Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Darwin and Hooking Up

I havent read any Darwin yet though a lot has been read of him. Just finished reading his work called 'The Descent of Man' and its quite amazing (its free to download from that link)

Now consider this part of the work
Man scans with scrupulous care the character and pedigree of his horses, cattle, and dogs before he matches them; but when he comes to his own marriage he rarely, or never, takes any such care. He is impelled by nearly the same motives as the lower animals, when they are left to their own free choice, though he is in so far superior to them that he highly values mental charms and virtues. On the other hand he is strongly attracted by mere wealth or rank. Yet he might by selection do something not only for the bodily constitution and frame of his offspring, but for their intellectual and moral qualities. Both sexes ought to refrain from marriage if they are in any marked degree inferior in body or mind; but such hopes are Utopian and will never be even partially realised until the laws of inheritance are thoroughly known. Everyone does good service, who aids towards this end. When the principles of breeding and inheritance are better understood, we shall not hear ignorant members of our legislature rejecting with scorn a plan for ascertaining whether or not consanguineous marriages are injurious to man.

The advancement of the welfare of mankind is a most intricate problem: all ought to refrain from marriage who cannot avoid abject poverty for their children; for poverty is not only a great evil, but tends to its own increase by leading to recklessness in marriage. On the other hand, as Mr. Galton has remarked, if the prudent avoid marriage, whilst the reckless marry, the inferior members tend to supplant the better members of society. Man, like every other animal, has no doubt advanced to his present high condition through a struggle for existence consequent on his rapid multiplication; and if he is to advance still higher, it is to be feared that he must remain subject to a severe struggle. Otherwise he would sink into indolence, and the more gifted men would not be more successful in the battle of life than the less gifted. Hence our natural rate of increase, though leading to many and obvious evils, must not be greatly diminished by any means. There should be open competition for all men; and the most able should not be prevented by laws or customs from succeeding best and rearing the largest number of offspring. Important as the struggle for existence has been and even still is, yet as far as the highest part of man's nature is concerned there are other agencies more important. For the moral qualities are advanced, either directly or indirectly, much more through the effects of habit, the reasoning powers, instruction, religion, &c., than through natural selection; though to this latter agency may be safely attributed the social instincts, which afforded the basis for the development of the moral sense."

Now, what had Darwin been thinking about when he was to be married? Well, his correspondence is very clear on this. he simply wrote two columns: one for and one against

One one side we have:

Children — (if it Please God) 
— Constant companion, (& friend in old age) who will feel interested in one, 
— object to be beloved & played with.  
—better than a dog anyhow. 
— Home, & someone to take care of house 
— Charms of music & female chit-chat. 
— These things good for one's health. 
— Forced to visit & receive relations but terrible loss of time. —

My God, it is intolerable to think of spending ones whole life, like a neuter bee, working, working, & nothing after all. 
— No, no won't do. 
— Imagine living all one's day solitarily in smoky dirty London House. 
— Only picture to yourself a nice soft wife on a sofa with good fire, & books & music perhaps 
— Compare this vision with the dingy reality of Grt. Marlbro' St.

On the arguments for not getting married he has the following

-No children, (no second life), no one to care for one in old age.

— What is the use of working 'in' without sympathy from near & dear friends

—who are near & dear friends to the old, except relatives

-Freedom to go where one liked — choice of Society & little of it.  

— Conversation of clever men at clubs 

— Not forced to visit relatives, & to bend in every trifle. 

— to have the expense & anxiety of children 

— perhaps quarelling 

— Loss of time. 

— cannot read in the Evenings 

— fatness & idleness 

— Anxiety & responsibility 

— less money for books &c 

— if many children forced to gain one's bread. 

— (But then it is very bad for ones health to work too much)

Finally he settles for the option to marry outweighs the benefits and now he thinks when, sooner or later with these kind of thoughts

— one's character is more flexible 

—one's feelings more lively & if one does not marry soon, one misses so much good pure happiness. 

—But then if I married tomorrow: there would be an infinity of trouble & expense in getting & furnishing a house, 

—fighting about no Society 

—morning calls 

— awkwardness 

—loss of time every day. (without one's wife was an angel, & made one keep industrious). 

— Then how should I manage all my business if I were obliged to go every day walking with one’s my wife. 

— Eheu!! I never should know French, — or see the Continent — or go to America, or go up in a Balloon, or take solitary trip in Wales 

— poor slave. 

— And then horrid poverty, 

— Never mind my boy 

— Cheer up 

— One cannot live this solitary life, with groggy old age, friendless & cold, & childless staring one in ones face, already beginning to wrinkle. 

— Never mind, trust to chance 

— keep a sharp look out 

— There is many a happy slave

-    Perhaps my wife wont like London;  then the sentence is banishment & degradation into indolent, idle fool 

Despite all the above thoughts he married his cousin Emma Wedgewood :-)

(may be dopamine was flowing very generously when he decided so)

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