Erasmus Darwin (Zoonomia, 17 94), though a zealous evolutionist, can hardly be said to have made any real advance on his predecessors; and, notwithstanding the fact that Goethe had the advantage of a wide knowledge of morphological facts, and a true insight into their signification, while he threw all the power of a great poet into the expression of his conceptions, it may be questioned whether he supplied the doctrine of evolution with a firmer scientific basis than it already possessed.
The thinker who sees man confronted by the infinite non-moral forces presumed by natural pantheism inevitably predominating over the finite powers of men may appear to the modern Christian theologian or to the evolutionist as a hopeless pessimist, and yet may himself have concluded that, though the future holds out no prospect save that of annihilation, man may yet by prudence and care enjoy a considerable measure of happiness.
Herder was thus an evolutionist, but an evolutionist still under the influence of Rousseau.
That is to say, in tracing back the later acquisitions of civilization to impulses which are as old as the dawn of primitive culture, he did not, as the modern evolutionist does, lay stress on the superiority of the later to the earlier stages of human development, but rather became enamoured of the simplicity and spontaneity of those early impulses which, since they are the oldest, easily come to look like the most real and precious.
The Ideen shows us that Herder is an evolutionist after the manner of Leibnitz, and not after that of more modern evolutionists.
The transition from the evolutionist criterion of survival - which in itself it is difficult to regard as anything but non-moral - to the criterion of happiness is effected by means of the psychological argument that pleasure promotes function and that living beings must, upon pain of extinction, sooner or later take pleasure in actions which are conducive to their survival.
He was a strenuous advocate of ecclesiastical control in elementary education, and an opponent of the new school of higher biblical criticism, though so far an evolutionist as to believe in growth and development as applied to the history of nations.
Leidy adhered strictly to Cuvier's exact descriptive methods, and while an evolutionist and recognizing clearly the genetic relationships of the horses and other groups, he never indulged in speculation.
Of Hobbes and Spinoza, which advocate self-preservation as the ideal, as contrasted with modern evolutionist moralists who advocate racepreservation.
Hence the dispute between evolutionist and transcendentalist rests, in general, on an ignoratio elenchi; for the history of the genesis of an idea (the historical or genetic method) does not contain an answer to - though it may throw light on - the philosophical question of its truth or validity.
The distinctly religious aspect has been comparatively unimportant, except in so far as modern social evolutionist ethics may be regarded as religious in character.
The discovery of the so-called evolution of morality out of non-moral conditions is very frequently an unconscious subterfuge by which the evolutionist hides the fact that he is making a priori judgments upon the value of the moral concepts held to be evolved.