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date: 03 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Nineteenth-century German philosophy is characterized by an overall ‘dynamization’ of the general physical and metaphysical world-view: we can observe a transformation from a static view of a scala natura, governed by fixed Newtonian laws, towards a dynamic picture of an overall development of nature and culture culminating in German Historicism. Before Darwin, the dynamic evolution of nature and culture is often understood as being guided by necessity and laws of development; teleological conceptions of evolution prevail. In German Idealism, dynamic change is conceptualized as an unfolding of eternal and ideal structures with a clear telos: the unfolding of ‘spirit’ and human freedom. With the change from idealistic philosophies to more materialistic views, and with the reception and integration of Darwinian ideas, the paradigm of development changes towards an understanding of evolution as an open, undetermined, or even dys-teleological mode of change that might oppose the goals of ‘spirit’.

Keywords: philosophy of nature, nature-nurture, philosophy of biology, biologism, Darwin, Darwinism, idealism, materialism, teleology, vitalism

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