Alfred Russel Wallace’s 1858 Ternate paper on natural selection is a famous work in the history of science. Beyond his co-discovery of the principle, moreover, Wallace is known for a large number of early applications of the idea, both to biological and biogeographical subjects. Yet how much do we really know about Wallace’s own evolution of thought, and his actual intentions before his views were swallowed up by the inertia of Darwin’s revolution? A number of differences between Wallace’s and Darwin’s views are apparent and have been much treated over the years, but related discussions dwell more on effects than on causes. In this presentation, Wallace in his early years is posed to likely have been heavily influenced by the writings of Alexander von Humboldt and his disciples.


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