Wallace's Evolutionary Philosophy

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:
Wallace's Evolutionary Philosophy

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This chapter focuses on the fact that the evolutionary philosophy of Wallace was central to his life and career and his philosophical interests have not been accorded the full recognition they warrant. The impact of Robert Owen's social and political views on the philosophical development of the young Wallace was profound. Wallace aimed to present an evolutionism that would compel assent precisely because that theory was grounded in demonstrable evidentiary claims. He interpreted the data from the Malay Archipelago with increasing mastery, despite the lack of any adequate mechanism for evolution. By 1886, Wallace's evolutionism included significant doses of spiritualism, theism, and social reformism. Wallace's life was informed by an eclecticism that permeated his approach to all issues and this eclectic imperative manifested itself in Wallace's philosophical evolution.

Keywords: evolutionary philosophy; Wallace; philosophical interests; evolutionism; eclecticism

Chapter.  31623 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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