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In the "General Summary and Conclusions" of The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, Charles Darwin argues that man is not the work of a separate act of creation. Rather, he believes that humans evolved from a lower being to what we are today. Darwin looks at the "whole organic world" i when finding evidence to support his argument, using the evolution of plants and animals to illustrate his points. Darwin claims that natural selection and sexual selection are two modes of evolution and explains both in detail. However, Darwin does not just cover science; he also looks at how social behavior affects evolution and sexual selection. In this way, non-epistemic values have a great influence on Darwin's theories. Darwin's main argument is that "man is descended from some less highly organized form"ii. As evidence for his claim, Darwin looks at the similarity between the features of humans and other animals during embryonic development. He finds that there are "innumerable points of structure and constitution" iii that are similar. Anyone who disagrees with him would be forced to conclude, "man is the co-descendent with other mammals of a common progenitor"iv. ...read more.


Darwin believes that reason and rationale is more evolved in Europe, since "with the less civilized nations reason often errs" vii. Darwin's evidence for this belief is that the "less civilized" have primitive customs and the wrong virtues. Also, they are seen to be without morals, whereas the "more civilized" have very advanced morality, especially when "the existence of an all-seeing Deity" viii is believed. The belief in God is also what separates humans from lower animals, since it requires "a considerable advance in the reasoning powers of man, and from a still greater advance in his faculties of imagination, curiosity and wonder," but the idea of God doesn't form in man's mind until "he has been elevated by long continued culture" ix. Darwin's ideas have connections to what was happening in the world during his time. For example, Britain was leading the way in colonization and many believed that the people of faraway places weren't as advanced as themselves. Also, missionaries were sent to convert the savages to Christianity since it was believed that their race could be "saved" from their ignorance of God and raised up to civilization. ...read more.


The belief is that particular races, classes and nations are more superior to others and over time the weaker groups will be eliminated. This theory is socially regressive and was rejected by most scientists. However, it was very popular, especially with conservative governments and maintained the ideas of National Socialism and fascists. While some of Darwin's theories were racist and negatively influenced by Victorian values, many of Darwin's ideas have been taken out of their original context in order to support the aims of social Darwinists. In The Descent of Man, Darwin presents an apt argument for his theories of evolution. He uses fitting evidence, considering he didn't have access to the knowledge of genetics and the fossil records that we have today. However, it is notable how deeply influenced Darwin was by Victorian values, especially when dealing with the human social condition and the differences in superiority between civilizations. It is also interesting to see how others have interpreted Darwin's theories, and created their own theories based on Darwinism. Overall, Darwin's ideas, while originally scientific, have been impacted by social factors and in turn have influenced social theories. i Page 386 ii Page 385 iii Page 385 iv Page 386 v Page 403 vi Page 390 vii Page 393 viii Page 394 ix Page 395 x Vol. I, Page 169 1 ...read more.

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