“My theory would give zest to recent and fossil comparative anatomy; it would lead to the study of instinct, heredity, and mind-heredity, whole (of) metaphysics” (Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, vol. I, p. 8). There are four main points in which Darwin’s investigations possess philosophical importance. 1) Darwin’s energetic renewal of the old idea of evolution had his chief importance in strengthening the conviction of this real continuity in the world, of continuity in the series of form and events. Together with the recently discovered law of the conservation of energy, it helped to produce the great realistic movement which characterizes the last third of the XIX Century. 2) Struggle for life and natural selection are principles which have been applied, more or less, in every department of thought. The philosophical importance of these ideas does not stand or fall with the answer to the question, whether natural selection is a sufficient explanation of the origin of species or not: it has an independent positive value. 3) Human thought itself is, then, a variation (or a mutation) which has been able to persist and to survive. Is not, then, the problem of knowledge solved by the evolution hypothesis? Many authors gave an affirmative answer to this question before and after the appearance of the Origin of Species. 4) To many people the Darwinian theory of natural selection seemed to change the whole conception of life, and particularly all the conditions on which the validity of ethical ideas depends. Darwinism, it was said, has proclaimed brutality. On the contrary, Darwin has, indeed, rendered a great service to ethics in making the difference between the life of nature and the ethical life appear in a strong light. Today these points are to be reconsidered in the frame of the recurrent debate about the Darwinian foundations of the scientific naturalism.

The recurrent debate: Darwinism and philosophy

STANZIONE, Massimo
2011

Abstract

“My theory would give zest to recent and fossil comparative anatomy; it would lead to the study of instinct, heredity, and mind-heredity, whole (of) metaphysics” (Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, vol. I, p. 8). There are four main points in which Darwin’s investigations possess philosophical importance. 1) Darwin’s energetic renewal of the old idea of evolution had his chief importance in strengthening the conviction of this real continuity in the world, of continuity in the series of form and events. Together with the recently discovered law of the conservation of energy, it helped to produce the great realistic movement which characterizes the last third of the XIX Century. 2) Struggle for life and natural selection are principles which have been applied, more or less, in every department of thought. The philosophical importance of these ideas does not stand or fall with the answer to the question, whether natural selection is a sufficient explanation of the origin of species or not: it has an independent positive value. 3) Human thought itself is, then, a variation (or a mutation) which has been able to persist and to survive. Is not, then, the problem of knowledge solved by the evolution hypothesis? Many authors gave an affirmative answer to this question before and after the appearance of the Origin of Species. 4) To many people the Darwinian theory of natural selection seemed to change the whole conception of life, and particularly all the conditions on which the validity of ethical ideas depends. Darwinism, it was said, has proclaimed brutality. On the contrary, Darwin has, indeed, rendered a great service to ethics in making the difference between the life of nature and the ethical life appear in a strong light. Today these points are to be reconsidered in the frame of the recurrent debate about the Darwinian foundations of the scientific naturalism.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11580/19815
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