Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Early Perspectives on Evolutionary Change

  • Luis CordonEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_1275-1



The idea of evolution existed in the writings of various philosophers and scientists for many centuries before Charles Darwin produced a formal theory consistent with a large body of scientific evidence.


Though Charles Darwin is the individual most closely associated with evolutionary theory in the public imagination, evolutionary perspectives on the origin of life had been a topic of discussion among philosophers and scientists for millennia. Among the pre-Socratic Greek philosophers, for example, Anaximander of Miletus (c. 610-546 B.C.E.) thought that the first animals were aquatic, with land-dwelling forms developing later. The first terrestrial ancestors of modern humans were amphibious, according to Anaximander, born in water and spending only part of their lives on land. Empedocles (c. 490-430 B.C.E.) speculated further that new species arose accidentally from the disjointed...

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  1. Darwin, E. (1803). The temple of nature; or the origin of society: A poem, with philosophical notes. London: Joseph Johnson.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Gould, S. J. (2002). The structure of evolutionary theory. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Osborn, H. F. (1905). From the Greeks to Darwin: An outline of the development of the evolution tdea (Columbia biological series, 2nd ed.). New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar

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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Eastern Connecticut State UniversityWillimanticUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Douglas Sellers
    • 1
  1. 1.Penn State Worthington ScrantonScrantonUSA