Biographies of Charles Darwin And Herbert Spencer

Satisfactory Essays
Charles Darwin, a British naturalist, revolutionized biology with his

theory of evolution through the process of natural selection. Herbert Spencer

was the major philosopher of biological and social evolution. Spencer's work

significantly influenced 19th century developments in biology, psychology,

sociology and anthropology. While Darwin was influential in the fields of

natural history and geology, his theory of evolution created great controversy.

He changed the way people thought about the role of humans in the natural world.

Although these two men made advancement in the theory of evolution they had

contrasting views regarding anthropological study.

Charles Darwin was an English naturalist who first solidly established

the theory of organic evolution, in his work, The Origin of Species. Darwin was

born in Shresbury, Shropshire on February 12, 1809. His grandfather, Erasmus

Darwin, was a famous English scientist and poet. In 1825 the young Darwin went

to Edinburgh University to become a doctor. The same year, however, he

transferred to Christ's College in Cambridge in order to become a clergyman.

During this time he befriended a man of science, John Steven Henslow. It was

Henslow who recommended him for the unpaid position of naturalist on the H.M.S.


Darwin set sail on December 27, 1831 to study the Pacific coast of South

America and the Pacific Islands. His other duty was to set up navigation

stations in the area. He also studied the geology and biology of these areas.

Upon his return in 1839, Darwin married his cousin, Emma Wedgewood, and was

admitted to the Royal Society. He moved to Downe, Kent in 1842, and was plagued

by ill health until his death. He apparently transmitted Trypanosomiastis from

frequent bug bites in the Pacific. Darwin died on April 19, 1882 and was buried

in Westminster Abbey.

In The Origin of Species, Darwin presented his idea that species evolve

from more primitive species through the process of natural selection, which

occurs spontaneously in nature. In his theory of how natural selection occurs,

known as Darwinism, he pointed out that not all individuals of a species are

exactly the same. But, rather that individuals have variations and that some of

these variations make their bearers better adapted to particular ecological

conditions. He pointed out that most species have more chances of surviving and

producing young than do less adapted, and that over the passage of time, are

slowly weeded out. The accumulation of adaptations to a particular ecological

system leads into the development of separate species, each adapted to its own

ecolgoical area.

In 1837, Darwin began work on the concept that evolution is essentially

brought about by three principles. The first being variation which is present
Get Access