Dr. Charles F. Urbanowicz/Professor of Anthropology
California State University, Chico
Chico, California 95929-0400
(530-898-6220 [Office]; 530-898-6192 [Dept.] FAX: 530-898-6824)
home page:

22 September 1999 [1]

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FALL 1999 OVERVIEW: Since 1990 I have made several campus presentations) that deal with some ideas about/concerning Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882). This current WWW "page" is the most recent iteration dealing with that 19th century individual. This page lists, incorporates, "borrows" from previous WWW presentations, updates, and attempts to make Darwin accessible to contemporary individuals! (For numerous items already available on the World Wide Web, some of which are repeated somewhat verbatim below, please click here.)

TO SUMMARIZE: For every presentation/lecture I make dealing with Darwin, I attempt to "humanize" him and try to incorporate as much "new" materials as possible, thinking how recently the Philosopher/Zoologist Michael Ruse has described Darwin as an "energetic intellectual scavenger" (Michael Ruse, 1999, Mystery of Mysteries: Is Evolution A Social Construction?, page 242). As far as I am concerned, thinking and writing about "Darwin" is as current as today, as the recent activities in the "Sunflower State" indicates!

CONSIDER, IF YOU WILL, some other "current words" dealing with Charles R. Darwin:

"William Shakespeare [1564-1616], picked as Britain's man of the millennium, was hailed on Saturday as an international superstar--but scientists felt Charles Darwin or Isaac Newton should have taken the prize. ... 'In the end, Darwin will be seen to have told us more about why we are the way we are.... [stress added]." (The San Francisco Chronicle/Examiner, January 3, 1999, page A14).

FROM: USA Today, January 4, 1999: "The idea was simple. Sit around and pick the 1,000 most important people of the millennium. ... [#1] Johannes Gutenberg (1394?-1468) Inventor of printing.... [#5] William Shakespeare (1564-1616) 'Mirror of the millennium's soul'.... [#6] Isaac Newton (1642-1727) Laws of motion helped propel the Age of Reason.... [#7] Charles Darwin (1809-1882) Theory of Evolution [stress added]." (Commenting on the book by Barbara and Brent Bowers & Agnes Hooper Gottlieb and Henry Gottlieb, 1998, 1,000 People: Ranking The Men And Women Who Shaped The Millennium.)

OF ALL the most recent "Darwin items" I have recorded, as of Fall 1999 (shared with my ANTH 13 classes as well as my ANTH 296 class in Fall 1999), the following are three of my recent favorites:

"Whatever the controversies that surround him, Charles Darwin was certainly the most important natural scientist of the past century; he may become the most important social scientist of the next. His great insight--that humans are animals and that their behavior, like that of all animals, is shaped by evolution--is now making its way into social theory. In economics, linguistics, anthropology and psychology, scholars are attempting to see how our evolved nature, interacting with particular environments, generates the ways we trade and speak, live with others and with ourselves [stress added]." (The Wall Street Journal, May 27, 1999, page A24)

"There are many ways of trying to understand the grip of Darwinism on our imaginations, but one of the simplest and most powerful facts about it is that it is beautiful, and to those who grasp it this beauty seems evidence also of its truth, and inexorability. It may be the greatest extension of mathematical beauty to the natural world since the Pythagoreans started to meditate on geometry. Geometry deals with patterns in space, and Darwinism with patterns in time. In both cases a deep order appears out of the [seeming] confusion of the world, but the effect of this order can be curiously alienating. ... The LSE [London School of Economics] now, only forty years later, is the home of Darwin Seminars devoted to proving that Darwinian perspectives can explain almost everything in the world, and certainly everything in human nature. To a large proportion of intellectuals Darwinism has become what the philosopher Daniel Dennett calls 'a universal acid' which can eat through any of the problems that have defeated the best minds of all preceeding generations. Darwin has been called in to aid almost everything about human beings from their shape and prereference for copulating face to face to their tendency to depression and eating sweets. There are schools of Darwinian medicine; and of Darwinian psychology; but the new explanations do not stop with humans. There are books about Darwinian cybernetics. William Calvin, and American neuroscientist, has a Darwinian theory of how the brain works; and Gerald Edelman, a biochemist, another one. Edelman has already won a Nobel prize [1972 in Physiology/Medicine] for showing how the immune system works by the Darwinian process of variation and selection. Then there are the influential philosophers of science like David Hull who propose that science itself can be understood as a process of varying and winnowing ideas; and even more influential philosophers who seem to think that every human activity cam be reduced to this paradigm. ... None the less, there are limits to the value and use of Darwinian ideas. The struggle to establish these limits over the last thirty years forms the subject of this book. ... The oddest thing about all this excitement is that it is not a result of new observations. It started with a new way of looking at already known facts [stress added]." Andrew Brown, 1999, The Darwin Wars: How Stupid Genes Became Selfish Gods, pages 13-18.

"Whizzing along a highway in our cars or jetting across the continent, the miles racing by, it's easy to appreciate how these two inventions have changed how we live. So, too, the telephone, the radio and the computer. It is more difficult to measure the impact of the nonmaterial, intellectual revolutions in science over the past several centuries: the heretical insights of Copernicus that shifted the earth from the center of the universe to a mere planet orbiting the sun, Darwin's theory of natural selection, and the subatomic world described by quantum mechanics [stress added]." (John F. Ross, 1999, Discovering The Odds. Smithsonian, June, pages 132-142, page 133).

AND CONSIDER, if you will, Darwin on Darwin:

"False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often endure long; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, for every one takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness: and when this is done, one path towards error is closed and the road to truth is often at the same time opened." (Charles R. Darwin [1809-1882], The Descent of Man And Selection in Relation to Sex, 1871 [1981 Princeton University Press edition, with Introduction by John T. Bonner and Robert M. May], Chapter 21, page 385).

THE CONCEPT OF CHANGE is definitely vital to an understanding of Darwin, whether you are reading Darwin himself, reading about him, or discussing him. In 1859 Darwin published On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. This was clearly his most important (and monumental) work (although he published more than 20 books in all). Origin went through five additional editions in his own lifetime (in addition to Darwin's other publications). On "change being a constant in Darwin's work" (my phrase), please consider the following changes which took place over the six editions of Origin (from M. Peckham, Editor, 1959, The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin: A Variorum Text (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press):




9 eliminated
483 rewritten
30 added
7 %
33 eliminated
617 rewritten
266 added
14 %
36 eliminated
1073 rewritten
435 added
21 %
178 eliminated
1770 rewritten
227 added
29 %
63 eliminated
1699 rewritten
571 added
21-29 %

In the 5th edition of 1869, Darwin used (for the first time) the famous phrase (borrowed from Herbert Spencer [1820-1903]): "Survival of the Fittest." In the 6th edition of 1872, "On" was dropped from the title. In the 1st edition of 1859, Darwin only had the following phrase about human beings: "In the distant future I see open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation. Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history." In the 2nd edition of 1860 Darwin also added in reference to "the Creator" and wrote the following:

"Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator [STRESS added] 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."

INCIDENTALLY, in his 1839 publication The Voyage Of The Beagle Darwin wrote the following:

"Among the scenes which are deeply impressed on my mind, none exceed in subliminity the primeval forests undefaced by the hand of man; whether those of Brazil, where the powers of Life are predominant, or those of Tierra del Fuego, where Death and Decay prevail. Both are temples filled with the varied productions of the God of Nature:--no one can stand in these solitudes unmoved, and not feel that there is more in man than the mere breath of his body [STRESS added]." 1839, page 436

IN CONCLUSION FOR THIS FALL 1999 "GENERIC" HANDOUT: The scientist Freeman Dyson wrote that Einstein was not "a superhuman genius but a human genius, and all the greater for being a human being" (Alice Calaprice, 1996, The Quotable Einstein, page xiii). Darwin was also an average human being, "not a superhuman genius" and this presentation deals with some of the scientific work of Darwin, specifically his monumental 1859 work. Darwin has been presented in the "first person" on this campus since 1990, videotapes have been created, and a CD-ROM has been discussed (see Chantal Lamers, 1998, "Darwin's Insight Evolves To CD-ROM" in The Orion, Vol. 40, Issue 2, February 4, page 1 and page 8). The tapes have been used in classes and also shown at professional meetings. This current web paper provides numerous "Web sources" for the reader.

Darwin's theory of "natural selection" is, hopefully, well known but I ask all audiences, how did the culture of his times influence Darwin's ideas and the development and acceptance of his theory? What happened before he published Origin and what occured after Origin (and what happened as a result of his numerous other publications)? Darwin was an important individual for a variety of reasons: the data he collected, the experiments he conducted, and the theory he proposed influenced a variety of disciplines, from anthropology to zoology as well as ecology, geology, and the general social sciences. His influence continues to be condemned, supported, and debated after almost 150 years. Darwin was a scientist of his times and he did "see" what everyone else had seen and then thought what almost nobody else in his times had thought. Born in Shrewsbury, England, 160 miles northwest of London on the 12th of February 1809, the same day that Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky, Darwin died on April 19, 1882. Darwin's remains are in Westminster Abbey, in London. In 1876, at the age of sixty-eight, Darwin wrote in his Autobiography that the five-year voyage on HMS Beagle (1831-1836) was "by far the most important event of my life and has determined my whole career." Darwin painstakingly built on the previous works of otherss and, in my opinion, change is apparent where Darwin is concerned.

Darwin made several intutive leaps based on his background, education, and training and he enlightened us all. I believe the WWW is a powerful tool that Charles R. Darwin would have willingly used! Michael Rose (Professor of Evolutionary Biology at UC, Irvine) sums up "search engines" on the WWW as follows:

"The real world cares little for academic categories and conventions. The serious movers and shakers of every stripe often meet each other and appropriate each other's ideas. Themes from one area then show up in another, as poetry becomes politics becomes philosophy and then science." Michael R. Rose, 1998, Darwin's Spectre: Evolutionary Biology In The Modern World, page 192.

The WWW is powerful if one knows how to use it. It is not going to go away and Darwin would have loved it! One should read Darwin in the original and form your own opinion and not necessarily accept the opinion of others. In his 1876 Autobiography, Darwin wrote that at the time of Origin he could be viewed as a theist, or one who had the conviction of the existence of God. Perspectives change over time and in 1876 Darwin stated: "The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic." (Nora Barlow, Editor, 1958, The Autobiography Of Charles Darwin 1809-1882, page 94). Darwin had his final and fatal heart attack on the 19th of April 1882. He made no deathbed statement as to his faith, but had he been asked the question: "Darwin, have you made peace with God?" perhaps he would have chosen to respond with the words attributed to Thoreau (1817-1862) on his deathbed, who is said to have responded to that question with: "I didn't know we had quarreled." 


"Darwin's theory of human evolution caused a great perturbation in man's self-image. For thousands of years Western man [AND HERE the author means men AND women!] had envisioned himself as existing apart from nature. Evolutionary thought not only revealed man's primate status but placed him [or all of us!] right in the middle of the natural world. For the last hundred or so years, that concept has been working its way from the centers of learning through society at large. It is a very painful notion. To be suddenly removed as a very special child of the Creator and placed in the zoo with all the other animals is a traumatic experience. Human society has not recovered from the shock. ... If we, as a society, are still uneasy about our primate status, it is an understandable malaise. Our position has eroded over the past few hundred years from being the center of the universe to being one more species on a small planet orbiting a medium-sized star in one galaxy out of the multitude of galaxies that exist in the universe. It is from this humble starting point that we must begin to recreate love, beauty, and truth. It is a truly gargantuan job that leave us little time to monkey around and certainly does not permit us simply to ape the intellectual attitudes of our predecessors [stress added]" (Harold J. Morowitz, 1979, The Wine Of Life And Other Essays On Societies, Energy & Living Things, pages 133-134).

"The Galápagos Islands straddle the Equator, 600 miles west of Ecuador. HMS Beagle arrived there on September 15, 1835. Now almost four years away from England, the Beagle had just come from surveying down the Brazilian coast, through the Strait of Magellan at the southern tip of the continent, and up the coast of Peru. Charles Darwin was only 26 years old. Judging from his journal and his later comments, he had not yet begun to think about what he would eventually call 'the species question.' Darwin was impressed by 'the strange Cyclopean scene.' ... He also found some strange birds. For their role in his thinking about evolution, they are now referred to as 'Darwin's finches.' ... On Darwin's last day in the Galápagos, the official supervising the nearby British penal colony declared that he could tell on which island a tortoise originated by its distinctive shell pattern. 'I did not for some time pay sufficient attention to this statement,' Darwin wrote, 'and I had already partially mingled together the collections from two of the islands.' ... Later he wrote that the distribution of Galápagos animals, combined with the similarities between South American fossils and living species in the same region, were 'the factual origin of all my views.' Although the fossils nagged at him from the beginning, other naturalists back home in England had to point out the significance of the finches. In time, Darwin would write of the Galápagos in the 1839 edition of his Journal of Researches: 'The natural history of these islands is eminently curious, and well deserves attention. Here, both in space and time, we seem to be brought somewhere near to that great fact--that mystery of mysteries--the first appearance of new beings on this earth" [stress added]." Michael Sims, 1997, Darwin's Orchestra: An Almanac of Nature in History and the Arts, page 321-322.

"He was an Englishman who went on a five-year voyage when he was young and then retired to a house in the country, not far from London. He wrote an account of his voyage, and then he wrote a book setting down his theory of evolution, based on a process he called natural selection, a theory that provided the foundation for modern biology. He was often ill and never left England again." (John P. Wiley, Jr., 1998, Expressions: The Visible Link. Smithsonian, June, pages 22-24, page 22)

"The [1937] Hungarian Nobel Prize winner [in Physiology/Medicine], Szent-Györgyi [von Nagyrapolt], once said that a scientist should see what everybody else has seen and then think what nobody has thought. Nobody did this better than Charles Darwin, who first realized that the evolution of life took place by Natural Selection. Darwin taught us all to see more clearly what everyone had seen, and Darwin also taught us to think, along with him, what no one else had thought. No branch of science is more dominated by a single theory, by a single great idea, than is the whole of biology by the idea of evolution by Natural Selection." (J. Livingston and L. Sinclair, 1967, Darwin and the Galapagos)


The paper deals with some of the scientific research of Charles R. Darwin (1809-1882), specifically his monumental 1859 publication entitled On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. This paper also points out the "human" side of this most noted of human beings and Darwin's ideas are presented in the context of his times. Today, Darwin's theory of "natural selection" is hopefully well known but how did the culture of his times influence his ideas and the development and acceptance of his theory? What happened before Darwin published Origin and what came after his numerous other publications? Charles Darwin was an extremely important individual for a variety of reasons: the data he collected, the experiments he conducted, and the theories he proposed influenced a variety of disciplines, from anthropology to zoology as well as ecology, geology, and the general social sciences. His influence continues to be condemned, supported, and debated after almost 150 years.

A virtually identical paper to this one with additional Darwin papers by Graduate Students at CSU, Chico, also appears at; and please consider the following about the importance of collaborative work:

"The rationale of collaborative research is the synergism of two or more minds working towards the solution of the same problem (two or more people working together can accomplish more than the sum of what would have been possible if those same people had been working on their own)." Sir Peter Medawar, 1986, Memoir of a Thinking Radish, page 107.
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[1] © This handout was placed on the World Wide Web on 22 September 1999 for various Fall 1999 activities at CSU, Chico (including Professor Frank Bayham's ANTH 198, Professor William Loker's ANTH 300, as well as Professor Robert Stewart's PHIL 108 at CSU, Chico). This present handout is similar to numerous other "Darwin Items" referenced below but, rather than create a "new" WebPage for every classroom presentation for the 1999-2000 Academic Year,, I have created this "generic" page (and shall tailor each specific classroom presentaton as appropriate. I shall also continue to try and incorporate new ideas, visuals, words, phrases, and references to keep the various presentations current throughout the remaining year/semesters I have at CSU, Chico. (Having arrived in Fall 1973, I have suddenly discovered that I am now a senior faculty member of the institution!) To return to the beginning of this web paper, please click here.

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SOME SPECIFIC DARWIN WEB SOURCES LOCATED AT CSU, CHICO (with various degrees of overlap & duplication: In general, the most "recent" pages should be consulted first). (1999) Urbanowicz on Darwin. For PHIL 108 & MATH 154 in Spring 1999]. (1998a) For PHIL 108 on December 2, 1998. This page contains numerous "visuals" not on other web pages. (1998b) Charles F. Urbanowicz on Charles R. Darwin. ANTH 300, October 6, CSU, Chico. (1998c) Urbanowicz on Darwin. For Homecoming & Parents Day, CSU, Chico,October 3. (1998d) Darwin and Modernism. ART 197, September 30, CSU, Chico. (1998e) PowerPoint related item for ART 197, September 30. (1998f) Folklore Concerning Charles R. Darwin. For the Southwestern Anthropological Society Meetings. [Also please see Chantal Lamers, 1998, "Darwin's Insight Evolves To CD-ROM" in The Orion, Vol. 40, Issue 2, February 4, page 1 and page 8, for a related item.]'97.html (1997a) For the CSU, Chico Anthropology Forum on September 11. (1997b) Charles Darwin: Reflections - Part One: The Beginning, Seventeen Minute Instructional Videotape: Reflections: Part One, Produced by Ms. Donna Crowe: Instructional Media Center, CSU, Chico. (1996) The Chico Anthropological Society Papers, Number 16, Special Edition on Darwin. (1996). For the CSU, Chico Anthropology Forum on November 7. (1996) Quick Time Movie: 14 seconds. (1995) Seminar PapPaper for Meeting in Washington, D.C.

OTHER INTERESTING (And Perhaps Somewhat Appropriate) WEB SITES ARE: [Anthropology Theory from Indiana University] [On Darwin] [Charles Darwin} Origin of Species] [December 6-13, 1998 "field trip" to the Galapagos Islands] [Gálapagos Islands] [Gálapagos Islands Evolution Simulation] [Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle - Birds] [Autobiography of Charles Darwin from Project Gutenberg] [The Expression of The Emotions in Man And Animals by Charles Darwin from Project Gutenberg] [The Descent of Man by Charles Darwin] ["Darwin's Metaphor" by Prof. Robert M. Young] ["Without Miracles" by Gary Cziko] (Alfred Russell Wallace 1855 paper) (Alfred Russell Wallace 1858 paper) (Thomas Henry Huxley: 1824-1895) (Gregor Mendel = MendelWeb) (The Scopes "Monkey Trial," or "A 1925 Media Circus") from Jeff Bell @ CSU, Chico]

INCIDENTALLY, a check (on September 17, 1999) of what I personally believe to be the "best Search Engine" on the WWW, namely Northern Light [], using "Charles Darwin" resulted in 54,903 "hits" on the World Wide Web.

FOR THE PRINT FOLKS: please see: Charles F. Urbanowicz, Charles R. Darwin, CSU, Chico, Meriam Library: LD/729.6/C5/A5 no.90-1; there are also several hundred "darwin-and-Darwin-related" items in the Meriam Library at CSU, Chico.

To return to the beginning of this web paper, please click here.

To go to the home page of Charles F. Urbanowicz.

To go to the home page of the Department of Anthropology.

To go to the home page of California State University, Chico.

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For more information, please contact Charles F. Urbanowicz
Copyright © 1999 Charles F. Urbanowicz

Anthropology Department, CSU, Chico
22 September 1999 by CFU