Hegel Denies Evolution (But Dies 28 Years before the Origin of Species)
Our friends over at www.Marxists.org are perplexed about Hegel’s views on evolution. I am not quite sure where Hegel sits in the Communist Pantheon, but apparently he has some degree of importance. In 1816 Hegel published his Philosophy of Nature (Part 3 of his Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences). Steven Houlgate has written on this book and has posted his critique at Marxists.org. Hegel states the following:
“it is a completely empty thought to represent species as developing successively, one after the other, in time…. The land animal did not develop naturally out of the aquatic animal, nor did it fly into the air on leaving the water.”
“even if the earth was once in a state where it had no living things but only the chemical process, and so on, yet the moment the lightning of life strikes into matter, at once there is present a determinate, complete creature, as Minerva fully armed springs forth from the head of Jupiter…. Man has not developed himself out of the animal, nor the animal out of the plant; each is at a single stroke what it is.”
Just in case any doubt remains, Houldgate notes rather plaintively that “To the discomfort of many who are otherwise persuaded by his philosophy, Hegel rejects outright the doctrine of the evolution of species.” Houldgate attempts some reconciliation between Hegel and Darwin, but eventually admits that “Further exploration of the relation between Hegel’s speculative philosophy of nature and Darwinian evolutionary theory must, however, await another occasion.”
It is interesting to note that Hegel published his views on evolution in 1816. He does not use the term “evolution” but he clearly articulates the concept as he denies it. This shows that the idea of evolution was in circulation long before Darwin, and must have been widely understood for Hegel to make his comments. The current “Year of Darwin” hoopla fails to mention this, and gives the impression that Darwin all by himself came up with the idea of evolution. Unfortunately, the probability that the Marxists will challenge that is about as great as them rehabilitating Hegel as an ID supporter.