Varieties of Evolution and Evolutionism – Sociological-Economical-Anthropological-Philosophical

This list of quotations, definitions and figures was collected by:

Gregory Sandstrom

M.A. Philosophy, B.A. Economics, B.A. Sociology

Candidate of Sociological Sciences

St. Petersburg State University

Russian Federation


This collection of quotations, definitions and figures was done while in the Netherlands and Russia, working on my Master and PhD degrees. It was intended to show various ways the term ‘evolution’ is used in human-social sciences, i.e. outside of natural-physical sciences. I haven’t done much with it since 2006 and that means it’s in some ways out of date, at least in so far as I’ve probably collected 5+ times more quotations about evolution since then and haven’t yet come around to organise them.

A majority of these quotations were typed (or copy-pasted) directly from the book or article while reading them for academic research. This is not a ‘quote-mined’ list meant for ‘culture-warring’ (e.g. by anti-Darwinian IDists and Creationists), but rather is meant to provoke further thought about how ‘evolutionary’ theories are conceived and applied professionally, by major figures in human-social sciences. In light of the mission of this Blog about Human Extension,  the list also aims at provoking people to consider how evolution is or should be thought of as a limited concept and indeed, how it may even be inappropriate to use ‘evolution’ (i.e. instead of ‘development,’ ‘progress,’ ’emergence’ or simply ‘change’) in the human-social sciences. The collector of these quotations is not an ‘evolutionist’ and in most cases does not advocate the uses of evolution shown below.

If you appreciate or enjoy a quotation from this list that you hadn’t seen before and would like to save and use it somewhere, please include the link to this Blog article at Human Extension as your mediated source for this citation. Information about the original source is cited in most cases, according to academic referencing standards.

Criticisms of and additions to this list are welcome in the Comments section below.


Evolution (relative def’n): variation, natural selection, ‘struggle for life’ (T. Malthus) or ‘survival of the fittest’ (H. Spencer), (group rather than individual) change (over long periods of time), random mutation, adaptation, process, differentiation, integration, progress, growth, alteration, metamorphosis, advancement, development, emergence;


Word Family: to evolve, evolving, evolved;


Conceptual Uses: creative evolution (1909), emergent evolution (1923), parallel evolution, conscious evolution (1980’s), convergent evolution (1990’s), theistic evolution, neutral evolution;


Antonyms: devolution, revolution;


Grammar: Lat. evolutio, evolvere – to roll out (16th century);


Rhetoric and Dialectic: a formal principle of uniformity





Evolutionary Sociology (definition): “[A] summary generalization standing for a type of process of change.” – Talcott Parsons (1964: 20)

“An approach to social change which draws upon concepts and ideas from evolutionary theory in biology. Although evolutionary thought was particularly influential in sociology in the 19th century, evolutionary ideas have continued to exert some influence in contemporary sociology…Social evolution refers to change in the size, complexity of organization, and institutional features of a society; social progress implies that change is for the better.” – Wolfgang J. Koschnick (Standard Dictionary of the Social Sciences, vol. 2, part 1, London: Saur, 1992: 1498)

Major Figures: Marquis de Condorcet, August Comte, Thomas Mathus, Herbert Spencer, Charles Darwin, Lewis Henry Morgan, Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Benjamin Kidd, William G. Sumner, Lester F. Ward, Talcott Parsons, Robert Merton, Marvin Harris, Niklas Luhmann, E.O. Wilson, Robert Bellah, Gerhard Lenski, Jurgen Habermas, Robert Carneiro, Randall Collins, W.G. Runciman, Stephen Sanderson, Alexandra Maryanski, Steven Turner, et al.

Notes and Quotes:

“Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio.” – Thomas Malthus (An Essay on the Principle of Population, as It Affects the Future Improvement of Society, 1798)

‘Survival of the fittest’ – Herbert Spencer (Social Statics, 1851)

“Although it is developed in the crude English style, this is a book [The Origin of Species] which contains the basis of natural history for our views.” – Karl Marx (December, 1860)

“Evolution is an integration of matter and concomitant dissipation of motion; during which the matter passes from an indefinite, incoherent homogeneity to a definite, coherent heterogeneity; and during which the retained motion undergoes a parallel transformation.” – Herbert Spencer (1862: #145)

“Tracing, so far as we may by observation and inference, the objects dealt with by the Astronomer and the Geologist, as well as those which Biology, Psychology, and Sociology treat of, we have to consider what direct proof there is that the Cosmos, in general and in detail, conforms to this law [of Evolution].” – H. Spencer (1862: #107)

“While we think of Evolution as divided into astronomic, geologic, biologic, psychologic, sociologic, etc., it may seem to some extent a coincidence that the same law of metamorphosis holds throughout all its divisions. But when we recognize these divisions as mere conventional groupings, made to facilitate the arrangement and acquisition of knowledge – when we remember that the different existences with which they severally deal are component parts of one Cosmos; we see at once that there are not several kinds of Evolution having certain traits in common, but one Evolution going on everywhere after the same manner.” – H. Spencer (1862: #188)

“Two suppositions only are open to us; the one that the feeling which responds to religious ideas resulted, along with all other human faculties, from an act of special creation; the other that it, in common with the rest, arose by a process of evolution.” – H. Spencer (1862: #4)

“For on the verdict of Biology on this matter, must wholly depend our conception of human nature, past, present, and future; our theory of the mind; and our theory of society.” – H. Spencer (“Reasons for Dissenting from the Philosophy of M. Comte,” 1864)

“Darwinism…is democratic precisely insofar as it directly or indirectly undermines those feudal principles which still survive. But not only is it not ‘democratic in essence,’ but in the sharpest and most defined manner it places inequality and struggle in society at the cornerstone of its moral-political doctrine.” … “The biological law of the struggle for existence is undoubtedly binding for sociology.” – Nikolai K. Mikhailovskii (“On the Democratic Character of the Natural Sciences”, 1875)

“First labour, after it and then with it speech: these were the two most essential stimuli under the influence of which the brain of the ape gradually changed into that of man, which for all its similarity is far larger and more perfect.” – Friedrich Engels (The Part Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man, 1876)

“As Darwin discovered the law of evolution in organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of evolution in human history.” – Freidrich Engels (Eulogy to K. Marx, 1883)

“Notwithstanding the failure of Malthusianism at all points, the impression prevailed, and still prevails, that it is a fundamental law of society, and the current sociology is based upon it. … The fact is that man and society are not, except in a very limited sense, under the influence of the great dynamic laws that control the rest of the animal world. … If we call biologic processes natural, we must call social processes artificial. The fundamental principle of biology is natural selection, that of sociology is artificial selection. The survival of the fittest is simply the survival of the strong, which implies and would better be called the destruction of the weak. If nature progresses through the destruction of the weak, man progresses through the protection of the weak.” – Lester F. Ward (Dynamic Sociology, 1883)

“After many centuries of exclusive study of the soul, the thinkers of the world turned their attention for some centuries more to the study of the intellect. During all this time, the true influence of mind as a social factor was left quite out of view. At last there rose up the scientific philosophy which essayed to explain the nature of mind. Its dependence upon organization in general and upon brain in particular was proved by scientific experimentation, and the domain of metaphysics became that of psychology. Mind was shown to be a function of body and psychology became a department of biology. Man has now taken his true position in the animal world as a product of development. Brain, which alone raises him above other animals, has been developed in the same manner as the other anatomical characters. The brain is the organ of the mind, its physical seat and cause. Mind is therefore a natural product of evolution, and its achievements are to be classed and studied along with all other natural phenomena. Such is the scientific conception of the mind.” … “The doctrines of the survival of the fittest and natural selection are perfectly true doctrines. The law of competition is the fundamental law. It is unquestionably true that progress, not only in primary organic development, but also in society, has resulted from this action.” – L.F. Ward (“Mind as a Social Factor,” 1884)

“The doctrines of the survival of the fittest and natural selection are perfectly true doctrines. The law of competition is the fundamental law. It is unquestionably true that progress, not only in primary organic development, but also in society, has resulted from this action.” – L.F. Ward (“Mind as a Social Factor,” 1884)

“Darwin extended both Malthus’s partial theory and the general theory of the political economists to the organic world.” – N. Danilevski (1885)

“The Struggle for Existence in Human Society” – Thomas Huxley (The Nineteenth Century, 1888)

“However great the struggle between people, one cannot forget that cooperation is also an essential aspect of their mutual relations. To a lesser degree the same is true of animals, especially higher ones, but also lower. Beginning with the phenomenon of so-called symbiosis…and ending with the complex conditions of…the lives of so-called social animals, we see an entire series of [cooperative] interactions among individuals.” – Mikhail M. Filippov (“Darwinism,” Scientific Review 32, 1894)

[Cooperation in nature is]…“the great fact…completely ignored by the Darwinists.” – N.K. Mikhailovskii (“Darwin’s Theory and the Social Sciences”, 1896)

“[I]f we do not like the survival of the fittest, we have only one possible alternative, and that is the survival of the unfittest. The former is the law of civilization; the latter is the law of anti-civilization.” – William G. Sumner (from Richard Hoftadter’s “William Sumner: Social Darwinist” New England Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 3, 1941)

“We see a great deal of mutual aid, where Darwin and Wallace see only struggle.” – P.A. Kropotkin (1909)

“[T]he injection of evolutionary ideas into the study of life and society.” – John Dewey (“Preface,” 1910)

“A religious system may be said to be the most primitive which we can observe when it fulfils the two following conditions: in the first place, when it is found in a society whose organization is surpassed by no others in simplicity; and secondly, when it is possible to explain it without making use of any element borrowed from a previous religion.” – Emile Durkheim ([1912] 1997: 232)

“[It] is unquestionable that a society has all that is necessary to arouse the sensation of the divine in minds, merely by the power that it has over them; for to its members it is what a god is to his worshippers.” – E. Durkheim ([1912] 1997: 239)

“If we can accept the conclusion…that every established and settled institution is justifiable, in its setting, as an adaptation, it seems to me that we are thereby accepting the extension of the Darwinian theory to the field of the science of society.” – A.G. Keller (Societal Evolution, 1915)

“[R]eduction of historical change to material and economic factors is doomed to failure.” – Max Weber (Economy and Society, 1920)

“The publication of the Origin of Species, setting forth a theory of evolution of species in terms of natural selection, heredity and variation, created a deep impression on the anthropologists and sociologists. The conception of evolution was so profound that the changes in society were seen as a manifestation of evolution and there was an attempt to seek the causes of these social changes in terms of variation and selection. … Preliminary to the search for causes, however, attempts were made to establish the development of particular social institutions in successive stages, an evolutionary series, a particular stage necessarily preceding another. The search for laws led to many hypotheses regarding factors such as geographical location, climate, migration, group conflict, racial ability, the evolution of mental activity, and such principles as variation, natural selection, and survival of the fit. A half-century or more of investigations on such theories has yielded some results, but the achievements have not been up to the high hopes entertained shortly after the publication of Darwin’s theory of natural selection. / The inevitable series of stages in the development of social institutions has not only not been proven but has been disproven.” –W.F. Ogburn (Social Change, London, 1923)

“Since the World War students of the social sciences without aiming at the logical orderliness of evolutionary schemes have renewed their search for relatively stable tendencies and regularities in history and society. On the other hand, the growing discrepancy between ideals and the workings of history is guiding the sciences of society into more and more pragmatic channels. If there is a social evolution, whatever it may be, it is not longer accepted as a process to be contemplated but as a task to be achieved by deliberate and concerted human effort.” – A. Goldenweiser (“Social Evolution.” Encyclopedia of Social Sciences, New York, 1935)

“The sensory world is in a state of incessant flux and becoming. There is nothing unchangeable in it – not even an eternal Supreme Being. Mind dominated by the truth of the senses simply cannot perceive any permanency, but apprehends all values in terms of shift and transformation. Sensate mentality views everything from the standpoint of evolution and progress. This leads to an increasing neglect of the eternal values, which come to be replaced by temporary, or short-time, considerations.” – Pitirim A. Sorokin (1941: 96)

“Darwinism…impelled men to try to exploit its finding and methods for the understanding of society through schemes of evolutionary development and organic analogies.” – R. Hofstadter (1944, 1955: 4)

“Wherever the Darwin-Malthus system is applied its consequences are bad: in sociology a hard-hearted indifference to the sufferings of the poor; in religion, atheism; in philosophy, the dark wastes of German pessimism, and a contempt for the value of human life which, like Stoicism in Rome, presages social catastrophe.” – R. Hofstadter (1944, 1955, 88)

“[T]he main ambition and central preoccupation of scientific, philosophical, social, and humanistic thinkers in these centuries [18th & 19th] consisted in the discovery and formulation of these ‘eternal laws of progress and evolution,’ and in an elaboration of the main stages or phases through which the trend passes as it comes to fuller realization in the course of time. Discovery, formulation, and corroboration of the existence of such trends and their stages was the focal point of biology and sociology, of the philosophy of history and social philosophy, and of the other nineteenth-century social and humanistic sciences.” – P. Sorokin (1950, 1963: 280)

“[I]n the predominantly Sensate cultures similar to the culture in the West for the last four centuries, the progressively linear theories of the evolution of humanity tend to dominate. In such a culture the whole historical process is viewed as a sort of progressive advance along the highway, with some deviations and little detours, from ‘the caveman to superman,’ from ‘barbarism to civilization,’ from ‘stupidity to wisdom and genius,’ from ‘bestiality to semi-divinity,’ from war and struggle for existence to peace, harmony and mutual aid – and so on.” … “The theories of progress-evolution by Kant and Fichte, Herder and Lessing, Hegel and Adam Smith, August Comte and Herbert Spencer, Karl Marx and John Fiske, the Darwinian and biological theories of evolution – these are the typical representations of historical processes, trends, laws of evolution of that Sensate period of Western culture.” – P. Sorokin (1950, 1963: 7-8)

“The factual evidence openly contradicts the assumption that there exists any universal and perpetual linear trend or any universal stages of evolution applicable to the whole of mankind and to all groups and individuals.” – P. Sorokin (1950, 1963: 288)

“The idea of evolution gets some of its moral, social, even cosmic significance from its implication that the general motion in the world of living things, perhaps in the universe, is a progress from lower to higher forms.” – Mortimer J. Adler, Robert Maynard Hutchins, et al. in The Great Ideas (from the Great Books of the Western World series, Encyclopedia Britannica, 1952)

“Indeed, to the modern sociologist the rigid evolutionary schema of Marxian thought appears as a straight jacket rather than a genuine source of illumination of the immensely variant facts of institutionalized life.” – Talcott Parsons (1954: 333)

“What differentiates the realm of the natural sciences from that of the sciences of human action is the categorical system resorted to in each in interpreting phenomena and constructing theories. The natural sciences do not know anything about final causes; inquiry and theorizing are entirely guided by the category of [efficient] causality. The field of the sciences of human action is the orbit of purpose and of conscious aiming at ends; it is teleological.” … “[A]chievements of the experimental natural sciences prompted the emergence of a materialistic metaphysical doctrine, positivism. Positivism flatly denies that any field of inquiry is open for teleological research. The experimental methods of the natural sciences are the only appropriate methods for any kind of investigation. They alone are scientific, while the traditional methods of the sciences of human action are metaphysical, that is, in the terminology of positivism, superstitious and spurious.” – Ludwig von Mises (1957)

“For we cannot adequately understand ‘man’ as an isolated biological creature, as a bundle of reflexes or a set of instincts, as an ‘intelligible field’ or a system in and of itself.  Whatever else he may be, man is a social and an historical actor who must be understood, if at all, in close and intricate interplay with social and historical structures” – C. Wright Mills (“The Sociological Imagination,” 1959: 158)

“fundamental continuity between general organic evolution and socio-cultural evolution.” – T. Parsons (1966: 109)

“Among change processes, the type most important to the evolutionary perspective is the enhancement of adaptive capacity.” … “To be an evolutionist, one must define a general trend in evolution.” – T. Parsons (1966: 21, 110)

“Whether the adjective ‘biological’ be used or not, the principle of evolution is firmly established as applying to the world of living things. Here the social aspect of human life must be included. Such basic concepts of organic evolution belong at the center of our concern, when appropriately adjusted to social and cultural subject matter.” – T. Parsons (1964)

“Unlike the West, there did not develop in Russia a general social-Darwinist school.” – R.A. Bashmakova (“Social Darwinism in Russia and its critics,” Problems in Sociology of Population, “Sotsial’nyi darvinizm v Rossii i ego kritika,” Problemy sotsiologii narodonaseleniia 234, No. 2, 1974: 3-22)

“No matter how abstractly formulated are a general theory of systems, a general theory of evolution and a general theory of communication, all three theoretical components are necessary for the specifically sociological theory of society. They are mutually interdependent.” – Niklas Luhmann (“Systemtheorie, Evolutionstheorie und Kommunikationstheorie,” The Differentiation of Society, translated by Stephen Holmes and Charles Larmore. ColumbiaUniversity Press, New York, [1975] 1982: 261)

“[W]hen we speak of evolution, we do in fact mean cumulative processes that exhibit a direction. Neoevolutionism regards increasing complexity as an acceptable directional criterion.” … “Social scientific neoevolutionism is usually satisfied with the directional criterion of increasing steering (or adaptive) capacity.” – Jurgen Habermas (1984: 141, 174)

“More recently, however, the success of the theory of biological evolution has again given impetus to the renewal of social-scientific evolutionism. Social evolution no longer appears only vaguely as a continuation of organic evolution; instead neoevolutionists (Parsons, Luhmann, Lenski) start with the idea that social evolution can be explained in accord with the well-analyzed and well-tested model of natural evolution.” – J. Habermas (1984: 170)

“Darwin’s evolutionary biology reflects a characteristically British intellectual outlook in its conception…In the Origin of Species biology and economics ‘joined hands’ or perhaps more accurately biology joined hands with Scottish political economy, sociology, and historiography, and with English philosophy of science. The political economy was that of Adam Smith and his disciples.” – Sylvan Schweber (“The Wider British Context in Darwin’s Theorizing,” in David Kohn, ed., The Darwinian Heritage, 1985)

“It is a truism of sociology that unintended consequences make more difference to the future evolution of institutions and societies than intended ones.” – W.G. Runciman (1989: 286)

“[S]ocial evolution comes about through competitive selection of practices…the theory of social selection through the random mutation or recombination of practices.” – W.G. Runciman (1989: 285-6)

“The fundamental idea that the evolution of human societies and their constituent roles and institutions proceeds through a continuing struggle for power whose outcome is determined by the competitive selection of practices in the three mutually irreducible dimensions of social structure is – or so I believe – no less demonstrably superior to its rivals than Darwin’s was.” – W.G. Runciman (1989: 449)

“[H]umans evolved from apelike ancestors whether they did so by Darwin’s proposed mechanism or by some other, yet to be discovered.” – Stephen Jay Gould (“Evolution as Fact and Theory,” May 1981, Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes: Further Reflections in Natural History, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1994)

“Continuity is an indispensable prerequisite for every evolution, and the emergence of any new forms presupposes prior achievements, preadaptive advances, materials in which they can establish themselves.” – N. Luhmann (“The Modernity of Science,” New German Critique, Winter 1994, Issue 61)

“Anyone familiar with his [Durkheim’s] The Division of Labor in Society (1933 [1893]) cannot help but notice his strong, and completely unquestioned, evolutionary assumptions about the progress from mechanical to organic solidarity.” – Steven K. Sanderson (1997: 94)

“I think it is often difficult for such [historical] sociologists to appreciate the value of evolutionary theories, because such theories are normally concerned with extremely long periods of time.” – S.K. Sanderson (1997: 103)

“[T]he vast majority of evolutionary theories are progressivist, some of them strongly so.” – S.K. Sanderson (1997: 100)

“I don’t see how the broad features of human history can be viewed except in evolutionary terms.” – S.K. Sanderson (1997: 102)

“Evolutionary science may well be the best tool found so far for the discovery of mechanisms that can produce social change.” – Joseph Lopreato and Timothy Crippen (1999: 59)

“The natural science closest to sociology, as to other social sciences, is evolutionary biology. For 150 years, this branch of knowledge has constituted a marvelous scientific revolution. In recent decades, moreover, evolutionary biology has made giant strides toward the study of behavior, human conduct included, through refinements of Darwinian theory, several aspects of genetic science, and such evolutionary disciplines as human ethology, primatology, neurobiology, neuroendocrinology, and Darwinian psychology, among others. Here, more than anywhere else, is where the action is today in behavioral science. Sociology will participate in this revolution or it will be cancelled out in the intellectual landscape.” – J. Lopreato and T. Crippen (1999)

“[S]ociocultural evolutionists have yet to establish that a borrowed theory of ‘natural selection’ provides genuine explanatory insight into the most fundamental and determinant of social processes.” – Joseph Bryant (2004: 460)

“Against the seemingly formidable objection that developments in human culture are largely teleological or Lamarckian in form, and result from problem solving and creative intentional choice on the part of reflexive agents, evolutionary advocates insist that ‘Darwinian’ mechanisms are operative here as well.” – J. Bryant (2004: 465)

“In biological evolution, organisms strive and compete in environments that are not ‘meaningful’ or ‘constructed’ in any sense comparable to the social worlds that humans collectively project and internalize.” – J. Bryant (2004: 475)

“Where the ‘survive and reproduce’ criteria of biological fitness remain universal and objective, ‘fitness’ in matters cultural is not only variable and variegated according to time and place but also appraised subjectively by agents whose identities are likewise historically and socially transacted.” – J. Bryant (2004: 483)

“Human intentionality, even when collectively organized, does not ensure the practical realization of our aspirations—a host of unintended consequences and the complications that arise from intergroup competition invariably deflect us from our projected destinies—but the effort to put thought into practice does impart to history a purposeful content and directionality that is entirely lacking in the course of biological evolution.” – J. Bryant (2004: 484)

“The human capacity for future-oriented deliberation imparts to acculturated agency a teleological dimension that brings the selection process within the sphere of normative considerations, which results in a directed or ‘quasi-Lamarckian’ pursuit of our projects and aspirations rather than a random generation of traits unconnected with socially defined needs and objectives.” – J. Bryant (2004: 488-9)

“As a research program, sociocultural evolutionism displays a debilitating imbalance between the theoretical and the empirical demands of science. Proceeding on the unsubstantiated premise that there are true equivalences between the biological and the sociological, the analytical cogency of evolutionism is generally presumed rather than tested, as selectionists deploy a borrowed lexicon and grammar to ‘reconfigure’ cases in accordance with a pseudoevolutionary narrative.” – J. Bryant (2004: 490)

“The taut and powerful threads of the theory of biological evolution accordingly slacken, fray, and unravel when they are stretched into providing coverage for phenomena that are governed by significantly different mechanisms of constitution and development. Of the master processes of social change—political revolution and reform, technological innovation and labor and capital intensifications, conquest and colonization, the oscillations between religious radicalism and revivalism, demographic fluctuations and the migrations of peoples, military conflict and the race of armaments—none would appear to operate according to the evolutionary drift of random variation, objective adaptation to external environments, and natural selection through differential reproductive success. As forms of activity mediated by the conscious intentionality of socialized and collectively organized agents, these kinds of historical processes can be explicated only through a sequentially ordered tracking of agency as it unfolds, reflexively, within the structural and cultural contexts that establish its purpose and meaning.” – J. Bryant (2004: 489-90)



 Evolutionary Economics (def’n): “[A]n evolutionary economics must be the theory of a process of cultural growth as determined by the economic interest, a theory of a cumulative sequence of economic institutions stated in terms of the process itself.” – Thorstein Veblen (The Quarterly Journal of Economics; Volume 12, 1898)

“The conception of the economy is of a cumulative and evolutionary process unfolding in historical time in which agents are faced with chronic information problems and radical uncertainty about the future – instead of approaches to theorising which focus exclusively on equilibrium.” – European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy (EAEPE, 2005) (

Major Figures: Karl Marx, Alfred Marshall, Thorstein Veblen, Joseph Shumpeter, Friedrick von Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Geoffrey Hodgson, Kenneth Boulding, Brian Loasby, Laurence Moss, Sidney Winter, Richard Nelson, Ulrich Witt, Hardi Hannapi, Andrey Korotayev, et al. 

Notes and Quotes:

“The most fundamental things in our minds were on the one hand the idea of evolution, and on the other hand, the idea of relativity.” – Richard Ely (President, American Economic Association, 1885)

 “The greatest authority of all the advocates of war is Darwin.” – Max Nordau (North American Review, 1889)

 “Any evolutionary science…is a close knit body of theory. It is a theory of a process, of an unfolding sequence.” … “The changes that take place in the mechanical contrivances are an expression of changes in the human factor. Changes in the material facts breed further change only through the human factor. It is in the human material that the continuity of development is to be looked for; and it is here, therefore, that the motor forces of the process of economic development must be studied if they are to be studied in action at all. Economic action must be subject matter of the science if the science is to fall into line as an evolutionary science.” … “The economic life history of the individual is a cumulative process of adaptation of means to ends that cumulatively change as the process goes on, both the agent and his environment being at any point the outcome of the last process.” – T. Veblen (1898)

 “What differentiates the realm of the natural sciences from that of the sciences of human action is the categorical system resorted to in each in interpreting phenomena and constructing theories. The natural sciences do not know anything about final causes; inquiry and theorizing are entirely guided by the category of causality. The field of the sciences of human action is the orbit of purpose and of conscious aiming at ends; it is teleological.”– Ludwig von Mises (1957)

“[A]chievements of the experimental natural sciences prompted the emergence of a materialistic metaphysical doctrine, positivism. Positivism flatly denies that any field of inquiry is open for teleological research. The experimental methods of the natural sciences are the only appropriate methods for any kind of investigation. They alone are scientific, while the traditional methods of the sciences of human action are metaphysical, that is, in the terminology of positivism, superstitious and spurious.” … “[T]he biological evolution that resulted in the emergence of the structure-function systems of plant and animal bodies was a purely physiological process in which no trace of a conscious activity on the part of the cells can be discovered. On the other hand, human society is an intellectual and spiritual phenomenon.” – L. von Mises (1957)

“It is hardly possible to mistake more thoroughly the meaning of history and the evolution of civilization than by concentrating one’s attention upon mass phenomena and neglecting individual men and their exploits.” – L. von Mises (Theory and History, 263)

 “The evolution of society and that of civilization were not two distinct processes but one and the same process. The biological passing of a species of primates beyond the level of a mere animal existence and their transformation into primitive men implied already the development of the first rudiments of social cooperation. Homo sapiens appeared on the stage of earthly events neither as a solitary food-seeker nor as a member of a gregarious flock, but as a being consciously cooperating with other beings of his own kind. Only in cooperation with his fellows could he develop language, the indispensable tool of thinking. We cannot even imagine a reasonable being living in perfect isolation and not cooperating at least with members of his family, clan, or tribe. Man as man is necessarily a social animal.” – L. von Mises (1963: 252)

“Societal development is a process by which the human race realizes the evolutionary potential for producing artifacts that is inherent in its biologically produced brains. This is the process that goes from the first Homo and Mulier sapiens with their primitive concepts and artifacts, to Einstein and space shuttles. Economic development is a subset of this process through time and space, now confined to the surface of the earth. It concentrates particularly on the evolution of commodities—that is, valued artifacts that at least potentially have the capacity for entering into exchange and transfer.” …“The history of the human race is to a large extent the history of the evolution of human artifacts as they have risen in number and complexity.” – Kenneth Boulding (1981: 49)

“We do seem to perceive a ‘time’s arrow’ in evolution, certainly toward complexity and control systems, more hesitantly toward awareness, consciousness, and something hard to put a name on that perhaps we dare call intelligence.” – K. Boulding (1981)

“One of the difficulties of evolutionary theory, both in biology and in social systems, is that it does not have very much predictive power.” – K. Boulding (1981)

“[C]hange ‘according to a plan’ is usually not regarded as evolutionary.” – Richard Nelson (“Evolutionary Theorizing about Economic Change.” The Handbook of Economic Sociology, 1994: 115)

“I am an economist, but I am also what we might call an evolution groupie. That is, I spend a great deal of time reading what evolutionary biologists write – not only the more popular volumes but the textbooks and, most recently, some of the professional articles. I have even tried to talk to some of the biologists, which in this age of narrow specialization is a major effort.” – Paul Krugman (“What Economists Can Learn from Evolutionary Theorists,” 1996) (

“The fact is that maximization and equilibrium are astonishingly powerful ways to cut through what might otherwise be forbidding complexity – and evolutionary theorists have, entirely correctly, been willing to adopt the useful fiction that individuals are at their maxima and that the system is in equilibrium.” – Paul Krugman (1996)



Evolutionary Anthropology (def’n): Evolutionary anthropology takes for granted that human beings evolve, not only physically and biologically, but also culturally, psychologically and linguistically. It also assumes that human beings have evolved from less complex (or simpler) ancestors to achieve a more complex contemporary socio-cultural existence, whether through uni-linear (evolutionary) or multi-lineal (neo-evolutionary) pathways of human progress. Evolutionary thought composes the primary disciplinary paradigm through which current studies in anthropology take place.

Major Figures: Immanuel Kant, Lewis H. Morgan, Edward B. Tylor, Leslie White, Julian Steward, Franz Boas, Ruth Benedict, Margaret Mead, Marcel Mauss, Claude Levi-Strauss, A.R. Radcliffe-Brown, Bronislaw Malinowski, Marvin Harris, Robert Carneiro, Andrey Korotayev, et al. 

Notes and Quotes:

“We even think that the entire significance of Darwin’s theory lies not in the question of the origin of species itself, but in the search for general biological laws of organic life, in the search for laws of the metamorphosis of organisms, and only this zoological question becomes a living issue, a social issue…an issue concerning the physiological and pathological laws of animal life and human societies.” – N.D. Nozhin (1866)

“The condition of culture among the various societies of mankind is a subject apt for the study of laws of human thought and action. On the one hand, the uniformity which so largely pervades civilization may be ascribed, in great measure, to the uniform action of uniform causes; while on the other hand its various grades may be regarded as stages of development or evolution, each the outcome of previous history, and about to do its proper part in shaping the history of the future.” – Edward Burnett Tylor (1871)

“As it is undeniable that portions of the human family have existed in a state of savagery, other portions in a state of barbarism, and still others in a state of civilization, it seems equally so that these three distinct conditions are connected with each other in a natural as well as necessary sequence of progress.” – Lewis Henry Morgan  (1877)

“I believe that if you strip the Origin of Species of its theoretical part, it still remains one of the greatest encyclopedias of biological doctrine that any one man ever brought forth; and I believe that, if you take it as the embodiment of an hypothesis, it is destined to be the guide of biological and psychological speculation for the next three or four generations.” – Thomas Huxley (“The Struggle for Existence in Human Society,” The Nineteenth Century, 1888)

“I have really been discussing questions of more general interest which concern the gradual evolution of human thought from savagery to civilization.” – James Frazier (The Golden Bough, Part Vii Balder the Beautiful, 1890)

“I am neither an anthropologist nor a sociologist; so, luckily, my readers will not expect me to define terms like culture and community with any precision. I am a biologist, and as such I see human history as a recent and very special outgrowth of biological evolution. Without the biological background, it looks different.” … “Human personalities are the highest products of evolution; they have greater capacities and have reached a higher level of organization than any other parts of the world substance.” – Julian Huxley (1953)

“[I]t is the emphasis of process rather than on stages that is the main 20th century amendment to most 19th century evolutionism.” – Eleanor Leacock (“Status among the Montagnais-Naskopi of Labrador,” 56th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, 1957: 3)

“[S]ociocultural anthropologists should also find that an evolutionary viewpoint is critical to understanding humanity. The socio-cultural realm cannot be separated from its evolutionary past, and historical sketches of individual cultures’ pasts is not an adequate method of understanding present behavior and motivation for that behavior. A true evolutionary understanding requires, first, an understanding of evolution and second, a coherent theory of cultural change.” – Cameron McPherson Smith (1994)

“[P]rocess is a continuum, that is to say, a gradual, interconnected, and uninterrupted series of changes.” – R. Carneiro (Alternatives of Social Evolution, 2000: 53)



Evolutionary Philosophy (def’n): “For a long time, evolution was ignored by academic philosophers and social scientists as though ‘where we came from’ had no influence on ‘who we think we are’ or ‘how we should live’. / However, recent advances in biological science along and with the appearance of aggressive new forms of creationism like ‘intelligent design’ have forced academic philosophers and social scientists to decide whether they are prepared to defend evolutionary theory, and this is leading to a resurgence of interest in evolutionary philosophy.” (

“[I]nstead of doing away with all teleology, the evolutionary philosophy itself became a teleology, replacing bleak Calvinism with the warm, rosy outlook of a perpetual and universal upward progress.” – Bartleby (

Major Figures: Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, Georg Hegel, Friedrich Nietzsche, Henri Bergson, John Dewey, Alfred North Whitehead, Vladimir Vernadsky, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Mary Midgley, Daniel Dennett, Howard van Till, Michael Ruse, Thomas Nagel, et al. 

Notes and Quotes:

“But evidently there is a first principle, and the causes of things are neither an infinite series nor infinitely various in kind…final cause cannot go on ad infinitum…if there is no first there is no cause at all.” – Aristotle (Metaphysics, 994a 1, 7 & 19)

“The defender of religion is concerned that those harmonies which can be explained from a natural tendency of matter might prove to be independent of divine Providence. He [sic] confesses unambiguously that if one can discover natural causes for the entire order of the universe and in turn derive these causes from the most general and essential properties of matter, then it is unnecessary to have recourse to a higher government. The advocate of naturalism settles his account merely by not disputing this assumption.” – Immanuel Kant (Universal Natural History and Theory of the Heavens: An essay concerning the Constitution and Mechanical Origins of the entire World-Edifice based on Newtonian Principles)

“What is the ape to man? A laughingstock or a painful embarrassment. And man shall be just that for the overman: a laughingstock or a painful embarrassment. You have made your way from worm to man, and much in you is still worm. Once you were apes, and even now, too, man is more ape than any ape. Whoever is the wisest among you is also a mere conflict and cross between plant and ghost. But do I bid you become ghosts or plants? Behold, I teach you the overman. The overman is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the overman shall be the meaning of the earth! I beseech you, my brothers, remain faithful to the earth, and do not believe those who speak to you of otherworldly hopes!” – Friedrich Nietzsche (Thus Spake Zarathustra, 1883)

“Darwinism was a purely English doctrine, with all the peculiarities of orientation of the English mind, and all the qualities of the English spirit. Practical use and competitive struggle – here are two characteristics…that give direction to English life and also to English science. On usefulness and utilitarianism is founded Benthamite ethics, and essentially Spencer’s also; on the war of all against all, now termed the struggle for existence – Hobbes’s theory of politics; on competition…the economic theory of Adam Smith and all of that primarily English science, political economy.” – N. Danilevski (1885: 146)

“Darwin forgot the spirit.” – F. Nietzsche (Twilight of the Idols)

“However great the struggle between people, one cannot forget that cooperation is also an essential aspect of their mutual relations.” – Mikhail M. Filippov (“Darwinism,” Scientific Review 32, 1894)

“Darwin’s theory was received in Russia with profound sympathy. While in Western Europe it met with firmly established old traditions which it had first to overcome, in Russia its appearance coincided with the awakening of our society after the Crimean War and here it immediately received the status of full citizenship and ever since has enjoyed widespread popularity.” – A.O. Kovalevskii (“Russia: Biological Sciences” in Thomas Glick, ed., The Comparative Reception of Darwinism, University of Texas Press, [1909] 1972: 229-30)

“The views you have acquired about Darwinism, evolution, and the struggle for existence won’t explain to you the meaning of your life and won’t give you guidance in your actions, and a life without an explanation of its meaning and importance, and without the unfailing guidance that stems from it is a pitiful existence. Think about it. I say it, probably on the eve of my death, because I love you.” – Lev N. Tolstoy (Letters, Nov. 1, 1910, to his children)

“The one and only evolution-idea that is timeless, ahistoric, is Aristotle’s entelechy.” – Oswald Spengler (The Decline of the West, 1918, 1926)

“The matter here is one of history and not of philosophy so that it need only be noted that no philosopher denies that a mystery still attaches to the two great transitions: the origin of the universe itself and the origin of the principle of life itself. Most philosophers have the enlightenment to add that a third mystery attaches to the origin of man himself. In other words, a third bridge was built across a third abyss of the unthinkable when there came into the world what we call reason and what we call will. Man is not merely an evolution but rather a revolution.” – G.K. Chesterton (The Everlasting Man, 1925)

“It is well to remember that the modern quantum-theory, with its surprises in dealing with the atom, is only the latest instance of a well-marked character of nature, which in each particular instance is only explained by some ad hoc dogmatic assumption. The theory of biological evolution would not in itself lead us to expect the sharply distinguished genera and species which we find in nature. There might be an occasional bunching of individuals round certain typical forms; but there is no explanation of the almost complete absence of intermediate forms.” – A.N. Whitehead (Process and Reality, 1929)

“Is evolution a theory, a system or a hypothesis? It is much more: it is a general condition to which all theories, all hypotheses, all systems must bow and which they must satisfy henceforward if they are to be thinkable and true. Evolution is a light illuminating all facts, a curve that all lines must follow.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (The Phenomenon of Man, 1940)

“[T]here is a single evolutionary process to be studied and that the separate aspects of the problem only acquire full significance when considered in relation to the whole. This is particularly true of man and his history. It makes a great difference whether we think of the history of mankind as something wholly apart from the history of the rest of life, or as a continuation of the general evolutionary process, though with special characteristics of its own.” – Julian Huxley (1953: vi)

“Just as there is no such thing as absolute motion—merely motion relative to some other motion—so there is no such thing as progress in the abstract. It can only be defined, or indeed described, in relation to other kinds of evolutionary change, and we must take into account the restrictions and the dead ends of improvement as well as the onward continuity of its advance.” – Julian Huxley (1953: 101)

“All phenomena have a historical aspect. From the condensation of nebulae to the development of the infant in the womb, from the formation of the earth as a planet to the making of a political decision, they are all processes in time; and they are all interrelated as partial processes within the single universal process of reality. All reality, in fact is evolution, in the perfectly proper sense that it is a one-way process in time; unitary; continuous; irreversible; self-transforming; and generating variety and novelty during its transformations. I am quite aware that many people object to the use of the term evolution for anything but the transformations of living substance. But I think this is undesirably narrow. Some term is undoubtedly needed for the comprehensive process in all its aspects, and no other convenient designation exists at present save that of evolution*.” (“It may be desirable to coin a new term: this I must leave to the philosophers of science. Meanwhile in later chapters I shall, perhaps illogically, use evolution in the restricted sense of biological evolution whenever there is no danger of confusion.” *Footnote) – Julian Huxley (1953: 9-10)

“A century has now elapsed since the period of intellectual ferment which followed the appearance of The Origin of Species (1859). This work not only revolutionized biological thought. It also profoundly affected the social sciences, the humanities, and even theology. The influence exerted by the work sprang from the unprecedented support it gave to the view that there had been an evolution of living things on earth. Darwin’s theory of evolution quickly became a powerful force in Western culture…Thinkers such as Spencer, Peirce, Bergson and Dewey incorporated the theory into their systems. Throughout the whole range of this influence, however, it came to be assumed that the Darwinian doctrine was authoritative and to a large degree final. Even today, outside the field of biology, most people identify the theory of evolution with the ideas put forward by Darwin.  Meanwhile, within biology, the theory itself continued to evolve…” – T.A. Goudge (1961: 13)

“On the Darwinian hypothesis…natural selection was proposed as an adequate explanation of all such phenomena [internal teleology]. No reference to inner purposes, conscious or unconscious, was needed. The most that could be admitted was the appearance of teleology.” … “A very slight logical pressure is sufficient to transform this [evolution] into the doctrine that we must ‘explain the total universe’ before we can ‘really’ explain any part or aspect of it. But this doctrine empties the idea of explanation of both its scientific and its commonsense understanding.” – T.A. Goudge (1961: 24)

“The goal of evolution may be represented in a variety of ways as the maximizing of life, the production of man, the realizing of absolute freedom, etc. Since the achieving of the goal is implicit in the evolutionary process, it may be argued that the vital agency must be allowed some degree of foresight and hence of consciousness. From this point many extrapolations can be made which lead into the domain of natural theology.” – T.A. Goudge (1961: 81)

“Whatever else may be signified by the word ‘evolution’, it undoubtedly refers to a type of change which has taken and is taking place in the world. This can be seen by a moment’s reflection on the ordinary, non-technical use of the word. It would sound self-contradictory to say: ‘The automobile evolved from the horseless carriage, but no changes of any kind occurred.’ Whenever we are prepared to use the word ‘evolution’ we are also prepared to use the word ‘change’.” – T.A. Goudge (1961: 25)

“What caused evolution? Why did it happen? What is its purpose, to what end is it directed? What is the meaning of evolution, and what is the meaning of that vastly greater world of which man is only a recent and minute fragment? Few of these questions are scientific…but it is important to recognize them for what they are, even if as scientists we must lay them aside. The biologist as a philosopher cannot escape seeking answers to them, and neither can any thinking person.” – G.G. Simpson, C.S. Pittendrigh, L.H. Tiffany (introduction to T.A. Goudge,1961)

“A warning against easygoing belief in evolution, for such belief shows the evolutionist to be naïve, gullible, and obscurantist.” … “Science qua science cannot speak of beginnings because there simply is no evidence. There is no way to bring into experience or into the control of the laboratory how matter and eventually life got underway.” – Addison Leitch (“Evolution as an Easygoing Theory,” Quarterly Journal for Encouraging Original Work in Philosophy, 1967)

“With the rise of the evolutionary movement and the various sciences contributing to it, the idealistic philosophers and fideists were deprived of their concepts of soul, mind, consciousness, will  and other traditional props…Man is incidental to existence; he occupies a very minor position in the universe. This basic fact of the non-dependence of the field of existence on man, or on any mind, makes philosophical idealism impossible.” – Marvin Farber (Basic Issues in Philosophy, 1968)

“Social order is not part of the ‘nature of things,’ and it cannot be derived from the ‘laws of nature.’ Social order exists only as a product of human activity…Both in its genesis (social order is the result of past human activity) and its existence in any instant of time (social order exists only and insofar as human activity continues to produce it) it is a human product.” – Thomas Kuhn (1970: 51)

“The analogy that relates the evolution of organisms to the evolution of scientific ideas can easily be pushed too far. … Successive stages in that developmental process are marked by an increase in articulation and specialization. And the entire process may have occurred, as we now suppose biological evolution did, without benefit of a set goal, a permanent fixed scientific truth, of which each stage in the development of scientific knowledge is a better exemplar.” – Thomas Kuhn (1970: 172-3)

“I am not a thing, a noun. // I seem to be a verb, // an evolutionary process— // an integral function of the universe.” – R. Buckminster Fuller    (1972)

“[W]e may speak of adaptation by the ‘method of trial and error’ or better, by ‘the method of trial and the elimination of error’.” – Karl Popper (1973)

“I do not think that Darwinism can explain the origin of life. I think it quite possible that life is so extremely improbable that nothing can ‘explain’ why it originated; for statistical explanation must operate, in the last instance, with very high probabilities. But if our high probabilities are merely low probabilities which have become high because of the immensity of the available time, then we must not forget that in this way it is possible to ‘explain’ almost everything. Even so, we have little enough reason to conjecture that any explanation of this sort is applicable to the origin of life.” – K. Popper (1974)

“If God had wanted to put everything into the world from the beginning, He would have created a universe without change, without organisms and evolution, and without man and man’s experience of change. But He seems to have thought that a live universe with events unexpected even by Himself would be more interesting than a dead one.” – K. Popper in conversation with Albert Einstein (1974: 130)

“Gradualness is thus, from a logical point of view, the central prediction of the theory. (It seems to me that it is its only prediction.)” – K. Popper (1974: 172)

“Evolutionary philosophy has indeed become a state of mind, one might almost say a kind of mental prison rather than a scientific attitude. For wherever proof is, in the nature of the case, either lacking or impossible, the scientific attitude is to maintain an open mind. But this is precisely what the evolutionist is unwilling to allow. He will not admit that any alternative interpretation of the data is possible.” – Arthur Custance (“Evolution: An Irrational Faith,” 1976)

“Modern science directly implies that the world is organized strictly in accordance with mechanistic principles. There are no purposive principles whatsoever in nature. There are no gods and no designing forces that are rationally detectable….Second modern science directly implies that there are no inherent moral or ethical laws, no absolute guiding principles for human society. / Third, human beings are marvelously complex machines. The individual human, becomes an ethical person by means of two primary mechanisms: heredity and environmental influences. That is all there is. / Fourth, we must conclude that when we die. We die that is the end of us…Finally, free will as it is traditionally conceived – the freedom to make un-coerced and unpredictable choices among alternative possible courses of action – simply does not exist….there is no way that evolutionary processes as currently conceived can produce a being that can truly free to make choices.” – William Provine (“Evolution and the Foundation of Ethics,” MBL Science, vol. 3, no. 1, 1988: 25-29)

“The important point about the standard evolutionary story is that the human species and all of its features are the wholly physical outcome of a purely physical process…If this is the correct account of origins, then there seems neither need, nor room, to fit any nonphysical substances or properties into our theoretical account of ourselves. We are creatures of matter. And we should learn to live with that fact.” – Paul Churchland (in Moreland & Rae, Body and Soul, 2000: 101)

“The evolution of consciousness is the evolution of organisms with souls which are conscious and which interact with the body.” … “The theory of the evolved human soul that I have been advocating in this book is, I believe, that of the Bible. Both Old and New Testament hold that a man is a thing of flesh and bone. When in the last century BC many Jews came to believe in life after death, and when the Christian religion arose within Judaism affirming life after death, the life which they affirmed was not a natural immortality, but a resurrection—God intervening in history to give to Christ or to all men new bodies and thereby new life.” – Richard Swinburne (1986, 1997)

“There is no spirit-driven life force, no throbbing, heaving, pullulating, protoplasmic, mystic jelly. Life is just bytes and bytes and bytes or digital information.” … “This is one of the hardest lessons for humans to learn. We cannot admit that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous – indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose.” … “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.” – Richard Dawkins (River Out of Eden, 1996)

“If I were to give an award for the single best idea anyone has ever had, I’d give it to Darwin, ahead of Newton and Einstein and everyone else. In a single stroke, the idea of evolution by natural selection unifies the realm of life, meaning, and purpose with the realm of space and time, cause and effect, mechanism and physical law.” – Daniel Dennett (Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, 1991)

“Conflict between civilizations will be the latest phase in the evolution of conflict in the modern world.” – Samuel Huntingdon (The Clash of Civilizations, 1996)

“[T]heories of evolution which, in accordance with the philosophies inspiring them, consider the spirit as emerging from the forces of living matter or as a mere epiphenomenon of this matter are incompatible with the truth about man.” – Pope John Paul II (“Address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences,” 1996)

“Evolution, most notably in its Darwinist form, has become thoroughly ideological: the secular creation myth.” … “Must intellectual progress or truth itself be held hostage to contemporary biology? Even if evolution were the great integrative principle of biology, why should biologists care if non-biologists reject the idea?” … “It should surprise no one if evolutionary theory is discarded for another idea.” – Ben Carter (The Defective Image, 2001)

“At every level of world history – the cosmic, the biological, the social, the intellectual – process philosophers have envisioned a developmental dynamic in which later is better – somehow superior in being more differentiated and sophisticated…As process philosophy sees it, the world’s processuality involves not only change but improvement – the evolutionary realization – at large and on the whole – of what is not only different but also in some way better.” – N. Rescher (“Process Philosophy,” Plato – Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2002)

“Throughout most of human history the cosmos was thought to be an essentially static and unchanging order. Today nature is known to be a dynamic evolutionary process with a long history of emergent novelty, characterized by both law and chance. The natural order is ecological, interdependent, and multileveled.” – Ian Barbour (Nature, Human Nature, and God, 2002: 3)

“While I accept the evidence for evolution, as almost all scientists do, I do not accept the philosophy of materialism that is assumed or defended by many scientists…It is often accompanied by a second assertion: the scientific method is the only reliable path to knowledge.” … “Scientists have often extended scientific concepts beyond their scientific use to support comprehensive materialist philosophies. The identification of the real with measurable properties that can be correlated by exact mathematical relationships started in the physical sciences, but it influenced scientists in other fields and continues today.” – Ian Barbour (2002: 4, 5)

“[T]he very word socio-biology is now largely avoided in learned circles.” – Mary Midgley (1985, 2002: x)

“Evolution…is the creation myth of our age. By telling us our origins it shapes our views of what we are. It influences not just our thoughts, but our feelings and actions too, in a way which goes far beyond its official function as a biological theory.” – Mary Midgley (1985, 2002: 33)

“[T]here is really no reason to assume that the only alternative to an evolutionary explanation of everything is a religious one.” – Thomas Nagel (The Last Word, 2003)

“There is however another dimension to evolutionary thought: a dimension which does go beyond straight science. Here one might indeed say that values and philosophy and ideology — perhaps even a religion or religion substitute — thrives and gives people meaning and purpose.” – Michael Ruse (“Is Evolution just another Religion?” Metanexus, 2005)


Literature on Varieties of Evolution and Evolutionism

Adler, Mortimer J. and Hutchins, Robert M. (1952). ‘Evolution’ in Great Ideas, the Great Books Series. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Chicago.

Anderson, Phillip, Kenneth Arrow, and David Pines (1988). The Economy as an Evolving Complex System. California: Addison-Wesley.

Basalia, George (1988). The Evolution of Technology. Cambridge.

Boulding, Kenneth (1981). Evolutionary Economics. California: Sage Publications.

Boyd, Robert and Peter Richardson (1985). Culture and the Evolutionary Process. University of Chicago Press.

Blute, M. (1997). “History Versus Science: The Evolutionary Solution.” Canadian Journal of Sociology – Cahiers Canadiens De Sociologie 22 (3): 345-364.

Bryant, Joseph (2004). “An Evolutionary Social Science? A Skeptic’s Brief, Theoretical and Substantive.” Philosophy of the Social Sciences, December: 460.

Carneiro, Robert (1973). “The Four Faces of Evolution.” Handbook of Social and Cultural Anthropology, ed. J.J. Honingman, Chicago: 89-110.

Carter, Ben (2001). The Defective Image: How Darwinism Fails to Provide an Adequate Account of the World. University Press of America.

Childe, Gordon (1951). Social evolution. London: Watts & Co.

Comte, August (1822). “Plan of the Scientific Operations Necessary for Reorganizing Society.”

Crippen. T. and A. Walsh (1996). “Biosociology: An Emerging Paradigm.” Social Forces 75 (1): 351-352.

Curtis, R., G. Radnitzky, and W.W. Bartley (1998). “Evolutionary Epistemology, Rationality, and the Sociology of Knowledge.” Philosophy of the Social Sciences 19 (1): 95-102.

Danilevsky, Nikolai M. (1885, 1889). Darwinism: A Critical Investigation (Дарвинизм. Критическое исследование).

Darwin, Charles (1892). The Autobiography of Charles Darwin and Selected Letters. Ed. and arranged by Francis Darwin, New York: Dover, 1958.

Dawkins, Richard (1983). “Universal Darwinism.” Evolution from Molecules to Man, D. S. Bendell (ed.). CambridgeUniversity Press.

DeBresson, Chris. “The Evolutionary Paradigm and the Economics of Technological Change.” Journal of Economic Issues 21: 751-761.

Dewey, John (1902). “The Evolutionary Method As Applied to Morality: 1. Its Scientific Necessity.” Philosophical Review 11.

Dewey, John (1910). The Influence of Darwin on Philosophy and Other Essays. Henry Holt and Company, New York.

Dietz, Thomas, Tom R. Burns, and Frederick H. Buttel (1990). “Evolutionary Theory in Sociology: An Examination of Current Thinking.” Sociological Forum 5 (2)

Dobzhansky, Theodosius (1973). “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution.” American Biology Teacher, 35.

Dugger, William and Howard Sherman (2000). Reclaiming Evolution: A dialogue between Marxism and institutionalism on social change. London: Routledge.

Durham, William (1991). Co-Evolution: Genes, Culture, and Human Diversity. StanfordUniversity Press.

Durkheim, Emile (1893). The Division of Labour in Society. London: MacMillan: 1984.

Durkheim, Emile (1895). The Rules of Sociological Method. New York: The Free Press, 1966.

Eisenstadt, Shmuel (1968). “Social Evolution.” International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, vol. 5, edited by D. Sills, New York: Macmillan.

Goudge, Thomas A. (1961). The Ascent of Life: A Philosophical Study of the Theory of Evolution. University of Toronto Press.

Gouldner, Alvin (1970). The Coming Crisis of Western Sociology. New York: Basic Books.

Habermas, Jurgen (1979). “History and Evolution.” Telos 39: 5-44.

Habermas, Jurgen (1984). Communication and the Evolution of Society, trans. Thomas McCarthy. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Hallpike, C.R. (1986). The Principles of Social Evolution. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Haraway, Donna (1988). “Situated Knowledges” in Feminist Studies 14, 3: 575-600.

Hofstadter, Richard (1944, 1955). Social Darwinism in American Thought. Boston: Beacon Press.

Hodgson, Geoff (1999). Evolution and Institutions: On Evolutionary Economics and the Evolution of Economics. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Hull, D.L. (1973).Darwin and his critics: The reception of Darwin’s theory of evolution by the scientific community. University of Chicago Press.

Hull, D.L. (1988). Science as a Process: An Evolutionary Account of the Social and Conceptual Development of Science. University of Chicago Press.

Huxley, Julian (1941). Evolution: The Modern Synthesis. New York: Mentor Books.

Huxley, Julian (1953). Evolution in Action. New York: Mentor Books.

Kradin, Nikolay N., Andrey V. Korotayev, Dmiri M. Bondarenko, Victor de Munck, Paul Wason (2000). Alternatives of Social Evolution. Vladivosto: Far Eastern Branch of the RussianAcademy of Sciences.

Kuhn, Thomas (1970). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. University of Chicago Press.

Kuyper, Abraham (1899). “Evolution.” Abraham Kuyper: A Centennial Reader, ed. James Bratt, U.K.: Eerdmans, 1998.

Lamoureux, Denis and Johnson, Phillip (1999). Darwinism Defeated? The Johnson-Lamoureux Debate on Biological Origins. Vancouver: RegentCollege.

Leitch, Addison (1967). “Evolution as an Easygoing Theory.” Quarterly Journal for Encouraging Original Work in Philosophy.

Lopreato, Joseph and Crippen, Timothy (1999). Crisis in Sociology: The Need for Darwin. New Jersey: Transaction Publishers.

Maasen, S. and P. Weingart (1995). “Metaphors – Messengers of Meaning: A Contribution to an Evolutionary Sociology of Science.” Science Communication 17 (1): 9-31

Maryanski, Alexandra (1998). “Evolutionary Sociology.” Advances in Human Ecology, 7: 1-56 ed. Lee Freese, JAI Press.

Maryanski, Alexandra (2005). “Evolutionary Theory.” Encyclopedia of Social Theory, ed. George Ritzer, Sage Publications. 

Mechnikov, L.I.. (1884). “The StruggleSchool in Sociology” (Школа Борьбы в Социологий).

Merton, Robert (1936). “The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposive Social Action.” The American Sociological Review, Volume 1, Issue 6, 894-904.

Midgley, Mary (1985, 2002). Evolution as a Religion. London: Routledge.

Mikhailkovski, Nikolai K.. (1870). The Theory of Darwin and Social Science (Теория Дарвина и общественная наука). St. Petersburg.

Mises, Ludwig von (1957). Treatise on Social and Economic Evolution.Online edition, copyright 2000, Auburn: The Mises Institute: 1985, Yale University Press.

Mises, Ludwig von (1963). Theory and History.

Montesquieu . The Spirit of the Laws.

Parsons, Talcott (1954). Essays in Sociological Theory.New York: The Free Press

Parsons, Talcott (1964). “Evolutionary Universals in Society.” L. Mayhew ed. Talcott Parsons on institutions and social evolutions. University of Chicago Press: 1982.

Parsons, Talcott (1966). Societies: Evolutionary and Comparative Perspectives. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Parsons, Talcott (1977). The Evolution of Societies.Prentice-Hall, New Jersey.

Popper, Karl (1963). Conjectures and Refutations. Routledge and Keagan Paul, London.

Popper, Karl (1972). Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach. Oxford Press, London.

Popper, Karl (1973). “Evolutionary Epistemology.” The Philosophy of Karl Popper.Open Court, Illinois.

Popper, Karl (1974). Unended Quest. London: Routledge.

Rescher, Nicholas (2002). “Process Philosophy.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Runciman, W.G. (1989). A Treatise on Social Theory, Vol. II, CambridgeUniversity Press.

Sadovski, Vadim N. (2000). Evolutionary Epistemology and the Logic of Social Science (Эволюционнаяэпистемологияилогикасоциальныхнаук).Moscow.

Sanderson, Stephen K. (1990). Social Evolutionism: A Critical History. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Sanderson, Stephen K. (1994). “Evolutionary Materialism: A Theoretical Strategy for the Study of Social Evolution.” Sociological Perspectives 37 (1): 47-73

Sanderson, Stephen K. (1997). “Evolutionism and its Critics.” Journal of World-Systems Research 3: 94-114.

Sikorsky, Igor (1949). “The Evolution of the Soul.” William F. Ayers Foundation.

Smith, John Maynard (1982). Evolution and the Theory of Games. Cambridge Press.

Sorokin, Pitirim (1941). The Crisis of Our Age. Dutton, New York.

Sorokin, Pitirim (1950, 1963). Modern Historical and Social Philosophies. New York:Dover.

Spencer, Herbert (1862). First Principles.

Spencer, Herbert (1967). The Evolution of Society; Selections from Herbert Spencer’s Principles of Sociology. Ed. R. Carneiro. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Stebbins, G.L. (1969). The Basis of Progressive Evolution.Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Swinburne, Richard (1986, 1997). The Evolution of the Soul. Clarendon Press, Oxford.

Todes, Daniel (1989). Darwin without Malthus: The Struggle for Existence in Russian Evolutionary Thought. OxfordUniversity Press, New York.

Veblen, Thorstein (1898). “Why is Economics not an Evolutionary Science?” The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Volume 12.

Van Den Berghe, Pierre L. (1990). “Why Most Sociologists Don’t (and Won’t) Think Evolutionarily.” Sociological Forum 5 (2).

Voget, F.W. (1975). A History of Ethnology. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Von Mises, Ludwig (1957). Treatise on Social and Economic Evolution: 2000.

Weber, Max (1919). “Science as a Vocation.” From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, trans. and ed. H.H. Gerth and C.W. Mills 129-156: 1970.

White, Leslie A. (1943). “Energy and the evolution of culture.” American Anthropologist. 45: 335-56.


Internet Resources:

 Association for Evolutionary Economics –

European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy –

Evolution and the Social Sciences –

Japan Association for Evolutionary Economics –

The Evolutionary Anthropology Society –


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