The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals

Open Road Media
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With a foreword by Margaret Mead: Darwin examines genetically determined behavior, combining the science of evolution with insights into human psychology.

Published in 1872, thirteen years after On the Origin of Species, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals is devoted to documenting what Darwin believes is the genetically determined aspects of behavior. Together with The Descent of Man (1871), it sketches out Darwin’s main thesis of human origins. Here he traces the animal origins of human characteristics such as pursing of the lips in concentration, tightening of the muscles around the eyes in anger and efforts of memory. Darwin’s thesis is that if the outward signs of behavior and emotions are shown to be universal in man and similar to animals then they must be due to inherited evolutionary adaptation, not culturally acquired characteristics. Several British psychiatrists, in particular James Crichton-Browne, were consultants for the book, which forms Darwin’s main contribution to psychology. Darwin’s collection of detailed observations along with his acute observational abilities and pictures (a landmark in the history of illustrations within the body of the text) corroborate his thesis and form the basis of the book. The foreword by Margaret Mead is of great interest in and of itself. Her foreword, illustrated with pictures provided by her, is designed to subvert Darwin’s chief idea. Paul Ekman, a later editor of this same work, “wonder[s] how Darwin would have felt had he known that his book was introduced by a cultural relativist who had included in his book pictures of those most opposed to his theory.”

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Open Road Media
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Published on
Nov 4, 2014
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Psychology / Reference
Science / Life Sciences / Evolution
Science / Philosophy & Social Aspects
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The nature of the following work will be best understood by a brief account of how it came to be written. During many years I collected notes on the origin or descent of man, without any intention of publishing on the subject, but rather with the determination not to publish, as I thought that I should thus only add to the prejudices against my views. It seemed to me sufficient to indicate, in the first edition of my 'Origin of Species,' that by this work "light would be thrown on the origin of man and his history;" and this implies that man must be included with other organic beings in any general conclusion respecting his manner of appearance on this earth. Now the case wears a wholly different aspect. When a naturalist like Carl Vogt ventures to say in his address as President of the National Institution of Geneva (1869), "personne, en Europe au moins, n'ose plus soutenir la creation indépendante et de toutes pièces, des espèces," it is manifest that at least a large number of naturalists must admit that species are the modified descendants of other species; and this especially holds good with the younger and rising naturalists. The greater number accept the agency of natural selection; though some urge, whether with justice the future must decide, that I have greatly overrated its importance. Of the older and honoured chiefs in natural science, many unfortunately are still opposed to evolution in every form.

In consequence of the views now adopted by most naturalists, and which will ultimately, as in every other case, be followed by others who are not scientific, I have been led to put together my notes, so as to see how far the general conclusions arrived at in my former works were applicable to man. This seemed all the more desirable, as I had never deliberately applied these views to a species taken singly. When we confine our attention to any one form, we are deprived of the weighty arguments derived from the nature of the affinities which connect together whole groups of organisms—their geographical distribution in past and present times, and their geological succession. The homological structure, embryological development, and rudimentary organs of a species remain to be considered, whether it be man or any other animal, to which our attention may be directed; but these great classes of facts afford, as it appears to me, ample and conclusive evidence in favour of the principle of gradual evolution. The strong support derived from the other arguments should, however, always be kept before the mind.

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