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The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex Paperback – August 1, 1981
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About the Author
"Charles Robert Darwin (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist. After becoming eminent among scientists for his field work and inquiries into geology, he proposed and provided scientific evidence that all species of life have evolved over time from one or a few common ancestors through the process of natural selection. The fact that evolution occurs became accepted by the scientific community and the general public in his lifetime, while his theory of natural selection came to be widely seen as the primary explanation of the process of evolution in the 1930s, and now forms the basis of modern evolutionary theory. In modified form, Darwin's scientific discovery remains the foundation of biology, as it provides a unifying logical explanation for the diversity of life.
Darwin developed his interest in natural history while studying first medicine at Edinburgh University, then theology at Cambridge. His five-year voyage on the Beagle established him as a geologist whose observations and theories supported Charles Lyell's uniformitarian ideas, and publication of his journal of the voyage made him famous as a popular author. Puzzled by the geographical distribution of wildlife and fossils he collected on the voyage, Darwin investigated the transmutation of species and conceived his theory of natural selection in 1838. Having seen others attacked as heretics for such ideas, he confided only in his closest friends and continued extensive research to meet anticipated objections. His research was still in progress in 1858 when Alfred Russel Wallace sent him an essay which described a similar theory, prompting immediate joint publication of both of their theories.
His 1859 book On the Origin of Species established evolution by common descent as the dominant scientific explanation of diversification in nature. He examined human evolution and sexual selection in The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, followed by The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. His research on plants was published in a series of books, and in his final book, he examined earthworms and their effect on soil.
In recognition of Darwin's pre-eminence, he was buried in Westminster Abbey, close to John Herschel and Isaac Newton." (Quote from wikipedia.org)
Top Customer Reviews
I've kept The Descent of Man on my book shelf for over 30 years, unread. I was always too busy to justify the time required to do it justice. Now that I'm writing a dissertation in the History and Philosophy of Science I had the excuse I always lacked for tackling this monumental work. I'm glad I waited.
Years as a practicing biologist and teacher have taught me the value of perspective. This is not a book that will teach you the details of human evolution. Read something recent in biological anthropology if that is what you are after. If you struggle with the convoluted sentence structure and wordiness of Victorian prose, this is certainly not the book for you. Try Harry Potter or Curious George instead.
I always enjoy reading the negative reviews of books written on controversial topics just to see how many people actually review the subject matter rather than the book. I find it hysterical that 6 of the 7 negative reviews listed here were written by two fundamentalists and the seventh one was so tongue-in-cheek I'd give his review 5-starts just for fun. I found all but one of these negative reviews very predictable, and irrelevant.
The Descent needs to be read by anyone interested in what Darwin thought and dared to publically declare. It should not, however, be read outside the context of his letters, and the social milieu in which he lived. It is most certainly anchored in a different age yet bridges that age to our own. Evolution is the cornerstone of all modern biology. Darwin's astonishing synthesis and daring predictions continue to be tested, refined, and corroborated. Seeing "only in a glass darkly," he nonetheless illuminated so much that is correct in human evolutionary history.Read more ›
Darwin was someone "who viewed life on earth in terms of an evolutionary framework grounded in science and reason" (taken from the Introduction by H. James Birx). It is difficult to believe that an educated person would misinterpret his ideas as being sexist or racist. Only the ignorant (or a creationist in disguise) would attempt to discredit the work of one of the greatest minds of all times by giving it the wrong label. Reading Daniel C. Dennett's "Darwin Dangerous Idea" (highly recommended) might help to put it in the right context.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
When Charles Darwin in 1859 finally made public his theory of evolution by natural selection in “On the Origin of Species”, he avoided writing about human evolution, except for... Read morePublished 2 months ago by P. Webster
Here I am not judging the book for its impact to the science or how interesting it would be if read 150 years ago, but how enjoyable it is today for a 21st century layman. Read morePublished 8 months ago by D. Simonovic
anything by darwin is indispensible for those not afraid to read himPublished 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
The writing and subject material is still of interest so many years after written.Published 11 months ago by Charles Kemp
I had to return it: the typeface was so small I couldn't read it.Published 17 months ago by Robert D. McConnell
I am happy to share with you all, that as far as I am concerned, I am divine creation, Darwin is not my forefather. So very happy to believe what I do believe.Published 20 months ago by Graciela