Abstract

In Charles Kingsley’s The Water-Babies, the wild, wicked child who matures into a man of science appears to “recapitulate” the story of the human rise to preeminence in the animal kingdom. Yet Kingsley uses evolutionary thought precisely to attack the notion of biological/ social progress and the suffering it causes. He does so by identifying the impact of the social and physical environment on individual development and inviting us to consider how the physical interaction between developing mind and developing world affects broader patterns of human behavior. Playfully evoking the evolutionary dynamics involving organism, culture, and species-level traits, Kingsley points to a form of extragenetic inheritance prompted by open-ended stories.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. A162-A177
Launched on MUSE
2014-11-13
Open Access
No
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