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17:30 22 February 2010

Evolution, mental agency and late Victorian psychology


Fifth floor seminar room | Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL (link Map)
183 Euston Road | London | NW1 2BE | United Kingdom

Open to: Academic | Alumni | Public | Student
Admission: Free
Ticketing: Open

Speaker information

, Institute for the History of Science and Technology, Moscow

The question of free will and determinism was central to late Victorian intellectual debate, as much on account of the earlier development of 'mental physiology' as for the impact of evolutionary thought. This talk will introduce some of the issues, which ranged over a very wide front, associated with Darwin's, Huxley's and many other's continued faith in humanly created progress, in spite of what some critics thought the determinism of their views. Evolutionary arguments did not so much raise concerns about moral relativism as about the authority of belief in 'the will' as the driving force of a moral world. To look more closely at the kinds of arguments raised, I turn to late Victorian critics of scientific naturalism and to accounts of the active mind as the basis for accepting the actuality of human agency.


Sally Bragg
+44 (0)20 7679 8103 | s.bragg@ucl.ac.uk


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