Darwin and Philosophy

  • Marjorie Grene
Part of the Main Trends of the Modern World book series (MTMW)


The theme of Darwin’s influence on philosophy has been a recurrent one, notably in John Dewey’s lecture in the semi-centennial year and again in J.H. Randall, Jr.’s defense of Dewey in the centennial year of 1959.1 Randall was, in effect, defending Dewey against the charge of another centennial essayist, J.S. Fulton, who writes:

An essay on the philosophy of evolution in the century since the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species can be written in two sentences. By the end of the first fifty years, everybody in the educated world took evolution for granted, but the idea was still intellectually exciting and its philosophical exploitation was entering upon its period of full maturity. By the end of the next fifty years, evolution belongs to ‘common sense’ almost as thoroughly as the Copernican hypothesis and other early landmarks of the scientific revolution; but the idea is no longer exciting, and evolutionary philosophy is out of fashion.2


Natural Selection Causal Explanation Scientific Revolution Evolutionary Ethic Darwinian Theory 
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    J.H. Randall, Jr., ‘The Changing Impact of Darwin on Philosophy’, Journal of the History of Ideas 22 (1961), 435–462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    J.S. Fulton, ‘Philosophical Adventures of the Idea of Evolution, 1859–1959’, Rice Institute Pamphlets 46 (1959), 1.Google Scholar
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    C.F.A. Pantin, ‘The Origin of Species’, in The History of Science, London 1951, p. 129ff.Google Scholar
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    See e.g., T. Dobzhansky, The Genetics of the Evolutionary Process, New York 1970.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marjorie Grene

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