Herbert Spencer cover

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Herbert Spencer

English philosopher, biologist, sociologist, and prominent classical liberal political theorist (1820-1903)

1820   -   1903


movement: free-thought, positivism, utilitarianism
country of citizenship: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
native language: English
languages spoken, written or signed: English
occupation: philosopher, economist, anthropologist, psychologist, journalist, sociologist, writer, botanist

Herbert Spencer (27 April 1820 – 8 December 1903) was an English philosopher, biologist, anthropologist, and sociologist famous for his hypothesis of social Darwinism whereby superior physical force shapes history. Spencer originated the expression "survival of the fittest", which he coined in Principles of Biology (1864) after reading Charles Darwin's 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.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." Spencer was "the single most famous European intellectual in the closing decades of the nineteenth century" but his influence declined sharply after 1900: "Who now reads Spencer?" asked Talcott Parsons in 1937.
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    • Esquisse d’une psychologie comparée de l’homme ( 1876 )

      redactioneel artikel

      author: Herbert Spencer

    • The Development of Political Institutions ( 1880 )

      article in The Popular Science Monthly

      author: Herbert Spencer

    • Criticisms Corrected II ( 1880 )

      article in The Popular Science Monthly

      author: Herbert Spencer

    • Mr. Martineau on Evolution ( 1872 )

      1872 article

      author: Herbert Spencer

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