Charles Darwin And Herbert Spencer Essay

1393 words - 6 pages

Charles Darwin & Herbert SpencerCharles Darwin, a British naturalist, revolutionized biology with his theory of evolution through the process of natural selection. Herbert Spencer was the major philosopher of biological and social evolution. Spencer's work significantly influenced 19th century developments in biology, psychology, sociology and anthropology. While Darwin was influential in the fields of natural history and geology, his theory of evolution created great controversy. He changed the way people thought about the role of humans in the natural world. Although these two men made advancement in the theory of evolution they had contrasting views regarding anthropological ...view middle of the document...

In his theory of how natural selection occurs, known as Darwinism, he pointed out that not all individuals of a species are exactly the same. But, rather that individuals have variations and that some of these variations make their bearers better adapted to particular ecological conditions. He pointed out that most species have more chances of surviving and producing young than do less adapted, and that over the passage of time, are slowly weeded out. The accumulation of adaptations to a particular ecological system leads into the development of separate species, each adapted to its own ecolgoical area.In 1837, Darwin began work on the concept that evolution is essentially brought about by three principles. The first being variation which is present in all life forms. However, he did not attempt to define it. The second principle is heredity, " the conservative force which transmits similar organic forms from one generation to another (2:57)." Lastly, the struggle for existence "determines which variations will survive in a given environment, thus altering life through a selective death rate (2:57-58)." He concluded that with all three factors combined that life will alter slowly and unnoticeably.Herbert Spencer lived from 1820-1903. An English philosopher who advocated the importance of the individual over society and science over religion. He was born in Derby on April 27, 1820. He declined an offer to attend Cambridge, and his higher education was a result of reading, especially about the natural sciences. In 1848, he became subeditor of the Economist. In 1851, he published Social Statistics, in which he argues in favor of an extreme form of economic and social laissez faire and proceeded to call progress a necessity. In 1860 Spencer went to work on The Synthetic Philosophy, a combination work including psychology, biology, sociology, and morality. Spencer began writing a series of works called Descriptive Sociology in 1873 about the social institutions of various societies.However, he died before he could see this work published (it was later published posthumously).One of the results of Darwin's work is that he demonstrated that the evolution of plants and animals provides no evidence of divine creation. He began to apply evolution to morality and it evolved from improved social standards (3:101). As he grew older he abandoned his Christian views and became agnostic.Unlike Darwin, Spencer's work and views revolved around people and societies. On the other hand, Darwin dealt more with plants and animals. Spencer's work tried to combine sociology and social philosophy, however, Darwin's work was more biological. Spencer also used metaphysics to prove some beliefs. He believed that acquired characteristics can be passed on to descendants. He did not think that acquired characteristics or survival of the fittest were the ultimate principles of evolution. He felt being able to create a heterogeneous society was the most fundamental...

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