Erasmus Darwin (Zoonomia, 17 94), though a zealous evolutionist, can hardly be said to have made any real advance on his predecessors; and, notwithstanding the fact that Goethe had the advantage of a wide knowledge of morphological facts, and a true insight into their signification, while he threw all the power of a great poet into the expression of his conceptions, it may be questioned whether he supplied the doctrine of evolution with a firmer scientific basis than it already possessed.
Nearly all of his books were first given to the public in the form of lectures or magazine articles, revised and collected under a general title, such as Myths and Myth-Makers (1872), Darwinism and Other Essays (1879), Excursions of an Evolutionist (1883), and A Century of Science (1899).
The thinker who sees man confronted by the infinite non-moral forces presumed by natural pantheism inevitably predominating over the finite powers of men may appear to the modern Christian theologian or to the evolutionist as a hopeless pessimist, and yet may himself have concluded that, though the future holds out no prospect save that of annihilation, man may yet by prudence and care enjoy a considerable measure of happiness.
The theories of the modern evolutionist school, however, have introduced into materialistic theory a new optimistic note in doctrines such as that of the survival of the fittest.
Herder was thus an evolutionist, but an evolutionist still under the influence of Rousseau.
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