Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

The Meaning of Evolution and the Evolution of Meaning

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

image of Journal of the Philosophy of History

A major lesson to be learned from narrativist philosophy of history since Danto is that history and science differ in the organization and presentation of knowledge rather than in their subject-matter. This insight is most often seen as a decisive argument in favour of the ‘literary’ or ‘cultural’ character of history. However, if their subject-matter does not create an insurmountable barrier between history and science, the insight leaves room, too, for a ‘historical’ approach to issues ordinarily believed to belong to the domain of ‘science’. A case in point is the subject of evolution. Thus the leading evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr considers the nature of evolution to be historical rather than scientific. This might invite historians to overcome their fear of social Darwinism and to apply their own (narrativist) tools for organizing knowledge to evolutionary theory. This essay attempts to show that Niklas Luhmann’s theory of social evolution does just this by satisfying the criteria of historical representation as defended by narrativist philosophy of history. Luhmann’s system concept will be interpreted as a ‘colligatory concept’ in the sense meant by William Walsh. Furthermore, Luhmann’s idea that social systems are ultimately based on meaning processing will be shown to agree with the fundamental role assigned to meaning in Ankersmit’s recent work on historical representation.

Affiliations: 1:


Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

Article metrics loading...



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Journal of the Philosophy of History — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation