Relationship between eugenics and social darwinism history

The Eugenics Archive

relationship between eugenics and social darwinism history

Eugenics is a more extreme form of Social Darwinism, which is linked to the racist doctrines of Nazi Germany. Eugenics was one of the pillars of. How does Darwin's Darwinism relate to social Darwinism and eu- genics? wake of the origin. The Origin did not discuss human evolution; but Darwin's peers The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, in In the Descent. mere continuation of Gilded Age social Darwinism, and that treats so- cial Darwinism relationship between American labor reform and the biology of human inheritance . Thus does the new scholarship in the history of eugenics now adopt.

However, Spencer's major work, Progress: In The Social OrganismSpencer compares society to a living organism and argues that, just as biological organisms evolve through natural selection, society evolves and increases in complexity through analogous processes.

Jeff Riggenbach argues that Spencer's view was that culture and education made a sort of Lamarckism possible [14] and notes that Herbert Spencer was a proponent of private charity. While Malthus's work does not itself qualify as social Darwinism, his work An Essay on the Principle of Population, was incredibly popular and widely read by social Darwinists.

relationship between eugenics and social darwinism history

In that book, for example, the author argued that as an increasing population would normally outgrow its food supply, this would result in the starvation of the weakest and a Malthusian catastrophe.

Malthus himself anticipated the social Darwinists in suggesting that charity could exacerbate social problems. Another of these social interpretations of Darwin's biological views, later known as eugenics, was put forth by Darwin's cousin, Francis Galton, in and Galton argued that just as physical traits were clearly inherited among generations of people, the same could be said for mental qualities genius and talent.

Galton argued that social morals needed to change so that heredity was a conscious decision in order to avoid both the over-breeding by less fit members of society and the under-breeding of the more fit ones. Francis Galton In Galton's view, social institutions such as welfare and insane asylums were allowing inferior humans to survive and reproduce at levels faster than the more "superior" humans in respectable society, and if corrections were not soon taken, society would be awash with "inferiors".

Darwin read his cousin's work with interest, and devoted sections of Descent of Man to discussion of Galton's theories. Neither Galton nor Darwin, though, advocated any eugenic policies restricting reproduction, due to their Whiggish distrust of government. Nietzsche's point of view on sickness and health, in particular, opposed him to the concept of biological adaptation as forged by Spencer's "fitness".

Nietzsche criticized Haeckel, Spencer, and Darwin, sometimes under the same banner by maintaining that in specific cases, sickness was necessary and even helpful. Wherever progress is to ensue, deviating natures are of greatest importance.

relationship between eugenics and social darwinism history

Every progress of the whole must be preceded by a partial weakening. The strongest natures retain the type, the weaker ones help to advance it. Something similar also happens in the individual. There is rarely a degeneration, a truncation, or even a vice or any physical or moral loss without an advantage somewhere else.

In a warlike and restless clan, for example, the sicklier man may have occasion to be alone, and may therefore become quieter and wiser; the one-eyed man will have one eye the stronger; the blind man will see deeper inwardly, and certainly hear better. To this extent, the famous theory of the survival of the fittest does not seem to me to be the only viewpoint from which to explain the progress of strengthening of a man or of a race.

relationship between eugenics and social darwinism history

It was adopted by emerging social sciences to support the concept that non-European societies were "primitive" in an early stage of development towards the European ideal, but since then it has been heavily refuted on many fronts [24] Haeckel's works led to the formation of the Monist League in with many prominent citizens among its members, including the Nobel Prize winner Wilhelm Ostwald. The simpler aspects of social Darwinism followed the earlier Malthusian ideas that humans, especially males, require competition in their lives in order to survive in the future.

Further, the poor should have to provide for themselves and not be given any aid. However, amidst this climate, most social Darwinists of the early twentieth century actually supported better working conditions and salaries.

Such measures would grant the poor a better chance to provide for themselves yet still distinguish those who are capable of succeeding from those who are poor out of laziness, weakness, or inferiority. Hypotheses relating social change and evolution[ edit ] Further information: Social evolution "Social Darwinism" was first described by Oscar Schmidt of the University of Strasbourgreporting at a scientific and medical conference held in Munich in He noted how socialists, although opponents of Darwin's theory, used it to add force to their political arguments.

Schmidt's essay first appeared in English in Popular Science in March However, the use of the term was very rare—at least in the English-speaking world Hodgson, [26] —until the American historian Richard Hofstadter published his influential Social Darwinism in American Thought during World War II.

Hypotheses of social evolution and cultural evolution were common in Europe. The Enlightenment thinkers who preceded Darwin, such as Hegeloften argued that societies progressed through stages of increasing development. Earlier thinkers also emphasized conflict as an inherent feature of social life.

Thomas Hobbes 's 17th century portrayal of the state of nature seems analogous to the competition for natural resources described by Darwin. Social Darwinism is distinct from other theories of social change because of the way it draws Darwin's distinctive ideas from the field of biology into social studies.

relationship between eugenics and social darwinism history

Darwin, unlike Hobbes, believed that this struggle for natural resources allowed individuals with certain physical and mental traits to succeed more frequently than others, and that these traits accumulated in the population over time, which under certain conditions could lead to the descendants being so different that they would be defined as a new species. However, Darwin felt that "social instincts " such as "sympathy" and " moral sentiments " also evolved through natural selection, and that these resulted in the strengthening of societies in which they occurred, so much so that he wrote about it in Descent of Man: The following proposition seems to me in a high degree probable—namely, that any animal whatever, endowed with well-marked social instincts, the parental and filial affections being here included, would inevitably acquire a moral sense or conscience, as soon as its intellectual powers had become as well, or nearly as well developed, as in man.

It was an extremely exciting idea to those who embraced it. Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, is credited with being the father of eugenics, but Darwin himself hinted broadly at the idea and gave it his strong support, especially later in his life. In The Descent of Man he wrote, With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health.

We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick; we institute poor-laws and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox.

Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man.

Social Darwinism - Wikipedia

It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed. He believed that natural selection could be replaced by human selection so as to insure that those he defined as being more fit would be the ones who left most offspring. He expressed the hope that eugenics would become the religion of the twentieth century.

Since man did not have a free will, something must cause him to act in certain ways, and that could only be his heredity. This assumption was to shape the eugenics movement in important ways.

Social Darwinism - HISTORY

In a sterilization law passed one house of the Michigan legislature but was defeated in the other house. The eugenicists were persistent, and in a compulsory sterilization law passed both houses of the Pennsylvania legislature—only to be vetoed by the governor. The chief leader of the campaign that had come just short of making Pennsylvania the first state to adopt a sterilization law was Dr.

In that capacity, Barr had already been performing at least some sterilizations on residents of the training school for nearly a decade. The chief advocate of the eugenics cause in that state was Dr.

relationship between eugenics and social darwinism history

Harry Sharp, who had since been the physician at the state reformatory in JeffersonvilleIndiana. Prior to the passage of the law, Sharp had already performed illegal sterilizations on inmates of the reformatory. Sharp was strongly influenced by the writings of another physician named Albert J. Ochsner, who argued that criminal behavior was hereditary and that most crime could be eliminated simply by preventing criminals from reproducing.

Founded in as an agricultural organization, the American Breeders Association was originally concerned with the scientific improvement of animals and plants. Inhowever, the American Breeders Association established a Committee on Eugenics, within its organization, to investigate the possibility of applying the rules of animal breeding to human beings. This committee in turn, using a large financial grant from Mary W.

Harriman, widow of railroad magnate E. Laughlin in close cooperation with Charles B. Laughlin and Davenport went on to become two of the foremost proponents of eugenics in the United States. Laughlin eventually came to boast a collection ofnote cards in a fireproof safe, storing information on thousands of families and individuals.

Davenport and Laughlin became enthusiastic advocates of compulsory sterilization and urged states to adopt laws for that purpose. Persons found unfit to reproduce were to be sterilized. Like the animal breeders of the American Breeders Association, they thought it perfectly appropriate to approach man as simply one more animal, since Darwinism taught them that that is all man is.

Unless people accept this simple truth and let it influence marriage selection, human progress will cease. Another prominent eugenicist whose original rise to prominence had come through his work with animals was Madison Grant.

Darwinism and the American Eugenics Movement

A wealthy New Yorker, Grant had previously helped found the American conservation movement as well as the Bronx Zoo, and he had helped to save both the California redwoods and the American bison from extinction and had been one of the first to recognize that the continued health of the elk herd in Yellowstone National Park required occasional culling of some of the animals.

In Grant abandoned his work on animals and turned his attention instead to human beings. He now proposed to apply to human beings the same concepts he had used in dealing with animal populations, including the need for selective breeding and, more ominously, the occasional culling of the herd. Ripley was an economist who dabbled in anthropology.

Social Darwinism

In he had published a lengthy book entitled The Races of Europe, and his idea of what threatened the further evolution of the humanity added another element to the eugenics movement. The idea that there were separate races of humans and the idea that the influx of immigrants to America was threatening to overwhelm the cultural influence of the native population were not new, but Ripley added the element of Darwinian evolution and the survival of the fittest.

The underlying problem in his view was that civilization now protected the unfit, whom he defined as races, and prevent the more fit from driving them out of existence. Whereas the belief of most Americans in human descent from Adam and Eve required a belief in the brotherhood of all mankind, Grant and others like him believed that the different races had evolved separately and were fundamentally different from each other.

He insisted that the human race contained three entirely separate species, and that each of these species was divided into numerous subspecies. Interbreeding between these groups would be detrimental, especially to what Grant perceived to be the most highly evolved subspecies, his own, consisting of persons from northwestern Europe and their descendents.

Together these writers provided a mix of racism and eugenics with an underlying evolutionary basis to make such an amalgam possible. Like Grant, Osborn was a New Yorker born to extreme wealth and privilege. Grant served on the board of the museum, and Osborn served on the board of the New York Zoological Society, which Grant came to head.

In the two were involved in an incident that revealed much about their views of human beings and their place in the order of living things.