Today is an interesting birthday, that of Herbert Spencer; an English Scientist and Philosopher. Spencer in his day, was considered the leading sociological and scientific authority in Victorian England and the most prominent liberal political theorist of the Victorian Era. It was Spencer who coined the term “Survival of the Fittest” when he applied Darwin’s Theory of Evolution on a sociological scale. He developed the theory that a society can evolve and change just as an organism can. Most renown for his rejection of Theology, Spencer believed if man is ever to reach his evolutionary zenith, it was up to the scientist to drag him there, willing or not. His theories led to the birth of “Classic Liberalism,” and he issued a call of action to all Academia to help bring about the evolutionary change of society to the Idealized State.
Applying Darwin’s theories on a societal scale, Spencer believed would help man evolve into his ultimate state; the creation of ‘the perfect man in the perfect society’ with human beings becoming completely adapted to social life. It was his belief that things as primitive as violence, patriotism, and religion would eventually, with Academia’s help; be bred out of man over time so that a perfect society can evolve.
“Over the course of many generations the evolutionary process would ensure that human beings would become less aggressive and increasingly altruistic, leading eventually to a perfect society in which no one would cause another person pain. However, for evolution to produce the perfect individual it was necessary for present and future generations to experience the ‘natural’ consequences of their conduct. Only in this way would individuals have the incentives required to work on self-improvement and thus to hand an improved moral constitution to their descendants. Hence anything that interfered with the ‘natural’ relationship of conduct and consequence was to be resisted and this included the use of the coercive power of the state to relieve poverty, to provide public education, or to require compulsory vaccination. Although charitable giving was to be encouraged even it had to be limited by the consideration that suffering was frequently the result of individuals receiving the consequences of their actions. Hence too much individual benevolence directed to the ‘undeserving poor’ would break the link between conduct and consequence that Spencer considered fundamental to ensuring that humanity continued to evolve to a higher level of development.” ( sourced from Wikipedia)
During his lifetime, Spencer was the most influential scientist of the Victorian Era. Though most of his more radical theories have fallen out of favor, such as forced eugenics on the ‘undeserving poor,’ his political and sociological theories are instrumental in the development of “Classic Liberalism.”
And just to leave you laughing today;