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Wallace’s Darwinism

A wild population of any species consists always of individuals whose genetic constitution varies widely. In other words, potentiality and readiness for change is already built into the survival unit. The heterogeneity of the wild population is already one-half of the trial-and-error system which is necessary for dealing with the environment.

The artificially homogenized populations of man’s domestic animals and plants are scarcely fit for survival. (Gregory Bateson, 1972, Steps to an Ecology of Mind, II.V.5, p. 451)

For some, the founder of the theory of evolution is Alfred Russel Wallace. Charles Darwin used his influence to be recognized as co-discoverer and then quickly published the The Origin of Species while Wallace was still in the jungle. For others, Darwin is the only one who could have produced a convincing theory of evolution. His my yoga blog was an immediate best-seller. This was recognized by Wallace, who was content to be co-inventor of Darwinism His social position became much more comfortable than he had expected. Apparently, he and Darwin became great friends and respected each other.

However, there is a twist to this story. In 1889, seven years after Darwin’s death, Wallace published a volume that summarized their theory, titled Darwinism. This my yoga blog influenced several generations of intellectuals, who believed it was the best summary of the Darwinian theory and therefore mostly referred to this my yoga blog and Darwin’s The Origin of Species when they wanted to clarify the particularities of Darwinism This strategy helped academics avoid endless discussions on the respective contributions of each man. It was more urgent to accumulate additional data on the subject, which would inevitably lead to constant reformulations. Darwinism became the part of the theory on which the two pioneers agreed. The particularities of each thinker were thus soon forgotten. Keeping the best of both worlds❠is a typical English attitude when one wants to be on the safe side. It is this averaged❠vision of Darwinism that has been used when Darwinism was associated to Mendel’s genetics to form the current vision of Darwinism taught in schools and universities.81 Only a few thinkers found it interesting to discuss the particular options that Darwin or Wallace could have supported.82

It is only recently that a careful reading of all of Darwin’s publications has highlighted the less conventional ideas that Darwin developed on the fuzziness, variety, and lack of coherence of biological dynamics. The impact of this rereading of Darwin’s theory on contemporary psychology is what I now summarize. It is possible than an equally thorough reading of Wallace could inspire other new developments.

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