Erasmus Darwin regarded science and technology as expressions of human creativity and power, as aspirations towards human dominance over nature. It is undeniable that Darwin’s purpose was to unveil the human shapes of nature. In this case, we face a topic that is present both in Darwin’s thought and in the wide Romantic tradition: Darwin, Young, Coleridge and Wordswoth shared a total confidence in human reason and imagination, that were seen as the mirror of divine creativity in nature. Darwin’s emphasis fell upon man’s power. But this emphasis points out only one aspect of a more complex plan. In late-eighteenth century, nature was not only the immovable stage in which the drama between God and human spirit happens. On the contrary, nature was often the true protagonist: mind and God are both expressions of nature’s power. The idea of power of nature is also a typical Darwin’s theme. If Darwin celebrated a new industrial humanity, his humanity was no more ‘self-centered’: in opposing to French illuministic bourgeoisie, Darwin’s provincial and agricultural mankind grows inside the womb of nature. Hence, 1) the romantic idea of nature plays a central role in Darwin’s thought; 2) we can follow the first footsteps of this new romantic notion of nature especially through Darwin’s doctrine of imagination. Because nature is not only the straight effect of God’s creative will, it gets a high degree of autonomy. Individuals and species create themselves, and transform themselves thanks to a reproductive or, better, to an imaginative process, without any supernatural intervention. Beyond human initiative, gigantic natural forces appear in the world by means of ‘imagination’s power’. Overlooked but in the same time ‘saved’ (Darwin’s word) by imagination, man becomes a part of this natural force. My purpose is so to show: 1) that starting with mid-eighteenth century (i.e. starting with Charles Gildon, Mark Akenside, Joseph Warton) a concept of an enlarged imagination makes its way: imagination was no more simply a faculty of the mind or a human gift. It is rather a cosmic-generative force, acting before human race was born. 2) We can discover a similar theme also in Darwin’s work, notwithstanding scholars have not sufficiently stressed it. According to Darwin, imagination is a pre-human source, from which the life flows. Quoting the Temple of Nature, ‘the potent wish in the productive hour calls to its aid Imagination’s power’

Erasmus Darwin’s Doctrine of Love and Imagination

VALSANIA, Maurizio
2002

Abstract

Erasmus Darwin regarded science and technology as expressions of human creativity and power, as aspirations towards human dominance over nature. It is undeniable that Darwin’s purpose was to unveil the human shapes of nature. In this case, we face a topic that is present both in Darwin’s thought and in the wide Romantic tradition: Darwin, Young, Coleridge and Wordswoth shared a total confidence in human reason and imagination, that were seen as the mirror of divine creativity in nature. Darwin’s emphasis fell upon man’s power. But this emphasis points out only one aspect of a more complex plan. In late-eighteenth century, nature was not only the immovable stage in which the drama between God and human spirit happens. On the contrary, nature was often the true protagonist: mind and God are both expressions of nature’s power. The idea of power of nature is also a typical Darwin’s theme. If Darwin celebrated a new industrial humanity, his humanity was no more ‘self-centered’: in opposing to French illuministic bourgeoisie, Darwin’s provincial and agricultural mankind grows inside the womb of nature. Hence, 1) the romantic idea of nature plays a central role in Darwin’s thought; 2) we can follow the first footsteps of this new romantic notion of nature especially through Darwin’s doctrine of imagination. Because nature is not only the straight effect of God’s creative will, it gets a high degree of autonomy. Individuals and species create themselves, and transform themselves thanks to a reproductive or, better, to an imaginative process, without any supernatural intervention. Beyond human initiative, gigantic natural forces appear in the world by means of ‘imagination’s power’. Overlooked but in the same time ‘saved’ (Darwin’s word) by imagination, man becomes a part of this natural force. My purpose is so to show: 1) that starting with mid-eighteenth century (i.e. starting with Charles Gildon, Mark Akenside, Joseph Warton) a concept of an enlarged imagination makes its way: imagination was no more simply a faculty of the mind or a human gift. It is rather a cosmic-generative force, acting before human race was born. 2) We can discover a similar theme also in Darwin’s work, notwithstanding scholars have not sufficiently stressed it. According to Darwin, imagination is a pre-human source, from which the life flows. Quoting the Temple of Nature, ‘the potent wish in the productive hour calls to its aid Imagination’s power’
http://www.brianjford.com/erasmus.htm
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6V81-46WM6MT-3&_user=525216&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_rerunOrigin=google&_acct=C000026382&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=525216&md5=cb46f93516e755bbd27bf160a9db0a5e
History; philosophy; Enlightenment
M. Valsania
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2318/66305
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