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Charles Darwin

Geburtstag: 12. Februar 1809
Todesdatum: 19. April 1882
Andere Namen:Charles Robert Darwin

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Charles Robert Darwin [tʃɑrlz 'dɑː.wɪn] war ein britischer Naturforscher. Er gilt wegen seiner wesentlichen Beiträge zur Evolutionstheorie als einer der bedeutendsten Naturwissenschaftler.

Die Ende 1831 begonnene und fast fünf Jahre andauernde Reise mit der HMS Beagle, die den jungen Darwin einmal um die Welt führte, war zugleich Schlüsselerlebnis und Grundlage für sein späteres Werk. Der breiten Öffentlichkeit wurde Darwin erstmals durch seinen 1839 herausgegebenen Reisebericht bekannt. Mit seiner Theorie über die Entstehung der Korallenriffe und weiteren geologischen Schriften erlangte er in wissenschaftlichen Kreisen die Anerkennung als Geologe. Seine Untersuchungen an den Rankenfußkrebsen verschafften ihm Mitte der 1850er Jahre zusätzlich einen angesehenen Ruf als Zoologe und Taxonom.

Bereits 1838 entwarf Darwin seine Theorie der Anpassung an den Lebensraum durch Variation und natürliche Selektion und erklärte so die phylogenetische Entwicklung aller Organismen und ihre Aufspaltung in verschiedene Arten. Über 20 Jahre lang trug er Belege für diese Theorie zusammen. 1842 und 1844 verfasste Darwin kurze Abrisse seiner Theorie, die er jedoch nicht veröffentlichte. Ab 1856 arbeitete er an einem umfangreichen Manuskript mit dem Titel Natural Selection. Durch einen Brief von Alfred Russel Wallace, der dessen Ternate-Manuskript mit ähnlichen Gedanken zur Evolution enthielt, kam es im Sommer 1858 schließlich zu einer Veröffentlichung der Theorien über die Evolution durch die beiden Männer. Ein Jahr später folgte Darwins Hauptwerk On the Origin of Species , das als streng naturwissenschaftliche Erklärung für die Diversität des Lebens die Grundlage der modernen Evolutionsbiologie bildet und einen entscheidenden Wendepunkt in der Geschichte der modernen Biologie darstellt.

1871 diskutierte Darwin in The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex mit der sexuellen Selektion einen zweiten Selektionsmechanismus und nutzte seine Theorie, um die Abstammung des Menschen zu erklären. In seinem letzten Lebensjahrzehnt untersuchte Darwin Kletterpflanzen, Orchideen und fleischfressende Pflanzen und leistete wichtige Beiträge zur Botanik. Sein offizielles botanisches Autorenkürzel lautet „Darwin“.

Zitate Charles Darwin

„Ohne Spekulation gibt es keine neue Beobachtung.“

— Charles Darwin
Brief an Alfred Russel Wallace, 22. Dezember 1857

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„Alle Natur befindet sich im Krieg miteinander oder mit der äusseren Natur.“

— Charles Darwin
Vortrag 1. Juli 1858 vor der Linnean Society, verweisend auf eine ähnliche Aussage des Schweizer Botanikers Augustin-Pyrame de Candolle (Essai élémentaire de géographie botanique, 1820. S. 26)). Zitiert von Andreas Weber in: Biokapital. Die Versöhnung von Ökonomie, Natur und Menschlichkeit, Berlin Verlag, Berlin 2008, ISBN 3827007925, S. 58 und in DIE ZEIT, 09.10.2008

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„A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.“

— Charles Darwin, The Life & Letters of Charles Darwin
volume I, chapter VI: "The Voyage", [http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?pageseq=284&itemID=F1452.1&viewtype=image page 266]; letter to sister Susan Elizabeth Darwin (4 August 1836)

„Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.“

— Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man
Context: It has often and confidently been asserted, that man's origin can never be known: but ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science. volume I, "Introduction", [http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?pageseq=16&itemID=F937.1&viewtype=image page 3]

„I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton. Let each man hope and believe what he can.“

— Charles Darwin
Context: With respect to the theological view of the question. This is always painful to me. I am bewildered. I had no intention to write atheistically. But I own that I cannot see as plainly as others do, and as I should wish to do, evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidæ with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice. Not believing this, I see no necessity in the belief that the eye was expressly designed. On the other hand, I cannot anyhow be contented to view this wonderful universe, and especially the nature of man, and to conclude that everything is the result of brute force. I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance. Not that this notion at all satisfies me. I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton. Let each man hope and believe what he can. Certainly I agree with you that my views are not at all necessarily atheistical. volume II, chapter VII: "The 'Origin of Species'", [http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?pageseq=327&itemID=F1452.2&viewtype=image pages 311-312]; [http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/entry-2814 letter] to Asa Gray (22 May 1860) "Ichneumonidæ" sometimes altered to "parasitic wasps" in paraphrases of this passage. Paraphrased as "I feel most deeply that this whole question of Creation is too profound for human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton! Let each man hope and believe what he can." Elbert Hubbard, Little Journeys to the Homes of Great Scientists (1916) [http://books.google.com/books?id=nYArAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA198&f=false page 197]. <!-- Sometimes claimed that this appeared in Illustrated London News (21 April 1862), but a full search of every issue of Illustrated London News (1842–2003) through Gale Digital News Vault shows that this passage never appeared. -->

„And these deeds are done and palliated by men, who profess to love their neighbours as themselves, who believe in God, and pray that his Will be done on earth! It makes one's blood boil, yet heart tremble, to think that we Englishmen and our American descendants, with their boastful cry of liberty, have been and are so guilty: but it is a consolation to reflect, that we at least have made a greater sacrifice, than ever made by any nation, to expiate our sin.“

— Charles Darwin
Context: I thank God, I shall never again visit a slave-country. To this day, if I hear a distant scream, it recalls with painful vividness my feelings, when passing a house near Pernambuco, I heard the most pitiable moans, and could not but suspect that some poor slave was being tortured, yet knew that I was as powerless as a child even to remonstrate. I suspected that these moans were from a tortured slave, for I was told that this was the case in another instance. Near Rio de Janeiro I lived opposite to an old lady, who kept screws to crush the fingers of her female slaves. I have staid in a house where a young household mulatto, daily and hourly, was reviled, beaten, and persecuted enough to break the spirit of the lowest animal. I have seen a little boy, six or seven years old, struck thrice with a horse-whip (before I could interfere) on his naked head, for having handed me a glass of water not quite clean; I saw his father tremble at a mere glance from his master's eye. … And these deeds are done and palliated by men, who profess to love their neighbours as themselves, who believe in God, and pray that his Will be done on earth! It makes one's blood boil, yet heart tremble, to think that we Englishmen and our American descendants, with their boastful cry of liberty, have been and are so guilty: but it is a consolation to reflect, that we at least have made a greater sacrifice, than ever made by any nation, to expiate our sin. chapter XXI: "Mauritius To England" (second edition, 1845), [http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?pageseq=512&itemID=F14&viewtype=image pages 499-500]

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„He who rejects these views on the nature of the geological record, will rightly reject my whole theory. For he may ask in vain where are the numberless transitional links which must formerly have connected the closely allied or representative species, found in the several stages of the same great formation.“

— Charles Darwin
Context: p>I have attempted to show that the geological record is extremely imperfect; that only a small portion of the globe has been geologically explored with care; that only certain classes of organic beings have been largely preserved in a fossil state; that the number both of specimens and of species, preserved in our museums, is absolutely as nothing compared with the incalculable number of generations which must have passed away even during a single formation; that, owing to subsidence being necessary for the accumulation of fossiliferous deposits thick enough to resist future degradation, enormous intervals of time have elapsed between the successive formations; that there has probably been more extinction during the periods of subsidence, and more variation during the periods of elevation, and during the latter the record will have been least perfectly kept; that each single formation has not been continuously deposited; that the duration of each formation is, perhaps, short compared with the average duration of specific forms; that migration has played an important part in the first appearance of new forms in any one area and formation; that widely ranging species are those which have varied most, and have oftenest given rise to new species; and that varieties have at first often been local (emphasis not Darwin's). All these causes taken conjointly, must have tended to make the geological record extremely imperfect, and will to a large extent explain why we do not find interminable varieties, connecting together all the extinct and existing forms of life by the finest graduated steps. He who rejects these views on the nature of the geological record, will rightly reject my whole theory. For he may ask in vain where are the numberless transitional links which must formerly have connected the closely allied or representative species, found in the several stages of the same great formation. He may disbelieve in the enormous intervals of time which have elapsed between our consecutive formations; he may overlook how important a part migration must have played, when the formations of any one great region alone, as that of Europe, are considered; he may urge the apparent, but often falsely apparent, sudden coming in of whole groups of species. He may ask where are the remains of those infinitely numerous organisms which must have existed long before the first bed of the Silurian system was deposited: I can answer this latter question only hypothetically, by saying that as far as we can see, where our oceans now extend they have for an enormous period extended, and where our oscillating continents now stand they have stood ever since the Silurian epoch; but that long before that period, the world may have presented a wholly different aspect; and that the older continents, formed of formations older than any known to us, may now all be in a metamorphosed condition, or may lie buried under the ocean.</p chapter X: "On the Geological Succession of Organic Beings", [http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?pageseq=359&itemID=F373&viewtype=side pages 341-343]

„I have nothing to do with the origin of the primary mental powers, any more than I have with that of life itself.“

— Charles Darwin
Context: I must premise, that I have nothing to do with the origin of the primary mental powers, any more than I have with that of life itself. We are concerned only with the diversities of instinct and of the other mental qualities of animals within the same class. chapter VII: "Instinct", [http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?pageseq=225&itemID=F373&viewtype=side page 207]

„When I view all beings not as special creations, but as the lineal descendants of some few beings which lived long before the first bed of the Cambrian system was deposited, they seem to me to become ennobled (emphasis, again, not Darwin's).“

— Charles Darwin
Context: Authors of the highest eminence seem to be fully satisfied with the view that each species has been independently created. To my mind it accords better with what we know of the laws impressed on matter by the Creator, that the production and extinction of the past and present inhabitants of the world should have been due to secondary causes, like those determining the birth and death of the individual. When I view all beings not as special creations, but as the lineal descendants of some few beings which lived long before the first bed of the Cambrian system was deposited, they seem to me to become ennobled (emphasis, again, not Darwin's). chapter XV: "Recapitulation and Conclusion", [http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?pageseq=456&itemID=F391&viewtype=image page 428], in the sixth (1872) edition

„Upon finding out we did not catch our animals with the lazo, they cried out, "Ah, then, you use nothing but the bolas:" the idea of an enclosed country was quite new to them.“

— Charles Darwin
Context: They expressed, as was usual, unbounded astonishment at the globe being round, and could scarcely credit that a hole would, if deep enough, come out on the other side. They had, however, heard of a country where there were six months light and six of darkness, and where the inhabitants were very tall and thin! They were curious about the price and condition of horses and cattle in England. Upon finding out we did not catch our animals with the lazo, they cried out, "Ah, then, you use nothing but the bolas:" the idea of an enclosed country was quite new to them. The captain at last said, he had one question to ask me, which he should be very much obliged if I would answer with all truth. I trembled to think how deeply scientific it would be: it was, "Whether the ladies of Buenos Ayres were not the handsomest in the world." I replied, like a renegade, "Charmingly so." He added, "I have one other question: Do ladies in any other part of the world wear such large combs?" I solemnly assured him that they did not. They were absolutely delighted. The captain exclaimed, "Look there! a man who has seen half the world says it is the case; we always thought so, but now we know it." My excellent judgment in combs and beauty procured me a most hospitable reception; the captain forced me to take his bed, and he would sleep on his recado. chapter VIII: "Excursion to Colonia del Sacramiento, etc." (second edition, 1845), entry for 19 November 1833, [http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?pageseq=160&itemID=F14&viewtype=image pages 147-148]

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