From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"And I think that our braver and better youth, besides their other honours and rewards, might have greater facilities of intercourse with women given them; their bravery will be a reason, and such fathers ought to have as many sons as possible." --Plato in the The Republic
"In Modernism and Eugenics, Donald Childs reveals how Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, and W.B. Yeats believed in eugenics, the science of racial improvement, and adapted this scientific discourse to the language and purposes of the modern imagination. He traces the impact of the eugenics movement on such modernist works as Mrs. Dalloway, The Waste Land, and Yeats's late poetry and early plays. This is an original study of a controversial theme which reveals the centrality of eugenics in the life and work of several major modernist writers."--Modernism and Eugenics by Donald J. Childs
Eugenics is a social philosophy which advocates the improvement of human hereditary traits through various forms of intervention. The goals of various groups advocating eugenics have included the creation of healthier, more intelligent people, to save society's resources, and lessen human suffering, as well as desires to breed for optimal qualities.
Earlier proposed means of achieving these goals focused on selective breeding, while modern ones focus on prenatal testing and screening, genetic counseling, birth control, in vitro fertilization, and genetic engineering. Opponents argue that eugenics is immoral and is based on, or is itself, pseudoscience. Historically, eugenics has been used as a justification for coercive state-sponsored discrimination and human rights violations, such as forced sterilization of persons who appear to have - or are claimed to have - genetic defects, the killing of the institutionalized and, in some cases, outright genocide of races perceived as inferior or undesireable.
Breeding of human beings was suggested at least as far back as Plato, but the modern field and term was first formulated by Sir Francis Galton in 1865, drawing on the recent work of his cousin Charles Darwin. From its inception eugenics was supported by prominent people, including Alexander Graham Bell, George Bernard Shaw, Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler. Eugenics was an academic discipline at many colleges and universities. Funding was provided by prestigious sources such as the Rockefeller Foundation, the Carnegie Institute of Washington, and the Harriman family. Its scientific reputation started to tumble in the 1930s, a time when Ernst Rüdin began incorporating eugenic rhetoric into the racial policies of Nazi Germany.
Since the postwar period, both the public and the scientific community has generally associated eugenics with Nazi abuses, which included enforced racial hygiene, human experimentation, and the extermination of undesired population groups. Developments in genetic, genomic, and reproductive technologies at the end of the 20th century however, have raised many new questions and concerns about what exactly constitutes the meaning of eugenics and what its ethical and moral status is in the modern era.
- Eugenics: The Orphaned Science by Adam Parfrey
- Biological determinism
- Genetic determinism
- Genetic engineering in fiction
- Genetic pollution
- Nature versus nurture
- Racial hygiene
- Social Darwinism