Talk:Thomas Henry Huxley

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Why No Mention of His Economic BeliefS?[edit]

Huxley was explicitly against working people and in favor of capitalists. He was pretty outspoken about it. I think since this shows him to have been morally bankrupt, and to have thought 90%+ of the world were ultimately unfit to be anything more than slaves to rich white Europeans like himself, it's rather relevant. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 98.227.77.90 (talk) 13:09, 9 August 2010 (UTC)

Well, I guess Huxley was a Social Darwinist in the broader sense, as were most of the other early evolutionists such as Spencer, Darwin himself, etc. Then again, so was about every upper class European in the 19th century. If you think this is important and if you can back your claims with reliable sources, go ahead and write about it, but please stick with the NPOV policy. -- Shinryuu (talk) 20:37, 9 August 2010 (UTC)

Huxley-Wilberforce debate[edit]

The second paragraph about the Huxley-Wilberforce debate completely overplays its importance, basically propounding a view that emerged in the 1890s and was in no way reflected in contemporary accounts. I have an exam on all this in a few days so I don't have time to look up all the references and change it now, but thought I'd point it out as it's a fairly glaring error to anyone within history of science. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 131.111.243.37 (talk) 10:22, 22 May 2010 (UTC)

On the contrary, as refs 48-60 show, the debate was taken very seriously at the time. Macdonald-ross (talk) 20:22, 22 May 2010 (UTC)

At a quick glance almost all of those references are from 1991 or before. Historians of science still thought the Scientific Revolution was a credible and useful concept in 1991. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 131.111.243.34 (talk) 10:10, 25 May 2010 (UTC)

Ah, but the concept itself is of historical significance, and of course your assertions have no significance without sources. However, I've softened the wording a little with specific reference to the great hippopotamus test which didn't seem to be linked. . . dave souza, talk 10:46, 25 May 2010 (UTC)

Add external link[edit]

Please add a link to <http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/>, which is editing and publishing all of the correspondence of Charles Darwin. Thomas Huxley was a significant correspondent of Darwin. Eadp 15:31, 20 April 2006 (UTC)

Rt Hon[edit]

OK if TH was not a Privy Counciller he is not entitled to a Rt Hon, unless he is the son of a Duke, which he wasn't. I have no idea, and don't have a biography handy. Anyone who can clarify please do.--Michael Johnson 00:55, 10 June 2006 (UTC)

Title of Right Honourable is only used for those MPs who are PCs. This is because all forms of address in the House of Commons are prescribed: members are Honourable Members; if they are also PCs they are Rt Hon; and if they are also QCs then they are Rt Hon and Learned (!!) It is an historical practice to control abuse and conflict in the House. In modern times at least the title Rt Hon is not used in general life in Britain, but it is proper to place the initials PC after your name. Macdonald-Ross, 31st March 2007.

External links display[edit]

There seems to be a display issue with the first two lines of External links, but I don't know enough about templates to fix it.--Hatch68 18:31, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

Cleaned up Racial Listing[edit]

The breakdown of Huxley's races was jumbled and difficult. I cleaned it up, no content changed. Now it reads from the largest groups first, not putting it in the middle. Saint yondo 12:36, 15 March 2007 (UTC)

I see much work has gone into this, but it has thrown the balance of the Huxley entry somewhat out of kilter by its length and detail. The topic is not one of the most important in Huxley's life, and none of his biographers has ever suggested it was. Also, the source was not a book, but a journal paper. One of the things we should aim for is to achieve a balance, which is hard to do! However, I think this section is rather overcooked. Macdonald-ross 20:27, 31 March 2007 (UTC)


Several links in the racial listing section are hyperlinked back to this page. This should be corrected by anyone that could write articles with sufficient information. Absolute Zerr 23:38, 28 April 2007 (UTC)

I intend to do some study on the racial listing sometime soon. Saint yondo 12:52, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

This section really cannot stay as is, just a list of names and no account of H's ideas. Nor is it worth a separate section in any case, for reasons given above. It's out of keeping with the biography as a whole. I propose to write a simple para and put in it place within an existing section. Macdonald-ross 14:57, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

I removed some race pov and a template a little while ago. The term macrorace was not mentioned in the reference given, it is by less reputable 'researchers' who wanted a Huxley citation. I think the proposed simple paragraph is enough to put this 'topic' in perspective. ☻ Fred|discussion|contributions 17:13, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

Setting quotes & verse: some thoughts[edit]

Experiments with layout have revealed that the software available for layout in Wiki is rather limited, especially for quotes and verse. Anyone who has used PageMaker will know what we are missing! Therefore I've used the simplest facilities which produce a good result; but it would also help if everyone else would stop trying to be brilliant...

The second point is to remember that a pattern of spelling/ refs/ layout (&c) once stable in an article should be adhered to; never mind what choices are made elsewhere, the choices here are reasonable, within Wiki guidelines &c &c.

The third point is that unless you spot a clear mistake (give refs!) or a clear omission (give refs!) then please don't tinker! There are so many stubs that need work that anyone who has time to spare can find something useful to do. That's where help is really needed. Macdonald-ross 14:20, 17 July 2007 (UTC)

sub-page on Hux-Wilber debate[edit]

I've avoided expanding the account of the famous debate in the main page whilst being aware that for some hist/sci buffs it's the bees knees! On the main page is what seems objectively true, namely, that the Hux-Owen controversies were more important and in the long run more decisive in turning minds in the Darwinian direction. The problem with the H/W debate is not just the conflicting accounts but also a general lack of appreciation of what the BA meetings were at the time.

Hux already has a reasonable sub-page on THH and agnosticism (not by me) and the bot keeps telling me the page is too long, so I'm going to write an account of the debate offline and get an editor to read it before springing it on the system as a sub-page. Macdonald-ross 14:49, 17 July 2007 (UTC)

See Reaction to Darwin's theory#The British Association debate – you might find it useful to expand that as needed, and link to it from this page. .. dave souza, talk 10:23, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
My recent rediscovery of Alfred Newton's first-hand evidence (not noticed by most commentators) has caused me to fluff up this section, and to counter the revisionist tendency on the several articles linked to this topic. Newton was a meticulous and painstaking worker. His evidence supports the traditional account so clearly (though not the exact words) that I feel the revisionist pro-Wilberforce version (authored mostly by modern Anglicans) is scarcely viable. It is interesting, too, that so many have written on this topic without reading all the evidence that has survived. Macdonald-ross (talk) 08:02, 10 May 2008 (UTC)

Citation layout and formatting[edit]

Things seem a bit disorganised at present: to illustrate an approach which I've found useful, I've added a "Sources" subsection to the "Notes and references", with Darwin's life and letters formatted using Template:Citation so that if you click on the citation "Darwin (1887)" it acts as a link taking you to that source. This trick doesn't work with the "Cite book" etc. templates which have been used elsewhere. The alternatives are described at Wikipedia:Citation templates. The Wikipedia:Guide to layout recommends using the "Notes" section for Harvard citations and other notes, with a separate "References" section rather than the "Sources" subsection I've added – as you'll see from Wikipedia talk:Guide to layout#Separate Notes and Citation sections, there are a number of options and various opinions about what to use: the important thing is to find consensus on this talk page then try to stick to a uniform format on the page. .. dave souza, talk 10:23, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

I had a look at Charles Darwin, the method used there looks good, though it's a little annoying that you can't hop from the harvard cite to the expanded reference. MR mentioned that he thought this article should be upgraded from mid to high importance, and I agree with him, though I don't know what the procedure for that is. ornis (t) 11:34, 28 July 2007 (UTC)

Good stuff. I'm a bit overloaded just now, but will try to assist as much as poss. The inline links at Charles Darwin should take you to a short Harvard reference in its "Citations" section, which in turn links down to the relevant detailed reference in the "References" section. We can get the same effect here by using the Template:Citation in the "References" section. Here's info from Wikipedia:Guide to layout#Standard appendices and descriptions with my comments added. It says that "Certain optional standard sections should be added at the bottom of an article." and shows "Common appendix sections":

  1. Quotations (deprecated) – dunno who's doing the deprecating.
  2. See also – this is for related internal links, which are best kept in the body of the article as at present.
  3. Notes – this would be the present "Notes and References" section
  4. References – this would take over from the "Sources" section, and should include all the sources that have been used in writing the article, in alphabetical order by author, then in date order for each author. I'd expect it to include most of the current "Further Reading" and "Biographies of Huxley" sections, preferably put into Template:Citation templates – many of the present inline templates such as "cite book" could simply be moved here, being replaced by "harvnb" (Template:Harvard citation no brackets) templates showing only the author name, year and page number. It's a matter of preference whether you want web page citations etc in here: it would be easier at first to leave them inline as at present so that they provide information in the "Notes" section.
  5. Further reading (or Bibliography) – lists any of the current "Further Reading" and "Biographies of Huxley" that weren't used as references.
  6. External links – for external links that weren't used as web page citations, or are so important that you want the link in twice.
  • It is okay to change the sequence of these appendices, but the Notes and References sections should be next to each other. For example, you may put "Further reading" above "Notes and references" or vice versa.
  • "Notes" is only for footnotes (explanations or comments on any part of the main text). "References" is only for referenced materials (books, websites etc. cited in the main text). Otherwise "Notes and references" should be combined. – what they forget to tell you is that Harvard citations appear here, and if you want a separate "Notes" section it's possible but a bit fiddly.
  • All succession boxes and navigational footers should go at the very end of the article, following the last appendix section, but preceding the "categories and interwiki links". – anything appropriate?

Hope this gives a basis for progress. Several of the references at Charles Darwin can be used here, ask me first as they're using a slightly outdated template and I've already updated a couple but have left them uniform at Cs. See DarwinOnline as a source for some of the references mentioned here. Will keep in tough, don't hesitate to ask me any questions that come up – can't guarantee being able to answer! .. dave souza, talk 16:32, 28 July 2007 (UTC)

Alright, I've done the first dozen. Is there anything to choose between "citation" and "Harvard reference" templates in the reference section? ornis (t) 01:06, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, looks good. It's a bit of a nuisance, but Template:Harvard reference which we used on Darwin is now "DEPRECATED. USE Template:Citation INSTEAD" (their capitals) – not sure why. I've tried to keep to one or the other in articles, as some people get very annoyed about inconsistency. The sequence is a bit different, so when possible I'll try to help out with converting from one to the other. ... dave souza, talk 09:05, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
Alright, I've been using them for the most part anyway, mostly because I'm lazy and it's easier by far to convert cite book, refs to citation. As far as converting the harvard references, that's ok I'll get on to those. Though there is one ref I'm not sure how to deal with: Ruse, Michael (1997), Thomas Henry Huxley and the status of evolution as science. In Barr, Alan P. I'll leave it for the moment, but I was wondering, should it get it's own line in references ( since it's an essay in a collection already cited ) or should it be made to refer to the collection in some way? ornis (t) 22:43, 31 July 2007 (UTC)
There's an example at Template:Citation for part[s] of edited books, so I've tried that out. Out of tidiness, have deleted unused bits sections from the template. Hope that's suitable, ... dave souza, talk 13:06, 3 August 2007 (UTC)
Looks ok, I've copied the format for a couple that were similar. I've also finished converting the Harvard refs to citation, and rolling further reading into references. There's still quite a few references in the text that need to be inlined. ornis (t) 07:36, 4 August 2007 (UTC)

Location[edit]

More than a year ago, this article was moved from Thomas Henry Huxley to Thomas Huxley on the rather dubious premise that the latter is the "mre coommon name" [sic]. In fact, I've almost never seen him called "Thomas Huxley." I've almost always seen either T.H. Huxley or the full name. I have no preference between T.H. Huxley and Thomas Henry Huxley, but the article certainly shouldn't be here. Any other opinions on this? john k 05:31, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

I agree, and prefer Thomas Henry Huxley. This is one case among many where a correct (in sense of most common) three-name head has been replaced by a two-name head. Will someone please do it? Macdonald-ross 16:43, 2 August 2007 (UTC)
It's not hard, you just click the move button at the top, give a reason, in this case moving to most commonly recognised name or something like that, then create a new page at the old name and make it a redirect... I'll do, but in general if there's common agreement to a move, anyone can move any article. ornis (t) 01:16, 3 August 2007 (UTC)
Ok strike that last bit, it creates the redirect for you. Anyway, instructions are here: WP:MOVE. ornis (t) 01:21, 3 August 2007 (UTC)

A minor change[edit]

I just now rearranged the name of Linda Holland and added a somewhat more-complete reference. The paper's description and citation are here. Somewhat may want to clean up the format I used. - Nice article! - Astrochemist 20:34, 4 August 2007 (UTC)


"Kowalesky" per letter of Thomas Huxley[edit]

Can anybody track down / make any necessary redirects / start article if necessary for "Kowalesky" per letter of Thomas Huxley [1] - "Kowalesky could never have announced his great discovery of the affinity of the Ascidians and Vertebrates, by which zoologists had been startled." -- May be AKA "Kowalski", but I can't find a likely reference. -- (Hmm, Kazimierz Kowalski? - in which case we need an article.) -- Writtenonsand 14:08, 27 September 2007 (UTC)

Flag on T.H. Huxley[edit]

Not that it's a vital point, but what do others think about the UK flag on this article, which Rangek has deleted twice, and clearly believes is wrongly used? It doesn't seem to violate anything in Wikipedia:FLAGS#Biographical_use section. Are we to remove them from all biographies? Is there a clear-cut ruling on this issue, which somehow I've missed? Macdonald-ross (talk) 11:43, 13 January 2008 (UTC)

Reasons for reverts[edit]

1. Rt. Hon. as a prefix is not used in British life except for Members of Parliament, even though they may be Privy Counsellors. So it comes off the box. This is the second time I've explained this.

2. Debate with Wilberforce: "However, historical research has severely called into question the authenticity of this supposed exchange." is a gross over-statement, and the reference given is quite one-sided. The para should stand as originally written, with the issue left balanced between the two views. Macdonald-ross (talk) 13:16, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

Info Box / Doctoral student nonsense[edit]

This is not the first time: Huxley did not take his 2nd MB; he was no-one's doctoral student and none of his students were doctoral candidates. It is ridiculous to use modern terminology for 19thC figures whose whole life and career was so different from those of today. I had vainly hoped this was clear from the content of the article! There is no objection to giving credit to such as Thomas Wharton Jones providing a way can be found to avoid nonsense terms in the box. Macdonald-ross (talk) 14:09, 5 April 2008 (UTC)

Advocacy of evolution rather than natural selection[edit]

The comment to this edit correctly says that "evolution per se was not darwin's original theory. rather, it was the natural selection which produces that evolution", but the edit misses the point that Huxley became known for advocacy of evolution rather than natural selection, so I've undone it. The cited source carefully states that "Huxley's vigorous public support of Charles Darwin's evolutionary naturalism earned him the nickname 'Darwin's bulldog'," avoiding any mention of natural selection. Browne makes interesting points about Huxley's article in the Westminster Review expressing his doubts about natural selection which could ideally be added to the relevant section, which already mekes it clear that Huxley never lost those doubts. ... dave souza, talk 14:46, 13 April 2008 (UTC)

"Influences" in infobox should include Charles Darwin, IMHO[edit]

Sometimes the excess of research causes the more obvious links to be lost to sight, but WP has many eyes. --Wloveral (talk) 23:44, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

Yes, that's a point, and one I've been thinking about recently. Influences are generally from one's youth, but there's no doubt the crafty fellow massaged Hal into shape! I've also been thinking of Edward Forbes. Anyway, thanks for the prod. Macdonald-ross (talk) 05:54, 10 May 2008 (UTC)

H's view on race and North v South[edit]

The American Civil War, the situation of slaves and everything connected, was not really central to H's life, but for those interested an account is in Desmond vol 2, 325 et seq. He was in favour of the North, and thought it absurd to think that negros were a different species. But his opposition to slavery was not of the Darwin/Wilberforce kind. Those two families were against slavery root and branch for moral reasons; Huxley seemed to think it was bad economics, and inconsistent with the political freedom Americans aspired to.

I've kept out short quotations on this topic out of the article because they need so much context to be interpreted. And as side issues to the biography, the topic would take up space in an article which is quite long enough. Macdonald-ross (talk) 13:29, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

Quotations section[edit]

I've removed the quotations section, per this policy ("If you want to enter lists of quotations, put them into our sister project Wikiquote"). If any of these quotes belong in the article, they should be integrated into the text in the appropriate place, not dumped into a stand-alone quotations section. Regards, Polemarchus (talk) 02:28, 23 June 2008 (UTC)


Quotations[edit]

Reinstated here so others can see what was taken out:

Huxley[edit]

  • "I am Darwin's bulldog" coined by THH himself and so self-evidently apt that it was almost universally copied.
  • "How extremely stupid [of me] not to have thought of that" said in particular of the idea of natural selection. [versions in Life & Letters of CD and L&L of THH differ slightly as indicated]
  • "After all, it is as respectable to be modified ape as to be modified dirt" written in a letter to Dr Frederick Dyster 30th Jan 1859, i.e. before the publication of the Origin. [Huxley papers at Imperial College: HP 15.106]
  • "The Lord hath delivered him into mine hands" said to Sir Benjamin Brodie after Wilberforce's jibe in the Oxford debate. [L&L of THH Chapter 14]
  • "Life is too short to occupy oneself with the slaying of the slain more than once". Last of a series of exchanges when Owen repeated his claims about the Gorilla brain in a Royal Institution lecture. [Athenaeum 13 April 1861 p.498; Browne vol 2 p.159]
  • "The fact is that he (Richard Owen) made a prodigious blunder... and now his only chance is to be silent & let people forget the exposure!" THH to J.D. Hooker 27 April 1861 about Owen's view on human and ape brains; and of course Owen was not silent.[1]
  • "Science is organised common sense". Appears in his talks and essays at least half a dozen times; it reflects a view of science before the advent of counterintuitive concepts such as relativity and quantum theory.
  • "The great tragedy of science is the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact". Occurs with variations several times.
  • Agnosticism: coined in 1869 to label his attitude to religion, it also throws light on his philosophy of science. Example: "I neither deny or affirm the immortality of man. I see no reason for believing it, but on the other hand, I have no means of disproving it." [letter to Charles Kingsley, Sept 23 1860, L&L of THH vol 1, p233-39]
  • "I do not advocate burning your ship to get rid of the cockroaches". Said of those who wished to abolish all religious teaching, when really all they wanted was to free education from the Church. [THH Critiques and Addresses 1873 p90]
  • "Controversy is as abhorrent to me as gin to a reclaimed drunkard". THH to John Morley 1878.
  • "Science is... the results of exact methods of thought whatever be the subject-matter". THH to Charles Kingsley.
  • "The doctrine that all men are, in any sense, or have been at any time, free and equal, is an utterly baseless fiction."
  • "Try to learn something about everything and everything about something."
  • "The mediaeval university looked backwards: it professed to be a storehouse of old knowledge... The modern university looks forward: it is a factory of new knowledge" THH letter to E. Ray Lankester 11 April 1892.[2]
  • "Not far from the invention of fire... we must rank the invention of doubt." [Collected Essays vol 6, viii]
Abram, Abraham became
By will divine
Let pickled Brian's name
Be changed to Brine!

— THH Poem in letter to J.D. Hooker 4th Dec 1894, on hearing that JDH's son had fallen into a salt vat. [3]

About Huxley[edit]

  • "My good and kind agent for the propagation of the Gospel; i.e. the Devil's gospel". [Charles Darwin, quoted by Desmond 1994, xiii]
  • "I think his tone is much too vehement" [Charles Darwin in letter to Hooker about THH's Royal Institution lecture in 1854]
  • "Huxley gave the death-blow not only to Owen's theory of the skull but also to Owen's hitherto unchallenged prestige"[4]
  • "Pope Huxley" title of an article by R.H. Hutton who complains that whilst THH advocates agnosticism for everyone else, he's apt to be a mite too certain himself! [The Spectator 29th Jan 1870]
  • "If he [THH] has a fault it is... that like Caesar, he is ambitious... [it might be said that] cutting up apes is his forté, cutting up men is his foible" ['A Devonshire Man' in the Pall Mall Gazette Jan 18th 1870] (see William Whewell (1794-1866) English philosopher of science and polymath, of whom the essayist Sydney Smith (1771-1845) said ‘science is his forte, and omniscience is his foible’ (Macdonald-ross (talk) 20:14, 20 August 2008 (UTC))
  • "Darwin's bulldog was patently a man of almost puritanical uprightness"[5]
  • "Archbishop Huxley and Professor Manning" [Bishop Thirwell Letters to a friend 1887 p.317]
  • "A man who was always taking two irons out of the fire and putting three in" [Herbert Spencer]
  • "It was worth being born to have known Huxley." [Edward Clodd 1840–1930, biologist and biographer in Memories 1916, p40]
  • "The illustrious comparative anatomist, Huxley, Darwin's great general in the battles that had to be fought, but not a naturalist, far less a student of living nature." [Edward Bagnall Poulton Charles Darwin and the origin of species London 1909 p58]
  • "From [1854] until 1885 Huxley's labours extended over the widest field of biology and philosophy ever covered by any naturalist with the single exception of Aristotle"[6]
  • "Huxley, I believe, was the greatest Englishman of the nineteenth century — perhaps the greatest Englishman of all time." [H.L. Mencken 1925. A tribute to Thomas Henry Huxley] Macdonald-ross (talk) 13:00, 14 August 2008 (UTC)
  • "I believed that he was the greatest man I was ever likely to meet, and I believe that all the more firmly today" [H.G. Wells in The Royal College of Science Magazine, 1901]
  • "Huxleyism: the theory of the anthropoid descent of man and its inevitable consequences." [Clarence Ayres, Huxley p242]
  • "Oh, there goes Professor Huxley; faded but still fascinating" Woman overheard at B.A. meeting of 1878.[7][8]
  • "I'm a good Christian woman—I'm not an infidel like you!" Huxley's cook on being scolded by THH for drunkenness.[9]

Biographies of Huxley[edit]

  • Ashforth, Albert. Thomas Henry Huxley. Twayne, New York 1969.
  • Ayres, Clarence. Huxley. Norton, New York 1932. * Ayres, Clarence. Huxley. Norton, New York 1932.
  • Bibby, Cyril. T.H. Huxley: scientist, humanist and educator. Watts, London 1959, Horizon Press, N.Y. 1960. Forewords by Sir Julian Huxley and Aldous Huxley. [one of the best biographies, and especially good on his educational work; good plates]
  • Bibby, Cyril. Scientist extraordinary: the life and work of Thomas Henry Huxley 1825–1895. Pergamon, Oxford 1972. [not identical with the above, but contains the same plates; includes helpful one-para biogs of THH's circle]
  • Clark, Ronald W. The Huxleys. London 1968. [family biogs to the third generation]
  • Clodd, Edward. Thomas Henry Huxley. Blackwood, Edinburgh 1902. [apart from the L&L of THH, this is the best of the early biographies; it is organised into five themes: 1. the man 2. the discoverer 3. the interpreter 4. the controversialist 5. the constructor]
  • Desmond, Adrian. Huxley: vol 1 The Devil's disciple. London 1994, vol 2 Evolution's high priest. London 1997; paperback edition, 2 vols in one, Penguin 1998. [this is the most comprehensive modern biography; quite outstanding in placing Huxley in his societal context; perhaps not quite so impressive in dealing with his work as a scientist]
  • Di Gregorio, Mario A. T.H. Huxley's place in natural science. New Haven 1984. [much-needed; but emphasises THH's careerism too stongly]
  • Huxley, Leonard. The life and letters of Thomas Henry Huxley. 2 vols 8vo, Macmillan, London 1900; 2nd ed 3 vols cr8vo, Macmillan, London 1903. [this is a good source for facts pertaining to his life, and includes many letters]
  • Huxley, Leonard. Thomas Henry Huxley: a character sketch. Watts, London 1920. * Huxley, Leonard. Thomas Henry Huxley: a character sketch. Watts, London 1920.
  • Irvine, William. Apes, Angels and Victorians. New York 1955. [highly readable joint biography of Darwin and Huxley. It still makes a good intro despite one or two careless errors — it describes (p.81) the 1858 Darwin/Wallace papers as read before the Royal Society instead of the Linnean Society] + * Irvine, William. Apes, Angels and Victorians. New York 1955.
  • Irvine, William. Thomas Henry Huxley. Longmans, London 1960. [40-page pamphlet] + * Irvine, William. Thomas Henry Huxley. Longmans, London 1960.
  • Jensen, J. Vernon. Thomas Henry Huxley: communicating for science. University of Delaware, Newark 1991. [centres on Huxley's oral rhetoric] + * Jensen, J. Vernon. Thomas Henry Huxley: communicating for science. University of Delaware, Newark 1991.
  • Lyons, Sherrie L. Thomas Henry Huxley: the evolution of a scientist. New York 1999. [recognises THH's love of truth as his main motive] + * Mitchell, P. Chalmers. Thomas Henry Huxley: a sketch of his life and work London 1901. Available at Project Gutenberg.
  • MacBride E.W. Huxley. Duckworth, London 1934. [author had the dubious distinction of being one of the last Lamarkists to hold a chair of zoology in Britain] + * Paradis, James G. T.H. Huxley: Man's place in nature. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln 1978.
  • Mitchell, P. Chalmers. Thomas Henry Huxley: a sketch of his life and work London 1901. see Project Gutenberg. [chapters 3, 5 and 8 on THH's science recommended; contains strange error p29 'Huxley was the only surgeon aboard the Rattlesnake'. He most certainly was not! The surgeon (Huxley's superior officer) was 'Jonny' Thomson] + * Peterson, Houston. Huxley: prophet of science. Longmans Green, London 1932.
  • Osborn, Henry Fairfield. Impressions of great naturalists. 1924. [by one of THH's students; includes essays on Darwin, Wallace and Huxley]
  • Paradis, James G. T.H. Huxley: Man's place in nature. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln 1978. [on Huxley's Humanism]
  • Peterson, Houston. Huxley: prophet of science. Longmans Green, London 1932. [excellent & literate; includes reprint of Huxley's Mr Balfour's attack on agnosticism II not previously published]
  • White, Paul. Thomas Huxley: making the 'Man of Science'. Cambridge University Press 2003.
  • Voorhees, Irving Wilson. The teachings of Thomas Henry Huxley. Broadway, New York 1907.
  • Voorhees, Irving Wilson. The teachings of Thomas Henry Huxley. Broadway, New York 1907.
  • The Huxley File. A website created by Charles Blinderman and David Joyce. [this is an indispensable source, though there are some errors, for example, Huxley did not graduate with a degree] +

There are also many obituary notices in newspapers, periodicals and reference works.

Macdonald-ross (talk) 21:43, 30 June 2008 (UTC)

Just to clarify: none of the biographies listed above were actually removed from the article — I only deleted those entries that were also included in the "References" or "External links" sections. I also deleted the commentaries, because Wikipedia articles are not the place for editors express their personal opinions about books. It might be helpful to occasionally let readers know that "this book focuses on this part of his life" or whatever, but it's not appropriate to suggest that a book "emphasises THH's careerism too stongly" or makes "careless errors". See Wikipedia:No original research. Polemarchus (talk) 23:16, 30 June 2008 (UTC)

Responses[edit]

Having an entire section on quotations is not a good idea as it does step on wikiquotes. I did notice that the "The doctrine that all men are, in any sense, or have been at any time, free and equal, is an utterly baseless fiction." quote is not in the wikiquote page and if you have a source for it. It should be. Qoutations can be a good way to make a point and some of these quotations are powerful and important enough (and short enough) to include in the article but they should be worked into the text of the appropropriate section not grouped together into an extra section. For example I can't understand why the famous "How extremely stupid [of me] not to have thought of that" quote is not in the Darwin's bulldog section. As for the comments about Huxley, they could be combined with the material on satires in a "Perception of Huxley" or "Reaction to Huxley section", or better still, given that this article already too long, would be to create a child article per WP:SUM and move the "satire" section there along with this material. Some of the material on the biographies could go there as well, but any comments about the merits of a book should cite a published 3rd party source. In general, while there is some outstanding material here, this article could use some pruning per WP:SUM to make it shorter and tighter. For example, it is good to allude to the fact that his teacher was an assitent to the doctor Knox of the Burk and Hare scandal, but quoting the nursery rhyme, which is reproduced in the Burk and Hare article, in this article and going into such detail about Wharton's role is overkill for an article on Huxley. Over length articles are not just a policy problem. They make it difficult for someone looking for a quick overview of a topic to see the forrest for the trees.Rusty Cashman (talk) 19:56, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

Well the "How extremely stupid..." quote was in the appropriate place after all, which is all the more reason not to duplicate it in a separate section. Rusty Cashman (talk) 22:09, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for your comments; I'll wait another week before doing anything, in the hope that one or two others will add their thoughts. Macdonald-ross (talk) 14:43, 5 July 2008 (UTC)
My feeling is both that the quotes helped to put over Huxley's character, and that it would be better to integrate the quotes into the body of the article so that each relates directly to the relevant section of his life. Will try to come back to this when time permits, dave souza, talk 03:33, 6 July 2008 (UTC)
I agree that it's better to incorporate it into the article, as is the case with see also sections (surely we can fit evolutionary ethics into the article somewhere?). We have the Wikiquote page for people to read, so we should be able to keep just the most important quotes here and incorporate them into the non-quote sections of the article. Length is also a concern, and losing the quote section helps out slightly there. Richard001 (talk) 02:50, 14 July 2008 (UTC)
So far, I agree with most of these comments. I have started with the simplest job, putting the 'Quotes about Hux' into the Wikiquote page. This is not as simple as it sounds, as the WQ pages are rather different, containing lots of blather, and missing much of the good stuff. Anyway, it's a first step.
I think I agee that a choice selection of quotes could be sewn into the individual sections, but that can wait for the moment.
There's room for more comments here, too... Macdonald-ross (talk) 16:25, 15 July 2008 (UTC)
I've managed to make a couple of cuts by using WQ for the fuller versions. Brings us under 100K; not much, but it's something. Macdonald-ross (talk) 17:01, 19 July 2008 (UTC)

Water baby vanishes![edit]

The illustration Waterbabies1863.gif has vanished!! And there's no sign of it in Commons. I had thought, in my innocence, that once uploaded properly the images were meant to be permanently available. Macdonald-ross (talk) 08:32, 30 July 2008 (UTC)

A much better version is in the article now. Macdonald-ross (talk) 08:42, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

Date format[edit]

There has been some to & fro about date format. I plan to standardise on the original form, which was 4 May and not May 4. And change "1860 to 1863" to "1860–63", &c. Anyone who thinks differently can read the WP guidelines, namely WP:DATE. And then leave it alone, please! Macdonald-ross (talk) 17:17, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

Ok. Thanks for posting this comment. Masterpiece2000 (talk) 15:36, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

Sub species?[edit]

Normally in the animal kingdom, a group that shows a different appearance etc would be classed as a sub species, is this not the case in humans because people would call it racism? Smeeee (talk) 14:44, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

See Subspecies for an introduction (albeit rather too brief). Broadly, all species (without exception) show variation; they are only separated into subspecies if and when certain criteria are met. The consensus for more than a century has been that the human species does not meet the criteria, and so the term sub-species is not used.
One definition of a subspecies goes: "An aggregate of phenotypically similar populations of a species, inhabiting a geographic sub-division of the range of a species, and differing taxonomically from other populations of the species." Ernst Mayr 1969. I'm afraid that's not really helpful to anyone but a specialist! Macdonald-ross (talk) 14:27, 13 August 2008 (UTC)

Rt Hon[edit]

Rt. Hon. as a prefix is not used in British life except for Members of Parliament, even though the person may be a Privy Counsellor. It's just a question of usage. So it comes off the box. This is the third time I've explained this. Macdonald-ross (talk) 08:49, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

Recent changes[edit]

Contributors should not promote their own work, nor should their relatives, friends, students &c. A well-mannered note on this page is enough! If a new book needs to be noticed, or an alternative point of view expressed, it will get done by someone who is not an interested party. That's fundamental to the way we work as a community.

The other angle is consensus. The article represents many contributions to the literature on Huxley, and recent changes, however worthy, were out of line with the consensus. Nevertheless, after a decent interval for purchasing a book and reading it, some more changes may be expected. For the moment, the new book is referenced in the article.

On classification: the erection of a whole sub-class for Homo sapiens is zoologically a huge statement. Suffice it it to say that, in the opinion of most zoologists, no new sub-class of mammals has arisen in the Cainozoic. Thus the decision by Richard Owen to elevate man to a sub-class of his own cannot easily be swept under the carpet. Macdonald-ross (talk) 17:11, 9 March 2009 (UTC)

According to Bowler (2003) Evolution p. 208, "Owen defended the traditional classification by Cuvier and Blumenbach, in which apes and humans were assigned to two different orders.... The traditional interpretation has been that Owen's science was unsatisfactory, perhaps because he relied on preserved specimens to dissect. But Huxley cleverly manipulated his presentation of the evidence to discredit Owen." The "traditional" is a bit odd as Linnaeus had included humans and apes in the same order before C + B seized on upright walking to separate man from ape. Owen's ideas had been shifting, in 1849 he suggested divine laws underlying development of life on Earth, in a branching pattern matching von Baer's embryology. Cuvier's system of classification was opposed by Geoffroy who greatly influenced anatomists like Robert Edmond Grant, so the whole area was clearly in flux in the early 19th century. . . dave souza, talk 19:21, 9 March 2009 (UTC) wikified 08:38, 10 March 2009 (UTC)


I agree with Bowler that a lot was "in flux" in the 19th century that is not in flux today. Understanding the fluxes of past times is what makes history hard...and it makes resisting being overly judgmental when we read older scientists difficult. As far as Owen's subclass, it was a much smaller deal in 1857, than it would be in 2009. In Aristotle's biology living things are divided into those with only nutritive souls (plants), nutritive souls and sensitive souls (animals), and nutritive souls, sensitive souls, and intellects (rational animals). That way of thinking took hold in Western science and thought. Linnaeus only introduced his system in 1735, and by 1857 Cuvier had already made man a distinct order. In his paper Owen wanted to use the brain...and that meant not just thinking about brain growth in humans, but also using the corpus callosum as a character. Cosans (talk) 04:05, 11 March 2009 (UTC)

Suggested revisions on the Huxley-Owen debate about brains[edit]

I think there are significant limitations of the Wikipedia’s Huxley article’s account of his and Owen’s debate over whether the brain distinguishes humans as a subclass. I have read all of what Owen Huxley wrote on this from the 1830s to the late 1860s, as well as everything that different historians and philosophers of science have written about it. I have also done some dissections on ape and human brains to see their perspectives. I have tried to add to the account what each side thought were the most important details in their dispute. There were lots of details in the dispute and I tried to not overwhelm the reader with them. There is a great deal of other things I think our readers should learn and remember about Huxley’s work.

CURRENT VERSION A key event had already occurred in 1857 when Richard Owen presented (to the Linnean Society) his view that man was marked off from all other mammals by possessing features of the brain peculiar to the genus Homo. Having reached this opinion, Owen separated man from all other mammals in a subclass of its own.[10] No other biologist held such an extreme view. Darwin reacted "Man...as distinct from a chimpanzee [as] an ape from a platypus... I cannot swallow that!"[11] Neither could Huxley, who was able to demonstrate that Owen's idea was completely wrong.

SUGGESTED REVISION A key event had already occurred in 1857 when Richard Owen presented (to the Linnean Society) his view that man was marked off from all other mammals by possessing features of the brain peculiar to the genus Homo. In the paper, Owen argued that mammals could be divided into four subclasses based on increasing levels of brain development: the Lyencephala (loosed brained), which lacked a corpus callosum and have smooth cerebral hemispheres, the Lissenephala (smoothed brained), which have a corpus callosum but have smooth cerebral hemispheres, the Gyencephala(gyried brained), which have such expanded cerebral hemispheres that they have lots of gyri or convolutions on their surface, and the Archencephala(ruling brain), which have much larger cerebral hemispheres.[12] Humans were the only animal with cerebral hemispheres large enough with respect to their body to be ranked as Archencephala, and this distinction goes back to his 1851 paper in which he noted that the smallest human group had brains more than twice the size of the largest reported ape brain from a male gorilla, even though the male gorilla was much larger than the human.[13] To delineate the development of the human brain further Owen cited consciousness, which he associated with brain size, and three structures as lacking in subclasses below Archencephala: the posterior lobe, the posterior horn of the lateral ventricle and its floor the hippocampus minor. The three structures had been previously reported as either absent or poorly developed in other mammals, but no other biologist had so bluntly proclaimed their absence. Darwin reacted "Man...as distinct from a chimpanzee [as] an ape from a platypus... I cannot swallow that!"[14] Neither could Huxley, who was able to publicly raise many doubts about Owen's idea. Darwin's remark missed Owen's technical distinction since the chimp as a Gyencephala was one level below humans, but two levels above a platypus, which was a member of the Lyencephala, and Owen's failure to fully communicate his more complex ideas foretold the events that were to come.

ISSUES INVOLVED IN THE REVISION: The statement “Owen’s idea was completely wrong” is overly simplistic. The revised version spells out exactly what Owen said. One might ask if we want to add that level of detail, however. Part of what happened in the debate with Owen and Huxley is that Owen would offer a complex anatomical account that was hard for lay people to follow, and Huxley would counter it with an account that was easy for lay people to understand, but that did not really address the point Owen made. The big mistake Owen made was declaring there is “no” hippocampus minor in apes, rather than what he later argued that there was only a “poorly developed one”. In the lab what you call a hippocampus minor is to some degree a matter of convention. The chimp brain is a lot smaller than a human brain, and there simply is not that much room for the lateral ventricle to course backwards. We have to remember that chimps were very rare in England in 1857 and Owen may have only had the chance to dissect a few of them. Maybe the last chimp brain he saw really didn’t have a hippocampus minor. Others had reported it as poorly developed. I think in many ways the hippocampus minor is a red herring, at least if we are trying to understand Owen. Owen thought the big picture was the human brain was so much larger. I think explaining how Darwin’s quote did not capture what Owen actually said is a good one. If you read both Owen and Huxley throughout the debate as an anatomist, you constantly see Owen mentioning many details, and Huxley countering by not grasping Owen’s point and focusing in on one. If you look at Owen’s 1857 paper, I think you will see Owen agrees with Darwin…the chimp brain that Owen shows looks a more like the human brain that he shows in that paper than either does with the opossum brain that Owen shows. Owen uses the opossum brain as an example of the brain of a Lyencephala, so that is what we would imagine a platypus would look like. Owen was very interested in the anatomy of the platypus by the way.


CURRENT VERSION In 1862 at the Cambridge meeting of the B.A. Huxley's friend William Flower gave a public dissection to show that the same structures (the posterior horn of the lateral ventricle and hippocampus minor) were indeed present in apes. Thus was exposed one of Owen's greatest blunders, revealing Huxley as not only dangerous in debate, but also a better anatomist.

SUGGESTED REVISION In 1862 at the Cambridge meeting of the B.A. Huxley's friend William Flower gave a public dissection to show that a version of the posterior horn of the lateral ventricle and hippocampus minor were indeed present in apes. Owen conceded that there was something that could be called a hippocampus minor in the apes, but stated that it was much less developed and that such a presence did not detract from the over all distinction of simple brain size.[15] Thus was exposed one of Owen's greatest blunders, as Huxley continued to use his point about the hippocampus minor to blur any efforts of Owen to distinguish apes and humans, and revealed Huxley as dangerous in debate. Huxley further argued that racial differences thwarted Owen's efforts to cite brain size as a distinguishing character of humans.[16]

ISSUES INVOLVED IN THE REVISION: I added specific details of exactly what was at stake with the brain debate, and what position each person took. I like the style of the original sentence “Huxley as not only dangerous in debate, but also a better anatomist”, and tried to retain some of it in the revision. The problem is “was a better anatomist”, depends on how you define “better”. Owen was much more detailed, while Huxley gave an account that was easier for lay people to understand. I think it is note worthy, that while Owen addressed Huxley’s claim and conceded there was a hippocampus minor in apes, Huxley never responded to Owen’s argument about them not being even a rudiment. In his 1859 gorilla paper Owen shows a picture of the shape of the hippocampus minor, while in his 1863 book Huxley makes a big point over the fact that he can show a picture of a hippocampus minor in a chimp, which has similar development to that that Owen himself had acknowledge as present in the gorilla in 1859.

Cosans (talk) 03:38, 11 March 2009 (UTC)

Responses to suggested revisions on the Huxley-Owen debate[edit]

Since this duplicates the above section, I've modified it as a section for responses to the various points, italicising the original for clarity. . dave souza, talk 15:12, 11 March 2009 (UTC)

I think there are significant limitations of the Wikipedia’s Huxley article’s account of his and Owen’s debate over whether the brain distinguishes humans as a subclass. I have read all of what Owen Huxley wrote on this from the 1830s to the late 1860s, as well as everything that different historians and philosophers of science have written about it. I have also done some dissections on ape and human brains to see their perspectives. I have tried to add to the account what each side thought were the most important details in their dispute. There were lots of details in the dispute and I tried to not overwhelm the reader with them. There is a great deal of other things I think our readers should learn and remember about Huxley’s work.

Huxley's 1854 attack on Vestiges is described by Secord in Victorian Sensation p. 502 as including discussion of fossil fishes especially targeted at Owen. Huxley accused Owen of inconsistency in having attacked the development hypothesis in lectures published in 1847, then subsequently writing an anonymous article in the Quarterly of 1851 which stressed progression as part of Owen's attack on Lyell. The feud between Huxley and Owen presumably goes at least back to this episode in 1854, and may be worth exploring in a separate article, or it can be dealt with by expanding relevant parts of it in the various related articles. . dave souza, talk 15:07, 11 March 2009 (UTC)

CURRENT VERSION A key event had already occurred in 1857 when Richard Owen presented (to the Linnean Society) his view that man was marked off from all other mammals by possessing features of the brain peculiar to the genus Homo. Having reached this opinion, Owen separated man from all other mammals in a subclass of its own.[17] No other biologist held such an extreme view. Darwin reacted "Man...as distinct from a chimpanzee [as] an ape from a platypus... I cannot swallow that!"[18] Neither could Huxley, who was able to demonstrate that Owen's idea was completely wrong.

SUGGESTED REVISION A key event had already occurred in 1857 when Richard Owen presented (to the Linnean Society) his view that man was marked off from all other mammals by possessing features of the brain peculiar to the genus Homo. In the paper, Owen argued that mammals could be divided into four subclasses based on increasing levels of brain development: the Lyencephala (loosed brained), which lacked a corpus callosum and have smooth cerebral hemispheres, the Lissenephala (smoothed brained), which have a corpus callosum but have smooth cerebral hemispheres, the Gyencephala(gyried brained), which have such expanded cerebral hemispheres that they have lots of gyri or convolutions on their surface, and the Archencephala(ruling brain), which have much larger cerebral hemispheres.[19] Humans were the only animal with cerebral hemispheres large enough with respect to their body to be ranked as Archencephala, and this distinction goes back to his 1851 paper in which he noted that the smallest human group had brains more than twice the size of the largest reported ape brain from a male gorilla, even though the male gorilla was much larger than the human.[20] To delineate the development of the human brain further Owen cited consciousness, which he associated with brain size, and three structures as lacking in subclasses below Archencephala: the posterior lobe, the posterior horn of the lateral ventricle and its floor the hippocampus minor. The three structures had been previously reported as either absent or poorly developed in other mammals, but no other biologist had so bluntly proclaimed their absence. Darwin reacted "Man...as distinct from a chimpanzee [as] an ape from a platypus... I cannot swallow that!"[21] Neither could Huxley, who was able to publicly raise many doubts about Owen's idea. Darwin's remark missed Owen's technical distinction since the chimp as a Gyencephala was one level below humans, but two levels above a platypus, which was a member of the Lyencephala, and Owen's failure to fully communicate his more complex ideas foretold the events that were to come.

ISSUES INVOLVED IN THE REVISION: The statement “Owen’s idea was completely wrong” is overly simplistic. The revised version spells out exactly what Owen said. One might ask if we want to add that level of detail, however. Part of what happened in the debate with Owen and Huxley is that Owen would offer a complex anatomical account that was hard for lay people to follow, and Huxley would counter it with an account that was easy for lay people to understand, but that did not really address the point Owen made. The big mistake Owen made was declaring there is “no” hippocampus minor in apes, rather than what he later argued that there was only a “poorly developed one”. In the lab what you call a hippocampus minor is to some degree a matter of convention. The chimp brain is a lot smaller than a human brain, and there simply is not that much room for the lateral ventricle to course backwards. We have to remember that chimps were very rare in England in 1857 and Owen may have only had the chance to dissect a few of them. Maybe the last chimp brain he saw really didn’t have a hippocampus minor. Others had reported it as poorly developed. I think in many ways the hippocampus minor is a red herring, at least if we are trying to understand Owen. Owen thought the big picture was the human brain was so much larger. I think explaining how Darwin’s quote did not capture what Owen actually said is a good one. If you read both Owen and Huxley throughout the debate as an anatomist, you constantly see Owen mentioning many details, and Huxley countering by not grasping Owen’s point and focusing in on one. If you look at Owen’s 1857 paper, I think you will see Owen agrees with Darwin…the chimp brain that Owen shows looks a more like the human brain that he shows in that paper than either does with the opossum brain that Owen shows. Owen uses the opossum brain as an example of the brain of a Lyencephala, so that is what we would imagine a platypus would look like. Owen was very interested in the anatomy of the platypus by the way.


CURRENT VERSION In 1862 at the Cambridge meeting of the B.A. Huxley's friend William Flower gave a public dissection to show that the same structures (the posterior horn of the lateral ventricle and hippocampus minor) were indeed present in apes. Thus was exposed one of Owen's greatest blunders, revealing Huxley as not only dangerous in debate, but also a better anatomist.

SUGGESTED REVISION In 1862 at the Cambridge meeting of the B.A. Huxley's friend William Flower gave a public dissection to show that a version of the posterior horn of the lateral ventricle and hippocampus minor were indeed present in apes. Owen conceded that there was something that could be called a hippocampus minor in the apes, but stated that it was much less developed and that such a presence did not detract from the over all distinction of simple brain size.[22] Thus was exposed one of Owen's greatest blunders, as Huxley continued to use his point about the hippocampus minor to blur any efforts of Owen to distinguish apes and humans, and revealed Huxley as dangerous in debate. Huxley further argued that racial differences thwarted Owen's efforts to cite brain size as a distinguishing character of humans.[23]

ISSUES INVOLVED IN THE REVISION: I added specific details of exactly what was at stake with the brain debate, and what position each person took. I like the style of the original sentence “Huxley as not only dangerous in debate, but also a better anatomist”, and tried to retain some of it in the revision. The problem is “was a better anatomist”, depends on how you define “better”. Owen was much more detailed, while Huxley gave an account that was easier for lay people to understand. I think it is note worthy, that while Owen addressed Huxley’s claim and conceded there was a hippocampus minor in apes, Huxley never responded to Owen’s argument about them not being even a rudiment. In his 1859 gorilla paper Owen shows a picture of the shape of the hippocampus minor, while in his 1863 book Huxley makes a big point over the fact that he can show a picture of a hippocampus minor in a chimp, which has similar development to that that Owen himself had acknowledge as present in the gorilla in 1859.

Cosans (talk) 03:38, 11 March 2009 (UTC)

Another response[edit]

In all the articles to which I've been able to contribute I cannot remember an author going so far to promote his own ideas. I have to say that this could damage WP if it became a widespread practice.

Most of the suggestions would lengthen an already over-long article, and run counter to most of the published biographical and critical work on Huxley. Obviously, recognition of a newly published view needs to be given, but not disproportionately. The existing text is heavily referenced, and none of those references present such a view of Owens as Cosens suggests -- but at the same time, it's good to see more on Owen.

Personally, I would like a decent break to find and read a copy of Cosen's book before getting into this debate in detail. Macdonald-ross (talk) 15:54, 11 March 2009 (UTC)

Thanks for your thoughts Ross. I think there is a real issue on how to write about the clash between Huxley and Owen from an NPOV without taking up too much space. The original version did not explain Owen's perspective at all, but Owen's perspective was so detailed that it is hard to summarize it without giving the reader a false impression. The original version states Huxley was "a better anatomist" as if his position was The Truth. The question on whether Owen was reasonable or unreasonable to bump humans from a separate Order to a Subclass, also depends on your point of view....Owen thought it was a good idea, Huxley wanted to bump humans down to a Genus. The new book is not that radical, and pretty much gives the same picture you get of Owen in the Richards 1987 article, Rupke's 1994 book, and Smith's 1997 paper. It also attempts to give full accounts of both Darwin's and Huxley's perspectives as they would articulate them, in addition to the claims of Owen. I have posted a call for people to bring in more of the scholarship on Owen on the Owen discussion page and I give citations for the key works there. I am surprised more researchers have not taken the time to help out with your articles. I have also published a lot of stuff on Galen and when I looked at that page I found the following sentence in the introduction: "They, however, had the convenience of vivisection that was not permitted in Rome in Galenus' time." The fact is that tons of vivisection was done from Aristotle through Galen, and Galen was famous for doing public vivisections of pigs in Rome. My guess is that whoever wrote that meant human dissection, which was allowed in Hellenistic Alexandra but banded in Rome. Anyone who has written articles or books on Galen, would see the original claim as problematic. Cosans (talk) 18:33, 11 March 2009 (UTC)

Wikipedia's very much a work in progress, and at times can reflect older idas which need to be brought up to date. There is a basic inertia in that the aim is to reflect authoritative positions rather than pushing the bounds of new research, but in this area there have clearly been shifting opinions in the last couple of decades. My feeling is that the aim in this article will be to very concisely indicate the differences with Owen without making unsupported judgements, while Owen's case will be more developed in his biography. If that's becoming too large or problematic, the long debate between the two might form a sub-article. There's also Darwin's perspective on the argument, which has been well recorded in his correspondence and has perhaps unreasonably overshadowed other views. Skimming the article, there are some questionable areas. "His work on fossil fish shows his distinctive approach: whereas pre-Darwinian naturalists collected, identified and classified, Huxley worked mainly to reveal the relationships between groups." The ideas of homologies and archetypes went back to early in the century, and Owen's comparative anatomy of the 1840s promoted and idealised fish skeleton as the vertebrate archetype. Huxley developed his own original classification of fish, which he began to publish in 1858, drawing on the work of Johannes Peter Müller. Source: Secord's Victorian Sensation, pp. 253, 502. So that's something else to review. dave souza, talk 19:11, 11 March 2009 (UTC)
Not to repond in detail, just to note that Huxley categorised man at the level of a family, whereas we are now down to a tribe or subtribe. And I have qualified the relationships between groups with the word evolutionary to distinguish it from archetypal thinking. Macdonald-ross (talk) 14:01, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

external links[edit]

I'm going to cut ext links that add nothing new: the most comprehensive on-line set of THH works is on Gutenberg and Clark U. Macdonald-ross (talk) 06:47, 12 May 2009 (UTC)

New reference[edit]

I've just added a reference. I realise it's not formatted like the others on the page, but am not sure how to do this. Could someone else help? Thanks. Gareth Jones (talk) 22:24, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

Done. Macdonald-ross (talk) 07:52, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

Map of races[edit]

Someone has helpfully put in the map of races from On the geographical distribution of the chief modifications of Mankind. This had been taken out of the article long ago on the grounds that it was THH's least distinguished work, and of close to zero interest today. Any opinions? Macdonald-ross (talk) 13:41, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

Article style[edit]

This edit added tags {{Split-apart}} and {{Story}} with edit summary "Added tags to denote cleanup is necessary. Certain areas read like storytelling, the article is long, and overall not optimized for encyclopedic style."

My first serious reading of this article was two days ago during the On the Origin of Species sesquicentenary excitement, and I was very pleased to find yet another excellent article in the evolution series: congratulations to the authors.

I can see that some toning-down would be appropriate, and some points need yet more citations. I also agree that portions "read like storytelling" (aka "good writing"), and specific examples could be proposed to firm-up the encyclopedic style. However, I would strongly oppose any significant cutting of the article, and I do not see how it would be helped by splitting. I will return and make some specific suggestions, but meanwhile I invite anyone supporting the tags to provide further explanation because I propose to remove them after a couple of days because the issues are not of pressing importance.

Following are some examples of minor wording issues that probably should be addressed. In the lead, "Huxley used the term 'agnostic' to describe his own views on theology" needs a citation (I didn't see one in the article). Phrases that might be toned down include: "Remarkably, he became perhaps the finest comparative anatomist..." (citation?); "Despite this unenviable start..." (and a few more in "Early life"); "it seems extraordinary that"; "That, however, is another story"; "We can see that in his savage review...".

A consistent encyclopedic style is highly desirable, yet sentences like "To put it simply, Huxley preferred to teach what he had actually seen with his own eyes" present a problem because the current writing is clear, concise and very readable, so introducing alternative turgid prose for a more encyclopedic style is not appealing. Johnuniq (talk) 04:03, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

Well, as might be expected, I regard the tags as almost entirely unjustified. To split the article would be to destroy the integrity of the biography. Already there are five places where material has been spun off, or is expanded:
1860 Oxford evolution debate
Man's Place in Nature
X Club
Huxley family
Wikiquote
I believe all the items Johnuniq raises can be adjusted without damaging the article, and I undertake to do this, under his watchful eye. Earlier in the life of this article I had tried to keep the intro free of references, since so many were needed in the more detailed discussions later in the article. I think it's quite normal elsewhere (eg Encyc Brit) to keep intros as straight prose, but if that's not our way, I will comply.
As a first step, I agree the flags should be removed. In my opinion such flags are not a good way to get co-operation, and in this case they are entirely misused. Macdonald-ross (talk) 08:49, 1 December 2009 (UTC)
I removed the tags since there has been no support for them and they do not help in this article. Changes as above would be desirable although it's not an easy job because the article is clear and well written, and jumping in with some crude style "fixes" may not give a good result. Nevertheless, I may make some tentative edits in the coming days, more by way of suggestion than conviction. Johnuniq (talk) 01:12, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
I'll comment on encyclopaedic style, because I think the term is often bandied about, but rarely discussed. IMHO no web-site can sustain the style of the old-tyme encyclopaedias. The sheer aridity and pomposity of the Encyc Brit in its older editions has to be seen to be believed. We have all got used to a more informal style of prose in general life, whilst still suffering abominable writing in scientific journals. What makes the web different is its democratising qualities. The medium makes the message! Now, when we write about someone sensational, as THH was, then what would be wild overstatements for others becomes credible for the exceptional person. Have a look at the Wikiquotes link to what others said about Huxley: it makes the article look quite understated! I am saying that two things should make our idea of encyclopaedic style flexible: 1. The effect of the web on the reader compared to print, and 2. the need to adjust style to the content.
I've added a couple of refs to the intro to meet specific queries, and may add a few more. Macdonald-ross (talk) 14:48, 31 December 2009 (UTC) And from Wikiquote:
  • I do not advocate burning your ship to get rid of the cockroaches. Said in reference to those who wished to abolish all religious teaching, rather than simply freeing state education from Church controls. Critiques and Addresses (1873) p90.
  • Not far from the invention of fire... we must rank the invention of doubt. (Collected Essays vol 6, viii)
There are still some pretty substantial problems with the style of this article right now. Far too much of it reads like a personal appraisal of either the subject or the sources. This can only be tackled gradually; I don't see that tagging the article is the best way to approach this, although tagging individual sections might be a good idea. The article really needs a full peer review IMO. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 13:21, 7 January 2010 (UTC)

"Man and apes"[edit]

I noticed that at least once man is described seprately from apes when it is not up for debate that humans are a member of the ape clade. This needs clarification i.e. "man and the other apes" or something of the sort. Daruqe (talk) 18:19, 7 January 2010 (UTC)

Please explain improper snythesis tag[edit]

The following paragraph in the "man's place in nature" sub section got tagged with an improper synthesis template:

During those years there was also work on human fossil anatomy and anthropology. In 1862 he examined the Neanderthal skull-cap, which had been discovered in 1857. It was the first pre-sapiens discovery of a fossil man, and it was immediately clear to him that the brain case was surprisingly large.[67] Perhaps less productive was his work on physical anthropology, a topic which fascinated the Victorians. Huxley classified the human races as: Europeans, Mongolian, Negro (or Ethiopian) and Australian; each of these categories being broken down further into sub-sets. In fact all such anthropological classifications are put in the shade by our modern discovery that the genetic diversity of man in Africa is greater than exists in the rest of the human race.

The end of the paragraph cites 3 impeccable looking sources. What gives with the tag? I can't see any synthesis at all here. Surely it is not the list of Huxley's anthropological classifications? Nor can I see it being the last sentece, which merely reports the often stated fact (I could probably produce a dozen sources independant of the ones cited going back to the 80s) that from a genetic point of view race is a meaningless concept in humans? Improper synthesis involves synthesizing facts and conclusions from multiple published sources to reach a conclusion not stated by any published source. I can't for the life of mey see anything in the paragraph above that could be considered to be the product of synthesis let alone improper synthesis. A citation needed tag usually requires no explanation, but an improper synthesis tag has to be explained. If editors don't know what conclusion you think might be synthesized, there is no way to address the complaint.Rusty Cashman (talk) 19:30, 7 January 2010 (UTC)

Do the sources refute Huxley in particular? If not, then the conclusion ("In fact all such anthropological classifications are put in the shade by our modern discovery that the genetic diversity of man in Africa is greater than exists in the rest of the human race") is by definition synthesis of argument; using facts gained elsewhere to refute an argument without the argument being directly refuted by a source. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 10:25, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
I don't see why. The statement is "all such anthropological classifications are put in the shade" not specifically "Huxley's classifications were put into the shade". I still don't see the synthesis. It is like an article said "Plato and Aristotle believed that all heavenly bodies must move in perfect circles.", and a sentence later said "However, Kepler showed that planetary orbits are elliptical, and Newton showed that the orbits were not perfect ellipses because of the gravitational affects of other planets.", but the source cited for the elliptical orbits didn't mention Plato or Aristotle. Would that be synthesis? Granted "put into the shade" would not be my choice of wording, but that is not a synthesis issue.Rusty Cashman (talk) 17:58, 9 January 2010 (UTC)


School Curriculum[edit]

The lead as that "Huxley had little formal schooling and taught himself almost everything he knew". What are the sources of this claim? This BBC biography states that after moving to Covetry with his family, he joined his uncle, who was a surgeon, as his apprentice, and later moved to London where he continued his medical studies until the age of 21 when he signed as assistant surgeon on Royal Navy HMS Rattlesnake. Although, no doubt, he was a self-learner and autodidact, we can not say that he lacked a formal education, furthermore, being a son of a math teacher.--Wcris (talk) 01:49, 27 February 2010 (UTC)

The references are #s 5 and 6 under Early life. The facts are absolutely not in dispute. The text says what is true: he spent only a year at school, and (not presented in the article) he later passed comments which indicated that he hated every minute of it. His medical career did take place under various kinds of supervision, but that was later. The article does not say that as an adult he lacked an education. Macdonald-ross (talk) 12:14, 27 February 2010 (UTC)
I follow your references and come across 'Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley', edited by his son - i pretend to look at his 'Autobiography and Selected Essays' later, if time allows - and find it to generaly corroborate your assertion, and i've got to admit that for a while the 'almost' part had escaped me, in fact i think that 'almost everything' covers what he got by himself - and i think this to be true for everyone, anyway -, but i've got now the full meaning of the sentence. Thanks for help me elucidate matters, it propel in me a growing fascination for Huxley work and personality.--Wcris (talk) 14:44, 3 March 2010 (UTC)
i took some quotes from the work above mentioned available here--Wcris (talk) 14:53, 3 March 2010 (UTC)

Races[edit]

The article claims that

"Huxley classified the human races as: Europeans, Mongolian, Negro (or Ethiopian) and Australian"

without giving any source. This 1870 paper by Huxley has nine types

These include a Mongoloid (not "Mongolian") type, an "Austaloid" (not "Australian") type and a "Negro" type, but certainly not an "European" one, Huxley explicitly denounces the combination of his "Melanochroi" and "Xanthochroi" (both found in Europe) as "absurd". Not included in these five types are the Bushmen, Polynesians, Negritos and Esquimaux. --dab (𒁳) 17:49, 5 March 2010 (UTC)

The rewording takes care to use the terms Huxley used. He did discuss the substance under four headings. Macdonald-ross (talk) 20:33, 5 March 2010 (UTC)

RfC: Persistent dispute over wording: 'view' versus 'belief' and 'theory'[edit]

There is a persistent dispute between Mikey_143, Macdonald-ross, and Johnuniq, over minor variations in wording. The dispute is whether the word 'view' should be used, or whether the words 'theory' and 'belief' should be used, as in the phrases "theological beliefs", "a theory widely accepted today", "such a radical belief", "views on theology", "a view widely accepted today", "such an extreme view". Mikey 143 (talk) 23:14, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

Isn't this a bit premature? There has been no discussion on the subject at all yet. You usually try that first before hauling in uninvolved editors. Auntie E. (talk) 00:21, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
Yes, Mikey 143 may care to remove the {{rfctag}} (is that how an RfC is canceled?) because there is currently no dispute, just a disagreement which has not yet been discussed. I'll briefly kick that off with an observation that the article uses "view" in the sense that different scientists agreeing on a fundamental principle, can have somewhat different interpretations of details (there is no "theory" of how birds evolved from reptiles). I see that Mikey has made their chosen edit a fourth time (diff). Mikey: since you are a new editor, that is not a problem, but it is not how things are done here. Per WP:BRD you make a bold change (good), you are reverted, we then discuss (that is, you explain on this talk page why your wording is an improvement, which is then discussed). An RfC may come much later, after serious discussions that fail to reach a consensus. Johnuniq (talk) 07:15, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
The term 'theory' is used pretty sparingly in biology. It is not a synonym for 'opinion' or 'interpretation' or 'claim'. Otherwise, every scientist who published a paper with an interpretation of evidence would be publishing a theory. And if an abstract word like theory is overused, it becomes vague and less useful, and the prose becomes more pompous and formal. If I was forced to pick an alternative to 'view' it might be 'interpretation', but I prefer 'view', because (in the case of bird anatomy) the evidence Huxley used was visual, and the word is simple. As regards theology, I would say that an agnostic does not have a theological theory, he has a reasoned opinion about theology (= a view).
On background: the concepts of biology are well expounded by Michael Ruse in The philosophy of biology (1973) and Philosophy of biology today (1988) and Elliot Sober Philosophy of biology (1993). If one really gets interested in this field they are good places to look.
When reading WP articles one often thinks, "I'd have said that differently", but it's worth remembering that that alone is not a sufficient reason for making a change. Macdonald-ross (talk) 08:30, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
Well for what it is worth I would suggest splitting the difference. I consider a view to be a well defined and strongly held opinion on a subject, which is a little different from a belief, which I think is more of a value judgement, or a theory, which - especially on an article on a scientist - should be used for a scientific hypothesis that has survived a significant amount of testing against empirical data. Therefore I prefer "views on theology" to "theological beliefs" in part because I think the later suggests religious convictions, which is not appropriate here. I actually prefer "a theory widely accepted today" because the hypothesis that birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs has beens supported by enough empirical data to be considered a scientific theory by any reasonable standard even if when Huxley suggested it it was a hypothesis. I prefer "such an extreme view" to "such a radical belief" because again I don't like belief when talking about a scientific opinion. Rusty Cashman (talk) 08:56, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
I could live with that. Macdonald-ross (talk) 09:08, 19 April 2010 (UTC)

Photograph and autograph of "Numius H. Huxley"[edit]

Hello; My Uncle Charles Tanzer who was a biologist had a photograph with autograph framed and when he died 20 years ago I took it. Not knowing who it was but sure he was someone important to my Uncle I could not bring myself to throw it away. The phot looks exacly like Thomas Henry Huxley but the first name which I cannot make out clearly looks like Normus or Numus. Would you know who this photograph might be? Joanne Ibe Cunningham 8/20/2011 ibej@optonline.net — Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.188.166.207 (talk) 13:59, 20 August 2011 (UTC)

Why no mention he is grandfather to Aldous Huxley?[edit]

This is an important relationship. Aldous Huxley's wiki page shows the geneology of their relationship. Why no mention in T. H. Huxley's page? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.92.14.172 (talk) 23:53, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

FitzRoy?[edit]

The following statement looks rather misleading: " Huxley was joined at the debate by his and Darwin's friends Hooker and Lubbock, and they were opposed by the Lord Bishop of Oxford, Samuel Wilberforce, and Robert FitzRoy, the captain of HMS Beagle." From my understanding, FitzRoy spoke briefly from the floor rather than being called to the platform, and of course Huxley joined the debate over Draper's paper and was called to the platform responded after Wilberforce had already spoken. Have tried rephrasing the para, but don't have access to the cited source. . dave souza, talk 21:06, 30 December 2011 (UTC)

Update: both Browne and Desmond & Moore are clear that FitzRoy spoke from the floor, but according to this, the chairman Henslow recognised FitzRoy who spoke before Hooker: the implication being that FitzRoy would have been called to the platform. . . dave souza, talk 21:38, 30 December 2011 (UTC)

Lede[edit]

The lede is very long, as well as contains some editorial language. I'm going to go through it and make some edits, as well as to the rest of the page if anything comes up. I will most likely post the edits under this section of the talk page -- let me know if you have any questions or clarifications. GoGatorMeds (talk) 15:28, 8 July 2014 (UTC)

Looking through the rest of the article, I've noticed that there is editorial language throughout the entire article. I am going to add an NPOV flag and work through the page to fix it. When that is done, I will remove the flag. If you disagree with any edits, please let me know and we can discuss them here. Thanks. GoGatorMeds (talk) 15:34, 8 July 2014 (UTC)
Thus far, I have cleaned up the page up until "Darwin's Bulldog." I will continue to post updates on my progress as I continue to edit. I aim to have this entire page cleaned up within the next few days, and the flag removed. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you. GoGatorMeds (talk) 16:28, 8 July 2014 (UTC)

Original Research[edit]

The language in this article, as well as the lack of citations on many claims that are said as fact, has led me to think there needs to be an original research flag on this page in addition to an NPOV flag. I will continue to work on edits on this page to remove these flags within the week. Thanks you. GoGatorMeds (talk) 19:39, 9 July 2014 (UTC)

  • I do not consider your recent edits to be an improvement to the article. You have removed all phrases that carry an aspect of evaluation of Huxleys contemporary and historical importance. There is no basis for this in policy, evaluations of a biographical subjects significance are a necessary part of a biography, and the use of a more literary writing style is also both common in historical biographies and allowed. You are of course allowed to remove statements that you consider to be incorrect or which contradict other sources, but your work goes beyond that. It has made the quality of article prose worse and the article as a whole duller and less informative. I would recommend a reversion to the edit of June 19th.[2] and that further edits by GoGatorMeds should be discussed first.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 13:19, 21 July 2014 (UTC)

Why does "Ulotrichi" redirect here?[edit]

Not used or explained in article. 86.159.197.174 (talk) 17:43, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

I have no idea why it was redirected here - the content was transferred to Wiktionary. I've tagged the redirect for deletion. DuncanHill (talk) 18:06, 13 August 2014 (UTC)