Naturalism, pluralism, and the human place in the worlds
In 1863, Thomas Henry Huxley published a set of lectures entitled Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature. In that text, Huxley appealed to evidence in primatology, comparative anatomy, taxonomy, embryology, and paleontology, to argue against many traditional and popular beliefs about human beings' origins and taxonomic status. Huxley's phrase "man's place in nature' gives expression to an image with a long history — namely, that of human beings' mediate status within a "great chain of being' spanning from inanimate nature, through plants and animals, to the angels and God Himself (compare Pico della Mirandola, 1956 ; Lovejoy, 1936). Through its use of this phraseology, Huxley's text participated in and continued this tradition. At the same time, however, it implied a drastic restriction and qualification of its validity, insofar as Huxley argued — drawing on Charles Darwin's recently published Origin of Species (1859) — for a greater similarity and connection between human beings and non-human organisms than had previously been assumed, and suggested a common, wholly material origin for the whole set.
Honenberger, P. (2016)., Naturalism, pluralism, and the human place in the worlds, in P. Honenberger (ed.), Naturalism and philosophical anthropology, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 94-120.
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