The Cambridge Companion to the 'Origin of Species' (Cambridge Companions to Philosophy)
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin is universally recognized as one of the most important science books ever written. Published in 1859, it was here that Darwin argued for both the fact of evolution and the mechanism of natural section. The Origin of Species is also a work of great cultural and religious significance, in that Darwin maintained that all organisms, including humans, are part of a natural process of growth from simple forms. This Companion commemorates the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Origin of Species and examines its main arguments. Drawing on the expertise of leading authorities in the field, it also provides the contexts - religious, social, political, literary, and philosophical - in which the Origin was composed. Written in a clear and friendly yet authoritative manner, this volume will be essential reading for both scholars and students More broadly, it will appeal to general readers who want to learn more about one of the most important and controversial books of modern times.
certain breeds of domestic animals have not developed new varieties. In the case of cats, he asserts, there is great difficulty in controlling their pairing. With donkeys, too few have been kept and those by poor people, so little attention has been paid to their breeding. Peacocks are not easily reared and large stocks are not kept, and geese are valuable for only two purposes, food and feathers, so there is little compulsion to produce new varieties and thus little attention is paid to their
attention from early on. In his transmutation notebooks from the 1830s he had speculated: “Perhaps the father of Mammalia as Heterodox as ornithorhyncus,” and “We have not the slightest right to say there never was common progenitor to Mammalia & fish. When there now exist[s] such strange forms as ornithorhyncus.” Darwin believed Owen’s treatment of Ornithorhynchus suffered from difficulties that occurred if animals “are thought to have been created” (Notebooks, 192 [B, 89], 194 [B, 97], 370 [D,
structure of animals & plants. – he get[s] merely a few pages. (Notebooks, 352–3 [D:60]) In the Origin, he made the metaphor of the imperfection of the fossil record central to his argument: Those who think the natural geological record in any degree perfect, and who do not attach much weight to the facts and arguments of other kinds given in this volume, will undoubtedly at once reject my theory. For my part, following out Lyell’s metaphor, I look at the natural geological record, as a history
only once, the question of means of dispersal was key for him; that subject is fully treated in Chapters 11 and 12. Darwin also gave considerable attention in those chapters to discussion of “Dispersal during the Glacial Period” (Origin, 365–82). In summary, we can say that in the first edition of the Origin Darwin was on the defensive because of the evident paucity of the fossil record in the 1850s. He used generalised arguments that probed a fundamental issue, which was whether geological
the North Atlantic.13 He also endorses Forbes’s idea that much of Europe was submerged beneath the sea at some point during the period of cold conditions, plants being transported from one island to another by icebergs. The islands, of course, would become mountains on subsequent re-emergence of the land. Darwin also accepts the possibility that – assuming both hemispheres endured cold conditions at the same time – icebergs could transport plants or their seeds across the equator to establish