Urbanowicz on Darwin (Again!) For PHIL 108 & MATH 154

Dr. Charles F. Urbanowicz / Professor of Anthropology
Department of Anthropology / California State University, Chico
Chico, California 95929-0400
e-mail: curbanowicz@csuchico.edu and / or http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/
(530-898-6220; 530-898-6192; FAX: 9530-898-6824)
22 April 1999 (1)
[This page printed from http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/DarwinSp99Presentations.html]

I attempt to "humanize" Charles R. Darwin (1809-1882) and try to incorporate as much "new" materials as possible in every presentation. Thinking and writing about "Darwin" is as current as today, as the issue of Time for April 26, 1999 (pages 48-51) pointed out, citing Peter Raven (Director of the Missouri Botanical Garden) and his choice of words from Charles Darwin's Origin dealing with "biodiversity" on this planet! 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 On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. 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 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 this (and 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's most important (and monumental) work was his 1859 publication of On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. Origin went through five additional editions in his own lifetime (in addition to his numerous 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 1869 Darwin used "Survival of the Fittest" (borrowed from Herbert Spencer [1820-1903]) and by 1872, "On" was dropped. In 1859 Darwin wrote the following about human beings: "Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history." Darwin was an agnostic and not an atheist who rejected all religious beliefs and who denied the existence of a supreme being. Darwin was unwilling to accept supernatural explanations for the world he observed all around him. Please note that in the second edition of 1860 he included the following words in closing his book:

"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."

Darwin made intuitive leaps based on his education, background, and training and he enlightened us all. I believe the WWW is a powerful tool that Charles R. Darwin would have willingly used! 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."

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(1) © This handout was placed on the World Wide Web for the presentation for Professor Robert Stewart's PHIL 108 (Ethics and Human Happiness) as well as Professor Thomas McReady's MATH 154 (Science, Mathematics, and Ethics) at CSU, Chico, in May 1999. This handout is similar to other "Darwin Items" referenced below, yet I continue to try and incorporate some new ideas, words, phrases, and references to keep the presentation new and alive. To return to the beginning of this web paper, please click here.

[This page printed from http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/DarwinSp99Presentations.html]


http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/DarwinPhil108.htm (1998a) For PHIL 108 on December 2, 1998. This page contains numerous "visuals" not on this current web page.
http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/ANTH300.html (1998b) Charles F. Urbanowicz on Charles R. Darwin. ANTH 300, October 6, CSU, Chico.
http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/DarwinArt197.html (1998c) Darwin and Modernism. ART 197, September 30, CSU, Chico.
http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/Darwin_Folklore.html (1998d) Folklore Concerning Charles R. Darwin. For the Southwestern Anthropological Society Meetings.
Darwin Continues To Evolve: Urbanowicz On Darwin (Again!). (1997a) For the CSU, Chico Anthropology Forum on September 11.
Charles Darwin: Reflections - Part One: The Beginning, (1997b) Seventeen Minute Instructional Videotape: Reflections: Part One, Produced by Ms. Donna Crowe: Instructional Media Center, CSU, Chico.
http://www.csuchico.edu/anth/CASP/1996.html (1996) The Chico Anthropological Society Papers, Number 16, Special Edition on Darwin.
http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/Forum/Nov7-96.html (1996). For the CSU, Chico Anthropology Forum on November 7.
http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/Forum/darwin.mov (1996) Quick Time move: 14 seconds.
http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/Darwin/DarwinSem-S95.html (1995) Seminar Paper for ANTH 303.

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 April 1999 by CFU