From Beagles to Barnacles: Darwin’s Theory of Descent With Modification

Charles Darwin attempts to prove his arguments on descent with modification using inductive reasoning, meaning that based on his observations and experiments, and their results, he determined that natural selection is a likely conclusion. Specifically, he argues several points, including variation under domestication and nature, where he mentions that domesticated species are exposed to new life conditions and are forced to use and disuse various parts of their minds and bodies, thus leading to offspring that vary from the exact parent (Darwin, p. 488). Darwin then discusses the importance of thinking about natural selection on a geologic timescale, explaining that as minimal variations keep occurring in offspring over geologic time, the newer, more useful variations outlast the old, thus painting the current picture of a vast assortment of plants and animals that appear related but are greatly different as well (Darwin, p. 492).

Darwin’s final paragraph, however, truly embodies the importance of his argument and convince me above all else of natural selection, as he begins by stating ‘There is grandeur in this view of life,’ meaning that if one is not to believe anything else he has presented thus far, they must at least admit that natural selection is beautiful in the way it works and that somehow, it makes sense (Darwin, p. 513). He then mentions how his use of a Reductionist framework, how he breaks it down into its temporal and spatial parts, show that natural selection must be occurring in plants and animals. He supplements this final argument by noting the importance of Isaac Newton’s Reductionist approach to discovering the law of gravity (Darwin, p. 513). These final words from Darwin cement his argument for me because given my knowledge of his personal life working towards this publication, I can feel his passion for people to understand what he sees and accept that the world around them was not divinely created and instead, was and is, evolving.

1 thought on “From Beagles to Barnacles: Darwin’s Theory of Descent With Modification”

  1. Hi Logan!
    First off, clever title. I really like the layout of your post because you do an excellent job of clearly and succinctly explaining how Darwin constructs his argument and offer helpful examples. I also love the way you end your post, talking about the reflection of Darwin’s passion in his work and how his writing is largely influenced by his personal life. I can only imagine presenting a theory that you have put so much work into and that you feel essentially cannot be argued with, and then having so many people reject it and fail to see your point of view. That’s horribly frustrating. I agree that the final paragraph is highly convincing, you can really tell that Evolution is Darwin’s baby and he is so eager to share its beauty with the rest of the world. Nice post overall, very well-written.

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