Charles Darwin

October 11: Cruel

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Survival of the fittest: the cruel rule essential to natural selection. It is funny, however, how much antipathy Darwin itself, father of this evolutionary theory, had toward cruelty. Animal cruelty the most.

Darwin studied lizards and birds in the Galapagos, but only by comparison or dissection of already deceased animals. Always trying to minimise the suffering of animals. Even while hunting, an activity in contrast with his love for living creature, he advocates for a fair fight and despised the use of steel traps.

Despite his private nature, it is no surprise then that he joined the public debate to speak up against vivisection, that used for “damned curiosity was a subject that made [him] sick with horror”. In the Descent of man he suggested that some animals have social sympathies, sort of a conscience, making them intellectually and emotionally more connected to human than it was though at the time. Especially his beloved companions, dogs. In the essay, he wrote, “everyone has heard of the dog suffering under vivisection, who licked the hand of the operator; this man, unless he had a heart of stone, must have felt remorse to the last hour of his life”. Showing his kind and loving nature.


If you wondering what’s going on here, I explained it on this blog post: Inking Science