Although the contemporary reaction to the implications of evolution was generally one of long-term optimism, an antithetical reaction did exist. Seen in stark terms, evolutionary theories were depressing to those who, on religious or humanitarian grounds, found the reduction of life to an irrational and brutal struggle for existence disturbing and provocative. There was, however, an important body of thought which accepted Darwin's findings without embracing the social or ethical implications of Social Darwinism. Many who studied Darwin came to the conclusion that it was possible to concede that man is an animal, but an animal capable of moral and ethical behavior, and therefore responsible to do more than involve himself in the struggle within his environment. They believed that there was evidence that man could and must impose his morality upon his environment unless he wished to lose his humanity. [excerpt]
Copyrighted material from Thomas H. Huxley's Evolution and Ethics and Other Essays (New York: Appleton & Co., 1929), pg 46-53, 79-86, was removed from the attached text. To read an earlier edition of this volume, click here.
This is the publisher's version of the work. This publication appears in Gettysburg College's institutional repository by permission of the copyright owner for personal use, not for redistribution.
Bloom, Robert L. et al. "5. Social Darwinism Reconsidered. Pt. XV: Biology and the Rise of the Social Sciences." Ideas and Institutions of Western Man (Gettysburg College, 1958), 56-64.