Samuel Butler (1835-1902)

"To state this doctrine [Weismann's selectionism] is to arouse instinctive loathing; it is my fortunate task to maintain that such a nightmare of waste and death is as baseless as it is repulsive." (1890)

British novelist and scientific popularizer. At first he was a convert to Darwinism, but by 1879 he had come to disbelieve the theory after reading Mivart's Genesis of Species. This led to a petty and bitter falling out with Darwin in which Butler accused Darwin of intentionally presenting without explanation a revised version of the German Ernst Krause's biography of Erasmus Darwin that featured a vociferous attack on Butler (Darwin had combined a translation with his own lengthy essay on Erasmus). On the advice of friends such as Huxley, Darwin refused to respond to Butler's attacks, and Butler was essentially ostracized by the scientific community. Ironically, Butler's grandfather (also named Samuel Butler) had been the headmaster of Darwin's grammar school. He became Britain's most vociferous advocate of neo-Lamarckism, stressing the analogy between memory and heredity.


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