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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Alfred Russel Wallace and evolution


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons, London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company


Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913) was an English naturalist best known for independently developing a theory of natural selection. Biologist Richard Dawkins said,


"Our own existence once presented the greatest of all mysteries, but... it is a mystery no longer because it is solved. Darwin and Wallace solved it..." (The Blind Watchmaker, 1996)


Biologist Thomas Henry Huxley said,


"The publication of the Darwin and Wallace papers in 1858, and still more that of the 'Origin' in 1859, had the effect upon them of the flash of light which to a man who has lost himself in a dark night, suddenly reveals a road which, whether it takes him straight home or not, certainly goes his way." (Quoted in The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin)


The rest of this post is some quotes from Wallace.




"Every species has come into existence coincident both in space and time with a pre-existing closely allied species." (On the Law which has Regulated the Introduction of New Species, 1855)


"This progression, by minute steps, in various directions, but always checked and balanced by the necessary conditions, subject to which alone existence can be preserved..." (On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely From the Original Type, 1858)


"Genera are merely assemblages of a number of these species which have a closer resemblance to each other in certain important and often prominent characters than they have to any other species." (The Method of Organic Evolution, 1895)


"...they do vary continuously in many directions; and thus there is always material for natural section to act upon in some direction that may be advantageous." (Remarks on the Rev. S. Haughton's Paper on the Bee's Cell, And on the Origin of Species, 1863)




"To say that mind is a product or function of protoplasm, or of its molecular changes, is to use words to which we can attach no clear conception. You cannot have, in the whole, what does not exist in any of the parts; and those who argue thus should put forth a definite conception of matter, with clearly enunciated properties, and show, that the necessary result of a certain complex arrangement of the elements or atoms of that matter, will be the production of self-consciousness." (Considerations to the Theory of Natural Selection, 1870)


"When we touch matter, we only really experience sensations of resistance, implying repulsive force; and no other sense can give us such apparently solid proofs of the reality of matter, as touch does." (Considerations to the Theory of Natural Selection, 1870)


"There is, I conceive, no contradiction in believing that mind is at once the cause of matter and of the development of individualized human minds through the agency of matter." (Harmony of Spiritualism and Science, 1885)




"But whether there be a God and whatever be His nature; whether we have an immortal soul or not, or whatever may be our state after death, I can have no fear of having to suffer for the study of nature and the search for truth..." (Letter to a relative, 1861)