Stephen Jay Gould

Science reading group: 'Ever Since Darwin'

Kickstarting a discussion on Stephen Jay Gould's first popular book form the late 70s, Ever Since Darwin.

A few people had expressed interest in discussing Stephen Jay Gould's book, Ever Since Darwin, as part of a science discussion/reading group. The book was Gould's first collection of essays from his monthly Natural History column.
A few general points first, then some specific ones about the first four essays that comprise the first chapter/section.

Gould's writing style

The measure of a man

In this 2002 essay, neurobiologist Steven Rose remembers the life and work of Stephen Jay Gould, particularly his role in the 'radical science movement' Science For The People, his rejection of biological determinism, and his challenges to Darwinian orthodoxy.

Professor Stephen Jay Gould, who has died of cancer aged 60, was an unlikely figure to have been canonised by the US congress, which named him as one of America’s “living legends”. A palaeontologist, he was based for most of his life at the museum of comparative zoology (MCZ) at Harvard.

Against "Sociobiology"

A letter from Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Lewontin and members of the Sociobiology Study Group outlining criticisms of, and objections to, EO Wilson's 'Sociobiology: the new synthesis'

New York Review of Books, Volume 22, Number 18 · November 13, 1975

In response to Mindless Societies* (August 7, 1975)

The following letter was prepared by a group of university faculty and scientists, high school teachers, doctors, and students who work in the Boston area.

To the Editors:

The Politics of Biological Determinism

Stephen Jay Gould tackles the notion that existing social hierarchies reflect innate abilities in his essay on the heritability of intelligence.

Rethinking Schools (Vol.14, No. 2 - Winter 1999)

[i]What argument against social change could be more effective than the claim that established orders exist as an accurate reflection of innate intellectual capacities?

Evolution: The Pleasures of Pluralism Debate

Gould in Simpsons

In the second part of his critique of 'ultra Darwinism', Gould tackles the methodology of evolutionary psychology while defending the idea that psychology has much to learn from evolutionary biology.

New York Review of Books, June 26, 1997

Charles Darwin began the last paragraph of The Origin of Species (1859) with a famous metaphor about life's diversity and ecological complexity:

Darwinian Fundamentalism


Paleontologist and science writer Stephen Jay Gould tackles 'ultra-Darwinism' in the first part of his response to Daniel C. Dennett's 'Darwin's Dangerous Idea'. Gould challenges the excesses of what he sees as pan-adaptationism, determinism and reductionism.

(New York Review of Books, Vol.44 (10) June 12, 1997)

By Stephen Jay Gould

Stephen Jay Gould: What Does it Mean to Be a Radical?

Gould in Simpsons

Marxist biologists Richard Lewontin and Richard Levins remember the life and career of paleontologist and science writer Stephen Jay Gould, and his role in the social criticism of science.

Early this year, Stephen Gould developed lung cancer, which spread so quickly that there was no hope of survival. He died on May 20, 2002, at the age of sixty. Twenty years ago, he had escaped death from mesothelioma, induced, we all supposed, by some exposure to asbestos.

The spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian paradigm: a critique of the adaptationist programme

Gould and Lewontin's oft-cited paper criticising what they see as the over-reliance on adaptationist explanations of many biologists.

"The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: A Critique Of The Adaptationist Programme," Proceedings Of The Royal Society of London, Series B, Vol. 205, No. 1161 (1979), Pp. 581-598.

Kropotkin was no crackpot - Stephen Jay Gould

Well-known evolutionary biologist/science historian Stephen Jay Gould defends Kropotkin's famous thesis that co-operation and mutual aid are factors of evolution at least as important as competition.