Bobby Darwin’s Impertinent Early Years
This chapter presents a portrait of Charles Darwin as a child left to pursue his natural instincts, beginning with his impertinent early years. According to Ernst Mayr, what made Darwin such a great scientist and intellectual innovator was his insatiable curiosity, claiming that “he never took anything for granted but always asked why and how.” As Evolution's Child, Darwin practiced curiosity from a young age. He ventured to the shores, forests, mountains, and plains of Brazil, Patagonia, Chile, Tierra del Fuego, and the Galápagos Islands. This chapter examines the origins of Darwin's impertinence by focusing on his early childhood and family culture, how his childhood opportunities were influenced by Jean-Jacques Rousseau's educational precepts, and his chemical experimentation. It also considers Darwin's playful exploration of nature and how he came up with the concept of evolution to explain how we became human.
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