The Origin of Species

Malthus and Darwin: A Study of Theories and Their Adaptation College

Darwin’s theory of natural selection was influenced by the works of Thomas Malthus, an English political economist. In his “An Essay on the Principle of Population”, Thomas Malthus asserts that there are two fixed laws in nature: “food is necessary to the existence of man” and “the passion between the sexes is necessary and will remain nearly in its present state.” (Malthus 39) Malthus theorized that population increases in a “geometrical ratio” while the resources for subsistence increase in a “linear ratio.” (Malthus 39) Consequently, mathematical principles reveal that the geometrical growth of the human population will rapidly surpass the available resources. Malthus further claims that the two disparate forces of population and resources must be balanced and maintained at fairly equal levels. All species, plants and animals, have a natural tendency to increase their numbers through reproduction. In order to implement a balance between reproduction and resources, there must be natural checks on population such as “waste of seed, sickness, and premature death” among plants animals, and “misery and vice” among humankind (Darwin 40). In The Origin of Species, Darwin applies Malthusian principles to all species rather than just...

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