Social Darwinism in American Thought

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Overview

Social Darwinism in American Thought portrays the overall influence of Darwin on American social theory and the notable battle waged among thinkers over the implications of evolutionary theory for social thought and political action. Theorists such as Herbert Spencer and William Graham Sumner adopted the idea of the struggle for existence as justification for the evils as well as the benefits of laissez-faire modern industrial society. Others such as William James and John Dewey argued that human planning was ...

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Overview

Social Darwinism in American Thought portrays the overall influence of Darwin on American social theory and the notable battle waged among thinkers over the implications of evolutionary theory for social thought and political action. Theorists such as Herbert Spencer and William Graham Sumner adopted the idea of the struggle for existence as justification for the evils as well as the benefits of laissez-faire modern industrial society. Others such as William James and John Dewey argued that human planning was needed to direct social development and improve upon the natural order. Hofstadter's classic study of the ramifications of Darwinism is a major analysis of the social philosophies that animated intellectual movements of the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A book that is in many ways a model of its kind . . . Mr. Hofstadter is compact, lucid, informed, vigorous . . . If you really want to know why and how some of the contradictions in American social thought came into being, Social Darwinism is as excellent a study as you can hope to find. —The New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The much-honored late historian Hofstadter inaugurated the study of social Darwinism in his 1944 Ph.D. thesis, reprinted here with an introduction by noted contemporary historian Foner. (Sept.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807055038
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 9/28/1992
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 651,599
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Hofstadter (1916-1970) was a Dewitt Clinton Professor of American History at Columbia University and author of many books. He was awarded Pulitzer Prizes for The Age of Reform and Anti-Intellectualism in American Life.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
Author's Note
Author's Introduction 3
1 The Coming of Darwinism 13
2 The Vogue of Spencer 31
3 William Graham Sumner: Social Darwinist 51
4 Lester Ward: Critic 67
5 Evolution, Ethics, and Society 85
6 The Dissenters 105
7 The Current of Pragmatism 123
8 Trends in Social Theory, 1890-1915 143
9 Racism and Imperialism 170
10 Conclusion 201
Bibliography 205
Notes 217
Index 243
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Customer Reviews

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