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My Life As a Machine

My Life As a Machine

Francis Galton, with Some Reflections on A. R. Wallace

(p.104) 5 My Life As a Machine
Dying to Know
George Levine
University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines Alfred Russel Wallace's My Life and Francis Galton's Memories of My Life. My Life has many of the qualities of Charles Darwin's autobiography. Galton's narrative represents another version of the tradition of dying to know, for there is little evidence of the modesty Wallace exhibits. He describes his life so as to imply that the denial of self makes strict scientific sense. His project is to enhance on natural selection. Memories of My Life supplies a clear example of what it means to embody objectivist methodology and theory in narrative. The autobiographies of John Stuart Mill, Wallace and Galton provide examples of what happens when scientific epistemology is overtly dramatized in narrative; and clearly, the consequences are different, but the fate of the self remains similar.

Keywords:   Alfred Russel Wallace, My Life, Francis Galton, Memories of My Life, Charles Darwin, John Stuart Mill, objectivist methodology, scientific epistemology, autobiography

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