Critical Analysis of the Descent of Man by Charles Darwin

Topics: Charles Darwin, Natural selection, On the Origin of Species Pages: 7 (2552 words) Published: September 27, 2012
In the essay The Descent Of Man by Charles Darwin excerpted from his book The Origin Of Species (1871), he tries to describe evolution through the natural selection of accumulated favorable variations in an organism that in time form new species within which the fact that man is descended from a lower-organized life form is prescribed to, by giving evidence of similarities of the characters of man which determine embryonic development, bodily structure, sexual selection, cerebral system with those of lower-life forms and in which he evidently succeeds and it is evident that man is not a separate art of creation and is descended of a common progenitor like all other mammals and though questions can be raised against his theory in terms of Imperialism (when it comes to his own personal feelings towards another section of the society), Social Darwinism ( which gained new heights after the publishing of Darwin’s book) and homosexuality when it comes to explaining it in terms of sexual selection and though Man may have the highest of intellectuals and though he exhibits varied emotion-‘he still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin’.1 Darwin said, concerning man’s origin and descent,” The main conclusion arrived at in this work, and now held by many naturalists who are well competent to form a sound judgment, is that man is descended from some less highly organized form. The grounds upon which this conclusion rests will never be shaken, for the close similarity between man and the lower animals in embryonic development, as well as in innumerable points of structure and constitution, both of high and of the most trifling importance-the rudiments of which he retains, and the abnormal reversions to which he is occasionally liable-are facts which cannot be disputed.” 2 Of man’s creation, Darwin notes,  “He who is not content to look, like a savage, at the phenomena of nature as disconnected, cannot any longer believe that man is the work of a separate act of creation.”3 So of all the intellectuals, when Darwin speaks of the act of creation, it is simply dismissed as savagery. “Of course these are ideas that he sought to promulgate in order to prove naturalism.  Darwin’s belief in God, which he briefly mentions as the creator who breathed the first life into…is actually irrelevant.  The reason is that Darwin sought to explain all of life apart from God, other than the absolute beginning, in a way that absolutely excluded God.“ 4 It is very evident to the eye of man that they have similarities in the embryonic stage to that of, for example, a dog- shape of his skull, limbs and the entire frame and also of the uses to which each part is subjected to as with other mammals. The sporadic occurrence of various structures like ‘several distinct muscles which man does not normally possess’ 5 which in general are found in Quadrumana and a lot of other ‘analogous facts’ 6 – are all evidence to the fact that man has a ‘common progenitor’7 as with other mammals. The homologies which are seen with lower life forms and the parts which man retains and the ‘reversions’8 which he is liable to, prove that man has evolved from a lower life form and thus can be placed in their ‘proper position’9 in the zoological series according to Darwin. According to Darwin ‘man is descended from a hairy quadruped, furnished with a tail and pointed ears, probably arboreal in its habits, and an inhabitant of the Old World.’ 10 If naturalists are to class the ancestors of man, they would certainly group them with Quadrumana as they would group the other ascendants of the Old and New World monkeys with the latter. In fact, the Quadrumana are in turn, ‘probably derived from an ancient marsupial animal’11 which again are probably descendants of ‘some reptile-like or some amphibian-like creature…’12 and came to being ‘through a long line of diversified forms’. 13 Darwin points to the fact that that all vertebrates must have had a common...
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