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In the correspondence text Godfrey Vesey, Professor of Philosophy, examines the implication for moral and religious philosophy of the adoption of a scientific view of man as exemplified in the phil...osophic thought of the Victorian biologist T.H. Huxley. In this accompanying television programme, Dr John Burrow, Reader in History at Sussex University, describes the impact on Victorian intellectual life of Darwin's theory of evolution and Huxley's defence of it. He explains how developments in various scientific fields, including geology, anthropology and biology were helping to crystallise a new view of the nature of man. Man need no longer be seen as a unique creation of God. His specifically human characteristics such as speech and moral reasoning could be explained as a natural development in response to the needs of survival. Man might not be separated from the animals by an unbridgeable gulf. Dr Burrows describes the emotional impact that these ideas had in religious and cultural terms. He also shows how ideas derived from evolutionary theory came to be widely applied to social and economic problems. The programme is introduced by Graham Martin, Reader in Literature, who discusses how the ideas described by Dr Burrow are relevant to the Victorian response to industrialisation.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: A100, Humanities: a foundation course
Item code: A100; 32; 1972
Series: Industrialisation and culture
First transmission date: 20-08-1972
Published: 1972
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:24:28
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Producer: Patricia Hodgson
Contributors: J. A.(John Anthony) Burrow; Graham Martin
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Darwin; Evolution; Philosophy; Skeletons; Thomas Huxley; Wilberforce
Footage description: Graham Martin introduces the programme, the object of which is to outline cultural and intellectual change during the Industrial Revolution and the 19th century. Quotation from Carlyle's 'Signs of the times'. Martin describes the importance of science as the link between industrialisation and the change in cultural and intellectual, serving as catalyst upon both. He introduces John Burrow. Burrow discusses Darwin's 'Origin of the Species' and its seminal importance for what it did not say, i.e. the origin of man. Photograph portraits of Charles Darwin (as an old man) and cartoons of Darwin as monkey, and of the popular idea of the theory of evolution. Burrow describes contemporary reaction to Darwin's theory and notably Huxley's adoption of it for the origin of man, Huxley's evidence being mainly anatomical. Skeletons of orangutan, chimpanzee, gorilia and man, and shot of skull of Neanderthal man (8'54"- 9'27"), alone and compared with modern human skull. Burrow describes how the development of new geological dating techniques and the anatomical evidence (Shot of feint implements) finally won the day for evolution. The reaction of people to the misunderstood kinship to animals is outlined. Punch cartoon of middle class mid-Victorians watching monkeys at (12'54"-13'15") and sequence of hypothetical skull shapes from monkey to modern man (13'15"-13'43") Shot of gorilla with placard 'Am I a man or am I a brother? Burrow argues that the kinship of man to animal became a challenge to the traditional conception of man as a unique being with soul and spiritual essence and that this was the reason for Wilberforce's concerned opposition to Darwin. Burrow describes the shock: attendant upon such publications as Darwin's 'Descent of Man'. Quotation from a review of the work. (18'21"-20'05"). Burrow outlines how the theory of evolution came to be interpreted in such a manner that it gave rise to the idea of progress and advancement and natural selection in many realms of human activity.
Master spool number: 6HT/70721
Production number: 00525_3067
Videofinder number: 2444
Available to public: no