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1. The Origins of Darwin’s Theory

Through his polemical writings, such as the Natural History of Creation , Anthropogeny , and Riddle of the Universe —99 , Haeckel advocated a materialist monism in the name of Darwin, and used this as a stick with which to beat traditional religion. Beginning in with a partial translation by Ma Junwu — , a Chinese scientist, trained in chemistry and metallurgy in Japan and Germany, the early chapters of the Origin itself were made available to a Chinese audience. This group can usually be distinguished from lay interpreters who may not have made distinctions between the views of Lamarck, Chambers, Schelling, Spencer, and Darwin on the historical development of life.

The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex by Charles Darwin

But this only gives a crude instrument of analysis. The case of Ernst Haeckel displays this imprecision. He was a leading professor of zoology at an important German university Jena , and he formed a generation of scientific workers in embryology and natural history who had major impact on the history of the life sciences.

Richards chp. Darwin himself feared a similar reception, and he recognized the substantial challenge facing him in convincing this group and the larger community of scientific specialists with which he interacted and corresponded widely. With this group he was only partially successful. Of central importance in analyzing this complex professional reception was the role assigned to normal individual variation and its causes.

Darwin, however, left the specific causes of this variation unspecified beyond some effect of the environment on the sexual organs. As critics focused their attacks on the claim that such micro-differences between individuals could be accumulated over time without natural limits, Darwin began a series of modifications and revisions of the theory through a back and forth dialogue with his critics that can be followed by revisions to the text of the Origin. In the fourth edition of , for example, Darwin inserted the claim that the continuous gradualism illustrated by his branching diagram was misleading, and that transformative change does not necessarily go on continuously.

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This change-stasis-change model presumably allowed variation to stabilize for a period of time around a mean value from which additional change could then resume. Such a model would, however, presumably require even more time for its working than the multi-millions of years assumed in the original presentation of the theory.

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Using an argument previously raised in the s by Charles Lyell against Lamarck, Fleeming Jenkin cited empirical evidence from domestic breeding that suggested a distinct limitation on the degree of variation, and denied that selection upon this could be taken to the extent assumed by Darwin Fleeming Jenkin ; Hoquet Using a loosely mathematical argument, Fleeming Jenkin argued that the effects of intercrossing would continuously swamp deviations from the mean values of characters and result in a tendency of the variation in a population to return to mean values over time.

The time difficulties were only resolved in the twentieth-century with the discovery of radioactivity. Although this theory had been formulated independently of the Jenkin review Olby , in effect it functioned as his reply to it. It also explained how use-disuse inheritance, a theory which Darwin never abandoned, could work. The pangenesis theory, although not specifically referred to, seems to be behind an important distinction he inserted into the fifth edition of the Origin of where he made a direct reply to the criticisms of Jenkin.

The latter were now the form of variation to be given primary evolutionary significance, and presumably this was more likely to be transmitted to the offspring, although details are left unclear. In this form it presumably could be maintained in a population against the tendency to swamping by intercrossing. The debates over variation placed Darwinism in a defensive posture that forced its supporters into major revisions in the Darwinian research program Gayon ; Vorzimmer Darwin had retained his own conclusions on human evolution quietly in the background while the defense of his general theory was conducted by advocates as diverse as Thomas Henry Huxley —95 in England, Asa Gray —88 in the United States, and Ernst Haeckel — in Germany.

Sexual Selection and the Descent of Man: The Darwinian Pivot | NHBS Academic & Professional Books

At this time he also sent to several correspondents a questionnaire asking for information on human emotional expression. This was expanded into a two volume work by the time it was sent to the printer in June of By this date he had also pulled out a separate section from the Variation manuscript that was to become the Expression of the Emotions in Man and the Animals ,published in Only Haeckel had drawn out a more general reductive conception of humanity from evolutionary theory and he had not ventured into the specific issues of ethics, social organization, the origins of human races, and the relation of human mental properties to those of animals, all of which are dealt with in the Descent.

The more fundamental opposition was due to the denial of distinctions, other than those of degree, between fundamental human properties and those of animals.

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  8. As a consequence, the favorable readings that many influential religious thinkers—John Henry Newman — is a good example—had given to the original Origin , disappeared. Most striking in comparing the Origin to the Descent was the strong emphasis on the workings of the secondary process of sexual selection in the animal kingdom E.

    Richards ; R. Sexual selection—the selection of females by males or vice versa for breeding purposes—had given a general statement of this principle in chapter four of the Origin , but this played a minor role in the original argument, and its importance was denied by contemporaries like A. Darwin now developed this secondary form of selection in extensive detail as a factor in evolution that could even work against ordinary natural selection.

    Sexual selection could now be marshaled to explain both sexual dimorphism and also those character and properties of organisms—elaborate feeding organs, bright colors on fish and birds, and seemingly maladaptive structures such as the great horn on the Rhinoceros beetle—, that might appear to be anomalous outcomes of ordinary natural selection working to the optimal survival of organisms in nature. In a dramatic extension of this principle to human beings, the combination of natural and sexual selection is used to explain the origins of the human beings from simian ancestors.

    It also explains the sexual dimorphism displayed by human beings, and is the main factor accounting for the origin of human races. In this closing subsection the author will focus exclusively on one important aspect of this broader social impact of the Descent , the Darwinian treatment of ethics.

    Adrian Desmond

    This will be examined within its specific Victorian context, rather than in light of more recent discussions of altruism within contemporary sociobiology that may owe some filiation with these Darwinian discussion see entries on morality and evolutionary biology and biological altruism. As can be seen from the letter to Asa Gray of March Burkhardt et al.

    The closest connections might be drawn with certain aspects of contemporary virtue ethics and some aspects of Natural Law theory, although there are many specific differences that prevent assimilation to these traditions as well Sloan Richards , , ,. Traditional moral sense theory linked ethical behavior to an innate property or instinct that was considered universal in human beings, even though it required education and cultivation to reach its highest expression see moral sentimentalism in this encyclopedia.

    It also did not involve the rational calculation of advantage by the individual prior to action. The moral sense, for Darwin, was derived by biological descent from animal instinct, and particularly from the social instincts developed by natural selection. Natural and sexual selection then shaped these ethical instincts in ways that favored group survival rather than immediate individual benefit Descent vol. Human ethical behavior is therefore grounded in a natural property, and ethical action can occur without moral calculus or rational deliberation.

    The innate moral sense is his explanation for self-sacrifice and other altruistic acts that cannot be attributed to individual self-survival vol. Humans can be. Descent vol. When moral conflict occurs, this is generally attributed to a conflict of instincts, with the stronger of two conflicting instincts favored by natural selection insofar as it favors group benefit Descent vol. For some moral philosophers, Darwin had simply reduced ethics to a property subject to the relativizing tendencies of natural selection Farber chp. Receiving its most influential expression in G.

    The historiography adopted in this article rejects a simple linear story of the development of Darwinian theory as a history of increasingly true theories leading to a present consensus. More general philosophical issues associated with evolutionary theory—those surrounding natural teleology, ethics, the relation of evolutionary naturalism to the claims of religious traditions, the implications for the relation of human beings to the rest of the organic world—continue as issues of scholarly inquiry. The author wishes to acknowledge the valuable comments on this article by David Depew, M.

    Hodge, Robert Richards, and Xiaoxing Jin. Katherine Tillman, and the anonymous reviewers for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. I am particularly indebted to my student, Mr. Xiaoxing Jin, for information contained in his substantial doctoral work and subsequent research on the reception of Darwinism into China. Responsibility for all interpretations is my own. Darwinian Evolution 2. The Concept of Natural Selection 2. The Central Argument of the Origin 3. The Reception of the Origin 3.

    Human Evolution and the Descent of Man 4. Reception of the Descent 4. This agency worked as a secondary cause in a larger plan of a superintending creator, allowing that the process of selection could go on adapting, nicely and wonderfully, organisms, if in ever so small a degree plastic, to diverse ends. Darwin a [ 87] [ ] Darwin returned to these issues in , following a twelve-year period in which he published his Geological Observations on the Volcanic Islands b , the second edition of his Journal of Researches , Geological Observations on South America , the four volumes on fossil and living barnacles , 54, 55 , and Geological Observations on Coral Reefs The Central Argument of the Origin The structure of the argument of the Origin has been the topic of considerable literature and can only be summarized here Darwinism , this encyclopedia; Hodge b; Hoquet ; Waters ; Depew ; Ruse ; Lennox In a restatement of this principle in a revised edition of his Philosophy of Inductive Science published only a year before the Origin , Whewell argued that the cases in which inductions from classes of facts altogether different have thus jumped together , belong only to the best established theories which the history of science contains.

    For example: As man can produce and certainly has produced a great result by his methodical and unconscious means of selection, what may not nature effect? Origin 83 The manuscript history behind such passages prevents the simple discounting of these statements as mere rhetorical imagery.

    Glick, and Rafael A. Translation version originally published in , New York: Macmillan. Bowler, Peter J. Burchfield, Joe D. Burkhardt, Frederick et al. Secord ed. Barrett, Peter J.


    Stauffer ed. Also in Darwin 1— Also in Darwin 55— Various Origin editions are available online. The present entry refers to the following: , first edition, There is a facsimile reprint of this edition, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. See Darwin Online discussion of editions. Glick, and David Kohn eds. Depew, David J. Desmond, Adrian J. Moore, , Darwin , London: Michael Joseph. Durant, John R. Elshakry, Marwa, , Reading Darwin in Arabic, — Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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    Charles Robert Darwin was born in in Shrewsbury, England, to a wealthy intellectual family, his grandfather being the famous physician Erasmus Darwin. At Cambridge University he formed a friendship with J. Henslow, a professor of botany, and that… More about Charles Darwin. An intellectually daring feat. Prum, in The Evolution of Beauty. Paperback —. Add to Cart. Also by Charles Darwin. Darwin's years of biological field work had made him an astute and analytic observer. Moreover, he was also a pioneer in the study of infant development, having begun, in , a clinical notebook of his child Willy that anticipated Piaget's seminal work with his children in the next century Keynes, Other observations of Darwin are suggestive of an intellectual disability, but ultimately inconclusive.

    Darwin did not provide evidence to refute Henrietta's much later claim that the baby never learned to walk or talk, but his failure to discuss these milestones may have been purely incidental.