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On Purpose$
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Michael Ruse

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691195957

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691195957.001.0001

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(p.91) Chapter Six Darwinism
On Purpose

Michael Ruse

Princeton University Press

This chapter describes how Charles Darwin changed the world after publishing On the Origin of Species in 1859 and The Descent of Man in 1871. Although there were those who continued generally to stand firm against evolution, even the religious accepted that organisms, including humans, are the end point of a long, slow process of natural development. As in the Hans Christian Andersen tale about the lad who said openly that the king has no clothes, so when Darwin said “evolution,” almost everyone said that they had known it all along! Natural selection had more mixed success. Everyone accepted it to some extent. Julian Huxley, for instance, always had some doubts about its universal power and applicability, but when it came to humans physically, he was fully convinced of its overwhelming importance. This said, the scientific community was slower in coming to full acceptance, and it was more in the popular domain that natural selection—and even more sexual selection—was a huge success. Poets, novelists, politicians, and many others also harped on and on about its importance.

Keywords:   Charles Darwin, evolution, natural selection, Julian Huxley, sexual selection, scientific community

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