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On the Organic Law of Change

On the Organic Law of Change

Annotated by James T. Costa
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Harvard University Press
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  • Book Info
    On the Organic Law of Change
    Book Description:

    Marking the centennial of Alfred Russel Wallace's death, James Costa presents an elegant edition of the "Species Notebook" of 1855-1859, which Wallace kept during his Malay Archipelago expedition. Presented in facsimile with text transcription and annotations, this never-before-published document provides a window into the travels, trials, and genius of the co-discoverer of natural selection. In one section, headed "Note for Organic Law of Change"--a critique of geologist Charles Lyell's anti-evolutionary arguments--Wallace sketches a book he would never write, owing to the unexpected events of 1858. In that year he sent a manuscript announcing his discovery of natural selection to Charles Darwin. Lyell and the botanist Joseph Hooker proposed a joint reading at the Linnean Society of his scientific paper with Darwin's earlier private writings on the subject. Darwin would go on to publishOn the Origin of Speciesin 1859, to much acclaim; pre-empted, Wallace's first book on evolution waited two decades, but by then he had abandoned his original concept.On the Organic Law of Changerealizes in spirit Wallace's unfinished project, and asserts his stature as not only a founder of biogeography and the preeminent tropical biologist of his day but as Darwin's equal.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-72602-4
    Subjects: History of Science & Technology, Biological Sciences, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Zoology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. Preface
    (pp. IX-X)
  4. Note on the Text
    (pp. XI-XIII)
  5. [Illustration]
    (pp. XIV-XIV)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    The year 1844 was momentous in the history of evolutionary biology. That fateful year saw the publication ofVestiges of the Natural History of Creation, the sensational manifesto on transmutation—what we now term biological evolution—published anonymously by the Scottish author and publisher Robert Chambers, as well as the drafting of a lengthy private essay on transmutation by the thirty-five-year-old rising naturalist Charles Darwin. That same year, twenty-one-year-old Alfred Russel Wallace, an unemployed sometime apprentice builder and surveyor, moved to the town of Leicester, England, to take a teaching post in a local school. Wallace spent little more than...

  7. Species Notebook (Recto)
    (pp. 15-392)
  8. Species Notebook (Verso)
    (pp. 393-534)
  9. Appendix 1 Species Notebook Entries Bearing on Transmutation and Related Topics
    (pp. 535-536)
  10. Appendix 2 On Wallace’s Critique of Charles Lyell and Principles of Geology
    (pp. 537-544)
  11. References
    (pp. 545-556)
  12. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 557-558)
  13. Note on A. R. Wallace Literary Works
    (pp. 559-560)
  14. Index
    (pp. 561-573)