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Darwin and the Making of Sexual Selection$
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Evelleen Richards

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226436906

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226437064.001.0001

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“Bliss Botanic” and “Cocks Heroic”: Two Darwins in the “Temple of Nature”

“Bliss Botanic” and “Cocks Heroic”: Two Darwins in the “Temple of Nature”

(p.62) Three “Bliss Botanic” and “Cocks Heroic”: Two Darwins in the “Temple of Nature”
Darwin and the Making of Sexual Selection

Evelleen Richards

University of Chicago Press

Chapter Three examines the erotic evolutionary writings of Erasmus Darwin, notably The Loves of the Plants, Zoonomia and The Temple of Nature. It is shown that his grandson took the notion of sexual combat as a means of species benefit and as an explanation for the development of specialised male weapons from these writings. The younger Darwin’s early notebook theorising on the sexual struggle is discussed in relation to his earliest formulation of natural selection and the ways in which he distinguished the struggle for mates from the struggle for existence. It is argued that his grandparent’s naturalistic, sexualised aesthetics was also influential in Charles Darwin’s understanding of beauty and aesthetic choice.

Keywords:   Erasmus Darwin, erotic evolutionary writings, Loves of the Plants, Zoonomia, Temple of Nature, sexual combat, male weapons, sexualized aesthetics, struggle for mates, struggle for existence

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