John Fiske

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John Fiske

John_Fiske’s Biography

Fiske was born in Hartford, Connecticut on March 20, 1842. When his mother was married a second time he adopted the name of his maternal great-grandfather, John Fiske. He was a precocious child. He graduated from Harvard University in 1863 and in law at the Harvard LAx School in 1865.

He practiced as a lawyer for some time before devoting himself to the popularization and philosophical interpretation of Darwin’s work, on which he wrote numerous books and essays. In a letter from Darwin to Fiske, dated 1874, the famous naturalist remarks: “Never in my life did I read an expositor (and therefore a thinker) as lucid as you”.

His philosophy was influenced by Herbert Spencer’s vision of evolution.

On the other hand, the enthusiasm of the nineteenth century for the size of the brain as a measure of human capacity, defended by some remarkable scientists (like Darwin’s cousin Francis Galton and French neurologist Paul Broca) led Fiske to believe in the racial superiority of the “Anglo-Saxon race”. However, there are no firm grounds on which to support the assertion that Fiske was a racist or a genuine social Darwinist. In his book The Destiny of Man (1884), he devotes an entire chapter to “The end of the work of natural selection in man”, which he describes as “a fact of incomparable greatness”. According to him, “the action of natural selection in man has […] been essentially diminished by the operation of social conditions”.

In books like Outlines of Cosmic Philosophy (ISBN 0-384-15780-7), Fiske tried to show that “there has never really been any conflict between religion and science”. Fiske at the beginning was a popular teacher in these fields. Later he would dedicate himself to writing historical works, an area in which he published lilbros as The discovery of America (1892, ISBN 1-932080-42-2). He also edited along with James Grant Wilson, the Appletons’ Cyclopædia of American Biography (1887). He died in Gloucester, Massachusetts on July 4, 1901.


    • General
  • Myths and Myth Makers (1872)
  • Outlines of Cosmic Philosophy (1874)
  • The Unseen World (1876)
  • Darwinism and Other Essays (1879; revised and extended, 1885)
  • Excursions of an Evolutionist (1883)
  • The Destiny of Man Viewed in the Light of his Origin (1884)
  • The Idea of ​​God as Affected by modern Knowledge (1885)
  • Origin of Evil (1899)
  • A Century of Science and Other Essays (1899)
  • Through Nature to God (1899)
  • The Mississippi Valley in the Civil War (1900)
  • Life Everlasting (1901)
    • Historical
  • American Political Ideas Viewed from the Standpoint of Universal History (1885)
  • The Critical Period of American History, 1783-89 (1888)
  • The Beginnings of New England (1889)
  • The War of Independence, a book for young readers (1889)
  • Civil Government of the United States (1890)
  • The American Revolution (two volumes, 1891)
  • The Discovery of America (two volumes, 1892)
  • A United States History for Schools (1895)
  • Old Virginia and her Neighbors (two volumes, 1897)
  • Dutch and Quaker Colonies in America (two volumes, 1899)
  • Essays, Literary and Historical (1902)
  • New France and New England (1902)
  • In 1912 a collection of eleven volumes of his historical works called Historical Works appeared.
    • Bibliography in Spanish
  • Key concepts in communication and cultural studies, Amorrortu editores, 1997.

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