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Cuvier’s History of the Natural Sciences

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Georges Cuvier

3. Early Eighteenth-Century Advances in Earth Sciences

5. Further Advances in Geology

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Earth theory. Plate from Buffon’s “Histoire et théorie de la terre” in Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière… (1749). Cliché Bibliothèque centrale, MNHN.

Messieurs,

In the previous session, we had a digressive discussion about the authors who shared Maillet’s opinion on the formation of organized beings.1 We saw how such systems were improbable and contradictory. Later, we will have to refute another system that presents the progressive transformation of beings in a different manner but, for now, we will resume the history of cosmogony systems. We will focus on one presented by Linnaeus2 in the last edition of his Systema naturae.3

This is not the time to present Linnaeus’s biography because his ideas on cosmogony only represented two pages of his book. Those ideas were not the ones with which he influenced his period and produced the favorable changes I summarized earlier. On the contrary, they are the weakest, or even the most harmful because he set an example of using figures...

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