Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin
Second semester of my freshman year here at Public University, I took the Honors section of Botany 180. The class dealt primarily with the evolution of man and the study of evolution throughout history. A few of the many names we encountered in the course were Mendel, Huxley, Lyell, and Darwin. However, Charles Darwin and his theories were the primary focus of our discussions. This is when I was first exposed in-depth to Darwinism. The ideas we studied and the concepts we explored laid the foundation for my thinking on the whole subject of evolution and how man ìcame to be.î Major points about Darwin that impressed me the most were his devotion to the study of his environment, the depth of his writings, and the influence he had on his peers and consequently, the whole scientific world. Furthermore, I was impressed at the fact that over one hundred years after his death, his theories still lay the foundation for scientific thought and evolutionary exploration.
The second Honors class I have taken at Miami is edp 380, Creative Frames of Mind. When Professor Sherman first asked for ìother intelligencesî when we mapped our own strengths and weaknesses in Gardnerís seven intelligences, my idea was environmental intelligence. Darwin immediately came to my mind for this ìotherî intelligence, but also for the logical intelligence. My freshman class in evolution explored Darwinís theories, but we only skirted along the subject of his personal life and the depth of his creative intelligence. Does Charles Darwin fit Gardnerís model of intelligence? Does Darwin display an eighth intelligence, perhaps overlooked by Gardner?

To explore Darwinís place in the model, Gardnerís criteria must be followed. First, does Darwin display individual talent in his geological and biological domains? To discover the answer to this question, I will explore Darwinís early life to find his affinity for studying plants and animals and whether he actually possessed skill in his observational work on his journey. Second, does Darwinís work affect his domain within which he operates? I will look at how Darwin mastered, labored in, and ultimately revised his domain. I will also explore Darwinís research that resulted from his journeys to various islands and continents in the Western Hemisphere. Third, does Darwin affect his wider field of the natural sciences? I will look at how Darwin was influenced by his teachers and peers, and in turn, how he influenced them. I will further examine this question in light of his writings and the impact he had on refashioning his domain. Through research in these key areas, I will determine whether Darwin fits Gardnerís model of a creative intelligence and in which intelligences Darwin shows the most creativity.

the story OF charles darwin:
A background TO creativity.

Charles Robert Darwin was born, the son of Robert and Susannah Darwin, on
February 12, 1809. His grandfather was Erasmus Darwin ñ a poet, philosopher, and a naturalist who had written two books, The Botanic Garden and Zoonomia, recording his scientific views. From his birth, Charles had the zeal for nature of his grandfather in his blood. His father, Robert, influenced him in a much more tangible way. Although Charles refers to him as ìthe kindest main I ever knew,î his father was very harsh and demanding that young Charles pursue a life of medicine (Huxley, 7). Charles was the second youngest of six children and not prone to follow his fatherís instructions. His mother, who had a hobby of raising pigeons, died when he was eight. The naturalist interests of Erasmus Darwin, the discipline of Robert Darwin, and the absence of Susannah Darwin influenced Darwin in his early life.

After his mother died, Charles entered Shrewsbury boarding school under Dr. Butler where he was uninspired and bored. He remarked in retrospect, ìNothing could have been worse for the development of my mind than Dr. Butlerís school, as it was strictly classical, nothing else being taught except a little ancient geography and historyî (Huxley, 10). However, Darwin was an energetic young man and made use of his free time by collecting various small trinkets and whatnot from nature. He later reflected on this hobby: ìThe passion for collectingÖwas clearly innate, as none of my sisters or brother ever had the tasteî (Huxley, 8). Charles also read extensively which later inspired him to travel, and piqued his interest in the sciences and bird watching.

Charles succumbed to his fatherís wishes and left the boarding school at age sixteen to study medicine at Edinburgh University. Once again, Darwin found pleasures doing things other than his studies. Instead of witnessing gruesome surgeries, Charles found it much more interesting to attend lectures on geology, learn how to stuff birds and animals, and visit his Uncle Josiah Wedgwood in the rural area surrounding Shrewsbury.

After two years of slacking off in his studies, his father enrolled him in Christís College, Cambridge to become a clergyman. Once again, Charlesí life was reoriented, and he was thrown into something he did not have the heart to do. To pass the time in Cambridge, Darwin took up shooting and sporting. As he reflects on his education at Christís College, ìDuring the three years which I spent at Cambridge my time there was wasted as far as the academic studies were concerned as completely as at Edinburgh and at schoolî (Huxley, 15). Despite his lack of interest, he did pass his courses at Christís College, without Honors.

The significance of Darwinís education up until the age of twenty-two, lies in how he spent his time and energy. Throughout his school career, Charles enjoyed the outdoors ñ whether it was collecting minerals and insects or watching birds or shooting and stuffing wildlife. He was not content to attend boring lectures, but he was enthusiastic about being out ìin the fieldî where he could study geology and biology as it was happening. In an answer to a questionnaire concerning scientific men of the day, Darwin wrote, ìI consider that all I have learnt of any value has been self-taughtî (Gruber, 73).

Further significance of Darwinís schooling lies in the professors and esteemed scientists he met. His hands-on interest in the natural sciences and his personable character made him many solid connections with his teachers. The first evolutionist Darwin came into contact with during his education at Edinburgh was Robert Grant who discussed Darwinís early observations and encouraged the young scientist in his early years. Reverend John Henslow, Darwinís ìfather in Natural Historyî was the greatest influence on the young Darwin (Gruber, 84). He urged Charles to pursue his interest in geology and held open house each week to bring students such as Darwin and professors together to discuss scientific views on natural history. During Darwinís travels, he sent specimens back to Henslow and upon his return utilized Henslow to help him sort and process all the material he had sent back. Henslow also introduced Darwin to Professor Adam Sedgwick. Darwinís earliest geological training came from Sedgwick, whom he accompanied on a short excursion through Wales (Gruber, 77). However, Sedgwick proved to be Darwinís biggest rival on the views of evolution after later research. Another key influence was Charles Lyell ñ one of the greatest geologists of the nineteenth century. Darwin was first introduced to Lyell when Henslow gave him The Principles of Geology. It set the groundwork for Darwinís own research on the transmutation of species. Lyell is most frequently cited author in Darwinís notebooks and early manuscripts, being quoted 42 times (Manier, 18). Furthermore, Lyell and Darwin were in ìcontinuing conversation concerning on-going researchî (Manier, 23).

DARWIN?S journey

Darwinís drive to travel was first spurred by Alexander von Humboldtís Personal Narrative. Upon reading it, Charles immediately set forth plans to travel and study. He prepared for all contingencies and began learning Spanish. On August 24, 1831, Henslow notified him of Captain Robert FitzRoyís opening for a naturalist aboard The hms Beagle. Darwin was very excited to be travelling, and in a letter to Capt. FitzRoy wrote, ìMy second life will then commence and it shall be as a birthday for the rest of my lifeî (Huxley, 19). Darwinís travels on the Beagle provided him the means to collect his evolutionary data and the facts to form his theories on the variations of species.
Once again, despite his fatherís objections, Charles accepted Henslowís advice to travel aboard the Beagle with enthusiasm and high hopes. Josiah, Charlesí uncle, referred to Charles as ìa man of enlarged curiosityî (Brent, 111). Accompanying this curiosity was Darwinís outstanding field experience. These two components piqued Darwinís excitement and further discussions with Capt. FitzRoy only excited him more. After four months of anticipation, the Beagle departed from Plymouth on December 27, 1831 for a five-year journey to the Pacific coast of South America.

The actual journey upon the high seas was barely tolerable for Darwin. Waves of sickness came with every rock of the boat, and he tried to exist on a feeble diet of biscuits and raisins. Furthermore, Capt. FitzRoyís temper flared at will, and the shipmates talked sea-slang gibberish. When at last, they were in view of Tenerife, Darwin was further disconcerted: ìOh! Misery, misery, we were just preparing to drop anchor within half a mile of Santa Cruz when a boat came alongside, bringing with it our death-warrant. The Consul declared we must perform a rigorous quarantine of twelve daysî (Brent, 136). Instead of waiting it out, FitzRoy decided to sail on to the Cape Verde Islands. On the way, Darwin collected his first marine specimens ñ plankton. When the ship finally dropped anchor, Darwin rejoiced at the beauty of nature he encountered, writing, ìÖit has been for me a glorious day, like giving to a blind man eyes, he is overwhelmed with what he sees and cannot easily comprehend itî (Huxley, 24).

From the Cape Verde Islands, the Beagle sailed on to South America, and on February 28, 1832, Darwin landed in the tropical climate of Brazil. Darwin collected numerous species of insects, spiders, rocks and flowers in the area surrounding Rio do Janeiro, sending as many home as he could whenever the opportunity presented itself. Besides his dedication to collecting at this time, Darwin also wrote countless journal entries and letters to Henslow describing every geographical detail he observed. The Beagle continued to sail around the coast of South America, and each landing brought more excitement and valuable information to Darwin. The Beagle sailed to Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Bahia, and Tierra del Fuego, and Darwin continued to collect specimens of birds, animals, and fossils. His collections led him to discover differences between species and similar characteristics that prevailed in those different species.

By the summer of 1833, Darwin seems to be deeply questioning the Creationism that he was brought up with in favor of a more geological explanation. Darwinís turning point in his research occurred during his research in the Galapagos Islands. His first crucial information came when he studied the tortoises from the different Galapagos Islands. They were very peculiar in respect to each other because although they were all the same tortoise classification living in the same climate on separate islands within sight of each other, they were strangely different. Varieties of mockingbirds also inhabited the islands, and these observations led Darwin to his study of the finches. Similar finches populated each island, but on each island, the finches had exploited different biological advantages. For example, the beaks of the finches were all different. He pondered why these finches were not identically the same on each island. In foreshadowing of his later theory, Darwin wrote that these observations ìundermine the stability of speciesî (Huxley, 44). It would be from these observations in the Galapagos that Darwin would eventually form his ideas for the transmutation of species and evolution by natural selection.

As the Beagle headed for Australia, Henslow was busy doing his job as well, organizing the specimens Darwin sent home and spreading the information of his discoveries. After Darwinís thankful return to England on October 2, 1836 (ìThere was never a ship so full of homesick heroes as the ëBeagleíî (Clark, 409)), he was happily reunited with his family and colleagues. In his absence, he had built up quite a reputation with geologists and naturalists of the time, and he was known without question as the man who made astoundingly precise and extensive observations of fauna and flora in the Galapagos. Now that Darwin had returned, he could set his mind to forming his theories with the data he had collected and sharing his ideas with the rest of the world.

the writings

Darwinís first published works after his voyage were his letters to home and to colleagues during the voyage of the Beagle. These were published as The Correspondence of Charles Darwin. A further publication from the voyage was the Journal of Researches into Geology and Natural History of the Various Countries Visited by H.M.S. Beagle in 1839. Three books published concerning his geological studies were Coral Reefs in 1842, Volcanic Islands in 1844, and Geological Observations on South America in 1846.
In March of 1837, Darwinís speculations favoring evolution over Creationism were substantiated by John Gould, a taxidermist and leading ornithologist who identified three separate species of mockingbird and thirteen species of finches from Darwinís collection in the Galapagos. In July of 1837, Darwin started a series of notebooks entitled The Transmutation of Species, which led to his formulation of the theory of evolution by natural selection fifteen months later.

Charles Darwin married his cousin, Emma Wedgwood on January 29, 1839, and she stood by his side, taking care of him and his children in his ill health. She even took care of his writings, promising to publish his controversial theories in the case of his unfortunate death. In 1842, Darwin started writing his first sketch of the Origin of Species based on the variability of species he found in organisms such as finches and barnacles. In 1844, that sketch was developed into an essay, and in 1859, Darwin published the complete book, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection with great reluctance. In 1870, he published Descent of Man which stated that man was a mere product on a certain level of evolution, not a creation in himself. The reaction to these literary works was pandemonium. Imagine yourself in the Victorian era with the Church as the focal point for everything in the natural world. Now, Darwin comes along and specifically writes out what some anti-Church scientists have been talking about for the past decade. Evolution, not Creation by God explains the existence of man? Blasphemy!

Darwinís theories were not fully accepted until after his death, and in 1860, Thomas Henry Huxley, who eventually became known as Darwinís bulldog (Arrrrrr!) defended Darwinís ideas in front of the Bishop of Oxford (www.nobunga). Charles Darwin died on April 19, 1882 and is buried in Westminster Abby next to Sir Isaac Newton.


Does Charles Darwin fit into Gardnerís model of creativity? If he does, what creative intelligences does he demonstrate?

First, does Darwin display individual talent in his domain? As seen from the early age of nine, Charles was extremely interested in observing nature and pursuing studies in geology and natural history. Even though his school studies did not interest him, Charles had no qualms with concentrating and dedicating himself to the study of nature in the field. This commitment to research is also seen on his voyage aboard the Beagle where he devoted his life to the study of plants, animals, and rocks despite sickness and a temperamental crew. Darwinís skill for his work is seen in the reputation he earned from his collections and the thoroughness of his work. His skill in understanding the logical workings of nature is apparent in the culmination of his work ñ The Origin of Species.

Does Darwin affect his domain within which he operates? Darwin first mastered his domain under the mentors of Henslow and Sedgwick. He then labored in his domain for five years while traveling on the Beagle. Darwinís collection of species is so rare and extensive that his colleagues such as Henslow, Huxley, and later Gould could not help but be impressed. His research revised his domain and gave factual proof to theories that scientists of the day had been formulating. His data supported the notion that evolution, not God, was the reason for manís existence. The geological and biological sciences were turned in the right direction through Darwinís research, and his ideas lay the foundation for the natural sciences today.

Does Darwin affect his wider field? A scientific revolution was in effect the minute Darwin recorded the variations in the Galapagos Islands and sent the specimens back to England to be studied and interpreted. Factual proof for evolutionary theory was at last in the scientistsí hands. The Church was disrupted. The people rioted. Future generations of man along the evolutionary chain have been affected by this one manís zeal for the outdoors and the natural sciences. His relationships with eminent scientists and his development as an energetic naturalist produced observations that refashioned the religion-centered view of manís existence into a view supporting evolution.

Yes, Darwin fits Gardnerís model of Creative Intelligences. Darwinís strongest intelligence seems to be the logical because of his classifications of plants and animals and his extreme interest in the natural sciences. However, to attain the esteem that he did, Darwin had to utilize other intelligences as well. For example, he used his interpersonal intelligence to secure connections in the scientific fields and maintain meaningful relationships with his colleagues. He also made use of his intrapersonal intelligence through his devotion to his work despite criticisms from his father and the Church. In addition, he had to be able to observe nature by himself and reflect on what he saw in order to realize the truth that was hidden all around him. The linguistic intelligence was very strong with Darwin, as seen through his many writings, journals, and finally his book. Furthermore, he utilized his kinesthetic intelligence to a certain extent, but only as far as he was a traveler and persevered through physical sickness. He also made use of his spatial intelligence in his observations of the natural world around him. However, this leads to a more specific, eighth, intelligence ñ environmental intelligence. Darwin was very ìin touchî with the environment and what was going on in it. He easily observed minor differences in various species and interpreted these differences to be the result of evolution. This intelligence in itself is quite a creative accomplishment.

Darwin journeyed, and he searched through trial and error for an understanding of the order of nature. His creativity and willingness to rise above the scientific views of his day made his journey all the more worthwhile.

Charles Darwin 9.1 of 10 on the basis of 3082 Review.