Review of Reviews,  2 (1890), 647–50.

Our Scientific Causerie. Darwin's Successor at Home

Benjamin Kidd


Regular Feature, Essay


Heredity, Genetics, Biology, Evolution, Embryology, Darwinism, Socialism, Nationalism, Sociology, Music, Sex

    Acclaims August F L Weismann's theory of the continuity of the germ-plasm as 'one of the boldest and most masterful conceptions of science, forming a fitting supplement to Darwin's theories of the evolution of life'. Although 'originally a scientific hypothesis', Darwinism 'has invaded nearly every province of thought at the present time. It has transformed science; it has re-constructed philosophy'. (647) Darwin is 'the second Newton which England has given to science', although until recently the French, out of 'a certain national jealousy', 'would not give up Cuvier' (648). In an interview with Weismann at his home in Germany, Kidd discusses the sociological implications of his theory, as well as his insistence, in opposition to Alfred R Wallace, on the possibility of an entirely naturalistic explanation for the 'origin and development of the musical faculty' (649). Because Weismann's theory rejects the transmission of acquired characteristics, it is able to 'dispel [the] nightmare' of urban 'vice and degradation' being 'transmitted to offspring and accumulated from generation to generation'. It is, Kidd concludes, the 'best hope which Darwinism has yet produced'. (650)

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