"If we present a man with a concept of man which is not true, we may well corrupt him. When we present man as an automaton of reflexes, as a mind-machine, as a bundle of instincts, as a pawn of drives and reactions, as a mere product of instinct, heredity and environment, we feed the nihilism to which modern man is, in any case, prone.
I became acquainted with the last stage of that corruption in my second concentration camp, Auschwitz. The gas chambers of Auschwitz were the ultimate consequence of the theory that man is nothing but the product of heredity and environment--or, as the Nazi liked to say, of 'Blood and Soil.'
I am absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Maidanek were ultimately prepared not in some Ministry or other in Berlin, but rather at the desks and in the lecture halls of nihilistic scientists and philosophers."
- Viktor Frank, Holocaust survivor, and author of the legendary best-seller, Man's Search for Meaning.
Dr. Frankl's quote opens Richard Weikart's essay, The Dehumanizing Impact of Modern Thought: Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche, and Their Followers.
In his essay, Weikart concludes...
"The underlying vision of human nature in any society shapes the political and social institutions, the laws, and the entire culture in far-reaching ways.
The converse is also true--the political, social, and legal developments in a society influence its view of human nature and the dignity of human life.
People who believe that humans are created in the image of God will have different values, ideals, practices, and institutions than those who view humans as merely the sum total of environmental and biological inputs, or those who believe that humans can create whatever truths they desire."
I've written about Darwin, Marx, and Nietzsche here and here.