Who Said This?

Was the following said by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Charles Darwin, or Hitler:

Power is in nature the essential measure of right. Nature suffers nothing to remain in her kingdoms which cannot help itself.

Answer: Ralph Waldo Emerson in “Self Reliance” (1841).

How about this one:

It is absolutely true that first of all the law of selection exists in the world, and nature has granted the stronger and healthier the right to life. And rightly so. Nature knows no weakling or coward, it knows no beggar, etc., but rather nature knows only those who stand firm on their soil, who sacrifice their life, and indeed sacrifice it dearly, and not those who give it away. That is an eternal law of nature. You see it if you gaze into the forest, you see it in every meadow, you see it in the struggle of individual organisms in the world, and you see it throughout the millennia of human history . . .

Answer: Hitler, in an address to construction workers, cited in Richard Weikart’s new book, Hitler’s Ethic: The Nazi Pursuit of Evolutionary Progress  (Palgrave Macmillian 2009).

And while we’re having fun, who said this:

[I]f the prudent avoid marriage, whilst the reckless marry, the inferior members will tend to supplant the better members of society. Man, like every other animal, has no doubt advanced to his present high condition through a struggle for existence consequent on his rapid multiplication; and if he is to advance still higher he must remain subject to a severe struggle.

This one belongs to Charles Darwin. It’s among his concluding observations in the last chapter of his Descent of Man  (1871).

deer and deere yosemite aug 2004

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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