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The Descent of Man

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This book is a summary of The Descent of Man published by Charles Darwin in 1871.

Introduction[edit | edit source]

In his introduction to The Descent of Man, Darwin states that he wrote this book because of the wide acceptance the concept of natural selection had received following the publication of The Origin of Species. He states a three-fold object for writing The Descent of Man, first of all to consider whether man "descended from a pre-existing form; secondly, the manner of his development; and thirdly, the value of the differences between the so-called races of man."

Darwin mentions three authors who had written about "the high antiquity of man", i.e., Boucher de Perthes, Sir Charles Lyell, and Sir John Lubbock. He also states that he will not be making a detailed comparison between man and apes because of the work others had already done in that area, and he mentions the work of Prof. Thomas Henry Huxley who had "conclusively shown that in every visible characteristic man differs less from the higher apes" than the apes differ from other primates.

Furthermore, Darwin mentions others including Lamarck, Wallace, Vogt, Buchner, Rolle, and Haeckel in addition to the four already mentioned who had concluded that man had descended with other species from a common, ancient and extinct ancestor. He even mentions the titles of the works of the less well-known German authors, his point being that what he had to say in The Descent of Man was not entirely new.

Contents[edit | edit source]

  1. Chapter I: The Evidence of the Descent of Man from some Lower Form
  2. Chapter II: On the Manner of Development of Man from some Lower Form
  3. Chapter III: Comparison of the Mental Power of Man and Lower Animals
  4. Chapter IV: Comparison of the Mental Powers of Man and the Lower Animals -continued
  5. Chapter V: On the Development of the Intellectual and Moral Faculties
  6. Chapter VI: On the Affinities and Genealogy of Man
  7. Chapter VII: On the Races of Man