Thursday, February 12, 2009

Darwin and Lincoln

Charles Darwin and Abe Lincoln shared a birthday. Today they would be 200. In their honor, a couple of quotes.

Darwin influenced my choice of college major. (His childhood nickname? "Gas," because he liked to perform experiments that created smelly gases.)
"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change." [1859, On the Origin of Species]

Lincoln doesn't have that same personal connection to me. But in fact, if you read his writings over time, you will see that he himself was "adaptable to change." (His first writings were more equivocal about slavery than his later ones. But he believed in education.)

A capacity, and taste, for reading, gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others. It is the key, or one of the keys, to the already solved problems. And not only so. It gives a relish, and facility, for successfully pursuing the [yet] unsolved ones. [1859, Wisconsin Agricultural Society speech]

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