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代写美国assignment,Social Darwinist Authors
发表日期:2013-10-08 08:57:54 | 来源:assignment.cc | 当前的位置:首页 > 代写assignment > 美国assignment代写 > 正文
Discuss critically AT LEAST TWO Social Darwinist authors who took opposing positions onthe relationship between the sexes.

Social Darwinismcan be argued to have had a pervasive if varied influence on the development ofthe social sciences, more often than not it needs to be acknowledged of anegative nature. This is particularly true of conterminous developmentsutilising evolutionary theory such as Eugenics which led to the sterilisationof thousands of 'evolutionary failures' in the US and elsewhere and theirultimate extermination in Nazi Germany, (Lynn, 2001). What is true of SocialDarwinism is doubly so of Darwinism itself with the constructs of Darwinianthought to be found for example in the writings of Marx. More generally andbroadly society itself is entwined and suffused with Darwinian and evolutionaryinspired mindsets, (Dickens, 2000). This is never more so the case than currentlywith the emergence and dominance of a new paradigm inspired by revolutions ingenetic science, (Kerr and Shakespeare, 2002).

Logically it mustbe assumed that in order to understand Social Darwinism it is necessary tounderstand Darwinian thought and to do this the context and cultural specificswhich engendered and encapsulated Darwin's work must similarly grasped,(Hawkins, 1997). In this sense although Darwin's theory is often held up as thequintessential scientific theory, the perfect rationalist answer as to thequestions of humanity's existence and hence also for many the answer to the universe'sexistence it is not the case that Darwin was uninfluenced by the context andcharacteristics of the society which he inhabited, (Bannister, 1979) . Ifanything Darwin's work is suffused with the societal values of which he was aproduct of and this is even truer of Social Darwinism which readily appliescultural values to societal analysis based upon evolutionary theory.

The Origins ofthe Thesis

Although Darwin iscredited with the formulation of evolutionary theory this is a case ofmisattribution. Evolutionary theories were expounded prior to Darwin and indeedDarwin's contemporary Alfred Wallace came up with a similar hypothesis but wasbeaten to publication by Darwin. Darwin's initial reluctance to publish hiswork displayed an acute awareness of the levels of controversy which thepublication of his work would cause, (Burkhardt, 1996). Indeed it was thisfeared controversy which initially caused Darwin to hesitate in the publicationof his work. What then are the bones of Darwin's work, Darwin theory at itsmost simplest proposes that the different species and the characteristics ofthat species are a result of random mutations over the course of evolutionaryhistory, (Darwin, 1901). When an organism finds that one of these mutations hasbeen beneficial in terms of it being able to compete more effectively in itsenvironment and increase it chances of reproduction which both contribute toensuring that this beneficial mutation is passed on to a subsequent generationand thus the process of evolution continues, (Darwin, 1968).

Such a relativelysimple theory had a devastating impact on Darwin's society, culture andglobally as the theory delivered a fatal blow to religious explanations as tothe origins of humanity, (Crook, 1994). With Darwin's theory the rationalitybegun by the processes of the Enlightenment was almost complete in that ascientific teleology in relation to the biological as opposed to the spiritualexplanations as to the development of the human species was triumphant,(Dickens, 2000). Ranged against the creationist arguments as humanity as beingof the divine spark and created by God humanity instead in light of the Theoryof Evolution was simply seen as being as the result of the development andoperation of the blind laws of nature like everything else in the world aroundthem, (Jones, 1980).

Of course as wehave suggested above Darwin is perhaps better seen as the culmination of aprocess building upon a number of theories which were contemporaneous with hisideas and which preceded his work. It is worth examining a couple of these asnot only do they illuminate the specific contextual basis of Darwin's theoriesbut also to the societal influences which both shaped and were shaped by thesetheories and Darwin's work. The first one we consider here is the work ofMalthus. Malthus's simple proposition was that nature and human existence was characterisedby a constant struggle for food as the population increased, (Malthus, 1926). Howeverunlike Darwin's later work which would postulate that the result of suchpressures and competition would be the evolutionary development of the speciesin a positive sense Malthus saw only negative consequences to the developmentsof modern society.

In particular andconsidering the later analysis we will make of Social Darwinist thought Malthuscriticised particular social structures as contributing to the ills whichmodern society's faced as a result of the operations of the laws hehypothesised, (Malthus, 1970). Thus in Malthus's case the behaviour of the Poorand the consequences of the Poor Law in the UK caused the Poor to reproducemore putting pressure of food supplies and thus ultimately contributing to thedecline in the standards of living enjoyed by all those in society, (Malthus,1970). As such Malthus advocated a return to the harsh realities of lifeengendered by nature in the sense that those who were unable to provide foodfor themselves would be removed by natural causes. This theme of the naturalorder of things we find repeated in the work of the seminal Social DarwinistHerbert Spencer and other Darwinian inspired accounts on the relationshipbetween the sexes.

Social Influences and Contexts of Darwinian Thought

All of this ofcourse leads to an understanding of the elements involved in Social Darwinistaccounts of the relationship between the sexes as from our discussion above itis readily apparent that wider social trends had a considerable influence onthe formulation of Darwin's theories. Thus it can be assumed and will bedemonstrated in the ensuing discussion here that the wider role of women insociety at the time determined to a large extent the perceptions and theorisingconcerning women as it was outlined within Darwinian thought, (Sanderson, 1990).Similarly as we shall also discuss changing externalities related to the roleof women since the original expositions of Darwin's ideas is also reflected inchanging and shifting conceptions within Social Darwinian views concerning therelationship between the sexes, (Wright, 1996) .

Of all theelements of Darwinian theory it can be strongly argued that Darwin's conceptionof the nature of the relationship between the sexes is the one most stronglyinfluenced by externalities concerning the view towards women of Darwin'ssocial and cultural environments. In The Origin of the Species it isclear that men are the active ones, engaged in competitionamongstthemselves to have the right to mate with the female of their choosing,(Darwin, 1901). Females in this sense come across as the passive receptors ofmale attention with little function other than to care for offspring andprovide the eggs necessary for fertilisation to produce offspring, (Richards,1983).

Though Darwin wasloathe to generalise from his observations to wider trends within society it isalso clear however that these wider trends even if he did not comment on themspecifically within his work influenced the structure of his ideas. Criticallythis can be said to be true of the interpretations he made of the animalbehaviours and actions which he observed during his expeditions and recountedin his works, (Banton, 1961). As such then Darwin in a sense was a subtleSocial Darwinist as while he may not have overtly applied his ideas to societyit is clear from The Descent of Man that implicit assumptions are madeas to the relevance of evolutionary theory to an understanding of society. ThusDarwin's observations and interpretations of animal behaviour in terms ofrelationships between the sexes can be clearly linked to other more prevalentviews in the society around him, (Oldroyd and Langham, 1983). Darwin however itmust be acknowledged was not as explicit as others who took the mantle of hisideas.

Herbert Spencer asmentioned has been identified as one of the originators of Social Darwinismalthough when examining his work it is clear that Spencer was forming anevolutionary theory of society before Darwin by drawing primarily on the workof the French biologist Lamarck, (Mayr and Provine, 1980). Lamarckianinheritance in contrast to Darwinian inheritance proposed that characteristicsof parents could be passed onto their immediate off spring in a fully developedsense, or as a crude example a blacksmith's offspring would have the strongarms of their progenitor. Darwinian inheritance instead holds that randommutations which successively and gradually change an organism is the key to understandingthe process of evolution, (Desmond, 1989). Spencer however quickly becameenamoured of Darwin's ideas even if Darwin's was relatively cool towards thesweeping generalisations which Spencer made concerning the application of histheory.

Indeed Spencer'sterm 'survival of the fittest' which he used to describe his sociologicalunderstanding of the dynamics of society has become synonymous with Darwiniantheory itself, (Dickens, 2001). At the core of Spencer's ideas is that societyis a form of 'super organism' subject to the same laws and dynamics ofevolution as the smaller organisms of which it was composed. The criticalelements to remember here was that Spencer considered the laws of evolutionwhich affected the outcomes and development of society as natural ones,(Spencer, 1857). As natural laws then Spencer was continuously concerned withthe detrimental effects he foresaw for intervention and tinkering with theselaws through in particular the practices associated with modern governmentalinstitutions, (Spencer, 1893). This is the reason Spencer was associated withthe 'laissez faire' politics of his day and while Spencerian Social Darwinismbecame such a popular ideology in the US at the beginning of the 20thcentury. Simply put for Spencer nature at both the level of organisms and superorganism was best left to its own devices, (Spencer, 1893).

In this we can seethen a tension inherent within the work of Spencer. For on the one hand changeis to be welcomed but on the other change is nothing which humans can affect orif they do affect will only be in a negative sense as they impede the workingsof the natural laws of evolution. Spencer believed that the nuclear family likesituation was the proper and natural relationship structure between the sexesand went so far as to lament the trend towards higher and further education ofwomen in his time as impeding their natural tendencies towards reproduction,(Spencer, 1898). Like Darwin he saw the development of characteristics withinmen and women as complementary and as part of the overall synthesis in whichsuperorganic evolution would take place. These characteristics were to see menas the more energetic and competitive, extolling in other words traditionallyheld views on 'manly' virtues of the time. Women conversely were more passive,more intuitive and possessed of a caring instinct which led to the propensityand better suitability for rearing the offspring within a relationship,(Spencer, 1898).

Both Spencer's andDarwin's sexism must be viewed in the light of broader social views on womenyet at the time of their writing other developments were occurring whichoffered opposing viewpoints to these prevailing notions. One of the dominantquestions in the UK at the turn of the 20th century was the 'Woman'Question as the UK saw a large mobilisation of feminist and other groupings agitatingfor the implementation of universal suffrage, (Desmond, 1989). While for manyDarwin's work legitimated traditional and conservative attitudes towards the marinatingof certain structures within society for others it led to radicalinterpretations and theorising concerning possible structures which societycould take and how specific existing structures which were unfair or perceivedto be as such could be removed, (Bowler, 1990). As some have commented thenDarwin's work almost in a sense had something for everyone who read it whatevertheir political leanings were.

Havelock Ellisembraced both Social Darwinism and the Eugenics movement. While SocialDarwinists were relatively confined to theorising about the issues raised bythe ideas of Darwin in their application to Society Eugenics took those ideasand combined them with an express desire to implement policies within societyreflecting these biological laws. Eugenics has often been associated with theright of politics and the excesses of the Nazi's in particular but to do so isto simplify a complex political movement, (Kelves, 1995). In particular in theUK the Eugenics movement attracted numerous left wing radicals who saw in it's articulationof rational scientific laws of governance based on the principals of evolutiona perfect engine for radical legislative change. While there were certainlytensions between radicals and conservatives within the UK Eugenics movement itcan be argued that radical socialists were a consistent feature of this meldingsocialism, Social Darwinism, political reformism and Eugenics into a workablemovement criticising particular structures within UK society at the time,(Searle, 1976).

Havelock Ellis isparticularly representative of this. However while Ellis was a committedcampaigner on the issue of women's rights and for greater equality between thesexes his reading and comments in relation to a Social Darwinian view of womenmust be seen as placing him in the middle ground. In this sense Ellis arguedthat that both men and women were equal but that they were equal inrespectively complementary social spheres. Thus while evolution may be aboutthe survival of the fittest, what counted as the fittest between men and womendepended on the roles and functions which were in question, (Ellis, 1894). Thiscan be seen to share similar thoughts to the works of Darwin and Spencer.However Ellis did admit that social structures as they existed placed moreemphasis and celebrated more the social spheres in which men were the fitterwhich thus led to false inequities being developed in that women weresubordinated as the social spheres which they excelled in were subordinatedwithin the social structures of the time. Thus for Ellis a re-evaluation of thepriorities for society were necessary, while Ellis acknowledged that womencould compete oftentimes successfully in the social spheres dominated by men hefelt that this was counterproductive and against women's natures in a sense bynot allowing them to use their full potentials, (Ellis, 1933).

While Ellisoccupies a curious middle ground the work of Gamble can be seen as particularlyrepresentative of the coalescing of feminist praxis with the evolutionary ideaspresented by Darwin. Gamble indeed can be seen to have hit upon one of the keyelements which later feminists and biologists have concentrated upon as one ofthe critical weaknesses in Social Darwinism and generally Darwinian considerationsof the relationship between the sexes, (Hawkins, 1997). Indeed it was not thatGamble invented anything new but rather that she interpreted a key observationwithin Darwin's work and highlighted this observation which for Darwin himselfhe had ignored and had thus been an almost invisible feature of his theorisingon evolution. This was the blatantly simple observation that in reproductivematters it is the female that chooses whom to mate as males of a speciescompete amongst themselves for the female's choice of reproductive partner,(Gamble, 1894).

Gamble continuesfurther by suggesting that one of the critical problems within modern societiesin terms of injustice and inequitable treatment of women is not that the lawsof evolution are working correctly but that they are impeded from doing so bysocial structures implemented as result primarily of capitalist concepts. Inparticular the development of private property and the patriarchal need toensure property remained in the hands of first born males led to the impositionof social structures which degraded the egalitarian position of women withinmore primitive hunter gatherer societies. For Gamble then the return andreinforcement of the natural operation of the sexual selection would in turnforce again a more equitable position for women to exist and also returnhumanity in general to a more natural and egalitarian position, (Gamble, 1894).

Conclusion

This selection ofwriters has highlighted some of the fundamental tensions within SocialDarwinian thought concerning society and in particular on the relative rolesand relationships between the sexes. It has illustrated also the importantinfluences which social and cultural elements have on the theory and in particularon the interpretations made from the theory and applications to theorisingabout society. It is worthwhile noting that such tensions within SocialDarwinian thought are still present within more modern forms of this thinking.E. O. Wilson's socio-biology and the thesis he outlined there and the morerecent development of Evolutionary Psychology have continued to replayevolutionary debates concerning the position of men and women within society,(Cosimides, 2004).

Within EvolutionaryPsychology in particular debates rage concerning this central question. Wheresome writers emphasise the specificities of development between men and womenas leading to the development of specific traits necessary for certain rolesand thus correspond to the more traditional Darwinian views more feministinterpretations look instead to the perceived suppression of natural laws bysocial structures, (Buss, 2004). Sexual selection and theories concerning it inparticular has become a central feature of debates within EvolutionaryPsychology, (Buss, 2004). Perhaps the most controversial representation of thishas been work such Crawford and Klebs' (1998) as to the evolutionaryexplanations of rape. This article suggests rape can be explained by theinability of certain males to secure a mate through competition and thus do soby force, linked with this thesis is the proposition that women should takemore care in not provoking rape from men who are not successful within matingrituals, (Thornhill, 1999).

This article hasrightly generated a storm of controversy and criticism but what it demonstratesmore than anything is the enduring capability of evolutionary theory to be usedin explanations of social events, the teleological aspect of the Theory of Evolutionas such remains strong. This can be argued will be further enhanced with continuingdevelopments in Genetic sciences and as such the fact that interpretations ofscientific findings will in a sense be labelled as scientific factsthemselves. As our brief review has suggested this is a trend which should becountered as not only is evolution more complex than Darwin held as biologistssuch as Steven Rose have argued criticising the ultra-Darwinian viewpoint,(Rose, Kamin and Lewontin, 1984) . But society and the particular features ofany given society hunter gatherer or liberal democratic is significantly morecomplex than such writings would have us believe also.

References

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Bowler, P. (1990);Charles Darwin: The Man and his Influence, Cambridge University Press,Cambridge

Burkhardt, F. [ed](1996); Charles Darwin's Letters: A Selection 1825-1859, CambridgeUniversity Press, Cambridge

Buss, D. M.(2004); Evolutionary Psychology, Pearson, Boston MA

Cosimides, L.(2004); What is Evolutionary Psychology, Yale University Press, NewHaven CONN

Crawford, C.B. andKlebs, D. (1999); Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology, Lawrence Erlbaum,Mahwah NJ.

Crook, P. (1994); Darwinism:War and History, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

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Dickens, P.(2000); Social Darwinism, Open University Press, Buckingham

Ellis, H. (1894), Manand Woman, W. Scott, London

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