Saturday, January 31, 2009

On the Origins of Equality

While surfing the New York Times website, I found an interesting article pertaining to the topics of Charles Darwin, his Beagle voyage, and slavery.

If you have time, I advise you click here to read it (it's not fairly long). I promise it wont be tedious.

Now, it has been said that Darwin was a "Product of his Time", which basically means that there were probably still some racial barriers between him and African-Americans (as it was with most white males of the time). But, regardless of what people may think of him and his scientific theory (and what this means for various races), Darwin believed all men came from common descent. 

Adrian Desmond and James Moore published a highly regarded biography of Darwin in 1991. The argument of their new book, “Darwin’s Sacred Cause,” is bluntly stated in its subtitle: “How a Hatred of Slavery Shaped Darwin’s Views on Human Evolution.” They set out to overturn the widespread view that Darwin was a “tough-minded scientist” who unflinchingly followed the trail of empirical research until it led to the stunning and unavoidable theory of evolution. This narrative, they claim, is precisely backward. “Darwin’s starting point,” they write, “was the abolitionist belief in blood kinship, a ‘common descent’ ” of all human beings.

An abolitionist was he. This, my dear friend, puts a hefty wrench in the thought that Darwin's theory leads to "Social Darwinism" (a damning proposition that seems to be less interested in Darwin's own ideas than crude political agendas).

1 comment:

  1. Good link mate. Interesting reading indeed, just a shame that more "insistent" crititcs of Darwin appear to be unaware of this history. Never knew he nearly became American.

    Of course, the wingnuts will still claim that whilst he may not have been racist, his "ideas" lead mankind towards nazi style eugenics etc. Just can't see them dropping that angle (Wrong though it is).

    Still, its always nice to see mainstream publishing report on stuff like this.