Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Simple Book Review: "How to Read Darwin" (2005) by Mark Ridley


How to Read Darwin (2005) by Mark Ridley

I tried to read Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species one day, but I couldn’t because the book is so thick and very technical. So I tried to read a book about The Origin and the man – How to Read Darwin – though it was easier to read yet at some points I feel lost.

Charles Darwin is best known for his work as a naturalist, developing a theory of evolution to explain biological change. Darwin was “a historical figure, who revolutionized biology, and his influence can be traced into all corners of modern culture – not just in biology, but in philosophy, the human sciences, theology, software engineering, literature and the plastic arts.” Darwin was also a mastermind. Ridley in this book focus primary on The Origin of Species and secondly on The Descent of Man to understand the man and his thoughts.

In the first part of The Origin, Darwin makes the case for evolution (Fyi, Darwin himself used the expression ‘descent with modification’ rather than ‘evolution.’ The term ‘evolution’ came to be used soon after Darwin’s book was published in 1859). According to the theory of evolution, the various forms of life on Earth – trees and flowers, worms and whales – all descend from common ancestors. The second part considers the process that causes evolution Darwin argues “that the process he calls natural selection drives evolution.” Then he also explain about the terms “heredity” and “variation” for “his whole theory depended on them.”

There are ten chapters in this book:
1)    ‘One Long Argument’
2)    Natural Selection
3)    Difficulties on Theory
4)    Hybridism and Biodiversity
5)    The Geological Succession
6)    The Case for Evolution
7)    The Social and Moral Faculties
8)    Natural Selection as Affecting Civilized Nations
9)    Sexual Selection
10) The Expression of the Emotions

I make it a habit to not only read books that I agree with. I read widely. This book is among the books that I don’t really agree with.


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