Darwin's Theory Of Natural Selection In Nineteenth Century European Society

691 Words3 Pages
Charles Darwin, an English naturalist, became a highly influential yet controversial figure in the late nineteenth century European society. Darwin introduced the idea of evolution through natural selection which demonstrated how species evolved into humans. Although Darwin’s theory was influential, it opposed many ideas of the European society at the time. Darwin’s ideologies challenged the beliefs of the European culture because it went against the religious teachings of the church that emphasized God as the creator of man and contradicted the European belief that the white race was superior. Darwin’s opposing views of evolution changed the definition of what it meant to be “civilized” in the European society.
First and foremost, Darwin’s
…show more content…
European society has always believed that their race is better than the others and that it is their responsibility to look out for the “weaker” races. French politician Jules Ferry in his 1883 “Speech before the French National Assembly” asserts, “superior races have a right, because they have a duty. They have the duty to civilize inferior races”(188). As the European people believed that they are the dominant race, they took it upon themselves to “civilize” the other non-white races. Similar to Ferry, Rudyard Kipling, an English novelist and poet, explains his views of white being the superior race and having an obligatory duty towards civilizing the other races in his 1899 “The White Man’s Burden” poem. In his poem when he says, “take up the white man’s burden,” he refers to the burden of having to civilize the societies and people that are not like them. Kipling refers to the people from races and societies as “silent, sullen peoples”(219). Kipling portrays the white Europeans as being the powerful ones chosen to upbring other societies. This poem was written during Imperialism in order justify the European powers taking over colonies that shared different cultures and beliefs. For the European people, “civilize” meant to impose their way of life and culture on the other assumed to be weaker races. Although, Darwin's ideas opposed this European belief of the white race being supreme. In his “Descent of Man”, Darwin argues, “man with all his noble qualities, with sympathy which feels for the most debased, with benevolence which extends not only to other men but to the humblest living creature”(184). Darwin refutes the idea that white race is superior by demonstrating that being civilized is defined by the characteristics of man, not race. Also, according to Darwin, all mankind evolved from the same origin and therefore making no race superior. By

More about Darwin's Theory Of Natural Selection In Nineteenth Century European Society

Get Access