Charles Darwin personal factors | Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution by natural selection

Charles Darwin personal factors

Charles Darwin and the Cuddle Factor – Brainstorm

Today, because we live in a post-Darwin age of “social constructs, ” we find the idea of “man’s nature” too teleological for our taste. To Plato and Rousseau, however, it would have been preposterous to discuss child rearing without embedding it in this idea. How can you tell how to direct the education of a child without having in mind an idea of the adult you want?

Whenever Laurie Fendrich writes a piece for Brainstorm, I drop everything and read it at once. There is not only a deep love of the arts and culture generally, but there is a moral purity that I find truly humbling. (Sorry Laurie if this embarrasses you, but I am really not just saying it.) So I was a bit taken aback in the last column (but one now) by the paragraph reproduced above. I guess if I am anything in this world, I am a Darwin scholar – I have this horrendous 400, 000 word Darwin Encyclopedia about to go into production this month – and so without being a Darwin fanatic, I do have a bit of an affection for the old fellow (actually I am just about the age when he died). Hence, I did find myself wondering about whether he was responsible for the decline and fall of modern child rearing and education.

I certainly wouldn’t want to see it as an either/or between Darwin and Plato. I love the Republic and have taught it many times. Frankly, I think Plato is a bit iffy on aspects of education – he ain’t very keen on the arts, at least without a good deal of censorship – but I do agree that he has a conception of the human being – “man’s nature” – and it does inform and direct his philosophy of education.

What about Darwin? I think it would come as a considerable surprise to him to learn that in some sense he was responsible for destroying the idea of man’s nature and that he had led us into a world of “social constructs.” It seems to me that in the Descent of Man he offers a very clear and firm vision of human nature, and that (certainly as evidenced by his own family) he thought that this had major implications for education.

Obviously Darwin thought of us as intelligent apes – that for him was without any doubt the main distinguishing feature of humankind. He also thought of us as one species. The Darwin-Wedgwood family (his mother was the daughter of Josiah Wedgwood the potter and his wife was also a Wedgwood) were violently against slavery. Once, when one of Darwin’s sons made a joke on the subject, Darwin went ape, so to speak, and later that night went into his son’s room to apologize because he had so lost his temper.

A major thing for Darwin was the importance of the moral sense for human nature. He spent many pages exploring and explaining this, arguing that it is truly fundamental to our being. Interestingly, he was far less concerned to argue that we are religious beings. He reflected the agnosticism of many late-19th-century intellectuals, who really thought that religion was a thing of the past. (Just as well that they couldn’t run for the American presidency today!)




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Creation: Coming Soon to a Theater Near You

by BurpBoohickie

In the upcoming JOHN AMIEL drama, CREATION, contemporary real life couple JENNIFER CONNELLY and PAUL BETTANY play historic real-life couple CHARLES and EMMA DARWIN. We spoke with CONNELLY recently and she talked about how the movie deals with the conflicts of Darwinism and Creationism, it doesn’t preach a particular point of view.

Going to a movie as a conscious political act?

by NewMsLoree

“Creation”, the new film about Charles Darwin, which stars Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly, premieres on Friday, January 22, in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, and Washington, DC.
Says Robert Luhn, Director of Communications at the National Center for Science Education:
“If there is a strong turnout the opening weekend, the movie will stay in theaters longer, which will generate buzz, which will keep it in theaters longer. And that means more people will see Darwin (and his ideas) presented in a more positive light.”

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