Halliday Sutherland

"A born writer, especially a born story-teller. Dr. Sutherland, who is distinguished in medicine, is an amateur in the sense that he only writes when he has nothing better to do. But when he does, it could hardly be done better." G.K. Chesterton.

“In Our Time: Social Darwinism”


“In Our Time” is a program on BBC Radio 4, hosted by Melvyn Bragg. In it, Bragg facilitates a discussion of experts on a topic of historical interest.

I have frequently enjoyed the program, particularly on long car journeys.

Social Darwinism” was the topic on 20 February 2014 and it outlined the connections between Darwin’s work, Herbert Spencer, Social Darwinism, Malthusianism and Eugenics, the psuedo-science founded by Darwin’s cousin, Sir Francis Galton.

A podcast of the show is available here (43 minutes). The BBC described the program as follows:

After the publication of Charles Darwin’s masterpiece On the Origin of Species in 1859, some thinkers argued that Darwin’s ideas about evolution could also be applied to human society. One thinker particularly associated with this movement was Darwin’s near-contemporary Herbert Spencer, who coined the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’. He argued that competition among humans was beneficial, because it ensured that only the healthiest and most intelligent individuals would succeed. Social Darwinism remained influential for several generations, although its association with eugenics and later adoption as an ideological position by Fascist regimes ensured its eventual downfall from intellectual respectability.

I highly recommend the program in general to those interested in history, and in particular, to those interested in the deep background underlying the Stopes v. Sutherland clash of 1923.

Next post: 15 January 2015.

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This entry was posted on 7 January 2015 by in Eugenics, Stopes v Sutherland.

Stopes v Sutherland libel trial 1922-24

Centenary of the House of Lords judgment21 November 2024
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