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Fathers of Biology by Charles McCrae
Fathers of Biology by Charles McCrae

Fathers of Biology by Charles McCrae

If you are interested in the history of science and how biology developed, you might like Fathers of Biology by Charles McCrae. Available on LibriVox for free, it covers some big names in the Western tradition: Hippocrates, Aristotle, Galen, Vesalius, and Harvey . The book is a historical overview, so McCrae does not go into depth and spend much time on any one person. I’ve listened to only two chapters so far, and, on that basis, it’s good. McCrae seems objective so far. For example, McCrae does not attack Aristotle, as some small minds do. He praises Aristotle where he deserves it, and criticizes him where he deserves it. He criticizes those who attack Aristotle by pointing out that some of what some people say of Aristotle is outright lies (and he gives examples; they might be generic, as McRae does not mention names, just assertions) and by pointing out that some errors in the writings are more reasonably attributed to later copyists and translators than to Aristotle (e.g., saying that the mouth of a dolphin is on its underside is unlikely for one, Aristotle, who realized that the dolphin was not a fish, who identified its mammary glands, etc.). But he also criticizes those who treat Aristotle as a god by pointing out that Aristotle learned from the Hippocratics, he made plenty of mistakes — while getting a great deal right — etc. The book in visual format is available on the Internet Archive and Project Gutenberg.

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