Overview

In The Descent of Man Darwin addresses many of the issues raised by his notorious Origin of Species: finding in the traits and instincts of animals the origins of the mental abilities of humans, of language, of our social structures and our moral capacities, he attempts to show that there is no clear dividing line between animals and humans. Most importantly, he accounts for what Victorians called the ‘races’ of mankind by means of what he calls sexual selection. This book presents a full explanation of Darwin’s ...

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The Descent of Man

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Overview

In The Descent of Man Darwin addresses many of the issues raised by his notorious Origin of Species: finding in the traits and instincts of animals the origins of the mental abilities of humans, of language, of our social structures and our moral capacities, he attempts to show that there is no clear dividing line between animals and humans. Most importantly, he accounts for what Victorians called the ‘races’ of mankind by means of what he calls sexual selection. This book presents a full explanation of Darwin’s ideas about sexual selection, including his belief that many important characteristics of human beings and animals have emerged in response to competition for mates.




This was a controversial work. Yet Darwin tried hard to avoid being branded as a radical revolutionary. He is steeped in Victorian sensibilities regarding gender and cultural differences: he sees human civilization as a move from barbarous savagery to modern gentlefolk, and women as more emotional and less intellectual than men, thus providing a biological basis for the social assumptions and prejudices of the day. The Descent of Man played a major role in the emergence of social Darwinism.




This complete version of the first edition gives the modern reader an unparalleled opportunity to engage directly with Darwin’s proposals, launched in the midst of continuing controversy over On the Origin of Species.




Janet Browne is the author of the prize-winning biography, Charles Darwin: Voyaging and Charles Darwin: The Power of Place.

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Editorial Reviews

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

  • ISBN-13: 9781848705616
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions, Limited
  • Publication date: 10/3/2013
  • Series: Classics of World Literature
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 627
  • Sales rank: 1,239,979
  • File size: 14 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

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

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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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