Charles Darwin and Spontaneous Order

Sunday 12 February 2012

Today, February 12, is Charles Darwin's birthday. Charles Darwin is an interesting figure for a number of reasons. Recent scholarship suggests that he became interested in the common ancestry of all creatures as a result of his family’s connections to the anti-slavery movement, sentiments which Darwin shared. He is also an interesting example of how ideas can spread across disciplines. In this case, the idea of complex structures emerging spontaneously and the absence of the need for a central planner was developed first in economic thought in the 18th century (one could mention Adam Ferguson here). Darwin’s The Origin of Species is an example of these ideas being successfully applied to the natural world, namely that complex creatures can and do emerge spontaneously over time from simpler creatures as a result of the operation of natural laws. </quotes/126>