Herbert Spencer Essay

13142 Words Nov 27th, 2009 53 Pages
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Herbert Spencer

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|Biography: Herbert Spencer |

Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) was an English philosopher, scientist, engineer, and political economist. In his day his works were important in popularizing the concept of evolution and played an important part in the development of economics, political science, biology, and philosophy.
Herbert Spencer was born in Derby on April 27, 1820. His childhood, described in An Autobiography (1904), reflected the
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His views concerning a science of sociology are elaborated in two major works, Descriptive Sociology (published in 17 volumes, 1873-1934) and The Study of Sociology (1873).
Spencer was particularly influential in the United States until the turn of the century. According to William Graham Sumner, who used The Study of Sociology as a text in the first sociology course offered in an American university, it was Spencer's work which established sociology as a separate, legitimate field in its own right. Spencer's demand that historians present the "natural history of society," in order to furnish data for a comparative sociology, is also credited with inspiring James Harvey Robinson and the others involved in the writing of the New History in the United States.
Economic Theories
Social philosophy in the latter part of the 19th century in the United States was dominated by Spencer. His ideas of laissez-faire and the survival of the fittest by natural selection fitted very well into an age of rapid expansion and ruthless business competition. Spencer provided businessmen with the reassuring notion that what they were doing was not just ruthless self-interest but was a natural law operating in nature and human society. Not only was competition in harmony with nature, but it was also in the interest of the general welfare and progress. Social Darwinism, or
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