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Walter PaterIndividualism and Aesthetic Philosophy$
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Kate Hext

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748646258

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748646258.001.0001

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Evolution and the ‘Species’: The Individual in Deep Time

Evolution and the ‘Species’: The Individual in Deep Time

(p.130) Chapter 7 Evolution and the ‘Species’: The Individual in Deep Time
Walter Pater

Kate Hext

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter argues that deep time is the most vivid challenge posed to the ?awed and fragile human subject in Pater's writings. It explores Pater's knowledge of, and belief in, Darwinian science, Spencer's social Darwinism, and Thompson's theory of entropy drawing examples from works such as 'Coleridge' and Plato and Platonism. It suggests though that Pater's attitude toward Darwinism is more complex and inconsistent than critics have hitherto accounted for. Specifically, it suggests that Pater is able to accept Darwin's theory of evolution in the abstract, on his own terms, with the idea of deep time and constant evolution aesthticised into a beautiful spectacle. However, Pater is unable to accept the idea that the individual is one of a ‘species’ and this chapter discusses how precisely he distances himself from Darwinism as it conceives the individual as part of a 'species.'

Keywords:   Darwin, Darwinism, Evolution, Herbert Spencer, 'species', Deep Time, Aestheticism, Evolutionary history

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