Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Darwin and Lincoln

Two men. Born on the same day. In the same year. "Each, in his own way, fought vigorously against slavery."

With growing horror, he [Darwin] observed slavery in Brazil and the genocide of indigenous peoples in Argentina, and decried both in his Voyage of the Beagle: "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," he wrote in the 1845 edition of his popular travelogue.
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By proving that all animal species descend from common ancestors, Darwin hoped to undercut the biological rationale for slavery without the need to draw distracting fire by addressing human origins directly, especially before he had amassed all the data he would need to prove decisively that humans also evolved.

A hitherto unexplored aspect of Darwin's work in Adrian Desmond and James Moore's book, Darwin's Sacred Cause. The review is fascinating. I can only imagine how good the book is.

6 comments:

Siri said...

Yay for Aquarians! Ok, stupid comments aside, the book does sound fascinating. I will check it out at the library once I have the time to read....

B said...

I heard two experts on the radio (on KQED's Forum on the 12th) that the premise is flawed. Though Darwin did not like slavery it did not drive him towards Origin. The two aspects were independent.
Of course, the book might be making a more subtle claim or that he was pleased that his theory could undercut some of the justifications of slavery. But your quoted text, for eg., and the title of the book are more provocative.

Nino's Mum said...

I've read very little on Darwin, but even as I'm tempted to agree with B in the sense that the two aspects of Darwin - his dislike for slavery and his belief in the evolution theory - could be two different aspects, I'm also reminded of several scientists and researchers who were driven to finding a scientific and factual backing to an ideology of equality.
It could very well have been the so-called 'apple dropping' moment for Darwin, that lead him to his research.

Sujatha said...

Siri, waiting to hear your reaction, but I'd rather wait a while girl!

B, NM, that quoted text is what was attractive to me and made me want to read the book. The review did its job then, eh? I hope the book is not disappointing then. I also read that he was afraid of upsetting his wife's rather conservative sensibilities.

naperville mom said...

My curiosity's piqued too, after listening to the radio review. How do you find the book, now that it's in your hands?:)

Sujatha said...

NM, I don't have the book. Will try to find it in the library on my next visit.

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