The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection by Charles Darwin audiobook

The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection: or, The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life

By Charles Darwin
Read by Robin Field

Blackstone Publishing, Blackstone Publishing
23.13 Hours 1
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The Origin of Species sold out on the first day of its publication in 1859. It is the major book of the nineteenth century and one of the most readable and accessible of the great revolutionary works of the scientific imagination. Though, in fact, little read, most people know what it says—at least they think they do. The Origin of Species was the first mature and persuasive work to explain how species change through the process of natural selection. Upon its publication, the book began to transform attitudes about society and religion and was soon used to justify the philosophies of communists, socialists, capitalists, and even Germany’s National Socialists. But the most quoted response came from Thomas Henry Huxley, Darwin’s friend and also a renowned naturalist, who exclaimed, “How extremely stupid not to have thought of that!”

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Summary

Summary

The Origin of Species sold out on the first day of its publication in 1859. It is the major book of the nineteenth century and one of the most readable and accessible of the great revolutionary works of the scientific imagination. Though, in fact, little read, most people know what it says—at least they think they do.

The Origin of Species was the first mature and persuasive work to explain how species change through the process of natural selection. Upon its publication, the book began to transform attitudes about society and religion and was soon used to justify the philosophies of communists, socialists, capitalists, and even Germany’s National Socialists. But the most quoted response came from Thomas Henry Huxley, Darwin’s friend and also a renowned naturalist, who exclaimed, “How extremely stupid not to have thought of that!”

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“It is clear that here is one of the most important contributions ever made to philosophic science; and it is at least behooving on scientists, in the light of the accumulation of evidence which the author has summoned in support of his theory, to reconsider the grounds on which their present doctrine of the origin of species is based.” New York Times
“Amazingly, 150 years after the publication of The Origin of Species, Darwin’s seminal work on the theory of evolution remains the authoritative tract on the subject.” Library Journal

Reviews

Reviews

by Ash Ryan 9/13/2017
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Probably the most important and greatest work of science ever written

The first thing to say about Origin is that it's extremely readable. This is largely due to Darwin's scientific method, which leads me to the book's next great virtue: his approach is primarily inductive--that is, he was not some armchair philosopher abstractly theorizing off in an ivory tower somewhere, as one might suspect from the photograph of him as a bearded old man with which we are usually presented. In other words, evolution is not "just a theory," precisely because Darwin was not just a theorist. Rather, he gathered massive amounts of evidence on his Beagle voyage, and continued to accumulate ever more (with the help of his scientific colleagues in various related disciplines) for decades before he felt ready to publish his theory (and he still felt rushed into it). (Indeed, for anyone interested in the philosophy of science, or in epistemology in general, The Origin of Species should be the textbook case of scientific induction.) Darwin then presents all of this evidence to us piece by piece, building up his case from the ground, as it were, and in effect recreating his own line of thinking for his reader making it incredibly easy to follow his case. Which brings us to the third point.<br><br>What kinds of evidence does Darwin draw on? Intriguingly, he did not begin his career as a biologist aiming to solve the species question. He boarded the Beagle as a brilliant amateur natural scientist generally with an inclination toward geology. Perhaps this is why he was able to draw so widely on various fields in making his case for evolution when that question did become his main interest. From Lyell's theories and his own geological observations, Darwin concluded that the period of time available actually allowed for a very (previously unthinkably) slow process of evolution. From this geological perspective, he naturally was able to look at various pieces of evidence more directly bearing on the species question, such as the fossil record and the geographical distribution of species. After the Beagle voyage, he was able to conduct experiments in many other areas (and correspond with colleagues about the results of their experiments), including artificial selection (Darwin's pigeons being the most famous example of this) which became important as an analogy for the process of natural selection; the means of the geographical distribution and isolation of species (including seeing whether seeds can germinate after extended periods of submersion in salt water or passing through the digestive tracts of birds); and even the sex lives of barnacles. All of these experiments are described at some length in Origin.<br><br>But Darwin, ever the scientist, was in fact cautious not to overstep the limits of what he could prove. Origin contains an excellent chapter anticipating and answering possible objections to his theory, and acknowledging its shortcomings. For instance, he acknowledges that the fossil record at the time did not tend to show gradual progression from one species to another, and offers an explanation as to why the fossil record might be so incomplete. He also acknowledges that while he found the evidence for evolution by means of natural selection to be overwhelming, he did not know the actual physical, biological mechanism by which this takes place (as genes had not been discovered and the discipline of genetics created at that time), but he does briefly mention a hypothesis that was actually sort of on the right track. In fact, in all of these weak areas, subsequent history has borne Darwin and his theory out remarkably well.<br><br>And finally, in addition to being a masterpiece of scientific thought, The Origin of Species is also a work of, at times, almost poetic beauty, and deserves praise for its literary merit. After presenting or indicating all the evidence in a specific area throughout each section, Darwin ends each chapter by summing it up in an eloquent statement naming the general principle to be derived from this vast array of specific evidence, often employing an apt and evocative metaphor. The most famous of these passages is of course the one with which he concludes the book: "Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."<br><br>You cannot legitimately consider yourself an educated person if you haven't read this wonderful book, and yet a shockingly small percentage of Americans (including even those who claim to believe in evolution) have read it. But you will find that to do so is not a chore, but one of life's great pleasures.

Author

Author Bio: Charles Darwin

Author Bio: Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin (1809–1882) was an English naturalist and the first evolutionary biologist, best known for his controversial and groundbreaking The Origin of Species. He introduced the concept of natural selection, marking a new epoch in the scientific world. The importance of his work was well recognized by his contemporaries; he was elected to the Royal Society and the French Academy of Sciences and was also honored by burial in Westminster Abbey after he died.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, Digital Rental, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Nonfiction
Runtime: 23.13
Audience: Adult
Language: English