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Letter 7703A

Darwin, C. R. to Mivart, St G. J.

21 Apr [1871]

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    "If you feel astonished at my bringing man & brutes so near together in their whole nature (though with a wide hiatus) I feel still more astonished, as I believe, at your judgment on this head. I much wish you had enlarged your concluding sentence a little so as to say whether you consider the ordinary mental faculties so distinct, or whether you confine the enormous difference to spiritual powers including the moral sense.––"

Transcription

Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E.

Ap. 21

My dear Mr. Mivart

I must thank you for your generosity in supporting me to a certain extent in Nature & for your interesting remarks. A very good judge remarked to me a few weeks ago that he thought your judgment on the zoological affinities of man was more to be trusted than that of anyone else; & I felt very proud that an instinctive feeling (for I cannot call it a rational feeling, as I had not sufficient knowledge for that) told me after reading your papers that this was the case.—

If you feel astonished at my bringing man & brutes so near together in their whole nature (though with a wide hiatus) I feel still more astonished, as I believe, at your judgment on this head. I much wish you had enlarged your concluding sentence a little so as to say whether you consider the ordinary mental faculties so distinct, or whether you confine the enormous difference to spiritual powers including the moral sense. With spiritual powers I do not feel concerned as a naturalist; but I cannot get over my astonishment if your remarks apply to what are commonly considered as mental powers. I quite expect to see you quoted as an authority that the mind in an ordinary sense of man differs more from that of an ape or dog than their minds do from that of a fungus,—if a fungus has a mind.—

I hate to differ so enormously from any one. Do not trouble yourself to answer this,— I did not intend to write it— but if you publish any passing remark again on the point in question do enlarge a little.—

Your's vy sincerely | Ch. Darwin

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 7703a.f1
    The year is established by the reference to Mivart's article in Nature (Mivart 1871d).
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    f2 7703a.f2
    CD refers to Mivart's article `Ape resemblances to man' (Mivart 1871d).
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    f3 7703a.f3
    The `good judge' has not been identified. Mivart wrote on anatomical affinities among primates in Mivart 1865, 1866b, and 1867a; he did not think that affinity was a guide to genealogy (see Blum 1996, pp. 198--201). See also Correspondence vol. 18, letter to St G. J. Mivart, 21 April [1870], and letter from St G. J. Mivart, 22 April 1870.
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    f4 7703a.f4
    Having conceded the anatomical similarities of humans and apes, Mivart made it clear that concerning `the totality of man's being' he differed from CD and concluded, `So considered, Science convinces me that a monkey and a mushroom differ less from each other than do a monkey and a man' (Mivart 1871d).
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