Haeckel and the Importance of Monism

Author: Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) was born in Prussia and was educated in several different fields including philosophy, biology, natural history, and medicine. He is credited with the discovery of thousands of new species and promoted the works of Charles Darwin in Germany.
Context: The Confession of Faith of a Man of Science was written in 1892, a period in which many biologists were rethinking their understanding of the relationship between God and nature.
Language: The language used in Haeckel’s Confession was forceful and persuasive. Haeckel seemed to be urging his audience to recognize the beauty in a monistic view toward God and nature.
Audience: Haeckel writes that he “crave[s] the permission of this assembly” to confess his faith, indicating that he was orating his Confession to a congregation of other scientists in his field.
Intent: Haeckel’s intent was to persuade his audience of the existence of a unity between God and nature.
Message: Haeckel implored his fellow scientists to embrace the monistic unity of all things. He emphasized the compatibility of God and the scientific knowledge of the time, as well as the presence of a divine spirit in nature. He also quoted the Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno, who opined that “no body is so small that it does not contain a part of the divine substance whereby it is animated.” Haeckel concluded his speech with a representation of monism as “truly beatific union of religion and science”, stressing the influence monism will have on the ideas of the coming century.

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