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By Roslynn D. Haynes (auth.)

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Additional resources for H. G. Wells: Discoverer of the Future: The Influence of Science on His Thought

Sample text

Well's pessimism may have been partly innate, partly influenced by the prevailing fin de siecle atmosphere, as Bergonzi has claimed, 26 but the main source of it was the pessimism of Huxley, who was certainly not blind to the possibility of man's regression or extinction. Indeed, the impact of evolutionary thought on the humanitarian conscience has very frequently produced pessimism -in Huxley no less than in Tennyson, Arnold, Clough and Hardy. To what extent Huxley had imparted this attitude to his students at South Kensington one cannot be sure, and Wells himself makes no mention of it in his autobiography.

Wells: Discoverer rif the Future Homo Sapiens', and was awarded his doctorate, but during the interim the esteem in which his scientific reputation was held by his contemporaries may be partially gauged from the fact that, as early as 1902, he was invited to lecture to the Royal Institution, an honour usually reserved for eminent specialists. The text of his lecture was printed in full in Nature (6 February 1902), and in the Smithsonian report for the same year, both publications of the highest repute in the scientific world.

The cosmic process, he declared, is a ferment of incessant struggle and change, inevitably entailing great suffering and death. But precisely because of his understanding of the evolutionary 'jungle', of 'nature red in tooth and claw' and of 'the ape and the tiger' aspects of man's nature, 27 Huxley also strove to see some alternative, some hope for the future of the race. This hope he formulated in his concept of an 'Ethical Process'. Though he believed this to have arisen through the natural mechanism of evolution, he saw as its main function the countering of the hitherto amoral evolutionary process and the substitution of willing cooperation for competitive struggle.

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