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History from the ground up: bugs, political economy, and God in Kirby and Spence's Introduction to Entomology (1815-1856).

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Isis; an international review devoted to the history of science and its cultural influences
Publication Date
Volume
97
Issue
1
Pages
28–55
Identifiers
PMID: 16640232
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

William Kirby and William Spence's Introduction to Entomology is generally recognized as one of the founding texts of entomological science in English. This essay examines the ideological allegiances of the coauthors of the Introduction. In particular, it analyzes the ideological implications of their divergent opinions on animal instinct. Different vocational pursuits shaped each man's natural history. Spence, a political economist, pursued fact-based science that was shorn of references to religion. Kirby, a Tory High Churchman, placed revelation at the very heart of his natural history. His strong commitment to partisan sectarianism cautions against reference to a homogeneous "natural theology" that was an agent of mediation. Fissures in the "common intellectual context" reached beyond the clash between natural theologians and radical anatomists to render the intellectual edifice of natural theology structurally less sound for the future.

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