I have been looking forward to getting my hands on a copy for review. Wallace’s species notebooks were the field notebooks which Wallace wrote during his time in the Malay Archipelago (1854-1862). Of course, this period of his life is now immortalised due to it being the period in which he independently co-discovered the theory of natural selection with Darwin in 1858. (more…)
Later this week there will be a talk by Professor David Stack of the University of Reading–which I will be chairing–on the philosopher John Stuart Mill and his posthumous reputation.
David Stack has previously done a great deal of work on the interaction between British politics and ideas and science including–most strikingly for me–a work on the The First Darwinian Left: Socialism and Darwinism 1859-1914. This included an excellent chapter on Alfred Russel Wallace and the relationship between his evolutionism and socialism. Well worth a read.
*David also published a shorter article on “The First Darwinian Left: Radical and Socialist Responses to Darwin, 1859-1914″in the journal, History of Political Thought, vol. 21, no. 4 (2000), which includes a section on Wallace on pp. 690-694.
It is a truly wonderful book which brings to life Wallace’s travel diary written during his 10 month lecture tour in the USA and Canada.
Importantly, it is not only of interest to those studying Alfred Russel Wallace but also for those interested in the history and reception of Darwinism in America, the history of botany, geology and various other sciences as well as general American social history as Wallace often makes comments about America in the late 1880s. It is a delight to have the opportunity to take a journey around America at a time when it was changing rapidly with someone as perceptive as Wallace. And, with Smith and Derr’s additions, the context is greater expanded.
I have published a paper on whether or not Alfred Russel Wallace’s socialism was incompatible with his evolutionism entitled: ‘Uneasy Bedfellows: Alfred Russel Wallace and Nineteenth-century ‘Socialist Darwinism’. Here is the abstract:
This paper’s object is to clarify the relationship between Alfred Russel Wallace’s (1823-1913) socialism and evolutionism. This paper contends that although conflicts emerge between Wallace’s socialism and Darwinism through the issues of the role of Malthusianism, the perfectibility of man and the role of individualism, he remained committed to the Darwinian Theory. Indeed, it will argue that, rather than undermining his belief in Darwinism, Wallace’s socialism evolved within the new intellectual conditions created by the ‘Darwinian Revolution.’ This paper argues that intellectual exchange between political thought and science enriched both, and concludes that to erect any barrier between the two distorts the historical and intellectual reality.