Interacting entities : the relationships between Europe and Social Darwinism

Hawkins, Michael (2021) Interacting entities : the relationships between Europe and Social Darwinism. In: Meacham, Darian and de Warren, Nicolas, (eds.) The Routledge handbook of philosophy and Europe. Abingdon, U.K. : Routledge. pp. 323-337. (Routledge handbooks in philosophy) ISBN 9781138921689


Europe and Social Darwinism are complex, controversial and changeable. The former is a socio-political reality, whereas Social Darwinism is a body of very influential ideas that has played crucial roles in the formation of modern European ideologies, as well shaping the policies of nation-states. This chapter discusses how these two entities have interacted in their development, and how Social Darwinism has played a role, and may continue to play a role in in shaping the politics and identity of Europe. It begins with Darwin’s theory of natural selection, followed by an account of Social Darwinism in the 19th century, and discusses eugenics, race and warfare, three themes which were of major significance in Europe. The chapter deals with changes and tensions within the EU and the enlistment of recent forms of Social Darwinism by dissident groups and powerful elites.

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