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The Descent of Man This book reveals just how much Darwin s racist and sexist views influenced his scientismic method. Actually I ll give this 6 or 7 stars but unfortunately I m only allowed 5 So in 1871, Charles Darwin, first published his Descent of man and selection in relation to sex This work was published after his 1859 Origin of species which was met with much contradiction, since it opposed the biblical Genesis experience The Descent of Man , well this volume I, focuses on the issues and observations of evidence of such descent, the development of man from a lower species, a comparison of the mental powers of man and lower animals, intellect and moral developments, genealogy, and man s diverse races.My thoughts on such I appreciate Darwin s empirical studies, he doesn t just assume conclusions but gives excellent insight into the capacities of other animals and relevant similarities to man Darwin also draws on information based on related studies and discussions by and with others within this biological arena His writing truly stimulates ones mental construct Darwin wrote this book in 1872 It s interesting to compare what he wrote about then with what his successor theorists write about today.In contrast to today s emphasis on universals e.g., humans are this or not this or that , Darwin notes throughout this book that individuals have a wide variability in physical, emotional, and mental characteristics Importantly, this suggests variability in biological temperament e.g., timidity and courage and, broadly, in inherited character traits Many theorists have assumed that we are motivated by pleasure, which we seek, and pain, which we avoid Darwin does not agree Some instincts in other animals, and tendencies and dispositions within ourselves, are so strong that they are followed from the mere force of inheritance, without the stimulus of either pleasure or pain Hence, Darwin continues, the common assumption that men must be impelled to every action by experiencing some pleasure or pain may be erroneous Here, Darwin implies, strongly, that an internal ought drives us, not pleasure or pain A pointer dog, Darwin summarizes, must point Or, as Schopenhauer argued, internal need, is pain, and must be satisfied pleasure While some today look for the evolutionary function of various traits and tendencies, Darwin wrote that many of our human characteristics have no survival value They may be neutral or may have developed through non survival related sexual selection, and could be retained within the species as long as they were not injurious The second half of this book is entirely about sexual selection, where males and females develop various traits to attract mates and to out compete rivals this topic does not get much attention within contemporary theory Sexual selection is separate from natural selection, which applies to the general struggle for life The secondary sexual characteristics traits not directly connected to the sexual organs are highly variable since they are not acted on by natural selection , both within a race and between races These include hair or lack thereof love of ornament e.g., body paint clothes initially were for ornament, not warmth temperamental traits e.g., courage skin color Negroes admire their own color and love of musical tones cadence and rhythm poetry is an offspring of sound Regarding ornament, fashion has an interesting role as it lies at the cusp of conformity to group standards, yet wears out over time, which results in variations, but not radically so The men of each race prefer what they are accustomed to they cannot endure any great change but they like variety, and admire each characteristic carried to a moderate extreme Ornament and fashion are related importantly, to beauty and the variable by race of the standards for beauty face shape, skin color, location of cheekbones, etc Darwin discusses at length the role the social group plays in individual survival Briefly, individual survival depends on the social group what is good for the group is also good for the individual While many today discount the operation of selection at this communal level, Darwin sees our social nature, based on parental and filial instincts, as essential to individual survival This attachment to the group is so strong that we are obedient to the group s wishes and judgment, and our sympathy is such that we care most about approbation and disapprobation love of praise and the strong feeling of glory, and the still stronger horror of scorn and infamy As a social animal, Darwin writes, it is almost certain that he would inherit a tendency to be faithful to his comrades, and obedient to the leader of his tribe We have a sense for right and wrong, but the moral content varies by group Good and bad are what is good or bad for the group In his summary of our group centeredness, Darwin sees three main components social instincts, moral sense care about what others think , and imagination we remember past wrongs we plan for the future.As a species, we share an underlying universal form to imprint on the group, but the content of that form group norms varies by group and culture Although manhas no special instincts to tell him how to aid his fellow men, he still has the impulse Even so, Darwin observes that a belief constantly inculcated during the early years of life, whilst the brain is impressible, appears to acquire almost the nature of an instinct Our commitment to the group is such that it impels us to altruistic acts that benefit the group as a whole, so that our social nature prevails over strict and pure self preservation We act for the general good of the tribe not the general happiness of humankind This other regarding social instinct to support our tribe and the need to remain in its good graces removes, Darwin states, the reproach of laying the foundation of the noblest part of our nature in the base principle of selfishness But, then, he adds, unless, indeed, the satisfaction which every animal feels, when it follows its proper instincts, and the dissatisfaction felt when prevented, be called selfish But our tribal nature comes with a downside We promote our group s collective interest and oppose, and even hate enmity or hatred seems to be the complement and converse of the true social instinct those who are different because they are seen as a threat Darwin writes that while we take pleasure in social company, this does not extend to the same species but is, rather, focused on those of the same association Yet, even with this emphasis on our biological nature, Darwin sees the capacity of the mind and reason to transcend our negative impulses so that we, for example, can see the dangers of tribalism, transcend them, and commit to the dignity of humanity A few questions and concerns about Descent First, Darwin states that the instinct for self preservation is not felt except in the presence of danger This is interesting as most theorists today would categorize much of what humans do as, ultimately, self preservation We eat to survive We defend ourselves to survive We are social because of survival value Darwin apparently uses self preservation only when the self faces immediate danger Second, Darwin keeps sexual selection on a separate track from natural selection, yet he also says that sexual selection is even important than natural selection as it leads to progeny Here, Darwin might be seaming these two selection theories back together as he states that the better fit leave progeny Yet, it s not clear how this all might work as those less fit can find each other and have children even though they don t compete at the higher levels Much of the commentary on sexual selection focuses on males attracting females charming and out competing other males, but Darwin is quite clear that females also do their considerable part to attract males via dress, ornament and beauty Third, Darwin seems to have a strong Lamarkian strain He makes continued reference to habitual actions that lead toward inherited traits, and it s not clear how that matches up with contemporary natural selection theory unless the genetic tendencies that lead to good habits result in greater survival and reproductive success.Finally, there s a strong cultural and class boundedness to Darwin s theory He makes some unfortunate characterizations about savages e.g., the hideous ornaments and equally hideous music admired by most savages and women who he believes are mentally inferior Highly civilized nations, he states, can transcend natural selection and not supplant and exterminate one another as do savage tribes, but that does not match up with history or Darwin s own view that whites are superior and savages are inferior Even with those opinions, Darwin could not help make the observation from his Beagle days about the similarities of the savage mind to ours and so it was with a full blooded negro with whom I happened once to be intimate Most troubling, Darwin comments that there are many from the lower class who ought to refrain from marriage if they are in any marked degree inferior in body or mind From the context, Darwin is not talking about those who might be or ought to be confined to institutionalized care, but to those from extremely unfortunate circumstances abject poverty What or who is deemed inferior is a dangerous line of thought The real threat to civilized life might just lie with those who have that sort of perspective Given genetic variability, who s to say that those from the lower class might not rise to the highest levels and vice versa Darwin worries that the inferior members tend to supplant the better members of society That unfortunate comment also undermines Darwin s sexual selection thesis that the better members end up with the most progeny. Need anything further be said of the origins of our species While Mr Darwin goes to great lengths to discuss variations among and between different species, particularly between the sexes, this book is as valuable a reminder today of who we are, and why we behave the way we do, as it was the day it was published As Mr Darwin reminds us, we are the product of a most savage and brutal history, yet we are capable of great tenderness and love He ends the work with We must, however, acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities, with sympathy which feels for the most debased, with benevolence which extends not only to other men but to the humblest living creature, with his god like intellect which has penetrated into the movements and constitution of the solar system with all these exalted powers Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.I wish we had writers like Darwin. Hallelujah Finished at last.and it only took almost 2 years to get through all 648 pages Darwin is much verbose in this book than he was in the very readable Voyage of the Beagle I m sure that this book made quite a shocking splash in 1874, when it was first published He put off publishing it for a while after On the Origin of Species as he was well aware of what knickers would be twisted by the realization that he was actually saying that even humans evolvedfrom apes, no less I m glad to have read it, although there were very many details than I need to know, especially about birds over 200 pgs of them. This is one of the few books I found no redeeming qualities in Some of his sentences absolutely scream racism and sexism I know that ignorant statements should not entirely discount what a person is saying but when Darwin refers to the Negro his word as an entirely different species than the European man I think my cringe lasted for the rest of the afternoon I am truly astounded that so many of Darwin s loyal followers have either not read this book or choose to ignore it Granted it was written after Origin of the Species when Darwin had become inflated with praise so I will attempt to give him the benefit of the doubt and say he got carried away in his own brilliance Yuck. One must admit when he makes a mistake, reading my below review I can see how ignorant I was to the studies that where conducted after Darwin s work which proved the parts related to natural selection, yes there were mistakes in some of Darwins observations, but natural selection is not a theory any and there is enough evidence to prove it right than any other simplistic explanation for human existence, unless you believe that we are living in a simulation and all the archeological evidence is put there to fool us 31 Dec 2018Ok, I understand how important the work done in this book must have been at the time it was published, but now with the recent discoveries in this field many of the arguments and proves put forward could be scientifically argued Also I couldn t help noticing the contradiction in his own work I m Not underestimating the work and arguments put forward as they are profound specially at that time but my issue is as scientist he would have gained my respect if he would have referred to his findings and encouraged further studies to be conducted, however instead he insisted that his findings are solid prove that Men descend from apes., and this should be considered as a fact Well a simple argument would be if all animals are subject to his evolution theory then shouldn t we see a different shapes of intelligent animals other than humans Also he has noticed that by practicing certain activities the shape of the human would develop during his life cycle, which had been proved in other studies, so in terms of percentage change if applied then the evolution should have been faster than he depicted Specially with the developments achieved recent millennium, I think the human brain is processing info than he ever did before One that a person would notice in reading Darwin his aristocratic views of humans from different classes, he referred to the Australian Barbarians, as stupid form of humans and even stupid than animals, I m sure he would have had the same views about African tribes, well no comment He also argued whether humans are in the evolution cycle or devolution which was quite interesting for me, he argued that capitalism could be a reason for devolution where selection is not done based on individual qualities but how rich a man is He also referred to the below Poem from 550B.C This suits my taste The Grecian poet, Theognis, who lived 550 B.C With kine and horses, Kurnus we proceed By reasonable rules, and choose a breed For profit and increase, at any price Of a sound stock, without defect or vice But, in the daily matches that we make, The price is everything for money s sake, Men marry women are in marriage given The churl or ruffian, that in wealth has thriven, May match his offspring with the proudest race Thus everything is mix d, noble and base If then in outward manner, form, and mind, You find us a degraded, motley kind, Wonder no , my friend the cause is plain, And to lament the consequence is vain The Works of J Hookham Frere, vol ii 1872, p 334. Applying His Controversial Theory Of Evolution To The Origins Of The Human Species, Charles Darwin SThe Descent Of Man Was The Culmination Of His Life S Work This Penguin Classics Edition Is Edited With An Introduction By James Moore And Adrian DesmondIn The Origin Of Species, Charles Darwin Refused To Discuss Human Evolution, Believing The Subject Too Surrounded With Prejudices He Had Been Reworking His Notes Since The S, But Only With Trepidation Did He Finally Publish The Descent Of Man In The Book Notoriously Put Apes In Our Family Tree And Made The Races One Family, Diversified By Sexual Selection Darwin S Provocative Theory That Female Choice Among Competing Males Leads To Diverging Racial Characteristics Named By Sigmund Freud As One Of The Ten Most Significant Books Ever Written, Darwin S Descent Of Man Continues To Shape The Way We Think About What It Is That Makes Us Uniquely HumanIn Their Introduction, James Moore And Adrian Desmond, Acclaimed Biographers Of Charles Darwin, Call For A Radical Re Assessment Of The Book, Arguing That Its Core Ideas On Race Were Fired By Darwin S Hatred Of Slavery The Text Is The Second And Definitive Edition And This Volume Also Contains Suggestions For Further Reading, A Chronology And Biographical Sketches Of Prominent Individuals MentionedCharles Darwin , A Victorian Scientist And Naturalist, Has Become One Of The Most Famous Figures Of Science To Date The Advent Of On The Origin Of Species By Means Of Natural Selection In Challenged And Contradicted All Contemporary Biological And Religious BeliefsIf You Enjoyed The Descent Of Man, You Might Like Darwin S On The Origin Of Species, Also Available In Penguin Classics Darwin applies his theory of natural selection to humans in ways that are not supported by today s evolutionary science Echoing Malthus, Darwin frames his argument by saying that reproduction outpaces the resources necessary to support a population and this creates competitive pressure that natural selection acts upon As all animals tend to multiply beyond their means of subsistence, he writes, so it must have been with the progenitors of man and this would inevitably lead to a struggle for existence and to natural selection The strong survive to propagate their kind the weak die off Groups extended and amplified this competition, pitting one group against the other Savages, when hard pressed, encroach on each other s territories, and war is the result, Darwin writes, but they are indeed almost always at war with their neighbors The stronger group reproduces its kind and advances the species.As to what constitutes group strength, Darwin focused on the arts, by which he meant intelligence to create superior warfare technology Civilized nations are everywhere supplanting barbarous nations, Darwin states, and they succeed mainly through their arts which are the products of the intellect It is, therefore, highly probable that with mankind the intellectual faculties have been mainly and gradually perfected through natural selection This knowledge is passed on to succeeding generations, thereby advancing the group s superior strength 1 Group strength was also directly related to the moral faculties, the social instincts, that brought the group together This involved a willingness to cooperate for the good of the group And, with the advance of reasoning powers, Darwin writes, each man would soon learn that if he aided his fellow men, he would commonly receive aid in return 2 Then, bringing in Lamarck s inheritance of acquired characteristics, Darwin says that from this low motive he might acquire the habit of aiding his fellows and the habit of performing benevolent actions certainly strengthens the feeling of sympathy which gives the first impulse to benevolent actions Habits, over, followed during many generations probably tend to be inherited Hume s approbation and disapprobation supplements reason based cooperation Praise and blame rests on sympathy here, sympathy means a capacity to know how others view oneself, as opposed to care for the plight of others Endowed with such cohesive inducing attitudes, all of this now translates into the advantage of one tribe over another and the advance of the species 3 Darwin then applies his thinking to civilized nations We do our utmost to check the process of elimination, he writes, and allow the weak to propagate their kind 4 Darwin refers to the imbecile s , the maimed, and the sick, though it s clear that he applies his theory to moral and intellectual capacities as well If the checks do not prevent the reckless, the vicious and otherwise inferior members of society from increasing at a quicker rate than the better class of men, the nation will retrograde, as has too often occurred in the history of the world A few critical comments First, were all groups hostile Wasn t there also cooperation for mutual benefit Or, just an uneasy coexistence More importantly, didn t the struggle for existence apply to the environment as a whole and not just hostile groups , and wouldn t this necessitate a mutually dependent, cooperative, network that created genetic reproductive benefits for all Prior to Chapter V, Darwin seemed to recognize that the social instincts were created by natural selection to provide mutual survival benefits With those animals which were benefited by living in close association the individuals which took the greatest pleasure in society would best escape various dangers, whilst those that cared least for their comrades, and lived solitary, would perish in greater numbers Second, although Darwin s group selection and the inheritance of acquired traits habits and emulation are generally considered to be inaccurate, Darwin was getting at something If, as discussed above, the group is essential to individual survival, then the unit of selection can remain still at the gene individual level Now Trivers reciprocal altruism mutual benefits and Dawkins extended phenotype notion the group as an extension of the individual gene s interest can work within a Darwinian context How might these social tendencies be passed along genetically in a way that avoids Darwin s Lamarckian language Evolutionary scientists today define altruism to mean actions that benefit the genetic success of others at the expense of the self That is not the dictionary definition of altruism Even if it were, that definition stipulates that those with altruistic tendencies always died before reproducing when it is just as likely that they did not die and were able to pass along their other regarding traits And, given the integral connection by the individual gene and group interest for survival and reproductive success, is it not possible that the social instincts evolved, as they did for parent child relationships, because of the extensive and intensive reciprocal benefits and that those who were other regarding were able to pass along the same tendencies to their progeny Third, Darwin is at his best in emphasizing the role of variability physical, mental, moral among individuals Given this, is it not possible that some are other regarding than others, at their genetic core The benefits of other regarding behavior are clear for the reasons argued above The survival benefits of an egoistic, self regarding strategy are also clear i.e., individuals who dominate, manipulate or deceive others In other words, could there could be the twin poles of a successful evolutionary strategy, with most of us lying at points in between.Darwin also did not pick up on the implications of Hume s argument that reason is a slave to passion Given the variability of human nature, and the possible poles of human nature that lie at our genetic core, the advancement of reason does not lead, as Darwin believed e.g., highly civilized nations do not supplant and exterminate one another as do savage tribes to a common good Reason is the advance of means and technique, but reason doesn t change the motive force that comes from a relatively fixed character or disposition Reason that rests on an other regarding foundation is one thing Reason that serves an egoistic nature is quite another 1 Now, if some one man in a tribe, sagacious than the others, invented a new snare or weapon, or other means of attack or defence, the plainest self interest, without the assistance of much reasoning power, would prompt the other members to imitate him and all would thus profit The habitual practice of each new art must likewise in some slight degree strengthen the intellect If the new invention were an important one, the tribe would increase in number, spread, and supplant other tribes In a tribe thus rendered numerous there would always be a rather greater chance of the birth of other superior and inventive members 2 When two tribes of primeval man, living in the same country, came into competition, if the one tribe included a great number of courageous, sympathetic and faithful members, who were always ready to warn each other of danger to aid and defend each other this tribe would succeed better and conquer the other.Selfish and contentious people will not cohere and without coherence nothing can be effected A tribe rich in the above qualities would spread and be victorious over other tribes but in the course of time it would, judging from all past history, in its turn overcome by some other tribe still highly endowed Thus the social and moral qualities would tend slowly to advance and be diffused throughout the world 3 An increase in the number of well endowed men and an advancement in the standard of morality will certainly give an immense advantage to one tribe over another A tribe including many members who, from possessing in a high degree the spirit of patriotism, fidelity, obedience, courage, and sympathy, were always ready to aid one another, and to sacrifice themselves for the common good, would be victorious over most other tribes and this would be natural selection At all times throughout the world tribes have supplanted other tribes and as morality is one important element in their success, the standard of morality and the number of well endowed men will thus everywhere tend to rise and increase 4 No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed. Evolution is an area of major interest to me so it is curious I had never read The Descent of Man The reason is I had been told that there is no science in the book worth mentioning, and having now read the book I find that is the case.In his conclusions at the end of the book Darwin states his ideas put forward in the book are highly speculative and may be in error He was correct in that statement.Basically Darwin posits that the various human races, while descended from an ape like ancestor, differ from one another due to sexual selection, e.g the preference of females in choosing whom to mate with For example, the dark skin of many races he attributes to female preference for dark skin He states that it is not due to environmnet because Dutch settlers living in South Africa for 300 years still had very white skin Therefore environment could not be the cause Here Darwin simply betrays the complete lack of understanding of his era of geologic time, for which he must be forgiven To him 300 years was a huge amount of time.I did find the book worth reading, however, for historical reasons concerning the history of science, if not for the sake of science itself Read once again Jan 2016 Much of what Darwin writes here is simply wrong, due to his complete ignorance of genetics and the causes of heritable variation in organisms.While I believe that all educated persons should read The Origin of Species this work really only appeals to those with a deep interest in the history of science.

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