The End of Ends: An Analysis of the Eugenical Creed in Britain and Germany, c. 1870–1914
2005 (English)In: Stella: Arbetsrapporter från Avdelningen för vetenskapshistoria, Uppsala universitet, ISSN 1650-2272, no 25, 1-36 p.Article in journal (Other scientific) Published
Eugenics has often been rendered in terms of a secular faith or civic religion, albeit historians have generally abstained from actually probing the depths of eugenical metaphysics. This thesis analyzes eugenics as a semi-religious creed in the writings of four renowned eugenicists active during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century: Francis Galton and Caleb Williams Saleeby in Great Britain, Wilhelm Schallmayer and Alfred Ploetz in Germany.
The study of sacred eugenics is closely aligned with an investigation of the kindred metaphysical theme of race, since the eugenicists displayed a world view profoundly infested with biological idealism, hereditarian determinism, and racial science. Even though primarily a ”class” rather than ”race” phenomenon, eugenics – simultaneously progress-oriented and degenerationist in outlook – at all times, directly or indirectly, focused on race taken as an improvable, qualitative feature. Without a well-bred and proficient race, neither nation nor empire could endure in the fierce and unceasing interracial struggle for survival. Hence, eugenics was given not only religious but also scientific meaning in societies troubled by rapid internal transformation, imperial anxieties, and ghastly interpretations of the arrow of time.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2005. no 25, 1-36 p.
Eugenics, science and religion, Germany, Great Britain, 19th century, 20th century, race, racism, imperialism, Francis Galton, utopism, struggle for survival
History of Ideas
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-71786OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-71786DiVA: diva2:99697