Can Anything Philosophical Come out of Darwinism? Resolving the Conflict between Evolutionary Biology and Philosophy in the Twentieth Century
Is the idea of ‘evolutionary philosophy’ well taken? If it is, how does evolutionary biology bear on philosophy? The incursion of biological science into ethics towards the end of the 19th century elicited a widespread reaction from twentieth century philosophers, who instantly began to question the relevance of Darwin’s work to philosophy. The doctrine of natural selection may not have comprehensively resolved the age-old problems of philosophy, for example, in the area of human morality and ethical thinking; in fact, it may not be able to replace philosophical inquiry in the absolute sense advocated by most evolutionary theorists. But it has made some remarkable contributions towards a better appreciation of philosophical problems. To this end, this paper explored the various areas of mutual interest between evolutionary science and philosophical inquiry. It highlights the tacit affinities between the two, and thus, finds that even from inception evolutionary biology has tended to follow philosophical inquiry rather closely in the different issues that have been of interest to the latter since its early beginnings in ancient Greece. Some of the areas of mutual concern and interest between the two fields of inquiry include the discourse on God, human nature, the universe, life, ethics, and politics. The paper, therefore, concluded with the submission that evolutionary biology and philosophy complement, rather than oppose, each other. Ultimately, such complementation suggests that both disciplines have a future together; among other things, it makes possible the idea of ‘evolutionary philosophy’.