Thus, paradoxically, as scientific racism weakened as an explanation for Euro-American social development, hereditarianism
hardened as a rationale for the backwardness and unassimiability of the nonwhite races" (p.
And apart from the authoritarian social and political views commonly held in the German professoriate often linked with this hereditarianism
, psychiatrists, like physicians in general, were also heavily influenced by the eugenic thought, social Darwinism, and racism endemic to Germany during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
(16) In the natural sciences, over the same time period, radical hereditarianism
was dismissed and scientists called for "a whole new line of inquiry based on the simple question of how heredity and environment functioned in specific situations," an inquiry which accepted that nature and nurture interacted and were interrelated, rather than assuming that they were independent influences, Cravens, 270.
the profusion of cynicism and contempt, the denigration of financial success, the honoring of self-esteem over self-respect, the decline in academic performance, the rise of the divorce rate, sex on television, politicians beholden to special interests, the rejection of objectivity in journalism, disrespect for authority figures, and, most importantly to Ruggiero, the rise of Progressivism in American political life) on the adoption of two views of human nature, which he identifies as Hereditarianism
, a social Darwinist perspective that views biology as destiny and views most people as deficient in intelligence, and Humanistic Psychology, which elevated feelings over reason and placed the locus of authority within the individual.
The opening paragraphs of Look Homeward, Angel also allude to another important theory during Wolfe's era about the cause of disease: hereditarianism
. The references to Gant family history, the role of chance, and the resulting "seed of our destruction" point directly at the influence of heredity.
Rather than narratives stressing the decline of scientific racism in the 1930s and the death of hereditarianism
in the wake of Nazi atrocities, scholars have stressed the continuity of eugenic concerns in the pre- and post-1945 eras.