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30 Prominent Quotes by Charles Darwin

Last updated on Feb 11th, 2021

30 Prominent Quotes by Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin, full name Charles Robert Darwin, (born February 12, 1809, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England – died April 19, 1882, Downe, Kent, England) was an English naturalist, geologist, and biologist, best known for his theory of evolution by natural selection.

After a five-year voyage on the Beagle, Darwin became famous and established himself as a geologist through his diary’s publication in 1839. In 1859, he published his theory of evolution in his landmark book, On the Origin of Species. His other notable works include The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871), The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872), and The Formation of Vegetable Mould, through the Actions of Worms (1881).

Often described as one of the most influential figures in human history, Darwin was honored by burial in Westminster Abbey.

The very essence of an instinct is that it is followed independently of reason. - Charles Darwin (The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex Quotes)
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The very essence of an instinct is that it is followed independently of reason.Part I. The Descent or Origin of Man, Chapter IV. Comparison of the Mental Powers of Man and the Lower Animals, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871)

A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life. - Charles Darwin Quotes
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A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.Letter to Susan Elizabeth Darwin (August 4, 1836)

The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts. - Charles Darwin (The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex Quotes)
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The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts.Part I. The Descent or Origin of Man, Chapter IV. Comparison of the Mental Powers of Man and the Lower Animals, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871)

A scientific man ought to have no wishes, no affections - a mere heart of stone. - Charles Darwin Quotes
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A scientific man ought to have no wishes, no affections – a mere heart of stone.Letter to Thomas Henry Huxley (July 9, 1857)

Man selects only for his own good; Nature only for that of the being which she tends. - Charles Darwin (On the Origin of Species Quotes)
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Man selects only for his own good; Nature only for that of the being which she tends.Chapter IV. Natural Selection, On the Origin of Species (1859)

If every one were cast in the same mould, there would be no such thing as beauty. - Charles Darwin (The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex Quotes)
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If every one were cast in the same mould, there would be no such thing as beauty.Part III. Sexual Selection in Relation to Man, and Conclusion, Chapter XIX. Secondary Sexual Characters of Man, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871)

The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic. - Charles Darwin Quotes
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The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic.Volume I, Chapter VIII. Religion, The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin: Including an Autobiographical Chapter (1887)

If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin. - Charles Darwin (The Voyage of the Beagle Quotes)
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If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.Chapter XXI. Mauritius to England, The Voyage of the Beagle (1839)

The difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, is certainly one of degree and not of kind. - Charles Darwin (The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex Quotes)
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The difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, is certainly one of degree and not of kind.Part I. The Descent or Origin of Man, Chapter IV. Comparison of the Mental Powers of Man and the Lower Animals, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871)

It is always advisable to perceive clearly our ignorance. - Charles Darwin (The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals Quotes)
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It is always advisable to perceive clearly our ignorance. Chapter III. General Principles of Expression, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872)

If I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week. - Charles Darwin Quotes
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If I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week.Volume I, Chapter II. Autobiography, The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin: Including an Autobiographical Chapter (1887)

False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often long endure; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, as every one takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness; and when this is done, one path towards error is closed and the road to truth is often at the same time opened. - Charles Darwin (The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex Quotes)
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False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often long endure; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, as every one takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness; and when this is done, one path towards error is closed and the road to truth is often at the same time opened.Part III. Sexual Selection in Relation to Man, and Conclusion, Chapter XXI. General Summary and Conclusion, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871)

One general law, leading to the advancement of all organic beings, namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die. - Charles Darwin (On the Origin of Species Quotes)
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One general law, leading to the advancement of all organic beings, namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die.Chapter VII. Instinct, On the Origin of Species (1859)

To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing a new truth or fact. - Charles Darwin Quotes
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To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing a new truth or fact.Letter to Alexander Stephen Wilson (March 5, 1879)

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science. - Charles Darwin (The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex Quotes)
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Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.Introduction, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871)

We are always slow in admitting any great change of which we do not see the intermediate steps. - Charles Darwin (On the Origin of Species Quotes)
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We are always slow in admitting any great change of which we do not see the intermediate steps.Chapter XIV. Recapitulation and Conclusion, On the Origin of Species (1859)

As for a future life, every man must judge for himself between conflicting vague probabilities. - Charles Darwin Quotes
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As for a future life, every man must judge for himself between conflicting vague probabilities.Volume I, Chapter VIII. Religion, The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin: Including an Autobiographical Chapter (1887)

We are not here concerned with hopes or fears, only with the truth as far as our reason allows us to discover it. - Charles Darwin (The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex Quotes)
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We are not here concerned with hopes or fears, only with the truth as far as our reason allows us to discover it.Part III. Sexual Selection in Relation to Man, and Conclusion, Chapter XXI. General Summary and Conclusion, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871)

Animals whom we have made our slaves we do not like to consider our equals. - Charles Darwin Quotes
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Animals whom we have made our slaves we do not like to consider our equals.Notebook B (1837-1838)

The shield may be as important for victory, as the sword or spear. - Charles Darwin (On the Origin of Species Quotes)
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The shield may be as important for victory, as the sword or spear.Chapter IV. Natural Selection, On the Origin of Species (1859)

Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin. - Charles Darwin (The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex Quotes)
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Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.Part III. Sexual Selection in Relation to Man, and Conclusion, Chapter XXI. General Summary and Conclusion, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871)

I am not apt to follow blindly the lead of other men. - Charles Darwin Quotes
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I am not apt to follow blindly the lead of other men.Volume I, Chapter II. Autobiography, The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin: Including an Autobiographical Chapter (1887)

Great is the power of steady misrepresentation; but the history of science shows that fortunately this power does not long endure. - Charles Darwin (On the Origin of Species Quotes)
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Great is the power of steady misrepresentation; but the history of science shows that fortunately this power does not long endure.Chapter XV. Recapitulation and Conclusion, The Origin of Species (6th edition, 1872)

Man scans with scrupulous care the character and pedigree of his horses, cattle, and dogs before he matches them; but when he comes to his own marriage he rarely, or never, takes any such care. - Charles Darwin (The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex Quotes)
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Man scans with scrupulous care the character and pedigree of his horses, cattle, and dogs before he matches them; but when he comes to his own marriage he rarely, or never, takes any such care.Part III. Sexual Selection in Relation to Man, and Conclusion, Chapter XXI. General Summary and Conclusion, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871)

The more one thinks the more one feels the hopeless immensity of man's ignorance. - Charles Darwin Quotes
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The more one thinks the more one feels the hopeless immensity of man’s ignorance.Letter to Lord Farrer (August 28, 1881)

Blushing is the most peculiar and the most human of all expressions. - Charles Darwin (The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals Quotes)
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Blushing is the most peculiar and the most human of all expressions.Chapter XIII. Self-attention - Shame - Shyness - Modesty: Blushing, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872)

An American monkey, an Ateles, after getting drunk on brandy, would never touch it again, and thus was wiser than many men. - Charles Darwin (The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex Quotes)
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An American monkey, an Ateles, after getting drunk on brandy, would never touch it again, and thus was wiser than many men.Part I. The Descent or Origin of Man, Chapter I. The Evidence of the Descent of Man from some Lower Form, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871)

How paramount the future is to the present when one is surrounded by children. - Charles Darwin Quotes
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How paramount the future is to the present when one is surrounded by children.Letter to William Darwin Fox (March 7, 1849)

The limit of man's knowledge in any subject possesses a high interest, which is perhaps increased by its close neighbourhood to the realms of imagination. - Charles Darwin (The Voyage of the Beagle Quotes)
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The limit of man’s knowledge in any subject possesses a high interest, which is perhaps increased by its close neighbourhood to the realms of imagination.Chapter XIII. Chiloe and Chonos Islands, The Voyage of the Beagle (1839)

A language, like a species, when once extinct, never, reappears. - Charles Darwin (The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex Quotes)
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A language, like a species, when once extinct, never reappears.Part I. The Descent or Origin of Man, Chapter III. Comparison of the Mental Powers of Man and the Lower Animals, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871)

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It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.No source (More info)

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We stopped looking for monsters under our bed when we realized that they were inside us.No source