Huxley, Thomas Henry

Huxley, Thomas Henry

Huxley, Thomas Henry, 1825-95, English biologist and educator, grad. Charing Cross Hospital, 1845. Huxley gave up his own biological research to become an influential scientific publicist and was the principal exponent of Darwinism in England. An agnostic (see agnosticism), he doubted all things not immediately open to logical analysis and scientific verification. He held up truth as an ideal and spoke and wrote frequently on its tool, the scientific method, and its yield, the evolutionary theory. He placed human ethics outside the scope of the materialistic processes of evolution; he believed that civilization is man's protest against nature and that progress is achieved by the human control of evolution. Huxley held numerous public offices, serving on 10 royal commissions (1862-84). His many works include Evolution and Ethics (1893), Collected Essays (9 vol., 1893-94), Scientific Memoirs (4 vol., 1898-1902), and an autobiography (1903).

See selected writings, ed. by C. Bibby (1967); biographies by Huxley's son Leonard (1920, repr. 1969) and C. Bibby (1972).

(born May 4, 1825, Ealing, Middlesex, Eng.—died June 29, 1895, Eastbourne, Sussex) British biologist. The son of a schoolmaster, he earned a medical degree. After working as a surgeon on a surveying expedition in the South Pacific (1846–50), during which he carried out extensive studies of marine organisms, he taught for many years at the Royal School of Mines in London (1854–85). In the 1850s he established his reputation with his important papers on animal individuality, certain mollusks, the methods of paleontology, the methods and principles of science and science education, the structure and functions of nerves, and the vertebrate skull. He was one of the earliest and strongest supporters of Darwinism; his 1860 debate with Bishop Samuel Wilberforce gained widespread attention. In the 1860s Huxley did valuable work in paleontology and classification, especially classification of birds. Later in life he turned to theology; he is said to have coined the word agnostic to describe his views. Few scientists have been as influential over such a wide field of scientific development and as effective in the total movement of thought and action within their own generation.

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Huxley may refer to one of:

  • The Huxley family, descended from Normans who settled in England after the Battle of Hastings. The first record of the family, as Holdensia, appears in the records of Richard I. The name 'Huxley' first appears in records in 1260. The ancient family seat was Huxley, Cheshire. Famous members of the Huxley family include:

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