The origins of Darwin's theory: It may have evolved in Tibet

Charles Darwin has been accused of many things – but never before of being a closet Tibetan Buddhist.

A leading scholar of human emotions and facial expressions has suggested Darwin's views on human compassion and morality were strikingly similar to those held by Buddhists.

Professor Paul Ekman said that his studies of Darwin's texts had revealed that the great Victorian scientist had identical views to those expressed by the Dalai Lama, a personal friend of Professor Ekman.

Darwin wrote at length on human emotions and compassion, and strongly believed in the unity of humanity as well as the commonality of emotions shared between humans and the animals we eat, Professor Ekman said.

"The words Darwin used are identical to those used by Tibetan Buddhists to describe compassion and morality," Professor Ekman said. "It is an amazing coincidence, if it is a coincidence, that his views on compassion and morality are identical to the Tibetan view. When I read to the Dalai Lama some of Darwin's passages he said, 'I will now call myself a Darwinian.'

"How did this coincidence occur? If it was contemporary, the issue of plagiarism would arise because the words are virtually the same, or exactly the same. I'm by no means accusing Darwin of plagiarism," Professor Ekman told the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago.

Darwin could have learned about Tibetan Buddhism from letters written to him by his friend Joseph Hooker, who spent time in Tibet studying the local flora. The Dalai Lama was surprised to find how similar Darwin's writings on compassion and morality were to his views, said Professor Ekman, who added: "When I see you suffer, it makes me suffer and that motivates me to reduce your suffering so I can reduce my suffering. That's identical to the Tibetan Buddhist view."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will also work alongside their seasoned sa...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Property Manager

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking for your first step into...

Recruitment Genius: Mechanical Design Engineer

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This innovative company working...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat