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Social Darwinism: Explaining the Evolution of Public Life by Biological Principles 

Charles Darwin’s term natural selection is familiar to everyone today. It refers to the theory of evolution and the idea that the strongest ones will always win over the weak ones. Natural selection theory was viral during the late eighteenth – early twentieth centuries. As for social Darwinism, it is the collection of several theories based on the principle of natural selection.

The most prominent social Darwinism theories appeared in North American and Western European countries back in the 1870s. It should be said that such versatility is connected with the historical contexts, first of all.

If you read some free essay samples about Charles Darwin and find a rare book on the corresponding topic in the college or university library, you will see that the man inspired many other people of science. Even though the theory continued its development independently from Darwin. Still, you are likely to find out about representatives of social Darwinism as you read more essays about Charles Darwin online. Thanks to Internet access, every student can find all crucial information and facts on the issue just like that.

Diverse approaches to the theory

Social Darwinism has been evolving itself through the times, and there may appear some new explanations of how the theory works for public life and human interaction. The most common explanation of the concept revolves around the idea that people live up to the principle ‘the fittest survive.’ it was Herbert Spencer – the British scientist – who coined the phrase.

Spencer and two other scientists – William Graham Sumner and Walter Bagehot – had their own vision of applying the theory of evolution to life. The men believed that the theory could improve the population, as the best and strongest competitors win over the least adapted to life circumstances. Other famous social Darwinists include English sociologist (and the founder of eugenics) Francis Galton and scholar Thomas Malthus.

Historical use of the concept

Since the appearance of social Darwinism, representatives of different spheres tended to use the natural selection theory depending on the historical context. For instance, historians considered the ideology an indicator of how competition and struggle between individuals can trigger society’s development and progress.

Notably, such progress did not always mean that the outcomes were positive. If you look at how people applied the term to the events before WWII, you will see that the theory stands right next to such words as ‘fascism,’ ‘Nazism,’ ‘imperialism,’ ‘militarism,’ and also’ eugenics.’ It is one of the reasons why social Darwinism is so ambiguous when it comes to definition.

This is how the theory became an easy way to justify the ideas of artificial selection, racial struggle, education differences, and national superiority. It seems to be a worthy life lesson to be learned – you cannot just take a theory that fits your intentions and needs but should consider the whole spectrum of its basic principles.

The biological use of the concept

At the same time, life science representatives believe that the theory is far more complex when it comes to biological arguments. It is critical that people approach Darwinian theory from the biological perspective, as Darwin derived his theories from natural selection in the animal and plant worlds. As a result, biologists emphasize that even though it is applicable to public life, it is not the only source for social progress ideologies.

If talking about a more recent examination of the theory, you cannot but mention Denis Alexander and Ronald Numbers’s work. ‘Biology and Ideology from Descartes to Dawkins’ was written in 2010 and presented a selection of essays. The book unites diverse works on the connection between ideology and biology, starting from pre-Darwinian times and up to the most recent controversies.


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About the author: Access Publishing

Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on Paso Robles Daily News on Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, or follow his blog.