Darwin and Natural Selection

In Darwin’s “Recap and Conclusion” chapter, Darwin recaps the main points of his publication, mainly his arguments for natural selection. Even though he didn’t have proof of natural selection, through observations and inference, he was able to form his theory on evidence in the world that he has observed and what made logical sense. One of the arguments he made was based on the idea that we now think of as survival of the fittest. He talked about how slight differences in offspring would lead to a more capable species that would then turn on the weaker, less capable individuals and wipe them out (Darwin, pg. 492). The surviving individuals would then go onto creating offspring of their own, who would in turn continue breeding and expanding the species until more differences in the species came out and would start the cycle over again. He also looked at domestication and argued that if humans could, whether on purpose or by accident, cause changes in species, then why couldn’t nature (Darwin, pg. 498-491). Even though he used this as a counter argument for arguments against natural selection, I believe that it actually aided in his argument for natural selection. He also looked at the geologic record, and argued that natural selection aided in the survival of the organ world through extinction events (Darwin, pg. 496-497). He talks about how we have observed these traumatic events that have wiped out entire species of animals, but that through natural selection, species were able survive after said events, and in turn, thrive.

Overall, I found that this read was actually very difficult to understand and that my opinions of natural selection was not swayed in either direction. I thought that his argument about domestication was a bit of a stretch, that nature could have as great of an effect on species as humans have through domestication. That being said, I also never thought about extinction events in the way that only through natural selection species would be able to thrive. However, I do think his point about positive differences in offspring would lead to the offspring wiping out the weaker offspring was his strongest point. I think that it is a concept that is more likely to be accepted by people who argued against Darwin.