The Once and Future Wallace


Writings Menu

Wallace Re-Interpreted     ••      A Theory of Spatial Systems     ••      Social Issues     ••      Biogeography


     The writings presented here, almost all from my pen, are mostly of recent origin but in many cases pertain to thoughts or research that have been twenty years or more in the making. The reader may choose as he or she wishes, but perhaps the most logical approach is to start with the "Wallace Re-Interpreted" section, which will provide some perspective regarding the content in the other three. Or, if you prefer being shocked into attention immediately, start with the 'Real World Studies I: Interior Zonation of the Earth' write-up under "A Theory of Spatial Systems"--if that doesn't get your attention, I guess there is nothing I can say that will.

Wallace Re-Interpreted . . . . .

     When I first became interested in Wallace in the 1970s he was already a reasonably well known and discussed figure within the history of science community (not so much so to the general populace, however), but as I read I became increasingly concerned that his unique view on things had not been taken as seriously over the years as it deserved. In the writings that follow (most of which can also be accessed through my Alfred Russel Wallace Page website), I am less interested in trying to flesh out those rather specific studies which have absorbed most scholars' attention for so long (especially his relationship with Darwin, and his biogeography work) as I am providing some foundation for an interpretation of Wallace's work befitting today's world and problems.

Introduction to Volume One of Alfred Russel Wallace: Writings on Evolution, 1843-1912.  This essay should help ease those with little knowledge of Wallace into the basic frame of mind needed here.

Wallace's Unfinished Business.  A discussion of Wallace's model of natural selection, in systems terms.

Guest Editorial: Alfred Russel Wallace, Past and Future.  Some biogeographic implications of Wallace's world view.

Wallace's 'Second Moment': Intelligent Conviction and the Course of Human Evolution.  A closer look at the events of Wallace's life that led to his conversion to spiritualism.

Alfred Russel Wallace: Evolution of an Evolutionist.  A monographic treatment of the overall evolution of Wallace's world view.

Alfred Russel Wallace on Spiritualism, Man, and Evolution: An Analytical Essay.  Similar to the preceding, but without as much historical detail, and about one-third as long.

Chapter Five, "Beyond Stones and Bones: Alfred R. Wallace and the Spirit World," of Michael A. Cremo's 2003 book Human Devolution: A Vedic Alternative to Darwin's Theory. Included here, by permission, because I feel this is the most insightful treatment of Wallace's spiritualism I've seen that is also generally sympathetic to it.

A Theory of Spatial Systems . . . . .

     During the late 1970s I developed an interest in General Systems Theory, reading many of the writings of Ludwig van Bertalanffy, Paul A. Weiss, Richard J. Chorley, A. S. Iberall, Ervin Laszlo, Magoroh Maruyama, James G. Miller, Kenneth Boulding, and R. M. Gerard, among others. A few years later, while studying geography as a graduate student at the University of Illinois, I sat in on a survey course of Rationalist philosophers. I fairly quickly recognized a potential means of linking the views of Benedict de Spinoza on natural organization to modern systems modeling approaches. Some of my early efforts in this direction were published in the International Journal of General Systems, but later efforts were viewed by editors and reviewers as "left field" fare and did not reach print. 'Just as well, as I now feel some (but not all) of those efforts, including parts of the ones that were published, were premature. Over the past twenty years I have had a chance to think the model out more fully, and to conduct related simulations and empirical analyses, and the full set of these as they now stand are presented here for the first time.

A Theory of Spatial Systems: Introduction. 

A Theory of Spatial Systems: Discussion of the Spinozian Attribute "Thought." 

A Theory of Spatial Systems: Discussion of the Spinozian Attribute "Spatial Extension." 

Simulations: Introduction, and Random Numbers.  A series of simulations are run identifying a "universe of all possible solutions" sampling base for the current model.

Simulations: Two-Dimensional Systems. 

Simulations: Randomly Generated Classes on Spheroid Surfaces. 

Simulations: Parallel Zones on the Surface of a Spheroid. 

Simulations: Concentric Zones Within a Spheroid. 

Simulations: Concentric Zones Within the Earth. 

Simulations: Summary. 

Real World Studies I: Interior Zonation of the Earth.  The results of this analysis appear to reveal something quite wonderful about the zonal organization of the Earth's interior that previously could not have been imagined.

Real World Studies II: Stream Basins Morphometry. A: Primary Tests.  Stream basins have internal organization of a type not previously identified.

Real World Studies II: Stream Basins Morphometry. B: Secondary Tests.  The studies summarized here help confirm results reported in the previous write-up.

Real World Studies III: Physiography of the Earth's Surface.  An initial look seems to indicate that similar organization properties hold for the overall physiographic variations of the earth's surface.

Real World Studies IV: Butterfly Wings.  The patterns on butterfly wings also fit the model.

Real World Studies V: The Indianapolis, Indiana Region. 

Real World Studies VI: Amino Acids. 

A Theory of Spatial Systems: Final Remarks.  

link to:  paper published on the subsystemization of streams basins in 2012. 

link to:  paper published on spatial autocorrelation properties of the internal zones of the earth in 2014.  

Social Issues . . . . .

     While I don't claim to have the level of intensity or insight that Wallace brought to his social criticism analyses, I do feel his multi-level approach to things suggests some answers to some of our own day's issues.

How to Approach the Gay Marriage Issue.  In my opinion, the "gay marriage" debate exposes a hole in how we deal with marriage more than it does how we deal (or don't deal) with the gay community...

Fairness in College Admissions.  We need to spend more time thinking both in terms of objectives, and the kinds of experiences that address reaching these...

Biogeography . . . . .

     By primary training, I am a biogeographer. Despite the increasing volume of work being published in this area, there are still relatively few people who can claim this, since most investigators come to the subject as a logical offshoot of their work in zoology, botany, ecology, conservation, systematics, or paleobiology. Most "trained" biogeographers come out of geography departments, and have primary interests in vegetation studies--with a cultural, ecological or landscape ecological emphasis. I did in fact come up through the geography ranks, but my interests lie almost entirely with animals, and more with historical process subjects. Further, I have always been more interested in the kinds of spatial interaction modeling that human geographers do than the Empiricist tradition-linked approach of most of the rest of science. Lastly, my minor Ph.D. field was not zoology, but instead history and philosophy of science. All of this will account, to a degree, for some of the unusual views expressed in the following:

Final Causes and Biogeographical Explanations.  An essay invited for a book project that didn't work out.

The Dynamics of Animal Distribution: An Evolutionary/Ecological Model.  My 1984 Ph.D. Dissertation, which, judging from the kinds of questions that are currently being asked by biogeographers and biodiversitists, might yet, despite its increasing age, have some relevance to today's studies.

The Dynamics of Animal Distribution: A Postscript.  Some short follow-up remarks on my Dissertation, including the results of a newly performed study relating to the same subject and data.

A Contribution to the Geographical Interpretation of Biological Change.  A long spin-off paper from my Dissertation, published in 1986.

Historical Biogeography: Geography as Evolution, Evolution as Geography.  A criticism of some of the ways of doing biogeography, circa 1989.

Wallace's Unfinished Business.  A 2004 discussion of Wallace's model of natural selection, in systems terms.

Spatial Trends in Canadian Snowshoe Hare, Lepus americanus, Population Cycles.  A 1983 paper showing my early interest in the study of phenomena likely calling for a consideration of remote causes.


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