William Keith Brooks (1848-1908) : a case study in morphology and the development of American biology Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/2801pj90p

Descriptions

Attribute NameValues
Creator
Abstract or Summary
  • The major historical studies that have examined American biology have emphasized the development of experimental biology at the end of the nineteenth century. In this characterization, the descriptive branch of biology has often been treated as less than important and, in several cases, as a hindrance in the application of experimentalism to biology. As a result, one is often left with the impression that morphology and experimental biology represented two conflicting aims in biological investigation. A more balanced appraisal of the development of American biology can be obtained by examining the biological community in the last half of the nineteenth century. William Keith Brooks (1848- 1908) was selected as a case study. Brooks was America's major morphologist. As such, his scientific work mirrored the twin goals of morphology; to describe the form and structure of organisms and to elucidate any possible ancestral relations of the organisms. In the last half of the century, embryological investigations or life histories were considered to yield the most information on the organism's ancestry. This followed from the widespread acceptance of the biogenetic law (ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny) and the acceptance of evolution theory. Brooks's own work fits into this characterization of morphological investigation. His studies were primarily upon the life histories of molluscs, hydromedusae, tunicates, brachiopods and crustaceans. In addition to carrying out an active research program, Brooks also dealt with several of the major problems facing morphology. The most critical problems were (1) developing an exact criterion for homology, the basic tool for phylogenetic reconstructions and (2) accounting for the facts of heredity and variation, upon which the theory of descent was based. Brooks's treatment of both of these problems provides an indication of his central position in American morphology. Brooks's position in the development of biology in the United States becomes even more central with an examination of his professional position. As a member of the original Biology Department faculty at Johns Hopkins University, the first graduate program in biology in America, Brooks trained a whole generation of American biologists. While several of these scientists remained morphologists, several others were important in the new application of experimental techniques to biology. The study of Brooks, his scientific work, his role as a morphologist, his position at Johns Hopkins and his response vis-a-vis the rise of experimentalism in biology reveals that the standard interpretation of late nineteenth-century biology is largely inaccurate. It is much more instructive to understand the role of descriptive biology and experimental biology in the development of American biology as being complementary.
Resource Type
Date Available
Date Copyright
Date Issued
Degree Level
Degree Name
Degree Field
Degree Grantor
Commencement Year
Advisor
Academic Affiliation
Non-Academic Affiliation
Subject
Rights Statement
Peer Reviewed
Language
Digitization Specifications
  • File scanned at 300 ppi (Monochrome) using ScandAll PRO 1.8.1 on a Fi-6670 in PDF format. CVista PdfCompressor 4.0 was used for pdf compression and textual OCR.
Replaces
Additional Information
  • description.provenance : Submitted by Katy Davis (kdscannerosu@gmail.com) on 2013-10-01T15:58:05Z No. of bitstreams: 1 BensonKeithR1979.pdf: 2527926 bytes, checksum: ce69e31f5b8161fc865cdd41f3776247 (MD5)
  • description.provenance : Made available in DSpace on 2013-10-01T21:05:06Z (GMT). No. of bitstreams: 1 BensonKeithR1979.pdf: 2527926 bytes, checksum: ce69e31f5b8161fc865cdd41f3776247 (MD5) Previous issue date: 1979-04-26
  • description.provenance : Approved for entry into archive by Patricia Black(patricia.black@oregonstate.edu) on 2013-10-01T16:59:40Z (GMT) No. of bitstreams: 1 BensonKeithR1979.pdf: 2527926 bytes, checksum: ce69e31f5b8161fc865cdd41f3776247 (MD5)
  • description.provenance : Approved for entry into archive by Deborah Campbell(deborah.campbell@oregonstate.edu) on 2013-10-01T21:05:06Z (GMT) No. of bitstreams: 1 BensonKeithR1979.pdf: 2527926 bytes, checksum: ce69e31f5b8161fc865cdd41f3776247 (MD5)

Relationships

Parents:

This work has no parents.

Last modified

Downloadable Content

Download PDF

Items