As a result of the study of the Darwinian lexicon in OS, I have created two tables and a graph that house the results obtained with the assistance of WordSmith Tools. On the one hand, Table 1 (Online Resource, p. 2)Footnote 14 shows the total values of occurrences, in the six editions of OS, of the aesthetic-emotional and religious adjectives and adverbs extracted from the word frequency lists. Those adjectives of a religious or spiritual nature have been highlighted in bold. This way of presenting the results allows, firstly, to easily visualize the number of occurrences of each adjective and adverb, as well as its increasing, decreasing or null evolution throughout the six editions of OS; secondly, it also allows a comparison of the frequency of a specific adjective or adverb with those other words in the list. Additionally, I have created Graph 1 (Online Resource, p. 3),Footnote 15 which illustrates the frequency results included in Table 1 and, therefore, facilitates the visualization of the lexical conduct of the terms across the different editions of Darwin’s work.
On the other hand, Table 2 (Online Resource, pp. 4–11)Footnote 16 collects the expressions, composed mainly of nouns and verbs, affected by the aesthetic-emotional and religious—also highlighted in bold—adjectives and adverbs. This type of table facilitates a semantic analysis of the results, as it shows the nouns or verbs affected by the selected adjectives and adverbs, as well as the possible addition of new nouns or verbs, their subtraction or permanence throughout the several editions of OS. The terms Darwin removes are preceded by the subtraction symbol “−” and crossed out. The terms he adds appear preceded by the addition symbol “+”. The terms subject to some kind of lexical modification are underlined and they appear separated from the main lexical results, since they are not part of the calculation of occurrences, and these are only highlighted to indicate that they have been modified. Cases in which no expressions affected by a specific adjective or adverb have been found have been indicated with a simple hyphen (-).
This leads to my semantic analysis, in the following three sub-chapters, of the results presented in Table 1 and Table 2. It should be noted that the semantic value of both tables is equivalent. The difference between the two is the visual display of the lexical results. While Table 1 only shows the numerical values corresponding to the occurrences of each aesthetic-emotional and religious adjective and adverb in the six editions of OS, Table 2 also displays all the expressions affected by the adjectives and adverbs.
Thus, Sub-chapter 3.1. will outline the results obtained from a semantic analysis of the terms affected by the aesthetic-emotional adjectives and adverbs. Sub-chapter 3.2. will address the semantics of a religious-type adjectives.
Semantic analysis of aesthetic-emotional lexicon in OS
The linear display of results in Table 1 (Online Resource, p. 2) allows the easy detection of the aesthetic-emotional adjectives and adverbs with the highest frequency of occurrence in OS. The following terms are mentionable in this respect, as they appear at least five times in most editions of OS: Admirable, astonishing, attractive, beautiful, beautifully, extraordinary, extraordinarily, marvellous, prodigious, sweet, wonderful and wonderfully.
Based on the results shown in Table 2 (Online Resource, pp. 4–11), in Sub-chapter 3.1.1. I will semantically analyse the expressions affected by the most frequently used aesthetic-emotional adjectives and adverbs. Sub-chapter 3.1.2. will focus on the semantics of the terms affected by adjectives and adverbs with less occurrences.
Frequent aesthetic-emotional adjectives and adverbs in OS
A semantic analysis of the most frequent aesthetic-emotional adjectives and adverbs shown in Table 2 (Online Resource, pp. 4–11) reveals that the scientific research of nature is the way through which Darwin experiences intense aesthetic feelings and intellectual pleasure. These emotions, acquiring an increasing degree of aesthetic maturity and scientific sophistication across the editions of OS, especially derive from the specialized study of the natural landscape, a study that refines Darwin’s ability for aesthetic and intellectual appreciation of the biological complexity and adaptational perfection and excellence of nature. This is manifested, without prejudice to occasional allusions to the beauty of the visually perceptible characteristics of natural forms and beings, in descriptions of nature that go beyond the aesthetic-emotional description of the merely visual. Instead, Darwin focuses on facts, changes, the functional, structural and instinctive excellence of living beings, powers and invisible or unknown natural mechanisms. The prevalent use of aesthetic-emotional adjectives and adverbs to describe physical or biological aspects of nature, could be considered an indication of an optimistically disenchanted type of lexicon, that is, emotionally suggestive despite its markedly naturalistic inclination.
Among the lexical results that best manifest these conclusions,Footnote 17 the spectrum of expressions affected by the adjective beautiful, as well as their evolution through OS editions, have a high semantic value. The lexical results show that Darwin, for the most part, describes as beautiful, from the first to the third edition of OS, aspects of nature such as blue colour (bird), races of plants, co-adaptations (2 times), adaptation/s (6 times), diversity and proportion of kinds, males, contrivance (2 times), ramifications, (and harmonious) diversity of nature, work (bees’), endless forms, (really wondrous and beautiful) organisation or (and complex) structure. Darwin’s lexicon shows that his descriptions of natural beauty mostly focus on structural, organisational, or distributional aspects of nature such as a biological being’s ability to adapt, the diversity of nature or the functional organisation and structure of some living beings. That is, Darwin not only appreciates the visual beauty of natural objects, but, above all, he appreciates the beauty of technical complexity, functional excellence and the diversity of natural mechanisms.
The functional excellence of nature is equivalently accentuated with the use of the adverb beautifully. The expressions that most stand out are those referring to the beauty —which could also be considered “elegance”— found in the perfection of physical structures and, above all, to the ability of living beings to adapt to certain living conditions: beautifully adapted to its end (structure of a comb), beautifully constructed natatory legs, beautifully adapting (power), beautifully related to complex conditions of life (parts of organic beings), beautifully adapted (giraffe’s frame) and beautifully adapted (structures).
It must not go unnoticed that, in the fourth edition of OS, Darwin adds a multiplicity of nouns described as beautiful, mostly referring to objects of nature, such as crystalline lens, organic beings, objects (3 times), volute and cone shells, productions of nature (flowers), male animals, birds, fishes, mammals, butterflies, insects, reptiles, males, colours (2 times, once eliminated in the 5th ed.), flowers (2 times), fruits (4th–5th eds.), or living objects (4th–5th eds.). Nevertheless, the inclusion of this extensive set of terms in the fourth edition shows the influence of a background of purely naturalistic interest. For instance, we can highlight examples that, on the one hand, indicate a strong influence of a base of physical knowledge about nature (beautiful crystalline lens, beautiful volute and cone shells) and, on the other hand, they occasionally refer, in the framework of explanations about sexual selection or the pollination of plants, to aspects that other organic beings, not Darwin—as it also happens with the adjectives attractive and sweet—, find beautiful, such as colours, fruits or flowers. This lexical fact leads us to think that a greater acquisition of specialized knowledge about nature makes it possible for Darwin to provide a more complete, specific, refined and detailed set of organic aspects or objects that make up the natural landscape, as well as the corresponding occasional aesthetic qualification.
The fact that in a work like OS the adjective beautiful has a considerable lexical presence that increases throughout the editions—this is confirmed by the fact that there is a terminological increase of more than twice as many occurrences from the first edition of OS to the sixth—, not only allows us to confirm that Darwin’s aesthetic interest increases in line with his growing scientific knowledge of nature, but points out that Darwin does not want to dispense with descriptions that show his aesthetic and emotional appreciation of the objects of study. Why would Darwin need to include his aesthetic-emotional assessment of the mechanisms and processes that he explains, if not to assert his aesthetic and intellectual fascination?
Likewise, the adjective wonderful, which is the most frequent aesthetic-emotional adjective in OS, positively reinforces the conclusions reached so far, as it affects, from the first to the third edition of OS, a vast number of nouns such as difference in beaks, development, fact/s (6 times), structure (the eye) (1st–5th eds.), power of scent, metamorphoses in function (1st–5th eds.), instinct/s (8 times), (not very wonderful) instincts, (not very wonderful) modifications of instincts, sort of shield (worker ants), collection of fossil bones, relationship (between the dead and the living), or endless forms. These expressions confirm that aspects such as excellence in the development of species or in their instinctive ability to adapt to the environment, including the complexity of the mechanisms that allow the human eye to work, are the type of biological manifestations that cause the greatest emotional agitation in Darwin. Similarly, Darwin applies the adverb wonderfully to emphasize the structural, functional and physical excellence of nature with expressions like wonderfully perfect structure (hive-bee’s), wonderfully complex jaws and legs in crustaceans and wonderfully perfect (prehensile organ).
In an attitude similar to that shown by the adjective beautiful, Darwin incorporates, from the fourth edition on, a vast number of expressions affected by the adjective wonderful, such as differing manner (offspring of two sexes), the most wonderful of all cases (alternate generations of animals) (4th ed.), difference between worker ants and perfect females, thickness (sedimentary strata), changes of structure, law of the long endurance of allied forms, fact, organ (the eye), powers of the human eye, changes in function, one of the most wonderful animals in the world (Greenland whale), manner (changing natural species), co-adaptations, connecting link (Typotherium), case/s (2 times), or manner in which certain butterflies imitate other species. It is noteworthy that a significant number of these additions are related to changes or differences in the structure and functions of living beings: differing manner (offspring of two sexes), difference between worker ants and perfect females, changes of structure or changes in function and manner (changing natural species).Footnote 18
This lexical feature is similarly perceptible in the nouns affected by the adjective prodigious, predominating those cases where Darwin reports on the changing characteristics of his object of study, such as geographical revolutions and transformations, as well as expressions such as amount of difference (2 times) and difference (between ants) that express the differences he has found in a comparative study.
The updating of information—perceptible in the lexical evolution of the adjective wonderful and the adverb wonderfully—regarding the comparative observations Darwin makes between species, as well as his fascination—as seen in the lexical behaviour of the adjective prodigious—with the vast magnitude of geographical revolutions or the considerable difference that could exist between two types of ants, are specific evidences showing, first, that Darwin modifies the content of OS across editions based on the new results he witnesses, and, second, that the study of nature seems to be the path that allows Darwin to access a deeper dimension of understanding of the evolutionary mechanisms of living beings, as well as to qualify, with increasing enthusiasm,Footnote 19 the impression they generate in him.
The feeling of amazement finds its most emphatic expression also in the use of the adjective astonishing, which Darwin applies to natural characteristics and facts such as diversity of the breeds, improvement in many florists’ flowers, distance, power of diving, number of experiments, fact/s, rapidity, waste of pollen, number of species and result. These lexical results are of a markedly naturalistic type, which make us infer that, again, the scientific study of nature is the primary basis without which Darwin would not be able to feel amazement at the natural events described. This is equally manifested in the lexicon affected by the adjective marvellous; Darwin does not marvel at visual aspects of the natural landscape, but with the amount of diversification, the instinct/s, the fact, the characters, the case of Cecidomyia, or the manner in which the Galapagos Islands are inhabited by very closely related species, that is, with characteristics of nature not noticeable if not from the perspective of scientific study.
In sum, the precise study of nature carried out over the years is fundamental to the updating of the results contained in OS. This is precisely the source of inspiration that generates in Darwin intense and growing feelings of beauty, wonder and astonishment.
Less frequent aesthetic-emotional adjectives and adverbs in OS
The semantic study of less frequent aesthetic-emotional adjectives and adverbs indicates that, despite their lower frequency in the OS texts, they have the characteristic of being the most markedly aesthetic—sometimes even poetic—and emotional ones. However, their application is almost exclusively restricted to markedly scientific-technical aspects of nature. These two lexical features, that is, a greater aesthetic-emotional nature, although less frequent, and the application strictly reserved for the scientific, mathematical and technical aspects of nature, are precisely attributes of disenchantment that acquire special visibility if the behaviour of the Darwinian lexicon is analysed across the six editions of OS.
As an example, the possible emotional use that could be applied to an adjective such as delicate, is ruled out if the nouns affected by this adjective are analysed. Darwin has rigorously limited its use to the description of forms, beings and properties of nature that have the quality of being delicate, such as shells, hexagonal walls, nature (quality), cell-constructing work (3rd ed.–5th ed.), branching coralline, inhabitants of the cells, filaments, membrane, texture, inner coat of the eye and fleshy organs. Many of the expressions just listed are introduced in the sixth edition of OS, with a striking difference of eight occurrences between the first and sixth edition. This, again, demonstrates Darwin’s progressive acquisition of scientific knowledge about nature and a consequent refinement of his descriptions.
However, unlike delicate, the adjective exquisite and the adverb exquisitely have been conscientiously applied in OS to aesthetic-emotionally denotate structural and adaptational features of nature, such as exquisite adaptations, exquisite structure of a comb, exquisitely constructed hooks, exquisitely adapted parts and organs and exquisitely feathered gills. These results indicate that the emotional intensity of the terms exquisite and exquisitely rests on the adaptive and structural excellence of natural objects, not admirable without the perspective of scientific optics. Darwin himself reaffirms his admiration for one of the examples just mentioned, the structure of a comb, indicating that he perceives it with enthusiastic admiration.Footnote 20
As far as admiration is concerned, it should be noted that Darwin uses admirably four times also to refer to the excellence of the adaptation to the environment of some living beings: admirably adapted woodpecker, admirably adapted pleuronectidae, admirably adapted pollinium and admirably adapted species. In other words, Darwin’s lexicon shows, once more, that his admiration lies with the complexity and functional and adaptive excellence of biological objects and beings.
The list of lexical examples that manifest a union between aesthetic-emotional adjectives and adverbs, and natural objects, states, attributes and processes, some of marked scientific-technical characteristics, expands, in this respect, considerably. The surprising emphasis transmitted by the adverb astonishingly affects only technical aspects of nature such as artificially improved varieties (astonishingly improved breeds by crossing them) and the rapid increase of some animal species (astonishingly rapid increase of various animals); in a similarly emphatic, although also scientific-technical, way, Darwin adjectivizes the sea as a formidable barrier that might interfere with the geographical distribution of animal species; the adjective magnificent, of equivalent expressive intensity, applies exclusively to the compound eyes of butterflies in a state of chrysalis; the adverb marvellously is used to indicate the perfection of the attributes of the eye (marvellously perfect attributes/characters); the adverb nicely accentuates the perfect relationship of balance between, on the one hand, variability of the forces of competing organic beings (nicely balanced forces) and, on the other hand, the consequent fluctuating stability of the scale of victory and defeat in the struggle for life (nicely balanced scale in the struggle for life); the adjective stupendous affects only the noun degradation, referring to the deterioration of some volcanic islands; and finally, the adjective wondrous refers to the electrical organs of some fish (wondrous organs) and to the beautiful physical organisation of some living beings classified as low on the scale of nature (really wondrous and beautiful organisation).
These examples prove that although Darwin does not cease to experience intense emotions of aesthetic magnificence, admiration and surprise before the excellence of nature, the use of these aesthetic-emotional adjectives and adverbs is mostly restricted to scientific-technical aspects of nature. However, this restriction is not absolute. Without diverting attention from his primary purpose in OS, that is, to explain the natural mechanisms necessary for a correct dissemination of evolutionary ideas, Darwin occasionally describes nature with a characteristically aesthetic-poetic lexicon, referring both to merely aesthetic aspects of the landscape and natural objects, as well as to his mood. Thus, for example, the way Darwin emphasizes the delicacy by which bees spread the vermilion colour of the wax through the axes of the hive cells is especially striking: as delicately as a painter could have done with his brush. Similarly, Darwin also describes some birds and the plumage of birds of paradise as gorgeous, certain fruit varieties as splendid, the beauty in scenery as picturesque, the diversity of nature as harmonious and butterflies as magnificently coloured.
In sum, although these expressions, when analysed individually, are those with the highest aesthetic-poetic intensity compared to the most frequent adjectives and adverbs analysed in sub-chapter 3.1.1., it should be noted that, if analysed in the textual context of OS, they all are inserted in paragraphs rigorously dedicated to the scientific explanation of natural facts and mechanisms. In addition, the presence of these adjectives and adverbs in the text is minimal, as they appear, except for the adjective delicate, once or twice in each edition of the work, and in the case of the adjective picturesque, only once in the fifth edition.
Semantic analysis of religious or spiritual lexicon in OS
The irregular lexical behaviour of religious or spiritual adjectives, in terms of terminological additions and subtractions is referred to, is visually striking when compared with the generalized semi-stable or growing lexical tendency of aesthetic-emotional adjectives. Nevertheless, this irregularity depends, to a large extent, on the additions or deletions that Darwin applies to the OS bibliographic material, where the majority of these adjectives are included. Religious or spiritual adjectives, therefore, have no theoretical weight in any of the six editions of OS.Footnote 21 OS is, consequently, a disenchanted text, in the strictest sense of the term, that is, lacking references to supra-natural entities that are theoretically relevant to the scientific argumentation of OS.
The adjective divine shows, precisely, a markedly irregular lexical behaviour. It affects the nouns power and love in the first edition and author in the second edition; in the third edition Darwin eliminates the noun love on the two occasions in which it appears; in the fourth edition he adds the noun elements; finally, the fifth and sixth editions maintain the number of occurrences of the third edition. These lexical results, however, lack theoretical value for the OS text. The expression divine power belongs to Whewell, which Darwin quotes;Footnote 22 the expressions divine love and divine elements are found in the bibliographic content of OS; finally, the expression divine author obviously refers to an author mentioned by Darwin.
The adjective holy behaves similarly in OS. It affects the nouns land, altar and places, which are included in the first and second editions, eliminated in the third, retaken up in the fourth edition, with the addition of the noun scripture, and finally eliminated in the fifth and sixth editions. Now, all these expressions belong to the bibliographic list of OS, that is, to the works of other authors. The semantic value of the adjective holy, as well as of all the nouns affected, is, therefore, argumentatively null for the content of OS. Likewise, the only occurrence of the adjective mystical, from the third to the sixth edition of OS, affects the noun natur-philosophie, but it is a reference by Darwin to Oken’s work. A case analogous to those of the adjectives holy and mystical is that of the adjective sacred, whose only two occurrences are beetle of the Egyptians, a type of beetle also called Ateuchus, and places, which belongs to the bibliography. We find the same lexical situation in the case of the adjective supernatural, which is used to quote ButlerFootnote 23 from the second edition on (what is supernatural or miraculous…), and to refer to part of the content of Guizot’s work (The Supernatural) in the fourth edition.
Immaterial and mysterious are not even used in OS as adjectives of a religious or spiritual type, but, in the case of immaterial, as a synonym for “irrelevant”; in the case of mysterious, as a synonym for “unknown”, as it refers to aspects of Darwin’s investigations that are unknown, or that have ceased to be unknown to him, like laws of the correlation of growth, causes, the succession of the same types of structure, a manner and cases of correlation.
Lastly, miraculous is the only adjective which has minimal, and indirect, theoretical value in OS, as it affects the expression act/s of creation and the nouns interposition and process, included in the text as examples of miraculous cases of creation, interposition and process incompatible with Darwin’s theory of evolution based on natural selection. The only utility Darwin obtains from the use of the adjective miraculous is, therefore, to complete the scientific content of OS with examples of theoretical incompatibility.
In brief, as advanced above, since Darwin does not use any of the religious or spiritual adjectives as argumentative foundation for his explanations in OS, it is therefore possible to conclude that disenchantment also manifests itself in the texts in the form of the absence of religious or spiritual adjectives with relevant theoretical value.