The social undertones and application of Charles Darwin’s biological theory

Swiergon, Benjamin (2014) The social undertones and application of Charles Darwin’s biological theory. BA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    The present research endeavours to shed light on the disparities between the social theories of Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer in order to demonstrate that British nineteenth century society employed Darwinism to re-establish pre-existing ideas of individualism, order, and laissez-faire economics. Darwin’s theory of ‘struggle for existence’ resulted in a reconsideration of moral values including ‘fitness’, ‘intelligence’ and ‘Anglo-Saxon supremacy’ as much as it directly spawned concepts of ‘superiority’ and ‘suppression’. This dissertation builds upon the works of Robert Young, that natural and theological concepts are social constructions; the difference in interpretation of social Darwinism is of scope and not between social and asocial aspects. A product of cultural society, Darwinism as a science developed within contemporary thought and used an evolutionary approach to explore ethics. Yet, because there is no universal link between biological and social theory, Darwinism was only ever understood in “uncertain and negotiable” terms making its social application extremely generalised. Darwinism helped to generate but was far from essential to the atmosphere of competition which developed throughout Victorian Britain challenging religion and promoting British Imperialism.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social, Historical and Literary Studies
    Depositing User: Beth Atkins
    Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2015 08:31
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 12:46

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