Few ideas in the history of the world have had as much impact on our understanding of life as the theory of evolution through natural selection. In Simply Darwin, author Michael Ruse explores this revolutionary concept and the life of Charles Darwin, the man who changed the way we view the world around us. In addition to providing a deep understanding of Darwin and his theory, Simply Darwin brings the story into the present, highlighting the contemporary relevance of evolutionary thought and illuminating its role in the current controversies over science and religion.
Simply Darwin tells the story of Charles Robert Darwin (1809–1882) and his theory of evolution through natural selection. On one level, the book portrays a dedicated scientist who, through careful observation and brilliant insight, became convinced that organisms were the end product of a long, slow, and natural process of development. On another level, it is an account of a cataclysmic change in our ideas about ourselves—a conceptual upheaval that continues to generate aftershocks—and heated debates—to this day.
In Simply Darwin, author Michael Ruse puts Darwin and his ideas in their proper context, clearly showing that, while the father of evolutionary biology was a true trailblazer, he was no rebel. He was simply following an evidentiary trail that led to an inevitable conclusion about the origin of species and natural selection. Eventually, as Darwin and his fellow scientists began to apply his ideas to humans, long-held notions about the nature and origins of religion, morality, race, sexuality, and much more, were called into question. Then, as now, some of us embraced these provocative ideas, while others reacted with horror and disbelief.
In recounting this fascinating and inspiring story, Ruse doesn’t neglect the visual component that has always been an inherent part of evolutionary thought. Simply Darwin features copious illustrations, which provide an informative and captivating element to this riveting account.
About the author
Michael Ruse is the Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Program in the History and Philosophy of Science at Florida State University. He is the author or editor of more than fifty books, including The Gaia Hypothesis: Science on a Pagan Planet, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Darwin and Evolutionary Thought and Atheism: What Everyone Needs to Know.
About the series
Simply Charly's Great Lives Series offers brief, but authoritative introductions to the world's most influential people—scientists, artists, writers, economists, and other historical figures whose contributions have had a meaningful and enduring impact on our society. Each book, presented in an engaging, accessible and entertaining fashion, offers an illuminating look at their works, ideas and personal lives, and the legacies they left behind.
“Written in a direct, funny and compelling style, Simply Darwin is simply Michael Ruse at his best, distilling a complicated history or idea to its essential features so that it is readily comprehended. The reader will be impressed with his synthesizing ability and his talent to develop conceptions that seem irresistible—even if, on due reflection, you want to resist.”
—Robert J. Richards, Fishbein Professor of the History of Science, University of Chicago
“In his inimitable style, Michael Ruse—one of the world's foremost experts on the history of evolution—provides an entertaining, stimulating, and provocative account of the life and legacy of Charles Darwin. This is one of the best short summaries of the topic available. Highly recommended especially for students and general readers.”
—David Sepkoski, Research Scholar, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
“An excellent sprint through the highlights of Darwin’s life and work. Ruse is a masterful writer who presents a clear account of who Darwin was and why he was important. It’s the connection to larger questions of our lives that makes this book a success. Well done, Ruse!"
—Joe Cain, Professor of History and Philosophy of Biology, University College London
"Anyone interested in Darwin, the man and his ideas, will find this an engaging read. No other book provides such a rich account of Darwin and his transforming theory in a colloquial manner, and yet is faithful to the historical details and the philosophical depth of his contribution to science."
—Paul Thompson, Professor in the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, University of Toronto