How a Hatred of Slavery Shaped Darwin's Views on Human Evolution
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
On Sale: January 28, 2010
Add to Wish List
An astonishing new portrait of a scientific
In this remarkable book, Adrian Desmond and
James Moore restore the missing moral core of Darwinâ€™s
evolutionary universe, providing a completely new account of
how he came to his shattering theories about human
There has always been a mystery surrounding
Darwin: How did this quiet, respectable gentleman, a pillar
of his parish, come to embrace one of the most radical ideas
in the history of human thought? Itâ€™s difficult to overstate
just what Darwin was risking in publishing his theory of
evolution. So it must have been something very powerfulâ€”a
moral fire, as Desmond and Moore put itâ€”that propelled him.
And that moral fire, they argue, was a passionate hatred of
To make their case, they draw on a wealth of
fresh manuscripts, unpublished family correspondence,
notebooks, diaries, and even shipsâ€™ logs. They show how
Darwinâ€™s abolitionism had deep roots in his motherâ€™s family
and was reinforced by his voyage on the Beagle as
well as by events in Americaâ€”from the rise of scientific
racism at Harvard through the dark days of the Civil
Leading apologists for slavery in Darwinâ€™s time
argued that blacks and whites had originated as separate
species, with whites created superior. Darwin abhorred such
"arrogance." He believed that, far from being separate
species, the races belonged to the same human family.
Slavery was therefore a "sin," and abolishing it became
Darwinâ€™s "sacred cause." His theory of evolution gave
all the racesâ€”blacks and whites, animals and
plantsâ€”an ancient common ancestor and freed them from
creationist shackles. Evolution meant emancipation.
this rich and illuminating work, Desmond and Moore recover
Darwinâ€™s lost humanitarianism. They argue that only by
acknowledging Darwinâ€™s Christian abolitionist heritage can
we fully understand the development of his groundbreaking
ideas. Compulsively readable and utterly persuasive,
Darwinâ€™s Sacred Cause will revolutionize our view of
the great naturalist.
No comments posted.
Registered users may leave comments.
Log in or register now!