Darwin and the Term Evolution
Darwin did not use the
noun evolution to describe his theory in the Origin; in fact he only used
the word evolved once in his book. The pre-Darwinian connotations of the word
concerned a predictable unfolding of possibilities, as seen for example in the
processes of embryonic development.
Darwin would not have
chosen the word because his theory is based upon variants which occur in an undirected
way, and are then selected for or against by an environment which may also
alter irregularly, not on a ladder of progress. However, by the time
of the publication of The Expression of
the Emotions in 1872, he had
started to use the term.
See also the rhetoric of Darwinism.
link | Feedback | Contributed by: Dr. Christopher Southgate and Dr. Michael Robert Negus
Source: God, Humanity and the Cosmos (T&T Clark, 1999)