Herbert Spencer – Biography, Works, Contributions

Herbert Spencer was born in 1820 on 27th April in England. he was social philosophers. He is also known as the British Aristotle and also said to be second founding father of Sociology. Herbert was a man of unique and freethinking. He has explored and contributed to many knowledgeable fields such as psychology, philosophy, biology, and sociology. He is said to continue the work of Comte’s evolutionary approach. He authored many books as listed below:

herbert spencer

  1. Social statics 1850
  2. First Principles 1862
  3. The study of Sociology 1873
  4. The principles of sociology divided into three volumes. 1876- 1896
  5. The man versus the state 1884.

 Herbert Spencer Organic Analogy

Organic Analogy was one of his important work it was also shared with Comte and Durkheim. In this, he has seen society as an organism. He has taken this concept from Biology.

Spencer was more concerned with the structure of the society, the interdependence of different parts of society and functions of each part in the societal system. He displayed a comparison between a living organism and society keeping in mind the following points:

  1. Just like living organism society also grows. We can see growth and development in both the society as well as in the living organism. This process of growth is slow from being simple it turns into the complex. Living organisms are very simple when born. Similarly, society is also simple in form. Later both get big and complicated. For instance, people lived in simple houses but now in modern society, we see different styled built houses.
  2. In both society and living organism, we can see interdependence. As each organ has its own functions without anyone organ it’s hard to function or cannot function at all. Therefore, one organ is dependent on the other. The function of one organ cannot be held by the other organ or else it will disturb the pattern of continuity. Similarly, society also functions like a living organism. Different parts of society are also interdependent with one another.
  3. Both Society and Living organism have the importance of the whole. No matter how interdependent each part of society and living organism are we cannot neglect their importance. To understand their uniqueness we need to see them as a whole.There are no intervals in the significance of the whole. This is necessary for both the society and the living organism.
  4. Both are centralized meaning in the living organism the power of control is with the brain. It regulates all the functions of all the parts. Hence in society also there are administration or governments which look after and regulates the society. In both orders are given from the center of the control and they need to follow it.
  5. Herbert Spencer firmly believes that Society and living organism both are similar in various processes. For instance living organism contains different systems like respiratory, digestion, circulatory etc. these all functions are necessary for there functions. Similarly, society carries different systems of transportation, communication, production, and distribution etc. This is how Spencer concludes that both Society and Living organism are same in nature.

Further, he also states some difference between society and living organism.

  1. He says living organisms are visible and are joined together as a whole and society is made up of individual elements or detached elements.
  2. In the organism, consciousness plays a small role he every part of the organism doesn’t have its own consciousness whereas in society every part has its own consciousness.
  3. Most critical would be this difference Spencer says in society, not all parts would work for the welfare of the whole but in a living organism, every part of it is built for the welfare of one another.
  4. In society, one part can be capable of being independent and can exist without whole but if one part of living organism gets separated then it can take you into worst circumstances and eventually lead to death.

From all these points mentioned above, we come to know that Herbert Spencer tried to display the similarities between society and living organism. But as we all know everything comes with it worse as well. People tend to judge and criticize each other often.

Therefore Spencer’s theory was criticised by many

  1. Critics said that society and living organisms are two different things. Comparing these two components is not acceptable as they believed society is conceptual and living organism is in visible form. It is the imagination of Spencer’s to compare these two components.
  2. Critics also stated the consciousness also plays different roles in both. In society, each part has a different center controller and in the living organism, we have one specified centralization of consciousness. Hence both cannot be compared on the basis of consciousness.
  3. Now the criticism would be regarding the birth, development, and death of these two i.e. society and living organism. It is said that these two have a different process of birth, development, and death and it is waste of time to compare these two.
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Hello, I am Samreen Sagheer pursuing Journalism and Mass Communication from Amity. I am an aspiring writer, ready to give my best. I like to keep things simple and straightforward just like my personality.