The Darwinian Heritage and Sociobiology

By Johan M. G. Van Der Dennen; David Smillie et al. | Go to book overview

14
With Whom Was Darwin Supposed to Fall in Love?

Ada Lampert

Since Darwin understood that a living organism's traits were the product of natural selection, singling out those characteristics that might best increase the number of offspring in future generations, there came to his mind the very obvious insight that "mental," "psychological" traits are subject to this very same principle: they are selected according to their advantage in producing offspring. Darwin himself wrote ( 1877) about emotions such as fear, jealousy, and aggression and about sex differences. We may consider falling in love to be an emotion even more directly and powerfully affecting the ability to produce offspring. "Darwinistic falling in love" would therefore be of the kind that ensured children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren.

Was Darwin behaving like a Darwinist when he fell in love? As far as I know, there was one woman in Darwin's life, to whom he was married for forty-five years and with whom he raised to maturity seven of ten children born. Their most famous son, Sir Francis Darwin, wrote ( 1949) of them: "His gentle and pleasant nature was revealed in its most beautiful form in his relations with my mother. In her he found his happiness, and thanks to her his life, which under different circumstances might have been overcast by a dark shadow, became a life of satisfaction and of quiet happiness." This, then, is successful falling in love. Who was the woman who succeeded so well? Darwin's biographer ( Hemleben, 1988) writes of her: "Fate did not make it difficult for him to find a wife. . . . Between the Darwins and the Wedgewoods there had always been close relations. . . . He chose Emma Wedgewood, the daughter of his beloved uncle. . . . Naturally, Darwin and his cousin knew each other from childhood" (p. 42). Two important features are mentioned in this description: (1) As

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