Federico Focher


The present essay is focused on the key role played by the Prussian explorer and polymath Alexander von Humboldt in the scientific vocation of Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace. From the very words of both British naturalists we learn that it was precisely the reading of Humboldt’s Personal Narrative that ignited their burning desire to undertake the life of the naturalist. But, more relevantly, it was by following Humboldt’s footsteps in the tropics, and, above all, by embracing his organismic concept of Nature, as a tightly interconnected Whole, that both Darwin and Wallace developed their scientific approach to nature, which, in turn, put them on the right track to discover Natural selection as the main mechanism responsible for evolution of living beings.

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