The Darwinian tension

Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
There have been attempts to subsume Charles Darwin's theory of evolution under either one of two distinct intellectual traditions: early Victorian natural science and its descendants in political economy (as exemplified by Herschel, Lyell, or Malthus) and the romantic approach to art and science emanating from Germany (as exemplified by Humboldt and Goethe). In this paper, it will be shown how these traditions may have jointly contributed to the design of Darwin's theory. The hypothesis is that their encounter created a particular tension in the conception of his theory which first opened up its characteristic field and mode of explanation. On the one hand, the domain of the explanandum was conceived of under a holistic and aesthetic view of nature that, in its combination with refined techniques of observation, was deeply indebted to Humboldt in particular. On the other hand, Darwin fashioned explanations for natural phenomena, so conceived, in order to identify their proper causes in a Herschelian spirit. The particular interaction between these two traditions in Darwin, it is concluded, paved the way for a transfer of the idea of causal laws to animate nature while salvaging the romantic idea of a complex, teleological and harmonious order of nature. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
(categorize this paper)
PhilPapers/Archive ID
Revision history
Archival date: 2018-04-02
View upload history
References found in this work BETA

View all 22 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Added to PP index

Total views
68 ( #32,648 of 43,787 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
17 ( #32,823 of 43,787 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.