Hence the dispute between evolutionist and transcendentalist rests, in general, on an ignoratio elenchi; for the history of the genesis of an idea (the historical or genetic method) does not contain an answer to - though it may throw light on - the philosophical question of its truth or validity.
The transition from the evolutionist criterion of survival - which in itself it is difficult to regard as anything but non-moral - to the criterion of happiness is effected by means of the psychological argument that pleasure promotes function and that living beings must, upon pain of extinction, sooner or later take pleasure in actions which are conducive to their survival.
The theories of the modern evolutionist school, however, have introduced into materialistic theory a new optimistic note in doctrines such as that of the survival of the fittest.
The distinctly religious aspect has been comparatively unimportant, except in so far as modern social evolutionist ethics may be regarded as religious in character.
He was a strenuous advocate of ecclesiastical control in elementary education, and an opponent of the new school of higher biblical criticism, though so far an evolutionist as to believe in growth and development as applied to the history of nations.
Nearly all of his books were first given to the public in the form of lectures or magazine articles, revised and collected under a general title, such as Myths and Myth-Makers (1872), Darwinism and Other Essays (1879), Excursions of an Evolutionist (1883), and A Century of Science (1899).
The Ideen shows us that Herder is an evolutionist after the manner of Leibnitz, and not after that of more modern evolutionists.
The discovery of the so-called evolution of morality out of non-moral conditions is very frequently an unconscious subterfuge by which the evolutionist hides the fact that he is making a priori judgments upon the value of the moral concepts held to be evolved.
Herder was thus an evolutionist, but an evolutionist still under the influence of Rousseau.
That is to say, in tracing back the later acquisitions of civilization to impulses which are as old as the dawn of primitive culture, he did not, as the modern evolutionist does, lay stress on the superiority of the later to the earlier stages of human development, but rather became enamoured of the simplicity and spontaneity of those early impulses which, since they are the oldest, easily come to look like the most real and precious.