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From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany

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Overview

From Darwin to Hitler elucidates the revolutionary impact Darwinism had on ethics and morality throughout history. This book is a provocative yet balanced work that addresses a wide range of topics, from the value of human life to sexual mortality, to racial extermination.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is one of the finest examples of intellectual history I have seen in a long while. It is insightful, thoughtful, informative, and highly readable. Rather than simply connecting the dots, so to speak, the author provides a sophisticated and nuanced examination of numerous German thinkers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who were influenced to one degree or another by Darwinist naturalism and their ideas, subtly drawing both distinctions and similarities and in the process telling a rich and colorful story."—Ian Dowbiggin, University of Prince Edward Island and author of A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America
"Richard Weikart's outstanding book shows in sober and convincing detail how Darwinist thinkers in Germany had developed an amoral attitude to human society by the time of the First World War, in which the supposed good of the race was applied as the sole criterion of public policy and 'racial hygiene'. Without over-simplifying the lines that connected this body of thought to Hitler, he demonstrates with chilling clarity how policies such as infanticide, assisted suicide, marriage prohibitions and much else were being proposed for those considered racially or eugenically inferior by a variety of Darwinist writers and scientists, providing Hitler and the Nazis with a scientific justification for the policies they pursued once they came to power."—Richard Evans, University of Cambridge, and author of The Coming of the Third Reich
"This is an impressive piece of intellectual and cultural history—a well-researched, clearly presented argument with good, balanced, fair judgements. Weikart has a thorough knowledge of the relevant historiography in both German and English."—Alfred Kelly, Hamilton College
"Taking a middle ground between scholars on both sides, Richard Weikart has traveled far and wide to bring together a broad range of important programs, institutions, and thinkers who shaped the social and political ramification of Darwinian thought in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Germany. Many of the voices Weikart conveys appear here in English for the first time."—Kevin Repp, Yale University
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781403972019
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 4/2/2006
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 328
  • Sales rank: 265,321
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Weikart is an associate professor of modern European history at California State University, Stanislaus. He has published two previous books, including Socialist Darwinism: Evolution in German Socialist Thought from Marx to Bernstein (1999), as well as articles in German Studies Review, Jourbanal of the History of Ideas, Isis, European Legacy, and History of European Ideas.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
• Part I: Laying New Foundations for Ethics* The Origins of Morality and the Rise of Relativism
• Evolutionary Progress as the Highest Good
• Organizing Evolutionary Ethics
Part II: Devaluing Human Life
The Value of Death
• The Specter of Inferiority: Devaluing the Disabled
• The Science of Racial Inequality
Part III: Eliminating the "Inferior Ones"
Controlling Reproduction: Redefining Sexual Morality
• Killing the Unfit
• War and Peace
• Racial Struggle and Extermination
Part IV: Impacts * Hitler's Ethics
• Conclusion

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Recipe

"This is one of the finest examples of intellectual history I have seen in a long while. It is insightful, thoughtful, informative, and highly readable. Rather than simply connecting the dots, so to speak, the author provides a sophisticated and nuanced examination of numerous German thinkers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who were influenced to one degree or another by Darwinist naturalism and their ideas, subtly drawing both distinctions and similarities and in the process telling a rich and colorful story. "
-- Ian Dowbiggin, Professor of History at the University of Prince Edward Island and author of A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America
Read More Show Less

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