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Social Darwinism : science and myth in Anglo-American social thought / Robert C. Bannister.


Philadelphia, PA : Temple University Press, 1979.
ISBN 0877221553

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Other Title Science & myth in Anglo-American social thought
Science and myth in Anglo-American social thought
Subjects Darwin, Charles, 1809-1882 -- Influence.
Darwin, Charles, 1809-1882.
Darwinisme social -- Histoire.
Great Britain.
Grossbritannien.
Influence (Literary, artistic, etc.)
Social Darwinism -- Great Britain -- History.
Social Darwinism -- United States -- History.
Social Darwinism.
Sozialdarwinismus.
USA.
United States.
Series American civilization.
Description 292 pages ; 24 cm.
Copyright Date 1979.
Notes Includes bibliographical references and index.
Summary Social Darwinism is not a monolithic concept, as might be inferred from such comments. What it is, however, has been obscured by the uses to which it has been put in the past hundred years. After the Civil War, so the story goes, a misapplied Darwinism rationalized cut-throat competition, callous individualism, and laissez-faire. But in his reinterpretation of this major historical current, Professor Bannister challenges this view. He argues that Darwinism provided a doubly fatal blow to the theories of Herbert Spencer, William Graham Sunmer, and the American Spencerians. As science, Darwinism transformed popular conceptions of the "laws of nature", inspiring the hope of transcending nature's brutality rather than submitting to it. As myth, the phrase "social Darwinism" provided a weapon that reformers used to caricature their opponents from the 1880s onward. An Anti-utopian image of a world guided solely by "scientific" considerations, the myth of social Darwinism played a critical role in the work of an entire generation of American and British thinkers, including among others, Henry George, Lester Ward, Benjamin Kidd, the eugenicists, defenders of Jim Crow, H L Mencken, and the literary naturalist. Later use of the concept of social Darwinism by historians was a direct legacy of these debates. A work of mature judgment, this book makes intelligent use of European and American sources to clarify and redefine a significant concept in intellectual history.
Contents Acknowledgments -- Introduction: the idea of social Darwinism -- 1: Scientific background -- 2: Hushing up death -- 3: Philanthropic energy and philosophic calm -- 4: Amending the faith -- 5: William Graham Sumner -- 6: Survival of the fittest is our doctrine -- 7: Neo-Darwinism and the crisis of the 1890s -- 8: Pigeon fanciers' polity -- 9: Scaffolding of progress -- 10: Nietzche vogue -- 11: Beyond the battle: the literary naturalists -- 12: Imperialism and the warriar critique -- Epilogue: From histrionics to history -- Notes -- Index.
Genre History.
Geographic Area England
United States
Network Numbers (OCoLC)4638583
(OCoLC)ocm04638583
WorldCat Search OCLC WorldCat
WorldCat Identities Bannister, Robert C.
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