This is the latest herbert Spencer PDF revision, reviewed on 13 March 2019. Herbert Spencer coined the phrase « survival of the fittest ».
Auguste Laugel, ingénieur, administrateur, historien et philosophe français (1830-1905)
Ce livre numérique présente «Herbert Spencer», de Auguste Laugel, édité en texte intégral. Une table des matières dynamique permet d’accéder directement aux différentes sections.
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-02- LES ÉTUDES PHILOSOPHIQUES EN ANGLETERRE – HERBERT SPENCER
Survival of the fittest » is a phrase that originated from Darwinian evolutionary theory as a way of describing the mechanism of natural selection. Darwin responded positively to Alfred Russel Wallace’s suggestion of using Spencer’s new phrase « survival of the fittest » as an alternative to « natural selection », and adopted the phrase in The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication published in 1868. In July 1866 Alfred Russel Wallace wrote to Darwin about readers thinking that the phrase « natural selection » personified nature as « selecting », and said this misconception could be avoided « by adopting Spencer’s term » Survival of the fittest. Darwin promptly replied that Wallace’s letter was « as clear as daylight. In the first four editions of On the Origin of Species, Darwin had used the phrase « natural selection ». In The Man Versus The State, Spencer used the phrase in a postscript to justify a plausible explanation of how his theories would not be adopted by « societies of militant type ».
He uses the term in the context of societies at war, and the form of his reference suggests that he is applying a general principle. Thus by survival of the fittest, the militant type of society becomes characterized by profound confidence in the governing power, joined with a loyalty causing submission to it in all matters whatever ». Though Spencer’s conception of organic evolution is commonly interpreted as a form of Lamarckism, Herbert Spencer is sometimes credited with inaugurating Social Darwinism. Evolutionary biologists criticise the manner in which the term is used by non-scientists and the connotations that have grown around the term in popular culture.
The phrase also does not help in conveying the complex nature of natural selection, so modern biologists prefer and almost exclusively use the term natural selection. While the phrase « survival of the fittest » is often used to mean « natural selection », it is avoided by modern biologists, because the phrase can be misleading. For example, survival is only one aspect of selection, and not always the most important. Another problem is that the word « fit » is frequently confused with a state of physical fitness. The phrase can also be interpreted to express a theory or hypothesis: that « fit » as opposed to « unfit » individuals or species, in some sense of « fit », will survive some test. Interpreted as a theory of species survival, the theory that the fittest species survive is undermined by evidence that while direct competition is observed between individuals, populations and species, there is little evidence that competition has been the driving force in the evolution of large groups such as, for example, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals.
Instead, they cited extrinsic, abiotic factors such as expansion as the driving factor on a large evolutionary scale. It has been claimed that « the survival of the fittest » theory in biology was interpreted by late 19th century capitalists as « an ethical precept that sanctioned cut-throat economic competition » and led to the advent of the theory of « social Darwinism » which was used to justify laissez-faire economics, war and racism. Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin viewed the concept of « survival of the fittest » as supporting co-operation rather than competition. In its wide extension, even at the present time, we also see the best guarantee of a still loftier evolution of our race. Survival of the fittest » is sometimes claimed to be a tautology. The reason is that it does not mention a key requirement for natural selection, namely the requirement of heritability. It is true that the phrase « survival of the fittest », in and by itself, is a tautology if fitness is defined by survival and reproduction.
This is precisely what is called « evolution by natural selection ». Momme von Sydow suggested further definitions of ‘survival of the fittest’ that may yield a testable meaning in biology and also in other areas where Darwinian processes have been influential. However, much care would be needed to disentangle tautological from testable aspects. Though Spencer was an advocate of the inheritance of acquired characters, he considered Lamarck’s failure to explain organic evolution in physical terms as a serious weakness of his theory.
Herbert Spencer in his Principles of Biology of 1864, vol. 444, wrote: ‘This survival of the fittest, which I have here sought to express in mechanical terms, is that which Mr. Darwin has called « natural selection », or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. Herbert Spencer has well expressed the same idea by the Survival of the Fittest. This preservation of favourable variations, and the destruction of injurious variations, I call Natural Selection, or the Survival of the Fittest. Philosophy of Biology:An Anthology, Alex Rosenberg, Robert Arp ed. Evolutionary biologists customarily employ the metaphor ‘survival of the fittest,’ which has a precise meaning in the context of mathematical population genetics, as a shorthand expression when describing evolutionary processes.
PERCEPTIONS OF SCIENCE: Natural Enemies — Metaphor or Misconception? The principle of natural selection applied to groups of individual is known as Group selection. The Man Versus the State: A Collection of Essays, M. Adaptation and Progress: Spencer’s Criticism of Lamarck ». Natural Selection », Back to Darwin: the scientific case for Deistic evolution, Rowman and Littlefield, p.
From Darwinian Metaphysics towards Understanding the Evolution of Evolutionary Mechanisms: A Historical and Philosophical Analysis of Gene-Darwinism and Universal Darwinism. Evolution and Philosophy: A Good Tautology is Hard to Find by John Wilkins, part of the talk. CA500: « Survival of the fittest is a tautology » from the talk. Is « survival of the fittest » a tautology by Don Lindsay. Evolution and philosophy — Does evolution make might right?