darwin, struggle for existence, quotations, charles darwin, natural selection
darwin, struggle for existence, quotations, charles darwin, natural selection
darwin, struggle for existence, quotations, charles darwin, natural selection

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Charles Darwin quotations
about the struggle for existence

In October 1838, that is 15 months after I had begun my systematic enquiry, I happened to read for amusemnent 'Malthus on population', and being well prepared to appreciate the struggle for existence which everywhere goes on from long-continued observation of the habits of animals and plants, it at once struck me that under these circumstances favourable variations would tend to be preserved and unfavourable ones to be destroyed. The result of this would be the formation of new species.

As many more individuals of each species are born than can possibly survive; and as, consequently, there is a frequently recurring struggle for existence, it follows that any being, if it vary however slightly in any manner profitable to itself, under the complex and sometimes varying conditions of life, will have a better chance of surviving, and thus be naturally selected. From the strong principle of inheritance, any selected variety will tend to propagate its new and modified form.

In the survival of favoured individuals and races, during the constantly-recurring struggle for existence, we see a powerful and ever-acting form of selection.

There are many entertaining and instructive quotations about, or attributable to, Charles Darwin:-

For instance as a boy of sixteen his father said to him:-
"You care for nothing but shooting, dogs and rat-catching, and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family."
Darwin was keenly interested in Natural History as a young man and his Autobiography mentions one particular beetle hunt in detail:-

  "I will give a proof of my zeal: one day on tearing off some old bark, I saw two rare beetles and seized one in each hand; then I saw a third and new kind, which I could not bear to lose, so that I popped the one which I held in my right hand into my mouth. Alas it ejected some intensely acrid fluid, which burnt my tongue so that I was forced to spit the beetle out, which was lost, as well as the third one".

Our own favourite Darwin quote is, however, a very significant one which is to be found in a confidential letter of 11 January 1844 to a fellow scientist named Joseph Hooker.
In this letter Darwin, speaking about how he had spent his time after his voyaging on HMS Beagle, wrote that:-
"I have been now ever since my return engaged in a very presumptuous work & which I know no one individual who wd not say a very foolish one.— I was so struck with distribution of Galapagos organisms &c &c & with the character of the American fossil mammifers, &c &c that I determined to collect blindly every sort of fact, which cd bear any way on what are species.— I have read heaps of agricultural & horticultural books, & have never ceased collecting facts— At last gleams of light have come, & I am almost convinced (quite contrary to opinion I started with) that species are not (it is like confessing a murder) immutable. Heaven forfend me from Lamarck nonsense of a “tendency to progression” “adaptations from the slow willing of animals” &c,—but the conclusions I am led to are not widely different from his—though the means of change are wholly so— I think I have found out (here's presumption!) the simple way by which species become exquisitely adapted to various ends.— You will now groan, & think to yourself ‘on what a man have I been wasting my time in writing to.’— I shd, five years ago, have thought so.— "

The Faith versus Reason Debate

The Wisdoms and Insights available on our
site include some about Human Existence itself:-

If Charles Darwin were alive today we at Age-of-the-Sage would be urgently seeking to interest him in our discovery of the fact that there is close agreement between several major World Faiths, Plato, Socrates, Pythagoras and Shakespeare in suggesting that Human Wisdom / Spirituality is relative to Human Desire / Materialism and to Human Wrath / Ethnicity.

Explore Human Nature thru our radical
Human Nature - Tripartite Soul page

The Faith vs Reason Debate
Charles Darwin biography
Alfred Russel Wallace biography
Thomas Malthus
Essay on Population
Darwin quotes
his beliefs about God
Thomas Henry Huxley
Darwin's Bulldog


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Charles Darwin quotations
about the struggle for existence