Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Who was Herbert Spencer ?


Herbert Spencer (27 April 1820 – 8 December 1903) was an English philosopher, sociologist, and prominent classical liberal political theorist of the Victorian era.

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, biology, sociology, and psychology. During his lifetime he achieved tremendous authority, mainly in English-speaking academia. In 1902 he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.[1] Indeed, in the United Kingdom and the United States at "one time Spencer's disciples had not blushed to compare him with Aristotle!"[2]

He is best known for coining the concept "survival of the fittest", which he did in Principles of Biology (1864), after reading Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species.[3] This term strongly suggests natural selection, yet as Spencer extended evolution into realms of sociology and ethics, he also made use of Lamarckism.

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