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 philosopher, psychologist, biologist, anthropologist, and sociologist famous for his hypothesis of social Darwinism. 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
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 Development Hypothesis (1852)
First Principles (1860)
The Principles of Psychology
The Principles of Biology
The Principles of Sociology
The Principles of Ethics
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
Influences
Signature
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. "The only other English philosopher to have achieved anything like such widespread popularity was Bertrand Russell, and that was in the 20th century."[3] Spencer was "the single most famous European intellectual in the closing decades of the nineteenth century"[4][5] but his influence declined sharply after 1900: "Who now reads Spencer?" asked Talcott Parsons in 1937.[6]