The epistemological and ideological stakes of literary Darwinism Chapitre d’ouvrage - Juin 2023

Alexandre Gefen

Alexandre Gefen, « The epistemological and ideological stakes of literary Darwinism  », in Evolutionary Thinking Across Disciplines. Problems and Perspectives in Generalized Darwinism, 2023, pp. 77-102


Proposing to produce "new humanities," the literary Darwinists affirm the failure of the humanities in the face of modern scientific demands. Literary Darwinism promises to naturalize literary aesthetic practices, both poetry and narrative. It justifies the human need to produce fiction and proposes to interpret its contents. By confronting cultural studies head-on, as well as previous paradigms, from psychoanalysis to historicism, evolutionary theorists have opposed postures defending the insularity of art and the differential character of artistic practices. Such a position has been exposed to virulent criticisms (reductionism, conservatism, utilitarianism, essentialism, scientism, etc.) to which I would like to return, as they seem to me to hinder a serene examination of the disciplinary proposals put forward, in all their richness and epistemological ambitions.

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