Re: virus: change in the church

David McFadzean (
Wed, 23 Jun 1999 08:05:39 -0600

At 09:05 AM 6/23/99 -0400, psypher wrote:
>David asserted:
>> The meme meme can be traced back to at least Herbert Spencer,
>> whose ideas of the evolution of culture predates Darwin's
>> Origin of Species.
>...who is Herbert Spencer and how do I find out more?

Spencer, Herbert (1820-1903)

English polymath who wrote on evolution, science and philosophy. Probably best known today for the ideas that have become known as Social Darwinism. This conflated Darwin's evolution by natural selection and Spencer's own ideas and applied them to human society. In fact, in Spencer's case the description of him as a Social Darwinist is probably a bit of a misnomer since he had reached many of his crucial ideas on things like the struggle for survival as part of the evolutionary process independently of Darwin and indeed before Darwin published his seminal work, Origin of Species in 1859. Social Darwinism became to a large extent a justification for some of the more extreme - 'let them sink of swim' - attitudes of Victorian society, a social accompaniment to laissez faire economic theory.

A search of "herbert spencer evolution" turned up over 300 references on AltaVista and over 700 on HotBot.


David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Church of Virus