Darwin’s two theories, 1844 and 1859
- 124 Downloads
Darwin’s first two, relatively complete, explicit articulations of his theorizing on evolution were his Essay of 1844 and On the Origin of Species published in 1859. A comparative analysis concludes that they espoused radically different theories despite exhibiting a continuity of strategy, much common structure and the same key idea. Both were theories of evolution by means of natural selection. In 1844, organic adaptation was confined to occasional intervals initiated and controlled by de-stabilization events. The modified descendants rebalanced the particular “plant and animal forms … unsettled by some alteration in their circumstances.” But by 1859, organic adaptation occurred continuously, potentially modifying the descendants of all organisms. Even natural selection, the persistent core of Darwin’s theorizing, does not prove to be a significant basis for theory similarity. Consequently, Darwin’s Origin theory cannot reasonably be considered as a mature version of the Essay. It is not a modification based on adjustments, further justifications and the integration of a Principle of Divergence. The Origin announced a new “scientific paradigm” while the Essay did little more than seemingly misconfigure the operation of a novel mechanism to extend varieties beyond their accepted bounds, and into the realm of possible new species. Two other collections of Darwin’s theorizing are briefly considered: his extensive notes of the late 1830s and his contributions to the famous meeting of 1 July 1858. For very different reasons, neither constitutes a challenge to the basis for this comparative study. It is concluded that, in addition to the much-debated social pressures, an unacknowledged further reason why Darwin did not publish his theorizing until 1859, could have been down to his perceptive technical judgement: wisely, he held back from rushing to publish demonstrably flawed theorizing.
KeywordsDarwin Evolution by natural selection 1844 Essay 1859 Origin of Species
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- DCP numbers are the references to letters in the Darwin Correspondence Project: http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk.
- Barlow, Nora, ed. 1958. The autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809–1882. London: Collins.Google Scholar
- Bowler, Peter J. 2003. Evolution, the History of an Idea, 3rd ed. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Black, Jeremy. 2008. What If? Counterfactualism and the Problem of History. London: The Social Affairs Unit.Google Scholar
- Browne, Janet. 1995. Charles Darwin, Voyaging. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Butler, Samuel. 1879. Evolution, Old and New. 3rd ed. 1911, London: Fifield.Google Scholar
- Darwin, Charles. 1964 . On the Origin of Species. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Darwin, Charles and A. R. Wallace. 1858. “On the tendency of species to form varieties; and on the perpetuation of varieties and species by natural means of selection.” Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London 3: 46–50.Google Scholar
- Darwin, Francis ed. 1909. The Foundation of the Origin of Species: Two Essays Written in 1842 and 1844. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- De Beer, Gavin. 1963. Charles Darwin. London: Thomas Nelson.Google Scholar
- Desmond, Adrian and James Moore. 1991. Darwin. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
- Gruber, Howard E. 1985. “Going to the Limit: Towards the Construction of Darwin’s Theory.” D. Kohn (ed.), The Darwinian Heritage. Princeton: Princeton University Press in association with Nova Pacifica, pp. 9–34.Google Scholar
- Hodge, M. J. S. and David Kohn. 1985. “The Immediate Origins of Natural Selection.” D. Kohn (ed.), The Darwinian Heritage. Princeton: Princeton University Press in Association with Nova Pacifica, pp. 185–206.Google Scholar
- Hodge, Jonathan. 2013a. “Darwin’s Book: On the Origin of Species.” Journal of Science & Education 22: 2267–2294.Google Scholar
- Larson, Edward J. 2004. Evolution, the Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
- Lyell, Charles. 1853. The Principles of Geology, 9th ed. London:John Murray.Google Scholar
- Mayr, Ernst. 1985. “Darwin’s Five Theories of Evolution.” D. Kohn (ed.), The Darwinian Heritage. Princeton: Princeton University Press in Association with Nova Pacifica, pp. 755–772.Google Scholar
- Ospovat, Dov. 1981. The Development of Darwin’s Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Partridge, Derek. 2017.. “When did Darwin ‘clearly conceive’ his theory of evolution?” Journal of Natural History. https://doi.org/10.1080/00222933.2017.1406168.
- Ruse, Michael (ed.). 2013. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Darwin and Evolutionary Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Slotten, Ross A. 2004. The Heretic in Darwin’s Court. New York: Colombia University Press.Google Scholar
- Sober, Elliott. 1985. “Darwin on Natural Selection: A Philosophical Perspective.” D Kohn (ed.), The Darwinian Heritage. Princeton: Princeton University Press in association with Nova Pacifica, pp. 867–899.Google Scholar
- Watson, James D. 1968. The Double Helix. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar