ANT50_Spencer - ANT 050 Herbert Spencer lecture notes...

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Unformatted text preview: ANT 050 Herbert Spencer lecture notes (various sources): [ Story of tomb ] Background : Born 1820, family of dissenters (radically anti-crown, anti-church, anti-sociology -- Bentham, Owen and others). No formal education; home study in mathematics and engineering. Said to have read Newton as a child. Worked as an engineer on the British railway, became an editor of The Economist , intellectual/news magazine, conservative in its outlook and broadly covering topics of economics/politics (still solidly thoughtful). Read Lyell's putative refutation of Lamarck, & felt convinced thereby that Lamarck was correct (contrarian, by heritage and nature). But, he was interested in the grand idea of evolution. Other formative influences were also biological in nature. Read von Baer on development (ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, meaning developmental stages of organism reflect the evolutionary stages of life). Given this, one would study development to understand evolution. Strongly taken with this idea. Related: organismic analogy: development over geological time is analogous to the life course of an individual organism. Evolutionary history, treated as if it were the development of an organism. Change from homogeneity to heterogeneity was the way that von Baer characterized development (evolution); a theme, principle, that Spencer adopted. Led him to various biological kinds of research, and by 1855 the claim (four years before the Origin of Species , by Darwin): "Life under all its forms has arisen by a progressive, unbroken evolution. . .out of the lowest and simplest beginnings. . .and through the immediate instrumentality of natural causes. . ." But, he did not know which 'natural causes.' Key terms here. Spencer debated this idea with leading thinkers of the day, especially Thomas Huxley. He saw only two alternatives: creationism (rejected) or progressive development. When Darwin published the Origin , Spencer (modesty not a strong point) took it as support for his own ideas. As with others, chagrined at not thinking of the idea of natural selection [Huxley is believed to have said upon hearing for the first time Darwin's concept of natural selection: "How damn stupid not to have thought of that!"]. In 1864, he coined the phrase, "survival of the fittest," in a period in which he was working on a comparative study of societies, based (as he conceived it, on biological principles). Prolific author, highly influential (a sample): Social Statics (1850) First Principles (1862) Principles of Biology (1864-1867) Principles of Psychology (1870-1872) The Study of Sociology (1872): "There can be no complete acceptance of Sociology as a science, so long as the belief in a social order not conforming to natural law survives ." (from Carniero; my italics)....
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This note was uploaded on 04/15/2008 for the course HIS 017A taught by Professor Smolenski during the Spring '08 term at UC Davis.

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ANT50_Spencer - ANT 050 Herbert Spencer lecture notes...

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