Re: Further Evolution beyond the Human?

John Wilkins (
Mon, 07 Oct 1996 13:39:46 +1000

In article <>, wrote:

|Naziism does postdate Darwinism. I wonder what warped interpretation
|Darwinism the Nazis held?

Ernst Haeckel, "The German Darwin", he of the "biogenetic law" fame, held
ideas of national unity and purity of race that were in relatively common
currency at the time, and presented those views to Bismarck, with

His evolutionism was essentially non-Darwinian. He accepted common descent
and transmutation - those were what Darwin managed to get onto the public
stage - but was unenthusiastic about natural and sexual selection, and held
that evolution had a path to progress. You can find details of his views
conveniently in Peter Bowler's _The Non-Darwinian Revolution_, c1988.

What happened to Haeckel was similar to what happened to Nietzsche - the
Nazis trawled for any smidgeon of German authority they could find to
attain credibility with their own intellectuals. Judging by the results,
they succeeded pretty well. Unlike Nietzsche, Haeckel did hold views of a
pre-Nazi variety, but not as vociferous as theirs. Of course, so did many
intellectuals outside the Axis - GB Shaw being one.

So, Haeckel was neither representative of Darwinism nor a true source of
Nazism. Their views weren't to my knowledge actually based on his writings,
but upon a common jingoism and racism that pervaded European society well
before the _Origin_ was published.

John Wilkins, Head of Communication Services, Walter and Eliza
Hall Institute of Medical Research
It is the glory of science that it finds the patterns
in spite of the noise - Daniel Dennett