrate new ones is needed.
The Rise of the “Environment”: Lamarckian Environmentalism Between Life Sciences and Social Philosophy
It is common to designate Lamarck and Lamarckism as the main historical references for conceptualizing the relationship between organisms and the environment. The Lamarckian principle of the
Darwin's principles of divergence and natural selection: Why Fodor was almost right.
  • R. Richards
  • Biology
    Studies in history and philosophy of biological and biomedical sciences
  • 2012
Introduction: Darwin in the Larger Intellectual Context
Our image of Charles Darwin’s work has been modernized to excess by often presenting it as a contribution to modern evolutionism. Uncovering the real Darwin requires a recalibration of his image:
The Darwinian Turn in the Understanding of Biological Environment
  • G. Caponi
  • Environmental Science
    Biological Theory
  • 2020
The Darwinian revolution supposed and imposed a much broader and more complex concept of environment than that which, until that moment, had been considered by most as part of natural history. Until


Ecology in the long manuscript version of Darwin's Origin of species and Linnaeus' Oeconomy of nature.
This paper will examine Darwin's ecological views, the relation of these views to his theory of evolution and their probable sources in his experience and his reading.
Nature as a Marketplace: The Political Economy of Linnaean Botany
Carl Linnaeus is well known to disciplinary historians as the “father of systematics,” and yet it is only recently, in Lisbet Koerner’s Linnaeus: Nature and Nation (1999), that he was considered in
Darwin and the political economists: Divergence of character
  • S. Schweber
  • Biology
    Journal of the history of biology
  • 1980
A third stage occurred in 1858 with the amalgamation of the tree-of-life vizualization of the process of speciation, where Speciation, geographic distribution, and systematics were all then embedded in a conceptual matrix with vast explanatory powers.
Nature's Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas
Preface Part I. Two Road Diverged: Ecology in the Eighteenth Century: 1. Science in Arcadia 2. The empire of reason Part II. The Subversive Science: Thoreau's Romantic Ecology: 3. A naturalist in
Studies of animal populations from Lamarck to Darwin
Darwin's theory of evolution brought to an end the static view of nature and ended the early modern era of population studies by clarifying three interrelated problems which were important for understanding population: extinction, distribution, and the nature of species.
In Major Kingston's account of his life the authors find a full appreciation of the value of his researches and a welcome reminder of the immensevalue of his philosophy in the promotion of science.
Darwin’s Keystone: The Principle of Divergence
The profound depth of ecological relationships and the very diversity of life that Darwin evoked through the principle can be understood as one of the Origin ’s most enduring contributions.
The philosophy of zoology, or, A general view of the structure, functions, and classification of animals /
John Fleming (1785–1857) was a minister of the Church of Scotland, but in his time at the University of Edinburgh he had also studied geology and zoology. In the tradition of the country parson who
Haeckel, Darwin, and Ecology
The nature and the personal limitations of Haeckel's contributions to the science he named and to demonstrate its Darwinian derivation are examined.
On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life
A man is unworthy of the name of a man of science who, whatever may be his special branch of study, has not materially altered his views on some important points within the last twelve years.