Darwin is credited with discovering evolution through natural selection, but Alfred Russel Wallace saw the same process at work in nature and elaborated the same theory. Dispelling misperceptions of Wallace as a secondary figure, James Costa reveals the two naturalists as equals in advancing one of the greatest scientific discoveries of all time.
"Explore[s] the extraordinary range of Wallace's interests, which encompassed ecology, evolution, spiritualism, and socialism." -- Science
Just Before the Origin presents the theory of evolution through natural selection as it was developed by Russel Wallace and published in several essays written from 1848 through 1858, before Darwin’s Origin of the Species in 1889. And yet, Russel Wallace is almost unknown. John Langdon Brooks acts as a scientific detective as he reveals Wallace’s theories and compares the insights of both men in this fascinating study.
This volume marks a new approach to a seminal work of the new modern scientific imagination. Darwin's central theory of natural selection neither originated nor could be contained within the natural sciences, but continues to shape and challenge our most basic assumptions about human social and political life. Seven readings, crossing the fields of history, literature, sociology, anthropology and the history of science, demonstate the complex position of the text within the cultural debates past and present.
Virtually unknown today, Alfred Russel Wallace was the co-discoverer of natural selection with Charles Darwin and an eminent scientist who stood out among his Victorian peers as a man of formidable mind and equally outsized personality. Now Michael Shermer rescues Wallace from the shadow of Darwin in this landmark biography. Here we see Wallace as perhaps the greatest naturalist of his age--spending years in remote jungles, collecting astounding quantities of specimens, writing thoughtfully and with bemused detachment at his reception in places where no white man had ever gone. Here, too, is his supple and forceful intelligence at work, grappling with such arcane problems as the bright coloration of caterpillars, or shaping his 1858 paper on natural selection that prompted Darwin to publish (with Wallace) the first paper outlining the theory of evolution. Shermer also shows that Wallace's self-trained intellect, while powerful, also embraced surprisingly naive ideas, such as his deep interest in the study of spiritual manifestations and seances. Shermer shows that the same iconoclastic outlook that led him to overturn scientific orthodoxy as he worked in relative isolation also led him to embrace irrational beliefs, and thus tarnish his reputation. As author of Why People Believe Weird Things and founding publisher of Skeptic magazine, Shermer is an authority on why people embrace the irrational. Now he turns his keen judgment and incisive analysis to Wallace's life and his contradictory beliefs, restoring a leading figure in the rise of modern science to his rightful place.
Although Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913) was one of the most famous scientists in the world at the time of his death at the age of ninety, today he is known to many as a kind of “almost-Darwin,” a secondary figure relegated to the footnotes of Darwin’s prodigious insights. But this diminution could hardly be less justified. Research into the life of this brilliant naturalist and social critic continues to produce new insights into his significance to history and his role in helping to shape modern thought. Wallace declared his eight years of exploration in southeast Asia to be “the central and controlling incident” of his life. As 2019 marks one hundred and fifty years since the publication of The Malay Archipelago, Wallace’s canonical work chronicling his epic voyage, this collaborative book gathers an interdisciplinary array of writers to celebrate Wallace’s remarkable life and diverse scholarly accomplishments. Wallace left school at the age of fourteen and was largely self-taught, a voracious curiosity and appetite for learning sustaining him throughout his long life. After years as a surveyor and builder, in 1848 he left Britain to become a professional natural history collector in the Amazon, where he spent four years. Then, in 1854, he departed for the Malay Archipelago. It was on this voyage that he constructed a theory of natural selection similar to the one Charles Darwin was developing, and the two copublished papers on the subject in 1858, some sixteen months before the release of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. But as the contributors to the Companion show, this much-discussed parallel evolution in thought was only one epoch in an extraordinary intellectual life. When Wallace returned to Britain in 1862, he commenced a career of writing on a huge range of subjects extending from evolutionary studies and biogeography to spiritualism and socialism. An Alfred Russel Wallace Companion provides something of a necessary reexamination of the full breadth of Wallace’s thought—an attempt to describe not only the history and present state of our understanding of his work, but also its implications for the future.
In 1858, Alfred Russel Wallace, aged thirty-five, weak with malaria, isolated in the Spice Islands, wrote to Charles Darwin: he had, he said excitedly, worked out a theory of natural selection. Darwin was aghast--his work of decades was about to be scooped. Within two weeks, his outline and Wallace's paper were presented jointly in London. A year later, with Wallace still on the opposite side of the globe, Darwin published On the Origin of Species. This new biography of Wallace traces the development of one of the most remarkable scientific travelers, naturalists, and thinkers of the nineteenth century. With vigor and sensitivity, Peter Raby reveals his subject as a courageous, unconventional explorer and a man of exceptional humanity. He draws more extensively on Wallace's correspondence than has any previous biographer and offers a revealing yet balanced account of the relationship between Wallace and Darwin. Wallace lacked Darwin's advantages. A largely self-educated native of Wales, he spent four years in the Amazon in his mid-twenties collecting specimens for museums and wealthy patrons, only to lose his finds in a shipboard fire in the mid-Atlantic. He vowed never to travel again. Yet two years later he was off to the East Indies on a vast eight-year trek; here he discovered countless species and identified the point of divide between Asian and Australian fauna, 'Wallace's Line.' After his return, he plunged into numerous controversies and published regularly until his death at the age of ninety, in 1913. He penned a classic volume on his travels, founded the discipline of biogeography, promoted natural selection, and produced a distinctive account of mind and consciousness in man. Sensitive and self-effacing, he was an ardent socialist--and spiritualist. Wallace is one of the neglected giants of the history of science and ideas. This stirring biography--the first for many years--puts him back at center stage, where he belongs.
Looks at the life of Charles Darwin, covers the background of the book "On the Origin of Species," presents Darwin's theories and concepts of evolution, and discusses the impact of the book.
A new biography of the co-discoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection and one of the nineteenth century's most intriguing scientists.
INTRODUCTION. When on board H.M.S. 'Beagle,' as naturalist, I was much struck with certain facts in the distribution of the inhabitants of South America, and in the geological relations of the present to the past inhabitants of that continent. These facts seemed to me to throw some light on the origin of species—that mystery of mysteries, as it has been called by one of our greatest philosophers. On my return home, it occurred to me, in 1837, that something might perhaps be made out on this question by patiently accumulating and reflecting on all sorts of facts which could possibly have any bearing on it. After five years' work I allowed myself to speculate on the subject, and drew up some short notes; these I enlarged in 1844 into a sketch of the conclusions, which then seemed to me probable: from that period to the present day I have steadily pursued the same object. I hope that I may be excused for entering on these personal details, as I give them to show that I have not been hasty in coming to a decision. My work is now nearly finished; but as it will take me two or three more years to complete it, and as my health is far from strong, I have been urged to publish this Abstract. I have more especially been induced to do this, as Mr. Wallace, who is now studying the natural history of the Malay archipelago, has arrived at almost exactly the same general conclusions that I have on the origin of species. Last year he sent to me a memoir on this subject, with a request that I would forward it to Sir Charles Lyell, who sent it to the Linnean Society, and it is published in the third volume of the Journal of that Society. Sir C. Lyell and Dr. Hooker, who both knew of my work—the latter having read my sketch of 1844—honoured me by thinking it advisable to publish, with Mr. Wallace's excellent memoir, some brief extracts from my manuscripts. I much regret that want of space prevents my having the satisfaction of acknowledging the generous assistance which I have received from very many naturalists, some of them personally unknown to me. I cannot, however, let this opportunity pass without expressing my deep obligations to Dr. Hooker, who for the last fifteen years has aided me in every possible way by his large stores of knowledge and his excellent judgment. In considering the Origin of Species, it is quite conceivable that a naturalist, reflecting on the mutual affinities of organic beings, on their embryological relations, their geographical distribution, geological succession, and other such facts, might come to the conclusion that each species had not been independently created, but had descended, like varieties, from other species. Nevertheless, such a conclusion, even if well founded, would be unsatisfactory, until it could be shown how the innumerable species inhabiting this world have been modified, so as to acquire that perfection of structure and coadaptation which most justly excites our admiration. Naturalists continually refer to external conditions, such as climate, food, etc., as the only possible cause of variation. In one very limited sense, as we shall hereafter see, this may be true; but it is preposterous to attribute to mere external conditions, the structure, for instance, of the woodpecker, with its feet, tail, beak, and tongue, so admirably adapted to catch insects under the bark of trees. In the case of the misseltoe, which draws its nourishment from certain trees, which has seeds that must be transported by certain birds, and which has flowers with separate sexes absolutely requiring the agency of certain insects to bring pollen from one flower to the other, it is equally preposterous to account for the structure of this parasite, with its relations to several distinct organic beings, by the effects of external conditions, or of habit, or of the volition of the plant itself. The author of the 'Vestiges of Creation' would, I presume, say that, after a certain unknown number of generations, some bird had given birth to a woodpecker, and some plant to the misseltoe, and that these had been produced perfect as we now see them; but this assumption seems to me to be no explanation, for it leaves the case of the coadaptations of organic beings to each other and to their physical conditions of life, untouched and unexplained.
Offers an introduction that presents Darwin's theory. This title includes excerpts from Darwin's correspondence, commenting on the work in question, and its significance, impact, and reception.
The facts of variability, of the struggle for existence, of adaptation to conditions, were notorious enough; but none of us had suspected that the road to the heart of the species problem lay through them, until Darwin and Wallace dispelled the darkness.T H Huxley (1887). Darwin is one of the most famous scientists in history. But he was not alone. Comparatively forgotten, Wallace independently discovered evolution by natural selection in Southeast Asia. This book is based on the most thorough research ever conducted on Wallace's voyage. Closely connected, but worlds apart, Darwin and Wallace's stories hold many surprises. Did Darwin really keep his theory a secret for twenty years? Did he plagiarise Wallace? Were their theories really the same? How did Wallace hit on the solution, and on which island? This book reveals for the first time the true story of Darwin, Wallace and the discovery that would change our understanding of life on Earth forever.
Marking the centennial of Alfred Russel Wallace's death, James Costa presents an elegant edition of the "Species Notebook" of 1855-1859, which Wallace kept during his Malay Archipelago expedition. Presented in facsimile with text transcription and annotations, this never-before-published document provides a window into the travels, trials, and genius of the co-discoverer of natural selection. In one section, headed "Note for Organic Law of Change"--a critique of geologist Charles Lyell's anti-evolutionary arguments--Wallace sketches a book he would never write, owing to the unexpected events of 1858. In that year he sent a manuscript announcing his discovery of natural selection to Charles Darwin. Lyell and the botanist Joseph Hooker proposed a joint reading at the Linnean Society of his scientific paper with Darwin's earlier private writings on the subject. Darwin would go on to publish On the Origin of Species in 1859, to much acclaim; pre-empted, Wallace's first book on evolution waited two decades, but by then he had abandoned his original concept. On the Organic Law of Change realizes in spirit Wallace's unfinished project, and asserts his stature as not only a founder of biogeography and the preeminent tropical biologist of his day but as Darwin's equal.
Codiscoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection, Alfred Russel Wallace should be recognized as one of the titans of Victorian science. Instead he has long been relegated to a secondary place behind Darwin. Worse, many scholars have overlooked or even mocked his significant contributions to other aspects of Victorian culture. With An Elusive Victorian, Martin Fichman provides the first comprehensive analytical study of Wallace's life and controversial intellectual career. Fichman examines not only Wallace's scientific work as an evolutionary theorist and field naturalist but also his philosophical concerns, his involvement with theism, and his commitment to land nationalization and other sociopolitical reforms such as women's rights. As Fichman shows, Wallace worked throughout his life to integrate these humanistic and scientific interests. His goal: the development of an evolutionary cosmology, a unified vision of humanity's place in nature and society that he hoped would ensure the dignity of all individuals. To reveal the many aspects of this compelling figure, Fichman not only reexamines Wallace's published works, but also probes the contents of his lesser known writings, unpublished correspondence, and copious annotations in books from his personal library. Rather than consider Wallace's science as distinct from his sociopolitical commitments, An Elusive Victorian assumes a mutually beneficial relationship between the two, one which shaped Wallace into one of the most memorable characters of his time. Fully situating Wallace's wide-ranging work in its historical and cultural context, Fichman's innovative and insightful account will interest historians of science, religion, and Victorian culture as well as biologists.
During their lifetimes, Wallace and Darwin shared credit and fame for the independent and near-simultaneous discovery of natural selection. Their rivalry, usually amicable but occasionally acrimonious, forged modern evolutionary theory. Yet today, few people today know much about Wallace. This book explores the controversial life and scientific contributions of the Victorian traveler, scientist and spiritualist. His twelve years of often harrowing travels in the western and eastern tropics place him in the pantheon of the greatest explorer-naturalists of the nineteenth century. Tracing his discovery of natural selection, the book then follows the remaining fifty years of Wallace's eccentric and entertaining life. In addition to his divergence from Darwin on two fundamental issues--sexual selection and the origin of the human mind--he pursued topics that most scientific figures of his day conspicuously avoided, including spiritualism, phrenology, mesmerism, environmentalism, and life on Mars.--From publisher description.
Nineteenth-Century Science is a science anthology which provides over 30 selections from original 19th-century scientific monographs, textbooks and articles written by such authors as Charles Darwin, Mary Somerville, J.W. Goethe, John Dalton, Charles Lyell and Hermann von Helmholtz. The volume surveys scientific discovery and thought from Jean-Baptiste Lamarck’s theory of evolution of 1809 to the isolation of radium by Marie and Pierre Curie in 1898. Each selection opens with a biographical introduction, situating each scientist and discovery within the context of history and culture of the period. Each entry is also followed by a list of further suggested reading on the topic. A broad range of technical and popular material has been included, from Mendeleev’s detailed description of the periodic table to Faraday’s highly accessible lecture for young people on the chemistry of a burning candle. The anthology will be of interest to the general reader who would like to explore in detail the scientific, cultural, and intellectual development of the nineteenth-century, as well as to students and teachers who specialize in the science, literature, history, or sociology of the period. The book provides examples from all the disciplines of western science-chemistry, physics, medicine, astronomy, biology, evolutionary theory, etc. The majority of the entries consist of complete, unabridged journal articles or book chapters from original 19th-century scientific texts.
The letters in this volume cover two of the most momentous years in Darwin's life. Begun in 1856 and the fruit of twenty years of study and reflection, Darwin's manuscript on the species question was a little more than half finished, and at least two years from publication, when in June 1858 Darwin unexpectedly received a letter and a manuscript from Alfred Russel Wallace indicating that he too had independently formulated a theory of natural selection. The letters detail the various stages in the preparation of what was to become one of the world's most famous works: Darwin's On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, published by John Murray in November 1859. They reveal the first impressions of Darwin's book given by his most trusted confidants, and they relate Darwin's anxious response to the early reception of his theory by friends, family members, and prominent naturalists. This volume provides the capstone to Darwin's remarkable efforts for more than two decades to solve one of nature's greatest riddles - the origin of species.
Since the eighteenth century when natural historians created the idea of distinct racial categories, scientific findings on race have been a double-edged sword. For some antiracists, science holds the promise of one day providing indisputable evidence to help eradicate racism. On the other hand, science has been enlisted to promote racist beliefs ranging from a justification of slavery in the eighteenth century to the infamous twentieth-century book, The Bell Curve, whose authors argued that racial differences in intelligence resulted in lower test scores for African Americans. This well-organized, readable textbook takes the reader through a chronological account of how and why racial categories were created and how the study of “race” evolved in multiple academic disciplines, including genetics, psychology, sociology, and anthropology. In a bibliographic essay at the conclusion of each of the book's seven sections, the authors recommend primary texts that will further the reader's understanding of each topic. Heavily illustrated and enlivened with sidebar biographies, this text is ideal for classroom use.