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From Darwin to Hitler : evolutionary ethics, eugenics, and racism in Germany

Author: Richard Weikart
Publisher: New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.
Edition/Format:   Print book : English : 1st edView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
"In this work of intellectual history, Richard Weikart explains the revolutionary impact Darwinism had on ethics and morality. He demonstrates that many leading Darwinian biologists and social thinkers in Germany believed that Darwinism had overturned traditional Judeo-Christian and Enlightenment ethics, especially those pertaining to the sacredness of human life. Many of these thinkers, like Ernst Haeckel and
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Genre/Form: History
Named Person: Charles Darwin; Adolf Hitler
Material Type: Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Richard Weikart
ISBN: 1403965021 9781403965028 140397201X 9781403972019
OCLC Number: 53485256
Description: xi, 312 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Contents: The origin of ethics and the rise of moral relativism --
Evolutionary progress as the highest good --
Organizing evolutionary ethics --
The value of life and the value of death --
The specter of inferiority : devaluing the disabled and "unproductive" --
The science of racial inequality --
Controlling reproduction : overturning traditional sexual morality --
Killing the "unfit" --
War and peace --
Racial struggle and extermination --
Hitler's ethic.
Responsibility: Richard Weikart.
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Abstract:

"In this work of intellectual history, Richard Weikart explains the revolutionary impact Darwinism had on ethics and morality. He demonstrates that many leading Darwinian biologists and social thinkers in Germany believed that Darwinism had overturned traditional Judeo-Christian and Enlightenment ethics, especially those pertaining to the sacredness of human life. Many of these thinkers, like Ernst Haeckel and Ludwig Buchner, supported a moral relativism, yet simultaneously exalted evolutionary "fitness" (especially in terms of intelligence and health) as the highest arbiter of morality. Weikart concludes that Darwinism played a key role not only in the rise of eugenics, but also in euthanasia, infanticide, abortion, and racial extermination, all ultimately embraced by the Nazis. He convincingly makes the disturbing argument that Hitler built his view of ethics on Darwinian principles rather than nihilistic ones.

From Darwin to Hitler is a provocative yet balanced work that should encourage a rethinking of the historical impact that Darwinism had on the course of events in the twentieth century."--Jacket.

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