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Darwinism, War and History

Darwinism, War and History
The Debate over the Biology of War from the 'Origin of Species' to the First World War


  • Date Published: March 1994
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521466455


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About the Authors
  • While much has been written upon Social Darwinism, the historical impact of Darwinism upon theories of war and human aggression has been sadly neglected. This book is the first to study this discourse in depth. It challenges the received view that Darwinism generated essentially aggressive and warlike social values and pugnacious images of humankind. Paul Crook reconstructs the influential discourse of 'peace biology', whose liberal vision was of a basically free humanity, not fettered by iron laws of biological necessity or governed by violent genes. By exploring a gamut of Darwinian readings of history and war, mainly in the English-speaking world to 1919, this study throws new light upon militarism, peace movements, the origins of World War I and British social thought.

    • Important re-assessment of a vital phase in European cultural history
    • Proffers alternative reading - stressing Darwin's holistic ecology - to dominant view of Social Darwinism
    • Rescues a number of forgotten thinkers from the enormous condescension of posterity
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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 1994
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521466455
    • length: 320 pages
    • dimensions: 227 x 152 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.47kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The Darwinian legacy
    2. The age of Spencer and Huxley
    3. Crisis in the West: the pre-war generation and the new biology
    4. 'The natural decline of warfare': anti-war evolutionism prior to 1914
    5. The Great War: man the fighting animal
    6. The survival of peace biology
    7. Naturalistic fallacies and noble ends
    8. Conclusion.

  • Author

    Paul Crook, University of Queensland

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