Time’s Arrow, Time’s Cycle ( Stephen Jay Gould )

4 April 2015
Reviews work on evolution of geologists’ understanding of the concept of deep time in 17th Cent.-19th Cent.

In Time’s Arrow, Time’s Cycle, Stephen Jay Gould discusses the evolution of geologists’ understanding of the concept of deep time. Gould studied texts by Thomas Burnet, James Hutton, and Charles Lyell–three scientific writers who approached this question in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. Traditionally, readings of these three writers tended to focus on the degree to which each man employed the scientific method in investigating the question of the Earth’s age. The greater the scientist’s dependence on scientific method, the historians reasoned, the closer he came to the truth. Thus, these scientists have often been ranked, and understood, on the basis of their adherence to standards that are familiar to the twentieth century, but were still evolving when they wrote. In the course of his repeated close readings of the texts, in which..

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