Charles Darwin: Racist and Sexist?

October 8, 2014 at 4:34 am

charles_darwinDawin’s Theory of Evolution is an issue that divides the human population. You would think that it’s one of the most hated theories of all time, but if you read this article, you would be surprised as to how many people lend support to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Whether or not you accept that homo sapiens sapiens come from a line of primate ancestors, for sure you’ve heard of the Evolution Theory that discussed the origins of human beings. These theories are part of science curriculum in high school and college, and among the most renowned contributors to evolutionary studies is Charles Darwin, English naturalist and geologist.

He is best known for his five theories: evolution, common descent, species multiply, gradualism and natural selection. Yet although he is listed as one of the most influential thinkers in Western history, some historians have started to pose the question of whether Darwin discriminated against people of other nationalities,and women in general. Readers have reviewed Darwin’s writings and have found fault between the lines. Was Darwin really a racist and sexist?

Toward the end of the sixth chapter of his book The Descent of Man, Darwin wrote:

“At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break will then be rendered wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as at present between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.”

Sloppy readers have interpreted this as Darwin saying that the civilized races should exterminate the savage ones, and that evolution will result to the extinction of the negro race. But as with misquotations, this paragraph is taken out of context. Darwin’s point is that breaks are formed by extinction, and his theory of missing link is once again brought up. It is clear to those who study his writings that his theory specified that all human races must be equally evolved.

Did he view women as a lower class? In the same book, Darwin wrote:

“The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shown by man’s attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can woman – whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands. If two lists were made of the most eminent men and women in poetry, painting, sculpture, music (inclusive both of composition and performance), history, science, and philosophy, with half-a-dozen names under each subject, the two lists would not bear comparison.”

Considering that Darwin lived in the 19th century Victorian Era, it is not surprising that he thought women were a weaker species. That does not make it right, but he had the same mindset of those in his time – that men are larger, stronger and better than women. Almost everyone in that age, after all, would be considered as sexist and racist in today’s standards. You can visit this website to learn more about women’s status during the Victorian era.

Darwin’s works can be read and misread, which might also be because he didn’t feel the need to explain every concept of his work. His terms aren’t as distinct from each other, which might give some students the feel that he uses his terms interchangeably.

Articles like these will continue to bombard your web feed and will always make you question history as you know it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing of course. If all the accessible research methods in the modern world can teach us one thing, it is that we should not accept a serious-sounding fact to be immediately true. Question everything, and know that science is always evolving. After all, at one point in history, scientists thought the world was flat and ships going to sail on uncharted waters might sail off the edge.

You don’t need to wait for anyone to write concise articles about topics you want to learn about – you can easily do your search on websites and watch science TV shows. With a stable Internet connection, a colossal amount of information is at your hands. Having problem with faulty Internet? Contact the Xfinity Phone number found in this page and talk to any available customer representative to solve any connection issues immediately.