martes, 8 de junio de 2010

The Voyage of the Beagle

The voyage of the Beagle when viewed in the correct light is like a treasure hunt. In contrast to The Origin of Species, this book was written by a much younger Charles Darwin who was feeding off his passion for geology and natural science rather than trying to convince the community of the reality of natural selection. Throughout the book, Darwin makes hundreds of observations; the reader's job (besides enjoying the descriptions of places, people, and animals around the world) is to determine which of these are important to Darwin's development as a scientist and as the pioneer of the Theory of Natural Selection. In his lengthy descriptions of the inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego at the tip of South America, one can see his interest in nature vs. nurture. Are the "Fuegians" genetically savage, or are their vile actions caused by the environment in which they live? Darwin seems to edge towards the latter. Darwin of course chronicles the hundreds of animal and plant specimens he collects and sends back to England, although many times he does not seem to know how to classify them. In fact, he does not learn until after the trip that the various birds he collected on various Galapagos islands were all finches. For reasons such as these, it is best to read The Voyage of the Beagle after familiarizing oneself with the later life of Charles Darwin. In this way, we can better see just how deeply the voyage affected his development as a scientist.


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