Young, Robert,
Cambridge: Cambridge University
Science is a defining characteristic of modernity. It separates us from an earlier world of superstition and religious orthodoxy. Or does it? In this seminar, we challenge such a simplistic understanding of the relationship between science and modernity. By reading Robert Young’s classic Marxist work, Darwin’s Metaphor (1985), we examine how scientific thought was produced as part of a wider social and cultural world. New understandings of man’s place in nature – particularly following the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859) – were not simply the product of a more modern and rational mind. Instead, evolutionary thought, like science more generally, was closely connected to Victorian religion and political economy. This session also provides an opportunity to reflect on the strengths, weaknesses and consequences of Young’s Marxist analysis. After all, if science is just a part of wider culture, then what makes it so powerful?
Keywords: sciense, modernity, culture, period