Herbert Spencer

English philosopher and political theorist (1820–1903) / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Herbert Spencer (27 April 1820 – 8 December 1903) was an English polymath active as a philosopher, psychologist, biologist, sociologist, and anthropologist. Spencer originated the expression "survival of the fittest", which he coined in Principles of Biology (1864) after reading Charles Darwin's 1859 book On the Origin of Species. The term strongly suggests natural selection, yet Spencer saw evolution as extending into realms of sociology and ethics, so he also supported Lamarckism.[1][2]

Quick facts: Herbert Spencer, Born, Died, Notable work, Er...
Herbert Spencer
Herbert_Spencer.jpg
Spencer at the age of 73
Born(1820-04-27)27 April 1820
Derby, Derbyshire, England
Died8 December 1903(1903-12-08) (aged 83)
Brighton, Sussex, England
Notable workSocial Statics (1851)
The Man Versus the State (1884)
Era19th-century philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolClassical liberalism
Main interests
Anthropology · Biology · Evolution · Laissez-faire · Positivism · Psychology · Sociology · Utilitarianism
Notable ideas
Social Darwinism
Survival of the fittest
Social organism
Law of equal liberty
There is no alternative
Signature
HS_steel_portrait_sig.jpg
Close

Spencer developed an all-embracing conception of evolution as the progressive development of the physical world, biological organisms, the human mind, and human culture and societies. As a polymath, he contributed to a wide range of subjects, including ethics, religion, anthropology, economics, political theory, philosophy, literature, astronomy, biology, sociology, and psychology. During his lifetime he achieved tremendous authority, mainly in English-speaking academia. Spencer was "the single most famous European intellectual in the closing decades of the nineteenth century"[3][4] but his influence declined sharply after 1900: "Who now reads Spencer?" asked Talcott Parsons in 1937.[5]

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