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2 - Life

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 April 2017

Mark Bevir
Affiliation:
University of California, Berkeley
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Summary

A gigantic historicizing of all thought took place during the nineteenth century. The unlikely driver of the historicizing of nineteenth century thought was evolutionary science. The unexpected agents of this historicizing process were the evolutionary naturalists, men like Charles Darwin, T. H. Huxley, Herbert Spencer, and John Tyndall. They were responsible for transforming a static notion of nature into a dynamic one, where the history of living things became important for the first time. And then they argued that this notion of nature should be used to understand the development of the human world. There men were deeply indebted to German Romanticism. As young men, they learned about the German Romantics through British intermediaries like Carlyle or Coleridge. From them they all learned the value of organic and teleological modes of thought. They also learned that the quest to find transcendental meaning in nature, sometimes best expressed in poetic terms, was not necessarily in opposition to adopting empiricist and materialistic methods in science. As aggressive proponents of a somewhat teleological view of evolution, they played a major role in pushing the science of their age towards historicist modes of thought.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2017

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  • Life
  • Edited by Mark Bevir, University of California, Berkeley
  • Book: Historicism and the Human Sciences in Victorian Britain
  • Online publication: 20 April 2017
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316711286.002
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  • Life
  • Edited by Mark Bevir, University of California, Berkeley
  • Book: Historicism and the Human Sciences in Victorian Britain
  • Online publication: 20 April 2017
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316711286.002
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Life
  • Edited by Mark Bevir, University of California, Berkeley
  • Book: Historicism and the Human Sciences in Victorian Britain
  • Online publication: 20 April 2017
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316711286.002
Available formats
×