The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

I. Philosophers

§ 20. Darwin

No other writer rivalled Spencer’s attempt at a reconstruction of the whole range of human thought. But many of his contemporaries preceded or followed him in applying the new doctrine of evolution to the problems of life, mind and society. Some of these were men of science, who felt that an instrument had been put into their hands for extending its frontiers; others were primarily interested in moral and political questions, or in philosophy generally, and evolution seemed to provide them with a key to old difficulties and a new view of the unity of reality. Darwin himself, though he never posed as a philosopher, was aware of the revolutionary effect which his researches had upon men’s views of the universe as a whole; what was more important, he made a number of shrewd and suggestive observations on morals and on psychology in his Descent of Man and, also, in his later volume The Expression of the Emotions. But his contributions were only incidental to his biological work. Others, writing under the intellectual influence which he originated, were concerned more directly with problems of philosophy.