Herbert Spencer's Lasting Influence Essay

Herbert Spencer's Lasting Influence Essay

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Herbert Spencer was an influential sociologist, biologist, philosopher and economist during the Victoria era. Although his work was eventually well respected and influential in the intellectual community, it took years for him to evolve and polish his philosophies. At the beginning of his writing career his theories were quite radical and considered rather extreme. Eventually, as he matured and continued to study and meet other influential men of this period, his material shifted to less extreme notions and would eventually be nominated for a Nobel Prize. Despite Spencer’s obvious intelligence, he battled several internal demons and would eventually die alone in a state of severe mental illness. Despite his personal struggle, he is considered one of the most influential sociologists in history.
Spencer was born in Derby, England on April 27, 1820. He was the eldest of nine children, although he was the only child to live past infancy. Unfortunately, Spencer also suffered from major mental and physical illness during his childhood and therefore received home-schooling by his father George, a teacher. Spencer’s father was often described as “unconventional” and did not impart a well-rounded education on Spencer (Sweet, 2004). George Spencer focused on educating his son in the natural sciences, history, and English. Also known for his radical opinions and anti-establishment and anti-clerical viewpoints, Spencer’s father’s influence is easily seen in some of Spencer’s earliest and more extreme writings.
When Spencer was 13 he moved in with his uncle Thomas, a clergyman who focused on a more well-rounded education for Spencer. Thomas’ influence is also seen in some of Spencer’s writings as he also influenced Spencer with h...


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...ocww.colorado.edu/~toldy2/E64ContentFiles/SociologyAndReform/Soc alDarwinism.html

Spencer, H. (1857, April). Progess: Its Law and Causes. The Westminster Review, 67, 445-465. Retrieved April 1, 2011, from http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/spencer-darwin.html

Sweet, W. (2004, October 22). Spencer, Herbert. In International Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved April 28, 2011, from http://www.iep.utm.edu/spencer/

Thio, A. (2009). Sociology: A brief introduction (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Wee, A. (2011, October 11). Herbert Spencer (1820-1903). In The Victorian Web. Retrieved May 1, 2011, from http://www.victorianweb.org/philosophy/spencer/spencer.html

Weinstein, D. (2009). Herbert Spencer. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2009 ed.). Retrieved April 28, 2011, from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/spencer/

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