Descent Of Man
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Descent Of Man

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  2,007 ratings  ·  46 reviews
The sole object of this work is to consider, firstly, whether man, like every other species, is descended from some pre-existing form; secondly, the manner of his development; and thirdly, the value of the differences between the so-called races of man. As I shall confine myself to these points, it will not be necessary to describe in detail the differences between the sev...more
Paperback, 560 pages
Published September 30th 2007 by Nuvision Publications (first published 1871)
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Hallelujah! Finished at last....and it only took almost 2 years to get through all 648 pages. Darwin is much more verbose in this book than he was in the very readable Voyage of the Beagle. I'm sure that this book made quite a (shocking) splash in 1874, when it was first published. He put off publishing it for a while after On the Origin of Species as he was well aware of what knickers would be twisted by the realization that he was actually saying that even humans evolved...from apes, no less....more
Jason Sixsmith
This book reveals just how much Darwin's racist and sexist views influenced his scientismic method.
This is one of the few books I found no redeeming qualities in. Some of his sentences absolutely scream racism and sexism. I know that ignorant statements should not entirely discount what a person is saying but when Darwin refers to the "Negro" (his word) as an entirely different "species" than the European man; I think my cringe lasted for the rest of the afternoon. I am truly astounded that so many of Darwin's loyal followers have either not read this book or choose to ignore it. Granted it w...more
Where "The Voyage of the Beagle" is an informative page turner and "On The Origin of Species" of course a work of genius, "The Descent of Man" is really just a scatter-shot, hit-and-miss collection of speculation and, at best, circumstantial and anecdotal evidence. One could call it a list in prose form, said list consisting of endless descriptions of specifically sexual characteristics of animals from insects to humans - needless to say, this makes it a horrendously dull read. Added to this, th...more
Bob Nichols
Darwin wrote this book in 1872. It's interesting to compare what he wrote about then with what many of his successor theorists write about today.

While today’s emphasis is on universals (e.g., humans are this or not this or that), Darwin notes throughout this book that individuals also have a wide variability in physical, emotional and mental structures and capabilities. Importantly, this suggests variability in biological temperaments (e.g., timidity and courage) and, more broadly, inborn charac...more
What can I say about Darwin and his contemporaries? Time has been the great witness to their theories. Those with eyes to see, see the world explained. Even those who don’t, can't explain their theories away. Darwin's logic opened the universe to my mind. It amazes me that they did their work totally by observation. Time has given us many tools to confirm their work. Some ideas fell away, almost all are still valid. One of the great accomplishments of our species.
Hace rato no terminaba un libro y me quedaba tan impresionado y satisfecho.

En el Origen de las Especies, Darwin buscaba más la prueba empírica redactando pruebas y experimentos y con los resultados de estas hacía conclusiones que apoyaban de manera completa su teoría de la Selección Natural. En este de El Origen del Hombre, se basa más en el racionalismo que en el empirismo y sus conclusiones llegan a partir de teorías previamente postuladas sumándole nuevas conclusiones e ideas que le parecían...more
RK Byers
legendary in it's racist iconography. a veritable Mein Kampf.
The secular humanist handbook and bible.
Peter Cawdron
Not the lightest of reading material, but thoroughly engrossing once you pick up on the subtle threads Darwin exposes. This book should stand equal to On the Origin of Species. Darwin is meticulous in documenting his sources, which makes it hard to read at times as the flow is often broken by these interjections, but his insights into both animal and human behaviour are astounding.

Calling this book the Descent of Man is a little misleading in that 80% of the book is to do with establishing the...more
Evolution is an area of major interest to me so it is curious I had never read "The Descent of Man." The reason is I had been told that there is no science in the book worth mentioning, and having now read the book I find that is the case.
In his conclusions at the end of the book Darwin states his ideas put forward in the book are "highly speculative and may be in error." He was correct in that statement.
Basically Darwin posits that the various human races, while descended from an ape-like ances...more
Barry Cunningham
A very difficult read. I read it as an eBook on my iPhone, which made it doubly difficult because all the footnotes are interlineated in the text.
Historically, the book is very important. Darwin had left off dealing in detail with man's place in evolution in The Origin of Species because he knew it would be a lightning rod, and, as such, a distraction from his exposition of principles of natural selection.
I found the book's organization somewhat confusing. Only the first part of the book is real...more
Amal Shoeib
Though I liked the "Origin of Species" very much. I didn't like this book! There are many snap judgements, hasty assumptions and inaccurate conclusions. At times, I've been wondering if this was really Darwin! The book was basically about The sexual selection a theory that Darwin postulated where females have the ability to pick their preferrable male to produce offspring. I'm not quite sure if I got it well but did he just mentioned something about selecting species to make savegry species vani...more
Steve Van Slyke
Apr 13, 2012 Steve Van Slyke rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in the history of evolutionary theory
Shelves: evolution, kindle, science
I have to admit I skipped a few sections in the part on Sexual Selection because Darwin went to such great lengths at times to quote every possible book, document, paper or manuscript that either supported or attacked his theories, that at times I just got worn down.

But having said that, it was a very worthwhile read and it is astounding how many of his theories about man's evolution from earlier forms have been proven to be right on or nearly so.

My only criticism of the book other than its leng...more
Very well written, very interesting. But I must admit I skipped a few chapters as the book was due at the library. And he elaborated way too much on certain points.

That said, his theories were very well thought out and supported by scores of evidence, even if some of them were anecdotal. He raised many very interesting points on the origin of humans and, despite the title of the book, other animals as well. With modern research techniques, and the advances in genetics, many of his theories have...more
Darwin's last book addresses the problem of man's place in the universe.
Far from being made in the image of God or even a link in the great chain of being, the human race is not even the goal of evolution. It is the adaptive product of evolution as are all the other species on earth today.
He concludes that we are descended from a common arboreal ape ancestor, that intelligence is just an adaptive byproduct of evolution and that there is also a moral evolution in that we have adapted for life i...more
Scot Quaranda
I understand that Darwin was very paranoid about releasing this for fear of persecution, and also understand that in today's day and age when this all seems to be recognized as fact that I should have enjoyed this more. That said, I think he should have stuck to the straight story and focused on natural selection which may or may not be the full story, instead he often gets speculative about the sexes and races maybe because he feels emboldened about finally speaking his truth and sadly this det...more
Going into this work, I was under the impression that it mainly focused on human evolution. That isn't entirely the case. There are chapters on human evolution, to be sure, but the lengthiest writings have to do with sexual selection in non-human species (there are three or four chapters on birds alone). This fact was my first disappointment.

My second disappointment is many of Darwin's remarks on the differences between the sexes in humans. A lot of his hypotheses in this regard are severely dat...more
Josh Brown
5 stars for the part about why/how humans evolved from other species. 1 star for the part that is just scattershot armchair anthropology so embarrassingly laced with culturally conditioned presuppositions Darwin seems to have thought were scientific.
This is Darwin's final major book with a focus on man. The primary focus is on man's origin in Part I, and sexual selection in Parts II & III. I found the discussion of moral sense and social instincts to be particularly enlightening with his focus on "sympathy" and "habit" as discussed by the Scottish philosophers (cf. Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments). Notably he rejects God as the source of conscience. The bulk of the text, however, contains detail examples and discussion of the...more
Rachael Bundy
99% of this book is racist ranting about why non-Europeans are less evolved than Europeans (specifically the British). Blech.
Interesting in its own way, mostly fro a historical perspective as Darwin spends chapter after chapter giving evidence of how males and females differ in many species, and how strongly this correlates with competition for females in these species. At the time, he was advocating a controversial view, but today, it is accepted by all apart from religious extremists and a few cranks, and even most Creationists will accept the power of sexual selection to modify species.
That said, I could have done...more
Read all of Part I, little of Part II (mucho mucho "evidence" concerning animals excluding man) and all of Part III.

Edit: I just realized something weird: The cover is a photograph by Lewis Carroll. As is the cover for Hardy's The Woodlanders. What? Penguin doesn't know what to do with all those Carroll pictures? Or is someone seriously suggesting a link between Carroll and Darwin?
Matthew Paluch
Absolutely brilliant, absolutely difficult to read.
This book is a must. The man who explained us (can you quite believe that sentence!) deserves to be read.
This is an important book to understand the thinking in the latter 19th century. It's historical in nature. A catalogue of diverse thought at that time. It is meant to be judged "agree" or "disagree." It is meant to give background understand to see why we are where we are now in this diverse thinking.
I didn't enjoy this as much as Origin but it was still a good read and provide thorough scientific evidence and analysis for the issues raised. There are some comments within it that would be considered inappropriate today but given the time this was written it is to be expected.
Marts  (Thinker)
The Descent of Man contains details of Darwin's views on evolutionary theory and its applications to human evolution coupled with his sexual selection theory... he also looks at the differences between the sexes and human races amongst other topics...
Not as powerful as "the Origin of Species," but it still showcases Darwin's abilities as a scientist to synthesize vast amounts of data and make a coherent experience out of it.
Alexandre Couto de Andrade
It is incredible that the same man who wrote the "Origin of Species" also wrote this pseudoscientific and racist book!
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Goodreads Librari...: Please delete this author? 14 69 Jun 06, 2012 12:32AM  
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  • Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design
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Charles Robert Darwin was an English naturalist, eminent as a collector and geologist, who proposed and provided scientific evidence that all species of life have evolved over time from common ancestors through the process he called natural selection. The fact that evolution occurs became accepted by the scientific community and the general public in his lifetime, while his theory of natural selec...more
More about Charles Darwin...
The Origin of Species Voyage of the Beagle The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, 1809–82 On Natural Selection The Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals

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“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.” 279 likes
“The following proposition seems to me in a high degree probable—namely, that any animal whatever, endowed with well-marked social instincts, the parental and filial affections being here included, would inevitably acquire a moral sense or conscience, as soon as its intellectual powers had become as well, or nearly as well developed, as in man. For, firstly, the social instincts lead an animal to take pleasure in the society of its fellows, to feel a certain amount of sympathy with them, and to perform various services for them.” 42 likes
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