Social Darwinism: Herbert Spencer and William Graham Sumner Essay

1408 Words 6 Pages
Social Darwinism is term that is used for application of biological concepts of Charles Darwin to sociology and political science. The goal of this paper is to introduce two most known social Darwinists – Herbert Spencer and William Graham Sumner. Herbert Spencer is sometimes named as the founder of social Darwinism. However, labeling him as such is problematic. Spencer came with his concepts and with the term “survival of the fittest” before he got to know Darwin’s. His ideas are based on the theory of Lamarckian inheritance by French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. William Graham Sumner was influenced by Spencer’s work. Neither is Sumner always called social Darwinist. Some historians don’t believe that he actually believed in …show more content…
He was born on 27 April 1820 in Derby, England. He gained some basic education from his father and his uncles. However he acquired most of his knowledge from readings and self-education. When he grew up, he had found it difficult to settle to any discipline. He worked as a civil engineer, but at the same time he also devoted a lot of his time to writing articles for some journals. In 1848 he became an editor of The Economist. During this time he published his first book, Social Statics (1851). In this book he predicted that humanity would eventually become completely adapted to the requirements of living in society with the consequential withering away of the state.
The publication of this book got Spencer into the circle of well-known authors. He built acquaintances and friendships with John Stuart Mill, Harriet Martineau, George Henry Lewes and George Eliot. Through them, he got to know the theory of positivism by Auguste Comte. In 1855 he finished his second book Principles of Psychology . The main idea of the book was that the human mind was subject to natural laws and that they could be discovered within the framework of general biology. Spencer's interest in psychology was linked to the desire to establish the universality of natural law. He was possessed with the idea of demonstrating that everything in the universe – including

Related Documents