Age of the Sage site banner

If we could conceive in some warm little pond

Charles Darwin's quotations and quotes

In 1871 Charles Darwin wrote a now famous letter to Joseph Hooker which included some of his speculations on the spontaneous generation of life in some - warm little pond.

The letter was mailed to Hooker on February 1st, 1871.

Down,Beckenham, Kent, S.E.
My dear Hooker,

... It is often said that all the conditions for the first production of a living organism are now present, which could ever have been present.

But if (and oh what a big if) we could conceive in some warm little pond with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, - light, heat, electricity &c. present, that a protein compound was chemically formed, ready to undergo still more complex changes, at the present day such matter wd be instantly devoured, or absorbed, which would not have been the case before living creatures were formed.

page content divider


There are many entertaining and instructive quotations about, or attributable to, Charles Darwin:-

For instance, as a boy of sixteen his father said to him:-
"You care for nothing but shooting, dogs and rat-catching, and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family."

page content divider


Darwin was keenly interested in Natural History as a young man and his Autobiography mentions one particular beetle hunt in detail:-
"I will give a proof of my zeal: one day on tearing off some old bark, I saw two rare beetles and seized one in each hand; then I saw a third and new kind, which I could not bear to lose, so that I popped the one which I held in my right hand into my mouth. Alas it ejected some intensely acrid fluid, which burnt my tongue so that I was forced to spit the beetle out, which was lost, as well as the third one".

page content divider


In biological and evolutionary science a phylogenetic tree or evolutionary tree is a tree showing the evolutionary relationships among various biological species are believed to have a common ancestor.

Darwin's evolutionary theory tree of life sketch of 1837Perhaps the earliest example of a phylogenetic tree or evolutionary tree was actually devised by Charles Darwin. His approach can perhaps be illustrated by this famous Tree of Life sketch from his Notebook B dating from 1837-8:

Charles Darwin's early evolutionary theory insight of how a branching tree-like genus of related species might originate by divergence from a starting point (1) to effectively establish related species at such notional points as A, B, C and D.

There is an accompanying text annotation that reads:-

I think

Case must be that one generation then should be as many living as now. To do this & to have many species in same genus (as is) requires extinction.

Thus between A & B immense gap of relation. C & B the finest gradation, B & D rather greater distinction. Thus genera would be formed. — bearing relation (page 36 ends - page 37 begins) to ancient types with several extinct forms.

From Darwin's Notebook B now stored in Cambridge University library.

page content divider


Human Physique comes as an inheritance - so what about Human Nature?


Does Darwinian Evolution offer much in terms of explaining Human Nature?

Attempts to find answers to this question seems to raise deep, but interesting, issues associated with Human Existence.

To what extent does Darwinian Evolutionary Theory "Explain" Human Nature?

Darwin's theorising on evolution took place over more than twenty years!

Such content as the following selection, dating from 1837 and the earlier days of his theoretical deliberations on "that mystery of mysteries the origin of species", is to be found in Darwin's "Notebook B" and shows that he expected his theory to cover behavioral as well as physical evolution:-

"My theory would give zest to recent & Fossil Comparative Anatomy: it would lead to study of instincts, heredity, & mind heredity, whole metaphysics" ...

The Theory of Evolution, (as considered to be applicable to Humanity), has traditionally tended to focus on the physical!

Darwinian Science and Metaphysics

Metaphysical Human Nature versus 'Darwinist?' physical evolutionism


Whilst this present Age-of-the-Sage page content makes no attempt to address questions of whether the origins of Human Nature are

~ "Natural? or Divine?" ~

our visitors can nevertheless find key insights on our site from such reliable authorities as:-

The Great Faiths   -   Plato & Socrates   -   Shakespeare

that give convincing support to such a "Tripartite" view of Human Nature!!!

page content divider


It is widely known that Plato, pupil of and close friend to Socrates, accepted that Human Beings have a " Tripartite Soul " where the individual Human Psyche is noticeably composed of three aspects - Wisdom-Rationality, Spirited-Will and Appetite-Desire.

It is less widely appreciated is that Great World Faiths, and William Shakespeare, also effectively see "Spirituality" as being relative to "Desire" and to "Wrath".

On the basis that persons browsing the web cannot be expect to search out things that they do not readily appreciate "as being there to search for" we have assembled effective endorsements, from Plato & Socrates, World Faiths and Shakespeare, to a "Tripartism" of Wisdom-Rationality, Spirited-Will and Appetite-Desire on this link page:

Plato, Socrates and Shakespeare endorse
a Tripartite Soul view of Human Nature.
Platos' Republic