18世纪的地学(译)

 

(陈朝勇译)

 

 

(以下译自《剑桥科学史:第四卷 18世纪》第18章前面部分)

 

18、地学

 

Rhoda Rappaport

 

18世纪所定义的,“博物学”(natural history)意指对自然界中从宇宙到昆虫的任何东西的描述(当时是“history”的同义词)和分类。因而可以理解,只有很少博物学者着力调查和综合这么杂乱的一堆对象。在这些少有的人中的一位林奈在专论动物界、植物界和矿物界的系列分类学著作中尝试勾画存在于自然界所有领域中的秩序。另一位布丰批评分类学不能精确地描绘自然界中所有的种类;通过排除植物学,布丰的《博物学》研究范围一方面更窄,另外方面却又更广,作者包括了太阳系的起源,地球的历史,对动物的研究,其中对动物的研究超出了解剖学,进入了如环境、遗传这样的领域。

有些博物学者满足于制作“珍奇物”的名录,另一些则尝试将这些收集品组织成一个统一体,并指出他们的目的是揭示如约翰·雷(John Ray)的著名书名所言《上帝创造的作品中所显示的上帝的智慧》(1691)。许多人追求一定程度的完整性而选择或者一个地理的或者一个主题的研究点。前者的例子,可以举英国较长的地方志传统,此传统实际开始于罗伯特·波洛特(Robert Plot)的著作《牛津郡博物志》(1677),并最后包括了一部文学名著吉尔伯特·怀特(Gilbert White)的《塞尔本(Selborne)博物志和古代文物》(1789)。虽然这种研究在英国之外似乎并不常见,但是几乎所有这些著作的一个突出特征是重视人工物品,主要是古代人工物品,也常常重视如语言、风俗、移民群体等这样的主题。当博物学者对这些选择花力气进行解释的时候,他们说他们选择人类文化的事实的因而是无偏见的方面;这些值得与给予自然的同样的描述对待。

其它作者尝试通过选择一堆相关的主题而详尽地进行研究。在书名中包括“博物学(志)”的人中现举少数几个例子如下:约翰·伍德沃德(John Woodward)研究矿石和化石(1695);德扎利尔·达让维尔(Dezallier d’Argenville)研究他所说的“博物学的两个主要部分”矿石和贝壳(1742);维塔利亚诺·多纳蒂(Vitaliano Donati)主要研究亚得里亚海的动物群和植物群(1750);鲁道夫·埃里希·拉斯珀(Rudolf Erich Raspe)研究“大海中新形成的岛屿”(1763);约翰·威廉斯(John Williams)研究“矿物界”(1789[1]。与地方志作者一样,对这些作者而言,主要工作是描述,即使在所有这些著作中都不可避免地具有原因解释。

既然几乎任何东西都可以有它的自然研究(natural history)——如休谟著一部引起争议的著作《宗教的自然研究》(1757)所显示的——写一种这种广泛的类型的历史并不可行。在这里挑选出地学(earth sciences)——或生命科学(见本卷第17章)——似乎犯了时代错误,但是在那时所理解的一个统一的主题确实叫“地理论”。这个词组因托马斯·伯内特(Thomas Burnet)而广泛流行,他的著作《神圣的地理论》在英国和欧洲大陆都引起了争论。伯内特的词组将又会在布丰的第一卷《博物学》(1749)中以用于一种很不相同的综合而使用。世纪中期之后,这样的大的综合(称作“系统”),被普遍抛弃,最受称颂的地质学家是那些“以旅行、野外考察和谨慎地避免过度普遍化和系统化而闻名的人”。[2]与此同时,希望“获得充分的知识并将之以正确的方式组织起来”的人如霍拉斯·贝内迪克特·德·索绪尔(Horace-Bénédict de Saussure)和德奥尔·多洛米厄(Déodat Dolomieu)等在18世纪90年代仍然在说,他们的目标是对改进“地理论”作贡献。[3]

18世纪90年代,“地质学”和“地质构造学”开始使用,与更早的术语如“矿物学”、“自然地理”等一起使用,后者现在重新定义成了地质学的分支领域。这门1800年的既年青又古老的科学的基础是物理定律、化学分析和历史重建。一个世纪以前,伯内特的盟友是笛卡尔物理学和古代宗教的世俗的历史文本。伯内特把笛卡尔假设的宇宙形成理论和地球形成理论转换成了既由自然界又由圣经记录的一系列不可逆事件,这样,结合的结果既是一种理论,又同样多地是一种历史(“history”的现代意义)。除了尼古劳斯·斯泰诺(Nicolaus Steno)的名著《固体中包含固体论稿》(1669),伯内特可以说确定了随后几十年的任务:怎样重建地史和怎样将自然表征与人的记录结合起来。[4]

 

 

(原文)

 

18

THE EARTH SCIENCES

Rhoda Rappaport

As defined in the eighteenth century, "natural history" meant description (then a synonym for "history") and classification of everything in nature, from the cosmos to the insect. Understandably, then, few naturalists attempted surveys or syntheses of so shapeless a range of subjects. One of the few, Carl Linnaeus, tried to chart the order in all realms of nature in a series of taxo-nomic works devoted to the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms. Another, Georges-Louis Leclerc, comte de Buffon, criticized taxonomies as incapable of accurately depicting nature in all its variety; by omitting botany, Buffon's Histoire naturelle narrowed its focus in one respect while broadening it in others, as the author included the origin of the solar system, the history of the earth, and a treatment of animals that went beyond anatomy into such matters as environments and heredity. Some naturalists contented themselves with producing compendia of "curiosities," and others tried to give unity to these collections by indicating their aim of revealing, in John Ray's famous title, The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of the Creation (1691). Many sought a degree of completeness by selecting either a geographical or a topical focus. As examples of the former, one can cite the long British tradition of local histories that effectively began with Robert Plot's Oxfordshire (1677) and eventually included one literary classic, Gilbert White's Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne (1789). Although studies of this kind seem to have been less common outside Britain, a striking feature of almost all such works was the attention given to human artifacts, chiefly those of antiquity, and often to such topics as language, customs, and migrations. When naturalists bothered to explain these choices, they indicated their preference for the factual and hence the unbiased aspects of human culture; these merited the same descriptive treatment accorded to nature.

Other writers tried to be exhaustive by selecting clusters of related topics. As a small sample of those who included "natural history" in their titles, John Woodward studied rocks and fossils (1695); Dezallier d'Argenville, what he called "two of the main parts of natural history," rocks and shells (1742); Vitaliano Donati, chiefly the flora and fauna of the Adriatic Sea (1750); Rudolf Erich Raspe, "new islands born from the sea" (1763); and John Williams, "the mineral kingdom" (1789).
[1] To such authors, as to the local historians, the common enterprise was description, even if causal explanations inevitably entered into all these works.

Since there could be a natural history of virtually anything - as David Hume showed by producing a controversial Natural History of Religion (1757) — to write a history of this pervasive genre is not feasible. It may seem anachronistic here to single out the earth sciences — or the life sciences (see Chapter 17 in this volume) — but one unifying theme, recognized at that time, was in fact called "the theory of the earth." This phrase received wide currency thanks to Thomas Burnet, whose Sacred Theory of the Earth (1681) aroused debate in Britain and on the Continent. Burnet's phrase would be employed again, for a very different synthesis, in the first volume of Buffon's Histoire naturelle (1749). After mid-century, such large syntheses, dubbed "systems," were generally repudiated, the most admired geologists being those "known for their travels, field observations, and caution against overeager generalization or systematizing."
[2] At the same time, wishing to "get good information and organize it in the right way," men such as Horace-Bénédict de Saussure and Déodat Dolomieu continued to say, in the 1790s, that their aim was to contribute to an improved "theory of the earth."[3]

By that decade, "geology" and "geognosy" were coming into use, along with such older terms as "mineralogy" and "physical geography," the latter now being redefined as fields subordinate to geology. This new/old science of 1800 relied on physical laws, chemical analysis, and historical reconstruction. A century earlier, Burnet's allies had been Cartesian physics and ancient historical texts, sacred and profane. The result was as much a history (in the modern meaning of the word) as a theory, in that Burnet transformed the hypothetical cosmogony and geogony of René Descartes into a sequence of irreversible events, documented by both nature and Scripture. More than Nicolaus Steno's famous Prodromus (1669), Burnet can be said to have set the agenda for the next decades: how to reconstruct the earth’s past and how to combine natural evidence with human records.
[4]


[1] Quotations are from the title pages of the several works. The diversity of subjects can be glimpsed in, but is not exhausted by, Nicholas Jardine et al. (eds.), Cultures of Natural History (Cambridge Uni­versity Press, 1996). On p. 129 of this volume, Daniel Roche quotes the definition of natural history in the Diderot Encyclopédie; see also Encyclopaedia Britannica (1771), s.v. Natural History.

[2] This quotation and the next are from Kenneth L. Taylor, "The Beginnings of a French Geological
Identity," Histoire et nature, 19-20 (1981
—2), 75, 79.

[3] Dolomieu, "Discours sur l'étude de la géologie" Journal de physique, de chimie et d'histoire naturelle,
2 (1794), 270
—1. Horace-Bénédict de Saussure, "Agenda," appended to the last volume of his Voyages
dans les Alpes (1779-96), and also published in Journal des mines, 4 (1796), 1-70. A recent synthesis is
provided by Gabriel Gohau, Les Sciences de la terre aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siécles (Paris: Albin Michel,
1990). A synthesis with a different focus is by Martin J. S. Rudwick, "The Shape and Meaning of
Earth History," in David C. Lindberg and Ronald L. Numbers (eds.), God and Nature (Berkeley: Uni-
versity of California Press, 1986), chap. 12. For Britain in particular, see Gordon L. [Herries] Davies, The
Earth in Decay (New York: American Elsevier, 1969), and Roy Porter, The Making of Geology (Cam­-
bridge University Press, 1977). For a valuable reference tool, see François Ellenberger, Histoire de la.
géologie, vol. 2 (Paris: Lavoisier, 1994).

[4] Jacques Roger, "La Thebrie de la terre au XVIIe siécle," Revue d'histoire des sciences, 26 (1973), 23—48.
Other valuable studies of Burnet and his era include Marjorie Hope Nicolson, Mountain Gloom and
Mountain Glory
(Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1959); Mirella Pasini, Thomas Burnet: Una
storia delmondo tra ragione, mito e riveltxzione
(Florence: La Nuova Italia, 1981); Roy Porter, Making
of Geology,
chap. 3; Rhoda Rappaport, When Geologists Were Historians, 1665-1750 (Ithaca, NY: Cor-
nell University Press, 1997), chap. 5; and Paolo Rossi, The Dark Abyss of Time, trans. Lydia G.
Cochrane (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984), chaps. 7-11. That Steno was associated chiefly
with the origin of fossils is implicit in Victor A. Eyles, "The Influence of Nicoiaus Steno on the De-
velopment of Geological Science in Britain," Acta Historica Scientiarum naturalium medicinalium, 15
(1958), 167-88.

 

(From The Cambridge History of Science: Volume 4
The Eighteenth Century
, pages 417-9. Edited by Roy Porter, Cambridge University Press, November 2001.)

 


本章后面部分的标题是:

 

化石和大洪水(FOSSILS AND THE FLOOD)

世纪中期布丰的综合(BUFFON'S SYNTHESIS AT MID-CENTURY)

世纪中期的新方法(NEW APPROACHES AT MID-CENTURY)

地学中火和水的作用(ROLES OF FIRE AND WATER IN EARTH SCIENCE)

化石、时间和变化(FOSSILS, TIME, AND CHANGE)