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Friday, December 24, 2010

Wallace’s basic disagreement with Darwin about man

Alfred Russel Wallace, 
(1823-1913)

About Darwin’s much-maligned co-theorist, Alfred Russel Wallace, a friend writes,
Darwin had overlooked one important thing and that was how much of an exception Man was to the theory of evolution. By contrast Wallace was aware that the language and culture component of Man's makeup did not fit with Darwin's view. (Of course, language and culture includes justice, religion and art.) Darwin seemed hemmed in by his animal studies, whereas Wallace intuitively knew that all Mankind, from the most "primitive" to the most technologically advanced, used language and symbols to form a culture. In addition, there was no apparent difference in either the structure or size of the human brain between natives who hunted and gathered for a living in Tierra del Fuego, and a modern European who might have played and composed music in a 19th century university town.

How did that fit with Darwin's theory given the completely different environments in which these two groups lived? To this day nobody has come up with a credible answer, probably because of the dubious assumption that hunting and gathering required less brainpower than that needed for someone to live "comfortably" in a modern city. ...
More on Wallace here.

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