chapter  2
23 Pages

Positivism: A ‘Hidden’ Philosophy in Geography

The fact that environmental causation has become an unpopular concept since the time of Davis reflects more of our subjective perceptions in an artificial world than it does of ultimate reality. The clearest charges of political reaction against environmental causation have come from Marxists of one variety or another; but it is worth noting that as the cultural thaw initiated by Nikita Khruschev developed. And Soviet Russian geographers soon realised that not only were these charges oversimplified, but their own philosophy of environmental influences needed to be modified in terms of greater appreciation of environmental constraints. Darwinism, which argues that the environment produces new species very slowly by selecting the fittest, depends on environmental causation, whereas Lamarckism, and especially its Lysenkoist variant, depends on human will as causative agent. On the reactionary side of the political spectrum finds social Darwinism, which in recent geographical literature, especially in America, has frequently been awkwardly misdefined as something akin to environmental determinism.