Herbert Spencer

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Herbert Spencer

Herbert Spencer (Derby, England, April 27, 1820-Brighton, England, December 8, 1903) was an English naturalist, philosopher, psychologist, anthropologist and sociologist.

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. He was “an enthusiastic exponent of evolution,” and even “wrote about evolution before Darwin did.” As a polymath, he contributed to a wide range of topics, including ethics, religion, anthropology, economics. , political theory, philosophy, literature, astronomy, biology, sociology and psychology. During his life he achieved tremendous authority, especially in the English-speaking academic world. “The only other English philosopher to have achieved such widespread popularity was Bertrand Russell, and that was in the twentieth century.” Spencer was “the most famous European intellectual in the last decades of the nineteenth century,” but his influence was reduced drastically after 1900: “Who reads Spencer now?” asked Talcott Parsons in 1937.

Spencer is best known for the expression “survival of the fittest”, which he coined in Principles of Biology (1864), after reading The Origin of Charles Darwin’s Species, which strongly suggests natural selection, without However, as Spencer extended the evolution in the realms of sociology and ethics, he also made use of Lamarckism.

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