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Penguin Great Ideas : On Natural Selection Mass Market Paperback – 2 Sep 2004

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Rev Ed edition (2 Sept. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141018968
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141018966
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 1 x 18 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 223,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury in 1809 and was educated at Shrewsbury School, Edinburgh University and Christ's College Cambridge. He took his degree in 1831 and in the same year embarked on a five-year voyage on HMS Beagle as a companion to the captain; the purpose of the voyage was to chart the coasts of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, and to carry a chain of chronometric readings round the world.

While he was away some of his letters on scientific matters were privately published, and on his return he at once took his place among the leading men of science. In 1839 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. Most of the rest of his life was occupied in publishing the findings of the voyage and in documenting his theory of the transmutation of species. On the origin of species by means of natural selection appeared in 1859.

Darwin spent many years with his wife - his cousin Emma Wedgwood, whom he had married in 1839 - and their children at Down House in Kent. He died in 1882, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Product Description

About the Author

Charles Darwin (1809-82) was an evolutionary biologist, best known for his controversial and ground-breaking On the Origin of Species (1856).

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Nothing is easier than to admit in words the truth of the universal struggle for life, or more difficult - at least I have found it so - than constantly to bear this conclusion in mind. Read the first page
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Brown on 6 Jan. 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This short edition of Charles Darwin's classic is brilliant. It covers struggle for existence, natural selection, difficulties on theory and a conclusion. Aside from anything else, this little book is a lovely addition to a library, with its very nice cover. The great ideas collection are great books, this one is no different!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Concise introduction to the heart of Darwin's theory 16 Sept. 2009
By mcewin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Many folks erroneously suppose Darwin invented the idea of Evolution, the descent with modification of modern organisms from previously existing forms. In fact, this idea was well established in scientific circles by the early 19th century. What was lacking was a natural, in place of a supernatural, explanation for the process.

Darwin provided this at length in the 14 chapters of his 1859 work, "On the Origin of Species," the heart of which is his theory of Natural Selection. If organisms within species vary (and we know they do), and if that variation tends to be inherited between generations (which Darwin saw but could not explain), and if that variation gives some organisms within species an advantage over others in survival and reproduction, then it follows that species will become modified over time in consequence of favorable variation being preserved and passed on. That's all.

Penguin has provided a very convenient extract of four key chapters, the third dealing with the "struggle for existence," the fourth putting forth in more detail the argument outlined here, the sixth dealing with the more obvious objections to the theory (then as now), and the last chapter summing up the work. Even non-biologist readers nowadays will accept the evidence of variation, and are far more familiar than Darwin with modern genetics to explain inheritance. It remains necessary to understand intraspecific struggle and competition (which are often metaphorical), and to drawn the conclusion of descent with modification, as Darwin does.

This is *the* Darwin book for the lay reader, who wishes to see what all the fuss is about. I have used this little book as recommended reading for philosophy courses on Darwinian theory, and for a public lecture to be given in honour of the publication of the "Origin" this coming November 19th. It is an extremely accessible introduction to Natural Selection in Darwin's own words, without the necessity of plowing through a great deal of Victorian persiflage.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Evolutionary classic 10 April 2008
By Steve Burns - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Written in 1859 by Charles Darwin to state his belief in natural selection, this book does not disappoint. Darwin clearly states his theory in this book of how nature naturally selects the strongest of a species to continue on the race. He explains the instruments of selection, sexual selecting through choice of mate, environmental and climate selection through ability to survive. He explains through charts of branches how a species could evolve and change over long time periods into a separate species. He does not back down from his critics on how an eye could evolve or why species appear to be created for their environment. I found this book to seem like a more modern read than its pre-American Civil War publishing date would suggest. After reading this little book I have a much better understanding of Darwin's theory of evolution and see how he began to turn modern science on its head by his creative and amazing theory which modern science now accepts as fact.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A founding work of modern thought 4 July 2006
By wiredweird - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This proves, as if it needed proving, that the originators of profound ideas often given the clearest, most readable, and most complete discussions of their topics. Explainers often just muddy the issue, and most later researchers incrementally widen, fill in, and bolster the original points. If any intelligent reader wants to understand the mechanism, breadth, subtlety, and power of evolution, this is the place to start. If nothing else, Darwin gives clear statement (and rebuttal) to issues that biblical literalists still yammer about, including the time scale of speciation, the fragmentary nature of the fossil record, and the fallacy of 'irreducible complexity.'

"Slow though the process may be, ... I can see no limit ... to the beauty and infinite complexity of the coadaptations between all organic beings" Understanding doesn't dampen awe. Quite the opposite: truly appreciating the power of change and selection conveys a majestic sense of the world and our place in it that I can not express. And, although I'm not a theist, I can certainly see how the the limitless power of never-ending creation can be seen as a direct and present act of a limitless Creator.

Only a very few things will sound unfamiliar to the modern reader. The first is the absence of genetics, from Mendel to Watson and Crick. Darwin observed and described inheritance without any sharp statement of what was inherited - genetics provides the mortar between the stones of Darwin's edifice. Another is the creationist beliefs of his time: that each "species" was a distinct act of creation, and progenitor of the many extant subspecies and varieties. Yet another is his unwillingness to believe that "any part of the structure of any one species had been formed for the exclusive good of another species." Mutualistic coevolution is real: a flower's nectar is of no direct use to the flower, but serves the insects around it. In a wider sense, though, nectar indirectly benefits the flower by attracting pollinators, so the error may lie only in too tight an interpretation of "exclusive good."

This slim book has been edited down from a much longer work, and I do not know what was sacrificed to brevity. Still, it stands well by itself, and the short distance from front cover to back should appeal to people put off by thick books. I recommend this to every thinking reader, down to high school age or earlier.

I have proof that this book is a lie! 18 Oct. 2014
By A - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm kidding.
Evolution is a theory just like gravity is a theory.

Yes, indeed. And beautifully written.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Beginnings of Game Theory....Searching For a Strategy for Survival 19 July 2011
By Southern Jameson West - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dear Readers

So how would the concept of Entropy figure in the evolution of living organisms?

dS(path independent)=dQ(path dependent )/T

There is I believe the concept of "Universality" here at work.
An invariance. Seen everywhere in Nature. In Physics, in Biology, in Political Science.

Whether or not it's the survival of a living organism or the survival of a society it really makes no difference.

We survive often simply because of the decisions we make and of course the enviroment around us.

Take for example the medical treatments you select. The places you visit.
What you do for a living and where you choose to live.

Then there are those you choose to live with and how you interact with them. What demands do they make on you? How do you make your decisions in lieu of these relationships?

Why Nietzsche said that to survive don't get into line ups.

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