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. 2013 Dec;132(4):289-97.
doi: 10.1007/s12064-013-0195-2.

At Home Among Strangers: Alfred Russel Wallace in Russia

At Home Among Strangers: Alfred Russel Wallace in Russia

Georgy S Levit et al. Theory Biosci. .


Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913) was an influential figure within Russian pre-Synthetic evolutionary biology, i.e. the time period before the Synthetic Theory of Evolution was established (ca. 1880-1930s). His major works were translated into Russian and his general ideas were read and discussed by both insiders and outsiders of scientific evolutionism. At the same time, Wallace played a controversial role in the growth of Darwinism in Russia, and Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882) has eclipsed Wallace in his influence on Russian evolutionary thinking. In this paper we briefly outline Wallace’s impact on Russian pre-Synthetic scientific evolutionism and its general intellectual climate. We demonstrate that both Russian pro-Darwinian evolutionists and anti-Darwinians (scientific anti-Darwinians as well as creationists) were fully aware of Wallace’s contributions to the development of evolutionary theory. Yet, Wallace’s radical selectionism, as well as his controversial arguments for “design in nature”, predetermined his special place within the Russian intellectual landscape.

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