Life and Habit


Life and Habit

William Bateson claimed at the Darwin Centenary in 1909 that Samuel Butler (1835–1902) was 'the most brilliant and by far the most interesting of Darwin's opponents, whose works are at length emerging from oblivion.' Best remembered today as the author of the novels Erewhon and The Way of All Flesh, he also wrote on a range of subjects from translations of Homer to studies of evolutionary thought. In his Life and Habit (published in 1878) Butler contended that much of inheritance was based on habit making a feature ingrained, to the extent that it could pass between generations. However, he strongly contests Darwin's views on natural selection, and supports those of Lamarck – who he felt was unjustly overlooked in the scientific rush to acclaim Darwin – and of St George Mivart, whose On the Genesis of Species, published in 1871, was another blast against natural selection by a disenchanted Darwinist.

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