10-Minute Talks: Charles Darwin and ideas of evolution

by Professor Peter Bowler FBA

10 Feb 2021

The world’s leading professors explain the latest thinking in the humanities and social sciences in just 10 minutes.

Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution changed the way we think about our place in the world, although it took some time for its full implications to sink in. In this talk, Peter Bowler argues that at first it was widely assumed that humanity must be the goal of evolutionary progress. But Darwin’s theory of natural selection suggests that the ‘tree of life’ has many diverging branches and hence no predetermined endpoint. Humanity’s position in the world now seemed much less secure, although it took several decades for this unsettling prospect to be recognised.

His book, Progress Unchained: Ideas of Evolution, Human History and the Future will be published by Cambridge University Press in March 2021.

This talk is to mark Darwin Day, a celebration to commemorate the birthday of Charles Darwin on 12th February 1809.

Speaker: Professor Peter Bowler FBA, Emeritus Professor of the History of Science, Queens University Belfast

10-Minute Talks are a series of pre-recorded talks from Fellows of the British Academy screened each Wednesday on YouTube and also available on Apple Podcasts.

If you have any questions about this talk, please email events@thebritishacademy.ac.uk.

Image: The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin.

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