Hearsay Is Not Excluded: A History of Natural History

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Hearsay Is Not Excluded: A History of Natural History
This chronicle of natural history argues that the modern environmental crisis and rise in science skepticism codeveloped with the historic distancing of scientific knowledge from folk knowledge

For millennia, the field of natural history promoted a knowledgeable and unifying view of the world. In contrast, the modern rise of narrow scientific disciplines has promoted a dichotomy between nature and culture on the one hand and between scientific and folk knowledge on the other. Drawing on the fields of anthropology, history, and environmental science, Michael R. Dove argues that the loss of this historic holistic vision of the world is partly to blame for contemporary environmental degradation and science skepticism.

Dove bases this thesis on a study of four pioneering natural historians across four centuries: Georg Eberhard Rumphius (seventeenth century), Carl Linnaeus (eighteenth century), Alfred Russel Wallace (nineteenth century), and Harold C. Conklin (twentieth century). Dove studies their field craft and writing; the political, cultural, and environmental circumstances in which they worked; the sources of their insight; and the implications of their work for modern society. Most of all, the book seeks to discover what enabled those natural historians to straddle boundaries that today seem impassable and to distill that wisdom for a modern world greatly in need of a holistic vision of people and environment.

Publication Date: 
February 27, 2024