On The Origin of Species (Illustrated and Bundled with the Autobiography of Charles Darwin)

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Shop Books. Add to Wishlist. USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Overview Now in paperback, this richly illustrated edition of Charles Darwin's paradigm-shattering masterpiece brings Darwin's life and controversial theories into full view. Product Details About the Author. About the Author. Date of Birth: February 12, Date of Death: April 19, Place of Birth: Shrewsbury, England. Place of Death: London, England. Education: B. Average Review.

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Darwin presents supporting facts drawn from many disciplines, showing that his theory could explain a myriad of observations from many fields of natural history that were inexplicable under the alternate concept that species had been individually created. The Examiner review of 3 December commented, "Much of Mr. Darwin's volume is what ordinary readers would call 'tough reading;' that is, writing which to comprehend requires concentrated attention and some preparation for the task. All, however, is by no means of this description, and many parts of the book abound in information, easy to comprehend and both instructive and entertaining.

While the book was readable enough to sell, its dryness ensured that it was seen as aimed at specialist scientists and could not be dismissed as mere journalism or imaginative fiction.

The Evolution of Charles Darwin

Unlike the still-popular Vestiges , it avoided the narrative style of the historical novel and cosmological speculation, though the closing sentence clearly hinted at cosmic progression. Darwin had long been immersed in the literary forms and practices of specialist science, and made effective use of his skills in structuring arguments. Quammen advised that later editions were weakened by Darwin making concessions and adding details to address his critics, and recommended the first edition. Costa said that because the book was an abstract produced in haste in response to Wallace's essay, it was more approachable than the big book on natural selection Darwin had been working on, which would have been encumbered by scholarly footnotes and much more technical detail.

He added that some parts of Origin are dense, but other parts are almost lyrical, and the case studies and observations are presented in a narrative style unusual in serious scientific books, which broadened its audience. From his early transmutation notebooks in the late s onwards, Darwin considered human evolution as part of the natural processes he was investigating, [] and rejected divine intervention.

In the final chapter of On the Origin of Species , " Recapitulation and Conclusion ", Darwin briefly highlights the human implications of his theory:. In the distant future I see open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation. Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history.

Discussing this in January , Darwin assured Lyell that "by the sentence [Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history] I show that I believe man is in same predicament with other animals. Some other statements in the book are quietly effective at pointing out the implication that humans are simply another species, evolving through the same processes and principles affecting other organisms. Darwin's early notebooks discussed how non-adaptive characteristics could be selected when animals or humans chose mates, [] with races of humans differing over ideas of beauty.

When Darwin published The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex twelve years later, he said that he had not gone into detail on human evolution in the Origin as he thought that would "only add to the prejudices against my views".

Category: Darwin

He had not completely avoided the topic: []. It seemed to me sufficient to indicate, in the first edition of my 'Origin of Species,' that by this work 'light would be thrown on the origin of man and his history;' and this implies that man must be included with other organic beings in any general conclusion respecting his manner of appearance on this earth. He also said that he had "merely alluded" in that book to sexual selection differentiating human races. The book aroused international interest [] and a widespread debate, with no sharp line between scientific issues and ideological, social and religious implications.

Samuel Wilberforce wrote a review in Quarterly Review [] where he disagreed with Darwins 'argument'. There was much less controversy than had greeted the publication Vestiges of Creation , which had been rejected by scientists, [] but had influenced a wide public readership into believing that nature and human society were governed by natural laws.

Its proponents made full use of a surge in the publication of review journals, and it was given more popular attention than almost any other scientific work, though it failed to match the continuing sales of Vestiges. By the mids, evolutionism was triumphant. While Darwin had been somewhat coy about human origins, not identifying any explicit conclusion on the matter in his book, he had dropped enough hints about human's animal ancestry for the inference to be made, [] [] and the first review claimed it made a creed of the "men from monkeys" idea from Vestiges.

Darwin did not publish his own views on this until The naturalism of natural selection conflicted with presumptions of purpose in nature and while this could be reconciled by theistic evolution , other mechanisms implying more progress or purpose were more acceptable. Herbert Spencer had already incorporated Lamarckism into his popular philosophy of progressive free market human society. He popularised the terms evolution and survival of the fittest , and many thought Spencer was central to evolutionary thinking.


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Scientific readers were already aware of arguments that species changed through processes that were subject to laws of nature , but the transmutational ideas of Lamarck and the vague "law of development" of Vestiges had not found scientific favour. Darwin presented natural selection as a scientifically testable mechanism while accepting that other mechanisms such as inheritance of acquired characters were possible. His strategy established that evolution through natural laws was worthy of scientific study, and by , most scientists accepted that evolution occurred but few thought natural selection was significant.

The Making of a Theory: Darwin, Wallace, and Natural Selection — HHMI BioInteractive Video

Darwin's scientific method was also disputed, with his proponents favouring the empiricism of John Stuart Mill 's A System of Logic , while opponents held to the idealist school of William Whewell 's Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences , in which investigation could begin with the intuitive idea that species were fixed objects created by design. Henry Walter Bates presented research in that explained insect mimicry using natural selection.

Alfred Russel Wallace discussed evidence from his Malay archipelago research, including an paper with an evolutionary explanation for the Wallace line. Evolution had less obvious applications to anatomy and morphology , and at first had little impact on the research of the anatomist Thomas Henry Huxley. Huxley wanted science to be secular, without religious interference, and his article in the April Westminster Review promoted scientific naturalism over natural theology, [] [] praising Darwin for "extending the domination of Science over regions of thought into which she has, as yet, hardly penetrated" and coining the term " Darwinism " as part of his efforts to secularise and professionalise science.

Later, the German morphologist Ernst Haeckel would convince Huxley that comparative anatomy and palaeontology could be used to reconstruct evolutionary genealogies.

Darwin in Wonderland: Evolution, Involution and Natural Selection in The Water Babies ()

The leading naturalist in Britain was the anatomist Richard Owen , an idealist who had shifted to the view in the s that the history of life was the gradual unfolding of a divine plan. Others that rejected natural selection, but supported "creation by birth", included the Duke of Argyll who explained beauty in plumage by design. Their disagreement over human origins came to the fore at the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting featuring the legendary Oxford evolution debate.

Darwin published his own explanation in the Descent of Man Evolutionary ideas, although not natural selection, were accepted by German biologists accustomed to ideas of homology in morphology from Goethe 's Metamorphosis of Plants and from their long tradition of comparative anatomy. Bronn 's alterations in his German translation added to the misgivings of conservatives, but enthused political radicals. Ernst Haeckel was particularly ardent, aiming to synthesise Darwin's ideas with those of Lamarck and Goethe while still reflecting the spirit of Naturphilosophie.

Haeckel used embryology extensively in his recapitulation theory , which embodied a progressive, almost linear model of evolution.

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Darwin was cautious about such histories, and had already noted that von Baer's laws of embryology supported his idea of complex branching. Asa Gray promoted and defended Origin against those American naturalists with an idealist approach, notably Louis Agassiz who viewed every species as a distinct fixed unit in the mind of the Creator, classifying as species what others considered merely varieties. The political economy of struggle was criticised as a British stereotype by Karl Marx and by Leo Tolstoy , who had the character Levin in his novel Anna Karenina voice sharp criticism of the morality of Darwin's views.

Darwin conceded that these could be linked to adaptive characteristics. His estimate that the age of the Earth allowed gradual evolution was disputed by William Thomson later awarded the title Lord Kelvin , who calculated that it had cooled in less than million years. Darwin accepted blending inheritance , but Fleeming Jenkin calculated that as it mixed traits, natural selection could not accumulate useful traits.

On the Origin of Species

Darwin tried to meet these objections in the 5th edition. Mivart supported directed evolution, and compiled scientific and religious objections to natural selection. In response, Darwin made considerable changes to the sixth edition. The problems of the age of the Earth and heredity were only resolved in the 20th century. By the mids, most scientists accepted evolution, but relegated natural selection to a minor role as they believed evolution was purposeful and progressive. The range of evolutionary theories during " the eclipse of Darwinism " included forms of " saltationism " in which new species were thought to arise through "jumps" rather than gradual adaptation, forms of orthogenesis claiming that species had an inherent tendency to change in a particular direction, and forms of neo-Lamarckism in which inheritance of acquired characteristics led to progress.

The minority view of August Weismann , that natural selection was the only mechanism, was called neo-Darwinism. It was thought that the rediscovery of Mendelian inheritance invalidated Darwin's views. While some, like Spencer, used analogy from natural selection as an argument against government intervention in the economy to benefit the poor, others, including Alfred Russel Wallace , argued that action was needed to correct social and economic inequities to level the playing field before natural selection could improve humanity further.

Some political commentaries, including Walter Bagehot 's Physics and Politics , attempted to extend the idea of natural selection to competition between nations and between human races. Such ideas were incorporated into what was already an ongoing effort by some working in anthropology to provide scientific evidence for the superiority of Caucasians over non white races and justify European imperialism. Historians write that most such political and economic commentators had only a superficial understanding of Darwin's scientific theory, and were as strongly influenced by other concepts about social progress and evolution, such as the Lamarckian ideas of Spencer and Haeckel, as they were by Darwin's work.


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  • Darwin objected to his ideas being used to justify military aggression and unethical business practices as he believed morality was part of fitness in humans, and he opposed polygenism , the idea that human races were fundamentally distinct and did not share a recent common ancestry. The book produced a wide range of religious responses at a time of changing ideas and increasing secularisation. The issues raised were complex and there was a large middle ground.

    Developments in geology meant that there was little opposition based on a literal reading of Genesis , [] but defence of the argument from design and natural theology was central to debates over the book in the English-speaking world. Natural theology was not a unified doctrine, and while some such as Louis Agassiz were strongly opposed to the ideas in the book, others sought a reconciliation in which evolution was seen as purposeful.

    Baden Powell praised "Mr Darwin's masterly volume [supporting] the grand principle of the self-evolving powers of nature". George Jackson Mivart was among those accepting evolution but attacking Darwin's naturalistic mechanism. Eventually it was realised that supernatural intervention could not be a scientific explanation, and naturalistic mechanisms such as neo-Lamarckism were favoured over natural selection as being more compatible with purpose.

    Even though the book did not explicitly spell out Darwin's beliefs about human origins , it had dropped a number of hints about human's animal ancestry [] and quickly became central to the debate, as mental and moral qualities were seen as spiritual aspects of the immaterial soul , and it was believed that animals did not have spiritual qualities. This conflict could be reconciled by supposing there was some supernatural intervention on the path leading to humans, or viewing evolution as a purposeful and progressive ascent to mankind's position at the head of nature.

    Some conservative Roman Catholic writers and influential Jesuits opposed evolution in the late 19th and early 20th century, but other Catholic writers, starting with Mivart, pointed out that early Church Fathers had not interpreted Genesis literally in this area. Various alternative evolutionary mechanisms favoured during " the eclipse of Darwinism " became untenable as more was learned about inheritance and mutation.

    The full significance of natural selection was at last accepted in the s and s as part of the modern evolutionary synthesis. During that synthesis biologists and statisticians, including R. Fisher , Sewall Wright and J. Haldane , merged Darwinian selection with a statistical understanding of Mendelian genetics. Modern evolutionary theory continues to develop. Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, with its tree-like model of branching common descent , has become the unifying theory of the life sciences. The theory explains the diversity of living organisms and their adaptation to the environment.

    It makes sense of the geological record , biogeography, parallels in embryonic development, biological homologies , vestigiality , cladistics , phylogenetics and other fields, with unrivalled explanatory power; it has also become essential to applied sciences such as medicine and agriculture. Interest in Darwin's writings continues, and scholars have generated an extensive literature, the Darwin Industry , about his life and work. The text of Origin itself has been subject to much analysis including a variorum , detailing the changes made in every edition, first published in , [] and a concordance , an exhaustive external index published in In a survey conducted by a group of academic booksellers, publishers and librarians in advance of Academic Book Week in the United Kingdom, On the Origin of Species was voted the most influential academic book ever written.

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Origin of Species disambiguation. A work of scientific literature by Charles Darwin which is considered to be the foundation of evolutionary biology. The title page of the edition of On the Origin of Species [1]. Darwin's finches by John Gould. Key topics. Introduction to evolution Evidence of evolution Common descent Evidence of common descent. Processes and outcomes. Natural history. History of evolutionary theory. Fields and applications.

    Applications of evolution Biosocial criminology Ecological genetics Evolutionary aesthetics Evolutionary anthropology Evolutionary computation Evolutionary ecology Evolutionary economics Evolutionary epistemology Evolutionary ethics Evolutionary game theory Evolutionary linguistics Evolutionary medicine Evolutionary neuroscience Evolutionary physiology Evolutionary psychology Experimental evolution Phylogenetics Paleontology Selective breeding Speciation experiments Sociobiology Systematics Universal Darwinism.

    Social implications. Evolution as fact and theory Social effects Creation—evolution controversy Objections to evolution Level of support. See also: History of evolutionary thought and History of biology.

    How Charles Darwin’s Early Years Led Him to Revolutionize Biological Thought

    See also: Charles Darwin's education and Inception of Darwin's theory. See also: Development of Darwin's theory. Main article: Publication of Darwin's theory. See also: Reactions to On the Origin of Species. See also: History of evolutionary thought. In the sixth edition "On" was omitted, so the full title is The origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life.

    This edition is usually known as The Origin of Species. The 6th is Darwin's final edition; there were minor modifications in the text of certain subsequent issues. See Freeman, R. Darwin Online: On the Origin of Species , Cambridge Digital Library. Retrieved 24 November Darwin Correspondence Project. Retrieved 21 March Retrieved 17 January Retrieved 7 September See letter to T. Retrieved 16 January Would you advise me to tell Murray that my Book is not more un -orthodox, than the subject makes inevitable. That I do not discuss origin of man. Darwin, C. Archived from the original on 7 October National Center for Science Education.

    Retrieved 27 June The Idea of Race. Hackett Publishing. The full title [of the book] employs the term 'race' only in the broad biological use of the word, which refers to varieties throughout organic life; however, speculation about the implications of his views specifically for the question of the human races began almost as soon as the book was published. But even here it does not matter whether the groups are from different 'races' or from the same race. It is nests of honeybees that compete with each other, and human tribes that compete with other human tribes.

    For Darwin, the question of group selection had nothing special to do with 'race. In this one very salient example, Darwin did see races struggling with each other. Hunter Darwin has called 'natural selection', or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. Darwin, Het ontstaan der soorten van dieren en planten door middel van de natuurkeus of het bewaard blijven van bevoorregte rassen in de strijd des levens , transl.

    The British Journal for the History of Science. The Guardian. Still, the Origin is one of the most important and influential books ever written. I am striving to offer the best possible adaptation of it to readers both young and old. Although Darwin had begun to develop his ideas about evolution before he moved to Down House, it was in this study that he wrote the Origin and his later works. I could not be happier about it. It is a dream project for me in many ways. It was the third volume in my Extraordinary Explorers YA trilogy for Oxford University Press, and it contained a chapter on Darwin, one that I was happy to see drew special praise from several reviewers.

    It was published in North America by Seven Stories Press, and it has also been published in a dozen or so other countries. It also feels like an enormous responsibility.

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