Hereditary Genius: An Inquiry into Its Laws and Consequences

Overview

A cousin of Charles Darwin, Francis Galton (1822-1911) was so impressed by Darwin’s On the Origin of Species that he decided to investigate in detail the implications of inheritance and evolution for the development of outstanding human abilities. By "hereditary genius" Galton meant, "an ability that was exceptionally high and at the same time inborn," and he argued that in the debate over "nature versus nurture" (an expression that he coined) nature always prevails.
In 1869, he...

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Hereditary Genius (Barnes & Noble Digital Library): An Inquiry Into Its Laws And Consequences

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Overview

A cousin of Charles Darwin, Francis Galton (1822-1911) was so impressed by Darwin’s On the Origin of Species that he decided to investigate in detail the implications of inheritance and evolution for the development of outstanding human abilities. By "hereditary genius" Galton meant, "an ability that was exceptionally high and at the same time inborn," and he argued that in the debate over "nature versus nurture" (an expression that he coined) nature always prevails.
In 1869, he published this, his first, book on the topic, presenting a good deal of evidence showing that exceptional ability often ran in families. In separate chapters devoted to outstanding professionals ranging from English judges to "wrestlers of the North Country," Galton pointed out that most of these high achievers had relatives who also displayed notable abilities. Based on this statistical sampling, he concluded that eminence in any field was due to hereditary factors.
Many greeted these results with skepticism, but Charles Darwin expressed his admiration for Galton’s results and later cited his work in The Descent of Man. Galton went on to use this initial research as the basis for a new field, which he called "eugenics," the aim of which was "the betterment of the human race" through "appropriate marriages or abstention from marriage."
Although Galton’s ideas gained momentum over several decades, they were eventually discredited after being misappropriated by the Nazis as part of their racist ideology. Today, however, with the discovery of heritable diseases, the use of genetic screening to eliminate undesirable traits, sperm banks, and the possibility of "designer babies" and human cloning, Galton’s groundbreaking research has gained renewed currency and will be the subject of debate for years to come.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591023586
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 3/28/2006
  • Series: Great Minds Ser.
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 977,585
  • Product dimensions: 5.42 (w) x 8.41 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Table of Contents

Classification of men according to their reputation 15
Classification of men according to their natural gifts 21
Comparison of the two classifications 39
Notation 49
The judges of England between 1660 and 1865 53
Statesmen 95
English peerages, their influence upon race 119
Commanders 129
Literary men 153
Men of science 177
Poets 207
Musicians 219
Painters 229
Divines 239
Senior classics of Cambridge 273
Oarsmen 279
Wrestlers of the north country 285
Comparison of results 289
The comparative worth of different races 305
Influences that affect the natural ability of nations 317
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