Spencer, Herbert (1820–1903), English philosopher, social theorist, and early evolutionist. In his multivolume System of Synthetic Philosophy (1855–93) he expounded a world view based on a close study of physical, biological, and social phenomena, arguing that species evolve by a process of differentiation from the simple to the complex. Spencer coined the phrase “survival of the fittest.” His political individualism deeply influenced the growth of Social Darwinism, and, in general, U.S. social thinking.
See also: Social Darwinism.
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