Abstract

This essay calls attention to the philosophical parallels between British aestheticism—the “art for art’s sake” movement founded by Walter Pater in the late 1860s—and a contemporary strain of optimistic evolutionism popularized by iconoclastic mathematician W. K. Clifford in the 1870s. Although evolutionism and aestheticism appear unrelated at first glance, Clifford’s and Pater’s bodies of work reveal common concerns about the influence of scientific materialism on culture and the place of the individual within the evolutionary process. By tracing these commonalities through the work of Clifford, Pater, and aesthetic poet Mathilde Blind, this essay posits a richer account of the interdependent formation of both aesthetic and evolutionary thought in the late nineteenth century.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2052
Print ISSN
0042-5222
Pages
pp. 9-34
Launched on MUSE
2017-03-05
Open Access
No
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