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Introduction & Overview of On Growth and Form by D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson

This Study Guide consists of approximately 47 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of On Growth and Form.
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On Growth and Form Summary & Study Guide Description

On Growth and Form Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Further Reading on On Growth and Form by D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson.

Introduction

On Growth and Form, first published in 1917 and then republished in 1942 by Cambridge University Press, is D'Arcy Thompson's radical departure from standard zoology. Looking outside the scope of comparative morphology and evolution, he sought to study nature from a mathematical perspective. He looked to both ancient as well as modern texts to pull together his observations on the development of form and structure in living things. The resulting text is a poetic treatise dedicated to the wonders of nature.

What makes his observations so rich is his careful consideration and blending of philosophy, literature, and mathematical principle. The reader may hope to encounter the philosophy of Goethe or Hegel or perhaps the mention of Darwin (who was a personal acquaintance of Thompson's) or Galileo, among others. But what makes the text so remarkable is the melding or blending of the literary and the mathematical. In addition to being a brilliant mathematician and scientist, Thompson was a thoughtful teacher. When discussing the relationship of a sphere to its volume, for example, Thompson looks to Swift's character Gulliver and to the everyday world to illuminate his ideas.

What shines through and adds value to the work as a whole is the author's love of and deep respect for nature and the pursuit of knowledge. As a zoologist, scientist, and philosopher, Thompson leaves very little to chance in his rich and multifaceted approach to biological study, exploring the concepts of growth and form with objectivity that is persuasive to any audience.

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This section contains 250 words
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Purchase our On Growth and Form Study Guide
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On Growth and Form from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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