There remain many uncertainties about Wallace's various positions, but one thing we absolutely can be sure of is that he was, for the majority of his adult life, a practicing spiritualist. Theistically-inclined scientists have been by no means rare, of course; on the other hand, relatively few scientists have attempted to advance models of nature that directly integrate materialistic and spiritual elements. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin immediately comes to mind as another name in this arena, but in his case the theistic teleology invoked is easily seen as both prior and explicit, and the materialism a derivative, if complementary, device. In Wallace's work, by contrast, a logic-based naturalism is the elemental component, but it is a naturalism so comprehensive as to directly incorporate moral, ethical--and some would say, theistic--concerns. The American philosopher Charles Peirce once referred to him in the following wonderfully descriptive terms:
Among Wallace's contemporaries only Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) could match him in shear breadth of interest and creative energy. Unlike Spencer (who Wallace once referred to as a "thinking machine"), however, Wallace's attention was always focused on the world of actual events. He was one of the most perceptive observers of his (or any) time, and this skill was comprised equally of sympathetic, reasoning, and classificatory abilities. His synthetic abilities were not so much strong as they were implicit, flowing naturally from a powerful talent at reasoning things to their elemental level, and abetted by an insatiable curiosity. Writer Frank Harris, who knew him for many years, described him as follows:
Wallace's lack of formal education (he left school at age thirteen) and relatively low social status were never any impediment to his personal progress as a thinker. Lacking neither self-confidence nor courage in his convictions, he was ever ready to take up a cause he thought was worth defending. Though generally modest and self-effacing, he was willing to give at least one frank appraisal of his abilities in his autobiography My Life in 1905:
Wallace's mental explorations led him to just as many interesting places as his physical ones did. Certainly his association with spiritualism stands at or near the top of the list in this regard. But previous attempts to understand Wallace's attraction to spiritualism, and in turn its relation to his thinking on other subjects, have largely ignored the very subject that would make a sound appreciation possible. That subject is belief. Wallace had, as it turns out, a well-developed position on the matter of the relation of belief to observation, and it was a position that he apparently held literally his entire adult life. It is the purpose of this chapter to illuminate that position, and to show how it contributed to several other key elements of his thinking.
The most cogent general analyses of Wallace's beliefs, particularly in reference to spiritualism, and how these affected his later thinking on evolution and other subjects, are by R. Smith (1972), Kottler (1974), Schwartz (1984), Oppenheim (1985), and Malinchak (1987). Before we proceed further, a quick review of these sources is in order.
Roger Smith's essay represented an important step forward in the understanding of Wallace's work in general with its recognition of the interdependent nature of his ideas: "...Whereas it has been customary to consider his thought as primarily biological and his digressions into phrenology, spiritualism, socialism, and ethnology as peripheral, these apparently diverse subjects were in reality aspects of a unified interpretation of the world in terms of humanitarian values."4 Smith decides that "A consideration of Wallace's philosophy of nature...leads to the conclusion that he saw and intended no discontinuity between general and human evolution and that it is a mistaken view to recognize such a discontinuity."5 Smith takes relatively little notice of Wallace's adoption of spiritualism in his analysis, however, preferring to attribute his rejection of the all-sufficiency of natural selection in particular to a posed incompatibility of its logic with his utopian social views, especially to the extent that the principle of utility could not be used to account for the higher human faculties.Smith's analysis is one of the most succinct descriptions of Wallace's overall intellectual world view to date. Nevertheless, the work does not address the sizable issue of how any of the strands of this world view might have come together. For example, with respect to the effects on his thinking of spiritualism in particular, he merely states "...it is not clear when or why he became involved with spiritualism."6 Again: "...it remains an historical problem to determine how far the teleology of the later work was present in his thought during the earlier period."7
Kottler spends a goodly portion of his lengthy study on the special problem of the chronology of Wallace's involvement with spiritualism and its effects on his thoughts on evolution and the origin of man. He comes to the more directed conclusion that Wallace's belief in psychical phenomena "deeply influenced his evolutionary thought;"8 i.e., that "...spiritualism stimulated Wallace to reconsider the utility of various human features"9 and in turn became the efficient cause of his divergence of viewpoint from Darwin on the issue of man's origins. Kottler also entertains--but ultimately rejects as unlikely--two additional scenarios that might explain Wallace's divergence from Darwin's views on man: (1) that he had "two independent grounds for his divergence--scientific and spiritual;" i.e., that he had "originally concluded that natural selection was inadequate in the origin of man on the basis of his utilitarian analysis of various human features"10 and (2) that "the source of Wallace's recognition of natural selection's inadequacy in the origin of man was his own conception of the nature of natural selection rather than his belief in spiritualism."11
Schwartz's essay is primarily concerned with showing how Wallace's views on man might have pushed Darwin into writing The Descent of Man, but he also gives attention to the spiritualism issue, deciding that Wallace's position on man must have begun to shift before he committed himself to spiritualism in 1865. He opines "Wallace's departure from the Darwinian point of view of the origin of man resulted from his inability to bridge his scientific and moral beliefs;"12 that "Wallace's belief in social equality and political reform conflicted with the ineluctable operations of natural law (including natural selection)."13
Oppenheim provides an excellent overall review of Wallace's spiritualist leanings and activities, dwelling on what she views as his inability to reject "the dividing line between science and spiritualism" and desire to "eliminate the aura of the supernatural that clung to spiritualist phenomena."14 Still, she is unable to decide "whether spiritualism alone can explain Wallace's rejection of natural selection as the sole agent of evolutionary change where the human race was concerned. Because he did not specifically combine his spiritualist convictions with biological arguments until 1889, he seemed to base his revised evolutionary views on considerations of utility... It does appear that Wallace's doubts about natural selection first arose from evidence acquired at the séance table, not from biological or geological discoveries that forced him to reconsider his initial theory of evolution in respect of humanity."15
Malinchak examines the story of Wallace's intellectual development from a largely sociological perspective. Regarding the man/natural selection question, she advises "It was only after Wallace engaged in his extensive studies in spiritualism and became convinced of the genuineness of spiritualistic phenomena that he began to inject quasi-religious notions of the guidance of higher intelligences in the development of the human mind into his scientific arguments."16 Malinchak nevertheless does not specifically refer Wallace's conversion to spiritualism to causes rooted in his natural selection views, apparently preferring to interpret it as a residual effect of some of his early experiences with the supernatural, and of period social and intellectual trends.
Some other writers who have contributed to the discussion include Tracy (1985), Barrow (1986), Wiggins (1988), DeCarvalho (1988-1989), Scarpelli (1993), and Pels (1995).
To summarize... The position now generally held is that Wallace was led to spiritualistic belief as a function of his final (perhaps disillusioned) inability to view human evolution in entirely materialistic terms--in particular, as the result of the limitations of natural selection. In this view, spiritualism may have provided Wallace with a previously missing religious element in his life--one which also explained (away) the intellectual and moral development of the human race.
It seems to me, however, that these conclusions represent a mis-reading of the sum of facts now available. My assessment of the situation is that Wallace had from the very beginning been pursuing a course of investigation that inherently (and, to a large extent, unwittingly) denied priority to materialistic interpretations of nature, and that only through natural selection and spiritualism was he able to forge a synthesis compatible with a naturalistic kind of logic. Consistent with this idea, I shall take the position that all events in Wallace's intellectual evolution after 1858 are entirely predictable given conclusions he had reached by that year. We will begin by reviewing the facts of Wallace's conversion to spiritualism.
As is now well known from both his own writings and secondary analysis,17 Wallace was first introduced to occult phenomena when he attended a lecture-demonstration on mesmerism given by a Mr. Spencer Hall in 1844. Sometime earlier, he had read George Combe and become interested in related phrenological subjects.18 At that early date, there were few believers in mesmerism. Indeed, the common opinion, especially within the scientific and medical communities, was that its supposed physical manifestations were the stuff of hoax and trickery. Wallace attended the lecture as a nonbeliever; shortly afterward, however, he found himself able to induce the same effects that he had witnessed on stage on subjects of his own choosing, and eventually became a skilled practitioner of the art.19 This had a profound effect on him, as he learned, in his own recollection, "my first great lesson in the inquiry into those obscure fields of knowledge, never to accept the disbelief of great men, or their accusations of imposture or of imbecility, as of any weight when opposed to the repeated observation of facts by other men admittedly sane and honest."20
For Wallace, the implications of this "great lesson" were profound. It forced its way into his thinking at two distinct, but fully complementary, levels. In the more general sense, new discoveries--no matter how unusual--were deserving of detached and rational study, not ignorant, ill-informed disbelief. More specially and in particular, what we would now term "paranormal" phenomena were not to be branded unworthy of attention a priori. We may be quite sure that the overall lesson was in fact both fully absorbed and later acted upon: Wallace argued these points very frequently in his later works. One clear example is afforded by statements incorporated into a short address he prepared for his honorary appointment as President of the Department of Anthropology, Section D, Biology, at the autumn 1866 meetings of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. This address features the following cautionary remarks:
Wallace had surely spent a considerable portion of his travel years mulling over the basic validity of his "great lesson," especially in its relevance to the customs and beliefs of the many native peoples among whom he lived and worked. Their religions, superstitions, and cosmological traditions especially attracted his attention, and once he had returned to England he made frequent use of his observations in subsequent writings. This included "great lesson"-related commentary: Wallace's contempt for a priori dismissal of native beliefs is implicit in the following passage from his review of Edward Tylor's book Primitive Culture in 1872:
A reply from Tylor regarding what he viewed as a basic similarity between mesmerism and mediumistic trances prompted further caustic remarks by Wallace the next week:
Nor was the "great lesson" of his youth forgotten in Wallace's later years. In his essay "The Birds of Paradise in the Arabian Nights" in 1904 he remarks:
Thus, even from stories "overlaid by a mass of magic" one could, with careful consideration, glean important truths.25
* * *
Given the turn of mind just described, it is less surprising a priori that not long after his return to England in 1862 Wallace began to look into the by-then well-established, but still-growing, spiritualism movement. Just how long after his return this effort began, however, has remained an unresolved question. The chronology of his adoption of spiritualism--whether Wallace was predisposed against uninformed disbelief or not--is important, because it bears directly on the state of his thoughts on human evolution during this critical period in his life, and especially on the rationale for certain wordings in his influential 1864 essay on the origin of human races, "The Origin of Human Races and the Antiquity of Man Deduced From the Theory of 'Natural Selection'."26 Malcolm Kottler refers the beginning of Wallace's interest to the year 1865, stating "...from 1862 to 1865 there is no evidence of any interest by Wallace in spiritualism."27 But it should be noted that Wallace himself specifically pointed to the year 1862 on at least one occasion: as part of his testimony in 1907 in the fraud trial of medium J. N. Maskelyne;28 he also rather vaguely refers to 1862 in a late interview:
A second interview, from 1904, includes the unsupported statement that "from the year 1863, from the very beginning of his scientific career... [he] has been the avowed champion of spiritualism."30 In both My Life31 and the 1875 sketch "Notes of Personal Evidence,"32 moreover, he notes that he was aware of writings on spiritualist phenomena even while traveling in the East; that is, before 1862.
But "Notes of Personal Evidence" also contains the seemingly definitive statement "It was in the summer of 1865 that I first witnessed any of the phenomena of what is called Spiritualism, in the house of a friend."33 In the same work (p. 135) he mentions that the first of his several visits with the spiritualist medium Mrs. Marshall took place in September 1865; he also refers (p. 139) the initiation of his sittings with Miss Nichols, another medium, to November 1866. The date 1865 can also be inferred from testimony Wallace provided during the Henry Slade trial of late 1876: "I have been investigating this subject for eleven years,"34 and from a letter of his printed in the London Times of 4 January 1873: "I began the investigation about eight years ago..."35
More interesting, perhaps, is a passage reported in an interview printed in The Bookman in January 1898:
These words introduce a new and important complication that needs to be addressed. If one takes them as accurately representing the matter, Wallace may well have begun attending seances (at least Mrs. Marshall's) in September 1865, but then taken another two or three years to fully adopt the spiritualist explanation for what he was witnessing. Otherwise put, it took him a while to accept the evidence of his senses--after first deciding to allow the evidence of his senses a sizable say in the matter. This turns out to be, as we shall see, a most reasonable interpretation of the entire related chronology of events, and it is somewhat surprising that no one has explored it to any extent thus far. The alternative view--that Wallace more or less suddenly began investigating seance phenomena at the same time he became a believer--seems, even in the absence of any other kind of information, unlikely a priori.
In any case, we are left with a several year period (roughly, 1864 to 1869) during which Wallace was apparently exploring spiritualism-related concerns for uncertain reasons. It would appear that these reasons cannot be satisfactorily identified on the basis of Wallace's words alone, but fortunately additional kinds of evidence can be brought to bear. Malinchak (1987) has pointed out that it is logical to expect that Wallace's investigations could only have reached a consuming level after 1865, at which point his natural history collections would have been demanding less of his time. The actual record of his publication activities supports this theory; between May 1862 and December 1864 he produced thirteen works of systematic revision, but in 1865 only three, and in 1866, one. Still, he was not so busy during this period that he was unable to give attention to other subjects--between May 1862 and December 1864 he published at least thirteen additional writings, in 1865 four, and in 1866 six.
A further significant clue bearing on this matter comes from a very obscure published source. Volume 1 No. 1 of The Spiritual News of 1 December 1870 contains a short note describing discussion that followed the presentation of Wallace's first public address on spiritualism, "An Answer to the Arguments of Hume, Lecky, and Others, against Miracles" (S174). The chairperson of the proceedings, a leading spiritualist writer and publisher named Benjamin Coleman, is quoted in this source as having stated on that occasion that "it was just five years ago" that he (Coleman) began the series of meetings which Wallace's address continued, and that at "the very first meeting held in that room in connection with Spiritualism, Mr. Wallace was present as a strong disbeliever." That meeting, at which the eminent lecturer Emma Hardinge spoke, took place on 6 November 1865.37 This supports the position that as of late 1865, Wallace was still, at the very least, uncommitted.
It is additionally revealing to note that over the twelve month period July 1865 to June 1866 only one of Wallace's publications (S114) was of any real length (and this, a systematics work on pigeons published in October 1865, might very well have been written some number of months earlier). Further, in a letter to Darwin dated 2 October 1865 he writes: "...I am ashamed of my laziness. I have done nothing lately but write a paper on Pigeons for the Ibis..."38 During this period, therefore, he really did significantly curtail his writing activities, and, one suspects, was probably engaged in various "spiritualism investigation" efforts. The final confirmation of this surmise may be found in the pattern of Wallace's attendance of scientific meetings over the period 1862 through 1867. On returning to English soil in the Spring of 1862, Wallace was apparently eager to get himself involved in the various scientific discussions of the day. Within a month he was beginning to attend scientific meetings of professional societies, and over the next five years may have been present at as many as a hundred or more of these, sitting quietly and listening, or contributing papers and discussion. In all seven organizations were involved: the Zoological Society of London, the Royal Geographical Society, the British Association for the Advancement of Science, the Ethnological Society of London, the Anthropological Society of London, the Entomological Society of London, and the Linnean Society of London. I have chronologically charted out Wallace's attendance at meetings over the 1862 through 1867 period, and made the following interesting discovery: between the middle of June 1865 and the middle of June 1866 Wallace attended only one meeting held by any of these seven bodies (on 4 July 1865 he attended a meeting of the Ethnological Society and commented on a paper on phrenology--see S113a). This, despite the fact that in both the preceding and following one year periods he attended and spoke at a minimum (that is, contributed a paper or discussion to the meeting) of eleven. Clearly, around May 1865 he had made a conscious decision to re-orient his priorities for the time being.39
To summarize, although it remains quite possible that Wallace actually did begin giving at least some attention to spiritualism very soon after his return from the East, it was apparently three years or more before he really started taking the subject to heart. There can be no question, however, that by early or mid-1866 he had crossed the line in this respect. "The Scientific Aspect of the Supernatural," a lengthy (nearly monographic) essay on the subject, was composed no later than in the early to mid-summer of that year. The history of the execution of this work is unknown; in the Preface to the first edition of On Miracles and Modern Spiritualism (S717) Wallace merely comments that it had been "written in 1866 for the pages of a Secularist periodical."40 It appears that, in contrast with the better known "A Defence of Modern Spiritualism" (S243)--composed at the request of editor John Morley of the Fortnightly Review after the leadership of the journal The Spiritualist had appealed to him to invite Wallace to discuss the subject41--the earlier study was prepared at Wallace's own initiation. Some considerable effort was required to determine that it first appeared in print between 11 August and 29 September--in installments--in a weekly called The English Leader. Shortly after this initial run was completed it was reprinted as a pamphlet for, as Wallace put it, "private circulation."42
Kottler (1974) provides a long and excellent description, taken largely from My Life, of Wallace's attempts at this time to get his colleagues to investigate spiritualism on their own. "The Scientific Aspect of the Supernatural" figured centrally in these efforts. Through it Wallace hoped that he could show that the subject was worthy of a scientific approach. The subtitle of the work is given as: "indicating the desirableness of an experimental enquiry by men of science into the alleged powers of clairvoyants and mediums." Indeed, the entire work, fifty-seven pages in length, may be read as an argument to this effect. Wallace starts by advancing that "the apparent miracle may be due to some yet undiscovered law of nature," then continues on to describe the various ways of looking at the phenomena involved as being "natural." Anecdotal evidence is then presented in quantity from prominent persons one might suppose to have been dependable sources. The work wraps up with discussions of the theory and moral teachings of spiritualism--ostensibly in an effort to show why it is worth taking the time to get involved with the subject at all.
Considering the publication date of this work, and the other evidence presented earlier, Wallace's final decision to publicly promote spiritualism as a subject worthy of investigation may thus be narrowed down to the window of time encompassing the first several months of 1866. Still, it cannot be concluded from this chronology that by that time he had actually fully embraced the belief. Recalling the passage from the interview printed in The Bookman, given above, and the fact that through 1866 and 1867 he continued to attend seances, it is more likely that he waited another three years before finally accepting the validity of the phenomena. Apart from Kottler (1974), who alludes to this but does not develop the idea to any extent, investigators have generally ignored the possibility that Wallace might have gone through a two stage process in adopting spiritualism. It took him about a year (early or mid 1865 to early or mid 1866) to come to the decision that spiritualism was worthy of peer-involving close study; over the following two to three years he continued to aggressively investigate the subject (including looking into the physical evidence of spirits) until reaching a point (late 1868 or early 1869) of actually wholeheartedly embracing the belief himself.43 This common-sensical understanding of his chronology of interest is in fact sustained by the various pieces of evidence presented above, and is further supported by the fact that his first publically expressed dissension from Darwinian views on human nature took place at the British Association for the Advancement of Science meetings in September 1868. This was followed several months later by the famous Quarterly Review article of April 1869 in which his divergent views were more dramatically made known.44
We will have a good deal more to say on the matter of Wallace's conversion in Chapter Five, especially as events of 1865 through 1869 contributed to his decision to embrace spiritualism at that particular time.
* * *
So far so good, but appreciation of the ultimately more important matter--the philosophical context of Wallace's conversion--has been dogged by a lack of attention to three important matters. These are: (1) the likely mis-assumption that his "investigation" of spiritualism consisted largely or only of "field work," as it were, in the realm of mediated seance; (2) a general lack of acquaintance with the moral tenets of spiritualism and the possible grounds for accepting them; and (3) the very real possibility that Wallace's model of natural selection had never been conceived to treat of man's spiritual development, and that his evolutionary synthesis was still incomplete at the time he was first fully exposed to pertinent spiritualist beliefs and phenomena.
We cannot doubt, on the basis of dozens of separate references from himself and others, that Wallace's "investigation" of spiritualism in the 1860s and afterward included his attending numerous seances. Further, there is every reason to believe that through this experience he gained a first-hand acquaintance with the range of supposed spiritualistic "contact phenomena" (e.g., spirit materializations, apports, table-rappings, automatic slate-writing, etc.). Whether these experiences were "genuine" can of course be debated, but such discussion serves little purpose here: the question, rather, is what Wallace believed, and how such belief led him down the path he eventually followed. Especially to the point, why was he willing to "go public" with his support for investigating spiritualism before he had attained a convincing (to him, at least) level of control on his own experimentation?
Much has been made in the literature of the history of the spiritualism movement of the gullibility of those who attended seances. Unquestionably, a good deal of fraud was going on, and probably Wallace's and other scientists' attempts to provide controlled experimental settings as often as not were not up to the level of sophistication of the deception. In Wallace's defense, however, it should be noted that a number of the early sittings he took part in were carried out in his own lodgings. Further, some of the people Wallace investigated were friends of the family and/or amateurs who did not charge fees.
The whole of the debate regarding genuineness is in the last word largely immaterial: Wallace did in fact adopt the belief, the real question of import being why he did so, and why so many others (the vast majority of whom were unwilling to go to such extreme ends to examine the question) did not. Certainly it must be admitted that in one sense or another Wallace was predisposed to accepting--absolutely--what his eyes suggested was so. Charles Peirce once justly described him as believing "in all he believes down to the very soles of his boots."45 Peirce (whose opinion on this matter surely should be treated with some respect) also describes him as "a great scientific reasoner...where he differs most from received opinions his arguments are in general the most carefully considered and consequently the strongest."46 But in the same work Peirce also states: "yet his narrow training has rendered him an easy mark for whatsoever evil spirit there may be, personal or not, that beguiles men into sophistries, confusions, and rash assumptions."47
It is all too easy, however, to leap to the facile conclusion that Wallace was simply, in Peirce's terms, "beguiled." As noted earlier, the common wisdom on this matter has it that Wallace was experiencing profound second thoughts on the validity of natural selection (for either, or both, scientific or moral reasons) and was looking for a way out of the dilemma. In my opinion this point of view represents a half-truth only. Instead, it appears to me that Wallace's acceptance of spiritualism turned neither on his biological studies nor on the decisiveness of his seance experiences, but ultimately on the long-term implications of his lifelong convictions on the nature of belief.
In defending this assertion, I need first point out that Wallace's investigation of spiritualism extended to more than personal observation of the feats of mediums. It was not Wallace's habit to leap into a discussion without thoroughly preparing himself first; in fact, judging from statements gleaned from several sources,48 he invariably began the investigation of any new subject with an exhaustive literature review. In this instance it appears he again read everything he could "lay his hands on" as--or possibly or probably before--he undertook his intensive program of seance attendance.49 Consistent with this knowledge, Wallace's writings on spiritualism--including "The Scientific Aspect of the Supernatural," written rather early on with respect to his overall program of seance attendance--do in fact display the same commanding knowledge of the related literature that is evident in his treatments of other subjects.
Through this literature review he would have learned not only of the phenomena associated with purported contacts with spirit beings, but of the relevance of these to the philosophical, historical and moral teachings of the movement as well. Research on Wallace's association with spiritualism has unfortunately usually emphasized the sensationalism attached to his seance experiences instead of getting to the heart of what it was that attracted him to the belief to begin with. I have already mentioned how Wallace's "The Scientific Aspect of the Supernatural" contained argumentation designed to assure potential investigators of the subject that they were dealing with truly "natural" phenomena. This is by no means the only place in which he makes this point, however. Related arguments also permeate his other two most significant writings on spiritualism, "A Defence of Modern Spiritualism," and "An Answer to the Arguments of Hume, Lecky, and Others, Against Miracles." Further examples may be found in several other of his writings. For example, there is the following passage from the 1885 essay "Are the Phenomena of Spiritualism in Harmony With Science?":
This insistence on the "naturalness" of spiritualism forces us to confront the notion that it is not a religion--at least not in the usual sense of that term. Thus "The spiritualist, though he does not claim infallibility, believes he is dealing with facts; he insists that his faith is constructed to conform to the facts, as contrasted with a change of facts to conform to faith."51 This basis in what might be described as "psycho-naturalism" places spiritualism squarely within the realm of theosophy. Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary defines "theosophy" in its more specific sense as "the beliefs of a modern movement originating in the United States in 1875 and following chiefly Buddhist and Brahmanic theories especially of pantheistic evolution and reincarnation."52 Theosophy is actually not markedly in disagreement with materialist interpretations of evolution; in fact, it elucidates a process that both incorporates it, and extends beyond it.53
Significantly, the view expressed in spiritualist (and other theosophical) writings is that the chain of natural causality extends continuously, and back and forth, between the psychic (i.e., aspatial) and physical (i.e., spatial) domains. The sensational manifestations of this continuity allegedly occurring during seances and analogous conditions are, it has usually been supposed, the only aspects of it whose causes might readily be distinguished from the ordinary "material" phenomena of nature. Wallace and other spiritualists argued that the evidence for at least some of the "miracles" that have allegedly occurred throughout human history is quite satisfactory, but that such events represent products of a natural (i.e., non-"miraculous"), continuing interaction with "spirit beings" rather than otherwise wholly inexplicable first causes. Miracles were thus assigned natural causes--if one could accept that causal continuity in this instance was maintained by yet poorly understood, but nevertheless real, forces.
Wallace's (and many other investigators') interest in such contact phenomena was primarily that there appeared to be no other avenue through which the subject could be explored objectively. Most spiritualists undoubtedly adopted the belief on faith (i.e., that observable "spirit manifestations" indicated that the "spirit realm" actually existed) and on the strength of its moral teachings. The more strictly personal experiences some claimed to have had (involving, for example, Swedenborgian out-of-body travel), even if thought to have natural causes, did not seem to lend themselves to the methods of scientific investigation available at that time.
This is not to argue, of course, that many believers in spiritualist doctrines are not pursuing additional agendas. To this day there are many who through guilt or innocent concern will do whatever they feel they must to alleviate personal pain--including, for example, attempts to contact deceased relatives--and such needs have often opened the gates for unscrupulous opportunists. Wallace himself has occasionally been marginalized as turning to spiritualism in an effort to bring closure of this sort: his younger brother Herbert had died while in the Amazon during a probably misguided effort to turn him into a professional natural history collector, and it has been supposed by some that Wallace's adoption of spiritualism was related to this painful incident in his life. I think this is a ridiculous inference. Apart from the fact that he never reports any such contact intentions in his writings (nor any results), the overall program of Wallace's life was not of such narrow dimension as to have left him prone to manipulation stemming from such an event, painful though it was to him. Wallace's agenda had to do with evolution, and any and all forces that might contribute to it--including spirits.
Wallace's recognition of the principle of natural selection in 1858 forced the then thirty-five year old naturalist into the unanticipated role of celebrity. There is nothing in the Ternate essay (or his subsequent recollections of its writing54), however, to indicate he foresaw the degree and immediacy of natural selection's impact on the intellectual community. The main reason for this, I suggest, is that at that time he considered the concept only a partial solution to a more general set of problems he had been working on for about fifteen years. The remainder of the solution--as a continuation, not reversal, of thought--occurred to him only as he became familiar with the writings of spiritualism. It was almost certainly the moral, historical and philosophical themes of the belief and their relation to the subject of natural causation that really attracted him to the movement. In these themes he recognized an informal characterization of natural processes which operated in a manner transcending, yet complementing, natural selection. These views were acceptable to Wallace because they were consistent with his Rationalist approach to the assessment of evidence, his position on the meaning of continuity of cause and effect, and the generally "progressive" attitude he had maintained since adolescence.
Wallace distilled the teachings of spiritualism in a number of his later writings. Excerpts from several of these follow for the sake of illustration and later reference:
The preceding selections feature the following essential ideas: (1) the human being's full span of individual existence extends onward to a period following biological death; (2) the characteristics of conscious existence during this alleged later period are determined primarily by the level of intellectual and moral development attained during one's biological life experience; (3) this intellectual and moral development is a function of the degree of willful rejection of materialistic, self-centered goals and the adoption of an explorative, non-pre-judging, and socially-conscious attitude; and (4) there is, overall, a continuity of just cause and effect in nature which cannot for long be circumvented, and which complements individual action, sooner or later, with no more nor less than a commensurate reaction. Theme four would have been the one that most impressed Wallace initially. We shall return to this subject in a moment.
The relevance of these four themes to Wallace's adoption of spiritualism can be better appreciated after examining words he set out some twenty years before being introduced to spiritualistic phenomena (indeed, before the beginning of "Modern Spiritualism"--in 1848--itself60). In late 1843, while employed as a surveyor for his older brother William, Wallace composed (and apparently delivered) a lecture entitled "The Advantages of Varied Knowledge." Portions of the essay are reproduced and discussed in his 1905 autobiography My Life. From this source61 the following significant passages may be noted:
These passages reflect the views of the then twenty year old Wallace on the reasons for--and advantages of--pursuing an ongoing program of many-directioned self-education and rational, moral and intellectual exploration. Nor are these the only such remarks expressed by Wallace at this time. In the essay "An Essay, On the Best Method of Conducting the Kington Mechanic's Institution,"63 probably composed even earlier (about 1841) but re-discovered only in the late twentieth century, Wallace advises that
The messages in these two early essays and the spiritualism-related excerpts presented earlier have much in common with respect to the way they portray the ideal "life strategy;" the only real difference, in fact, lies in spiritualism's specific referral to an afterlife ("Advantages..." only goes so far as to consider "whatever new state of being the future may have in store for us"). In both sets of writings, moreover, appear the essence of his belief in the connection between justice and natural causality, and it is this connection that represents the cornerstone of his entire life's work.
Wallace's scientific philosophy rests on two basic ideas regarding the relation of cause to effect. The first is that the occurrence of action--any action--unaccompanied by equal and commensurate reaction is unthinkable. The doctrine of first causes therefore seemed irrational to him: it accepted the notion of effect without relatable, comprehendable cause. It is not clear exactly when this element of Wallace's thinking first established itself, but his reading of Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology in the mid 1840s possibly represented the eventual deciding influence in the context of natural science. Lyell's uniformitarian geological views provided Wallace with an understanding of cause-and-effect that appealed only to continuously-acting and, importantly, observable and verifiable, forces. It is likely, however, that the roots of this kind of thinking in Wallace's mind extend much further back yet--perhaps to the period of his contact with a London-based Owenite group in 1837, as we shall discuss shortly.
Fully as central to Wallace's cosmology as the "equal and commensurate reaction" concept, however, were the implications stemming from his idea that "just" effect emanated from cause. Supposing that only a limited range of "equal and commensurate" reactions could derive from any given cause at any given time, and accepting that the consequences of any given cause were more or less restricted to some predominantly closed and limited domain (including nature in general), it seemed reasonable to believe that such consequences would eventually feed back on the agent of causation. Wallace considered such feedback inevitable--and, as a truism, "just"--whether the reinforcement involved was perceived as being of an immediately positive, constructive, nature or not.
Wallace's utterly uniformitarian position on the meaning of "just" reaction provided Wallace with a neutral starting point for his ideas on all subjects. Consider, for example, his views on morality. Those who could not see or understand the negative implications of their own actions were merely amoral, and even the bad implications themselves had the extenuating positive effect of providing instruction for any outside party receptive enough to benefit from such consideration.67 The relative morality of behaviors could thus be assessed, with adoption or rejection following as a function of considered appraisal. At the same time, however--and most importantly--one should not think that new and higher moral conceptions were constantly emanating from human beings de novo; this contradicted his ideas on continuity of cause and effect. Instead, such notions "come to us--we hardly know how or whence, and once they have got possession of us we can not reject or change them at will;"68 i.e., they originate beyond the immediate domain of human consciousness, and are merely "applied" (or better yet, "redirected") through human action.
Wallace's position on the role of "just reaction" in progressive society was given greater focus when he read Herbert Spencer's Social Statics in 1853. In My Life he writes:
Clearly, Wallace immediately latched onto Spencer's "social justice" concept. Spencer argued that each individual should receive no more nor less--especially no more--than was his or her just due, a position Wallace would fully endorse to the end of his days. There is little difficulty understanding how this fit into the "Advantages..." argument: social evolution had to be a progressive function of the most intelligently and morally conceived actions (i.e., causes). And, in fact, Wallace would later use such ideas as the foundation for his views on land reform. As part of his annual Presidential address to the Land Nationalisation Society in 1892 he wrote:
Actually, the concept of "just reaction" is not at its core a strictly morality-based construct. Although one might apply it logically in many directions within the social sphere to defend the rights of individuals--and Wallace did--it more generally reduces to a statement about uniformitarian forms of causation: the notion that event C can always be explained on the basis of the combination of identifiable causes A and B interacting in some particular way. It is not surprising, therefore, to find that Wallace's adoption of the principle led him to parallel positions within the natural sciences. One of the most significant of these from a conceptual standpoint is how he dealt with instinct.
Instinct represented a particularly difficult challenge for Wallace's point of view. Instinctive reactions come close to appearing as though they had no immediate cause--that is to say, are in some sense first causes. Wallace's approach to the matter is at its core a defensive one: he usually attempts to argue that particular instincts represent learned behaviors, and may thus be discounted as instinctual. Consider the following excerpts:
These examples, from a more than thirty year period (1860-1892), by no means exhaust Wallace's various considerations of the subject of instinct. As is especially clear from the first of the five, Wallace felt that biological adaptation was little more than the "just" result of the interplay of ambient biological and environmental conditions; that is, a logical outcome of conceivable forces. The weak or maladapted individual was less successful in passing on its traits; the broadly adapted population tended to persist at the expense of maladapted ones. These "just results," however, were no more than the logical implications of confining ecological realities. Biological evolution, on the other hand, occurred as: (1) selection forces acted on such pre-existing variation (i.e., the existing "biological domain") and (2) variation itself was introduced as a function of biological and extra-biological forces of whose causes and actions we were still largely ignorant. We will have more to say on this subject in the following chapters.
* * *
The general point I wish to make here is that as of 1853 (or even 1843) the only feature distinguishing Wallace's general philosophy of life from that later endorsed by spiritualists was the latter's assignment of their rationale for moral behavior to a specific final cause--the "carrot" of continuing personal evolution in the "afterlife." We need address a basic question in this connection: Did Wallace in fact maintain fundamentally the same philosophical perspective between 1843 and the date of his adoption of spiritualism (about 1866)?
In view of Wallace's subsequent activities, it can hardly be doubted that over the next two decades he followed the advice offered in his 1841 and 1843 essays to a tee. Certainly his experiments with mesmerism shortly thereafter attest to his inquisitiveness, as do his later adoption of an evolutionary perspective (as established by McKinney 1966 & 1969) and explorations and natural history and ethnological investigations in the tropics. In the last context his appreciations of tropical peoples are particularly refreshing: he avoided prejudgment, especially the trap of using the state of so-called "civilized Europe" as a basis for assessing degree of moral advance in other cultures.76
The sentiment that a many-directioned (and, when specifically referred to human beings, intelligently and morally-directed) experience is fundamentally valuable to the individual actually does consistently surface in Wallace's writings over the next twenty years, and in a great variety of contexts. Take, for example, the implied basis for his assessment of the relative level of civilization attained by various native peoples:
Or the following, on the "robustness" of natural forms of selection:
The general idea that many-directioned efforts are likely to yield the most productive long-term results is evident in the following selections--extending across the whole of Wallace's career--as well:
Finally, there is the following passage from a letter of 15 March 186191 to Wallace's brother-in-law, Thomas Sims:
The Sims letter is one of the most important of all of Wallace's writings, public or private. Not only does it all but prove that as of 1861--that is, three years after his formulation of natural selection--Wallace was experiencing no pangs of guilt related to his rejection of religious views, but it also succinctly roots his reasons for such rejection in his convictions regarding the value of belief. Belief had no intrinsic merit; only a continuing unbiased examination of the facts pertaining to any given question resulted in values that were progress-serving. Superficial or prejudging evaluations generated actions likely to be inconsistent with the greater reality, and thus deserving of rejection by that reality.
"Progress" thus occurred only as individual human beings combined a willingness to re-evaluate positions with a receptivity to constructive change. Considering (as discussed in the passage assigned to note 84), Wallace extended this understanding to account for the way society in general "progressed." His approach to classification (per note 86), moreover, suggests he had concluded that success within the biological world was, in like fashion, a function of a well-rounded adaptation to multiple influences. In the biological context, of course, the analog to such "continual re-evaluation of position" was achieved rotely, forced by ambient ecological/environmental circumstances; nonetheless, those individual organisms (or populations) that were capable of responding productively to the widest range of relevant constraints were the ones that generally prevailed in the struggle for existence.92 Thus, whether one was considering the evolution of organisms or social systems, it was possible to view progress as being facilitated by actions deriving from a wide-ranging experience (again, whether "experience" was achieved deliberately, through a coupling of conscious effort and receptivity, or probabilistically, in response to complex interactions of impinging biological forces; for example, at the population level).93
The extent to which Wallace had at an early age digested the role of belief in effecting progress is evidenced by his incorporation of the subject into the very first published writing of his of which we know--the essay on the organization of mechanics' institutions composed about 1841 (and published in 1845):
Wallace's youthful conclusions regarding the interrelationship of justice, merit and belief are critical to understanding the directions his thinking took in 1858 and afterward. Apparently, he had been cogitating on such matters from a very early age; in My Life95 he notes that he first came into contact with the arguments of skeptics in his early teens. At that time he read Thomas Paine's Age of Reason and the works of Robert Owen and his son Robert Dale Owen, and began considering the question of the origin of evil. An especially important influence, apparently, was the message of a tract called Consistency, penned by Robert Dale Owen. Wallace found the younger Owen's criticism of the doctrine of eternal punishment fully convincing, reporting that he "thoroughly agreed with Mr. Dale Owen's conclusion, that the orthodox religion of the day was degrading and hideous, and that the only true and wholly beneficial religion was that which inculcated the service of humanity, and whose only dogma was the brotherhood of man."96
It should come as no surprise that Wallace put the "no merit to uninformed belief" argument to direct use on a number of later occasions. Some examples follow:
* * *
By 1862 and his return to England Wallace was a celebrity, and any concerns he may ever have ever felt over the validity of his personal philosophy of life had long since left him. Consider, therefore, the kind of effect spiritualist philosophy most likely would have had on him at that point. First, it concerned an occult subject--one, moreover, whose phenomena some were trying to attribute to a mechanism with which he was personally familiar: mesmerism. Each of these circumstances would have held interest for him. Not only could he personally contribute to the discussion as mesmerism pertained to it,104 but as a habitual champion of unappreciated causes, he would have enjoyed trying to right what he perceived to be naive criticisms of a poorly understood subject. Second, the moral teachings of spiritualism were directly relatable to phenomena that appeared to be, at least in some instances, verifiable, and were thus believable. Here, it seemed, was another aspect of the natural world inviting detached exploration by the intelligent skeptic, and Wallace was by nature both skeptical and insatiably curious. Third, the teachings themselves avoided dogma, instead encouraging the individual to respond as his or her personal assessment of the facts warranted. No unmeritorious belief here: this was not religion--at least not of any variety depending on the kind of inculcation and blind acceptance to which Wallace objected. The teachings were also perfectly in line with the ideas on continuity of causality Wallace had reasoned out and adopted some twenty or more years earlier. In short, he recognized in spiritualism elements of a truly "natural" philosophy: it gave a logical, testable accounting of how just cause and effect are related at the level of human consciousness, moral and intellectual behavior, and evolution. Spiritualism, moreover, endorsed his program of "balancing evidence" (as so succinctly described in the letter of 15 March 1861 to his brother-in-law); i.e., its proponents concurred with his earlier-expressed feeling that there was to be no fear of suffering "for the study of nature and the search for truth." His familiarization with spiritualism could only have fortified his already existing negative impression of conventional theism: the less one depended on opinions served up by unquestioning authority, the better.
On the basis of the connections set out above alone, it is not difficult to understand why Wallace adopted the belief. He recognized in the movement something quite distinct from rote acceptance of unverifiable doctrines (i.e., religion), investigated on this basis, and was convinced (rightly or wrongly) by what he found.
Later we examine in some detail the final page of this story: the specific events which I feel propelled Wallace into closely studying and adopting spiritualistic beliefs at the time he actually did.
Analysis of Wallace's intellectual development before--or after--1858 should not rest on undefendable assumptions. It cannot be admitted as demonstrated (and in fact the issue is hardly ever even raised) that the teachings of spiritualism are fundamentally inconsistent with nature as the latter is more conventionally interpreted, and, more importantly, these teachings are, in point of fact, neither anti-evolutionary nor anti-"progressive." In my opinion, Wallace viewed them as relaying an evolutionary interpretation of reality, and as being, to a close approximation, compatible with the then-developing materialistic interpretations of biological evolution. Of course, if it is argued a priori that spiritualism and evolution must represent mutually incompatible conceptual domains, one inexorably arrives at the facile conclusion that upon accepting spiritualistic beliefs Wallace must have had a change of mind regarding natural selection's relation to man's higher faculties. But the fundamental principles of Wallace's approach to the study of man/nature had been set in his mind well before he finally stumbled onto natural selection, and given the fact that he repeatedly re-affirmed his belief in those principles in his writings over a span of seventy years--that is, over a period beginning well before 1858--it is extremely difficult to believe that either natural selection or spiritualism had any profound effect on re-directing them. His relation of the two ideas is the product of his personal evolution of thought, not its cause.
At this point we turn to a re-examination of some of the other things that were on Wallace's mind before 1858, and how these helped shape his formulation of natural selection in that year.
Notes, Chapter One
3. S729 ii, pp. 40-41.
18. S729 i, p. 234.
19. S729 i, pp. 233-236 & ii, pp. 275-276.
20. S478 (Two Worlds reprint), p. 440.
22. S207, pp. 69-71.
23. S208, p. 364.
24. S615, pp. 569-570.
28. S637, p. 557: "It was in 1862 I began to investigate the phenomena of Spiritualism..."
29. S753, p. 621. The wording in this passage is similar to that in the one assigned to note 36 below, and probably represents an imprecise paraphrasing effort from that earlier original.
30. S742, p. 77.
31. S729 ii, p. 276.
32. Written for inclusion in the first edition of On Miracles and Modern Spiritualism (S717, 1901 ed., on p. 131).
33. S717, 1901 ed., p. 132. Wallace specifically refers to notes taken during that first sitting, which took place on 22 July 1865.
34. S261, p. 161a.
35. S219, p. 10e.
36. S738, p. 123.
39. Wallace might have been attending meetings during this one year period but not contributing any material or discussion, but this would not have been in character. At the very least it can be confidently stated that for a year or so he became a non-contributor. It is also very interesting that in the six years following his return to England, Wallace both attended and presented at each late summer annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science--except the one held in 1865.
40. S717 (1896 George Redway ed.), p. v.
42. See Kottler (1974) and My Life (S729 ii, pp. 280-281) for discussion.
43. As Pels (1995), pp. 74-75, notes, Wallace's addition of "Notes of Personal Evidence" to "The Scientific Aspect of the Supernatural" for inclusion in On Miracles and Modern Spiritualism in 1875 was probably in part precipitated by his wish to indicate that since the time of the August-September 1866 publication of the second, he had witnessed spiritualistic manifestations in a private house and without the assistance of paid mediums. As Pels indicates, this would have borne on readers' appreciation of what constituted "reliable evidence." Thus, one can infer that as of that time he supported spiritualism at least to the extent of recommending its study to others, but that it was only later that he obtained this additional proof of its legitimacy and fully adopted it. Such proof began to emerge shortly thereafter, as in November of 1866 Wallace began attending sittings given in his own house by a Miss Nichol, a medium discovered by his sister. Some of the phenomena reported at these occasions were quite extraordinary, including apports; see S126 and S132, Kottler (1974), and "Notes of Personal Evidence" for related matter. (On page 126 of "Notes of Personal Evidence, for example, he mentions how "In the first edition of this Essay [i.e., the 1866 version of "The Scientific Aspect of the Supernatural"] I did not introduce any of my own observations, because I had not then witnessed any such facts in a private house, and without the intervention of paid mediums, as would be likely to satisfy my readers.")
44. S142a and S146. In late August 1868, around the time he was putting the final touches on his book The Malay Archipelago, Wallace attended the annual British Association for the Advancement of Science meetings at Norwich. There he was present at the delivery of a paper by the Rev. F. O. Morris entitled "On the Difficulties of Darwinism," and at the end of the paper he made some comments. The latter were included in the Athenæum issue of 19 September 1868, and included the following statement: "With regard to the moral bearing of the question as to whether the moral and intellectual faculties could be developed by natural selection, that was a subject on which Mr. Darwin had not given an opinion. He (Mr. Wallace) did not believe that Mr. Darwin's theory would entirely explain those mental phenomena." The existence of these remarks was first reported in C. Smith (2004). Some seven months later, in April 1869, the more celebrated Quarterly Review article was published which led to Darwin's "I hope you haven't murdered our own child" remark.
49. S729 ii, p. 279; also see Malinchak (1987), pp. 80-82.
50. S379, p. 809.
53. It is well known that the leader of the theosophy movement, Madame Helena Blavatsky, was interested in getting Wallace's support for it. Blavatsky sent Wallace a copy of her most important book, Isis Unveiled, after it was published in 1877 (S624). Wallace was appreciative and complimented her on her efforts, but never showed any interest in theosophical doctrines. In 1904 he wrote a short essay (S618a) on the subject of reincarnation (one of theosophy's central ideas) in which he referred to it as a "grotesque nightmare."
55. S451, p. 648.
56. S506, p. 9.
58. S379, p. 810. Wallace took a lifelong interest in the question "Why does suffering exist?" He discusses his early fascination with the problem in S729 i, pp. 87-89. See S324 and S729 ii, pp. 237-238, for two of his typical treatments of the matter; as late as 1910 he was still commenting on related matters: see "Is Nature Cruel?," Chapter 19 of The World of Life (S732). Wallace considered it one of spiritualism's strongest philosophical points that it offered a logical answer to this question.
59. S545, p. 335. In addition to the works just quoted, see S398, S717, and S750 for other typical writings. Wallace published some one hundred essays, lectures, reviews, notes, and letters to the Editor on spiritualistic subjects.
60. The epoch of "Modern Spiritualism" began in 1848 when the young sisters Kate and Margaret Fox, of Hydeville, New York, reputedly entered into communication with an entity or force that was causing an intermittent commotion of loud raps and knocks in their house. Mediumistic involvement followed, during which a message proclaiming the dawn of a new era was "received." Various organizations quickly sprang up to study both the manifestations being reported, and their philosophical context.
61. S1, pp. 201-204.
62. Wallace closed his paper "On the Physical Geography of the Malay Archipelago" (S78), read to the Royal Geographical Society on 8 June 1863, with the following remarks: "If...[the European powers do not undertake comprehensive natural history collecting programs in the areas they are colonizing] ...future ages will certainly look back upon us as a people so immersed in the pursuit of wealth as to be blind to higher considerations. They will charge us with having culpably allowed the destruction of some of these records of Creation which we had it in our power to preserve; and while professing to regard every living thing as the direct handiwork and best evidence of a Creator, yet, with a strange inconsistency, seeing many of them perish irrecoverably from the face of the earth, uncared for and unknown." These sentiments are very close to those expressed in this section of "Advantages...". McKinney (1976) interprets this passage as possibly signifying a pre-1864 religious conversion on Wallace's part, but I feel it is probably better to regard it as a straightforward re-statement of a philosophical position he had adopted much earlier.
67. Wallace was not generally inclined toward pure moralizing; he probably felt that such inculcation had little effect on producing "informed belief." Still, on at least one occasion he deliberately does so, most probably in an attempt to teach by example. In Volume One of My Life, he spends the better part of a chapter describing the life and exploits of one Jack Mytton, a notorious miscreant of the early nineteenth century who had been born wealthy but had philandered away a fortune and died in prison.
68. S656, p. 11.
69. S729 ii, p. 235.
70. S450, Land and Labor, p. 1.
71. S57, pp. 145-146.
72. S136, p. 420.
73. S164, pp. 204-205.
74. S217, p. 469.
75. S432, p. 340.
76. Wallace has been cited in many sources for his period-atypical enlightened view of uncivilized peoples. In view of the deplorably misleading remarks of Pannell (1992), however, a few representative reminders of this generosity of viewpoint are worth reproducing:
Chapter Six of Social Environment and Moral Progress, one of Wallace's very last works, is entitled "Savages Not Morally Inferior to Civilized Races." At one point in this discussion he states "Many other illustrations of both intelligence and morality are met with among the savage races of the world; and these, taken as a whole, show a substantial identity of human character, both moral and emotional, with no marked superiority in any race or country" (S733, p. 43). It would appear therefore that he had not changed his mind on this matter even by this late date.
77. S29, p. 204.
78. S43, pp. 60-61.
79. S54, pp. 219-220. This passage represents a thinly-veiled admonition against jumping to conclusions on the basis of incomplete information.
80. S729 i, p. 366.
81. These last six sentences closely echo sentiments expressed in "Advantages..." (S1, p. 201).
82. S729 i, pp. 367-369.
83. S67, p. 160. These words practically glow with the idea that the best efforts tend to produce the most rewarding discoveries. The same concepts are also evident in the following excerpt from the 1870 letter to Nature entitled "Government Aid to Science" (S158, p. 315):
84. S82, p. 206. This paper, "On the Varieties of Man in the Malay Archipelago," was first presented publicly in September 1863 at the annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. In it Wallace expands on his views regarding how individual persons "progress" (i.e., as the function of a many-directioned learning process) to a parallel prescription for success at the societal level. This theme is present, explicitly and/or implicitly, in many other of his writings, and throughout his career, e.g.: S65 (1862), S152 (1869), S257 (1876), and S445 (1892). One suspects that his conclusions on this score were among his earliest intellectual achievements, emerging at the same time as his thoughts on the "advantages of varied knowledge." From his essay on "The South-Wales Farmer," written in 1843 but remaining unpublished until appearing on pp. 206-222 of Vol. 1 of My Life (S729), the following passage might be noted in this regard:
85. S82, pp. 214-215.
86. Wallace favored basing classification on multiple character traits. In fact, as we shall see later, he was not averse to applying even behavioral characters to classification efforts in an effort to draw into consideration as many pertinent criteria as possible. For two other discussions featuring his support of multiple character-based classification, see S77 and S88.
87. S78, pp. 233-234.
88. S491, p. 118.
89. S512, p. 23 (from Forecasts of the Coming Century reprint).
90. S632, pp. 4-5.
92. Such "roteness of re-evaluation" implies that there is a degree of environmental control over the nature of organic change, but this understanding does not demand outright determinism. See C. Smith (1986) for related discussion.
93. In My Life (S729 ii, p. 272) Wallace writes: "Equality of opportunity is, as Herbert Spencer has shown in his Justice, the correlative of natural selection in human society, and thus has a broad foundation in the laws of nature."
94. S1a, p. 69.
95. S729 i, pp. 87-89.
96. ibid. i, pp. 88-89.
97. S110, 1865.
98. S217, pp. 470-471.
99. S398, p. 3529.
100. S505, p. 605.
101. S506, pp. 8-9.
102. From a letter from Wallace to the biologist George Rolleston reproduced in S729 ii, pp. 52-54. Quote from p. 54.
103. S656, 1908, p. 10.
104. As he did, for example, in a review (S207) of Edward Tylor's Primitive Culture, letters to Nature (S208) and The Daily News, London (S263 and S264), and a review (S270) of William B. Carpenter's Mesmerism, Spiritualism, etc., Historically and Scientifically Considered.