Darwin - Man and Society
From "Descent of Man," Chapter XXI, General summary and Conclusion, pp. 590-
SEXUAL SELECTION MORE IMPORTANT THAN NATURAL SELECTION (Survival of the fittest)
"Important as the struggle for existence has been and even still is, the moral qualities are advanced, either directly or indirectly, much more through the effects of habit, the reasoning powers, instruction, religion, than natural selection. The importance of natural selection is that it is responsible for the social instincts, which afford the basis for the development of the moral sense."
"Sexual selection depends on the success of certain individuals over others of the same sex, in relation to the propagation of the species; whilst natural selection depends on the success of both sexes, at all ages, in relation to the general conditions of life."
DESTINY OF MAN
"The fact of man's having risen, instead of having been aboriginally placed there, may give him hope for a still higher destiny in the distant future. With his god-like intellect which has penetrated into the movements and constitution of the solar system - with all these exalted powers - Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin."
"Charity and the motive to give aid is much influenced by the praise or blame given by one’s fellows."
"Happiness is an essential part of the general good. The principal of the greatest-happiness serves as a nearly safe standard of right and wrong."
"The moral nature of man has reached its present standard, partly through the advancement of his reasoning powers and consequently of a just public opinion, but especially from his sympathies rendered more tender and widely diffused through the effects of habit, example, instruction and reflection. It is not improbable that after long practice virtuous tendencies may be inherited."
"Ultimately man does not accept the praise or blame of his fellows as his sole guide, but his habitual convictions, controlled by reason, afford him the safest rule. His conscience then becomes the supreme judge and monitor."
"Thus the interval between the mental powers of one of the higher apes and of a fish, or between those of an ant and scale-insect, is immense; yet their development does not offer any special difficulty."
"While our intellectual powers and moral disposition is the greatest difficulty which presents itself, one who admits the principle of evolution, must see that the mental powers of the higher animals, which are the same in kind with those of man, are capable of advancement."
"The continued use of language will have reacted on the brain and produced an inherited effect. The higher intellectual powers of man, such as those of ratiocination (exact thinking), abstraction, and self-consciousness probably follow from the continued improvement and exercise of the other mental faculties."
"The greatest purpose for education is to stimulate in all possible ways the intellectual facilities of every human being."
"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."
"On the other hand man is strongly attracted by mere wealth or rank. Both sexes ought to refrain from marriage if they are in any marked degree inferior in body or mind."
"The advancement of the welfare of mankind is a most intricate problem: all ought to refrain from marriage who cannot avoid abject poverty of their children; for poverty is not only a great evil, but tends to its own increase by leading to recklessness in marriage."
PURPOSE OF MARRIAGE
"It must not be supposed that the divergence of each race from the other races, and of all from a common stock, can be traced back to any one pair of progenitors (first parents). The process would have been like that followed by man, when he does not intentionally select particular individuals, but breeds from all the superior individuals, and neglects the inferior. He thus slowly but surely modifies his stock, and unconsciously forms a new strain."
"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."
THE DEVELOPMENT OF MORALITY
"A moral being is one who is capable of reflecting on his past actions and their motives – of approving of some and disapproving of others. This fact is the greatest of all distinctions between him and the lower animals. This distinction exists because of man’s ever-present social instincts, his appreciation of the approbation and disapprobation (approval or disapproval), of his follows, and from the high activity of his mental faculties, with past impressions extremely vivid; and in these latter respects he differs from the lower animals."
"Conscience comes from reflection and comparing one’s past impulses with the ever-present social instincts. If past impulses cause a sense of dissatisfaction the resolve will arise to act differently in the future."
"The moral nature of man has reached its present standard, partly through the advancement of his reasoning powers and consequently of a just public opinion, but especially from his sympathies having been rendered more tender and widely diffused through the effects of habit, example, instruction, and reflection."
"It is not improbable that after long practice virtuous tendencies may be inherited. With the more civilized races, the conviction of an all-seeing Deity has had a potent influence on the advance of morality. Man's habitual convictions, controlled by reason, afford him the safest rule. His conscience then becomes the supreme judge and monitor."
IMMORTAL NATURE OF MAN'S SOUL
"In regard to the belief in the immortality of the soul, few persons feel any anxiety from the impossibility of determining at what precise period in the development of the individual, from the first trace of a minute germinal vesicle, man becomes an immortal being; and there is no greater cause for anxiety because the period cannot possibly be determined in the gradually ascending organic scale."
EXISTENCE OF GOD
"I am aware that the assumed instinctive belief in God has been used by many persons as an argument for His existence. But this is a rash argument, as we should thus be compelled to believe in the existence of many cruel and malignant spirits."