Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer | Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution by natural selection

Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer

Herbert Spencer: Theory & Social Darwinism

Society Like Animals

Spencer and the Theory of Evolution

The idea of something changing naturally isn't a new idea, but one that explained with his theory of evolution. Herbert Spencer, an English sociologist, took Darwin's theory and applied it to how societies change and evolve over time. As a sociologist, Spencer did not feel the need to correct or improve society, for he felt that societies were bound to change automatically.

Societies can be compared to organisms in that both have three main systems

Spencer took the theory of evolution one step beyond biology and applied it to say that societies were organisms that progress through changes similar to that of a living species. It was Spencer's philosophy that societies (like organisms) would begin simple and then progress to a more complex form. Spencer also found similarities between animal organisms and societies in that both had three main systems.

The first system is the regulative system. In animals, that would be the . In societies, it would be government that regulates everything. The second system is the sustaining system. For animals, that's the giving and receiving of nourishment. For societies, that would be industry - jobs, money, economy and those sorts of things. The third system would be the . In animals, that would be the veins and arteries.Survival of the Fittest are exchanged.

Survival of the Fittest

It was Herbert Spencer, not Darwin, who coined the phrase 'survival of the fittest' due to the fact that he believed human behavior was designed in a way that strives for self-preservation. Darwin later used the term 'survival of the fittest' in his edition of Origins of the Species.

The theory of social Darwinism created the thinking of the 'survival of the fittest' as that the strongest and the fittest should survive and flourish in society, and the weak should be allowed to die out. This allowed Spencer to believe that the rich and powerful became so because they were better-suited to the social and economic climate of the time. He believed it was natural or normal that the strong survived at the cost of the weak.

Spencer believed that it was natural for the strong to survive at the cost of the weak

The negative side of believing in social Darwinism is the false concept that if something naturally happens then it is alright or good that humans do it as well. On the extreme side, this thinking is part of what led to the rise of the practice of eugenics with the Nazi party in Germany or the American eugenics movement of 1910-1930. On the positive side, social Darwinism led to the creation of programs that allowed deserving participants to receive resources that would help them change their dire circumstances.

Structural-Functionalist Theorist

Spencer is one of the top three sociologists who influenced the thinking of the structural-functional perspective. This influence is placed right alongside those of Auguste Comte, the founder of sociology, and Emile Durkheim.

Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer on the Origin of Species and Principles of Biology (Illustrated)
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Herbert Spencer first used the phrase – after re

by TheSchittygrubben

Herbert Spencer first used the phrase – after reading Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species – in his Principles of Biology (1864), in which he drew parallels between his own economic theories and Darwin's biological ones, writing, "This survival of the fittest, which I have here sought to express in mechanical terms, is that which Mr. Darwin has called 'natural selection', or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life.

Herbert Spencer is smiling

by Repentful

British philosopher and sociologist, Herbert Spencer was a major figure in the intellectual life of the Victorian era. He was one of the principal proponents of evolutionary theory in the mid nineteenth century, and his reputation at the time rivaled that of Charles Darwin. Spencer was initially best known for developing and applying evolutionary theory to philosophy, psychology and the study of society -- what he called his "synthetic philosophy" (see his A System of Synthetic Philosophy, 1862-93). Today, however, he is usually remembered in philosophical circles for his political thought, primarily for his defense of natural rights and for criticisms of utilitarian positivism, and his views have been invoked by 'libertarian' thinkers such as Robert Nozick

Charles Darwin and the secrets of the Galapagos Islands  — ABC Online
The Galapagos Islands are famous for their abundance of wildlife, which inspired Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Robyn Williams retraces Darwin's footsteps and discovers that not all that much has changed off the coast of Ecuador.

Origin of Species; Descent of Man; Data of Ethics 3 Volume Rebound Matched Set
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The Principles of Sociology: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 of Full and Fine 1895 Edition (Illustrated)
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