Draper on Darwin
A brief guide to Darwin’s theory of natural
Origin of species and instant best seller. Hardly ever out of print since its
publication in 1859; many editions.
One of the most influential books ever (for better or worse ), but often
misunderstood, misinterpreted and misappropriated.
Previous ideas of evolution discussed by Lamarck, Buffon, even Darwin’s
grandfather, Erasmus. Lamarkian evolution suggested that environment and
lifestyle directly shapes evolution.
FitzRoy’s stubborn biblical literarism provoked the more liberal Darwin?
Lyell’s “Principles of Geology” pointed to constantly changing environments
over geologic time. Very influential in Darwin’s thought.
Thomas Malthus’ “An essay on the principle of population”
Darwin began first notebook on “transmutation of species” in 1837. Wrote a
sketch in 1842; fuller development in 1844 which he asked is wife to publish
in case he should meet a sudden demise. 1856: compiled notes for a book
called “Natural Selection”.
Darwin was not a lone discoverer of evolution. Alfred Wallace co-discovered
natural selection in a malarial fever in Malaysia. Wrote to Darwin in July
1858. Forced a cautious Darwin to publish. Darwin a gentleman included
Wallace as a coauthor in article of the Linnean Society.
Finally, 1859, “Origin of Species”. First printing (small < 2000 sold out).
Natural history at that time more like pop-psychology of today. If there had
of been a “Oprah” at that time, Darwin would have been a guest.
So why did it take Darwin so long to go public?
Draper on Darwin
Religious beliefs? Darwin a Christian until the age of 53 or so.
Fear of controversy and persecutions? A reality in Victorian England.
Scientific caution? Probably the most important. Idea of inductionism
(Baconian philosophy), prominent in Darwin’s time.
Darwin’s evolution as revolution
Biologically – explanation for variety of species and for change of
species observed in fossils.
Implications for origin of humans – to this day the mos