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The Descent of Man

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Overview

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.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher

One of the ten most significant books. (Sigmund Freud)"
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452288881
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/27/2007
  • Edition description: The Concise Edition
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 461,402
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.05 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin was born in England in 1809 and attended the University of Edinburgh to study medicine. When he decided against that vocation, he enrolled at Cambridge where he earned a degree in theology. During an expedition to Africa and South America, Darwin continued his studies in natural science and began writing about his theories of natural selection. His work led to the publication of On the Origin of Species, a book that changed the world.

Charles Darwin: Original Thinking
Each generation of students comes to Darwin's epoch-making works, several of which are the basis of our publishing program in biology and related fields: The Essential Darwin, 2006; The Descent of Man, 2010; The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, 2006; and On the Origin of the Species, 2006.

In the Author's Own Words:

"A mathematician is a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat which isn't there."

"I feel most deeply that this whole question of Creation is too profound for human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton! Let each man hope and believe what he can."

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science."

"There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."

"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." — Charles Darwin

Biography

Robert Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England, on February 12, 1809, into a wealthy and highly respected family. His grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, was a doctor and the author of many works, including his well-known Zoonomia, or the Laws of Organic Life, which suggested a theory of evolution. Charles's father, Robert Waring Darwin, was also a prosperous doctor; his mother, Susannah, was the daughter of Josiah Wedgwood, founder of the renowned Wedgwood potteries. The Darwins and the Wedgwoods had close and long-standing relations, and Charles was to marry his cousin, Emma Wedgwood.

In 1825 at age sixteen, Darwin matriculated at Edinburgh University to study medicine. There, his early interest in natural history developed, and he studied particularly crustaceans, sea creatures, and beetles. Nauseated by the sight of blood, however, he decided that medicine was not his vocation, left Edinburgh in 1827 and entered Christ's College, Cambridge University, with no clear sense of possible vocation, theology itself being an option. At Cambridge he became friends with J. S. Henslow, a clergyman who was also professor of botany. Although Darwin was to graduate from Cambridge with a B.A. in theology, he spent much time with Henslow, developing his interest in natural science. It was Henslow who secured a position for Darwin on an exploratory expedition aboard the HMS Beagle.

In December 1831, the year he graduated from Cambridge, Darwin embarked upon a five-year voyage to Africa and South America, acting as a companion to the captain, Robert Fitzroy. Darwin spent more time in land expeditions than at sea, where he was always seasick, but during the long voyages he continued his collecting and, cramped in his tiny cabin, meticulously wrote up his ideas. Several years after his return, at the time of the birth of his first son, William, Darwin fell ill. It is conjectured that while in South America he had contracted Chagas's disease, but whatever the cause, the effects were debilitating for the rest of Darwin's life.

By the time he returned to London in 1835, many of his letters, some to scientists like Charles Lyell and Adam Sedgwick, had been read before scientific societies, and he was already a well known and respected naturalist. His first published book, an account of his voyage aboard the Beagle, entitled Journal of Researches, appeared in 1839 and was widely popular. He married the same year; soon after, the family moved from London to a secluded house at Down, in Kent, where Darwin wrote initial sketches of his theory and then preparing himself for the full exposition, spent eight years writing a detailed set of definitive monographs on barnacles.

In 1858, when Darwin was halfway through writing his book, "Natural Selection," A. R. Wallace sent him a paper called, "On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type." In language similar to Darwin's own, Wallace laid out the argument for natural selection. Wallace asked Darwin to help get the paper published -- obviously an alarming development for a man who had given twenty years of his life to getting the argument for natural selection right. Darwin's scientific friends advised him to gather materials giving evidence of his priority but to have the Wallace paper read before the Linnaean Society, along with a brief account of his own ideas. Immediately after the reading, Darwin began work on his "abstract" of "Natural Selection." The result was On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, published in 1859. Despite the controversy it generated, it was an immense success and went through five more editions in Darwin's lifetime.

Darwin devoted the rest of his life to researching and writing scientific treatises, drawing on his notebooks and corresponding with scientists all over the world, and thus developing and modifying parts of his larger argument.

Darwin never traveled again and much of his scientific work was done in his own garden and study at home. Others, particularly his "bulldog," T. H. Huxley, fought the battle for evolution publicly, and as Darwin remained quietly ailing at home, his family grew -- he had ten children -- and so did his reputation. Although he was always ill with symptoms that made it impossible for him to work full days, he produced an enormous volume of work. His death, on April 19, 1882, was a national event. Despite the piety of his wife, Emma, Darwin had fallen away from religion as he reflected both on the way nature worked and on the way his favorite daughter, Annie, died painfully from an unknown feverish illness, when she was ten. Nevertheless, ironically, he was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of The Origin of Species.

Good To Know

Darwin was born on the same day as U.S. president Abraham Lincoln.

He broke his longtime snuff habit by keeping his snuff box in the basement and the key to it in the attic.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      February 12, 1809
    2. Place of Birth:
      Shrewsbury, England
    1. Date of Death:
      April 19, 1882
    2. Place of Death:
      London, England
    1. Education:
      B.A. in Theology, Christ’s College, Cambridge University, 1831

Table of Contents

Introduction
Preface to the Second Edition
Introduction 1
I The Evidence of the Descent of Man from Some Lower Form 5
II On the Manner of Development of Man from Some Lower Form 26
III Comparison of the Mental Powers of Man and the Lower Animals 66
IV Comparison of the Mental Powers of Man and the Lower Animals (continued) 100
V On the Development of the Intellectual and Moral Faculties during Primeval and Civilized Times 131
VI On the Affinities and Genealogy of Man 151
VII On the Races of Man 172
VIII Principles of Sexual Selection 214
IX Secondary Sexual Characters in the Lower Classes of the Animal Kingdom 268
X Secondary Sexual Characters of Insects 283
XI Insects (continued) - Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths) 316
XII Secondary Sexual Characters of Fishes, Amphibians, and Reptiles 341
XIII Secondary Sexual Characters of Birds 370
XIV Birds (continued) 417
XV Birds (continued) 459
XVI Birds (concluded) 481
XVII Secondary Sexual Characters of Mammals 518
XVIII Secondary Sexual Characters of Mammals (continued) 544
XIX Secondary Sexual Characters of Man 576
XX Secondary Sexual Characters of Man (continued) 606
XXI General Summary and Conclusion 629
Supplemental Note 644
Index 649
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