Academy,  2 (1870–71), 159–60.

[Review of Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection, by Alfred R Wallace]  [2/2]

Anton Dohrn



Publications reviewed:

Wallace 1870


Human Species, Anthropology, Race, Controversy, Darwinism, Evolution, Progress, Neurology, Physiology, Error, Physiological Psychology

People mentioned:

J L René A E Claparède

    Notes how in addressing the controversial issue of the 'unity or plurality of the human species', a 'question [...] which is usually discussed rather in a dogmatic than a critical spirit, and with more passion than knowledge, Alfred R Wallace 'succeeds in steering clear of these dangers', and 'concedes the point to those who recognise a single origin for mankind' while 'furnishing a line of argument' that will at the same time 'satisfy' the opponents of this position. Wallace's main argument is that the 'endless struggle for existence gradually ceases amongst the members' of human communities, retarding 'the progress towards greater perfection in mere bodily organization', but allowing 'progress' to pass 'over gradually from the physical to the intellectual; the body remains unchanged in outward form, whilst the mind, and those organs like the brain which are essentially concerned with its activity, alone develop'. Dismisses Wallace's contentions that 'the brain of the savage has always been found too large for its intellectual functions' and that this fact is 'explicable merely on the supposition that man had from the beginning a large quantity of brain in order to enjoy the later requirements of civilisation', because they 'fly in the face of plain physiological fact' regarding the relation between brain size and intellectual capacity. Indeed, 'elephants and whales have larger brain volume (and therefore on this theory ought to have superior capacities) than Cuvier or Napoleon'. (159) Concludes that 'we hold that none of the facts hitherto mentioned are sufficiently established to justify so important a step as the introduction of a new principle of explanation' to supplement that of natural selection (160).

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