Zoonomia or The Laws of Organic Life

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by Erasmus Darwin

Zoonomia or The Laws of Organic Life
George Wythe bookplate.jpg
Title not held by The Wolf Law Library
at the College of William & Mary.
Author Erasmus Darwin
Published :
Edition Precise edition unknown
Volumes 3 volume set
Desc. 8vo

Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802), was a doctor, poet, inventor, and botanist, who also provided insights in physics, chemistry, geology, meteorology, and biology.[1] He was a leader in the intellectual communities, such as the Lunar Society, which contributed to many areas including industrialization.[2] Some of his intellectual peers included James Watt, Matthew Boulton, Joseph Priestly, and Josiah Wedgwood.[3] One of his greater achievements was his work in biology, which included his theories on natural selection and evolution.[4] Over a 25 year period, Erasmus came up with one of the first coherent theories of evolution, a full 70 years before his grandson, Charles Darwin, which he published in 1794 in Zoonomia or the Laws of Organic Life.[5]

Zoonomia or the Laws of Organic Life is made of forty sections describing different motions, anatomy, and diseases.[6] In this work, Erasmus Darwin classifies animal life into classes, orders, genera, and species through comparing them with each other.[7] Through these classifications, Erasmus is hoping to discover more about the theory of diseases.[8] Erasmus wants to provide better patient care through the betterment of the theory of diseases.[9] At the time this book was published, it was well-received, with one reviewer comparing Darwin's additions to medicine with Sir Isaac Newton's contributions to natural philosophy.[10]

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

See also


  1. "Erasmus Darwin." Erasmus Darwin House.http://www.erasmusdarwin.org/learning/erasmus-darwin/ (accessed November 8, 2018)
  2. "Erasmus Darwin."; "Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802)." Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802).http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/Edarwin.html (accessed November 8, 2018).
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. "Erasmus Darwin"
  6. Darwin, Erasmus. Zoonomia or the Laws of Organic Life. (London:J. Hohnson, 1794), v-vi.
  7. Darwin, Zoonomia or the Laws of Organic Life, 1.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Darwin, Zoonomia or the Laws of Organic Life,1-3.
  10. "Erasmus Darwin."