Miss Ravenel’s Conversion , Evolutionary Realism, and the Moving Equilibrium

Miss Ravenel’s Conversion , Evolutionary Realism, and the Moving Equilibrium Essays JONATHAN DAIGLE The problem is to inaugurate a condition of social progress. This cannot be done by disturbing the social order. Order is the condition to progress, and progress consists in setting up dynamic activities in the social structures themselves. A structure represents a state of equilibrium, but it is never a perfect equilibrium, and the conversion of this partial equilibrium into a moving equilibrium, provided it moves in the right direction, is social progress. --Lester Ward, "Evolution of Social Structures" (1904) Natural Selection led back to Natural Evolution, and at last to Natural Uniformity. This was a vast stride. Unbroken Evolution under uniform conditions pleased every one. . . . Such a working system for the universe suited a young man who had just helped to waste five or ten thousand million dollars and a million lives, more or less, to enforce unity and uniformity on people who objected to it; the idea was only too seductive in its perfection; it had the charm of art. --Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams (1918) That the leading promoter and practitioner of literary realism in the U.S., W. D. Howells, praised John W. De Forest's Miss Ravenel's http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American Literary Realism University of Illinois Press

Miss Ravenel’s Conversion , Evolutionary Realism, and the Moving Equilibrium

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