francis kafka

heterodox deleuzian, hauntological transhumanist, ex-rationalist who is not a post-rationalist


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I mean to some extent, Dawkins isn't a historian of science, presentism, yadda yadda but from what I've seen he's right here. Not that Wallace is somehow worse, given that of all the people out there he was certainly closer than the rest. That's about it

Bowler's comment on Wallace is that his theory was not worked out to the extent that Darwin's was, and besides I recall that he was a theistic evolutionist. Even with Wallace, there was still a plethora of non-Darwinian evolutionary theories before and after Darwin, and without the force of Darwin's version, it's not likely or necessary that Darwinism wins out. 

But Wallace’s version of the theory was not the same as Darwin’s, and he had very different ideas about its implications. And since Wallace conceived his theory in 1858, any equivalent to Darwin’s 1859 Origin of Species would have appeared years later.


Natural selection, however, was by no means an inevitable expression of mid-nineteenth-century thought, and Darwin was unique in having just the right combination of interests to appreciate all of its key components. No one else, certainly not Wallace, could have articulated the idea in the same way and promoted it to the world so effectively.

And he points out that minus Darwin, nobody would have paid as much attention to Wallace. 

The powerful case for transmutation mounted in the Origin of Species prompted everyone to take the subject seriously and begin to think more constructively about how the process might work. Without the Origin, few would have paid much attention to Wallace’s ideas (which were in many respects much less radical than Darwin’s anyway). Evolutionism would have developed more gradually in the course of the 1860s and ’70s, with Lamarckism being explored as the best available explanation of adaptive evolution. Theories in which adaptation was not seen as central to the evolutionary process would have sustained an evolutionary program that did not enquire so deeply into the actual mechanism of change, concentrating instead on reconstructing the overall history of life on earth from fossil and other evidence. Only toward the end of the century, when interest began to focus on the topic of heredity (largely as a result of social concerns), would the fragility of the non-Darwinian ideas be exposed, paving the way for the selection theory to emerge at last.

Bowler also points out that Wallace didn't really form the connection between both natural and artificial selection. 

Have you read Michel Serres's The Birth of Physics? He suggests that the Epicureans and Lucretius in particular have worked out a serious theory of physics that's closer to thermodynamics and fluid mechanics than Newtonian physics

Answer by francis kafka80

Peter J. Bowler suggests that evolution by natural selection is this in his book "Darwin Deleted" - given that in real life, there was an "eclipse of Darwinism", he suggests that without Darwin, various non-Darwinian theories of evolution would have been developed further, and evolution by natural selection would have come rather late

This is interesting because I myself spent a lot of my life being very not-Green; now Green is much more intuitive for me