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Institute of Advanced Study

2006-2007: The Legacy of Charles Darwin

“Nothing at first can appear more difficult to believe than that the more complex organs and instincts have been perfected, not by means superior to, though analogous with, human reason, but by the accumulation of innumerable slight variations, each good for the individual possessor.”

Charles Darwin

So wrote Charles Darwin in the conclusion to his On the Origin of Species (first edition, 1859): a work of far-reaching significance for an understanding of what it means to be human. If Darwin's theories were initially 'difficult to believe', they now enjoy wide acceptance, yet contemporary thinking about evolution is itself in a continually evolving state. To explore the ongoing ferment of ideas about the impact of Darwinian thought on a range of academic disciplines, the IAS chose the Legacy of Charles Darwin as its inaugural theme for 2006/07.

This theme showcased a major series of interdisciplinary public lectures, organised by Professor Nicholas Saul (Modern Languages and Cultures) and Professor Patricia Waugh (English Studies); a conference on Darwin, Science and Belief organised by Dr Alex Bentley (Anthropology); a seminar series on the Legacies of Darwin in relation to Earth, Life and Mind organised by Professor Michael Summerfield (IAS Fellow/Edinburgh University); a public lecture series on Reading Genesis after Darwin organised by the Dr Stephen Barton (Theology); and an Evolutionary Musicology Conference organised by Dr Bennett Zon (Music). Details of all of these events can be found on the Archive page, where all previous IAS events (thematic and non-thematic) are listed.