on 29 December 2005
Many people assume that Darwin's initial account of natural selection is so out of date that it is to be avoided in favour of more recent text books of evolutionary theory. While it is true that huge gains have been made in the one and a half centuries since the first publication of "The Origin", there is nothing in this work which is wrong. Darwin was too good a scientist and too cautious.
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.
on 22 January 2009
I ordered two versions of The Origin of Species. This version is the best of two. However, reader should be notice, this version is the first edition. As you may know, Darwin published six editions in total and final one is the most comprehesive one. However, as editor of this version said, the final edition had too many replies to the questioning from peers, which made the last edition much longer than the initial edition. I think the key ideas in different editions should be similar and I prefer this concise edition-the first edition.
I highly recommend this print by Wordsworth, given that it is the cheapest one with very high quality of print.
A well-written, well-argued treatise on the volatile subject of the evolution of new species by natural selection. At the time, this flew in the face of accepted theories, and especially upset current theological doctrine, Archbishop Ussher would be particularly upset!.
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.
An amazingly good read, even for our enlightened times, but recommended reading - I'll bet there are hundereds of copies on dusty bookshelves that have never been read - time to dust it off and find out for yourself the genius of the man.*****
on 26 September 2010
If your looking at this book im sure your aware its old, making the language quite difficult to follow unless you are fully awake and alert. I found parts hard to understand, not the ideas themselves but the way they are put forward, due to the era in which it was written. This is however one of the most exciting aspects of the book (the era it was written).
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.
on 21 October 2009
DO NOT GET THIS VERSION - It's not even worth the joke of showing it to others.
Due to some unintentional error by Amazon, most of the positive reviews are for a completely different book with the same title.
Ray Comfort (A Creationist) has written a 50 page introduction (16% of the book) to *celebrate* the 150th anniversary of the publication of Origin of Species and has added it to the beginning of Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" which, and I quote,
"...reveals the dangerous fruit of evolution, Hitler's undeniable connections to the theory, Darwin's racism, and his disdain for women. It counters the claim that creationists are "anti-science" by citing numerous scientists who believed that God created the universe - scientists such as Einstein, Newton, Copernicus, Bacon, Faraday, Pasteur, and Kepler." His ONLY intention is to denigrate the work of Charles Darwin while providing no evidence of his own.
DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK if you want one representing the facts about evolution and a scientific, rational and factual introduction. This introduction is for creationists that believe the world is only a few thousand years old, wilfully ignoring all evidence to the contrary.
The positive review shown here are for a completely different version ISBN-10: 0451529065 and ISBN-13: The Origin of Species or click on the links in the positive reviews.
on 1 October 1998
I started reading this book expecting to find offensive, disrespectful, and vicious material throughout it. What I came to realize instead, was that people have criticized this book based on offensive, disrespectful and vicious accusations. I can't identify how people have linked this work to God and blasphemy. It has nothing to do with religion, faith, or creation. This is a work of observation, logic, and adaptability. It makes perfect sense, and trust me, it is in no way offensive.
To think that for a century people have been debating, fighting, and cursing Charles Darwin over this work seems comical once you read his book. The book is written in easy to understand common language, allowing the not so biologically or anthropologically astute to understand it as well. Even if you are not convinced by Darwin's observations, you will be convinced that there is no threat to anyone's beliefs from this book.
I found this work to be very convincing and highly compatible with my faith in God. It does not threaten God, and it certainly does not require me to abandon any beliefs even though I fully understand and agree with Mr. Darwin. Read this book, it is worthy of consideration and it is only fair to hold judgment until after you have read it.
on 21 October 2009
At the time of writing Amazon.co.uk has muddled up two versions of this book. One is the original masterpiece by Charles Darwin. One of the greatest works of scientific literature. It is this famous book that has led many British people to carry Darwin's picture in their wallets, for it is his image that graces the ten pound note.
The Bridge-Logos edition is not an accurate edition of the book.
The text has been tampered with and an introduction has been written by Ray Comfort. Comfort is a Young Earth Creationist who has produced his own version of this book. It is a misleading version that contains very poor arguments and pseudoscience.
Comfort is regarded, by people who know and understand the science of evolution, with contempt, derision and often with outright hilarity.
If you want a proper copy of this book and to understand the science properly then buy any version but the Bridge-Logos edition.
The Origin of Species is, of course, one of the most famous and influential books ever written, but why would anybody read it today other than as a Victorian curiosity?
What struck me most was not only how much Darwin didn't know, but also the very different ways in which knowledge was acquired 150 years ago. Although the Victorians knew enough practical genetics to breed pigeons or improve livestock, the science of genetics as we understand it did not exist and it would take another century to discover DNA.
Modern laboratories are equipped with a bewildering array of sophisticated technologies that enable scientists to do everything from mapping the human genome to measuring the age of ancient micro-organisms.
And this is where the real difference lies: Darwin had a garden, notebooks, a microscope and (as Prof. Steve Jones recently pointed out) access to a breathtakingly efficient postal service, which brought information from the furthest reaches of Empire and beyond. Crucially, though, Darwin had gifts of observation, clear thinking and a knack for asking the right questions. The real value of this book to a modern reader is to observe these gifts at work in a context that any keen gardener or birdwatcher can understand.
This book is well written by the standards of the Victorian gentleman-scholars who were its first audience, but if you can cope with the average Victorian novel and don't mind looking up the occasional unfamiliar term, then The Origin of Species is probably worth the effort.
The World's Classics edition is well presented, has a useful introduction, a good index and a guide to the other writers mentioned in the text. There is a single diagram, as in the original, but no pictures, which may be a consideration for some readers. My only criticism is that the glossary of terms is Darwin's, from one of the early editions: it would have been useful to have a slightly more comprehensive list for the benefit of modern readers.
The Origin of Species deserves to be read not merely as a cultural artefact or the foundation document of the modern life sciences, but as a timeless work of natural philosophy in the very best sense of that phrase.
on 19 October 2009
Not all editions are the same. The Bridge-Logos Foundation edition has had Darwin's original introduction replaced by one written by creationist Ray Comfort. It has been published in order to denigrate Darwin and the theory of evolution by natural selection. It is being given away in USA universities to promulgate creationist views. I'm horrified that anyone wanting a copy of Darwin's work might end up with this and believe the things written in the introduction. Note, by the way, that Amazon.com state that the introduction is by Comfort and link to his religious works whereas Amazon.co.uk do not. A real shame.
Buy ANY edition but this one.
on 20 October 2009
Upon opening this book you'll be confronted by a 50 page forward by the dishonest and renouned liar and young earth creationist, Ray Comfort. His arguments are of such a pathetic level even a third grade kid could clearly see through them, and he has been corrected so many times the only way to explain him is as a willing liar for religion. He is fraudulent and dishonest in all ways possible when it comes to pushing his agenda, the latest twist of which is publishing this book under the guise of it being Charles Darwin's work. Yes it does contain Darwin's work, but it is so littered with young earth creationist claptrap it's not funny. You will seriously get a headache even attempting to read this version.
Save yourself the trouble, get a different version.