Orgin of the Species ~ Charles Darwin on CD
Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, published on 24
November 1859, is a seminal work of scientific literature,
considered to be the foundation of evolutionary biology. Its full
title was On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection,
or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. For
the sixth edition of 1872, the short title was changed to The
Origin of Species. Darwin's book introduced the theory that
populations evolve over the course of generations through a process
of natural selection. It presented a body of evidence that the
diversity of life arose by common descent through a branching
pattern of evolution. Darwin included evidence that he had gathered
on the Beagle expedition in the 1830s and his subsequent findings
from research, correspondence, and experimentation.
Various evolutionary ideas had already been proposed to
explain new findings in biology. There was growing support for such
ideas among dissident anatomists and the general public, but during
the first half of the 19th century the English scientific
establishment was closely tied to the Church of England, while
science was part of natural theology. Ideas about the transmutation
of species were controversial as they conflicted with the beliefs
that species were unchanging parts of a designed hierarchy and that
humans were unique, unrelated to animals. The political and
theological implications were intensely debated, but transmutation
was not accepted by the scientific mainstream.
The book was written for non-specialist readers and attracted
widespread interest upon its publication. As Darwin was an eminent
scientist, his findings were taken seriously and the evidence he
presented generated scientific, philosophical, and religious
discussion. The debate over the book contributed to the campaign by
T.H. Huxley and his fellow members of the X Club to secularise
science by promoting scientific naturalism. Within two decades
there was widespread scientific agreement that evolution, with a
branching pattern of common descent, had occurred, but scientists
were slow to give natural selection the significance that Darwin
thought appropriate. During the "eclipse of Darwinism" from the
1880s to the 1930s, various other mechanisms of evolution were
given more credit. With the development of the modern evolutionary
synthesis in the 1930s and 1940s, Darwin's concept of evolutionary
adaptation through natural selection became central to modern
evolutionary theory, now the unifying concept of the life sciences.
(summary by Wikipedia)
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