Monday 8
Hodgiana A
Chair: Shane Glackin
› 11:30 - 12:00 (30min)
› Colloque 1
Buffon and Darwin after Hodge: the case for extremism
Thierry Hoquet  1@  
1 : University Jean Moulin Lyon 3
University Jean Moulin Lyon 3

It is a commonplace of intellectual life that admirers often take good ideas further than their originators approve or appreciate. In this talk I shall reflect on two ways in which my own work represents just such an apparently unwelcome -- but, in my view, nevertheless appropriate, and ultimately irresistible -- taking to extremes of themes introduced in Jon Hodge's challenging and enlightening writings. The first concerns Buffon as a "historical thinker". In Hodge's view, the question of Buffon's historicism must not be decided anachronistically. I agree, but, in my "ultra-Hodgean" fashion, have come to disagree with Hodge himself about what conclusion to draw. For Hodge, only Victorian prejudice can lead someone to classify Buffon's writings as non-historical. But for me, Buffonian history has to be seen as part of the tradition of natural history, from the Greeks onward -- a tradition emphasizing, not a certain stance on time, but an effectively timeless stance on empirical knowledge. The second set of issues concerns Darwin, in particular the argumentative structure of the Origin of Species. Here I have argued that, while Hodge's assimilation of the Origin's structure to the three stages of a good "vera causa" argument is persuasive as far it goes, it leaves some chapters -- notably the chapter on variation (ch. 5) -- less well accounted for. Here are puzzles that emerge most forcefully, not for Hodge, but for the ultra-Hodgean.


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