Why does Charles Darwin eclipse Alfred Russel Wallace? - BBC News
on the Wallace-Darwin relationship is that when Wallace mailed his manuscript to . Lyell's urgent advice in May that Darwin begin to write for publication. Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace, theory of evolution, malthus, population, After the failure of the business Wallace worked as a surveyor in connection with a . During , Darwin, with Emma's editorial advice and participation. Darwin and Wallace at Burlington House by Greg Mayer The theory of Lyell, gotten it back, and then returned it to Wallace, with the advice that it was Wallace remarked in , “My connection with Darwin and his great.
Here, then, I had at last got a theory by which to work. Darwin continued to develop a theory expaining the naturally arising development of new species but at the same time had begun to think seriously that life as a scholarly bachelor would be unappealing and decided to attempt to pay court to his sincerely religious first cousin, Emma Wedgwood. By the summer of Emma agreed to marry Charles Darwin, knowing him to hold skeptical views and even wrote to him soon after their engagement telling him that she was sad that "our opinions on the most important subject should differ widely.
Darwin had grown up in and, despite his own skepticism after returning from his voyages, continued to live in a society that generally accepted biblical explanations of creation whereby the Earth and all of its unchanging, immutable, life forms were, as they were and as they ever had been, as a result of Original Acts of Divine Creation. DuringDarwin, with Emma's editorial advice and participation, extended an initial thirty-five page abstract of his theory written in pencil in by preparing a two hundred and thirty page-long overview of his theory for publication in the event of his death.
Responses to Questions Frequently Asked About Alfred Russel Wallace ()
He also framed an accompanying letter to his wife asking her to seek the aid of several of his scientific friends to that end and setting aside a substantial sum to fund the project! Thus even though he went to the trouble of gathering his thoughts so as to prepare a manuscript overview of his theorising, Darwin actually preferred to keep his potentially most controversial ideas a private matter because of his reluctance to meet an expected adverse reaction from family, friends, and the wider public.
Despite the time and effort put into its preparation the manuscript overview was placed in storage in a securely sealed packet that was labelled 'only to be opened in the event of my death' that Darwin placed in a cupboard under the stairs of Darwin's home! It was to remain there for some fifteen years! During these times Darwin continued to live in the Kent countryside and to thoroughly investigate how species might change through converstions with pidgeon fanciers and farmers as well as conducting a large number of scientific experiments.
He kept up friendships with a wide range of persons and communicated widely by letter with other parties interested in Natural History. One such friendship was with Sir Charles Lyell and one particular debating point between them was whether or not individual species were fixed in form or whether their forms were open to change.
This paper was read by the famous geologist Sir Charles Lyell, a famous geologist and a personal friend of long-standing to Charles Darwin. Lyell, against his own previous and strongly held opinions, found its contents to suggest strongly that species were not fixed creations of God, but were, in fact, naturally mutable.
In Novembersoon after reading Wallace's article, Lyell seems to have started keeping a "species notebook" in which to record his own thoughts about a possible mutability in species.
Between April Sir Charles Lyell and his wife paid a visit to the Darwins, at their home in the Kentish countryside. Darwin did read Wallace's paper but later commented about Wallace's work - "it seems all creation with him.
The outcome being that this burst of inspiration together with his more longstanding ruminations resulted in Alfred Russel Wallace independently framing a theory of the evolutionary origin of species by natural selection.
At the time in question I was suffering from a sharp attack of intermittent fever, and every day during the cold and succeeding hot fits had to lie down for several hours, during which time I had nothing to do but to think over any subjects then particularly interesting me. One day something brought to my recollection Malthus's "Principles of Population", which I had read about twelve years before.
I thought of his clear exposition of "the positive checks to increase" - disease, accidents, war, and famine - which keep down the population of savage races to so much lower an average than that of more civilized peoples.
It then occurred to me that these causes or their equivalents are continually acting in the case of animals also; and as animals usually breed much more rapidly than does mankind, the destruction every year from these causes must be enormous in order to keep down the numbers of each species, since they evidently do not increase regularly from year to year, as otherwise the world would long ago have been densely crowded with those that breed most quickly.
Vaguely thinking over the enormous and constant destruction which this implied, it occurred to me to ask the question, Why do some die and some live? And the answer was clearly, that on the whole the best fitted live. From the effects of disease the most healthy escaped; from enemies, the strongest, the swiftest, or the most cunning; from famine, the best hunters or those with the best digestion; and so on.
Then it suddenly flashed upon me that this self-acting process would necessarily improve the race, because in every generation the inferior would inevitably be killed off and the superior would remain - that is, the fittest would survive. Then at once I seemed to see the whole effect of this, that when changes of land and sea, or of climate, or of food-supply, or of enemies occurred - and we know that such changes have always been taking place - and considering the amount of individual variation that my experience as a collector had shown me to exist, then it followed that all the changes necessary for the adaptation of the species to the changing conditions would be brought about; and as great changes in the environment are always slow, there would be ample time for the change to be effected by the survival of the best fitted in every generation.
In this way every part of an animal's organization could be modified exactly as required, and in the very process of this modification the unmodified would die out, and thus the definite characters and the clear isolation of each new species would be explained.
The more I thought over it the more I became convinced that I had at length found the long-sought-for law of nature that solved the problem of the origin of the species. For the next hour I thought over the deficiencies in the theories of Lamarck and of the author of the "Vestiges," and I saw that my new theory supplemented these views and obviated every important difficulty.
I waited anxiously for the termination of my fit so that I might at once make notes for a paper on the subject. The same evening I did this pretty fully, and on the two succeeding evenings wrote it out carefully in order to send it to Darwin by the next post, which would leave in a day or two.
I wrote a letter to him in which I said I hoped the idea would be as new to him as it was to me, and that it would supply the missing factor to explain the origin of the species. I asked him if he thought it sufficiently important to show it to Sir Charles Lyell, who had thought so highly of my former paper.
From Alfred Russel Wallace: And so it was that Wallace sent a twenty page long memoir about this evolutionary theory to the influential expert naturalist Charles Darwin, arrived in Darwin's hands in June In a covering letter Wallace asked that Darwin forward the memoir to a famous scientist, Sir Charles Lyell, if Darwin thought the content merited his attention.
Darwin subsequently sent Wallace's manuscript to Lyell; with his own covering letter of 18th June that included the following sentences: It seems to me well worth reading. Your words have come true with a vengeance that I shd. Even his terms now stand as Heads of my Chapters.
So all my originality, whatever it may amount to, will be smashed. Though my Book, if it will ever have any value, will not be deteriorated; as all the labour consists in the application of the theory. Several days later Darwin again wrote to Sir Charles Lyell: I would far rather burn my whole book than that he or any other man should think that I behaved in a paltry spirit.
Do you not think that that his having sent me this sketch ties my hands? I do not in least believe that that he originated his views from anything which I wrote to him. In the event, Darwin, in consultation with Sir Charles Lyell and Sir Joseph Hooker, agreed that there should be a public joint presentation of his own and Wallace's potentially dramatically controversial views.
Neither Wallace nor Charles Darwin were present at the historic meeting of the Linnaean Society in July when papers attributable to each were brought to the attention of the wider scientific public. My reading of the situation is that Wallace came to realize by the lates, perhaps, that his efforts to promote spiritualism were somewhat premature actually, a case of trying to "put the cart before the horse": The essence of this strategy is conveyed in his address 'Spiritualism and Social Duty' Sdelivered inand the essay 'True Individualism' Spublished in in his Studies Scientific and Social S The first work, in particular, makes it clear that as of that date he was paying more attention to the promotion of socialism than he was to spiritualism, hardly what one would expect from a "disillusioned Owenist.
But there remains a complication. I rather doubt, however, that these weaknesses as he perceived them at that time in any sense "drove" him to spiritualism see my essay 'Alfred Russel Wallace on Spiritualism, Man, and Evolution' and monograph Alfred Russel Wallace: Evolution of an Evolutionist ; instead, they merely caused him to ignore socialism for the time being--that is, until and his reading of the Bellamy work.
Did Wallace come to reject natural selection when he became a spiritualist? No, he did not. Actually, just about everyone agrees that he didn't reject it entirely when he became a spiritualist; the real question is whether he changed his mind about its application to the evolution of man.
First, one should note that this supposed change of mind, even if it did take place I have my doubtsshould not be construed to have had anything to do with how he envisioned the basic physical aspects of the evolution of humankind. In this respect he remained a true materialist Darwinian to the end, never budging from the idea that humans had descended from some ape-like ancestor in the remote past. There is still question, however, as to whether between and the dates, respectively, of his Ternate essay on natural selection, and public embrace of spiritualism he may have changed his mind as to whether natural selection could be invoked to account for the evolution of humankind's higher moral and intellectual faculties.
Considerable analysis has been published on this particular matter see, for example, SmithKottlerTurnerSchwartzand Malinchak and the arguments have gotten quite involved; I personally feel that Wallace, who in his Ternate essay draft left humankind out of the discussion, did so deliberately, and in fact had no such "change of mind.
No, he was not.Darwin and Natural Selection: Crash Course History of Science #22
Actually, the frequency with which the "Sir" appellation turns up is a good indicator of the general lack of appreciation of what he stood for. Wallace, ever the defender of the rights of the common man, would never have permitted himself to be knighted; he was so adamant on this particular subject, in fact, that when at one point a rumor began to circulate that he was about to be so honored, he quickly published a letter in the magazine Public Opinion S that left no doubts as to where he stood on the matter.
Still, some seem to be unable to disassociate his name with the establishment--I have even seen him referred to as "Lord" Alfred Russel Wallace on several occasions, an association that surely would have him turning over in his grave! Did Wallace really believe that Earth was located at the center of the Universe, and that our planet was the only one that hosted living things? Yes, and no--that is, yes, he believed Earth is located at or near the center of the Universe though his exact opinions on this matter changed as time went onbut no, he did not argue that we were necessarily the only place in the cosmos where life existed.
In Wallace's time the Universe was not definitely known to extend beyond our own galaxy. Wallace used a variety of contemporary sources of astronomical data to come to the conclusion that our Sun is located at the center of the Milky Way--an incorrect conclusion, of course--and that it was highly unlikely that any other planet existed which harbored advanced life forms.
He has frequently been misunderstood on this latter point; most sources refer to him as not believing in the likelihood of any kind of life existing anywhere else. However, he himself once stated: What I do say is. See Laneand the review of Wallace's anthropocentrism in Dick Was Wallace a Social Darwinist?
This item falls into the general class of "Are you still beating your wife? Still, it is fair to think of him as being an important if not the most important force in the development of a socially-responsible kind of Darwinian thinking. Wallace's ideas in the "social cooperation" direction paralleled, and possibly influenced, the development of the mutual aid concept promoted by the Russian geographer and anarchist Petr Kropotkin.
What is Wallace's Line? Also known as "The Wallace Line," this is an imaginary geographical feature trending the more or the less along the edge of the Sunda Shelf in Indonesia in other words, tracing the dividing line between the shallow shelf waters to the west and deep ocean to the east. It extends from between the islands of Bali and Lombok in the Lesser Sundas on to between Borneo and Sulawesi, and from there continues northward to separate the Philippine island of Mindanao from the small islands of Sangir and Talaud that lie south of it.
The significance of the line is that it identifies a substantial though not entirely abrupt faunal discontinuity: For a map, click here. What was the actual sequence of events leading up to the 1 July Linnean Society reading of Wallace's and Darwin's writings on natural selection?
There are still some unanswered questions here, but we think we know at least the following. In February ofwhile on the island of Ternate or quite more likely on the nearby island of Gilolo, as McKinney first claimed suffering from a malarial episode, Wallace conceived of the notion of natural selection. Within days, as soon as he was well enough to make an extended effort, he completed setting the idea down in essay form S Shortly thereafter he sent this, apparently with a cover letter, to Darwin both the letter and the original draft of the essay have been lost.
Darwin, he knew, was interested in the "species question," and Wallace hoped he would bring the work to the attention of his friend Sir Charles Lyell, the famous geologist. Wallace did not ask for any assistance in getting the paper published but, given the meagre evidence available, it seems unlikely that he specifically asked that it not be published actually a much more important matter, at least in terms of the progression of Wallace's thought to that point.
Darwin possibly received the essay on 17 June there is still some real question about this: Lyell then seems to have contacted Joseph Hooker, the botanist and another of Darwin's close friendsand the two came up with a workable solution: Darwin chose two fragments from writings he had composed some time before; neither of these had been intended for publication.
The next meeting of the Society happened to be a specially scheduled one; it was held on 1 July Darwin did not attend the meeting and, of course, neither did Wallace. Wallace first found out about what has been referred to as the "delicate arrangement" from letters Darwin and Hooker sent to him after the fact. Did Wallace resent the treatment he received vis-a-vis the "delicate arrangement" of ? Wallace never publicly expressed any annoyance over the situation, nor, as far as we know, did he ever say anything derogatory in private.
Still, there remain good reasons for certain doubts on this score. To begin with, Wallace was a gentleman, and would have considered public complaining unseemly behavior some may consider this a dubious remark, but it has often been noted how there is scarcely, if any, a word in all of Wallace's voluminous public and private writings that anyone might regard as shameful or personally embarrassing.
Moreover, he certainly would have realized by, say,that he was destined to become one of history's noteworthies, and that even his private writings might someday be scrutinized for such commentary. And, in the more immediate sense, he seemingly had every reason to be thankful for what had happened: As a result, he surely would have been viewed as ungrateful had he suddenly presented a challenge.
Besides, Darwin really had in fact been studying the idea for going on twenty years, lack of publication notwithstanding. Also, were Wallace to have spoken up on the matter the act would have detracted from the development of the theory itself, something he clearly would not have wanted. Each of these considerations individually may well have struck him as a good enough reason to keep silent on the matter, but, taken in combination, what outcome should anyone have expected?
Note, however, that Wallace may have left behind at least one indication that he was not entirely satisfied with the way things turned out. On no fewer than five different future occasions he drew special attention--in published works, yet S43, in the German reprint; S ; S ; S, p. Considering its great success, this is a bit strange. I draw from this persistence on his part an inference: I vote for the essay itself: For further discussion see my monograph Alfred Russel Wallace: Were Wallace and Darwin really on friendly professional and personal terms?
Yes, though it is quite likely that Wallace--how shall we say it--"worried Darwin a little. There can also be no doubt that the two men recognized and respected each other as major creative and intellectual forces. But they did often disagree on how to apply their ideas to specific problems, and such disagreements seemed to trouble Darwin more than they did Wallace.
I surmise especially from his correspondence that Darwin came to regard Wallace as being something of a "loose cannon" at times, and the latter's attachment to spiritualism and various radical social causes undoubtedly did little to soften the former's opinion.
Yet Darwin continued to seek Wallace's assistance and advice and to compliment him on his various writings until Darwin's death inand to an extent that surely extended beyond mere politeness. Were Wallace's attempts at social criticism really faddist and inconsequential, as some have implied?
Slowly but surely we are coming to appreciate the significant extent to which many of Wallace's efforts both presaged and contributed to the general "Liberal Agenda" of the twentieth century.
One should not view his endeavors in this direction as a hobby or of secondary importance to him; after aboutin fact, his writings on social science subjects were about as numerous as those he published on natural science subjects. As to whether the causes he chose were faddist, one can only point out that a good number of them: Among those individuals who at one time or another expressed an interest in or praise for Wallace's efforts in the social arena are some important historical figures: The possible connections between Wallace and the work of Sun, Kropotkin, Howard, and Peirce in particular appear especially intriguing, and would seem to merit more attention than they have heretofore been given.
Was Wallace a "follower" of Henry George, the American economist and land reformer? To the extent that both Wallace and George concerned themselves with injustices stemming from the characteristics of land ownership, and believed that the system of landlordism in effect was an important contributor to these injustices, they followed parallel paths. It is clear, however, that once Wallace became aware of George's writings especially the latter's book Progress and Povertyhe borrowed heavily from them.
Still, most of what he borrowed actually consisted of George's examples rather than the latter's posed solution to the problem, which was quite different from Wallace's: George supported the famous "single tax" approach, whereas Wallace and his Land Nationalisation Society promoted a plan of State-owned and -leased lands.
Wallace's own influence on George was substantial, but more in the area of promotion: Why do many of today's biogeographers reject some of Wallace's most famous ideas on biogeography? In part because of important new discoveries in the earth sciences, and in part because of new approaches to systematics and the goals of biogeographic explanation. In Wallace's time the characteristics of organic distribution were thought to be linked largely to vertical movements in the earth's crust; that is, to whether elevation or lowering of the land or sea had resulted in connections being made where once they did not exist or vice versaand how this might affect the dispersal and evolution of species.
The notion that horizontal movements plate tectonics-based ocean-floor spreading and continental drift of the crust might also take place was quite beyond the level of discussion; thus, Wallace's understanding that the ocean basins and continental masses were more or less permanent features, while satisfactorily addressing the issues of his day, has since been superseded by a more complete model of surface evolution.
Further, the nineteenth century notion that dispersal into new areas followed by differentiation in place constitutes the primary evolutionary process has come into dispute, and along with it, the explanatory value of the classic faunal regions-based approach. A more scientific appraisal of the history and geography of species divergence has been achieved through what is known as vicariance biogeography, which, ironically, focuses on some of the same questions as are treated in Wallace's first essay on biogeography of S Michaux has even gone so far as to state: Was Wallace a Creationist, as some have implied?
Wallace spent most of his early days as an agnostic, but it appears that his broadening slant on things natural and social instilled in him a sense that there was, after all, something resembling a hierarchy of causal forces in the universe--a hierarchy extending beyond the physical, moreover, and into the realm of spirits and altogether unimaginable higher beings.
But he would have nothing of a God who directly and individually manipulated the affairs of individual beings, and had equally little enthusiasm for organized religious belief.
Wallace's was a universe operating under final, not first, causes: Wallace's spiritualism was thus a manifestation of his naturalism, and not of any religious belief. He often spoke metaphorically of God, but in so doing he was doing literally just that: Also note Wallace's comments here.
What were the main subjects on which Wallace and Darwin disagreed? While Wallace and Darwin agreed on most of the basic premises of the subjects they studied, Wallace was never afraid to disagree with his older colleague when he saw fit to do so. There are several main issues on which they differed for discussion see the writings cited: Wallace discusses these issues in some detail in Volume 2 of My Life Son pages Just how similar were Wallace's and Darwin's ideas on evolution, as distinct from natural selection?
Probably not nearly as similar as many observers seem to think. Darwin looked at evolution in purely material terms, effectively restricting the concept to the irreversible changes that have occurred in life over significant periods of time. Natural selection, he felt, was the main process driving this change, but admitted that other forces for example, the inheritance of acquired characters might well be influencing its direction in addition.
Wallace, by contrast, regarded natural selection not as a process, but as a law akin to Newtonian gravitation: Unlike Darwin, Wallace believed that the biological aspect of evolution, at least, was entirely "ruled" his word by the operation of natural selection, an understanding that has brought him criticism as a "hyperselectionist" or "panselectionist" hyperselectionism as portrayed by Gould concerns the idea that "every part of every creature is fashioned for and only for its immediate use"; the closely related "panselectionism" has been defined by John S.
Wilkins as "the view that all characters of an organism have an adaptive reason for evolving". Actually, however, this may be hollow criticism. To begin with, it is almost always ignored that although Wallace did believe that all population variation was acted upon by natural selection to produce adaptations, he also regularly admitted that we knew next to nothing about the causes of that variation, and that their enaction might well be influencing what was there to be selected!
Again, he appears to have conceived natural selection and the suite of adaptations thus produced as the ongoing result of the struggle for existence, and not the overall process of evolution itself. From this we might conclude something rather interesting: If this is essentially true, Wallace's panselectionism makes more sense, because it implies a necessary connection not between adaptive process and specific adaptive result, but instead between environmental forcing functions and some kind of adaptive result a distinctly biogeographic way of conceiving the process, one should note.
Darwin did not cheat Wallace out of his rightful place in history
It might be added that this appreciation is certainly more in keeping both with his predisposition toward final causes and progressive change, and with his early observations on the apparent lack of connection between phylogenetic relation and adaptation to ecological station. For further discussion see Smith,my monograph Alfred Russel Wallace: How does one reconcile Wallace's apparent respect for native peoples with his sometimes stated position that the European powers were "superior" to them?
Easily, actually, though his position has frequently been manipulated by later workers to suit the needs of various preconceived arguments. There can be no doubt that Wallace not only respected societally more primitive that is, as compared with the technologically more sophisticated Western Europeans peoples, but believed them to be, on the average, quite on a par morally and ethically with Westerners.
Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace - their theory of evolution - malthus on population
Nevertheless, he recognized that Westerners were certainly "superior," if only to the extent that they were capable of militarily and culturally overwhelming "less advanced" societies and indeed often did. Thus, he was not relaying a "might makes right" kind of thinking, but instead a simple factual assessment of the power structure involved.
It is not a question of intellect only, nor of bodily strength only. We cannot tell what causes may produce it. But still there is the plain fact that two races come into contact, and that one drives out the other. This is a proof that the one race is better fitted to live upon the world than the other. In My Life SVol. Further, if Wallace was indeed such a "cultural chauvinist," why did he invest so much time in local radical causes, combating an English social system he characterized as being "rotten at the core" in his essay 'Human Selection' S?
Wallace may well have underestimated the actual complexity of uncivilized cultures in many instances, but I find it difficult to concede that he ever underestimated their basic humanity. See Tsao for an excellent analysis of this matter. Was Wallace actually a Welshman, as seems to be increasingly claimed? Several people have criticized me for not giving Wales its just due with regard to Wallace's national affinities.
I think the Welsh claim on him is rather tenuous, but here are the facts at least those given in Wallace's autobiography My Life, Sso you decide.