The Descent of Man / Edition 2by Charles Darwin
Pub. Date: 12/28/1997
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Published to honor the anniversary of Darwin's 200th birthday, these prime excerpts from the great naturalist's landmark work build on the evolutionary concepts introduced in On the Origin of Species. The earlier work provided a basic exposition of Darwinian theory. The Descent of Man, published a dozen years later, asserts that humans are the descendants of apes,
Published to honor the anniversary of Darwin's 200th birthday, these prime excerpts from the great naturalist's landmark work build on the evolutionary concepts introduced in On the Origin of Species. The earlier work provided a basic exposition of Darwinian theory. The Descent of Man, published a dozen years later, asserts that humans are the descendants of apes, which were descended from even more primitive creatures.
This fascinating treatise on evolutionary psychology explores the two defining forces of human and animal evolution-natural selection and sexual selection. Numerous examples from Darwin's years of study illustrate its compelling conclusion: However much we differ from other animals, we are descended from common ancestors and have evolved in similar ways. Based upon the original edition, this abridgement by a noted Darwinian scholar offers a highly readable version of one of the most important books in the history of science.
Dover (2010) abridged version of the edition published by John Murray Publishers, London, 1871.
Table of Contents
Introduction to the Dover Edition v
The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex
Part I The Descent Or Origin Of Man
I The Evidence of the Descent of Man From Some Lower Form 3
II Comparison of the Mental Powers of Man and the Lower Animals 17
III Comparison of the Mental Powers of Man and the Lower Animals, continued 40
IV On the Manner of Development of Man from Some Lower Form 64
V On the Development of the Intellectual and Moral Faculties during Primeval and Civilised Times 95
VI On the Affinities and Genealogy of Man 112
VII On the Races of Man 131
Part II Sexual Selection
VIII Principles of Sexual Selection 155
IX Secondary Sexual Characters in the Lower Classes of the Animal Kingdom 188
X Secondary Sexual Characters of Insects 194
XI Insects, continued. Order Lepidoptera 197
XII Secondary Sexual Characters of Fishes, Amphibians, and Reptiles 221
XIII Secondary Sexual Characters of Birds 232
XIV Birds, continued 265
XV Birds, continued 299
XVI Birds, concluded 318
XVII Secondary Sexual Characters of Mammals 353
XVIII Secondary Sexual Characters of Mammals, continued 370
XIX Secondary Sexual Characters of Man 393
XX Secondary Sexual Characters of Man, continued 417
XXI General Summary and Conclusion 436
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Descent of Man is undoubtedly a great work by a staggeringly original thinker. It is plagued by theoretical problems, however, as many of Darwin's conclusions are inaccurate and even self-contradictory. Compared to Origin of Species, a unified and directed argument, it is at times messy and inconsistent. Nonetheless, a brave work, not to mention seminal in its field. Be forewarned that some of its more 'political' statements will probably cause discomfort if the work isn't looked at as a historical document.
The sad thing about "the Descent of Man" is that it is not more widely read. Darwin had ten years to think about the real meaning of his theory prior to publishing "the Descent of Man", thus, when he did publish it, he was able, with clearlity, to give us a deep understanding of the meaning of his own work. Anyone who wishes to gain an understanding of Darwins work can get it straight from this book. It features athoritative statements from Darwin, on his theory, such as, "...man has ultimately become superior to woman" (Chapt. 19). It includes, while speaking about the meaning of Darwins theory, statements like, "At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world....The break between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla." (Chapter 6). In this book Darwin even tells us, on his own athorty, the real meaning of his work for the future of man when he states, " Yet he (man) might by selection do something not only for the bodily constitution and frame of his offspring, but for their intellectual and moral qualities. Both sexes ought to refrain from marraige if they are in any marked degree inferior in body or mind; but such hopes are Utopian and will never be even partially realised until the laws of inheritance are thouroughly known. Everyone does good service, who aids towards this end. When the priniciples of breeding and inheritance are better understood, we shall not hear ignorant members of our legislature rejecting with scorn a plan for ascertaining whether or not consanguineous marriages are injurious to ma." (Chapter 21). The book is loaded with such athoritative statements. The problem with Darwinsm today is not that some silly Christian bad mouths it, the problem with Darwinsm today is that not enough people read this book and learn for themselves what Darwin himself claimed to be the real meaning of his theory!