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The X ClubPower and Authority in Victorian Science$
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Ruth Barton

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226551616

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226551753.001.0001

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Speaking for Nature

Speaking for Nature

Chapter:
(p.170) Three Speaking for Nature
Source:
The X Club
Author(s):

Ruth Barton

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226551753.003.0004

Various controversies in the early 1860s – over Darwin’s Origin, heretical publications by clergymen, and the science and politics of race – drew Lubbock and Spottiswoode into joint action with Hooker, Huxley, and Busk. Huxley, Busk and Lubbock set new directions in their research, focusing on the gaps between apes and humans and between “savage” and “civilised” humans. They took over the Natural History Review, which carried this new research. Lubbock, Spottiswoode and Hooker sought to rouse scientific men to defend free enquiry in theology. In an effort to keep anthropology free from association with extreme racist politics, Lubbock, Huxley, and Busk became active in the Ethnological Society of London. In 1864, as controversy over the relationship between scientific enquiry and theological orthodoxy intensified, Spencer drew his scientific friends into alliance with liberal thinkers in politics and Church to contribute science articles to the weekly Reader and make it an organ of “liberal opinion.” At the same time as this common cause brought naturalists, physical scientists and Spencer together, the households of the Busks and the Lubbocks became the social centers for the growing network. From the common friendships and common causes the X Club was formed in November 1864.

Keywords:   theological controversy, Darwin’s Origin of Species, the Natural History Review, filling the gap between apes and humans, the science and politics of race, “liberal opinion”, the Reader, the Lubbock household, the Busk household

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