Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Darwin was not a Social Darwinist

This week we had a special lecture by Dr. Bruce Alexander professor emeritus of psychology at SFU. I found this to be one of the most intriguing lectures I’ve had in a long time. As a Darwinist Dr. Alexander explained some of the views of Darwin in more detail in response to many of the critiques of Darwin that we’ve seen to date in our class. First of all I was surprised to hear that Darwin had written many books on Psychology. Apparently he was also a Geologist. Dr. Alexander went on to break down some of the common misconceptions about Darwin. One of his most important points was that Darwin was not a Social Darwinist in today’s use of the word.

Many of today’s groups use examples of Darwin mainly from the Origin of Species to advocate many of their own agendas involving survival of the fittest etc. Dr. Alexander explains that you have to read Darwin’s other works to fully understand his views relating to humans. In the origin he barely refers to human's saving his thoughts for his later books. In the Decent of Man and his other works Darwin gives many examples of how you should not use his theories about other species and extrapolate them to humans. He explains this is because we as humans have morals that we have evolved through out time. He gives examples of how humans may risk or give their lives for others, a trait that is inherently human. For this reason you can not put all things on earth under the same umbrella. There are exceptions to the rule. In conclusion I was really impressed in the way that Dr. Alexander treated to subject and disproved a lot of the modern day Social Darwinists extremist views by giving examples from Darwin himself.

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