Sample Biography of James Hutton

 James Hutton


The late James Hutton was born on 3 June 1726 and died on 26 March 1797. He evolved and grew up as a Scottish agriculturalist and biologist who is regarded highly in history, as he holds a strong reputation as the inventor of the world’s present day geology (Wood 146). His academic pursuits included medicine and Chemistry at Edinburgh University, and in Paris, France and Leiden, South Holland. He later attained his degree program in 1749 and in the later part of 1750, he went back to Edinburgh and continued conducting biochemical experimentation together with his friend called James Davie (Playfair 9). The pair worked together to produce Sal ammoniac, which is a salt that is specially designed for drying and functioning with brass and tin metals. Their association led to a much more lucrative corporation as partners. In his entire life, Hutton remained a great observer of the world around him and prudently well-structured opinions on geology. Hutton’s portrait as seen below hangs in the National Library of Scotland.

When viewed from the perspective of the view of his generation, Hutton’s concepts were quite astounding. In the eighteenth century, he believed that the Earth was continually being molded through the forces that drew molten rock materials into mountains, weather-beaten, and then weathered residues are carried away due to mass movements. He acknowledged that the history of the Earth could be explained by understanding the workings of the phenomena such as soil erosion and deposition of sediments in the contemporary world.In addition, the field of geology as an appropriate science was indeed founded upon his concepts and methodology to studying the Earth (Dean 273).

In the course of the late eighteenth century, while Hutton was prudently scrutinizing the rock masses, it was commonly believed that the Earth had been formed and existent for only around six thousand years earlier. This gained further backing from the fact that fossils were found on the vestiges of fauna that had died during the period of the Biblical flood.

According to the Earth’s Geographic structure, natural theorists found out that much substratum was made up of elongated, parallel coats which took the shape of certain angles, and that residues dumped by water were compacted to produce stones. Indeed Hutton, in his reasoning,professed that the depositions of the sediments occurs very gradually that even the most antique rocks are made up of materials that are supplied from the residues or remains of previous continental land masses. The rock masses that eroded and rot when they came into contact with the atmosphere were said to form the the reverse process. Hutton thus named the two combined processes of sedimentation and erosion as one great geological cycle (National Library of Scotland 1).


Hutton appealed that the wholeness of these geologic progressions could completely explain the contemporary land forms in the entire globe, and hence argued that the biblical explanations were not essential in this respect. Lastly, he stayed that all these happenings such as erosion, deposition of particles, sedimentation, and up thrusting being recurring and must have been happened repeatedly throughout the history of the world. He further made the assumption that based on the colossal spans of time occupied by such cycles, that the age of the Earth was unthinkably pronounced. Although Hutton had no intentions of landing on his preferred field, after a meandering course and after his education, he spent fourteen years running two small family plantations. It was the exposure to agriculture that triggered his fascination with how the land could hold its own ground against the disparaging forces of wind. He was further motivated by the weather patterns which he saw back then (Morrell 97).

Hutton designated a space completely different from the heavens that were told of in the Bible.He stated that the earth and space was designed by a continuous sequence through which rock materials and soil particles are eroded into the sea, compressed into substratum, pushed up to the top surface by volcanic eruptions, and inevitably shattered away into residue afresh. Depending on the same approaches used by today’s geologists, Hutton’s proof was a cliff closeto Siccar Point (National Library of Scotland 1). This place was where vertical deposits of gray shale rock particles and superimposing horizontal coatings of red sandstone happened, and hence could only be clarified by the act of astonishing forces over longer periods of time. In that perspective, Hutton understood that the deposits now characterized by the deposited shale had been massively eroded and Dean (273) states that the border that exists between the two kinds of rocks at Siccar Point is today referred to as the Hutton Nonconformity.

Apart from geology and designing of space, Hutton also explored the fundamental perceptions in the Theory of Uniformitarianism which explored the credence that geological workings today, are barely visible to the naked human eye. Uniformitarianism concept forms one of the main philosophies of Earth Science like the notions of Hutton that are attributed to a forward attack on a the common present-day school of thought. On the contrary, catastrophic is the concept used to refer to the belief that only natural disasters such as the Great Flood, could form the system and existence of a six thousand year-old Earth (Dean 273).


Following the discussion above, Hutton’s encounter with farming and geologic power grew out of his personal intelligence, prudent observations and perceptive coordination. He played a big role in spreading information about the earth phases which was far along apprehensive of the universal balance. Nonetheless, he had an experience in Chemistry, which was enhanced by his association with Black and it was from this that he gained full comprehension on the concept of latent heat.


Works Cited

Dean, Dennis R. James Hutton and the history of geology. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992. Print.

Morrell, Bowes M. “James Hutton’s System of the Earth, 1785; Theory of the Earth, 1788; Observations on Granite, 1794; Together with Playfair’s Biography of Hutton by James Hutton, John Playfair, V.A Eyles.” The British Journal for the History of Science6.1 (1972): 96-97. Print.

National Library of Scotland, NLS. Scottish Science of Hall Fame. Purdue U, 28 Nov. 2009. Web. 7 Nov. 2013.

Playfair, John. Biographical account of James Hutton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Print.

Wood, Lawrence. Evolution and the future of mankind. New York: iUniverse, 2010. Print.