Materialism, Teleology, and Evolution in the Enlightenment

John O. Reiss

in Not by Design

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780520258938
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944404 | DOI:
Materialism, Teleology, and Evolution in the Enlightenment

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The Enlightenment has traditionally been seen as the age of reason, when time-honored traditions of belief and social structure fell under the withering assault of the free-thinking philosophes. This chapter discusses its origins, and the rise of materialism and evolution. It discusses the speculations of Buffon, Maupertius, and Diderot that led to the birth of the evolutionary theory and then examines the trend of French free thought in the Enlightenment. The chapter closes the history of the debate over design by briefly looking at the development of philosophy in Germany in the early eighteenth century and by examining how Immanuel Kant developed his characteristic teaching on teleology on nature.

Keywords: Enlightenment; materialism; evolution; Buffon; Maupertius; Diderot; philosophy; Germany; Immanuel Kant; teleology

Chapter.  14729 words. 

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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