What idea did Malthus champion that Darwin incorporated into his theory of evolution?
Malthus emphasized the fact that organisms compete for survival, and this became a part of Darwin's theory of evolution. In Essay on the Principle of Population, Malthus proposes the principle that human populations grow exponentially while food production grows at an arithmetic rate. Thus, while food output was likely to increase in a series of twenty-five year intervals in the arithmetic progression, population was capable of increasing in the geometric progression. This scenario of arithmetic food growth with simultaneous geometric human population growth predicted a future when humans would have no resources to survive on. To avoid such a catastrophe, Malthus urged controls on population growth.
Malthus made his groundbreaking economic arguments by treating human beings in a revolutionary way. Rather than focusing on the individual, he looked at humans as groups of individuals, all of whom were subject to the same basic laws of behavior. He used the same principles that an ecologist would use studying a population of animals or plants. He pointed out that the same forces of fertility and starvation that shaped the human race were also at work on animals and plants. When Darwin adapted Malthus’ ideas to his theory of evolution, it was clear to him that humans must evolve like any other animal. Malthus Principle of Population was an important work that influenced Darwin.
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