English and American Philosophy since 1800: A Critical Survey

By Arthur K. Rogers | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV

NATURALISM AND EVOLUTION

§ 1. Thomas Buckle. Darwin and Evolution

1. Even while the prestige of John Stuart Mill was at its height, a new influence was already making itself felt in the currents of naturalistic thought in England--an influence only slightly felt by Mill himself--which was to change the whole direction and emphasis of the intellectual life. It did this most directly and permanently, of course, through bringing the notion of development to bear upon all the subjects of human inquiry; but also, in a more general way, the theory of evolution signalized a certain shift of interest from politics and social reform to the objective constitution of the world at large. Even before the vogue of evolution, a tendency is apparent here and there to turn directly to the impersonal truths of science as the liberator of the human spirit from the trammels of superstition. For minds in rebellion against current theological creeds, it is not difficult to understand how the notion that the world, and man's character and destiny as a portion of the world, are ruled by Law, might come to take on the aspect of a new and glorious revelation. The earlier expressions of this are unimportant for philosophy, and amount to little more than a glorification in one form or another of "necessity" as a great spiritual principle. If one wants an illustration of the almost fanatical enthusiasm which this idea of necessity is capable of arousing, he may turn to the pages of Robert Owen, the philanthropist and socialist. Owen is

-128-

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English and American Philosophy since 1800: A Critical Survey
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents ix
  • Contents xi
  • ENGLISH AND AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY SINCE 1800 1
  • Chapter II - THE UTILITARIANS 49
  • Chapter III Authority and Reason in Theology 96
  • Chapter IV - NATURALISM AND EVOLUTION 128
  • Chapter V - ABSOLUTE IDEALISM 207
  • Chapter VI - PERSONAL IDEALISM, PANPSYCHISM AND REALISM 315
  • Chapter VII 359
  • Chapter VIII - NEO-REALISM 411
  • INDEX TO AUTHORS 453
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