Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Pre-human in the Human Summary

            "The Pre-Human in the Human" is a piece written by Charles Darwin that reflects on the conclusions to his findings on human ancestry to bolster his argument against the inevitable backlash towards his research. This sample from "The Descent of man" points out that humans are similar to animals and in his stance defends that idea as something not to be ashamed of. He begins by laying out the basic idea of his findings tracing back the human evolutionary lineage all the way back to early marine vertebrates "man is descended from some lowly organized form". Darwin recalls his first encounter with the Fuegians elaborating on their savagery and barbaric nature. Throughout history civilizations have tried to distance themselves from barbarians. Barbarian being a Greek term for uncivilized. The reality that Darwin tries to connect is the fact that,  not only are we related to barbarian tribes, who are human, but we are also related to non human species as well. Darwin describes a "heroic monkey" who saved his keeper, a baboon who saved his comrade pointing out amazingly human qualities in animals. He found those animals more relatable than humans who commit atrocities daily. Some of the atrocities he mentions directly single out the church, drawing a comparison to the aforementioned Fuegian savages. Darwin puts into perspective the whole of human development "having thus risen, instead of having been aboriginally placed there" as a hopeful look to future development of humankind. He ends on a more humble note pointing out that despite mans "noble qualities" and profound intelligence, that we are still human and bear the mark of our ancestry.