Herbert Spencer

Background Information

He lived from 1820-1903 and was an early advocate for the theory of evolution. Spencer believed in science over religion and individual over society. He became one of the most famous philosophers of the 1870's. His main source of wealth was the books he wrote. In 1902 Spencer was nominated for a Nobel Prize for literature. Later in life he became lonely and depressed, and suffered from Hypochondria.

During This Time...

Herbert Spencer was alive during the Victorian Era. This time period is often thought of as a repression characterized by peace and prosperity. This time period also involved progress in science and industry and was the start of the industrial revolution.

Major Contributions to Sociology

Contrary to popular belief, it was Spencer who coined the term "survival of the fittest". His most well known work is his book The Synthetic Philosophy which he published in 1896. Herbert Spencer was called the most notable exponent of social evolution.

Other Information

  • worked as an editor for the Free Trade Journal at one time
  • women's rights advocate who was against women having the right to vote
  • member of the exclusive "x club" with most prominent thinkers of the time

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