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Show Me the BoneReconstructing Prehistoric Monsters in Nineteenth-Century Britain and America$
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Gowan Dawson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226332734

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226332871.001.0001

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Fragments of Design

Fragments of Design

(p.55) 2 Fragments of Design
Show Me the Bone

Gowan Dawson

University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores how William Buckland and other gentlemanly proponents of natural theology at Oxford and Cambridge appropriated the law of correlation as an irrefutable proof of divine design, and lionized Cuvier as an icon of the conservative establishment. However, the materialist implications of correlation ensured that Cuvier, despite his own growing conservatism in Paris, continued to be invoked in the cheap newspapers and piratical reprints of proletarian radicals in London. Meanwhile, Biblical literalists rebuked Cuvier and, oddly, instead endorsed Lamarck’s transmutationism. It was in the Bridgewater Treatises, and particularly Buckland’s account of the Megatherium, that the conservative interpretation of Cuvierian functionalism was consolidated, although the expertise of Richard Owen was necessary to maintain it.

Keywords:   materialism, natural theology, design, Oxford, William Buckland, conservativism, radicalism, Biblical literalism, Megatherium, Bridgewater Treatises

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