Friday, December 3, 2010

Darwin vs. Social Darwinism

A recent critique of Darwin is the use of social Darwinism and its negative effects on society. The basic argument is an application of the theory of natural selection to social, political, and economic issues. Social Darwinism follows the mantra of "survival of the fittest" including human issues. Social Darwinism has been used ever since to justify crimes like the holocaust, colonization, and Eugenics. Charles Darwin has in essence been used as the scapegoat for crimes against humanity. The first problem with this argument is that Charles Darwin did not come up the phrase “survival of the fittest”. This was Herbert Spencer doing some 30 years after the Origin of the Species was written. Furthermore, Darwin intentionally stayed away from writing and or extrapolating his theories to mankind. Darwin was strongly against slavery and "ranking the so-called races of man as distinct species" (Darwin, 1874). He also spoke about the mistreatment of Natives. Those who believe in Social Darwinism are twisting the words of Darwin's theory in order to support their own personal beliefs and views. There exists a large element of choice in representation of a concept. It is guided by political and ethical values. The decision of what information to include or leave out and the language used is all dependent on one's agenda. Social Darwinism completely goes against the principals of Darwin because they believe in the human race being higher or better that everything else on earth. Thus, they attack Darwin's theory and identify it as absurd. Darwin believed that we were all equal and there was no higher” or “lower” animal on earth. The belief in social Darwinism is a direct contradiction to Darwin theory because it takes nature out of the picture and instead forced us to “evolve” into the society that is deemed “fit” by a selected few in power.

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