1902 Encyclopedia > Evolution > Evolution in Philosophy: Recent [mid-19th Century] German Writers - Materialists.

(Part 28)


Recent [i.e. Mid 19th Century] German Writers—Materialists.—In Germany the recent progress of speculation, since the time of the great systems has exhibited a decided bent towards the problems which group themselves around the doctrine of evolution. First of all the efforts of the materialists directly tended to the formation of a consistent doctrine of cosmic evolution. Their earlier writings appeared just before the epoch-making publication of Mr Darwin, but the ideas of the latter have been incorporated in their later publications. In Moleschott’s Der Kreislauf des Lebens the whole order of things is conceived as a continual flux and exchange of material elements, which accounts for all psychic life no less than for bodily life, and of which man, equally with the lower animals, is a temporary product. L. Büchner has sought, in his work on Man and his Six Lectures on the Darwinian Theory, to defend the new doctrine of organic evolution as a necessary factor in the materialistic conception of the world. The latter work connects Darwinism with the whole history of materialism. The former is a somewhat feeble attempt to attach man’s aims in the future to the evolutionist’s conception of his past history. The writer appears to think that something equivalent to the process of natural selection is to effect man’s future progress, but the idea is not presented with any definiteness or precision.

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