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In Tracing the Role of Social Darwinism in Instigating World War I, Don't Forget the Role of Hegel


After watching the new short documentary from Discovery Institute, The Biology of the Second Reich: Social Darwinism and the Origins of World War I, our Center for Science & Culture colleague Nancy Pearcey had this comment:

I would like to point out that Hegel also played a major role in the exaltation of war -- especially among German thinkers. In fact, Nietzsche went so far as to say, "without Hegel, there would have been no Darwin." Hegel taught that a pantheistic Absolute Spirit was evolving toward ever higher levels, culminating in the German state. Many Christians, especially theological liberals, identified this Absolute Spirit with the Holy Spirit -- and thus they identified God's work with cultural progress, pre-eminently through the state. Add to that, Hegel's theory of dialectics, in which progress was said to result from the clash of opposites, and you can see why war was glorified.

And that is very interesting, again reminding us of the porousness to each other of science, culture (including philosophy), and earth-shaking events (including world wars). Our opposites in the Darwin debate like to imagine that their theory exists in the purity of a serene isolation, neither acting nor being acted upon by such currents. Not so.

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Image source: Wikipedia.