Doesn’t seem like Oxford liked him much for that. And then there’s what Gertrude Himmelfarb had to say at the same time… Hey, a walk through history when it is fun and instructive.
What Huxley was marketing was not a correct analysis of the cause of the plague but one that promoted materialism. Today, for example, we constantly hear similar stuff like – just for example – “science is closing in on the human mind” or “apes think like people.” They can’t help it, of course, but Huxley’s career might help us understand better how it got started.
It may be helpful to keep in mind that opposition to slavery was not a radical position for a British gentleman like Darwin. Britain’s economy did not depend on slavery and most of the injustices of the Industrial Revolution were done to people who were not technically slaves. The issues around exploitation in his own environment were fought out on different grounds.
Flannery reveals something interesting: “Thomas Henry Huxley, Darwin’s indefatigable “Bulldog,” wrote a shameful essay on May 20, 1865, shortly after the conclusion of the American Civil War. He suggested that the South should be relieved given that it was no longer responsible for the care and “protection” of the now-former slaves.”
Darwin’s racism doesn’t make his theory — either in its original form or any current iteration — right or wrong. The theory must be addressed on the merits of the case. So no deplatforming. Bring on the debate.
Woese as “scarred revolutionary”? He had to fight hard to get the Archaea, the third kingdom of life, accepted. He regretted that he had not succeeded in overthrowing “the hegemony of the culture of Darwin.”
Science historian Michael Flannery points out that Douglass’s comments preceded Darwin’s On the Origin of Species because the basic idea of the “modified monkey” (Thomas Huxley’s phrase) was in Lamarck (and probably in the air).
Join science historian Michael Flannery tomorrow for a birthday party and a look at Wallace’s legacy.
The film offers old, rarely seen pictures of Wallace & screenshots of his papers/key quotes. Wallace was the original ID champion. Know your history, people.
Flannery: When Gertrude suggested to Julian [Huxley, Darwin’s faithful puppy] that her book might shed new light on Darwinian evolution, he immediately protested, “New! There is nothing new to say about evolution. Everything that needs saying has already been said. The theory is incontrovertible.” She says that abruptly ended the conversation.
You just have to read what Darwin actually said, as Michael Flannery quotes, while dealing with a typical attempt to sanitize Darwin’s record.
Even though they emphatically disagreed about design in nature. Michael Flannery tells the story.
From ENST: … how did humans by means of natural selection alone develop language and sophisticated verbal communication? The answer: we didn’t. It was a product inherent in us, what Alfred Russel Wallace, Darwin’s partner and challenger, said it was all along, an intrinsic part of human exceptionalism.
Wallace, as Darwin’s co-theorist, disappeared because he was not useful to the cause of naturalism. We’ll try to help make sure he doesn’t disappear again.
(Wallace, Darwin-s co-theorist, was a working-class stiff whom Darwin’s set elbowed out. He was not a materialist (naturalist) and he thought evolution could be consistent with meaning and spirituality. Darwin abhorred such ideas. This review was originally published at New Oxford Review.)