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Herbert Spencer

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 10 months ago


Herbert Spencer


 1820 – 1903. English classical liberal political theorist, sociology theorist


Image:Herbert Spencer 2.jpg


Photograph of H. Spencer



Strengths: Enthusiastic learner who influenced thought in the fields of ethics, religions, politics, philosophy, biology, sociology, and psychology. 

Weaknesses: Focused on Lamarckism instead of natural selection, thought the poor were a natural necessity to progress

Special Features: Coined the term “survival of the fittest”, self-taught; got most of his knowledge from conversations with friends




Star sign:  Taurus




Called the “philosopher of universal evolution” by Garbarino, Herbert Spencer believed evolution dictated every aspect of our lives, society, and the universe.  He believed that societies were evolving on a progressive path from simpler to more complex forms of organization.  He is also credited with the idea of the ‘superorganic’; that individuals and society exist on a higher level of complexity than natural organisms, but are nonetheless subject to natural laws.  His ideas created the philosophy of “Social Darwinism,” which was used by various European governments and the United States as justification for their imperialism, colonialism, and racism, and free enterprise capitalism, respectively.  He died at the age of 83 after declining support and readership, which sent him into depression. 





  • The Social Organism (1860)
  • Principles of Biology (1864)


By Heddy Waters

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