I must have read this book thirty years ago because there is some writing in the back that is clearly mine, but it isn’t the way I have been writing for a very long time. I can observe that I read the whole book because there is my characteristic way of noting key passages with dots on the edges.
It was published in 1952 and has many insights based on the characteristics of the human animal and his mental qualities. From that base of known qualities and their probable histories projected back through distant species similar to humans, Darwin would make long-term predictions. He presumed a slow rate of mutation and change of genetic qualities and his assumption was that it takes a million years to make fundamental changes in the human species. Hence, the name of the book – The Next Million Years, by Charles Galton Darwin
As everyone knows to predict the future sets one up to be made a fool, and even so brilliant a thinker as this younger Darwin succeeded. He couldn’t predict things like genetically modified organisms (GMO). The only method for accelerating evolution when this book was written was to bombard sperm and eggs with radiation or chemicals to mess up their DNA structure and then grow the organism to maturity and observe a thousand failures for every potential success. With GMO it is now possible to purchase genes from a gene bank and probably get predictable effects in the final virus, plant or animal.
In Chapter IX THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS is analyzed and sadly for us, Darwin proves that happiness isn’t likely to be incorporated into human DNA via natural selection. Nowadays, it probably could be bred into humans because there are some twin studies where individuals separated at birth are preternaturally happy. Thus, there must be a gene for happiness. Other unusual family genes have been discovered; thus a happiness gene might be incorporated into the human future.
On page 118 – “A chief question, from the point of view of this essay, is whether there is any survival value in happiness. Are the naturally happy people more likely to be the ancestors of future generations, than are the rest, for if they are, then a greater number of the future race will tend to inherit this happy disposition. The answer is very doubtful, and it may well be negative. The reason lies in the fact that contentment is not a stimulus to action like discontent. … a man, who has the spur of his own genuine discontent to drive him, will struggle harder to achieve success than will the contented type. On the average, he will be more successful, but the success will not content him, so that he will always be spurred on to further efforts. If this success is, as in the long run it will be, associated with his making a greater contribution to later generations, it follows that the discontented type will increase in numbers at the expense of the contented type. This argument leads to the disappointing conclusion that future man will be more discontented than man of the present day. … there seems absolutely no reason to expect any notable increase in the sum of human happiness.”
If you like that kind of reasoned thought experiment I recommend this book, but if you are wishing for a happy reading experience this one probably won’t deliver it.