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Dennisg

Where did Darwin get his ideas?

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I was wondering if anyone has done some research into this topic. I know there are some quick answers to this question but I think the topic deserves a lot more study.

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Mostly from Lyell (gradualism), Malthus (geometric v. exponential growth) and Lamarck (inheritance of acquired characters, mostly an indirect influence).

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Dennis,

 

You should check out this recent special which aired in Britain. It's called "The Genius of Charles Darwin," and offers a very informative look into his history and celebrates his work:

 

Episode 1:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4471435322910215458&ei=E-i0SLWeIZSirgKQtqXfDA&q=%22genius+of+charles+darwin%22&hl=en

 

 

Episode 2:

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtwLtM07TL4

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Zmb08h4nXc

Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t70vYGC-_Ok

Part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZiI2KG0leQ

Part 5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1C_lgSJuBM

 

 

Episode 3:

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EP3Ag-A97Rc

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8jsQtdeGtw

Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izYF7U-gCXQ

Part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5J_XreG6sfU

Part 5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5lg10huSus

 

 

There was also this great radio talk which I listened to just this last weekend and it's available as MP3 at the following:

 

http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/misc/misc-20080824-1630-Lecture_1_-_Darwin_and_the_Evolution_of_an_Idea-048.mp3

 

 

Enjoy. :)

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Dennis,

 

You should check out this recent special which aired in Britain. It's called "The Genius of Charles Darwin," and offers a very informative look into his history and celebrates his work:

 

This is exactly what I was going to point to, quite a good set of 3 episodes :)

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The radio talk I linked to was also good. It was like sitting down and listening to someone telling a story about his life. :)

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I was wondering if anyone has done some research into this topic. I know there are some quick answers to this question but I think the topic deserves a lot more study.

 

There's a really good chart in (the very good book) Ernst Mayr's What Evolution Is. I would try to reproduce it or something if I had it with me, but I left it at home. If you go try and find it somewhere, perhaps in a library if you don't feel like buying it, it would reward reading.

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There's a really good chart in (the very good book) Ernst Mayr's What Evolution Is. I would try to reproduce it or something if I had it with me, but I left it at home. If you go try and find it somewhere, perhaps in a library if you don't feel like buying it, it would reward reading
.

 

Thanks I am no expert on Darwin’s ideas. My understanding is that he thought that one member of a species would have a chance mutation and that this mutation would give this member a better chance at survival and reproduction. The offspring of this member would then become isolated and the advantageous trait would become dominate in the species. This process of change would continue until breeding became impossible with members of the “old” species and that would signal the emergence of a new species.

 

Gradualism, geometric v. exponential growth, inheritance of acquired characters are the building blocks that Darwin used to build his theory. But what interests me the most is why he came up with the scenario that he did. Other scenarios are possible using these same observations. Did the Victorian industrial culture influence the way he saw nature?

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I highly suggest Provine's The Origins of Theoretical Population Genetics. It explains the early history of the field and the kind of debate that followed Darwin's theory. Provine's an historian, a mathematician, and a biologist, so he understands very well the subject.

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I highly suggest Provine's The Origins of Theoretical Population Genetics. It explains the early history of the field and the kind of debate that followed Darwin's theory. Provine's an historian, a mathematician, and a biologist, so he understands very well the subject.

 

Thanks

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The subtitle of " On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection" by Charles Darwin is: right there on the cover: "Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life". Think how sexual reproduction works. Something changes that benefits survival, and is carried on.

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I highly suggest Provine's The Origins of Theoretical Population Genetics. It explains the early history of the field and the kind of debate that followed Darwin's theory. Provine's an historian, a mathematician, and a biologist, so he understands very well the subject.

 

 

I found this interesting debate: http://www.arn.org/docs/orpages/or161/161main.htm Provine is very anti God - I wonder why this is such a hot issue.

 

There's a really good chart in (the very good book) Ernst Mayr's What Evolution Is. I would try to reproduce it or something if I had it with me, but I left it at home. If you go try and find it somewhere, perhaps in a library if you don't feel like buying it, it would reward reading.

 

Is this the chart? http://www.bio.miami.edu/dana/pix/comparative_embryo.jpg

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I found this interesting debate: http://www.arn.org/docs/orpages/or161/161main.htm Provine is very anti God - I wonder why this is such a hot issue.

 

Provine is indeed an atheist, and he seems to like debates (god, ID, freedom, the importance of natural selection, ...). But many, if not most evolutionary biologists are atheists (me included), so it's not really a surprise. But obviously, some very important evolutionary scientists were christians, Fisher & Dobzhansky are good examples.

 

About Darwin and his ideas I just want to add a little note: Darwin discovered very little, if anything. The principle of natural was discovered before him, by many people. Yet, as noted in Evolution: The History of an Idea; Simple priority is not enough to earn a thinker a place in the history of science: one has to develop the idea and convince others of its value to make a real contribution.

 

And that's what Darwin did, he convinced the world that evolution was real. Although he extended the idea of natural selection much further than anyone before him, he was much less successful when he tried to convinced people that natural selection was the mechanism of evolution. In fact, he downplayed natural selection in later version of his book, the truth is that natural selection without Mendelian genetics doesn't work very well. It is easy to show that, with blending inheritance, variations is halved each generation. That means trouble for natural selection.

 

A truly coherent theory of evolution was developed later by Fisher, Wright & Haldane (I could add Yule and Morgan). I say this because, IMO, all this Darwin-worshiping opens to door to all sort of criticism. By focusing only on Darwin we forget the complexity of the theory, we also forget all the other scientists who contributed the theory. It would really be great if you could stop focusing on just a few scientist in a field (Darwin in biology, Newton & Einstein in physics...). Darwin did a lot, but not as much as some people like to think.

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I agree that Darwin is a kind of symbol or focal point for evolution and evolution is the work of many scientists. My understanding is that he could not reconcile the cruelty he saw in nature with the concept of a good and loving God. He removed the idea of God from the natural world but maintained that God was still valid for human ethics.

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Darwin probably made a lot of stuff up, he had to have, because there are more holes in his theory than in a sieve. All I know is there's an agenda that started with him to put forth the religion of evolution to counter Christianity. Which is fine.

 

That's not to say a lot of what Darwin suggested isn't true, but at the same time, Evolution could well have been God's creation.

 

Anyway, I don't think anyone with a University Education is qualified to discuss things like this, because University students have largely been brainwashed, by leftist thought and have closed minds; they can't understand anything that doesn't fit into their paradigm.

 

Lefties sure love their 'isms' thought - Darwinism, Marxism, Feminism. Anything to refute the natural order of things.

 

Darwin couldn't reconcile the cruelty of nature with God because it furthered his and the early lefties desire for complete amoralism.

 

Either way, Darwin was mostly a wanker. That Couvier guy, now he was cool. Darwin was basically an 18th century ZZ Top guy, with that silly ol' beard of his.

Edited by Bicycle Seat

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With "Couvier", do you mean "Georges Cuvier" or "Frédéric Cuvier"?

 

Of course, Cuvier died about two decades before Darwin published his work... so the two never had a chance to fight it out together. Cuvier opposed earlier evolution ideas that were indeed based on rather shaky ideas:

"[Lamarck's evolution] rested on two arbitrary suppositions; the one, that it is the seminal vapor which organizes the embryo; the other, that efforts and desires may engender organs. A system established on such foundations may amuse the imagination of a poet; a metaphysician may derive from it an entirely new series of systems; but it cannot for a moment bear the examination of any one who has dissected a hand, a viscus, or even a feather." (copy pasted from wikipedia)

 

For the rest, I don't think that the arguments of Bicycle Seat are going to convince a lot of people. Calling Darwin names is not very scientific. But it has some value as entertainment. I enjoy this post more than the shorter ones... It might save you from being banned :D

Edited by CaptainPanic
adding a reply to the Bicycle Troll

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I am surprised no one has mentioned the influence of his grandfather Erasmus. You are even more silent on it than was Darwin himself. Here is an extract from Erasmus's work Zoonomia, courtesy of wikipedia.

 

Would it be too bold to imagine that, in the great length of time since the earth began to exist, perhaps millions of ages before the commencement of the history of mankind would it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament, which the great First Cause endued with animality, with the power of acquiring new parts, attended with new propensities, directed by irritations, sensations, volitions and associations, and thus possessing the faculty of continuing to improve by its own inherent activity, and of delivering down these improvements by generation to its posterity, world without end!

 

Charles Darwin clearly felt uncomfortable that his grandfather had anticipated him and concedes virtually nothing to him in any of his writings.

 

The 'you' in the second paragraph refers to all who have posted so far.

Edited by Ophiolite
Clarification of meaning

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I am surprised no one has mentioned the influence of his grandfather Erasmus.

 

For what it's worth, they spent a fair amount of time discussing Erasmus Darwin in the radio talk to which I linked above. ;)

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For what it's worth, they spent a fair amount of time discussing Erasmus Darwin in the radio talk to which I linked above. ;)

 

Like Erasmus I think that Darwin may have been considered an eccentric and died in obscurity if it hadn’t been for the Industrial revolution. He provided a world view that governmental and business leaders were desperate for and thus they funded and supported him. Presenting the natural world as "dog eat dog" and "mutate or become extinct" was exactly what they wanted to normalize the social chaos of the industrial revolution

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I think that's just how people misused Darwins idea. I am pretty confident that was not what he wanted with his work. He just figured something out, and he knew it was counter to a lot of what people believed, but he also knew it was true. He wasn't so much (AFAIK) interested in sociology or industrial psychology, but biology and vast paleologic time scales, and the mechanisms by which life altered itself to continue and pass offspring to future generations in changing conditions.

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I think that's just how people misused Darwins idea. I am pretty confident that was not what he wanted with his work. He just figured something out, and he knew it was counter to a lot of what people believed, but he also knew it was true. He wasn't so much (AFAIK) interested in sociology or industrial psychology, but biology and vast paleologic time scales, and the mechanisms by which life altered itself to continue and pass offspring to future generations in changing conditions.

 

 

I agree with this. What is interesting to me is how he saw the natural world as being cruel. While I don't agree with his removing God from nature I do think that his empathy for living things shows his unselfish nature and mature outlook. Some time ago I heard a radio program with a famous biologist who contented that all life could be structured so that the plant kingdom fed the animal kingdom (simply put).

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Like Erasmus I think that Darwin may have been considered an eccentric and died in obscurity if it hadn’t been for the Industrial revolution. He provided a world view that governmental and business leaders were desperate for and thus they funded and supported him. Presenting the natural world as "dog eat dog" and "mutate or become extinct" was exactly what they wanted to normalize the social chaos of the industrial revolution

 

You study natural selection and evolution in regards to most anything I think that deals with biology one way or another. A big impact I think natural selection has in one particular field of biology is ecology. Its not rare to find a college level ecology class and evolution class merged together as one.

 

Also for what its worth natural selection is just that. So for how natural selection made it possible for a specie to find its way to committing genocide or making war, it also makes sea sponges. Also its not as if it makes it, just under a natural environment abotic and biotic variables hold impact on say a particular organism. So a specie might over variation in time become suited for say an aquatic environment, such as a shark, but you cant just take a shark and say put it on land, if that makes any sense.

 

The proposition that natural selection was devised to enable brutality is simply stupid, "brutality" existed far before natural selection and or evolution was ever muttered. A simple example would be that modern industrial human life is being naturally selected against, so no, natural selection is not biased in such a sense, but people can be.

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I think that's just how people misused Darwins idea. I am pretty confident that was not what he wanted with his work. He just figured something out, and he knew it was counter to a lot of what people believed, but he also knew it was true. He wasn't so much (AFAIK) interested in sociology or industrial psychology, but biology and vast paleologic time scales, and the mechanisms by which life altered itself to continue and pass offspring to future generations in changing conditions.

 

Indeed. Darwin wasn't stupid, he came to the same conclusions that many of his contemporaries quickly did as to the meaning of his ideas in the intellectual context of the 19th Century, namely eugenics and what would be called Social Darwinism. But where these others were excited by the potential, he himself was appalled by the moral consequences. Darwin was rather famously humane. He even spoke before Parliament against vivisection on one occasion.

 

http://www.bun.kyoto-u.ac.jp/~suchii/DonEug.html

 

This page has some quotes. There's another one that I couldn't find that made my point better, I think, but alas.

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Indeed. Darwin wasn't stupid, he came to the same conclusions that many of his contemporaries quickly did as to the meaning of his ideas in the intellectual context of the 19th Century, namely eugenics and what would be called Social Darwinism. But where these others were excited by the potential, he himself was appalled by the moral consequences. Darwin was rather famously humane. He even spoke before Parliament against vivisection on one occasion.

 

http://www.bun.kyoto-u.ac.jp/~suchii/DonEug.html

 

This page has some quotes. There's another one that I couldn't find that made my point better, I think, but alas.

 

Again I agree with this. While Darwin studied Theology and trained for the ministry he seems to have been unaware of this Biblical view of nature - that in the beginning the vegetative kingdom provided all the food for the animal kingdom. That is no animal ate any other animal.

 

Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.

And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground-- everything that has the breath of life in it-- I give every green plant for food." And it was so.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning-- the sixth day.

 

I wonder if this view would have influenced the way he saw nature as being cruel.

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