Animal cunning: deceptive nature and truthful science in Charles Kingsley’s natural theology

Abberley, Will (2016) Animal cunning: deceptive nature and truthful science in Charles Kingsley’s natural theology. Victorian Studies, 58 (1). pp. 34-56. ISSN 0042-5222

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Abstract

Charles Kingsley's natural theology hinged upon his faith in nature's “truthfulness.” He conceptualized nature as a divine text that both exemplified truthfulness and preached it symbolically. However, this view was undermined as modern science increasingly revealed ruthless deception and parasitism throughout the organic world. Faced with such seemingly amoral facts, Kingsley often located divine truthfulness less in nature itself than in the naturalist studying it. Yet moralizing scientific habits in this way would ultimately undermine Kingsley's argument for moral meaning in the natural world. His efforts to conflate moral and factual truth were bound up with his struggle to defend his authority as an interpreter of nature as emerging secular science threatened to both usurp and invalidate this authority.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
Subjects: P Language and Literature
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR0001 Literary history and criticism
P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR4000 19th century, 1770/1800-1890/1900
Depositing User: Will Abberley
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2016 10:20
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2017 18:43
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/60230

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