Gould et D'Arcy Thompson

Claudine COHEN

fr Comptes Rendus Palevol 3 (5) - Pages 421-431

Published on 30 September 2004

Gould and D'Arcy Thompson

This paper stresses the importance of D’Arcy Thompson’s (1860-1948) major work, On Growth and Form, for the elaboration of S.J. Gould’s thinking – and the use of D’Arcy’s original morphological approach in the constitution of Gould’s own macro-evolutionary concepts. The reference to D’Arcy’s work is present at each step of Gould’s works and career, but it yields more criticisms in later years: from the 1980s on, Gould refers to the idea of ‘construction constraints’, but tends to refute D’Arcy’s mechanical determinism to focus more on a historical approach of evolutionary ‘tinkering’ and of the role of contingencies in the history of life. Beyond the details of D’Arcy’s ideas and works, Gould seems to have been also fascinated by the personality of the Scottish naturalist: the image of the scientist he embodied certainly constituted for him an existential model throughout his life.


Stephen Jay Gould (1941–2002), D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson (1860–1948), Adaptation, Construction constraints, Exaptation, Evolutionary theory (history of-) Form, Macro-evolution, Morphology, Mechanical determinism, Structuralism, Tinkering

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