Evolution: Remarks on the History of a Concept Adopted by Darwin

  • Volker Gerhardt


Evolution is a term invented by the Philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz at the beginning of eighteenth century. Referring to the latin verbum evolvere, “evolution” means the step by step development of the organism from the ovum up to the grown up exemplar. This conception includes the thesis, that all organisms were totally preformed in the first real exemplar of living being at all. This thesis was sharply criticized by Immanuel Kant. He saw that there would be neither learning nor variation in history of life when Leibniz should be right. But in his political and cultural philosophy Kant contrasted “evolution” against “revolution” and gave it the meaning of a continual historical development. It was this understanding that influenced Darwin in choosing evolution for his description of the process of natural development. So one of the fundamental concepts of the modern science of nature is derived from philosophy, but not in its biological sense in the tradition of Leibniz, but in the political dimension as Kant pointed out.


Eighteenth Century Male Sperm Prussian Academy Late Research Result Phenomenological Objection 
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© Springer-Verlag Italia S.r.l.  2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für PhilosophieHumboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlinGermany

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