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Ways of Nature

John Burroughs

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .seemed to cross his mind.

[Pg 57] Well, I am bound to confess that I helped the drake over the wall, but I sat him down in the road as impartially as I could. How well his pink feet knew the course! How they flew up the road! His green head and white throat fairly twinkled under the long avenue of oaks and chestnuts.

At last we came in sight of the home lane, which led up to the farmhouse one hundred or more yards from the road. I was curious to see if he would recognize the place. At the gate leading into the lane he paused. He had just gone up a lane that looked like that and had been disappointed. What should he do now? Truth compels me to say that he overshot the mark: he kept on hesitatingly along the highway.

It was now nearly night. I felt sure the duck would soon discover his mistake, but I had not time to watch the experiment further. I went around the drake and turned him back. As he neared the lane this time he seemed suddenly t. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Great book. Just too repetitive. Burroughs' purpose for this book is to fight the idea that animals reason the same as man. He believes animals are far more instinct based than reason based. There is no "school of nature". Animals mostly act via instinct modified through several generations of stimu

This was quite a slog, but I read it as part of a challenge to learn more about Teddy Roosevelt, who was a contemporary with Burroughs.

Lots of interesting discussion of reason versus instinct and some discussion of whether traits are adaptive (Burroughs is not quick to call things so).

But some pre

This book was interesting as a look into the history of popular science writing. The author around the turn of the last century was a famous naturalist. His friends included Teddy Roosevelt.

In this book he writes about nature but also talks about how society writes about nature. He pushed for scien