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Notes and Reflections on Books and Media

by Hannah Leitheiser


The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex

Charles DARWIN


So I finished Darwin's Descent of Man, where the argument of common ancestry is extended to humans. Darwin also expounds on sexual selection, which he only briefly mentioned in his Origin of Species. He posited that perhaps the reason humans are hairless has to do with sexual selection, and I think that's possible. Even now, people are repulsed by hair in most areas of the body.

Darwin discusses whether the races of humans are separate species, and is of the opinion that they are not. He does believe, though, some are more savage than others.

Darwin hopes that in time his ideas will be taken to heart generally and used to better humankind, suggesting "[b]oth sexes ought to refrain from marriage if they are in any marked degree inferior in body or mind." This book would begin (or continue) discussion of eugenics and social Darwinism, which of course influenced the path of history in ways outside the scope of this text.