Darwin & Dostoevsky Passages

O the weak or the ill should not be allowed to

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o The weak or the ill should not be allowed to multiply because it would interfere with this natural selection process that allows the healthy and happy to survive. He even declares that it makes no sense for “man to let his worst animals breed.” o He takes the view that illness or poorness indicates poor character or constitution, which stands in opposition to other 19 th century authors. Stendhal uses little Stansilas’ illness as an example that illness is random. Marx also points to the poor as mechanisms for revolution. o The reader may raise the question: if natural selection has acted on mankind for so long then why are there still mentally ill people in existence? Does man’s stubborn and instinctive desire to help fellow man prevent him from leaving the weak or ill to die? It’s not hard to conceive that pseudo-sciences stemmed from readers of On the Origin of Species , e.g. Nazi eugenics, for example, because the book indicates that the sick and the undesirable people in society restrict natural selection. In other words, the sick, poor, and ill are an illness on mankind as a whole and they must be taken from the gene pool. “Every slight modification, which in the course of ages chanced to arise, and which in any way favored the individuals of any of the species, by better adapting them to their altered conditions, would tend to be preserved; and natural selection would thus have free scope for the work of improvement.” (176) Does this mean that removing the natural selection’s “free scope for the work of improvement” (e.g. helping the ill and the poor, who may otherwise perish) stands in the way of natural selection, which produces superior beings, and “[rejects] injurious variations” (176)? o This view, that the free scope of natural selection produces better adapted species, may have negatively impacted the 19 th century view of the impaired or poor as obstacles to natural selection. Does Darwin’s view of natural selection as the mechanism for the production of “higher animals” encourage the 19 th view of physiognomy as a way to determine who is ‘inferior’? “Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breather into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning of endless forms most beautiful and wonderful have been, and are being evolved” (215)
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Darwin tries to bring the reader around to his view of natural selection, controversial at that time, which produces “higher animals.” Not only does this suggest that humans are not perfect creatures, as religion states, created by God, but that the removal of the weak (and ill) is highly desirable. Darwin rips open the romantic view of nature tied with Christianity’s idea of perfect species and
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