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Darwin Without Malthus: The Struggle for Existence in Russian Evolutionary Thought
Nineteenth century Russian intellectuals perceived a Malthusian bias in Darwin's theory of evolution by means of natural selection. They identified that bias with Darwin's concept of the struggle for existence and his emphasis upon the evolutionary role of overpopulation and intraspecific conflict. In this book, Todes documents a historical Russian critique of Darwin's Mal ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 13th 1989 by Oxford University Press, USA
(first published January 1st 1989)
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Here's a strange topic. I love this book. It's about Russian science in the 19th century and how they interpreted Darwin. Which is quite differently to how England and France and Germany interpreted him. Why the difference? This book sets out to explain: Russian scientists didn't see a 'struggle for existence' going on around them. Because of their environment, they saw more evidence of co-operation in - and among - animal species, and 'mutual aid' described the way of the world for them, not th ...more
This book is totally brilliant. Todes traces the way that Darwin's metaphor "the struggle for existence," which resonated well in British society, simply didn't translate into the Russian cultural context. There, it seemed like ultra-Malthusianism, and evolutionist ideas ended up morphing into the more cooperativist forms propagated by Kropotkin. Such a smart project!