Angela Smith

Adjunct Assistant Professor of History Austin Community College Ph.D., History University of Texas, Austin

2016 to 2017
Research Fellow

The Romantic Roots of Evolution in Scotland

Robert Richards has suggested that, "Ïthe central currents of nineteenth-century biology had their origins in the Romantic movement" (Richards 2002). This work traces Scottish Enlightenment foundational conceptions, imported German and French Romantic and transcendental ideas in both science and literature, and the social and geographical particularities of the Scottish environment to reveal how Scottish Romantic interpretations of scientific ideas contributed to evolutionary theory in Britain during the last quarter of the eighteenth and the first half of the nineteenth century. Localized considerations in geology, philosophical and comparative anatomy, cell theory, organic and inorganic chemistry, astronomy, mental philosophy, and phrenology were all significant in their particular ways to the spread of evolutionary conceptions. The metaphysical bent of these ideas in North Britain led to a vision of evolution for many of its proponents as the gradual unfolding of God's plan working through natural law.