Scott L. Montgomery Books
The Shape of the New
Four Big Ideas and How They Made The Modern World
The "four big ideas" are the American Revolution ( Jefferson and Hamilton) and the works of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and Charles Darwin. I read the Adam Smith section closely, and lightly skimmed the rest with "index sampling". This is a valuable academic work, but not useful to me.
p190: "Was Darwin himself a Social Darwinist? Did he believe natural selection could be applied to society? The answer seems a pretty clear "no" in Origin of Species but a definite "yes" in Descent of Man. By the time of the latter work, however, he was a late arrival to such notions. ...
"Social Darwinism" is a label for many disparate ideas, a container for wildly different notions about what should be, what is, and how society got that way. Society itself is a label suggesting a discrete object in a fluid and complex world world. The label is loose enough and perjoratively burdened to be applied to anything a muddle-headed labeller has in mind, which is usually applying force to individiuals intending to achieve some hypothetical improvement. Feh.
So, I didn't read the whole thing - I've read about 30 of the works cited, a compendium of thousands of cites is good academic scholarship but not useful for responsibly evaluating how my own actions and ideas might shape (or mis-shape) the future. For example, how to I convey some of the wonder of the natural world to someone committed to ancient myths that are incompatible with what's around them.
Amusingly, one of the books in the bibliography is:
Kirby, J. 2001. The Josh Kirby Diskworld Portfolio. London: Paper Tiger.
DisCworld, Kirby, Pratchett, etc. are not in the index, and I don't have hours to skim the book for the citation. I could ask the authors, but then I would be embarrassed to admit that I did not read their whole book. If someone else stumbles across the cite during a complete reading, I would be mildly interested.