Evolutionary Theory

William Rossi

in The Oxford Handbook of Transcendentalism

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780195331035
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Evolutionary Theory

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The nineteenth century was a period of evolutionary theories in all spheres. The idea of evolution or “development” was often synonymous with “progress” and since these ideas had themselves been developed in various social and professional settings, efforts to distinguish them without dividing biological from cultural meanings was challenging. Those efforts haven't done justice to the complexity of evolutionary thought. The article elaborates on Darwinism saying the Transcendentalists had welcomed the theory, though their writings had a tendency to cling to the divine origins of humankind. The older Transcendentalists had proven tricky to locate in the development of evolutionary thought in part because they had little interest in the Darwinian issues of adaptation and mechanisms for species change. Where Darwin sought a mechanism to explain the complexities of adaptation and the processes of speciation and descent, those pre-Darwinian evolutionary thinkers closest to Transcendentalism were more concerned with organic form.

Keywords: Darwinism; evolutionary theory; anthropocentric; transcendental anatomy; progressionism

Article.  5706 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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