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Herbert Spencer – Scientists of Biology

Herbert Spencer is one of the outstanding scientists belonging to the sphere of biology, sociology, and anthropology. He is also known as the author of social Darwinism, presupposing that superior physical force shapes history, and the fittest will survive, while other species will become extinct (Ritzer and Stepnisky 152). At the same time, he tried to apply the ideas of Darwinism to society and create his own ontological system. Thus, Spencer offered his own concept assuming that individuals evolve and, at the same time, precondition the development of society (Ritzer and Stepnisky 152). The thinker started to believe that although evolution begins slowly, its speed increases in time because of different factors impacting communities (Ritzer and Stepnisky 152). Under these conditions, it is possible to observe various effects and how the environment changes over time.

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Moreover, Spencer states that social change is unidirectional and depends on factors that can hardly be predicted. Moreover, both evolutionary and progressive changes occur in several sets of stages, vital for the improved understanding of outcomes and the ability to analyze them (Ritzer and Stepnisky 152). In such a way, speaking about social ontology, Spencer was firstly sure that the given phenomenon could be viewed in terms of Darwinism, and its laws can be applied to this process. However, working on the given problem, he introduced his own conceptions, and shifted to a new idea, stating that exact contours of future social life cannot be viewed and lie beyond the intellectual grasp (Ritzer and Stepnisky 157). It means that the analysis of society, its evolution, and possible future becomes an even more complex and sophisticated task that can be performed only considering a various set of factors.

The change in Spencer’s vision of society and ontology is also followed by the creation of a completely new attitude to the culture, how it emerges, evolves, and impacts human beings. In his early works, Spencer tried to apply the idea of evolutionary thinking to human culture and state that it is an integral part of individuals (Ritzer and Stepnisky 158). However, with the development of the paradigm and the change in his attitudes, Spencer moved to an entirely new view of culture, stating that every class evolves and starts to perform new functions, which also impact the dominant culture (Ritzer and Stepnisky 158). For instance, cogitating about the aristocracy, he admits the shift from mainly military to political functions and the possibility of the further transformation and the creation of a new cultural field shaped by the social evolution.

Altogether, it is possible to conclude that Spencer is an outstanding thinker and scientist who worked in different fields and areas. His contribution to evolutionary theory and sociology cannot be overestimated. Being a representative of Darwinism and the author of multiple conceptions, he managed to form his own theory stating that the changes in the society are unpredictable by specialists and depend on multiple factors. At the same time, he also altered his vision of culture. Spencer was sure that it was an integral part of communities and evolves with them depending on various factors; however, he reconsidered the given idea and assumed that individuals and every class had their own culture different from others and changing over time. In general, his works are vital for the understanding of the ideas of social evolution.


Ritzer, George and Jeffrey Stepnisky. Classical Sociological Theory. 7th ed., SAGE Publications, 2017.

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