Darwin was born on 12th Feb 1809 and therefore I wish to dedicate this post to the researcher,thinker,naturalist and the man who changed the way we think of ourselves.His theory on the Origin of species has seeped into our psyche to an extent that it is being used by a recent ad of Amul Macho underwear to proove that human and animal instincts are in fact the same.Also that our ancestors were,in fact, monkeys.
If I were to reproduce the first page of the Book it would read like this :
ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
By Means of of Natural selection
Preservation of Favoured Races in the struggle for life
By Charles Darwin,M.A.
Fellow of the Royal,Geological,Linnean,etc Societies;
Author of ‘Journal of Researches during H.M.S. Beagle’s Voyage around the world’
LONDON,JOHN MURRAY,ALBEMARLE STREET.1859
The right of translation is reserved.
The first 1250 copies priced at 15 shillings sold out on the first day.I has been reprinted several times over in many languages and has scarcely been out of debate.The most fierce criticism that Darwin faced was from his wife who never lived with him as he had challenged the theory of divine creation as propounded in The Bible.
‘How stupid of me not to have thought of it’ exclaimed a contemporary after reading the book.And many have felt the same since then.The point is that the level of research that Darwin conducted carefully collating his notes,making sketches,observing minute changes among similar species as adaptations to their environment made his work historic.
Even though he appreciated the phrase ” survival of the Fittest” he was not the one to coin it.Herbert Spencer gave the expression in his work Principles of biology.The word evolution also came in much later in the 6th reprint by which time its use had become too commonplace to resist.
To Quote Charles Darwin form the introduction of the book ;
” When on Board H.M.S. Beagle,as naturalist,I was much struck with certain facts in the distribution of the inhabitants of South America,and in the geological relations of the present to the past inhabitants of the continent.These facts seemed to throw some light on the origin of species- that mystery of mysteries,as it has been called by one of the greatest philosophers.On my return home, it occurred to me,in 1837,that something might perhaps be made out on this questionby patiently acuumulating and reflecting on all sorts of facts which could possibly have any bearing on it..after five years I allowed myself to speculate on the subject,and drew up some short notes;these i enlarged in 1844 into a sketch of the conclusions,which then seemed to be probable: from that period to the present day I have steadily pursued the same object.I hope that I may be excused for entering on these personal details,as I give them to show that I have not been hasty in coming to a decision.”
From the last paragraph ;
“Although much remains obscure ,I can entertain no doubt,ater the most deliberate study and dispassionate judgement of which I am capable,that the view that most naturalist entertain,and which I formerly entertained – namely that each species has been independantly created in erroneous.I am fully convinced that species are not immutable;but that those belonging to what are called the same genera are lineal descendants of some other and genrally extinct species,in the same manner as the acknowledged varieties of any one species are descendants of that species.Furthermore,I am convinced that natural selection has been the main but not the exclusive means of modification.”
Darwin has tried to project his views in a simple manner but the work is scientific in nature and therefore requires careful enquiry,judgement and understanding.I would suggest no more than an hour of reading followed by another one for contemplation to fully grasp the concepts and appreciate the level of detail.Get yourself one as Darwin’s birthday gift.