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The evolutionary perspective in the work of João Batista de Lacerda (1846-1915) and its connection with social Darwinism: reception of evolutionary theory in Brazil as a theme for teacher education

Grant number: 20/10406-8
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): September 01, 2021
Effective date (End): April 30, 2024
Field of knowledge:Humanities - History - History of Science
Principal researcher:Maria Elice de Brzezinski Prestes
Grantee:Anderson Ricardo Carlos
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


The present research aims to characterize the evolutionary ideas in the work of the Brazilian naturalist João Baptista de Lacerda (1846-1915). A physician and researcher from different subareas of natural sciences at the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro, Lacerda publicly presented himself as an adept of evolutionary theories (GUALTIERI, 2003, p. 51). In addition, according to some authors, Lacerda was considered a "social Darwinist". Using the History of Science research methodology, the research will seek, on the one hand, to identify the evolutionary ideas that were incorporated in Lacerda's scientific practice, tracing their origins among evolutionary authors, and, on the other, to characterize Lacerda's "social Darwinism", mapping the different meanings attributed to the term, according to its origins, either within the scope of Charles Darwin's own biological evolutionism, or within the scope of sociological and anthropological studies. In addition, the historiographic debate will be analyzed along the axis of transposing concepts and ideas from one scientific area to another, in this case, from the biological sciences to the human sciences (sociology and anthropology) and vice versa. From the historical-epistemological episode of Lacerda's evolutionary thinking in his social context, he proposes a theoretical educational discussion based on the elaboration of historical narratives and the creation of application parameters for the formation of teachers when discussing the Nature of Science. Through the research one hopes to elucidate the combination of the different ideas about biological evolution expressed in the research carried out in Brazil in the period, contributing to the development of the general history of evolutionary theories in the country. It is also expected to contribute to the introduction of episodes in the history of Brazilian science associated with reflections on the Nature of Science for different levels of scientific training in the country.

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