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Charles Robert Darwin Quotes


Inspirational Quotes by Charles Darwin about Evolution, Society, Religion & Nature

“We are not here concerned with hopes or fears, only with truth as far as our reason permits us to discover it.” – Charles DarwinThe Descent of Man

“A republic cannot succeed, till it contains a certain body of men imbued with the principles of justice and honour”

– Charles Robert Darwin, as quoted in The Voyage of the Beagle

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Charles Darwin Quotes on Change

Charles Darwin Quotes about Change   “As man advances in civilisation, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all the members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races. If, indeed, such men are separated from him by great differences in appearance or habits, experience unfortunately shows us how long it is before we look at them as our fellow-creatures. Sympathy beyond the confines of man, that is humanity to the lower animals, seems to be one of the latest moral acquisitions. It is apparently unfelt by savages, except towards their pets. How little the old Romans knew of it is shown by their abhorrent gladiatorial exhibitions. The very idea of humanity, as far as I could observe, was new to most of the Gauchos of the Pampas. This virtue, one of the noblest with which man is endowed, seems to arise incidentally from our sympathies becoming more tender and more widely diffused, until they are extended to all sentient beings. As soon as this virtue is honoured and practised by some few men, it spreads through instruction and example to the young, and eventually through public opinion.”

– Charles Robert Darwin, The Descent of Man


“With highly civilised nations continued progress depends in a subordinate degree on natural selection; for such nations do not supplant and exterminate one another as do savage tribes. Nevertheless the more intelligent members within the same community will succeed better in the long run than the inferior, and leave a more numerous progeny, and this is a form of natural selection. The more efficient causes of progress seem to consist of a good education during youth whilst the brain is impressible, and of a high standard of excellence, inculcated by the ablest and best men, embodied in the laws, customs and traditions of the nation, and enforced by public opinion. It should, however, be borne in mind, that the enforcement of public opinion depends on our appreciation of the approbation and disapprobation of others; and this appreciation is founded on our sympathy, which it can hardly be doubted was originally developed through natural selection as one of the most important elements of the social instincts.”

– Charles Robert Darwin,  The Descent of Man


“There should be open competition for all men; and the most able should not be prevented by laws or customs from succeeding best and rearing the largest number of offspring. Important as the struggle for existence has been and even still is, yet as far as the highest part of man’s nature is concerned there are other agencies more important. For the moral qualities are advanced, either directly or indirectly, much more through the effects of habit, the reasoning powers, instruction, religion, &c., than through natural selection; though to this latter agency the social instincts, which afforded the basis for the development of the moral sense, may be safely attributed.”

– Charles Robert Darwin, The Descent of Man


“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”

– Charles Darwin


“The highest stage in moral culture at which we can arrive, is when we recognise that we ought to control our thoughts.”

– Charles Robert Darwin,  The Descent of Man

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Charles Darwin Quotes on Discovery

Charles Darwin Quotes about Discovery “It is easy to specify the individual objects of admiration in these grand scenes; but it is not possible to give an adequate idea of the higher feelings of wonder, astonishment, and devotion, which fill and elevate the mind.”

– Charles Robert Darwin,  The Voyage of the Beagle


“Seeing every height crowned with its crater, and the boundaries of most of the lava-streams still distinct, we are led to believe that within a period, geologically recent, the unbroken ocean was here spread out. Hence, both in space and time, we seem to be brought somewhat near to that great fact — that mystery of mysteries — the first appearance of new beings on this earth.”

– Charles Robert Darwin, The Voyage of the Beagle, chapter XVII: “Galapagos Archipelago”

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Charles Darwin Quotes on Education

Charles Darwin Quotes on Education “The moral faculties are generally esteemed, and with justice, as of higher value than the intellectual powers. But we should always bear in mind that the activity of the mind in vividly recalling past impressions is one of the fundamental though secondary bases of conscience. This fact affords the strongest argument for educating and stimulating in all possible ways the intellectual faculties of every human being.”

– Charles Robert Darwin,  The Descent of Man


“I have rarely read anything which has interested me more, though I have not read as yet more than a quarter of the book proper. From quotations which I had seen, I had a high notion of Aristotle’s merits, but I had not the most remote notion what a wonderful man he was. Linnaeus and Cuvier have been my two gods, though in very different ways, but they were mere schoolboys to old Aristotle.”

– Charles Robert Darwin, The Life and Letters of Charles Darwinletter to William Ogle (22 February 1882). Ogle had translated Aristotle’s Parts of Animals and sent Darwin a copy.

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Charles Darwin Quotes on Life

Charles Darwin Quotes about Life

“The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.”

– Charles Darwin


“I love fools’ experiments. I am always making them.”

– Charles Robert Darwin, recollection by E. Ray Lankester, from his essay “Charles Robert Darwin” in C.D. Warner, editor, Library of the World’s Best Literature: Ancient and Modern


“I am not apt to follow blindly the lead of other men”

– Charles Darwin


“I have deeply regretted that I did not proceed far enough at least to understand something of the great leading principles of mathematics, for men thus endowed seem to have an extra sense.”

– Charles Robert Darwin, as quoted in The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin

“I often find myself going back to Darwin’s saying about the duration of a man’s friendships being one of the best measures of his worth.”

– Charles Robert Darwin, from Records of Tennyson, Ruskin, Browning by Anne Thackeray Ritchie (Harper and Brothers, New York, 1893) page 170


“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.”

– Charles Robert Darwin,  The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin


“If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week.”

– Charles Darwin,  The Autobiography of Charles Darwin


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Charles Darwin Quotes on Nature

Charles Darwin Quotes on Nature   “The lower animals, like man, manifestly feel pleasure and pain, happiness and misery. Happiness is never better exhibited than by young animals, such as puppies, kittens, lambs, &c., when playing together, like our own children. Even insects play together, as has been described by that excellent observer, P. Huber, who saw ants chasing and pretending to bite each other, like so many puppies.”

– Charles Robert Darwin, The Descent of Man


“The fact that the lower animals are excited by the same emotions as ourselves is so well established, that it will not be necessary to weary the reader by many details. Terror acts in the same manner on them as on us, causing the muscles to tremble, the heart to palpitate, the sphincters to be relaxed, and the hair to stand on end. Suspicion, the offspring of fear, is eminently characteristic of most wild animals. Courage and timidity are extremely variable qualities in the individuals of the same species, as is plainly seen in our dogs. Some dogs and horses are ill-tempered and easily turn sulky; others are good-tempered; and these qualities are certainly inherited.”

– Charles Robert Darwin, as quoted in The Descent of Man


“Believing as I do that man in the distant future will be a far more perfect creature than he now is, it is an intolerable thought that he and all other sentient beings are doomed to complete annihilation after such long-continued slow progress. To those who fully admit the immortality of the human soul, the destruction of our world will not appear so dreadful.”

– Charles Robert Darwin,  The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin


“Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

– Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species

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Charles Darwin Quotes on Natural Selection

Charles Darwin Quotes on Natural Selection   “What can be more curious than that the hand of a man, formed for grasping, that of a mole for digging, the leg of the horse, the paddle of the porpoise, and the wing of the bat, should all be constructed on the same pattern, and should include the same bones, in the same relative positions?”

– Charles Robert Darwin, On the Origin of Species


“I believe that animals have descended from at most only four or five progenitors, and plants from an equal or lesser number.”

– Charles Robert Darwin, On the Origin of Species


“I must premise, that I have nothing to do with the origin of the primary mental powers, any more than I have with that of life itself. We are concerned only with the diversities of instinct and of the other mental qualities of animals within the same class.”

– Charles Robert Darwin, On the Origin of Species


“As many more individuals of each species are born than can possibly survive; and as, consequently, there is a frequently recurring struggle for existence, it follows that any being, if it vary however slightly in any manner profitable to itself, under the complex and sometimes varying conditions of life, will have a better chance of surviving, and thus be naturally selected. From the strong principle of inheritance, any selected variety will tend to propagate its new and modified form.”

– Charles Robert Darwin,  On the Origin of Species


“Owing to this struggle for life, any variation, however slight and from whatever cause proceeding, if it be in any degree profitable to an individual of any species, in its infinitely complex relations to other organic beings and to external nature, will tend to the preservation of that individual, and will generally be inherited by its offspring. The offspring, also, will thus have a better chance of surviving, for, of the many individuals of any species which are periodically born, but a small number can survive. I have called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term of Natural Selection, in order to mark its relation to man’s power of selection.”

– Charles Robert Darwin,  On the Origin of Species


“To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree. When it was first said that the sun stood still and the world turned round, the common sense of mankind declared the doctrine false; but the old saying of Vox populi, vox Dei, as every philosopher knows, cannot be trusted in science. Reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one complex and perfect can be shown to exist, each grade being useful to its possessor, as is certainly the case; if further, the eye ever varies and the variations be inherited, as is likewise certainly the case; and if such variations should be useful to any animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, should not be considered as subversive of the theory. How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life itself originated; but I may remark that, as some of the lowest organisms, in which nerves cannot be detected, are capable of perceiving light, it does not seem impossible that certain sensitive elements in their sarcode should become aggregated and developed into nerves, endowed with this special sensibility.”

– Charles Robert Darwin,  On the Origin of Species


“He who rejects these views on the nature of the geological record, will rightly reject my whole theory. For he may ask in vain where are the numberless transitional links which must formerly have connected the closely allied or representative species, found in the several stages of the same great formation. He may disbelieve in the enormous intervals of time which have elapsed between our consecutive formations; he may overlook how important a part migration must have played, when the formations of any one great region alone, as that of Europe, are considered; he may urge the apparent, but often falsely apparent, sudden coming in of whole groups of species. He may ask where are the remains of those infinitely numerous organisms which must have existed long before the first bed of the Silurian system was deposited: I can answer this latter question only hypothetically, by saying that as far as we can see, where our oceans now extend they have for an enormous period extended, and where our oscillating continents now stand they have stood ever since the Silurian epoch; but that long before that period, the world may have presented a wholly different aspect; and that the older continents, formed of formations older than any known to us, may now all be in a metamorphosed condition, or may lie buried under the ocean.”

– Charles Robert Darwin,  On the Origin of Species


“With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.”

– Charles Robert Darwin, The Descent of Man


“The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil. We must therefore bear the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely that the weaker and inferior members of society do not marry so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage, though this is more to be hoped for than expected.”

– Charles Robert Darwin,  The Descent of Man


“Mere chance … alone would never account for so habitual and large an amount of difference as that between varieties of the same species.”

– Charles Robert Darwin, On the Origin of Species


“One general law, leading to the advancement of all organic beings, namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die.”

– Charles Robert Darwin, On the Origin of Species

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Charles Darwin Quotes on Religion

Charles Darwin Quotes on Religion “It is impossible to answer your question briefly; and I am not sure that I could do so, even if I wrote at some length. But I may say that the impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the existence of God; but whether this is an argument of real value, I have never been able to decide. I am aware that if we admit a first cause, the mind still craves to know whence it came, and how it arose. Nor can I overlook the difficulty from the immense amount of suffering through the world. I am, also, induced to defer to a certain extent to the judgment of the many able men who have fully believed in God; but here again I see how poor an argument this is. The safest conclusion seems to me that the whole subject is beyond the scope of man’s intellect; but man can do his duty.”

– Charles Robert Darwin, The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin


“Mr. Darwin begs me to say that he receives so many letters that he cannot answer them all. He considers that the theory of evolution is quite compatible with the belief in a God; but that you must remember that different persons have different definitions of what they mean by God.”

– Charles Robert Darwin,  The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin


“But I was very unwilling to give up my belief; I feel sure of this, for I can well remember often and often inventing day-dreams of old letters between distinguished Romans, and manuscripts being discovered at Pompeii or elsewhere, which confirmed in the most striking manner all that was written in the Gospels. But I found it more and more difficult, with free scope given to my imagination, to invent evidence which would suffice to convince me. Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete. The rate was so slow that I felt no distress. I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother and almost all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished.”

– Charles Robert Darwin,  The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin


“I cannot pretend to throw the least light on such abstruse problems. The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic.”

– Charles Robert Darwin,  The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin


“As for a future life, every man must judge for himself between conflicting vague probabilities.” – Charles Robert Darwin, as quoted in The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin


“With respect to the theological view of the question. This is always painful to me. I am bewildered. I had no intention to write atheistically. But I own that I cannot see as plainly as others do, and as I should wish to do, evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidæ with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice. Not believing this, I see no necessity in the belief that the eye was expressly designed. On the other hand, I cannot anyhow be contented to view this wonderful universe, and especially the nature of man, and to conclude that everything is the result of brute force. I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance. Not that this notion at all satisfies me. I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton. Let each man hope and believe what he can. “

– Charles Robert Darwin,  The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin Quotes on Society

Charles Darwin Quotes on Society “There is good evidence that the art of shooting with bows and arrows has not been handed down from any common progenitor of mankind, yet the stone arrow-heads, brought from the most distant parts of the world and manufactured at the most remote periods, are, as Nilsson has shewn, almost identical; and this fact can only be accounted for by the various races having similar inventive or mental powers.”

– Charles Robert Darwin, The Descent of Man


“I thank God, I shall never again visit a slave-country. To this day, if I hear a distant scream, it recalls with painful vividness my feelings, when passing a house near Pernambuco, I heard the most pitiable moans, and could not but suspect that some poor slave was being tortured, yet knew that I was as powerless as a child even to remonstrate. I suspected that these moans were from a tortured slave, for I was told that this was the case in another instance. Near Rio de Janeiro I lived opposite to an old lady, who kept screws to crush the fingers of her female slaves. I have staid in a house where a young household mulatto, daily and hourly, was reviled, beaten, and persecuted enough to break the spirit of the lowest animal. I have seen a little boy, six or seven years old, struck thrice with a horse-whip (before I could interfere) on his naked head, for having handed me a glass of water not quite clean; I saw his father tremble at a mere glance from his master’s eye. … And these deeds are done and palliated by men, who profess to love their neighbours as themselves, who believe in God, and pray that his Will be done on earth! 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… “

– Charles Robert Darwin, The Voyage of the Beagle


“Great is the power of steady misrepresentation; but the history of science shows that fortunately this power does not long endure.” – Charles Robert Darwin, as quoted in On the Origin of Species


“It has often and confidently been asserted, that man’s origin can never be known: but ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.”

– Charles Robert Darwin, The Descent of Man


We must, however, acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities… still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.” – Charles Darwin


“If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.”

– Charles Darwin, Voyage of the Beagle

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Charles Darwin Quotes on Traveling

Charles Darwin Quotes on Traveling “They expressed, as was usual, unbounded astonishment at the globe being round, and could scarcely credit that a hole would, if deep enough, come out on the other side. They had, however, heard of a country where there were six months light and six of darkness, and where the inhabitants were very tall and thin! They were curious about the price and condition of horses and cattle in England. Upon finding out we did not catch our animals with the lazo, they cried out, “Ah, then, you use nothing but the bolas:” the idea of an enclosed country was quite new to them. The captain at last said, he had one question to ask me, which he should be very much obliged if I would answer with all truth. I trembled to think how deeply scientific it would be: it was, “Whether the ladies of Buenos Ayres were not the handsomest in the world.” I replied, like a renegade, “Charmingly so.” He added, “I have one other question: Do ladies in any other part of the world wear such large combs?” I solemnly assured him that they did not. They were absolutely delighted. The captain exclaimed, “Look there! a man who has seen half the world says it is the case; we always thought so, but now we know it.” My excellent judgment in combs and beauty procured me a most hospitable reception; the captain forced me to take his bed, and he would sleep on his recado.”

– Charles Robert Darwin,  The Voyage of the Beagle


“In conclusion, it appears to me that nothing can be more improving to a young naturalist, than a journey in distant countries. It both sharpens, and partly likewise allays that want and craving, which, as Sir J. Herschel remarks, a man experiences although every corporeal sense is fully satisfied. The excitement from the novelty of objects, and the chance of success, stimulate him to increased activity. Moreover as a number of isolated facts soon become uninteresting, the habit of comparison leads to generalization. On the other hand, as the traveller stays but a short space of time in each place, his descriptions must generally consist of mere sketches, instead of detailed observation. Hence arises, as I have found to my cost, a constant tendency to fill up the wide gaps of knowledge, by inaccurate and superficial hypotheses.”

– Charles Robert Darwin,  The Voyage of the Beagle

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Charles Darwin Quotes about Women & Men

Charles Darwin Quotes about Women & Men   “With mankind the differences between the sexes are greater than in most species of Quadrumana, but not so great as in some, for instance, the mandrill. Man on an average is considerably taller, heavier, and stronger than woman, with squarer shoulders and more plainly-pronounced muscles. … Man is more courageous, pugnacious, and energetic than woman, and has a more inventive genius. His brain is absolutely larger, but whether relatively to the larger size of his body, in comparison with that of woman, has not, I believe been fully ascertained. In woman the face is rounder; the jaws and the base of the skull smaller; the outlines of her body rounder, in parts more prominent; and her pelvis is broader than in man; but this latter character may perhaps be considered rather as a primary than a secondary sexual character. She comes to maturity at an earlier age than man.”

– Charles Robert Darwin, The Descent of Man


“Law of Battle. — With savages, for instance the Australians, the women are the constant cause of war both between members of the same tribe and between distinct tribes. So no doubt it was in ancient times; “nam fuit ante Helenam mulier teterrima belli causa.” With some of the North American Indians, the contest is reduced to a system. … With the Guanas of South America, Azara states that the men rarely marry till twenty years old or more, as before that age they cannot conquer their rivals.”

– Charles Robert Darwin,  The Descent of Man


“There can be little doubt that the greater size and strength of man, in comparison with woman, together with his broader shoulders, more developed muscles, rugged outline of body, his greater courage and pugnacity, are all due in chief part to inheritance from his half-human male ancestors. These characters would, however, have been preserved or even augmented during the long ages of man’s savagery, by the success of the strongest and boldest men, both in the general struggle for life and in their contests for wives; a success which would have ensured their leaving a more numerous progeny than their less favoured brethren.”

– Charles Robert Darwin, The Descent of Man


“The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shewn by man attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than woman can attain — whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands. If two lists were made of the most eminent men and women in poetry, painting, sculpture, music, — comprising composition and performance, history, science, and philosophy, with half-a-dozen names under each subject, the two lists would not bear comparison. We may also infer, from the law of the deviation of averages, so well illustrated by Mr. Galton, in his work on ‘Hereditary Genius,’ that if men are capable of decided eminence over women in many subjects, the average standard of mental power in man must be above that of woman. … Thus man has ultimately become superior to woman.”

– Charles Robert Darwin,  The Descent of Man


“Amongst the half-human progenitors of man, and amongst savages, there have been struggles between the males during many generations for the possession of the females. But mere bodily strength and size would do little for victory, unless associated with courage, perseverance, and determined energy. With social animals, the young males have to pass through many a contest before they win a female, and the older males have to retain their females by renewed battles. They have, also, in the case of mankind, to defend their females, as well as their young, from enemies of all kinds, and to hunt for their joint subsistence. But to avoid enemies or to attack them with success, to capture wild animals, and to fashion weapons, requires the aid of the higher mental faculties, namely, observation, reason, invention, or imagination. These various faculties will thus have been continually put to the test and selected during manhood; they will, moreover, have been strengthened by use during this same period of life. Consequently, in accordance with the principle often alluded to, we might expect that they would at least tend to be transmitted chiefly to the male offspring at the corresponding period of manhood.”

– Charles Robert Darwin, The Descent of Man


“In order that woman should reach the same standard as man, she ought, when nearly adult, to be trained to energy and perseverance, and to have her reason and imagination exercised to the highest point; and then she would probably transmit these qualities chiefly to her adult daughters. The whole body of women, however, could not be thus raised, unless during many generations the women who excelled in the above robust virtues were married, and produced offspring in larger numbers than other women. As before remarked with respect to bodily strength, although men do not now fight for the sake of obtaining wives, and this form of selection has passed away, yet they generally have to undergo, during manhood, a severe struggle in order to maintain themselves and their families; and this will tend to keep up or even increase their mental powers, and, as a consequence, the present inequality between the sexes.”

– Charles Robert Darwin, The Descent of Man

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Quotes about Charles Darwin

Quotes about Charles Darwin “The two subjects which moved my father perhaps more deeply than any others were cruelty to animals and slavery. His detestation of both was intense, and his indignation was overpowering in case of any levity or want of feeling on these matters”

– William Erasmus Darwin (son), recollections dated 4 January 1883


“Charles Darwin had a big idea, arguably the most powerful idea ever. And like all the best ideas it is beguilingly simple.”

Richard Dawkins, “Why Darwin matters,” The Guardian, 9 February 2008


“There cannot be a doubt that the method of inquiry which Mr. Darwin has adopted is not only rigorously in accordance with the canons of scientific logic, but that it is the only adequate method. Critics exclusively trained in classics or in mathematics, who have never determined a scientific fact in their lives by induction from experiment or observation, prate learnedly about Mr. Darwin’s method, which is not inductive enough, not Baconian enough, forsooth, for them. But even if practical acquaintance with the process of scientific investigation is denied them, they may learn, by the perusal of Mr. Mill’s admirable chapter “On the Deductive Method,” that there are multitudes of scientific inquiries in which the method of pure induction helps the investigator but a very little way.”

– Thomas Henry Huxley, “Darwin on the Origin of Species,” Westminster Review


“None have fought better, and none have been more fortunate than Charles Darwin. He found a great truth, trodden under foot, reviled by bigots, and ridiculed by all the world; he lived long enough to see it, chiefly by his own efforts, irrefragably established in science, inseparably incorporated with the common thoughts of men, and only hated and feared by those who would revile, but dare not. What shall a man desire more than this?”

– Thomas Henry Huxley, “Charles Darwin,” Nature, 27 April 1882


“In one of my latest conversations with Darwin he expressed himself very gloomily on the future of humanity, on the ground that in our modern civilization natural selection had no play, and the fittest did not survive. Those who succeed in the race for wealth are by no means the best or the most intelligent, and it is notorious that our population is more largely renewed in each generation from the lower than from the middle and upper classes.”

– Alfred Russel Wallace, “Human Selection,” Popular Science Monthly, volume 38 (November 1890)


“A few years ago I set out to canvass the literature on Charles Darwin. I thought it would be a manageable task, but I soon realized what a naïve idea this was. I do not know how many books have been written about him, but there seem to be thousands, and each year more appear. Why are there so many? Part of the answer is, of course, that he was a tremendously important figure in the history of human thought. But as I read the books – or, at least, as many of them as I could – it gradually dawned on me that all this attention is also due to Darwin’s personal qualities. He was an immensely likeable man, modest and humane, with a personality that continues to draw people to him even today. … Darwin’s strong feelings about slavery are expressed in many of his writings … . His comments there are among the most moving in abolitionist literature. But it was his feelings about animals that impressed his contemporaries most vividly. Numerous anecdotes show him remonstrating with cab-drivers who whipped their horses too smartly, solicitously caring for his own animals and forbidding the discussion of vivisection in his home. At the height of his fame he wrote an article for a popular magazine condemning the infamous leg-hold trap in terms that would not seem out of place in an animal-rights magazine today.”

– James Rachels, “Why Darwinians Should Support Equal Treatment for Other Great Apes,” The Great Ape Project: Equality Beyond Humanity

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