Loveliest of Men: Darwin and the Tragedy of The Origin of Species

Loveliest of Men: Darwin and the Tragedy of The Origin of Species

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Scientific facts are certain. But the meanings that even the greatest scientists assign to the discoveries they have made are not.

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Scientific facts are certain. But the meanings that even the greatest scientists assign to the discoveries they have made are not. Even the greatest scientists discover truths but imagine meanings because, like the rest of us, they are metaphor-making persons, and tend to imagine meanings within the network of metaphors current in the society to which they belong.

Darwin made one of the greatest discoveries ever. But onto his discovery he projected a myth of evolution through war, extermination, disease and death drawn from Victorian capitalism.   He presents Natural Selection to us in terms of a causally purposeful external agency as mythical as any god. War, extermination, disease and death do not cause anything. Natural Selection is not a cause but a consequence.

The young Darwin’s experiences of nature during his Beagle voyage were more ecstasies of the sublime than aesthetic pleasures.  But in middle age, in the most extraordinary way, this wonderful man died emotionally. Little of the nature he had actually experienced in South America made it into The Origin of Species. He over-emphasized the role of death, war and extermination in nature in a way that has misled, and even damaged, us all.

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