Acta Biotheoretica

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 199–214 | Cite as

The six editions of the ‘origin of species’ A comparative study

  • Helen P. Liepman


Comparison of the six editions of the ‘Origin of Species’ reveals a definite change in Darwin's propounded theory.

Although the tone of the statements seems to become more positive in later editions, the change of thought indicates a certain inability of the original theory to stand up to criticism.

Up to the 5th edition, the alterations are mostly supportive to the theory of accumulation of modifications by natural selection, but in the last two editions non-selective forces come into play. Darwin himself was unwilling to admit a great structural change in his theory and although all the factors had been presented in earlier editions the importance of their role had so shifted by the 6th edition that it is difficult not to conclude that the basic axioms of the theory had changed.


Structural Change Natural Selection Original Theory Definite Change Basic Axiom 
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Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen P. Liepman
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Theoretical BiologyUniversity of LeidenLeidenThe Netherlands

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