James Hutton's Theory of the Earth secured his place as the founder of modem geology. As a leading figure in the Scottish Enlightenment period, that remarkable period in the second half of the 18th century associated with philosopher David Hume, economist Adam Smith and chemist Joseph Black, Hutton provided unequivocal evidence that the Earth was far older than generally believed.
He saw the possibility of evolution, not only of the physical world, but also of living creatures. Eleven years before the birth of Darwin, Hutton saw natural selection as a "beautiful contrivance" for adapting animals and plants to their changing environments.
Time has not been kind to James Hutton. He is not nearly as well known as the others from his era. Earth's Autobiography is an effort to place his work in historical perspective, recognizing his importance for the groundwork he uncovered. His scientific work is described here in its rich social and political context, much of it in his own words. This book is being published in Hutton's bicentennial year.
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James Hutton provided evidence that the Earth was much older than generally believed. His theory is based on extensive field experience and confirmed from further observations made specifically to test it. His scientific work is described in this book in its social and political context.
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