1Toward a New Universe: ATransformation of Thought
Introduction2 Search for scientific truth – science became synonymous withthe idea of truth Increasing understanding of nature Social philosophers start to claim to have discovered“scientific” socialism Eventually developed social sciences – the study of individual& behaviour People could now use their intellect to raise from barbarism tocivilization Evidence was everywhere – railways, steamboats, telegraph &the light bulb. Faith in continuing progress through the application of science& reason
New Questions about the BiologicalUniverse – Darwin3 Charles Darwin (1802 – 1882) saw change and development tobe the pattern of nature. Published “On the Origin of Species” on Means of NaturalSelection. Widespread controversy spread throughout Europe as theoriesof evolution conflicted with creation theories. Darwin believed that humans & animals were not specialcreations from God, but evolved from common ancestorsthrough a long process of gradual change. People had generally thought that the age of the Earth wasrelatively young – Darwin’s theory meant the earth’s age wasmuch greater do to the slow development of evolutionarychange.
New Questions about the BiologicalUniverse – Darwin4 Those species that could adapt survived, while those without thephysical &/or mental characteristics could not adapt andtherefore not survive. Darwin spoke of favoured races, those that were more suited totheir environment. Change was from nature – not a deity If one accepted Darwin’s theories, peace & harmony were notnecessarily the natural way of the world. How does this relate to politics, ethics and economics? Class conflict now seemed necessary – Darwin’s theories, oftendistorted, were used by those that struggle by people andnations was essential for progress.
Social Darwinism5 Malthus – nature was notbenign and progress was notinevitable because increase inpopulation would always outrunpeople’s limited resources Social Darwinists believe thatsimple and uniform evolve tothe complex and specialized. Competition was necessary toallow those who were “fit” toemerge on top in the economic& social struggle – withoutgovernment interference. Typically hated socialism –some to the point where theydon’t like public education.
Religious Thought6 New Bible studies focused on the study of ancient languages asphilology (analysis of texts and language) grew Both the Old Testament and New Testament underwent analysisthat challenged its spiritual truth. Questions of Judaism & Christianity challenged the need forreligion – seen as a way for people to comprehend their place inthe universe.
Religious Thought7 The Atmosphere of Darwinism added additional challenges totraditional faith – if Darwin is right, life was a process of constantchange not an act of special creation, species emerged and weredestroyed. Many disagreed and adequately defended their faith, othersembraced new theories and accepted evolutions as part of God’splan and found beauty in how all living things could beinterrelated. Agnosticism maintained that ultimate truths about God were notknowable, therefore one should not waste time arguing them –Darwin belonged to this group.
Positivism & Sociology8 Society itself became anappropriate subject for scientificanalysis. Auguste Comte (1798 – 1857)affirmed “positive philosophy” touse scientific synthesis of allknowledge. Comte termed “Sociology” thatstudied both social stats andsocial dynamics. Through the study of history andsocieties one could count onprogression that led to a world ofpeace . Comte began a scientific religionthat would honour all those thatcontributed to the advancementsof civilization.
The Challenge to the Rational Universe9 Thinkers, writers, artists began to challenge the positiveapproach to knowledge & rational understanding of humannature. Wilhelm Dilthey (1833 – 1911) believed that its important touse imagination to understand history – use spontaneousexpressions of the past. Can’t just use historical documentsto get to the core of human reality. Benedetto Croce (1866 – 1952) believed that it is impossibleto be completely objective when investigating the past. Theresearcher picks the topic and can never fully escape theirown time. Max Weber (1864 – 1920) “if something is scientific, thisdoes not mean that it is desirable.” Science cannot tell ushow to act.
Psychology & the Question of theIrrational10 Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939)realized that some of hispatients’ symptoms were notphysical, but had their origins inthe mind. Developed psychoanalysis –study mental history of patient Rejected view that people arerational creatures. Distinction between theconscious & the unconscious –thus resulting in rational & non-rational motive unexplainableby conventional ways. Childhood experiences ofteninfluenced the actions of amature person.
Psychology & the Question of theIrrational11 Freud’s theories describedsexual desires &aggressions are oftenrepressed in a civilizedworld. Id – one’s basic desires Super-Ego – conscienceacquired by people living insociety Ego – everyday face(constantly caught in-betweendesires of the super-ego andthe id) Challenged theenlightenment view thatpeople are guided byreason.
Psychology & the Question of theIrrational12 Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900)rejected common humanity andstressed the importance for superiorindividuals to develop their owntalents in their own way. Christianity was a religion of theweak because it made peoplesubordinate themselves to myths &preached self-sacrifice. Democracy was self-defeatingbecause it put power to theweak, crushing genius Nationalism destroyed individualismbecause of the demands of thegroup. Noble man – one who determines isown destiny Common man – follows others Basically, wanted superior individualsto develop their full potential.
Toward an Uncertain Universe – The NewReality of 191413 Two types of culture in the West in 1914 Public Level – mass culture still using the old ideas of theuniverse, society, and human nature Intellectual Level – new ideas amongst intellectuals, howeverstill being questioned & even rejected Most people prior to 1914 believed that technology was creatinga better life for all, however the major ideological foundations ofWestern culture were slowly being eroded. Everything seemed to be challenged with no new standards onthe horizon. At the turn of the century, this was not a major problem as liberalideas seem to prevail – but major conflict was about to explode.