Origin of Species - General Overview

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Origin of Species - General Overview

Post #1

Post by otseng »

The intent of this thread is to allow us to express general comments of the book as we're reading it. The purpose is not really to debate the book here. That will be reserved for the chapter debate threads as they are created.

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Re: Origin of Species - General Overview

Post #11

Post by RyanP »

lao tzu wrote:As an example, a factual error in a revealed tradition cannot be corrected without calling the revelation itself into question.
Yes, that's true. But sometimes you can get around it like with Jesus' divinity. Jesus addresses himself as distinct from Yahweh but, at the same time, he claims to be God just as Yahweh is God. But the Law says there's only one God, so what do we do? Invent the trinity so the text doesn't have to be corrected.
lao tzu wrote:On a side note, would you mind mentioning your denomination and preferred translation of your sacred texts?
Baptist; I don't have a preffered translation yet but I just think it's silly that we had maybe four English translations in 1895 then in the 20th century everyone thinks they're inspired so we have like 40 different Bibles now. That's overkill. There's nothing wrong with religious fervor but, get a job, y'know?

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Post #12

Post by RyanP »

Hey, check it out: on page 34, he spells Eskimo as "Esquimaux" lol

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Post #13

Post by RyanP »

RyanP wrote:Hey, check it out: on page 34, he spells Eskimo as "Esquimaux" lol
Wow! It gets much better: I'm not going to point it out but read the next two sentences after the Esquimaux comment. It was the 1850s after all. Actually, I wonder if there is any discussion of social natural selection in this book as was later applied by others anyways.

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Post #14

Post by lao tzu »

RyanP wrote:Hey, check it out: on page 34, he spells Eskimo as "Esquimaux" lol
Neither is correct. "Eskimo" and its alternative "Esquimaux," which is still used, are generally seen as pejorative today, though the reasons are somewhat suspect. The term is intended to represent the Inuit and Yupik peoples of Alaska and eastern Siberia.

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Post #15

Post by otseng »

I'm currently on chapter 9, but here's my impressions of the book so far.

First off, this book is not an easy book to read. It's not that he uses overly technical terms. But, it takes a while to digest the material that Darwin presents. Oftentimes, I wonder what exactly is his point. Perhaps I'm just not used to the style of writings from the mid 19th century.

You can tell from the book that Darwin is a both a serious student and a lover of nature. He is well-read and he enjoys all aspects of being a naturalist and even doing the most mundane biological experiments. Even though the book has sparked many clashes, Darwin does not show any hint of confrontationalism in the book. His demeanor is balanced and he does not ridicule or attack any groups. Though he strongly holds to his belief in natural selection, he doesn't appear to be overly dogmatic about his stance.

I'm not sure about other editions, but he never uses the term "evolution" in the book. It only has one diagram in the book, a hand drawn chart of "Divergence of Taxa". There are also no formal citation references to other works. He'll note the author or sometimes the name of the book. So, it'd be difficult to find the original sources.

One thing that struck me while reading it was that I have never heard any of the arguments presented by Darwin in the book. Of course we all know the general principles of the theory, but never are exposed to any of his arguments and evidence. Similarly, I can't really recall many people actually quoting from the book to support Darwinism.

Lastly, even though this is such an influential book, I wonder how many people have actually read the book. Judging from how difficult it is to understand, how little we are presented with actual arguments from the book, and how little it is cited nowadays, I would think the number is a very small minority.

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Post #16

Post by Goat »

otseng wrote:I'm currently on chapter 9, but here's my impressions of the book so far.

First off, this book is not an easy book to read. It's not that he uses overly technical terms. But, it takes a while to digest the material that Darwin presents. Oftentimes, I wonder what exactly is his point. Perhaps I'm just not used to the style of writings from the mid 19th century.

You can tell from the book that Darwin is a both a serious student and a lover of nature. He is well-read and he enjoys all aspects of being a naturalist and even doing the most mundane biological experiments. Even though the book has sparked many clashes, Darwin does not show any hint of confrontationalism in the book. His demeanor is balanced and he does not ridicule or attack any groups. Though he strongly holds to his belief in natural selection, he doesn't appear to be overly dogmatic about his stance.

I'm not sure about other editions, but he never uses the term "evolution" in the book. It only has one diagram in the book, a hand drawn chart of "Divergence of Taxa". There are also no formal citation references to other works. He'll note the author or sometimes the name of the book. So, it'd be difficult to find the original sources.

One thing that struck me while reading it was that I have never heard any of the arguments presented by Darwin in the book. Of course we all know the general principles of the theory, but never are exposed to any of his arguments and evidence. Similarly, I can't really recall many people actually quoting from the book to support Darwinism.

Lastly, even though this is such an influential book, I wonder how many people have actually read the book. Judging from how difficult it is to understand, how little we are presented with actual arguments from the book, and how little it is cited nowadays, I would think the number is a very small minority.
From a historical perspective, Darwin did not like the term evolution. He thought it showed a specific direction, which his concept did not have. I believe he reluctantly accepted the term later on. So, we are seeing his ideas in a manner that reflected his dislike of that specific terms.
“What do you think science is? There is nothing magical about science. It is simply a systematic way for carefully and thoroughly observing nature and using consistent logic to evaluate results. So which part of that exactly do you disagree with? Do you disagree with being thorough? Using careful observation? Being systematic? Or using consistent logic?�

Steven Novella

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Post #17

Post by Confused »

otseng wrote:I'm currently on chapter 9, but here's my impressions of the book so far.

First off, this book is not an easy book to read. It's not that he uses overly technical terms. But, it takes a while to digest the material that Darwin presents. Oftentimes, I wonder what exactly is his point. Perhaps I'm just not used to the style of writings from the mid 19th century.

You can tell from the book that Darwin is a both a serious student and a lover of nature. He is well-read and he enjoys all aspects of being a naturalist and even doing the most mundane biological experiments. Even though the book has sparked many clashes, Darwin does not show any hint of confrontationalism in the book. His demeanor is balanced and he does not ridicule or attack any groups. Though he strongly holds to his belief in natural selection, he doesn't appear to be overly dogmatic about his stance.

I'm not sure about other editions, but he never uses the term "evolution" in the book. It only has one diagram in the book, a hand drawn chart of "Divergence of Taxa". There are also no formal citation references to other works. He'll note the author or sometimes the name of the book. So, it'd be difficult to find the original sources.

One thing that struck me while reading it was that I have never heard any of the arguments presented by Darwin in the book. Of course we all know the general principles of the theory, but never are exposed to any of his arguments and evidence. Similarly, I can't really recall many people actually quoting from the book to support Darwinism.

Lastly, even though this is such an influential book, I wonder how many people have actually read the book. Judging from how difficult it is to understand, how little we are presented with actual arguments from the book, and how little it is cited nowadays, I would think the number is a very small minority.
I am one chapter behind you and I have to agree, it is very difficult to read. To be honest, mostly because it is dry and outdated I guess. I understand the principles on which much of the theory has its foundation from, but the correlation between that and what Darwn has actually written is actually quite weak in that it isn't exactly explicit, rather, it is implicit. But I do look forward to actually seeing how our debate will progress as I think it will be very diverse and we may even find views that some of us had never really considered fully before.
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Post #18

Post by Nilloc James »

To be honest, mostly because it is dry and outdated I guess
Well considering it is an essay written in english that is long out of date...

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Post #19

Post by otseng »

Nilloc James wrote:
To be honest, mostly because it is dry and outdated I guess
Well considering it is an essay written in english that is long out of date...
I actually find it easier to read the KJV Bible than OtOoS. O:)

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Post #20

Post by Greenbeard »

otseng wrote:...One thing that struck me while reading it was that I have never heard any of the arguments presented by Darwin in the book. Of course we all know the general principles of the theory, but never are exposed to any of his arguments and evidence. Similarly, I can't really recall many people actually quoting from the book to support Darwinism...
I can think of a few potential explanations for this. You've already mentioned the first. Darwin's writing is tediously descriptive, florid and rambling, which only shows that he was good at writing in the style popular at the time. Modern folks like bumper-sticker phrases. They want to quote something that 'says it all' in just a few words. That rules out Darwin! ;)

Then there's just the failure to give credit where it's due. Maybe this is because the ideas he created are so universal that we would end up saying "per Darwin" or "contra Darwin" as post script to everything we write.

I think Mayr is correct in claiming that no author has so completely revolutionized our world view. People don't quote Darwin or give him credit because they simply can't internalize how much of their thinking (whether they think they agree with him or not!) would have been unthinkable before publication of this book. Find Mayr's "Growth of Biological Thought" and look on page 501 for a list of all the philosophical and methodological aspects of modern thought are directly due to Darwin's arguments. We don't quote him because much of what he had to say - revolutionary in its time - we now simply assume.
otseng wrote:...Lastly, even though this is such an influential book, I wonder how many people have actually read the book. Judging from how difficult it is to understand, how little we are presented with actual arguments from the book, and how little it is cited nowadays, I would think the number is a very small minority.
Yeah, more's the pity. But how many have read Einstein's famous paper based on Maxwell's equations? It's only a few pages long, so that excuse is out the window... I'm glad you've provided a forum for folks to dive in and rectify the situation.

Matt

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