Charles R. Darwin (February 12, 1809-April 19, 1882) for PHILOSOPHY 108
@ California State University, Chico} Spring 2001

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: and home page:

30 April 2001 (1)

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My first presentation made as Darwin was in October 1990 and I have created numerous Darwin web pages (some listed below); summarizing virtually all of my Darwin work in a single sentence: I attempt to humanize Charles R. Darwin. In every presentation I also incorporate as much new material, as possible. In addition to web pages, three videotapes have been completed and editing on the final tape will begin this semester. The tapes are used in classes and shown at professional meetings ( and For recent events, consider the following: "According to one Darwin expert, being fit, smart and strong all matter, but the species that thrive are the ones that are most adaptable." Bob Rosner, The San Francisco Sunday Chronicle, April 22, 2001, page CL11; and:

"Even amid a slowdown, the U.S. economy supports a healthy commercial Darwinism in which stronger stores devour the weak [stress added]". Lorrie Grant, One Store's Death Is Another's Opportunity. April 16, 2001, USA Today, page 8B.

Publications about Darwin abound: last year there was a delightful book (I wish I had written) entitled Dear Mr. Darwin: Letters On The Evolution of Life And Human Behavior, wherein the author has Darwin saying:

"I am so glad you have taken the time and trouble to write to me. It is one of the saddest aspects of human existence that, as soon as one passes away, it is generally assumed that the deceased has no further interest in what he or she spent a great part of life investigating. From what you tell me of the Darwin industry of scholars in your day, busy seeking out every nuance of my life and thoughts, I have to conclude that there is indeed life after death [stress added]." Gabriel Dover, 2000, Dear Mr. Darwin: Letters On The Evolution of Life And Human Behavior (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson), page 3.

A 2001 item (by Michael Ruse) was entitled Can A Darwinian Be A Christian: The Relationship Bteween Science And Religion (Cambridge University Press); Ruse unequivocally writes that "Darwinism is ecuminical. Its processes can and will accommodate a wide range of theological opinions" and adds "Can a Darwinian be a Christian? Absolutely!" (pages 216-217). The "Darwin Industry" is alive and I hope to make a modest contribution in 2009: the bicentennial of Darwin's birth and the sesquicentennial of On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

Darwin was an extremely important individual for a variety of reasons: the data he collected, the experiments he conducted, the books he wrote (more than twenty), and the theories and ideas he proposed influenced numerous disciplines. One of six children born to Susannah Wedgwood (1765-1817) and Robert Darwin (1768-1848) in Shrewsbury, England, Peter Brent wrote the following in 1981: "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" (Charles Darwin: A Man Of Enlarged Curiosity, page 89). Last year, Paul Ehrlich wrote: "The basic explanation of evolution, our own and that of every other organism, traces to one of the most influential books ever written, Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, published in 1859" (Human Natures: Genes, Cultures and the Human Prospect, page 16). In addition to Origin, if you can only read only three items, I would suggest:

#1. Charles Darwin, 1887, The Autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809-1882, With original omissions restored Edited with Appendix and Notes by his grand-daughter Nora Barlow, 1958 (NY: W.W. Norton 1969 edition)
#2. Jonathan Miller and Borin Van Loon, 1982, Darwin for Beginners (New York: Pantheon Books)
#3. Jonathan Weiner, 1994, The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time (New York: Vintage Books)

Darwin graduated from Cambridge in 1830 and was invited on a trip around the world on HMS Beagle; this trip changed his life: "The voyage of the Beagle has been by far the most important event of my life and has determined my whole career...." Concerning the Galápagos Islands, he was to write: "The natural history of these islands is eminently curious, and well deserves attention. … 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." After returning to England in 1836, Darwin never left England again. When Darwin set sail in 1831 (at the age of 22), he was a young and relatively inexperienced naturalist; when he returned in 1836, he was an older, different, and experienced individual. Darwin built on previous research and, in my opinion, change is apparent where Darwin is concerned. Darwin's monumental work was his 1859 Origin, which he revised five times in his life. Consider the changes over the six editions (M. Peckham, Editor, 1959, The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin: A Variorum Text (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press):



9 eliminated
483 rewritten
30 added
7 %
33 eliminated
617 rewritten
266 added
14 %
36 eliminated
1073 rewritten
435 added
21 %
178 eliminated
1770 rewritten
227 added
29 %
63 eliminated
1699 rewritten
571 added
21-29 %

Conducting research to the end of his life, while visiting a friend in London in December 1881, Darwin suffered a mild heart seizure; on February 12, 1882, his 73rd birthday, he wrote "my course is nearly run." On April 19, 1882, Darwin had a heart attack and died; his grave, however, is not in Down but in London, in Westminster Abbey. "The Nobel Prize winner Szent-Györgyi, once said that a scientist should see what everybody else has seen and then think what nobody has thought. Nobody did this better than Charles Darwin....." (in J. Livingston and L. Sinclair, 1967, Darwin and the Galapagos, no page #).

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Additional Urbanowicz Darwin-Related Web sites (from most recent to oldest): [March 21->24, 2001} Huntington Library Darwin [February 25, 2001} article in The Chico Enterprise-Record (pages E1 and E2)] [November 2000} On Teaching & Darwin; including all Urbanowicz-Darwin web pages to that date} 27 in all; also includes numerous "Darwin-related" web references.] [1999} 22 minute video available on your desktop with REALPLAYER; this is tape #2 of a four-part series: it takes "Darwin" from England to South America.]. [1997} 18 minute video available on your desktop with REALPLAYER; this is tape #1 of a four-part series: it "sets the setting" of Darwin in England].

Other Darwin-related Web sites: [Darwin Day Home Page] [Charles Darwin Foundation, Inc.] [The Friends of Charles Darwin Home Page] [The Ilkley Pages: Darwin Gardens] [Official Darwin Awards} "...showing us just how uncommon common sense can be." Wendy Northcutt, 2000, The Darwin Awards: Evolution in Action (Dutton)

(1) © [All Rights Reserved.] Placed on the WWW on April 23, 2001, for a presentation on April 30, 2001, in Professor Robert Stewart's PHIL 108 (ETHICS AND HUMAN HAPPINESS) at CSU, Chico. Previous PHIL 108 presentations are at (December 2, 1998), (April 26, 2000), and (November 17, 2001). This current page incorporates ideas, words, phrases, and references from earlier items; new ideas, information, and interpretations, however, have been added. To return to the beginning of this page, please click here.

To go to the home page of Charles F. Urbanowicz.

To go to the home page of the Department of Anthropology.

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© [Copyright: All Rights Reserved] Charles F. Urbanowicz

23 April 2001 by CFU

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