Francis Galton Coins the Word ‘Eugenics’ as the Science of Better Breeding: Men, Brutes, and Plants. Quote of the Day

A little known fact is that eugenics was seen as the application of principles of heredity, in particular those principles as understood by Darwin.  In this excerpt, Francis Galton (Darwin’s cousin), coins the word eugenics and explicitly refers to it as a science.  The principles of heredity thus applied, he says, are “applicable to men, brutes, and plants.”  Just remember, sometimes managing the herd means giving it a good culling!

Francis Galton, Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development (London: Macmillan and Co., 1883), 24-25.

That is, with questions bearing on what is termed in Greek, eugenes namely, good in stock, hereditarily endowed with noble qualities. This, and the allied words, eugeneia, etc., are equally applicable to men, brutes, and plants. We greatly want a brief word to express the science of improving stock, which is by no means confined to questions of judicious mating, but which, especially in the case of man, takes cognisance of all influences that tend in however remote a degree to give to the more suitable races or strains of blood a better chance of prevailing speedily over the less suitable than they otherwise would have had. The word eugenics would sufficiently express the idea; it is at least a neater word and a more generalised one than viriculture which I once ventured to use.

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  1. […] about forging a certain kind of relationship between science and the state. When Francis Galton coined the term in the 1880s, he wanted to turn science into a vehicle to consolidate the state’s emerging role […]

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