luglio 2024
RILETTURE PER L'ESTATE: CHARLES DARWIN (ENGLISH VERSION)
CHARLES DARWIN Shrewsbury 12 febbraio 1809 – Londra 19 aprile 1882

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A true monument, we could not forget him. He studied, travelled, wrote.
The ideological strand is the same as that coming from Rousseau, Voltaire, Goethe. It is romanticism that launched the parallelism between events in nature and in the human soul into the world with the motto 'sturm und drang'. It is no coincidence that 'sturm' means storm, in nature and in the human soul. A violent stimulus that produces change.

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The period in which he operated was full of tensions and contradictions, there was a continuous struggle between the return to the past and thus the rejection of all novelty, and the Enlightenment that organised and spread the sense and importance of reasoning, connecting facts, in short, empiricism. The France that opened us up to modernity was also able to publish 'The Universal History' by an abbot who proved once and for all that the Copernican system was wrong, since Joshua said 'stop or sun'.

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Incidentally, it should be noted that Israeli archaeologists, after extensive excavations, proved that Jericho never had any defensive walls. With this, biblical chronology should have found its place.
In the 19th century, epistemology was far from what we know, conservatives ruled, violently opposed to novelty. Old beliefs die hard, the survival of the Flatearth people proves this to us.

Darwin kept his writings at home for twenty years before publishing them, fearful of the reactions, which indeed came. It is not necessary here to repeat his story, his travels, the Galapagos and so on. What is important is that he equated the survival of the fittest with the extinction of species, as a natural phenomenon. It is nature that is constantly changing and adapting. For a few million years, it also adapted to human interventions. But they were little, in limited areas. Now it is different, as we can all see.

D. could not have drawn his conclusions in a landscape totally changed by man as in Europe, he had to go as far as von Humboldt.
He highlighted the influences of the environment on animals and vice versa. Darwin's century is also that of the development of the industrial revolution, which began in the 17th century in Holland and England. The acceleration of change.

D. had already seen the effects of water pollution with industrial discharges from tanning and dyeing, and of air pollution with coal combustion.
Another example of human devastation of the environment is the barrenness of the land exploited by the Romans, which led to a global food crisis, the fall of the Roman Empire and the decimation of the population in Europe. We have long since started sawing off the branch of the tree we are sitting on.

And he, the D. goes off in search of unspoilt nature. Another certain fact he determined concerned the influence of climate on adaptation. We now see how plants and animals adapt to rising temperatures, from conifers shifting the limit of their growth upwards, to migrants going further north than before. In the US, they measured the northward shift of the habitat of one type of butterfly in 5 km/year.

They discovered the incredible genetic variations that appear in small isolated groups. That is the force of the life instinct, Eros.
Looking at today, we see that we are connected, almost no one is part of isolated groups, and the tendency to homogeneity prevails, to exclude things or people that go outside the imposed canon. The exact opposite of the Galapagos tortoises.

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D. was also outside the canon, in the bigoted world of the 19th century, the Enlightenment was still revolutionary, it was hard to say that the earth was older than the 4,400 years set by the Bible, unthinkable to say that primates and homo sapiens had a common ancestor.
But Charles Darwin published. Lucky for us.


December 2023
Folco de Polzer

 
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