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Herbert Spencer - Essay Example

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Consequently, the subject Sociology is rightly viewed to be theoretically a newer discipline, as its name was coined and first applied by renowned French philosopher Auguste Comte in 1838. Though the discipline encompasses almost all aspects of the individuals’ interaction with their social establishment, it pays particular heed in the exploration of the structure and functions of various social institutions and people’s association with them while leading a collective life as the members of society. Various sociologists-theorists have articulated their models and presented their theoretical frameworks in order to elaborate social structure and functioning; however, Comte, Spencer, Marx, Durkheim, Weber and Mills turn out to be the most influential ones in respect of determining the scope and boundaries of the discipline, by dint of their intellect, wisdom, knowledge and foresight; and the name of nineteenth century English phosphor Herbert Spencer (1820-1902) enjoys highly respectable place in the list of sociological theorists. Hebert Spencer appears to be the most distinguished theorist while elaborating his sociological theoretical framework, by demonstrating the significant relationship of Sociology with all social and natural sciences on the one hand, and with every existing institution of society on the other. In addition, Spencer is the first one to identify social evolution theory by supporting the doctrine Survival of the Fittest even before the articulation of the doctrine by the illustrious biologist of all times i.e. Charles Darwin in 1859. Spencer determined the parameters of social evolution by establishing its strong relationship with biological evolution and explained the growth and survival of social structure in accordance with the Darwinian doctrine. While investigating into the Darwinians theory of natural selection, Spencer concluded that the laws of biology could be suited for and combined with social theory to explain the enormously stratified Western societies of the 19th century. (Leyva, 2009:367) Thus, he has supported the very notion that the determination of the fittest stratum is not only on the foundation of its biological survival and reproduction capabilities, but also because of its social survival, growth and financial affluence, which make the individuals as the most suitable ones as well as capable of combating with various challenges of everyday life. The third and final major reason behind selecting Spencer as the most influential social theorist includes the tremendous services he has rendered by exploring the life of primitive societies and their activities and cultural traits, in order to investigate into the processes humans undergo while completing their journey from backwardness and barbarianism to modernity and civility. Spencer witnesses strong interdependent relationship between different institutions of society. He declares society as an organic whole like an animal body, organs of which perform various duties and obligations in collaboration with one another. Like brain, heart, lungs and other organs, different institutions also rely upon one another in order to keep the society in the state of perfect harmony. Somehow, he does not see the Darwinian Theory that evolution is based on the characteristics and development of the organism itself and on a simple principle of natural selection. In addition, Spencer takes mind and body as absolutely homogenous and interdependent, and consequently refutes Descartes’ ...Show more
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Summary

Although study of social life and human behavior has always been a topic of vital interest for the intellectuals, philosophers, writers and theorists alike since the civilized life came into existence, yet the history of the development a specific discipline to discuss various aspects of gregarious life and patterns of interactions as well seeks its roots in the mid of nineteen century. …
Herbert Spencer
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