Evolution and Ethics Science and Morals

Evolution and Ethics Science and Morals These two essays by the famous th century champion of Darwin s theory of evolution tackle a subject that is still a major focus of ethical debates today the relation of science as a whole and speci

  • Title: Evolution and Ethics Science and Morals
  • Author: Thomas Henry Huxley
  • ISBN: 9781591021261
  • Page: 492
  • Format: Paperback
  • These two essays by the famous 19th century champion of Darwin s theory of evolution tackle a subject that is still a major focus of ethical debates today the relation of science as a whole, and specifically evolutionary ideas, to ethics and morality Written toward the end of Huxley s career when he was already famous as a persuasive lecturer and a fascinating expositorThese two essays by the famous 19th century champion of Darwin s theory of evolution tackle a subject that is still a major focus of ethical debates today the relation of science as a whole, and specifically evolutionary ideas, to ethics and morality Written toward the end of Huxley s career when he was already famous as a persuasive lecturer and a fascinating expositor of new ideas, these essays demonstrate his rhetorical gifts and talent for explaining the importance of science to a lay audience Evolution and Ethics, his last major talk delivered at Oxford in 1893, was written in response to the then fashionable Social Darwinism popularized by philosopher Herbert Spencer Spencer and his followers had been labeling the poor, criminals, and other social undesirables as unfit and suggesting that society deal with them as harshly as nature deals with the physically unfit Huxley found this approach both morally repugnant and a serious misapplication of Darwinian theory to the subject of ethics Society progresses, Huxley maintained, through individuals who prove themselves to be ethically the best, not physically the most fit Ethics is designed to curb our antisocial animal instincts and therefore must be detached from natural competition.In Science and Morals, written some years earlier 1886 , Huxley addresses three criticisms namely, that he and his associates refuse to take seriously anything that 1 cannot be verified by the senses, that 2 is beyond the bounds of physical science, and that 3 cannot be subjected to laboratory experimentation and chemical analysis To all of these criticisms Huxley replies that he takes very seriously a host of mental phenomena that do not, strictly speaking, fall within these narrow physical limits the universal law of causation, or the esthetic pleasure of the arts, or the truths of mathematics, for example He goes on to say that he repudiates the doctrine of Materialism as much as he does that of Spiritualism, and that he coined the term Agnostic to apply to his own particular philosophical viewpoint He concludes with comments on the existence of God and free will, suggesting that science does not necessarily rule out either postulate.Students of ethics, the history of science, and the ongoing debates over evolution will welcome this new edition of two masterful essays by Darwin s Bulldog.

    One thought on “Evolution and Ethics Science and Morals”

    1. I think Huxley's 'Evolution and Ethics' essay is one of the best defenses of Darwin's theory I've ever read, even today. Huxley goes beyond just trying to prove the validity of the theory of evolution, and anticipates and rebuts many of the more pernicious interpretations of Darwin's discovery made by people already trying to solidify their own case for ethnic and racial superiority. As Darwin himself shrank from the controversy that his theory inevitably brought, it was Huxley who got his hands [...]

    2. Although I don't agree with the author on many things, I did like some of his insights and the concluding part. For instance, he says: "[] It is from neglect of these plain considerations that the fanatical individualism of our time attempts to apply the analogy of cosmic nature to society. Once more we have a missapplication of the stoical injuction to follow nature; the duties of the individual to the state are forgotten and his tendencies to self-assertion are dignified by the name of rights. [...]

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