Darwin, Charles

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Editors: John Merriman and Jay Winter
Date: 2006
Europe 1789-1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of Industry and Empire
Publisher: Charles Scribner's Sons
Document Type: Biography
Pages: 8
Content Level: (Level 5)
Lexile Measure: 1350L

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About this Person
Born: February 12, 1809 in Shrewsbury, United Kingdom
Died: April 19, 1882 in Downe, United Kingdom
Nationality: British
Occupation: Naturalist
Other Names: Darwin, Charles Robert
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DARWIN, CHARLES (1809–1882), English naturalist.

Born in Shrewsbury, England, on 12 February 1809, Charles Darwin was the grandson of a physician, Erasmus Darwin (1731–1802). His father, Robert Waring Darwin, was also a physician; his mother, Susannah Wedgwood Darwin, was a member of the noted English pottery family. From 1818 to 1825, Darwin attended boarding school but was not a top-notch student. In 1825 Darwin was sent to Edinburgh University, which featured the best medical school in Britain. When Darwin recoiled from the idea of surgery and rejected becoming a physician, his father arranged for extra tutoring to prepare him for study at Cambridge University. Darwin enrolled at Christ's College at Cambridge in 1828. Darwin's father hoped that he would study theology at Cambridge and prepare for a comfortable life as a country parson. Instead, Darwin spent much of his time gambling and riding horses, and his father complained that he was interested only in "shooting, dogs, and rat catching." Yet Darwin eventually proved to be a successful student at Cambridge, ranking tenth out of 178 students on the final bachelor's examination and impressing his teachers, including the botantist Robert Henslow.


When the Cambridge University faculty was asked to recommend a student to serve as ship's naturalist aboard a British surveying ship, Henslow recommended Darwin. The ship, the H.M.S. Beagle, was scheduled to make a five-year voyage through the South Pacific and along the coast of South America. Paying the deference to his father that was expected from sons in upper-class Victorian families, the twenty-two-year-old Darwin asked his father's permission to apply for the job. Although his father thought the work "useless" and initially rejected the idea, permission was granted after an uncle intervened.

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In his On the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man, Darwin made an effort to take the most optimistic view possible of natural selection, which most of his contemporaries feared was a "blind" process whose future outcome was uncertain and unpredictable.

Judging from the past, we may safely infer that not one living species will transmit its unaltered likeness to a distant futurity … it will be the common and widely-spread species, belonging to the larger and dominant groups, which will ultimately prevail and procreate new and dominant species…. Hence we may look with some confidence to a secure future of equally inappreciable length. And as natural selection works solely by and for the good of each being, all corporeal and mental endowments will tend to progress toward perfection. (Origin of Species, 1st ed., p. 489)

In regard to bodily size or strength, we do not know whether man is descended from some small species, like the chimpanzee, or from one as powerful as the gorilla; and therefore, we cannot say whether man has become larger or stronger, or smaller and weaker, than his ancestors … an animal possessing great size, strength, and ferocity … like the gorilla, could defend itself from all enemies, [and] would not have perhaps become social; and this would most effectually have checked the acquirement of the higher mental qualities such as sympathy and the love of his fellows. Hence it might have been an immense advantage to man to have sprung from some comparatively weak creature. (The Descent of Man, p. 65)

The voyage, which lasted from 1831 through 1836, proved to be the most formative event in Darwin's professional career. Darwin was haunted by his discoveries during the voyage. He returned to Britain with a large collection of fossils and animal and plant specimens, many of which he distributed to universities and scientific institutions. The fossils that he collected appeared to show that a large number of species had become extinct, but they did not answer the central question of why that had happened. The voyage of the Beagle also impressed on Darwin how geography had influenced species. He was struck by the similarities, as well as the differences, between species from nearby islands, particularly in the chain of Galépagos Islands. Reasoning that plants and animals had developed somewhat differently at different geographical locales, Darwin, by the end of the voyage, was willing to conclude that species were not "immutable." When his diary aboard the Beagle was published as Journals andPage 614  |  Top of Article Remarks, 1832–1836 (1839), it did not raise the issue of "transmutation," the term used at the time to describe species change. Yet his "Red Notebook," done during the last months of his Beagle voyage, and his "B" notebook, began after his return, did discuss transmutation. Darwin had begun the voyage believing in the "permanence of the species," but he ended it with "vague doubts."


Yet it was twenty-three years from the time that the Beagle returned to Britain until the appearance of Darwin's famous book that proposed his version of evolution, On the Origin of Species (1859). Why did it take him so long? Why did he not rush to publication? The answer appears to be that he was acutely aware that his theories on evolution would jar the Victorian world and risked making him a social outcast and a religious pariah. Since the late twentieth century increasing attention has been given (by Adrian Desmond and James Moore, among others) to the mysterious illness that afflicted Darwin for many years after the voyage of the Beagle, leaving him with frequent bouts of fatigue and a "nervous stomach." One explanation is that he was aware that his work might not only alienate him from some of his friends but also reopen what one contemporary termed "the warfare between science and religion."

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Darwin's defenders frequently framed the issue of evolution as the search for scientific truth. In 1860, the year after the publication of the Origin, Darwin's friend Thomas Henry Huxley publicly debated the merits of the book with a bishop of the Church of England, Samuel Wilberforce. The occasion was a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science at Oxford University. It pitted one of the most talented speakers among the English bishops—whose nickname was "soapy Sam"—against Darwin's most spirited defender—whose nickname would become "Darwin's bull-dog." The bishop, speaking first, diverged from his scheduled topic to ask whether Darwin claimed ancestry through an ape grandfather or an ape grandmother. Huxley felt compelled to respond. After all, Darwin had written that the details of human origins were uncertain, but he had added that apes and human beings probably shared a common ancestor. While there are a number of accounts of what Huxley said, they are generally similar.

An Oxford undergraduate who was present wrote a friend that Huxley had replied:

I asserted—and I repeat—that a man has no reason to be ashamed of having an ape for his grandfather. If there were an ancestor whom I should feel shame in recalling it would rather be a man—a man of restless and versatile intellect—who, not content with an equivocal success in his own sphere of activity, plunges into scientific questions with which he has no real acquaintance, only to obscure them by an aimless rhetoric, and distract the attention of his hearers from the real point at issue by eloquent digressions and skilled appeals to religious prejudice.

An instructor at Oxford wrote this account to Huxley's son:

The Bishop had rallied your father as to the descent from a monkey, asking as a sort of joke how recent this had been, whether it was his grandfather, or further back. Your father … then went to this effect—'But if this question is treated, not as a matter of calm investigation of science, but as a matter of sentiment, and if I am asked whether I would choose to be descended from the poor animal of low intelligence and stooping gait, who grins and chatters as we pass, or for man, endowed with great ability and splendid position, who should use these gifts (here, as the point became clear, there was a great outburst of applause, which mostly drowned out the end of the sentence) to discredit and crush humble seekers after truth, I hesitate what answer to make.'

A third person who was present added:

No one doubted his meaning, and the effect was tremendous. One lady fainted, and had to be carried out; I, for one, jumped out of my seat. (Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley, edited by Leonard Huxley [New York, 1901], p. 199)

While Darwin worried about the impact of his theories of evolution, he was also wrestling withPage 615  |  Top of Article serious scientific problems for his ideas. Darwin and his colleagues did not take seriously the Biblical account of the earth's creation in six days, and they also dismissed the ideas of the Irish bishop James Ussher (1581–1656), who had totaled the number of generations represented in the Bible and had announced, on the basis of such calculations, that the creation of the universe began on 23 October 4004 B.C.E. Much more respect was given to the work of the noted British mathematician and physicist Lord Kelvin. Assuming that the earth began as a fiery ball, Kelvin had used the laws of thermodynamics to determine that the age of the earth did not exceed some 200 million years. That was not sufficient time for a true evolution.

The necessary long time frame for the history of the earth was furnished by geology. Until the early nineteenth century, most geologists were "catastrophists," who believed that the earth's surface had been shaped by periodic cataclysms such as floods. "Catastrophism" fit with the Biblical story of a great flood. It also allowed writers to explain fossils without resorting to evolution. The doctrine of "Special Creation" held that God re-created life on Earth following periodic catastrophes; fossils were seen as evidence of what life was like before the previous Creation.

By the 1820s, however, a new school of geology, uniformitarianism, emerged. Uniformitarians held that the laws of nature operated "uniformly" in time throughout the earth—great mountains, for example, were produced by forces operating gradually, in processes such as erosion. The new theory argued that the same slow forces seen shaping the earth today had also operated in the past. During the voyage of the Beagle, the ship's captain (and Darwin's closest friend during the voyage), Robert FitzRoy, gave him a copy of the first volume of a major uniformitarian book—Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology (1830–1833). Because Lyell and other uniformitarians assumed a much longer time span for the history of the earth than previously believed, Darwin later commented that his own evolutionary book On the Origin of Species "half came out of Lyell's brain."

What was lacking, until Darwin, was a plausible explanation of the mechanism of evolution—the "how" of the process that drove and shaped species change. There had been previous attempts, none of which was considered successful, to explain "transmutation." The most significant evolutionary theory before Darwin came from the French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, who speculated that animals might deliberately acquire characteristics or organs that they needed in order to survive in their environment. These new characteristics—a fish forced to live on land coming to acquire lungs, for example—might then be passed down to following generations. How this might occur remained a puzzle, since the science of genetics would not emerge until the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Larmarck's theory, called the theory of the "inheritance of acquired characteristics," received less attention among scientists on the European continent after fellow French naturalist Georges Cuvier ridiculed the idea at a scientific conference in 1830. For much of the first half of the nineteenth century, evolution became the province of philosophy, as the German philosophers Lorenz Oken and Friedrich von Schelling promoted the idea that an inner force or "vital spirit" drove all living matter to self-improvement. Their evolutionary philosophy, named Naturphilosophie (nature philosophy), gained little acceptance among scientists outside of Germany.


In September 1838, Darwin read the Essay on the Principle of Population (1798) by the English economist Thomas Malthus. Malthus held that human population was growing faster than the supply of available food, with the result that there would always be competition among human beings for the "means of subsistence." Darwin had come to believe that new traits or "variations" constantly appeared among plants and animals. Some traits or "variations" condemned an animal to a short life; others might be more "favorable," allowing the animal to live a longer life. Darwin concluded that what Malthus called the "struggle for existence" might be used to explain how, in evolution, "favorable variations" would tend to be preserved and "unfavorables ones" destroyed.

Darwin also would eventually accept a phrase from the philosopher Herbert Spencer, a nonscientist who was the most popular writer on evolution

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The Beagle sailing around Cape Horn. Undated engraving.  BETTMANNCORBIS The Beagle sailing around Cape Horn. Undated engraving. © BETTMANN/CORBIS

in mid-nineteenth-century Britain. Darwin and his friends held little respect for Spencer's system of evolution—which Spencer said proceeded from the simple to the complex, or from the "homogeneous" to the "heterogeneous"—since it was based on philosophic speculation rather than science. When Spencer treated Darwin rather arrogantly at their first meeting, Darwin's friend Thomas Henry Huxley retaliated by quipping that Spencer's idea of tragedy was "a deduction killed by fact." Yet Darwin eventually came to accept a phrase used by Spencer after Darwin's own theories were published—"survival of the fittest"—to describe evolution.


Darwin did not prepare to publish his theories until he received a letter in 1858 from a biologist with similar ideas, but he had long been at work producing a number of unpublished writings on the subject. By the 1840s, he was writing that "I am almost convinced … that species are not … immutable," adding that "it is almost like confessing a murder." In 1842 he produced a thirty-five-page description of what he termed "natural selection" to explain evolution, and in February of 1844, he gave his wife a 231-page manuscript on evolution, with instructions that it be published after his death. Darwin began writing his groundbreaking book, On the Origin of Species, in May 1856. At first he intended to write for scientists alone. By now he had abandoned the idea that evolution occurred only when conditions, or the environment that an animal lived in, changed. Now he favored the idea that nature was a place of constant struggle, with new "variations" continually appearing.

Alfred Wallace, a less accomplished biologist, forced Darwin to make his ideas public. Wallace wrote to Darwin in June 1858, proposing, from his own travels and from also reading Malthus, that changes in species were driven by competition and overpopulation. Typically generous, Darwin refused to try to deny recognition to Wallace (even considering, for a time, allowing Wallace to garner much of the initial credit). In July 1858, at a time when Darwin was too ill to appear, two colleagues in the scientific community, Huxley and Joseph Hooker, presented Darwin's 1844 essay, along with a paper by Wallace, to the Linnean Society; both were later published together.

When Darwin's book On the Origin of Species appeared in 1859, it demonstrated the influence of Malthus and the impact of the voyage of the H.M.S.Page 617  |  Top of Article Beagle. The book's distinctive idea of "natural selection" was based on the belief that as plants and animals overproduced, the resulting struggle for resources tested which plants and animals best "fit" in their environment. In "natural selection," nature selected from variations that regularly appeared. The survivors lived longer, founded new species, and produced the most offspring. The Origin proved to be Darwin's most celebrated book, one that was translated into at least thirty-six languages in his lifetime and is still read widely.

Since the late twentieth century writers such as Dov Ospovat have traced Darwin's efforts to achieve a more optimistic view of the "struggle for existence" than Malthus had presented. Darwin first proposed that animals, in responding to changes in their environment, would create a new "stable" relationship with the environment and that the "struggle for existence" would cease. He later changed his mind, however, deciding that struggle was a constant part of nature. Another assessment of Darwin, by the writer Robert Young, concludes that Darwin attempted to prove that evolution represented "progress" by reasoning that natural selection led to greater "complexity" in nature, which Darwin considered desirable.

The last chapter of the Origin drew much attention, since it included the statement that "light" would soon be thrown on "human origins." Darwin fulfilled that promise in 1871, when he published The Descent of Man. The Descent made human beings part of the process of natural selection, arguing that early humans were hairy beings with large ears and that human beings, monkeys, and apes probably shared a common ancestor. In the Descent Darwin wrote that human mental and moral abilities differed from those of animals only by degrees. The implication was that the moral standards of human society were patterns of behavior that human beings had utilized, in evolution, in order to survive.

Darwin's book The Expression of Emotion in Animals (1872) extended the argument, attempting to establish connections between the emotional and intellectual life of human beings and animals. During the last twenty years of his life Darwin also worked to explain how natural selection operated in the plant world. Scholars have recently paid much more attention to his writings on this subject, since

Illustration of palm trees from The Voyage of the Beagle, 1845. SNARKART RESOURCE, NY Illustration of palm trees from The Voyage of the Beagle, 1845. SNARK/ART RESOURCE, NY

Darwin appeared to believe that his readers were more likely to accept the concept of natural selection if it was applied to plants rather than to animals.

Wealthy from investments and from inheritances, Darwin and his wife, his first cousin Emma Wedgwood (whom he married in 1839), were able to live a comfortable life. Eventually they had ten children. Because of Darwin's frequent fits of nervousness, his wife often protected him from uninvited visitors to his home in Down, England, sometimes claiming that she could not locate her husband. Some honors were bestowed on Darwin, although far fewer than might be expected from a man considered one of the scientific greats of the nineteenth century. When he died on 19 April 1882, however, his friends, including Huxley, were able to arrange for burial in Westminster Abbey, close to a monument to another scientific giant, Isaac Newton.


Outside of the scientific community, much of the early reaction to the Origin and the DescentPage 618  |  Top of Article focused on the issue of human origins. The British humor magazine Punch published a famous cartoon showing monkeys discussing their human relatives. The playwright George Bernard Shaw declared that no decent-minded person could believe Darwin's theories. Behind public debates over Darwinism lay deeper fears among the Victorians, who were repulsed by the idea of nature as a battleground between individuals that was filled with misery and suffering. Late-twentieth and early-twenty-first-century writers on Darwin such as Michael Ruse have pointed out that "Darwinism" raised major philosophic questions. Many of Darwin's contemporaries worried that there were no standards of conduct or accountablity for individual actions in an evolutionary world.

The American writer Henry Adams was not quite accurate when he said that "evolution pleases every-one—except curates and bishops"—but his words underlined the degree to which "Darwinism" became a cause in itself, since it raised the possibility that Nature operated on its own, without divine guidance. Ernst Mayr, a twentieth-century biologist, has argued that until about 1940, "Darwinism" meant the idea that the world might be explained only through natural processes (and that only after that time did Darwinism signify "natural selection"). The poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote that if Darwin's version of Nature was God's creation, God had to be "disease, murder, and rapine." Even Darwin's wife worried that her husband's work "puts God further off." Nevertheless, when Tennyson said to Darwin, "Your theory of evolution does not make against Christianity," Darwin replied, "No, certainly not." Some liberal Protestant clergy in Darwin's time, such as Charles Kingsley, would come to accept evolution in general (although not necessarily natural selection), with Kingsley approving the concept that "God created primeval forms capable of self government." Darwin himself seemed to encourage such views, conceding that the idea that "this grand and wondrous universe could not have arisen through chance" was the "chief argument for the existence of God."

Even within the scientific community, religious and philosophic issues played a role in determining whether Darwin's ideas were accepted or rejected. A major opponent was the director of the Kensington Natural History Museum, Richard Owen, who insisted that Nature Philosophy was correct in describing evolution as the operation of a "vital force" in organisms. In the United States, the Harvard geologist Louis Agassiz insisted that species, once created by God, are fixed and unchangeable, although another prominent American biologist in the late nineteenth century, Asa Gray, defended the Origin. In general, scientists in Darwin's time were more likely to accept the idea of evolution than the concept of natural selection. Huxley himself accepted evolution but said that natural selection remained unproved.

Darwin's theories of evolution were generally accepted within the scientific community in the early decades of the twentieth century, but with major modifications. The "Neo-Darwinians" of the first half of the century combined natural selection with newer genetic theories. The work of the Dutch geneticist Hugo De Vries provided an explanation for the cause of Darwin's important "variations"—continual genetic mutations in organisms. Not every aspect of Darwin's ideas has been accepted, however. The biologist Stephen Jay Gould has been one of the advocates of the theory of "punctuated equilibrium," which holds that species, rather than undergoing the very gradual changes described by Darwin, actually undergo rapid genetic alterations or "genetic jumps," followed by long periods of little or no change.


The Social Darwinians, largely nonscientists, were social and political commentators who cited Darwin to buttress their own preconceived ideas. Darwin had provided little guidance regarding the meaning of his system of evolution for political or social issues. One exception was the theory of laissez-faire, the name of the nineteenth-century economic belief that governments should not interfere in the operations of the business world. Darwin favored the concept of laissez-faire, opposing a proposal by British trade unions that factory workers should be paid by the hour rather than by the piece. He wrote that it meant "excluding competition," which, in turn, would be a "great evil for the future progress of mankind." Such comments led Karl Marx to describe the Origin as an example of "British greed morality."

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Charles Darwin, c. 1880. THE GRANGER COLLECTION Charles Darwin, c. 1880. THE GRANGER COLLECTION

The majority of Social Darwinians claimed to see in natural selection a justification for laissez-faire, nationalistic beliefs, or theories of racial superiority. To the American writer William Graham Sumner, life was a constant struggle, and humanitarian efforts to eliminate poverty were "ill conceived." On the continent of Europe, the German historian Heinrich von Treitschke saw war as a Darwinian testing ground that led to the "utter annihilation of puny man," separating the "wheat" from the "chaff." As European nations came to dominate large areas of Asia and Africa in the late nineteenth century, some Social Darwinians sought to justify these colonial adventures by asserting white racial superiority.

A smaller group of Social Darwinians thought that the struggle for existence, instead of being a struggle between individuals, was a struggle of whole groups of animals against their environment. The most prominent member of this school of thought was the Russian writer Peter Kropotkin. Using his own observations of the behavior of animals in the harsh winters of Siberia, Kropotkin insisted that the "struggle for survival" was a joint struggle of animals against their own environment; the "fittest" animals were those who supported each other through what he termed "mutual aid."

Social Darwinism took a fateful turn in the twentieth century with the emergence of the eugenics and "racial hygiene" movements. Darwin's cousin Francis Galton had coined the term eugenics to describe "selective efforts at human improvement." Although Darwin did not endorse his cousin's ideas, Darwin's theories were cited during the early twentieth century by members of eugenics societies in Europe and the United States. Some of these societies promoted the forced sterilization of the "feeble-minded," the insane, the criminal, and the deaf.

During the 1930s and early 1940s the German dictator Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist movement used a crude Social Darwinism to justify their racial policies and glorify war. The ultimate result of Nazi "racial hygiene" was the death of eleven million people in concentration camps. No "racial hygienist" was an internationally respected scientist, however, and Darwin had consistently rejected prowar analogies drawn from his theories. Darwin argued, in fact, that the earliest human beings emerged in Africa rather than in Europe or North America. Modern anthropologists tend to agree.


Primary Sources

Burkhardt, Frederick, and Sydney Smith. The Correspondence of Charles Darwin Cambridge, U.K., 1985–. This, the most complete publication of Darwin's letters, will fill an anticipated thirty-two volumes and supersedes The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin (3 vols., 1887) and More Letters of Charles Darwin (2 vols., 1903), edited by Darwin's son Francis.

Darwin, Charles. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. London, 1859. Numerous reprintings.

——. The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex. 2 vols. London, 1871. Numerous reprintings.

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——. Autobiography. Edited by Nora Barlow. London and New York, 1958. Reprint, 1993. This edition of Darwin's autobiography restored passages, omitted from an earlier edition by Darwin's wife, in which Darwin wrote that the existence of God might be neither proved nor disproved, a position known as agnosticism.

——. Diary of the Voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle. Edited by Richard Darwin Keynes. Cambridge, U.K., and New York, 1988. Reprint, 2001.

Secondary Sources

Aydon, Cyril. Charles Darwin: The Naturalist Who Started a Scientific Revolution. London and New York, 2002. Darwin's life and theories explained for the general reader.

Bowler, Peter J. Evolution: The History of an Idea. Berkeley, Calif., 1989. 3rd ed., 2003. Authoritative in its description of the development of various evolutionary theories.

Browne, Janet. Charles Darwin: Voyaging and Charles Darwin: The Power of Place. Princeton, N.J., 1996, and New York, 2002. This two-volume biography uses new material from family archives.

Desmond, Adrian, James Moore, and James R. Moore. Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist. London and New York, 1992. Reprint, 1994. Part of this book deals with Darwin's fears that the Origin would engender so much controversy that its scientific merit would be ignored.

Eiseley, Loren. Darwin's Century: Evolution and Men who Discovered It. New York, 1958. Reprint, 1961. This book, by an anthropologist, treats Darwinism as the central event in the history of evolutionary theories, and makes other figures, such as Buffon and the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, into "precursors" of Darwin.

Glick, Thomas F., ed. The Comparative Reception of Darwinism. Chicago, 1988. Reprint, 2003. Glick's book covers not only Europe and the United States but also areas such as Mexico and the Islamic world.

Gould, Stephen Jay. The Structure of Evolutionary Theory. Cambridge, Mass., 2002. Evolution presented by a biologist who was a major twentieth-century dissenter from some of Darwin's theories.

Greene, John C. The Death of Adam: Evolution and Its Impact on Western Thought. Ames, Iowa, 1959. Reprint, 1961, 1996. Focuses on Darwinism as a materialist threat to the older view of nature as a tool of God.

Himmelfarb, Gertrude. Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution. London and Garden City, New York, 1959. Reprint, 1996. Distinctive among Darwin biographies for its critical tone toward both Darwin's personality and scientific work.

Hull, David. Darwin and His Critics: The Reception of Darwin's Theory of Evolution by the Scientific Community. Cambridge, Mass., 1973. Reprint, 1993. Contrasts with the Glick book by focusing more on the debates over the scientific merits of Darwin's theories.

Kohn, David, ed. The Darwinian Heritage: Including Proceedings of the Charles Darwin Centenary Conference. Princeton, N.J., 1985. Reprint, 1988. Thirty-two leading scholars assess the social and cultural impact of Darwin.

Mayr, Ernst. One Long Argument: Charles Darwin and the Genesis of Modern Evolutionary Thought. Cambridge, Mass., 1991. Reprint, 1993. A modern view of Darwin by a major twentieth-century biologist.

Ospovat, Dov. The Development of Darwin's Theory: Natural History, Natural Theology, and Natural Selection, 1838–1859. Cambridge, U.K., and New York, 1981. An influential book that concentrates on the period when Darwin was formulating his theory of natural selection.

Rogers, James Allen. "Darwinism and Social Darwinism." Journal of the History of Ideas 33 (1972): 265–280. A groundbreaking article which argues that the Social Darwinians, by using "unnecessary concepts," which Darwin borrowed from Malthus and Spencer, distorted the essence of Darwin's theories

Ruse, Michael. The Darwinian Revolution: Science Red in Tooth and Claw. Chicago, 1979. Reprint, 1981, 1999. Ruse's book concludes that while many scientists came to accept "evolution," many did not accept "natural selection."

Russett, Cynthia Eagle. Darwin in America: The Intellectual Response, 1865–1912. San Francisco, 1976. An important book that focuses on the reaction to Darwin's theories by major American thinkers of his time.

Young, Robert M. Darwin's Metaphor: Nature's Place in Victorian Culture. Cambridge, U.K., and New York, 1985. Examines the implications of, and the debate over, the significance of Darwin's work for the place of human beings in nature at large.


Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|CX3446900228