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History WithinThe Science, Culture, and Politics of Bones, Organisms, and Molecules$
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Marianne Sommer

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226347325

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226349879.001.0001

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The Ascent of Man Defended

The Ascent of Man Defended

Chapter:
(p.232) Chapter Ten The Ascent of Man Defended
Source:
History Within
Author(s):

Marianne Sommer

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226349879.003.0011

The final chapter of Part II shows how in the afterwar years, Huxley’s humanism gained through international institutionalization and new followers across disciplinary and national boundaries. However, while Huxley’s plans for the world in many respects matched with Cold War western liberal ideals, from the 1960s, there were also contrary trends in society as well as science. Decolonialisation, and minority and civil rights movements had demands that differed from Huxley’s and were not in agreement with his notion of one history and future for all. Postmodernism was suspicious of his synthesis and of the claim that biology was the means to all ends. Last but not least, the new molecular biology diverged from Huxley’s belief in holistic approaches; there was a novel, molecular view of life that included humans. And it was the molecular approaches that increasingly gained in authority within and without science.

Keywords:   Julian Huxley, scientific humanism, evolutionary humanism, Theodosius Dobzhansky, George Gaylord Simpson, Ernst Mayr, molecular biology, eugenics, Cold War politics

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