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From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics and Racism in Germany Hardcover – May 7, 2004
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'One of the finest examples of intellectual history I have seen in a long while. It is insightful, thoughtful, informative, and highly readable.' - Ian Dowbiggin, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada, and Author of A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America
Review of the Hardback Edition
'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, Edgar B. Graves Professor of History, Hamilton College, USA
'Richard Weikart, the author of this captivating and well-documented book, makes it clear that he intends to provide the reader with a scrupulously historical study of the Darwinian influence on eugenics, euthanasia, racial theory, and militarism in Germany.' - Paola S. Timiras, The European Legacy
From the Inside Flap
-- Ian Dowbiggin, Professor of History at the University of Prince Edward Island and author of "A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America"
Top Customer Reviews
Richard Weikart's "From Darwin to Hitler" adds context to solve this quandary; Germans accepted crackpot race science because it was science. The various presuppositions that added up to race science were the paradigms accepted by scholars, scientists and progressive social organizations.
I found Weikart's book to be exceptionally useful in demonstrating in detail the intellectual development and proliferation of ideas about the place of human beings in nature that Charles Darwin seemed to have established with scientific authority in his 1871 book "The Descent of Man." Darwin's "Origin of Species" and "The Descent of Man" were obviously seminal in shaping an understanding of humanity's place in the world. Weikart seems to suggest that the fight over evolution as such was less important for subsequent political and intellectual history than several underlying ideas that Darwin gave scientific credentials to. Three of those ideas were (a) humans are merely animals, (b) death was "progressive" in that species and populations "progressed" or "adapted" and "evolved" because of the death of less fit or adapted members and (c) human ethical and moral beliefs are based on sentiments, feelings or "impulses.Read more ›
It is very surprising what various, highly respected German scientists/intellectuals of the time, well before the Nazis, actually believed or debated, as being `justified' by biology.Read more ›
He criticizes Weikart's book for not showing how the eugenics movement in the United States provided a model for Hitler. But that's not the concern of Weikart's book, which is to provide an intellectual history of the orgins of Nazism in German social Darwinism.
I disagree with Weikart. I think the title of his book should be "From Haeckel to Darwin," because I think Daniel Gasman has shown conclusively that Ernst Haeckel was the primary ideological influence on Nazism and Hitler. Actually, if you look at the index to Weikart's book, you will see more references to Haeckel than to any other person.
But I agree with Weikart that Hitler and his Nazis exploited an ambiguity in Darwinian biology that could be used to promote racism and eugenics. Hitler was able to use the Darwinian language of "survival of the fittest" to promote his own schemes. This is the dark side of Darwinian science.
The problem is that there is little evidence that Darwin himself promoted Nazi eugenics. In fact, the social Darwinists that influenced the Nazi movement often disagreed with Darwin's account of the natural moral sense, as Weikart indicates.
And yet Weikart does show very clearly the intellectual history of Nazi racism as the product of a distorted Darwinian legacy. For that, we should be grateful.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
great book. quite thick, but if you delve into it, it provides a rich store of quality information and ideas.
is this a condemnation of darwin? no. Read more
If you're interested in how Nazi Germany came to embrace natural selection, this is the book. It's excellent. I've looked up many of the sources cited since reading it. Read morePublished 19 months ago by NJ resident
Very useful for college essay I had to write. Very difficult to find in physical bookstores. Only Barnes and Noble could order it and it was much more pricey because they only had... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Emily
German intellectuals of the late 19th and early 20th century embraced evolutionary thinking to a degree unknown in any other country. Read morePublished on August 3, 2014 by Thomas Shuford
An exposition of what can happen to a nation who loses their moral compass.Published on July 11, 2014 by Kindle Customer
Well written and well thought out. I imagine none of the people who gave it a one star review actually read it. Read morePublished on April 23, 2014 by HorrorReader
Weikart is probably the world's expert on social darwinism. He says nothing in the book that isn't defended with dozens of quotes from prominent scholars at the time. Read morePublished on February 6, 2014 by Travis Williams