Darwin and History

1162 WordsJul 14, 20185 Pages
Following 1859, The Origin of Species had at last entered public consciousness. While the theories presented by Darwin were simultaneously being celebrated, condemned or challenged, it triggered a new form of self-awareness. Because Darwin initially avoided addressing the ultimate question of human evolution until The Descent of Man published in 1871, it would lead others to pursue the matter with diverse explanations. Known as the father of German Darwinism, Ernst Haeckel’s Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte (The History of Creation) was first published in German in 1868 and translated into English in 1876. Haeckel would confront what Darwin had eluded in the Origin with distinct social and political predispositions and influences. To…show more content…
319). It is of great importance to note that Darwinismus, Lamarckism and Social Darwinism were gradually progressing ideas, where they fluctuated in importance and authority within evolutionary discourse during the mid 19th and early 20th centuries. For instance, the decline of Lamarckism towards the 20th century (Paul, 2009, p. 234) would produce a newfound social concern known as eugenics. Hence, Haeckel’s Darwinismus and theories on racial variation would have considerable implications. With the rising acceptance of eugenics in collaboration with the hypothesis of a hierarchy of races, these factors would allow the justification of racial cleansing, colonisation, racist immigration policies and government enforcement of eugenics programs. Haeckel termed what was referred to as the Malthusian ‘struggle of survival’ to the ‘survival of the fittest’ and propagated this notion until it’s transformation into a distinct form of Social Darwinism which gained prominence in Germany from the late 19th to early 20th centuries. Certainly the misappropriation of Darwinian theories was widespread and occurred on a global scale over consecutive centuries. Eugenics programs were first enforced in the United States, where ‘unfit’ individuals were involuntarily sterilised. Similarly in Japan eugenics “exerted
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