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Post-Darwinian Societies: Piers Hale, “‘Darwinism’ in Victorian England: a contested category”
Series: Post-Darwinian Societies
Speaker: Piers Hale (University of Oklahoma)
Registration: Free, but mandatory, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract: Although terms like Darwinism and Social Darwinism have been used as historical categories to classify certain forms of biological or social thought, the historical record reveals that what it meant to be a Darwinian and what implications this might have for our conception of human nature and thus for what kind of society we could best achieve, were very much contested. Indeed, the political and social messages that could be drawn from his 1859 book On the Origin of Species were quite different than those that could be taken from his 1871 Descent of Man. This much is demonstrated by the very different visions of life in a Darwinian society outlined by the liberal anatomist and advocate of Darwinism, Thomas Henry Huxley and the Russian geographer and anarchist, Peter Kropotkin. Other commentators drew out what they perceived to be the implications of Darwin’s work for society regarding sex and race.