How Did Herbert Spencer Contribute To Individualism

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Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) was an English philosopher and prolific writer, who gained much of his higher education through reading because he declined to attend Cambridge University. He was known as one of the leading Social Darwinists of the nineteenth century. As a Social Darwinist, Spencer helped gain acceptance of the theory of evolution which also became the basis for most of his books and teachings. The principle of evolution believed in the process whereby all things change from the simplest of forms to the most complex. Herbert Spencer believed that the fittest individuals of each generation would survive because of their skills, intelligence, and adaptability. As a result of this continual struggle, the stronger species survived and multiplied while the weaker species perished. His work "Synthetic Philosophy" applied this evolutionary process to all branches of knowledge specifically biology, psychology, sociology and ethics. (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011)
Spencer was an agnostic who believed that the only way to gain knowledge was through a scientific approach. He felt that religion was a futile attempt to gain knowledge of the unknown. According to him, only Science can give a "useful" knowledge and people learned to live in society through this "scientific" knowledge. Otherwise, Spenser saw society as
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In Spencer's work "Social Status", he stated that individual freedom was extremely important and that the government should play a limited role in society especially in the schools. He did not believe in the public school system. His criticized the school system because it did not prepare children to live in society. Instead, Spencer believed in the private school system which competed for the brightest students. He believed in competition, conflict and struggle, and he felt that the best schools would eventually acquire the best teachers and students. (keb,

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