Charles Darwin’s famous book “The Descent of Man” found racist views

Published on February 24, 1871, Charles Darwin’s The Descent of Man is one of the most influential works ever written on the theory of evolution and natural selection. But according to Princeton University anthropologist Agustin Fuentes, who reviewed the work 150 years after its publication, it was distorted by his racist and sexist views.

In his article in Science, Fuentes accuses the famous British naturalist of allowing racism, sexism and misogyny to “distort” the scientific process and influence his conclusions.He speaks of Darwin’s “dangerous error” regarding a number of claims made in the 150-year-old book, including presenting his data through a cloud of racism and sexism.

He believes students should be taught not only that Darwin was a brilliant scientist and the “father of evolutionary theory,” but also that he was an Englishman with unfounded prejudices that distorted his view of data and experience.

Darwin published The Descent of Man (full title The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex) 11 years after his Origin of Species in order to understand how evolutionary theory applies to mankind. He explored the concept of natural and sexual selection, as well as the idea of survival of the fittest and how humanity might have emerged from earlier hominids.

“He studied evolutionary history, anatomy, intelligence, cultural capacity, race and sex differences,” Fuentes wrote in Science. “Some of the conclusions were groundbreaking and insightful. His recognition that differences between humans and other animals are of degree rather than character was groundbreaking. His focus on cooperation, social learning, and cumulative culture remains key to the study of human evolution.”

However, as he argues, some of Darwin’s other assertions were terribly flawed. Fuentes said that Darwin relied on data, objectivity, and scientific thinking to describe the results of human evolution, but much of the book, like other scientific folios of the time, was problematic by modern standards.

He offers a “racist and sexist view of humanity” that portrays all but white European males as “less” or “inferior in rank to other races. Darwin portrays Native American and Australian populations as “inferior to Europeans in ability and behavior,” Fuentes writes.

“These claims are confusing because in ‘Descent,’ Darwin offered a refutation of natural selection as a process of race differentiation,” Fuentes explains.

In his book, he said, Darwin tries to continue to advance his “Descent” of evolutionary differences among races.

He believes students should be taught not only that Darwin was a brilliant scientist and the “father of evolutionary theory,” but also that he was an Englishman with unfounded prejudices that distorted his view of data and experience.

Darwin published The Descent of Man (full title The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex) 11 years after his Origin of Species in order to understand how evolutionary theory applies to mankind. He explored the concept of natural and sexual selection, as well as the idea of survival of the fittest and how humanity might have emerged from earlier hominids.

“He studied evolutionary history, anatomy, intelligence, cultural capacity, race and sex differences,” Fuentes wrote in Science. “Some of the conclusions were groundbreaking and insightful. His recognition that differences between humans and other animals are of degree rather than character was groundbreaking. His focus on cooperation, social learning, and cumulative culture remains key to the study of human evolution.”

However, as he argues, some of Darwin’s other assertions were terribly flawed. Fuentes said that Darwin relied on data, objectivity, and scientific thinking to describe the results of human evolution, but much of the book, like other scientific folios of the time, was problematic by modern standards.

He offers a “racist and sexist view of humanity” that portrays all but white European males as “less” or “inferior in rank to other races. Darwin portrays Native American and Australian populations as “inferior to Europeans in ability and behavior,” Fuentes writes.

“These claims are confusing because in ‘Descent,’ Darwin offered a refutation of natural selection as a process of race differentiation,” Fuentes explains.

In his book, he said, Darwin tries to continue to advance his “unfounded claim” of evolutionary differences among races. Darwin’s adamant assertions about the centrality of men and the passivity of women in evolutionary processes for humans and the entire animal world resonate with both Victorian and modern misogyny, he said.

“We can give Darwin credit for key discoveries, but we must refute his unfounded and damaging claims,” he wrote in an article for Science. “In the end, learning from Origins illuminates the supreme and most interesting problem for modern human evolutionary research: the movement toward an evolutionary science of humans, not ‘humans.