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1820-1903 "Every man is free to do that which he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man."

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Presentation on theme: "1820-1903 "Every man is free to do that which he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man.""— Presentation transcript:

1 "Every man is free to do that which he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man."

2 Born in Derby, England on April 27, 1820 Weak & sickly child. Father (George) was a teacher. Had no formal education. Father taught him Sciences and Math, but education was weak in other areas. Father taught Spencer from an extremist nonconformist perspective.

3  Father was unkind to his mother.  Herbert thought of his mother as “simple- minded.”  Uncle Thomas taught principles of philosophical radicalism.  Entire family very nonconformist and individualistic.

4  Worked as civil engineer for railway.  Found fossils while doing railway work Sparked interest in evolution.  Eventually quit job to pursue other interests.  Began to publish articles in the radical press: Argued for extreme restrictions on government. Against welfare. Against national education. Against established church.

5  Became subeditor with London Economist Laissez-faire beliefs  finished 1 st book Social Statics Power should be given to whole society. Lays the basis for a limited state.  During writing he began to experience insomnia, began smoking opium to cope Could only work a few hours a day. Suffered from nervous breakdowns.

6  Uncle died and left Spencer money.  nd book The Principles of Psychology Grounded psychology in evolutionary biology Different parts of the cerebrum subserve different kinds of mental action. Very complex.  Soon after second book, he suffered from a nervous illness.

7  More works published: The social Organism (1860) First Principles (1862) Principles of Biology ( ) The study of sociology (1873) The principles of Ethics- many volumes (1870s) The Principles of Sociology- many volumes (1890s) The Man Versus the State (1884) Autobiography (1904)

8  Cultural evolution Humans adapt to environmental changes through our culture rather than biological adaptation. Could not be stopped  Importance of minimal government intervention.  Benefits of the individualism and the industrial Revolution Social Evolution

9  Societal Complexity Increase in social aggregates accompanied by an increase in the complexity of structure.  Differentiation of Functions Creation of specialized social roles and institutions leading to an interdependence of the parts of society  Adaptive upgrading conditioned by: 1. External factors 2. Internal factors 3. Derived factors Growth, Structure, and Differentiation

10  Society development  Social institutions arise from structural requirements  Division of labor Functionalism

11  Coined the term, not Darwin  Eliminates unfavorable variations of species  Focused on both biological and social processes  Cold-hearted toward poor, widowed, and orphaned Survival of The Fittest

12  Two classifications of society 1. Militant & industrial 2. Level of integration  Society was similar to an organism  General law of organization Common to both biological and social organism  Structure of a military  Purpose of a military Not to conquer other nations War and Militarism

13  Equal liberty principle Broadly utilitarianism view Goal of human action  Rejects conventional Benthamite view of public interest Absolute rights of individuals Utilitarianism

14  An Essay on the Principles of Population Although his outlook on the problem of overpopulation was not quite as pessimistic, Spencer believed that overpopulation would lead to the “survival of the fittest”  “Survival of the fittest” had two basic outcomes 1. The excess of fertility could stimulate greater activity 2. The conflict for scarcity of goods would accelerate into political and territorial conflicts Thomas Malthus

15  Reading Lewes’ work provided Spencer with the general background of philosophical thought  Von Baer’s principles allowed Spencer to organize his ideas on biological, psychological, and social evolution George Lewes & Karl Von Baer

16  Spencer wrote the first volume of the Principles of Biology in 1864 and wrote the second in 1867  He agreed with post-Newtonian views of science Universal laws exist that could explain the phenomena in the world  Proposed three propositions: 1. The law of persistence force 2. The indestructibility of matter 3. The continuity of motion Biology

17  Spencer acknowledged the role of environmental variables on social organization and agreed that the Super Organic (society) and the Organism (body) had six similarities: 1. Society and individuals grow 2. As size increases so does complexity 3. Progression in structure is accompanied by a differentiation in function 4. Parts of the whole are interdependent of one another 5. Every organism is a society 6. Some parts die, and some parts go on. Biology

18  Spencer did however, feel that there were some distinct differences between an organism and society: 1. The degree of connectedness 2. Communication 3. Differences in Consciousness Biology

19 Intellectual Influences  A lifelong friend of Spencer’s.  Introduced Spencer to many scientific facts.  Was also known as Darwin’s “bulldog,” his most vocal supporter and defender. Thomas Huxley

20 Intellectual Influences  Origin of Species in 1859 was welcomed warmly by Spencer.  Darwin’s theory of evolution offered Spencer a respected intellectual tool for justifying his laissez-faire beliefs.  Darwin’s theory of evolution and Spencer’s survival of the fittest concepts have become mistakenly interchangeable. Charles Darwin

21 Intellectual Influences  Spencer was not overly impressed with Comte.  Areas of agreement between Comte and Spencer: 1. Knowledge comes from positive methods 2. There are invariable laws in the universe that can be discovered and utilized 3. The different branches of knowledge form a rational whole. 4. Social phenomena form an interdependent whole 5. Both developed theories of evolution and progress 6. Spencer accepted Comte’s term of sociology for the science of superorganic bodies. 7. Spencer reluctantly gave credit to Comte for reintroducing the organismic analogy back into thought. Auguste Comte

22 Intellectual Influences  Spencer disagreed with Comte on the following issues: 1. Societies passed through three distinct stages. 2. Causality is less important than the building of social theory. 3. Government can use the laws of sociology to reconstruct society 4. Sciences have developed in a particular order. 5. Psychology is merely a subdiscipline of biology. 6. Spencer especially disagreed with Comte’s sense of a positivist religion and sociologist-priests. 7. Concerning the emphasis of evolutionary thought; where Comte was focused on the evolution of ideas, Spencer was interested in structural (and functional) evolution. 8. Comte believed that individuals could be taught morality, largely through the positivist religion, but Spencer ridiculed the idea that morality could be taught by any means, let alone religion or the government.  In short, Spencer is an individualist, whereas Comte is a combination of liberal-individualist and conservative- collectivist Auguste Comte

23  DNA  Industrialization  Militant and industrial analysis still valid today  Survival of the fittest Social encounters  One should never be satisfied with simply surviving

24  Realism vs. Idealism  Idealism- Held that we cannot know the nature of reality in itself  Realism vs. Nominalism  Nominalism- Believes that abstract concepts are a social construction (i.e. society)

25  Idealism vs. Materialism  Materialism- In the biology of evolution  Idealism- In social evolution  Believes evolution is a social construct


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