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Charles Darwin quotes (showing 31-60 of 277)

“...for the shield may be as important for victory, as the sword or spear.”
Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species
“I am not the least afraid to die”
Charles Darwin
“To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I confess, absurd in the highest degree...The difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection , though insuperable by our imagination, should not be considered subversive of the theory.”
Charles Darwin
“There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery.”
Charles Darwin
“It is always advisable to perceive clearly our ignorance.”
Charles Darwin, The Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals
“The loss of these tastes [for poetry and music] is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.”
Charles Darwin, The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, 1809–82
“False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often endure long; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, for everyone takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness; and when this is done, one path towards error is closed and the road to truth is often at the same time opened.”
Charles Darwin
“To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact.”
Charles Darwin, More Letters of Charles Darwin, Vol 2
“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been and are being evolved.”
Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species
“We are not here concerned with hopes or fears, only with truth as far as our reason permits us to discover it.”
Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man
“At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break will then be rendered wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state as we may hope, than the Caucasian and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as at present between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.”
Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man
“...I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton.— Let each man hope & believe what he can.—”
Charles Darwin
“For my own part I would as soon be descended from that heroic little monkey, who braved his dreaded enemy in order to save the life of his keeper; or from that old baboon, who, descending from the mountains, carried away in triumph his young comrade from a crowd of astonished dogs—as from a savage who delights to torture his enemies, offers up bloody sacrifices, practices infanticide without remorse, treats his wives like slaves, knows no decency, and is haunted by the grossest superstitions.”
Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man
“The very essence of instinct is that it's followed independently of reason.”
Charles Darwin
“A scientific man ought to have no wishes, no affections, - a mere heart of stone.”
Charles Darwin
“Wherever the European had trod, death seemed to pursue the aboriginal.”
Charles Darwin
“we are always slow in admitting any great change of which we do not see the intermediate steps”
Charles Darwin, On Natural Selection
“But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?
[To William Graham 3 July 1881]”
Charles Darwin
“We cannot fathom the marvelous complexity of an organic being; but on the hypothesis here advanced this complexity is much increased. Each living creature must be looked at as a microcosm--a little universe, formed of a host of self-propagating organisms, inconceivably minute and as numerous as the stars in heaven.”
Charles Darwin
“The question of whether there exists a Creator and Ruler of the Universe has been answered in the affirmative by some of the highest intellects that have ever existed.”
Charles Darwin
“Nevertheless so profound is our ignorance, and so high our presumption, that we marvel when we hear of the extinction of an organic being; and as we do not see the cause, we invoke cataclysms to desolate the world, or invent laws on the duration of the forms of life!”
Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species
“I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit. Remember what risk the nations of Europe ran, not so many centuries ago of being overwhelmed by the Turks, and how ridiculous such an idea now is! The more civilised so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world.”
Charles Darwin
“In conclusion, it appears that nothing can be more improving to a young naturalist, than a journey in distant countries.”
Charles Darwin, Voyage of the Beagle
“But we are not here concerned with hopes or fears, only with the truth as far as our reason allows us to discover it. I have given the evidence to the best of my ability; and we must acknowledge , as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities, with sympathy which feels for the most debased, with benevolence which extends not only to other men but to the humblest living creature, with his godlike intellect which has penetrated into the movements and constitution of the solar system - with all these exalted powers - Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.”
Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man
“He who understands baboons would do more towards metaphysics than Locke.”
Charles Darwin
“We will now discuss in a little more detail the Struggle for Existence.”
Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species
“Natural Selection almost inevitably causes much Extinction of the less improved forms of life and induces what I have called Divergence of Character.”
Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, Vol 2
“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...We behold the face of nature bright with gladness...We do not see, or we forget, that the birds which are idly singing round us mostly live on insects and seeds, and are thus constantly destroying life.”
Charles Darwin
“But Natural Selection, as we shall hereafter see, is a power incessantly ready for action, and is immeasurably superior to man's feeble efforts, as the works of Nature are to those of Art.”
Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species
“It is often attempted to palliate slavery by comparing the state of slaves with our poorer countrymen: if the misery of our poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin; but how this bears on slavery, I cannot see; as well might the use of the thumb-screw be defended in one land, by showing that men in another land suffered from some dreadful disease. Those who look tenderly at the slave owner, and with a cold heart at the slave, never seem to put themselves into the position of the latter; what a cheerless prospect, with not even a hope of change! picture to yourself the chance, ever hanging over you, of your wife and your little children — those objects which nature urges even the slave to call his own — being torn from you and sold like beasts to the first bidder! And these deeds are done and palliated by men, who profess to love their neighbours as themselves, who believe in God, and pray that his Will be done on earth! It makes one's blood boil, yet heart tremble, to think that we Englishmen and our American descendants, with their boastful cry of liberty, have been and are so guilty...”
Charles Darwin, Voyage of the Beagle


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The Origin of Species The Origin of Species
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Voyage of the Beagle Voyage of the Beagle
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The Descent of Man The Descent of Man
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The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, 1809–82 The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, 1809–82
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