November 3, 2008
Lecture by Professor Melissa Brown for the Stanford Continuing Studies course on Darwin's Legacy (DAR 200). Professor Brown speaks about the history and consequences of social Darwinism, and offers insight into new ways of thinking about social evolution.
"Light will be thrown..." With these modest words, Charles Darwin launched a sweeping new theory of life in his epic book, On the Origin of Species (1859). The theory opened eyes and minds around the world to a radical new understanding of the flora and fauna of the planet. Here, Darwin showed for the first time that no supernatural processes are necessary to explain the profusion of living beings on earth, that all organisms past and present are related in a historical branching pattern of descent, and that human beings fall into place quite naturally in the web of all life. Now, 150 years later and 200 years after Darwins birth, we celebrate the amazingly productive vision and reach of his theory. In this Fall Quarter course, we will meet weekly with leading Darwin scholars from around the country to learn about Darwins far-reaching legacy in fields as diverse as anthropology, religion, medicine, psychology, philosophy, literature, and biology. With such a broad reach across the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities, no wonder the theory of evolution by natural selection has been called the single best idea, ever. Presented by the Stanford Continuing Studies Program.