This, THE HUXLEY FILE, is addressed to an audience ranging from those who never heard of Thomas Henry Huxley to those who are familiar with him and may even have read some of his work. For specific guidance on the various subjects he wrote about fields ranging from the design of marine invertebrate structure to the design of a good human society the cybernaut may refer to any of the 21 guides concluding this preview. Selections in THE HUXLEY FILE that appear only in obscure Victorian magazines or hidden archives will be of interest to those who do know him and may even have studied and published on him.
Born on May 4, 1825, and expired on June 29, 1895, THH, it is hoped this project will prove, deserves resurrection into the fame he once enjoyed. THE HUXLEY FILE is a memorial to his achievements in many fields, its ambition to bring forth THH so that we can advance our understanding of Victorian culture, of the contrasting features of superstition and of science, and of our own time; and take pleasure in reading one of the finest writers of any time any where.
If THH is known at all, it is as "Darwins bulldog." This self-imposed nickname recognizes the collegiate defenseand enthusiastic offensehe undertook in support of the theory of evolution. In November of 1859, after reading the newly-published Origin of Species, he warned Charles Darwin that there would be mischief from anti-evolutionists, and that he himself, T. H. Huxley, was sharpening up his claws preparing to annihilate these creationist critics. He devoted himself for most of his career defending Darwinism and related notorious subversive subjects
"Darwinism" was defined in the Victorian period and is defined today not only as Darwin's theory of natural selection, but as a comprehensive network that includes a philosophical view of the ethical as well as practical significance of scientific investigation; as a type of materialism; as agnosticism; as an assault on the historical validity of scripture; and as a model for the design of a political and economic community. To all of these, THH contributed, so significantly that though we are not aware of it, much of what educated free people think today of deity, or religion, of science, of their values, and of their own origin and future traces back to Huxley as originator, as he was the inventor of the word "agnostic" itself.
Huxley's career testifies to the richness of scientific investigation, the establishment of young rebels as a powerful party, and the pervasive intrusions of secularism during the Victorian period. He advises us on science as a proper discipline for the school curriculum, on vivisection, on compassion, competition, and capitalism, the U. S. Civil War, nature, chalk, protoplasm, dinosaurs, the pantheon and the pyramids. On the inequality of the races and genders, Thomas Huxley was not so keen or humane a radical as John Stuart Mill and Harriet Taylor, but did help to diminish stereotypes about skin color and stature being signals of intellectual and emotional value.
Huxley's achievements are pertinent today in helping us understand our own culture, for example, on these issues of immediate concern, especially in the U. S. Here's a list of problems of today that interest or afflict people throughout the worldproblems which THH helps us understand and perhaps solve:
Those merely interested in Huxley and scholars engaged in research on him, on Darwinism, on Victorian culture, on the history of science, and on topics such as those noted will find that THE HUXLEY FILE, in which reside over 1000 items, justifies its title. The 1000 figure covers 680 pieces of published and unpublished text by THH; more than 150 pictures by and on him, with an uncounted number of pictures in text by and for him; and 120 commentaries on him. Cybernauts will find here
It's perhaps a bit late to say this, but this introduction and all the guides may be skipped, the cybernaut travelling directly to these selections.
The audience of THE HUXLEY FILE, then, is educated people of whatever culture (THH was translated into Chinese and Japanese, as well as into European languages Hungarian, Russian, Italian, German, French, Spanish, and Italian), especially high school and college teachers who can select and present for their students sections from THE HUXLEY FILE to enrich, liberalize, and vitalize courses in at least these fields: (1) education, (2) biology, (3) anthropology, (4) philosophy, (5) religion, (6) social studies, and (7) style. Though these categories are designed to help understand Huxley's contributions, it's important to note that he was not a strict disciplinariana river of text, essay or letter, could and often did flow with relevant material on all of these and other tributaries as well. Huxley's popularization adventures resulted in what he called "fugitive pieces," many of them written when he was assailed by insomnia, and most of them constituting Collected Essays ; but since he was a professional biologist, an ample supply of his Scientific Memoirs is offered, though most of those pieces would not be understood or appreciated by most of us lay people.