The Origin of Species Hardcover – 1 Jul 1998
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It's hard to talk about The Origin of Species without making statements that seem overwrought and fulsome. But it's true: this is indeed one of the most important and influential books ever written, and it is one of the very few groundbreaking works of science that is truly readable.
To a certain extent it suffers from the Hamlet problem--it's full of clichés! Or what are now clichés, but which Darwin was the first to pen. Natural selection, variation, the struggle for existence, survival of the fittest: it's all in here.
Darwin's friend and "bulldog" T. H. Huxley said upon reading the Origin, "How extremely stupid of me not to have thought of that." Alfred Russel Wallace had thought of the same theory of evolution Darwin did, but it was Darwin who gathered the mass of supporting evidence--on domestic animals and plants, on variability, on sexual selection, on dispersal--that swept most scientists before it. It's hardly necessary to mention that the book is still controversial: Darwin's remark in his conclusion that "Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history" is surely the pinnacle of British understatement. --Mary Ellen Curtin, Amazon.com --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
"A masterful condensation." -- Victorian Studies --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Some claim that Darwin admitted of the possibility of Lamarkian mechanisms. They have not read the original. Darwin knew nothing of the molecular basis of genetics, but knew that natural selection did not need a Lamarkian mechanism. He simply did not rule it out, although he found it improbable. Everything that is stated in this great classic is as true today as it was at the time of first publication.
It is also said that Charles Darwin was a lesser intellectual when compared to most other great names of science; that he was a plodder, a naturalist, a sort of gentleman stamp collector who pressed flowers into his books and barely a scientist in the contemporary sense. This is nonsense. Darwin was one of the giants of rigorous systematic thinking; the kind of rigorous thinking and critical attitude that asks the right questions and provides the capacity to answer them. Let me buttress this claim with one example.
At the end of chapter six Darwin noted that the theory of natural selection could not account for structures or behaviors found in one species that exist solely for the benefit of another unrelated species. In setting out the theoretical terms for the refutation of the theory in this way, he anticipated Karl Popper, that analytical non-nonsense philosopher of science, by more than a century.
I recommend you read this book with an attentive curious analytical mind. You will find yourself walking in the footsteps of an intellectual giant.
I highly recommend this print by Wordsworth, given that it is the cheapest one with very high quality of print.
Once i got used to the fact that this was no "evolution for dummies" type book i began to find something i really enjoyed, it actually felt like Darwin was trying to convince me of his ideas, constantly giving arguments and counter-arguments, and going into great detail to prove his point. And he knows loads about pidgeons and bees.
I like to think i have a reasonable understanding of evolution and this book kept giving more to think about, it really was fascinating to read considering that this work literally started the entire idea. It goes really well with A-level biology and leaves you with plenty yo think about, im pretty tired now and am slightly aware of how this review does very little to explain why i loved this book so much.
Anyways for £3 you should buy it, it will make your life/thoughts better, that is all.
Darwin agonised for years over the publication of his book, and it was only at the urging of his friends (that he was about to be upstaged by Wallace) that he finally published. The delay was of his own making - torn between the evidence of his notes and correspondence with Wallace, and the furore that would inevitably result. The furore was bound to happen anyway, surrounded as he was by small-minded bigots, so he should have published earlier. But ... this might have deprived us of the brilliant arguments he puts forth in support of each section in the book.
He obviously knew what he was up against, so he tried to present his case as lucidly as possible - and here's the unusual aspect of the work - in layman's language! This was almost unheard of in a Victorian Scientific treatise - they were meant to be read by Scientists, not the hoy-poloy! He tries to counter every conceivable objection to each statement, as nicely (in both senses of the word) as possible, without any of the fervour and tunnel vision that one expects from a convert to a new ideal. He takes us by the hand and gently walks us through the evidence in support of his theory, helping us to realise that, yes, he is talking sense, no matter what our pre-conceptions of life might be.
Discover for yourself that evolution is not 'survival of the fittest', but 'survival of the most fit' - that is, fitted for that particular ecological niche - fittest being a Victorian word that has taken a different modern meaning.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
For many years I wanted to learn and read more progressively about our origins but from the Darwinian perspective. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
written in a way that allows the average person to fully understand the concepts within it.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
A classic of course. From an academic perspective, it is interesting to read this and look at the flaws caused by the limited knowledge at the time of writing. Read morePublished 4 months ago by T.S
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