Economic modernization jan 12.docx

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22 Apr 2012
History 2501
Economic Modernization 1880-1920 Positivism and Darwinism
January 12, 2012
Book: the Worldly Philosophers- free trade and free markets
Free trade and equality= ideas behind political changes
New sciences being considered : e.g. statistics, chemistry etc
Can we tell how to improve, rule etc society (applying sciences to society as it becomes more
What does improvement mean to these people? Money/ wealth
Positivism- theory of knowledge, Comte
- Positivism rejects speculation because everything we know stems from experience or
observation and can be proved
- Unanswerable metaphysical questions viewing as unimportant
- Empirically verified knowledge
Laws of biology applied to society
- Social Darwinism
- Societies are organisms, laws of bio
- Darwinism linked to hierarchy (white at top, black at bottom), justify conquests,
dictatorships and slavery
- Social Darwinism applied to latin America
Economic Modernization Continued: January 17, 2012
- Increasing importance of science and expansion
- Observe, quantify, experiement
- Want progress
- Materialistic perspective of progress
Social Darwism:
- Apply biology to society
- Herbert Spencer-> credited with theory
- Term of race is a 19th century concept
- Poor and wealthy in the same country
- Losers of competition: survival of the strongest
- Applied to Latin America and Africa, colonized because they are weaker, justifies European
control (for their own good)
- “the noble savage” must be civilized
- Racial and social cleansing (old, weak, sick etc= undesirable)
Euro Ideas Applied to Latin America
- Many mix bloods, natives, Africans
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