("Reading Option" Questions)
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5A. 1840 Visit to Britain -->>
As you go through each "Episode" in the period 1800-1840, you will find
questions listed at the end of each Episode. Also, as you go through, consider
(pre-conceived) ideas about how nature functions can influence judgments –
the strength of the facts alone is sometimes insufficient to persuade
(explanations, and not just observations, can be “theory-laden," as Karl
Popper wrote). Do you see evidence of the development of ideas, 1800-1840,
being "theory-laden?" In fact, what philosophies or approaches to
explanation were being used in geology by 1840?
- List the features whose
origin was being actively contested and study the
Episodes table and note chronological development of ideas: what
explanations were "on the table" by the mid to late 1830s?
- By 1840, what was the
status of a glacial theory at this time? Would
you have accepted it as a universal explanation of the features you listed,
- What other
information or study would you wish to see to persuade you? Or, if you
are persuaded, what was its greatest weakness at this time?
On the evidence of the episodes, would you say that
catastrophism and uniformitarianism were derived from study or were they
imposed upon or worked out through study?
How does each impact
explanation and judgment
(1, above) fit in with which approach
Which explanation was the
most universal or was seen to provide the greatest coverage of features at
this time? Which explanations seem more local or limited?
Why were naturalists
disposed towards accepting the widespread action of water across the
What advantages did the
following have over the "glaciation" at this time?
Which theory or approach
(if any) constituted the most efficient explanation of valleys at this time?
Was there (could there be) a universal theory of valley formation?
necessarily a "supernatural" approach to explanation? Was it based any less
on actual evidence than Lyell's uniformitarianism or Venetz's actualism?
What was the origin of
the waters that moved across the land according to:
What was the origin of
land ice according to
de la Beche
How do your answers to 10
and 11 (above) affect your thinking on the acceptability of the process
being offered to explain the features?
had two separate explanations for erratics in the Alps and in northern
Europe. What were they? Do you think this affects the strength of his theory
in any way?
was the significance of Renoir's work in the Jura?
Early on, science was
international in scope -- involving the movement of people and ideas (in
this case over much of western Europe). Social networking on a personal
level was as important as professional communication or abstract logic in
enabling communication and in persuasion. It seems that important new ideas
can be independently discovered simultaneously, and scientists in different
places have sometimes asked the same questions and come to different
any geographic influences and differences in theory at this time? Comment on
the impact of geography on theory.
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