It is nature, embodied in the forces that act on the process of natural selection, that determines which species survive and which become extinct. Darwin characterizes nature in several ways, some of which are contradictory.
On the Origin of Species England became quieter and more prosperous in the s, and by mid-decade the professionals were taking over, instituting exams and establishing a meritocracy. The changing social composition of science—typified by the rise of the freethinking biologist Thomas Henry Huxley —promised a better reception for Darwin.
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In he solved his last major problem, the forking of genera to produce new evolutionary branches. He used an industrial analogy familiar from the Wedgwood factories, the division of labour: Species would diverge on the spot, like tradesmen in the same tenement.
Through Darwin experimented with seeds in seawater, to prove that they could survive ocean crossings to start the process of speciation on islands. Then he kept fancy pigeonsto see if the chicks were more like the ancestral rock dove than their own bizarre parents.
He was preparing his rhetorical strategy, ready to present his theory. After speaking to Huxley and Hooker at Downe in AprilDarwin began writing a triple-volume book, tentatively called Natural Selection, which was designed to crush the opposition with a welter of facts.
Darwin now had immense scientific and social authority, and his place in the parish was assured when he was sworn in as a justice of the peace in Encouraged by Lyell, Darwin continued writing through the birth of his 10th and last child, Charles Waring Darwin born inwhen Emma was 48who was developmentally disabled.
Whereas in the s Darwin had thought that species remained perfectly adapted until the environment changed, he now believed that every new variation was imperfect, and that perpetual struggle was the rule. He also explained the evolution of sterile worker bees in Darwin had finished a quarter of a million words by June 18, That day he received a letter from Alfred Russel Wallacean English socialist and specimen collector working in the Malay Archipelagosketching a similar-looking theory.
Darwin was away, sick, grieving for his tiny son who had died from scarlet feverand thus he missed the first public presentation of the theory of natural selection.
It was an absenteeism that would mark his later years. Suffering from a terrible bout of nauseaDarwin, now 50, was secreted away at a spa on the desolate Yorkshire moors when the book was sold to the trade on November 22, The book did distress his Cambridge patrons, but they were marginal to science now.
The newspapers drew the one conclusion that Darwin had specifically avoided: A sensitive Darwin, making no personal appearances, let Huxleyby now a good friend, manage that part of the debate.
The pugnacious Huxley, who loved public argument as much as Darwin loathed it, had his own reasons for taking up the cause, and did so with enthusiasm.
That year, too, Darwin met his German admirer, the zoologist Ernst Haeckelwhose proselytizing would spread Darwinismus through the Prussian world. The patriarch in his home laboratory Long periods of debilitating sickness in the s left the craggy, bearded Darwin thin and ravaged.
He once vomited for 27 consecutive days. Down House was an infirmary where illness was the norm and Emma the attendant nurse. She was a shield, protecting the patriarchcosseting him. Darwin was a typical Victorian in his racial and sexual stereotyping—however dependent on his redoubtable wife, he still thought women inferior; and although a fervent abolitionist, he still considered blacks a lower race.
But few outside of the egalitarian socialists challenged those prejudices —and Darwin, immersed in a competitive Whig cultureand enshrining its values in his sciencehad no time for socialism. In Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication he marshaled the facts and explored the causes of variation in domestic breeds.
By showing that fanciers picked from the gamut of naturally occurring variations to produce the tufts and topknots on their fancy pigeonsDarwin undermined this providential explanation. Darwin was adept at flanking movements in order to get around his critics.
The petals guided the bees to the nectaries, and pollen sacs were deposited exactly where they could be removed by a stigma of another flower.
But why the importance of cross-pollination? He believed that cross-pollinated plants would produce fitter offspring than self-pollinators, and he used considerable ingenuity in conducting thousands of crossings to prove the point.
His next book, The Different Forms of Flowers on Plants of the Same Specieswas again the result of long-standing work into the way evolution in some species favoured different male and female forms of flowers to facilitate outbreeding. Darwin had long been sensitive to the effects of inbreeding because he was himself married to a Wedgwood cousin, as was his sister Caroline.
He agonized over its debilitating consequence for his five sons. Not that he need have worried, for they fared well:quotes from The Origin of Species: ‘Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving.
Charles Darwin - On the Origin of Species: England became quieter and more prosperous in the s, and by mid-decade the professionals were taking over, instituting exams and establishing a meritocracy.
The changing social composition of science—typified by the rise of the freethinking biologist Thomas Henry Huxley—promised a better reception .
Themes Nature as the Agent of Descent. Nature is the agent in Darwin’s theory of descent with modification. It is nature, embodied in the forces that act on the process of natural selection, that determines which species survive and which become extinct.
Darwin characterizes nature in several ways, some of which are contradictory. changed the nature and terms of intellectual debate. The series the story of The Origin of Species is the story of Charles Darwin’s research and writing. Darwin could not this book will enjoy reading about Darwin and The Origin of Species as much as I did.
Notes 1. Antonella La Vergata, ‘‘Images of Darwin: A Historiographic Over-.
The Origin of Species study guide contains a biography of Charles Darwin, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
About The Origin of Species. On the Origin of Species (or more completely, Nature was widely believed to be unstable and capricious, closely related species.
Charles Lyell recognised the implications of Wallace's paper and its possible connection to Darwin's work, although Darwin did not, and in a letter written on 1–2 May Lyell urged Darwin to publish .