Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Frederick Douglass & Darwinism

"I do not know that I am an evolutionist, but to this extent I am one. I certainly have more patience with those who trace mankind upward from a low condition, even from the lower animals, than with those that start him at a high point of perfection and conduct him to the level with the brutes. I have no sympathy with a theory that starts man in heaven and stops him in hell."

   — Frederick Douglass, "'It Moves': or the Philosophy of Reform", address delivered in Washington, DC, 20 November 1883; in The Frederick Douglass Papers, series 1, vol. 5; ed. John W. Blassingame et al (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992), pp. 124-145.

Note that the title of this speech is inspired by Galileo's reaction to the suppression of his work: "Eppur si mouve"— "nevertheless, it moves" (the Earth round the sun). Interestingly, this formulation of Douglass reminds me of Bakunin's antitheist argument in God and the State.

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