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#17265 - 12/15/06 06:13 PM Origin of Species.
TheFallibleFiend Offline
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Registered: 06/08/05
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I'm rereading this for the first time in about 25 years. I'm actually reading the same copy that I previously read - a Pelican Classic. I'm getting a LOT more out of it this time than I did previously. So much stuff I missed of which I missed the significance. Some of it I missed altogether. Amazing book. It reads like some nerdy kid telling you about his ant collection.

His expertise is thorough and wide-ranging. He derives his ideas not just from his voyages, but also from experiments he has done, his experience as a naturalist and breeder, his correspondence with professionals and scientists, and a vast range of reading. Natural Selection isn't just something he pulled out of his backside. I think one of the central problems of this book is that Darwin is a Keen Observer and a Deep Thinker. Not many people can think so deeply as he does. I suspect not many could even recognize it.



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#17266 - 12/15/06 06:24 PM Re: Origin of Species. [Re: TheFallibleFiend]
samwik Offline
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Registered: 10/10/06
Posts: 1164
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If you want to see more:

http://darwin-online.org.uk/

This site also has the transcribed notes from Darwin's Beagle notebook as well as a comprehensive collection of his manuscripts. Many of the works are also available as mp3 files broken into 50kb parts.

~samwik
_________________________
Pyrolysis creates reduced carbon! ...Time for the next step in our evolutionary symbiosis with fire.

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#17424 - 12/22/06 04:48 AM Re: Origin of Species. [Re: samwik]
Wolfman Offline
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Registered: 04/17/06
Posts: 264
Loc: Pago Pago, American Samoa
If you like Darwin, you'll LOVE Alfred Russel Wallace. He was a MAN'S Biologist, he made Darwin look like a PUNK. Darwin was in the Galapagos for six weeks. Wallace spent YEARS in jungles in Indonesia and the Amazon. He was the first White man to spot the then-legendary Black Jaguar. Give me Wallace ANY DAY. They were contemporaries. Wallace published his paper BEFORE Darwin did! If they were alive today, Wallace would tell Darwin, "C'mon, Homie, Bring It!!" And Darwin would be all sheepish and s**t.

Let me put it in terms that you can relate to -
Wallace was the John Wayne of Biologists; Darwin was Woody Allen.

But don't take my word for it, look him up. Fascinating guy.

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#17425 - 12/22/06 04:59 AM Re: Origin of Species. [Re: Wolfman]
Wolfman Offline
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Registered: 04/17/06
Posts: 264
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You might want to check out "The Panda's Thumb" by Steven Jay Gould as well. It was written in, I think, 1980, so DNA was, at the time, like, huh, wha... But still a good read.

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#17428 - 12/22/06 09:13 AM Re: Origin of Species. [Re: Wolfman]
samwik Offline
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Wolfman, I'm not disputing what you said about Wallace; but just to add a little color....

I saw E. O. Wilson and James Watson recently on Charlie Rose. Beautiful show. What an honor and pleasure to see those two conversing. They talked about Wallace a bit and mentioned that Darwin was aware that he needed to get his work published quickly if he wanted to beat Wallace. Fortunately he had everything ready to publish and had just been waiting for his wife to die before he published his work. He wanted to wait because she was very religious and he knew she wouldn't appreciate his message or the attention it would bring. This was a major reason he waited so long to publish after his voyage.
But as you say, Darwin wasn't the only one to have the lightbulb dawning back then.

I'm not too familiar with the details, so I hope I'm doing justice to what Wilson and Watson brought up. I think this was a show "plugging" both of their recently published books (just a coincidence) on Darwin (although before Wilson's "Creation").

~samwik
_________________________
Pyrolysis creates reduced carbon! ...Time for the next step in our evolutionary symbiosis with fire.

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#17432 - 12/22/06 02:17 PM Re: Origin of Species. [Re: samwik]
TheFallibleFiend Offline
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I've read a number of Gould books, including The Panda's Thumb.

I plan to read Wallace, but I don't know that it would change my view of Darwin. Darwin may only have spent 6 weeks in the Galapagos, but he did wander hundreds of miles inland into the jungles of South America.

Also, Darwin was a brilliant observer. He performed experiments and studied the minutiae of life about him, including snails, barnacles, and pigeons. Not only that, but he was an avid reader and communicator. One of the things that struck me on first reading and that I'm not being reminded of is the overwhelming feeling while reading OOS that one is sitting down at a table with an intense, but good-natured old fellow and the two of you have arrayed before you this huge pile of puzzle pieces. You're staring at it in confusion, but he picks up a piece and starts talking to you about where the piece could go and then finally he convinces you that this is probably a corner piece and lays it in place.

I cannot comment on Wallace, though I suspect he was brilliant and worthy man. But I'm quite certain that Darwin was truly a towering intellect. To me personally the understanding and appreciation for Darwin is a proxy metric for intellect.


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#17445 - 12/23/06 08:50 AM Re: Origin of Species. [Re: TheFallibleFiend]
terrytnewzealand Offline
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Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 1031
Loc: Whangarei New Zealand
I seem to be mentioning books tonight. "Alfred Russel Wallace - a life" by Peter Raby (Pimlico 2001). Wallace and Darwin presented a joint paper at the Royal Society. They had corresponded for several years and so they had influenced each other's ideas. The author argues that Darwin was upper crust and Wallace was working class. Hence Darwin, rather than the two of them, is remembered as the originator of the idea of selection's role in evolution. The Wallace line through the East Indies is named after our hero. Fallible, you're right about Darwin of course.

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#17600 - 01/10/07 12:10 AM Re: Origin of Species. [Re: terrytnewzealand]
Ellis Offline
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Registered: 01/08/07
Posts: 1490
Loc: Australia
It doesn't matter how long Darwin was in the Galapogos. His genius was to ask the questions and suggest some answers that we are atill discussing and expanding on today. I like the analogy of the jigsaw puzzle- very apt. There's a really interesting novel about the voyage of The Beagle. It's called Mr Darwin's Shooter and is the story of Covington, the man who shot the little finches that started Darwin's interest in evolution, as well as Darwin. It made me have a go at reading The Origin of the Species!!!

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#17612 - 01/11/07 01:31 AM Re: Origin of Species. [Re: Ellis]
TheFallibleFiend Offline
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Registered: 06/08/05
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I've summarized chapter I, "Variation Under Domestication" at http://thefalliblefiend.blogspot.com/2007/01/rereading-origin-of-species-im.html


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#17617 - 01/11/07 10:09 PM Re: Origin of Species. [Re: TheFallibleFiend]
DA Morgan Offline
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I'm not sure Darwin necessarily was a genius or asked the right questions so much as he was courageous and willing to stand up and say it. Churches of his time, much like those today, were quick to ostracize, or worse, those who disagreed with their articles of faith.
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#17618 - 01/11/07 10:38 PM Re: Origin of Species. [Re: DA Morgan]
terrytnewzealand Offline
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I've read, and heard on TV (a very reliable source of information!) that the two main reasons Darwin was reluctant to publish were: he didn't want to offend his wife and he was worried about the implications for social stability his theory raised. Especially after the riots in Europe through 1848. The problem is that the theory of evolution definitely states there is no fixed order in society. He didn't really cop it from the churches. It was mainly his bulldog that copped that.

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#17619 - 01/12/07 12:41 AM Re: Origin of Species. [Re: DA Morgan]
TheFallibleFiend Offline
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Registered: 06/08/05
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Darwin was brilliant.

There were a number of people who were preaching evolution before Darwin, some of them decades prior to OOS. But they didn't have the right theory to explain it and their arguments were generally weak.

The idea that is going round some intellectuals circles now is that Darwin plagiarized all of his ideas from his grandfather. Such is the power of urban legend.

There were, otoh, people who actually did antedate Darwin in the publication of Natural Selection. He actually lists the ones he knew about in later editions of OOS. Of course he was unaware of their theories when he wrote OOS. However, in each case, the idea of NS is peripheral to the subject matter, and none of them explains the theory in anything close to the detail that Darwin musters.

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#17640 - 01/13/07 06:57 AM Re: Origin of Species. [Re: TheFallibleFiend]
terrytnewzealand Offline
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Fallible Fiend. Not quite true about Darwin being unaware of other people's theories. As I said his first paper on the subject was a joint paper with Wallace. They had been corresponding for years. However Wallace himself admitted that Darwin had thought the theory through more than he (Wallace) had done.

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#17648 - 01/13/07 05:53 PM Re: Origin of Species. [Re: terrytnewzealand]
DA Morgan Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
TNZ is correct. Darwin was well connected with others of his time and not to deprive him of credit well deserved ... his ideas were no more original than were some of Einsteins.
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#17654 - 01/13/07 08:09 PM Re: Origin of Species. [Re: DA Morgan]
TheFallibleFiend Offline
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Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 1940
Loc: http://thefalliblefiend.blogsp...
Like many great ideas, NS was one whose time had come. There were a number of people using a number of lines of evidence that seemed to point in that direction. It's true that Darwin was well-connected: nearly every page of OOS make multiple references to the work of others.

It's also true that Darwin corresponded with Wallace - and he was certainly aware of the work of Wallace when he published. However, that doesn't change the fact that Darwin developed his ideas independently. Wallace is the fellow who coined the term Darwinism.

Darwin's ideas were original, as were Leibnitz's calculus original to him, and Einstein's ideas original to him - I don't believe the urban legends about Einstein plagiarizing his work from other people, or his wife doing his math for him.

http://www.update.uu.se/~fbendz/nogod/cd-aw.htm

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