At Home in the World: Human Nature, Ecological Thought, and by Eilon Schwartz

By Eilon Schwartz

Explores how Darwin's thought of human nature can tell academic philosophy.

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Extra info for At Home in the World: Human Nature, Ecological Thought, and Education After Darwin

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I believe that he presented a compelling argument that morality is rooted in our biology, understanding that culture expands on these intuitions, but does not invent them. And while clearly arguing that Victorian morality is a result of the evolutionary process moving ever forward, he simultaneously and powerfully rejected the upward T H E M A K I NG OF DA RW I N I SM | 23 trajectory of evolution. Darwin’s chosen metaphor was a tree, and not a ladder, suggesting the nonlinear radiation of branches from a common trunk, with some continuing and leading to other branches, but others abruptly ending, essentially leading to the extinction of that branch.

One can see, therefore, in Darwin’s own writings, a foreshadowing of the many issues which would make up the Darwinian debates, and their implications for educational philosophy. Is natural selection the only mechanism by which evolution moves forward, and must therefore all characteristics of all species be accounted for according to their contribution to individual fitness? Must all strategies for survival be based on self-interest, or can characteristics of kindness emerge out of the evolutionary process of natural selection?

What is obtained by hunting and fishing belongs to the clan. ”37 Kropotkin argued that mutual aid is part of our evolutionary legacy, but that competition has become culturally dominant because of societal choices. 38 In spite of the power of socialization, however, Kropotkin did not believe that it could eliminate our innate human nature. Our natures remain as a resource to resist socialization when it is dehumanizing, that is, when it is antithetical to our natures: In short, neither the crushing powers of the centralized State nor the teachings of mutual hatred and pitiless struggle which came, adorned with the attributes of science, from obliging philosophers and sociologists, could weed out the feeling of human solidarity, deeply lodged in men’s understanding and heart, because it has been nurtured by all our preceding evolution.

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