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"It is a mater of dispute how far back evolutionary explanations of social order should be traced. Evolutionary ideas certainly appear in the work of the ancient Greek philosophers, but it seems reasonable to identify the origins of modern evolutionary thinking in the eighteenth century natural histories of civil society such as Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Among Men (1750, Part III), Adam Ferguson’s An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767), and Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations (1776, Book III). In these eighteenth century works, the explanation of current social institutions as an unplanned and generally adaptive development out of earlier and simpler arrangements gained traction. Germany too had a tradition of Naturphilosophie employing general evolutionary ideas, as well as Hegelian-influenced thinking on the development of societies. In 1863, four years after Darwin’s Origins of the Species August Schleicher’s Die Darwinscbe Theorie und die Sprachwissenschaf, drew on these traditions as well as Darwin’s Origins of the Species to present an evolutionary account of the development of families of languages (Taub, 1993), an endeavor that was carried on by a number of scholars in the later part of the nineteenth century."
New York, NY
History of Philosophy | Other Philosophy | Other Sociology
Thrasher, John, and Gerald Gaus. “Social Evolution.” The Routledge Companion to Social and Political Philosophy. Edited by Gerald Gaus and Fred D’Agostino, Routledge, 2013, pp. 643-655.
Taylor & Francis