Cecil J. Schneer

  • Toward a History of Geology

    New Hampshire Inter-disciplinary Conference on the History of Geology (1967 : Rye Beach, N.H.)

    Cecil J. Schneer

    The 26 papers collected in this book were presented at the New Hampshire Inter-Disciplinary Conference on the History of Geology in September 1967 by leading scholars in the fields of geology and the history of science. Members of the conference were uniquely qualified experts on the common subject of the history of the geological sciences, and their studies provide a new composite view of the development of geology prior to Darwin.

    The problems of the earth have stirred man's imagination for more than 3,000 years. What is nature? What is the world made of? How large is the earth? What is the source of the confusion and change we perceive in the world and how can these be reconciled with the concept of absolute order? Questions such as these were raised in ancient times and they formed the basis for a progression of ideas about the origins of the earth, and for the development of a classical, orderly science which culminated in the triumphant publication of Darwin's Origin of Species. In his Introduction, Professor Schneer returns to geology's beginnings. He discusses the men and the methods that provided the evidences and the ideas for the formation of an extraordinary complex science. These re the topics taken up in detail by the contributors. The papers in the book includes studies of American, English, Russian, and continental geology, as well as summary articles on geology in the eighteenth century and on major figures such as Bergmann, von Humboldt, Saint-Hilaire, Werner, and Lyell. As the Introduction makes clear, these studies involve the attempts to ally natural history and the Bible and the conflicting views of the vulcanists and the neptunists.

    For those who seek to identify the significant problems in the history of geology, this book represents a new order of achievement and a new level of research. It is a massive effort concentrated on a single field and should undoubtedly interest professional geologists and historians of ideas as well as teachers of the geological sciences and serious students of the history of science.

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