Lecture Notes 11

Why impact did they have on the reception of the

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Unformatted text preview: en character J  Your task is to contribute to the debate in your own words, but in the spirit of your chosen character J  The aim is to try to understand the interest and concerns of those who responded to the Origin –  –  What were their concerns, and why did they have them? Why impact did they have on the reception of the Origin? 10 2: The Gospel of Evolution J  J  In the late-19th century, evolution became one of the most talked about ideas in the English-speaking world There was a veritable “explosion” of evolutionary theories about almost everything: –  Mind, including language & the ‘moral sense’ –  Human cultures, from “primitive” to “advanced” –  –  –  Human racial, sexual and individual differences Religion & spirituality Economic, social & political change, etc., etc., etc. 11 Question: What made the idea of evolution so incredibly popular in the late-19th century? 12 Disappointments and Consolations J  To understand the extraordinary hold of the idea of evolution on the late-19th century imagination, we need to recognize that this idea held both acute disappointments and tantalizing consolations for many people. � 13 Disappointments The retreat of Providence   –  The problem of purpose   –  The problem of suffering   –  14 Alfred Lord Tennyson, In Memoriam (1849) “Are God and Nature then at strife, That Nature lends such evil dreams? So careful of the type she seems, So careless of the single life; So careful of the type?’ but no. From scarped cliff and quarried stone She cries, ‘A thousand types are gone: I care for nothing, all shall go.” 15 Consolations J  J  J  –  The retreat of Providence For some, casting off the shackles of dogmatic theology was liberating The advance of natural law –  For some, the prospect of understanding the natural laws governing human life was empowering The prospect of progress –  For many, evolution held the promise that, despite all waste and suffering, 16 An idea for the times J Evolution resonated with all sorts of anxieties,   hopes and expectations in the late-Victorian period J For many, it came to embody 1%"-/,*&0",#   -/,$/"00– albeit at a price that for many was uncomfortable. J  In this sense, evolution was an idea for the times 17 But what sort of times were they? “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light,...
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