Summary: Dealing with Darwin: Review and Analysis of Moores Book

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Depew, D. Weber Gayon, J. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Grene, M.

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Depew Moore, J. Desmond London: Penguin Books, pp xi-lxiv. Shanahan, T. It is frequently thrilling and intriguing too, offering a tumult of insights into the struggles around slavery, race and science.


A particularly striking instance is the Confederate States' covert effort to manipulate British public opinion using agents in the Anthropological Society of London, who argued the case for slavery and flyposted Confederate flags on London streets. They conclude with an explanation for the structure of The Descent of Man, which appears to be a book about human origins bundled with one about sexual selection, birds and butterflies fluttering through it.

This was all part of the unity project, Desmond and Moore argue: Darwin saw sexual selection, in which basically trivial preferences shaped the appearances of populations over time, as a means by which races with a common origin could have acquired their visible differences. Darwin thus emphasised human unity and dwelt upon superficial differences, while acquiescing in the contemporary assumption that some races were superior to others.

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At the time that Josiah Wedgwood's "A Man and a Brother" cameos were being fired in his kilns, three great principles were firing up on the other side of the Channel. Each was subsequently at stake in the interlinked questions of slavery and race. Liberty was the simplest. Darwin held to the conviction he grew up with, that human beings must not be bought, sold or owned.


Fraternity was the principle that, in Desmond and Moore's reading, he worked to establish by building a theory of common descent. But equality was a different matter. Equality so often is. Creationists of various stripes have seized the opportunity to include racism in their indictments of Darwin. From their point of view, it is one more wicked consequence of teaching that people are animals.

Considering the comfort slave-owners in the American South drew from scripture, a selective biblical quotation comes to mind: the one about beholding the mote in thy brother's eye without perceiving the beam in thine own. On the other side, those who argue that some peoples are cleverer than others insist that theirs are scientific claims, to be judged by their content rather than their context, according to facts rather than values.

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Here modern idiom springs to mind: "Bring it on. Desmond and Moore observe that their Darwin is "a man more sympathetic than creationists find acceptable, more morally committed than scientists would allow". Whether or not his sacred cause was what made him so special, their Darwin is a character that will speak eloquently to many people who have reached their middle years: somebody who strove to work the ideals of his youth into the fabric of a world that exalted some kinds of change, but had turned its face against others.

His later research in statistics and anthropology led him to apply his relative's breakthrough findings to human differences. As a strong proponent of the role of heredity in variations between individuals and groups, his championing of "nature" versus "nurture" was developed in the book 'Hereditary Genius' and then via the study of twins. In , he coined the word "eugenics", and advocated strategies for improving human stock to give "the more suitable races or strains of blood" a better chance of success.

His idea of "negative eugenics", designed to restrict the reproduction of less "fit" populations, would eventually feed into the policies of sterilisation followed by many from Nazi Germany to Social Democratic Sweden. The dispute over race, intelligence and heredity crackled into life again in when Jensen published, in the 'Harvard Educational Review', a paper entitled "How much can we boost IQ and scholastic achievement?

His claims provoked lasting controversy both scholarly in rebuttals such as Stephen Jay Gould's 'The Mismeasure of Man' and practical student protests outside his office in Berkeley as critics accused him of reviving 19th-century "scientific" racism. Jensen has continued to promote the genetic components of intelligence variations but, in , his synthesis of research and arguments, 'The g Factor', was refused by publishers.

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You may purchase this title at these fine bookstores. Outside the USA, see our international sales information. University of Chicago Press: E. About Contact News Giving to the Press. Prophecy in Islam Fazlur Rahman. Knot of the Soul Stefania Pandolfo. Secularizing Islamists? Humeira Iqtidar. Reading Darwin in Arabic, Marwa Elshakry.

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Marwa Elshakry Publication supported by the Bevington Fund. In Reading Darwin in Arabic , Marwa Elshakry questions current ideas about Islam, science, and secularism by exploring the ways in which Darwin was read in Arabic from the late s to the mid-twentieth century. The politics of evolution infiltrated Arabic discussions of pedagogy, progress, and the very sense of history. They also led to a literary and conceptual transformation of notions of science and religion themselves. Darwin thus became a vehicle for discussing scriptural exegesis, the conditions of belief, and cosmological views more broadly.

Reading Darwin in Arabic is an engaging and powerfully argued reconceptualization of the intellectual and political history of the Middle East. Table of Contents. Robert Irwin Times Literary Supplement.