Friday, October 29, 2010

What ARE we doing?

Our blog “The Fabulous Life of Charles Darwin” is greatly speculative, as is VH1’s television program “The Fabulous Life” where we so aptly borrowed the title. Apparently we too are “taking you deep inside the lives of the rich and famous, from their massive careers to their even more massive homes to what they do in their self-indulgent leisure time”[1], although (of course) on a more in-depth and academic level. Some may call this sort of endeavor a waste of time, fluff, and for entertainment value only, questioning the importance of piecing together biographical details. Isn’t it enough to know that someone is famous, to watch their movie, read their book and take it for what it’s worth?

There isn’t anything wrong with doing this but we’re choosing to take a different approach. Like Butler in a “Deadlock in Darwinism” broke apart a whole (“On the Origin of Species”) to scrutinize its pieces (the origin of the concepts therein), our blog is attempting to break open the life of Charles Darwin and examine the pieces, we think, made him a whole (including his family, the time and place in which he lived, his naturalist colleagues, the Voyage on the Beagle, etc.).

Any psychologist would agree that we, as humans, are a mixture of nature (our inherited biology or genetics) and nurture (“our environment and learning history”[2]). It is far too rigorous to piece together genetic links (e.g. a high IQ or the disposition towards analytical reasoning for scientific inquiry) from the Darwin/ Wedgwood merge between Darwin’s father (Robert Darwin) and mother (Susannah Darwin nee Wedgwood) or even further back from his grandfather (Dr. Erasmus Darwin). While there are possible interesting avenues of genetics one could explore, including Erasmus’ grandchild from the daughter of his second wife turning out to be Francis Galton (a noted anthropologist and eugenicist), we’ll focus on the “nurture” and leave the “nature” in more capable hands, if any care to grasp.


[2] p. 21 Passer, Michael, and Ronald Smith. Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behavior. 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004. Print.

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