Variation 90 It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us.
With his theory of evolution by natural selection, Charles Darwin took some simple observations and turned them into a story of world history, broadly wrought.
In doing so, he placed his theory in the company of other grand narratives—among them the origin stories of the Hebrew Bible, the dialectics of Marxism, and the grand, delusional myths of totalitarian states.
Even in the early days of On the Origin of Species, evolution came under attack from the biblically-minded. Anti-Marxists and Marxists alike—including Karl himself—have tried to link the English scientist with communism. And, especially in recent years, a number of creationist writers have tried to draw a direct line from Darwin to Dachau.
A story of intraspecies competition and brutal, let-the-winner-take-all history: Writers like Richard Weikart, a professor of history at California State University, Stanislaus, and a fellow at the Discovery Institute, an intelligent design think-tank, have tried to turn that resemblance into a causal connection.
Meanwhile, for those seeking to construct an ethics without a god, or to uphold a materialist worldview—no transcendent powers necessary—Darwin is an obvious ally.
After all, few besides Darwin have reasoned so well, and so broadly, about life solely on the basis of material evidence. Amidst these ideological adoptions and co-optations, it can be easy to forget that Darwinian evolution is a particular idea, developed in a particular time by a particular person.
In Was Hitler a Darwinian? Richards, a historian of science at the University of Chicago, removes Darwin from the culture wars and sets him firmly back in the nineteenth century. His essays will be disappointing to those who wish to use Darwin as an ideological symbol.
For everyone else, though, Richards has provided an illuminating look at what makes Darwinian theory so slippery, and so magnetic, even to those of us outside the sciences.
Two essential concerns seem to undergird all these essays: And what ideological commitments do, or do not, emerge from that original Darwinism?
The young Darwin brings along some volumes from one of his favorite authors, Alexander von Humboldt, a German Romantic, a friend of Goethe, and a famous traveler who inspired Darwin to head to the New World.
During the two decades after his return to Britain, Darwin gradually develops a rigorous way of conceptualizing that creative force. In keeping with the Romantic flavor of his youth, he often describes natural selection as a thinking being made manifest in nature.
Darwin does not exclude the divine from this schema. But as any paleontologist could tell you—as Darwin himself knew well—to understand the essence of a thing, you sometimes must look into the past.
After all, they were right there at its origin. This view of Darwin-the-benevolent-Romantic might also make one wonder how Darwinian a Nazi, or a social Darwinist, could actually be. But that point may be moot, because, as Richards convincingly argues, Hitler was not a raving materialist who enjoyed reading Darwin.
The connection is mostly bunk. Richards lays out his case methodically: Hitler only referred explicitly to Darwinian evolution twice. In one of those instances the reference was mostly incidental. Yes, Darwin had some notion of a race hierarchy, and some notion of competition between species and change of species over time.
Nor is it clear why eugenics—which Darwin did not develop, and which essentially constitutes the practice of animal breeding applied to human beings—should automatically be taken as Darwinian. As Richards documents, Chamberlain was an avowed anti-Darwinian.
In particular, he points out that Nazism depended on a narrative of restoration. Something ancient had been suppressed in the race, and it needed to be brought back to glory. The Nazis were more interested in finding the lost Aryan sanctuaries on the Tibetan Plateau and in fact sent an expedition to do so than in tracing their descent from apes.
And if there is any distinctive core to Darwinian evolution that goes beyond the biological details—that could, perhaps, be absorbed into ideologies and picked up by ethicists—it is not simply that struggle is central to existence. That idea is neither uniquely Darwinian nor, in light of the prevalence of altruism in the natural world, of which Darwin was well aware, especially comprehensive.
Nor is the core of Darwinian theory the idea that randomness is paramount. Nor is it a strictly materialist message—although it may certainly lend support to a materialist view of the world. Nor is it a political idea—though it may be co-opted by political movements.“But Natural Selection, as we shall hereafter see, is a power incessantly ready for action, and is immeasurably superior to man's feeble efforts, as the works of Nature are to those of Art.” ― Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species.
Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" Charles Darwin in his book, On the Origin of Species, presents us with a theory of natural selection. This theory is his attempt at an explanation on how the world and its species came to be the way that we know them now.
The theory of evolution by natural selection, first formulated in Darwin's book "On the Origin of Species" in , is the process by which organisms change over time as a result of changes in. The coalescence of the publication of Charles Darwin’s radical new book On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection () and the American Civil War () brought about a dramatic end to transcendentalism and the American Romanticism .
Darwin and Natural Selection. Most educated people in Europe and the Americas during the 19th century had their first full exposure to the concept of evolution through the writings of Charles rutadeltambor.comy, he did not invent the idea.
That happened long before he was born. However, he carried out the necessary research to conclusively document that evolution has occurred and then made the.
Darwin's old Cambridge tutors Sedgwick and Henslow dismissed the ideas, but liberal clergymen interpreted natural selection as an instrument of God's design, with the cleric Charles Kingsley seeing it as "just as noble a conception of Deity".