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Transcript
Chapter 15 – Thought and Culture
in the Mid-Nineteenth Century:
Realism and Social Criticism
Positivism and Darwinism
Realism

Realism: “The representation in art or literature of
objects, actions, or social conditions as they
actually are, without idealization or presentation in
abstract form.”


Opposed to Idealism and Romanticism
Examples:





Gustave Courbet (art/painting)
Ivan Turgenev, Sketches (writer)
Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace and Anna Karenina (writer)
Charles Dickens, Bleak House and Hard Times (writer)
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary(writer)
Naturalism

Naturalism: “The system of thought holding
that all phenomena can be explained in
terms of natural causes and laws.”


A return to Enlightenment rationalism, especially
influenced by Rousseau
Examples:


Emile Zola (writer)
Henrik Ibsen, Pillars of Society and A Doll’s House
(playwright)
Positivism

Positivism: “A doctrine contending that
sense perceptions are the only admissible
basis of human knowledge and precise
thought.”


Rejected metaphysics of Romanticism and
Idealism
Auguste Comte’s “Law of the Three Stages”


theological (supernatural), metaphysical (abstract),
scientific (positive)
A historical process
Darwinism


Charles Darwin (1809-1882)
Built upon ideas questioning
the biblical account of creation
which did not stand up to
scientific examination





Erasmus Darwin, Zoonomia, or
the Laws of Organic Life (1794)
Sir Charles Lyell, Principles of
Geology (1830-1833)
Voyage of the HMS Beagle
(1831-1836)
Origin of Species (1859)
Descent of Man (1871)
Darwin Terms



Theory of Evolution: “descent with
modification”
Natural Selection: “the evolutionary
process by which favorable traits that are
heritable become more common in
successive generations of a population of
reproducing organisms, and unfavorable
traits that are heritable become less
common”
Survival of the Fittest: “a metaphorical
phrase used to describe natural selection"
Social Impact of Darwin’s Ideas

Darwin and Christianity


Fundamentalism, intelligent design, and secular science
Social Darwinism





“The application of Darwinism to the study of current
human society, specifically the theory that individuals or
groups achieve advantage over others as the result of
genetic or biological superiority”
Used to support imperialism, racism, and extreme
nationalism and militarism - Friedrich von Bernhardi,
Germany and the Next War (1911)
Karl Pearson, National Life from the Standpoint of Science
(1900)
Widely accepted … US Senator Albert J. Beveridge
Led to a pseudo-scientific support for blatant racism
Social Darwinism