15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (Paperback)
This book is brilliant. However, you must read it in it's own time. Darwin wrote this at a time when people saw humans as being at the top of the ladder that was evolution. This was also a time when Europeans thought themselves to be superior to the rest of the world. This seemed a natural conclusions since they were more advanced, richer and had conquered almost the whole world.
This book is beutifull. Darwin had obviously found mass condemnation from The Origin Of Species,. but also mass acceptance by many, especially from the scientific community. This book is written by a true scientist, who backs up his arguments with as much evidence as possible, but without going overboard. His target audience is not the ignorant who refuse to accept evolution regardless of the available evidence. When read in context, and freed from the fear of mass condemnation which haunted Darwin throughout The Origin Of Species we are given a chance to really see Darwin's genius. When reading this I got the impression that Darwin, freed from the narrow minded ideas of his own time, and given a slight push, could have taken the theory of evolution and advanced it to it's modern state.
It is true that Darwin's theory has been twisted as a justification of the holocaust, and other racial crimes. However, it must be pointed out that Evolution is not alone, many theories can be twisted to justify evil. Also, there is another way of looking at the ladder theory of evolution, which is the way in which the British empire took it. The British helped out other peoples throughout the world, and the plan at least was to stand them up on their own two feet.
There is a very interesting point in thie edition. Karl Marx loved the idea of survival of the fittest. He interpreted man as a being which always advanced to the next level. He therefore concluded that since Capitalism would collapse, something he spent his life writing about, that man would implement the better system, ie Communism. However, Darwin comments that man does not instinctivly advance to the next level, commenting that many "savages" don't advance. Also, neither did the Romans, who were quite content to continue as they were, disproving Marx's supposition.
This is an excellant book, which must be read in it's time, not with a modern mind, or with retrospective knowledge of the holocaust.