Cover

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Title Page

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgements

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pp. vii-viii

Many people have contributed in one way or another to the writing of this book, and I should like to thank them for their often very generous help. I owe my greatest gratitude to John Forrester, for getting the whole project started and for his ongoing support and advice. For their oral recollections of some of the historical ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-19

“Begone, vile insect.” With these words, Doctor Frankenstein greets his monstrous creation on the icy slopes of Montanvert.1 The creature, with admirable insouciance, replies, “I expected this reaction.” Frankenstein’s outburst attempts to downplay the monster’s hideous threat by reducing him to the stature of a ...

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Part I

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pp. 23-37

The bucolic valley basin view from the bedroom window was a mixed pleasure for Auguste Forel. At times it made him furious. For this fanatical abstainer’s home overlooked mile upon mile of vineyards. The grapes against whose alcoholic product he spent his life inveighing grew practically up to the front door. ...

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Chapter One. Evolutionary Myrmecology and the Natural History of the Human Mind

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pp. 23-37

The bucolic valley basin view from the bedroom window was a mixed pleasure for Auguste Forel. At times it made him furious. For this fanatical abstainer’s home overlooked mile upon mile of vineyards. The grapes against whose alcoholic product he spent his life inveighing grew practically up to the front ...

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Chapter Two. A (Non-)Disciplinary Context for Evolutionary Myrmecology

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pp. 38-62

Auguste Forel’s reassuringly Swiss ants seemed anything but familiar to other myrmecologists. In 1918 the French insect psychologist Eugène Bouvier at-tempted to do justice to the bizarreness of the insect realm that so fascinated. Insects are creatures which seem to defy the imagination with the strangeness of their form and their extraordinary habits...What can we think of the predatory...

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Part II Sociological Ants

Irascible, brilliant, philosophical, depressive, anti-Semitic, elitist, obscene: William Morton Wheeler (1865–1937) was a memorable man to all who encountered him. He could not have been more different from the serious, idealistic, and patriarchal Forel—not least because of his fondness for the ...

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Chapter Three. From Psychology to Sociology

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pp. 76-92

What made Milwaukee famous was anathema to Forel, but very much home to Wheeler. The Wisconsin town of Wheeler’s birth was populated and lubricated by German émigrés—beer-drinking liberals rather like the Munich inhabitants Forel had found so uncongenial.1 As a youth, Wheeler became involved with ...

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Chapter Four. The Brave New World of Myrmecology

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pp. 82-95

While Wheeler was watching the ants feed each other, the human ants of Forel’s Etats Unis de la Terre were doing the same. Amid the hardships of the Great War, the young Herbert Hoover was busy providing nutrition for the hungry millions of Europe. As chairman for the Commission for Relief in Belgium ...

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Chapter Five. The Generic Contexts of Natural History

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pp. 96-118

Despite having achieved academic success beyond that of his entomological peers, William Morton Wheeler found that he was dogged by old accusations of “mere” natural historicism. As some of his peers at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory rede>ned biology in terms of benchwork, Wheeler pondered ...

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Chapter Six. Writing Elite Natural History

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pp. 119-138

"Naturalists may attempt to achieve a scientific objectivity toward the creatures they study, but fortunately for editors they invariably fail.” With this sneaky compliment Alan Ternes, editor of Natural History magazine, introduced a collection of essays by the staff of the American Museum of Natural ...

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Chapter Seven. Ants in the Library: An Interlude

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pp. 139-162

At this point the story of myrmecology takes an unexpected turn. As a discipline, it lacked direction after death of Wheeler in 1937. William Creighton’s massive taxonomy of North American ants (1950) was of little interest to anyone besides collectors, and T. C. Schneirla’s ant psychology of the late 1940s and early ...

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Part III Communicational Ants

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pp. 163-165

In 1909 a young and eager would-be scientist received noti>cation of his >rst ever publication. The paper, a comparative discussion of ant colonies, was to be published in The Guide to Nature; the young scientist’s name was Norbert Wiener. That same year (at the remarkable age of sixteen) he began graduate ...

Images

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pp. PS1-PS26

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Chapter Eight. The Macy Meanings of Meaning

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pp. 167-189

In the sweet heat of postwar Munich in summer, the drone of bombers gave way to the softer, more pastoral hum of bees zigzagging their way between hive and flower. As it happened, the bees’ population had also been decimated across Europe during the war, in an epidemic apparently unrelated except by irony to the ...

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Chapter Nine. From Pheromones to Sociobiology

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pp. 190-218

The plaintive songs of the impoverished American Deep South were more than an ocean away from the worthy strains of Monsieur Emery’s teetotal choristers of Lausanne. Yet despite their vastly di=erent origins, Edward Wilson shared with Auguste Forel a lonely childhood. In Wilson’s case this was due to the ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 219-229

Sick of hearing King Solomon’s exhortation quoted in every banal piece of writing about ants, the myrmecologist George Wheeler penned an article in 1957 feelingly entitled, “Don’t Go to the Ant.”1 With similar skepticism, Max Beerbohm noted, “the ant has a lesson to teach us all, and it is not good.”2 Ezra Pound, ...

Notes

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pp. 231-286

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Essay on Sources

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pp. 295-302

A discipline so undisciplined as myrmecology presents a considerable challenge when it comes to sources. Its participants are scattered around the world in a variety of institutions, or none, and its context varies from popular science to academic zoology, via psychology, linguistics, and psychiatry (to name but three related fields). My starting point for the ...

Index

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pp. 295-302