The Making of a Victorian Naturalist

in An Elusive Victorian

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print February 2004 | ISBN: 9780226246130
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226246154 | DOI:
The Making of a Victorian Naturalist

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This chapter provides an overview of the process by which Wallace became one of the greatest Victorian naturalists. This is central to understanding his evolutionary worldview. The concepts and attitudes held by Wallace had their origins in his earliest encounters with the natural world and these would guide Wallace's quest for an integrative framework linking social, political, religious, philosophical, and scientific issues. The study of the geographical distribution of animals and plants was a familiar one at the time of Wallace's voyage. Explanations of distributional data were generally embedded within the framework of the argument from design. Wallace's account of his first sightings and subsequent contacts with the orangutans is intriguing because it depicts the complex relationship of the specimen collector to the object of his quest. Nature was an influential platform for Wallace's expertise as scientist, scientific book reviewer, and science popularizer; thus, he had become a Victorian naturalist of the first rank.

Keywords: Wallace; Victorian naturalist; Nature; geographical distribution; scientist

Chapter.  24578 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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