From Darwin to Hitler
Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics and Racism in Germany
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|Format:||Hardback, 324 pages|
|Other Information: ||Illustrations|
|Published In: ||United States, 30 June 2004|
In this work Richard Weikart explains the revolutionary impact Darwinism had on ethics and morality. He demonstrates that many leading Darwinian biologists and social thinkers in Germany believed that Darwinism overturned traditional Judeo Christian and Enlightenment ethics, especially the view that human life is sacred. Many of these thinkers supported moral relativism, yet simultaneously exalted evolutionary 'fitness' (especially intelligence and health) to the highest arbiter of morality. Darwinism played a key role in the rise not only of eugenics, but also euthanasia, infanticide, abortion, and racial extermination. This was especially important in Germany, since Hitler built his view of ethics on Darwinian principles, not on nihilism.
Table of Contents
Introduction; Part I: Laying New Foundations For Ethics; The Origins of Morality and the Rise of Relativism; Evolutionary Progress as the Highest Good; Organizing Evolutionary Ethics; Part II: Devaluing Human Life; The Value of Death; The Specter of Inferiority: Devaluing the Disabled; The Science of Racial Inequality; Part III: Eliminating The 'Inferior Ones'; Controlling Reproduction: Redefining Sexual Morality; Killing the Unfit; War and Peace; Racial Struggle and Extermination; Part IV: Impacts; Hitler's Ethics; Conclusion
About the Author
Richard Weikart is an Associate Professor of Modern European History at California State University, Stanislaus, USA. He has lived in Germany for over five years, including one year on a Fulbright Fellowship. He has had two previous books published, including Socialist Darwinism: Evolution in German Socialist Thought from Marx to Bernstein (1999), as well as articles in German Studies Review, Journal of the History of Ideas, Isis, European Legacy, and History of European Ideas.
"This is one of the finest examples of intellectual history I have seen in a long while. It is insightful, thoughtful, informative, and highly readable. Rather than simply connecting the dots, so to speak, the author provides a sophisticated and nuanced examination of numerous German thinkers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who were influenced to one degree or another by Darwinist naturalism and their ideas, subtly drawing both distinctions and similarities and in the process telling a rich and colorful story."-- Ian Dowbiggin, Professor of History at the University of Prince Edward Island and author of "A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America"
"Richard Weikart's outstanding book shows in sober and convincing detail how Darwinist thinkers in Germany had developed an amoral attitude to human society by the time of the First World War, in which the supposed good of the race was applied as the sole criterion of public policy and 'racial hygiene'. Without over-simplifying the lines that connected this body of thought to Hitler, he demonstrates with chilling clarity how policies such as infanticide, assisted suicide, marriage prohibitions and much else were being proposed for those considered racially or eugenically inferior by a variety of Darwinist writers and scientists, providing Hitler and the Nazis with a scientific justification for the policies they pursued once they came to power."--Dr. Richard Evans, Professor of Modern History, University of Cambridge, and author of "The Coming of the Third Reich"
"This is an impressive piece of intellectual and cultural history--a well-researched, clearly presented argument with good, balanced, fair judgements. Weikart has a thorough knowledge of the relevant historiography in both German and English."--Alfred Kelly, Edgar B. Graves Professor of History, Hamilton College
"Taking a middle ground between scholars on both sides, Richard Weikart has traveled far and wide to bring to
|Publisher: ||Palgrave Macmillan|
|Dimensions: ||22.0 x 14.0 x 2.0 centimeters (0.48 kg)|