The Social Origins of Environmental Determinism

  • Peet R
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Abstract

Three elements of late nineteeth century society are examines: imperialism as the urgent moment of socioopolitical neccessity, Social Darwinism as compelling ideology of an imperial capitalism, and environmental determinism as first version of modern geography. To legitimate imperial conflict and conquest, sociological principles were derived from biology using the methodological linking device of the organismic analogy. Fundamental differences between humans and the rest of nature could not be comprehended within theis methodology. Though aimed at a science of society, Social Darwinism in general and environmental detwrminism as its geographic version were forced to assume a quasi-scientific form in racism and natture was given a causal power that could not be scieitifically justified. Marxism, by comparison, provides a theoretical basis for scietifically comprehending the relations between nature, production, and society. Follwing Social Darwinism rather than Marxism prevented geography from acheiving a scieince of environmental relations.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Marxism
  • consciousness
  • determinism
  • expansion
  • ideology
  • imperialism
  • legitimation
  • mysticism
  • nature
  • religion
  • science

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Authors

  • Richard Peet

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