CHARLES R. DARWIN AND JOHN STEINBECK: THE STORY CONTINUES

Dr. Charles F. Urbanowicz/Professor of Anthropology
California State University, Chico/Chico, California 95929-0400
Telephone: 530-898-6220 [Office]; 530-898-6192 [Dept.] FAX: 530-898-6824
e-mail: curbanowicz@csuchico.edu and home page: http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban

2 December Fall 2002 [1]

[This page printed from http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/DarwinFA2002Phil108.htm]

(1) © [All Rights Reserved.] Placed on the WWW on December 2, 2002, for a presentation in Professor Robert Stewart's PHIL 108 (ETHICS AND HUMAN HAPPINESS) at CSU, Chico. Previous PHIL 108 presentations are listed below in Footnote #1.

ABSTRACT: Charles R. Darwin was born on February 12, 1809 and died on April 19, 1882. John Steinbeck was born on February 27, 1902 and died on December 20, 1968. Both men had full and interesting lives and this brief presentation is but the beginning of a more extensive work on the connections I see between them. Consider, if you will, Steinbeck's words on Darwin: "In a way, ours is the older method, somewhat like that of Darwin on the Beagle. He was called a 'naturalist'. He wanted to see everything, rocks and flora and fauna; marine and terrestrial. We came to envy this Darwin on his sailing ship. He had so much room and so much time. ... This is the proper pace for a naturalist. Faced with all things he [or she] cannot hurry. We must have time to think and to look and to consider [stress added]." John Steinbeck, 1951, The Log From The Sea of Cortez [1967 printing: Pan Books: London], page 123. In my own attempt to understand Darwin I have been to the Galápagos Islands as well as Darwin's home in England and have been portraying Darwin in the first person (since October 4, 1990) for various classroom and professional presentations. Three videotapes, created for instructional purposes, are available via the World Wide Web. Today's brief presentation deals with some information concerning Charles R. Darwin and his research: he sailed from England on HMS Beagle on December 27, 1831 and after conducting research in South America, the HMS Beagle entered the Pacific Ocean on June 11, 1834 and Darwin reached the Galápagos Islands on September 15, 1835. After that, HMS Beagle continued around the globe, arriving back in England on October 2, 1836. Darwin never left England again.

[Photo by Charles F. Urbanowicz, Natural History Museum, London (1999).]

ABSTRACT (above)
BACKGROUND
STEINBECK AND DARWIN
DARWIN, THE HMS BEAGLE, THE GALÁPAGOS ISLANDS, AND THE ORIGIN
ON-GOING CONCLUSIONS
POSTSCRIPT
STEINBECK AND
VISUALS

BACKGROUND

"...for to many of the older inhabitants of Salinas, John Steinbeck was a betrayer of his birthplace, a maligner of decent people--honest farmers and shippers--and dirty -minded as well. Those things cound not be forgotten, even after more than thirty years. Many of them feared that some of the books he had written had planted seeds for future labor unrest in their fertile valley." Nelson Valjean, 1975, John Steinbeck: The Errant Knight (San Francisco: Chronicle Books), page 13.

I am absolutely delighted to be invited to modestly contribute to Professor Stewart's PHIL 108 course (Ethics and Human Happiness) for several years since it encourages me to (#1) re--analyze some of my previous Darwin ideas and (#2) encourages me to provide something "new" for every class for Proferssor Stewart. (Previous PHIL 108 presentations are referenced in footnote #1 below.) Concerning this presentation, my first introduction to the works of John Steinbeck came from my wife, when we were married in 1963. Her passion for Steinbeck has continued to this day and in the summer of 2002 we made a one-day visit to The National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California, since the year 2002 was to be the year of The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck's 1939 novel (which received the Pulitzer Prize in 1940). My earliest documented interest in Darwin goes back to 1965, when I made an undergraduate presentation entitled Darwin - 1859: An Important Historical Event (for a SPEECH 100 class at Western Washington State College [now Western Washington University], Bellingham, Washington). I had just been discharged (after having served in the United States Air Force for 45 months) and was attending college on the G.I. Bill. In 1967 I would eventually receive my B.A. in Sociology/Anthropology; my wife and I moved to Eugene, Oregon (and my wife taught elementary school in Springfield, Oregon from 1967-1970) and in 1972 I received the Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Oregon.

"As the California Council for the Humanities and the California Center for the Book launch their upcoming celebration of The Grapes of Wrath, librarians would do well to remember -- especially during this most recent period of "national stress" -- the role that John Steinbeck's masterpiece played in the confirmation of the library profession's dedication to intellectual freedom. Indeed, according to the American Library Association's (ALA) Intellectual Freedom Manual, it wasALA's initial response to censorship attempts against "Grapes of Wrath" that ultimately led to the adoption of the first "Library's Bill of Rights."... censorship of reading materials was very much in evidence in libraries throughout the country. One major target of the censor's ire was, of course, The Grapes of Wrath, which was considered vulgar, immoral, and even "bestial." The book was not only banned in places like Camden, NJ, but in East St. Louis, where the board of trustees ordered all threeof the library's copies to be burned. ... Here in California, the most contentious battle against Grapes of Wrath took place in Kern County, the heart of the state's agricultural community. In a letter dated August 29, 1939, Kern County librarian Gretchen Knief describes in detail how she had returned from vacation the week before to find that the Board of Supervisors had unilaterally passed a resolution banning circulation of the library's some 50 copies of The Grapes of Wrath.....[stress added]." from: http://www.calhum.org/programs/grapes_censorship.htm

 

STEINBECK AND DARWIN

"Much of Steinbeck's fiction challenges our notions of the exalted human position, reminding us that we answer to many of the same natural laws and conditions that the occupants of the tide pool do. ... Steinbeck, like Darwin in The Descent of Man [1871], sees the human being as just another species in a world of species. To take this view, one must break through many preconceptions--both humanist and religious--in order to deny anthropocentric renderings of the ecosystem. This is a very difficult position, likely to attract criticism from others unwilling to go so far [stress added]. Brian Railsback, 1995, Parallel Expeditions: Charles Darwin and the Art of John Steinbeck (Moscow, Idaho: University of Idaho Press), page 41.

Darwin caused quite a bit of controversy during his lifetime and although his monumental On The Origin of Species.... was eventually published in 1859 (and see below for other editions), he kept his work very much to himself (until he was eventually prodded into publication as the result of another naturalist of the day, Alfred Russel Wllace (1823-1917). Steinbeck was severely criticized for his publication of The Grapes of Wrath and at the excellent museum in Salinas, California, a great deal is done to place Steinbeck's contribution to American literature in perspective. At this museum, one of the displays, dealing with Steinbeck's 1941 The Sea of Cortez publication, brought the Steinbeck-Darwin connection to my attention and back in Chico I discovered Brian Railsback's Parallel Expeditions: Charles Darwin and the Art of John Steinbeck (Moscow, Idaho: University of Idaho Press). Steinbeck's 1951 publication The Log From The Sea of Cortez had the following:

"Collecting large numbers of animals presents an entirely different aspect and makes one see an entirely different picture. Being more interested in distribution than in individuals we saw dominant species and changing sizes, groups which thrive and those which recede under varying conditions. In a way, ours is the older method, somewhat like that of Darwin on the Beagle. He was called a 'naturalist'. He wanted to see everything, rocks and flora and fauna; marine and terrestrial. We came to envy this Darwin on his sailing ship. He had so much room and so much time. ... This is the proper pace for a naturalist. Faced with all things he [or she] cannot hurry. We must have time to think and to look and to consider [stress added]." John Steinbeck, 1951, The Log From The Sea of Cortez [1967 printing: Pan Books: London], page 123.

Having (or making) time to do research is the most precious creative element of all and Darwin had that time his trip around the world on HMS Beagle (1831-1836) and Steinbeck planned for years to become an author and worked at crafting his skills: "One evening early in the [1923] term [at Stanford University] John brought out a little sheaf of manuscripts, some of them written on the Chular ranch, and stated without qualifications or embarrassment: 'I'm going to be a writer.'" Nelson Valjean, 1975, John Steinbeck: The Errant Knight [San Francisco: Chronicle Books], page 63.

"From Henry Morgan to Doc, Steinbeck tested the nature of his protagonists and found his brighter vision of humanity. ... Such characters have connections to the earth, know their place upon it, and draw strength from it. In many ways, Steinbeck's hero parallels the youthful Charles Darwin that the author knew by reading the Beagle journal. No wonder Steinbeck reveres Darwin in Sea of Cortez, for that [1941] book came shortly after The Grapes of Wrath, the novelist's most Darwinian work" [stress added]." Brian Railsback, 1995, Parallel Expeditions: Charles Darwin and the Art of John Steinbeck (Moscow, Idaho: University of Idaho Press), page 127.

Darwinian motifs can be found in other Steinbeck works; consider, for example, Steinbeck's 1962 Travel's With Charley: In Search of America wherein he writes the following:

"...in the rich and moist and wanted areas of the world, life pyramids against itself and in its confusion has finally allied itself with the enemy non-life. And what the scorching, searing, freezing, poisoning weapons of non-life have failed to do may be accomplished to the end of its destruction and extinction by the tactics of the survivor gone sour. If the most versatile of living forms, the human, now fights for survival as it always has, it can eliminate not only itself but all other life [stress added]." John Steinbeck, 1962, Travel's With Charley: In Search of America (NY: 1963 Bantam Edition), page 215.

After extensive research and thinking in the 1830s and 1840s, Darwin came up with the idea of "natural selection" in the animal world (and human beings, "culture" notwithstanding, are part of the "animal world"); as one has recently written:

"...Darwin remained mystified by what might cause evolution. He considered and rejected dozens of ideas. Natural selection, the engine of evolution, did not become clear to him for another year and a half. The spark that let Darwin fit the pieces together was struck by Thomas Malthus's grim essay about what we now call population pressure. Malthus [1766-1834] was writing about human populations, but Darwin relaized that every species produces far more offspring than can survive. He was the first to see that nature does not thin the ranks of a species at random. ... Natural selection is the sieve, and population pressure is the force pushing each generation through it [stress added]." Robert E. Adler, 2002, Science Firsts: From The Creation of Science to the Science of Creation (New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.), page 89.

As Railsback writes concerning the 1939 The Grapes of Wrath:

"This epic novel demonstrates the range of Darwin's theory, including the essential aspects of evolution: the struggle for existence and the process of natural selection. The migrant workers move across the land as a species, uprooted from one niche and forced to gain a foothold in another. Their struggle is intensified by capitalism's perversion of natural competition, but this only makes the survivors that much thougher [stress added]." Brian Railsback, 1995, Parallel Expeditions: Charles Darwin and the Art of John Steinbeck (Moscow, Idaho: University of Idaho Press), page 129.

And Grapes of Wrath was a very successful novel:

"Given his emotional commitment to the California migrant laborers' situation and his own sense of the treacherousness of contemporary cultural politics during the Depression, Steinbeck refused to write a book cynically calculated to court commercial success. ... [Nevertheless] The Grapes of Wrath went to the top of best-seller lists for most of the year [of 1939], selling 428,900 copies in hardcover at $2.75 each. The Grapes of Wrath won the 1940 Pulitzer prize (Steinbeck gave the $1,000 prize to a Monterey friend and fellow writer Rich Lovejoy). By 1941, when the Sun Dial Press issued a cloth reprint for a dollar, the publisher announced that over 543,000 copies of Grapes had already been sold. Grapes also eventually became the cornerstone of Steinbeck's 1962 Nobel Prize award and proved itself to be among the most enduring works of fiction by any American author [stress added]." Robert J. DeMott, 1996, Steinbeck's Typewriter: Essays On His Art (NY: The Whitson Publishing Co.), page 152.

In earlier papers, most recently a February 2002 presentation (http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/DarwinSacFeb2002.html), I have written about a "connection" I see between Darwin and the great Scottish-American environmentalist John Muir (1838-1914); in reading about Darwin, as well as Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895), one sees a similiarity between these great thinkers. Muir is quoted as saying the following:

"'When we try to pick out anything by itself,' wrote wilderness wanderer John Muir, 'we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.' Thus did Muir, who founded the Sierra Club in 1892, become on of the first to define in 25 words or less what ecology is all about." (John G. Mitchell, 1970, Ecotactics: The Sierra Club Handbook for Environmental Activitists (NY: Pocket Books), p. 23.

Please consider the following from an 1868 lecture by Huxley:

"I weigh my words well when I assert, that the man who should know the true history of the bit of chalk which every carpenter carries about in his breeches-pocket, though ignorant of all other history, is likely, if he will think his knowledge out to its ultimate results, to have a truer, and therefore a better, conception of this wonderful universe, and of man's relation to it, than the most learned student who is deep-read in the records of humanity and ignorant of those of nature [stress added]." Thomas Henry Huxley, 1868, On A Piece Of Chalk. [Lecture delivered to the workingmen of Norwich during the meeting of the British Association.] E.H. K. McComb [Editor], 1910, Huxley's Autobiography And Selected Essays From Lay Sermons (NY: Longmans, Greens, and Co.], pages 62-89, page 64.

Little "things" (or ideas) are connected to "bigger" things (or ideas) and Muir is connected to Aldo Leopold (1886-1948) about whose 1948 A Sand County Almanac the following has been written (and it could equally be applied to Steinbeck's Grapes as well as Darwin's Origin):

"Literary classics are the mountains of our minds. They shape us, subtly and continually. They cast long shadows. They provide access to higher realms. They make their own intellectual weather. We are prone to take them for granted, yet they define our view of the world, and of ourselves, that we can hardly imagine the world without them [stress added]." Curt D. Meine, 2002, Moving Mountains: Aldo Leopold and A Sand County Almanac. In Aldo Leopold and the Ecological Conscience, edited by Richard L. Knight and Suzanne Riedel (Oxford University Press), pages 14-31, page 15.

 

DARWIN, THE HMS BEAGLE, THE GALÁPAGOS ISLANDS, AND THE ORIGIN  

"The fact is that Charles Darwin was in almost all respects a fairly standard example of the nineteenth century student, well off, active in field sports, working hard enough to avoid academic failure, but a long way from academic success." Peter Brent 1981, Charles Darwin: A Man Of Enlarged Curiosity (NY: Harper & Row), page 89.

Charles R. Darwin definitely proved many individuals wrong, and nothing is as clear as his monumental 1859 publication (and subsequent editions of 1860, 1861, 1866, 1869, and 1872): On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life [Note: this is the on-line version of the 1859 edition]; Darwin himself was to write in his Autobiography that the Origin "is no doubt the chief work of my life" (Nora Barlow, 1958, The Autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809-1882: With Original Omissions Restored Edited With An Appendix And Notes By His Grand-Daughter, page 122). In looking to Steinbeck and Darwin, consider, if you will, some words of John Steinbeck in 1938 concerning his Grapes: "A book must be a life that lives all of itself" (to Elisabeth Otis and Pascal Covici) (in Robert J. DeMott, 1996, Steinbeck's Typewriter: Essays on His Art (Troy, NY: The Whitson Publishing Co.), page 146, as well as the following:

"The discipline of the written word punishes both stupidity and dishonesty. A writer lives in awe of words for they can be cruel or kind, and they can change their meanings right in front of you." John Steinbeck, "In Awe of Words," in The Exonian (1954).

"If there is magic in ... writing, and I am convinced that there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he [or she!] feels important to the reader. If the writer has that urge, he may sometimes, but by no means always, find the way to do it [stress added]." (Both of the above statements appear in Robert J. DeMott, 1996, Steinbeck's Typewriter: Essays on His Art (Troy, NY: The Whitson Publishing Co.), page 107.

Darwin definitely "felt" something was important as a result of his trip around the world on HMS Beagle over the period of 27 December 1831 through 2 October 1836. The HMS Beagle had been to the Galápagos Islands for several weeks (16 September through 20 October 1835) and Darwin continued with his data-gathering and thinking processes. After he returned to England Darwin continued with his scholarly research (and married his cousin Ms. Emma Wedgwood in 1839). Darwin had begun his Notebook in July of 1837 and started gathering all of the facts that he could on variations in plants and animals, both under domestication and existing in the wilds of nature. By 1844 Darwin had enlarged his notes into a sketch of the conclusions he thought probable and those notes and research resulted in the celebrated joint Darwin-Wallace paper to the Linnaean Society in 1858 and the Origin in 1859.

"On 1 July 1858 Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace [1823-1913] made the first public statement of their theory of evolution by natural selection before the Linnaean Society of London, and their papers were published on 20 August of the same year. The eighteen pages which they covered were among the most pregnant ever printed, and deserve to rank with those of Isaac Newton, since they provide for the realm of living beings the first general principle capable of universal application [stress added]." Sir Gavin De Beer, 1958, Charles Darwin And Alfred Russel Wallace: Evolution By Natural Selection, page 1.

When what is commonly called Origin was published in 1859, it was an immediate (and controversial) success, much like Steinbeck's Grapes in 1939. In understanding Darwin, and his ideas through time, the following information should be of interest: every edition of Origin published in Charles R. Darwin's lifetime is different! He re-wrote every-single-one and all are different! The reason it is important to point out the various editions of Origin is demonstrated by the following chart, based on information in the excellent 1959 publication of Morse Peckham [Editor] entitledThe Origin Of Species By Charles Darwin: A Variorum Text). The concept of change is definitely vital to an understanding of Darwin, whether you are reading Darwin himself or reading about him and I include the following tabular information on Darwin's Origin in virtually everything I present or write:

THE VARIOUS EDITIONS FROM 1859-1872:

YEAR/Ed.
COPIES
Sentences
Sentences
Sentences
TOTAL
% CHANGE
1859/1st
1,250

3,878

1860/2nd
3,000
9 eliminated
483 rewritten
30 added
3,899
7 %
1861/3rd
2,000
33 eliminated
617 rewritten
266 added
4,132
14 %
1866/4th
1,500
36 eliminated
1073 rewritten
435 added
4,531
21 %
1869/5th
2,000
178 eliminated
1770 rewritten
227 added
4,580
29 %
1872/6th
3,000
63 eliminated
1699 rewritten
571 added
5,088
21-29 %

Charles R. Darwin took great care not to write about Homo sapiens in Origin in 1859 and all he had to say about "man" in 1859 was:

"In the distant future I see open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation. Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history. [Chapter XV: "Recapitulation And Conclusion"]

Both Darwin and Steinbeck were interested in the enduring human situation, but did approach it from different directions: one from fact and one from fiction (but clearly based on fact); as Railsback wrote:

"So much of Steinbeck's fiction reminds us that we are animals after all. Seeing Homo sapiens as a species is Steinbeck's signature; no author ever explored the animal nature of humanity so thoroughly, or so scientifically as he. The importance of this viewpoint in his works is immense--it affects his style, his characterization, and his treatment of events. This perspective, which owes so much to Darwin, is worked out darkly by the novelist. The human animal can be disturbing; the human group as beast can be terrifying. In a world of limited resources peopled by animals of unlimited reproductive potential and constantly threatened by competition, we are in a most formidable struggle with ourselves. This is a bitter and unflattering view, and it is no wonder that creationists still attack Darwin and that humanists deny the most essential message of Steinbeck's work [stress added]." Brian Railsback, 1995, Parallel Expeditions: Charles Darwin and the Art of John Steinbeck (Moscow, Idaho: University of Idaho Press), page 76.

Given all of the above, please remember that attention must also be paid to Alfred Russel Wallace and the following is most appropriate to attempt to summarize Wallace:

"Who was this strong-willed philosophical naturalist? Although Wallace's best-known claim to fame is as co-discoverer, along with Charles Darwn, of the theory of evolution by natural selection, Wallace's interests ranged so broadly that it is difficult to apply a single label, even that of a naturalist, to him. Describing him as as a natural scientist would do for the early part of his life, but so would geographer and travel writer; one would have to add social critic, spiritualist, and intellectual for the second half. His status within the scientific community is uqually hard to pin down. Historians have called him an outsider, a loner, or the 'other' man who discovered evolution, but these terms reflect the slant of historians more than they describe Wallace. Part of the reason he is difficult to categorize is that his concerns were so encompassing and wide ranging. Wallace wrote for the lay person as well as the specialist, and he wrote about biology, evolution, education, religion, morality, spiritualism, vaccination, eugenics, social values, and political systems [stress added]." Janes R. Camerini, 2002, The Alfred Russel Wallace Reader: A Selection of Writings from the Field (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press), page 2.

Alfred Russel Wallace was, indeed, an interesting individual and much more can be written about him; consider if you will the 2002 words of Steven Pinker:

"Wallace parted company from Darwin by claiming that the human mind could not be explained by evolution and must have been designed by a superior intelligence. He certainly did believe that the mind of man could escape 'the blind control of a deterministic world.' Wallace became a spiritualist and spent the later years of his career searching for a way to communicate with the souls of the dead." Steven Pinker, 2002, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Behavior (NY: Viking/Penguin), page 28.

Pinker's book is well worth reading, for like Wright's Moral Animal (1994), Pinker points out the following:

"The refusal to acknowledge human nature is like the Victorians' embarrasment about sex, only worse: it distorts our science and scholarship, our public discourse, and our day-to-day lives. Logicians tell us that a single contradiction can corrupt a set of statements and allow falsehoods to proliferate through it. The dogma that human nature does not exist, in the face of evidence from science and common sense that it does, is just such a corrupting influence [stress added]." Steven Pinker, 2002, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Behavior (NY: Viking/Penguin), page ix.

And as Robert Wright wrote in his 1994 publication entitled The Moral Animal:

"All the theory of natural selection says is the following. If within a species there is variation among individuals in their hereditary traits, and some traits are more conducive to survival and reproduction than others, than those traits will (obviously) become more widespread within the population. The result (obviously) is that the species' aggregate pool of hereditary traits changes. And there you have it [stress added]." Robert Wright, 1994, The Moral Animal, page 23.

 

ON-GOING CONCLUSIONS

"The question is, does the educated citizen know he [and she] is only a cog in an ecological mechanism? That if he will work with that mechanism his mental wealth and his material wealth will expand indefinitely? But that if he refuses to work with it, it will ultimately grind him to dust? If education does not teach us these things, then what is education for? [stress added]." Aldo Leopold, 1949/1953, A Sand County Almanac With Essays on Conservation from Round River (1966 Sierra Club/Ballantine Books Edition), page 210.

The distinguished Aldo Leopold may have been writing tongue-in-cheek when he wrote of human beings as "cogs" for we are "thinking cogs" for as Peter J. Bentley wrote in his interesting 2001 publication entitled Digital Biology: How Nature is Transforming Our Technology And Our Lives (NY: Simon & Schuster):

"Our societies are not just groups of separate people. They are cooperating, planning, unified entities. Evolution isn't just a bunch of creatures reproducing and dying. It's an amazingly creative process that has enabled the most miraculous of forms to be generated. Your brain isn't just a collection of wineglass-like neurons--it's a conscious, thinking mind [stress added]." Peter J. Bentley, 2001, Digital Biology: How Nature is Transforming Our Technology And Our Lives (NY: Simon & Schuster), page 233.

The words of the distinguished American Anthropologist Gregory Bateson (1904-1980) are well worth repeating:

"The unit of survival [or adaptation] is organism plus environment. We are learning by bitter experience that the organism which destroys its environment destroys itself. If, now, we correct the Darwinian unit of survival to include the environment and the interaction between organism and environment, a very strange and surprising identity emerges: the unit of survival turns out to be identical with the unit of mind" [italics in original; stress added]." Gregory Bateson [1904-1980], 1972, Steps To An Ecology of Mind (NY: Ballantine Books), page 483.

The "Darwin Industry, referenced in an earlier PHIL 108 presentation (http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/DarwinSP2002Phil108.htm], includes such publication as Merryl Davies's Darwin And Fundamentalism (2000), Gabriel Dover's Dear Mr. Darwin: Letters On The Evolution of Life And Human Behavior (2000), Phillip E. Johnson's Defeating Darwinism By Opening Minds (1997), and Randal Keynes's Darwin, His Daughter, and Human Evolution (2002). Interest in Darwin continues and in addition to Janet Browne's outstanding 2002 publication entitled Charles Darwin: The Power of Place (Volume II of a Biography) (an excellent companion volume to her earlier 1995 volume entitled Charles Darwin: Voyaging (Volume I of a Biography), one can read of Darwin and The Linguistic Image (1999 by S. Alter), Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search For Common Ground Between God And Evolution (1999 by Kenneth R. Miller), Gerald Weissmann's 1998 Darwin's Audubon: Science and The Liberal Imagination, as well as Darwin and Archaeology: A Handbook of Key Concepts (a 2002 publication edited by John Hart and John Terrell).

Indeed, it is in this last item that the editors have an excellent statement, well-summarazing "why" interest in Darwin took off so rapidly after 1859 (and why it continues to this day):

"But what then is evolution? Although it may sound unconventional to say so, Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is above all else a theory of history. While initially offered as an encompassing theory about the origin of new species by means of NATURAL SELECTION, Darwin's insights into the causes of biological evolution and persistence soon proved to be so powerful that many have sought to apply Darwinian theory to human affairs--to use Darwin's ways of thinking about history and evolution to explain not only our own oigins as a remarkably clever kind of animal (see BIOLOGICAL CONSTRAINTS), but also our human ways and the history of human institutions and social practices (major elements of what many anthropologists and others call CULTURE) [stress added]." John Terrell and John Hart, 2002, Darwin and Archaeology: A Handbook of Key Concepts (Westport, Connecticut: Bergin & Garvey), page 2.

The boldness and capitalization of the three terms above appears in the original (since they are dealing with "key concepts") but I have stressed the phrase "Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is above all else a theory of history" for this is what eventually led to Social Darwinism, the eugenics movement in Europe (and in the United States of America), and a host of other ill-conceived ideas which individuals developed to deal with human beings based on ill-applied Darwinian theory! As another has written:

"The Origin of Species is one of the most obvious scientific demonstrations of cause and effect, in that the process it describes rests on a history of the genetic variations of a species as it adapts to the circumstances of its environment. The process of adaptation may be speeded up in the laboratory, but in the main, evolutionary theory retains its validity by tracing the history of such adaptations under natural conditions [stress added]." David L. Wilson and Zack Bowen, 2001, Science And Litarature: Bridging the Two Cultures (University Press of Florida), page 64.

Everyone has a particular "history" (and hence evolves or "changes" by adapting to shifts in the environment over time, using the "mind" as Bateson would say) and interest in Darwin is "alive-and-well" and continues to evolve!

I try to make my modest contribution to the "Darwin Industry" by presentations such as these as well as professional papers, including a January 2003 presentation at the Hawai'i International Conference on Arts and Humanities, available at http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/Jan2003Hawai'iDarwin.html, as well as a chapter in a forthcoming publication of the Darwin Day Organization, at http://www.darwinday.org/. I am glad that my wife supports me in my Darwin interests and I am doubly-delighted that she has had an interest in Steinbeck for numerous years. To see the "Steinbeck-Darwin" connection in Salinas was intriguiging and Railsback's book is very useful, for he clearly pointed out the following: "Both Steinbeck and Darwin desire[d] to remain objective, work inductively, and persevere courageously [stress added]." (Brian Railsback, 1995, Parallel Expeditions: Charles Darwin and the Art of John Steinbeck [Moscow, Idaho: University of Idaho Press], page 9) and they both did so until the ends of their extremely productive lives.

In ending, I attempt to answer the question posed at the beginning of this presentation, namely "Why are there so many different kinds of living things?" In his closing words of the 1860 edition of Origin Darwin had the following:

"Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object of which we are capable of conceiving, namely the production of higher animals directly follows. There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator 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 [stress added]."
# # #


POSTSCRIPT (NOVEMBER 2002)

For-virtually-every web page I do I try to "update" the following information concerning "Darwin" and "Search Engines" on the World Wide Web. The following is provided for your edification:

On November 27, 2002, "search engine hits" for "Charles R. Darwin" resulted in the following information: Google had 143,000 items; "Power Search" by Northern Light had 2,720 items; Alta Vista Search had 84,274 items; MonkeySweat had numerous items; and WiseNut had 76,294 items (and AllTheWeb had 516,281 web pages for "Charles R. Darwin").

On May 2, 2002, "search engine hits" for "Charles R. Darwin" resulted in the following information: Google had 130,000 items; "Power Search" by Northern Light had 2,623 items; Alta Vista Search had 36,608 items; MonkeySweat had numerous items; and WiseNut had 64,940 items.

On February 6, 2002, "search engine hits" for "Charles R. Darwin" resulted in the following information: Google had 118,000 items; "Power Search" by Northern Light had 2,587 items; Alta Vista Search had 40,131 items; and MonkeySweat had numerous items!

On October 17, 2001, "search engine hits" for "Charles R. Darwin" resulted in the following information: Google had 120,000 items; Northern Light had 51,939 items; Alta Vista Search had 65,975,088 items; and MonkeySweat had numerous items!

Two things should be obvious: (#1) interest in Darwin continues and (#2), obviously, just as with people, all "search engines" are not created equal and there is "cultural selection" involved in everything we do! How does one "evaluate" and "use" this wide range of information? One does it just as Darwin did, carefully, patiently, and slowly, for as Darwin wrote:

"False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often endure long; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, for every one takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness: and when this is done, one path towards error is closed and the road to truth is often at the same time opened." Charles R. Darwin, 1871, The Descent of Man And Selection in Relation to Sex[1981 Princeton University Press edition, with Introduction by John T. Bonner and Robert M. May], Chapter 21, page 385.


STEINBECK AND DARWIN VISUALS (for additional "Darwin Visuals" please consult previous PHIL 108 presentations, listed in footnote #1 below).

Entrance to the National Steinbeck Center, One Main Street, Salinas, CA (Photo by C.F. Urbanowicz, July 2002).
Mural on wall opposite the entrance to the National Steinbeck Center (Photo by C.F. Urbanowicz, July 2002)

Interior of the National Steinbeck Center (Photo by C.F. Urbanowicz, July 2002).
(Photo by C.F. Urbanowicz, July 2002).

(Photo by C.F. Urbanowicz, July 2002).
John Steinbeck receiving the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature (Photo by C.F. Urbanowicz, July 2002).

The Sea of Cortez Exhibit (Photo by C.F. Urbanowicz, July 2002).
Travels With Charley: In Search of America (Photo by C.F. Urbanowicz, July 2002).

Purchased by Mr/Mrs. Urbanowicz in Sydney, Australia (1970-1971).
1995 publication by Brian E. Railsback (Western Carolina University).

Source: Caroline Overy, 1997, A Teacher's Guide To Charles Darwin: His Life, Journeys and Discoveries (United Kingdom: English Heritage).

Source: Various (and see R.B. Freeman, 1978, Charles Darwin: A Companion [Folkestone, Kent, England: Dawson & Sons, Ltd.], pages 66-68.

Michael Shermer (2002), In Darwin's Shadow: The Life And Science of Alfred Russel Wallace (Oxford University Press).
from: The Alfred Russel Wallace Reader: A Selection of Writings from the Field (2002) edited by Jane R. Camerini (The Johns Hopkins University Press), page 198.

"Map of the Amazon basin showing the places visited by Wallace on his Rio Negra [1848-1852] journey. The place names are those used by Wallace; present names for Pará and barra are in parenthesis." From: Jane R. Camerini (2002), The Alfred Russel Wallace Reader: A Selection of Writings From The Field (The Johns Hopkins University Press), page 63.

Robert Wright (1994), The Moral Animal: Why We Are The Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology (NY: Pantheon Books).
Steven Pinker (2002), The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (NY: Viking/Penguin).

Janet Browne, 1995, Charles Darwin: Voyaging (Volume I of a Biography) (NY: Alfred A. Knopf).
Janet Browne, 2002, Charles Darwin: The Power Of Place (Volume II of a Biography) (NY: Alfred A. Knopf).

The "Darwin" ten-pound note (see http://www.gruts.demon.co.uk/darwin/index.htm for information on how it came to be); for additional Darwin information and numerous Darwin "visuals" please see http://www.darwinday.org/; it would be interesting if and when the United States government honored John Steinbeck (1902-1968) by having his image on a piece of currency in this country.

We do have, however, in the United States of America, "Darwin's Plateau" in the Grand Canyon; read the following: "Other place names recalled key figures in the Canyon's white-man history: Powell Plateau honors the one-armed Major John Wesley Powell [1834-1902] who in 1869 led the river party that forced the first passage of the Canyon....Near the head of Bass Trail lay Darwin Plateau. From its northern rim ran Huxley and Spencer Terraces. And between them, sure enough, nestled Evolution Amphitheater. As I brooded over the map, there beside the rainpocket at the head of Fossil Bay....[stress added]." Colin Fletcher, 1967, The Man Who Walked Through Time (NY: Vintage Books), page 93.

From: Colin Fletcher, 1967, The Man Who Walked Through Time (NY: Vintage Books), page 14.

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(1) © [All Rights Reserved.] Placed on the WWW on December 2, 2002, for a presentation in Professor Robert Stewart's PHIL 108 (ETHICS AND HUMAN HAPPINESS) at CSU, Chico. Previous PHIL 108 presentations are at http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/DarwinSP2002Phil108.htm (May 6, 2002), http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/DarwinMiscSep99.html (November 17, 2001), http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/SP2001DarwinPhil108.html (April 30, 2001), http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/DarwinMiscSp2000.html (April 26, 2000), and http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/DarwinPhil108.htm (December 2, 1998). For other (and earlier) Darwin items see, for example, http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/DarwinSacFeb2002.html (February 10, 2002) as well as http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/DarwinAAUWMarch.html (March 9, 2002). For some other "Darwin Visuals" which were part of the Power point presentation this day, please see http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/darwinvisualsonly.htm. For some Darwin "Self-Tests," please see: http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/SelfTesting/DarwinTestOne.htm as well as http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/SelfTesting/DarwinTestTwo.htm. For additional information on Darwin (for a formal paper to be delivered in January 2003), please see http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/Jan2003Hawai'iDarwin.html. To return to the beginning of this page, please click here.

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 [~6,583 words]} 9 December 2002


To go to the home page of Urbanowicz, please click here;

to the Department of Anthropology;

to California State University, Chico.

[This page printed from http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/DarwinFA2002Phil108.htm]


Copyright © 2002; all rights reserved by Charles F. Urbanowicz

Slight "cosmetic" change on 9 December 2002 by cfu

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