Books and Chapters

charles darwin portrait

Social Darwinism

De dwaaltocht van het sociaal-darwinisme

Vroege sociale interpretaties van Charles Darwins theorie van natuurlijke selectie 1859-1918
(Nieuwezijds Publishers, Amsterdam, 2003), 626 p.

How Darwin’s theory of natural selection became the model for certain patterns of reasoning (in sociology, politics, and scientific racism) we call social Darwinism.

Mill and France

Een Engelsman in Frankrijk

Een andere geschiedenis van John Stuart Mill
(Boom Publishers, Amsterdam, 2008), 318 p.

Why Mill so often turned to France and the French whenever he was looking for inspiration, finding it in Saint-Simon, Comte, Tocqueville, Louis Blanc, and the inhabitants of Avignon.

well and shaw portrait

Fabian Utopias

Looking for Utopia – Guided by Evolution?

The Case of the Fabians
(chapter in Mary Kemperink & Leonieke Vermeer, Utopianism and the Sciences, Peeters, Leuven-Paris-Walpole, 2010)

In the fiction of both Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells we find daring sketches of utopian elites (Supermen and Samurai) based on the biological evolutionism of Lamarck and Huxley.

gerard heymans portrait

Gerard Heymans

Omwenteling onder het schedeldak

Gerard Heymans en de hervorming van de psyche
(chapter in Ido de Haan e.a., Het eenzame gelijk, Boom Publishers, Amsterdam, 2009)

What drove the Dutch philosopher Gerard Heymans (1857-1930), a neo-Kantian highly esteemed in Germany, to become a staunch defender of Fechner’s psychic monism?


Mill and Socialism

Mill en het socialisme

(chapter in Dirk Verhofstadt, ed., John Stuart Mill 150 jaar over vrijheid, Houtekiet Atlas, Antwerp-Amsterdam, 2009)

Mill’s Chapters on Socialism remained incomplete, still it is safe to say that he felt sympathy for the ‘utopian socialism’ of Fourier and found ways to reconcile it with his idea of liberalism.

portrait charles darwin midlife

Political Darwinism

De politieke kracht van het darwinisme

(chapter in Irena Tallon, Michael Briga e.a., Evolutie vandaag, VUB Press, Brussels, 2005)

How its anthropological dimension made Darwinism politically relevant and persuasive, meaning that virtually all secular political ideologies felt they had to deal with it.

Darwinian Sociology

Darwinistische vrees en hoop in de sociologie, 1880-1914

(article in Johan Goudsblom & Nico Wilterdink, Sociale evolutie: het evolutieperspectief in de sociologie, AST, Wolters Noordhoff, Groningen, 2000)

How we tend to forget about the former ‘school’ of Darwinian sociologists, who were – in their age – very influential, mostly because of their socio-pathological analyses and their eugenic solutions.

Interbellum Literature

Interbellum Literature. Writing in a Season of Nihilism
(Brill Publishers, Leiden-Boston, 2017)

This book demonstrates how extremely rich in literary creativity the tragic years of the interbellum period (1918-1940) have been. How did modern literature survive this ‘season of nihilism’?