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More from Barzun: Any questioning of the materialist assumption looked like superstitious folly …

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Darwin, Marx, Wagner: Critique of a Heritage

Following on “Jacques Barzun critiques Darwinism (1941): ‘difficult not to fall down and adore the theory’”:

Now materialism in science produced such magnificent results in practical life that to the men of the late nineteenth century these results seemed tantamount to a proof of the system. Thousands of miles of railway track, millions of yards of cloth, unlimited steam power, iron and steel machinery, devices for instant communication, and the multiplication of innumerable conveniences for the benefit of mankind—all struck the imaginations of men so forcibly as to make any questioning of the materialist assumption look like superstitious folly. At the same time, the age-old passion for uniformity drove the scientists to explain by material cause the inner life of man which alone gave value to the things. Vitalism was thus driven out of biology and man came once more to be considered a machine—a physico-chemical compound—as he had been in the middle of the eighteenth century.

Darwin, Marx, Wagner, Jacques Barzun, p. 9 – 10

Then the age of mechanism and reductionism faltered …

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