Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Aristotle's Ladder, Darwin's TreeThe Evolution of Visual Metaphors for Biological Order$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

J. Archibald

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231164122

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231164122.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 16 May 2022

Competing Visual Metaphors

Competing Visual Metaphors

(p.53) Chapter Three Competing Visual Metaphors
Aristotle's Ladder, Darwin's Tree

J. David Archibald

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines the rise of the tree as a prominent visual metaphor. Beginning in the mid-eighteenth century, European scientists struggled to keep pace with the work of classifying organisms brought back in great batches from overseas expansionary expeditions. Especially in the first half of the nineteenth century, a hodgepodge of competing ways emerged to illustrate and organize nature's order. The tree imagery would triumph as the visual metaphor for nature's order, thanks to the influence of powerful individuals. This chapter discusses the different perceptions of the natural world in the late eighteenth century and earlier part of the nineteenth century, as evidenced by all manner of schemes which attempted to simultaneously understand the richness and the obvious order in nature, such as elaborate geometric shapes purporting to show some underlying mathematical principle in biology. It also traces the origins of the idea of arranging life in a tree-like form and considers Jean-Baptiste Lamarck's bifurcating diagram—the earliest known evolutionary tree—as well as Edward Hitchcock's “Paleontological Chart” showing geologically based, nonevolutionary trees for plants and animals.

Keywords:   visual metaphor, nature, imagery, natural world, biology, life, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, evolution, Edward Hitchcock, trees

Columbia Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .