Author(s)Bloom, Robert L.
Crapster, Basil L.
Dunkelberger, Harold L.
Glatfelter, Charles H.
Mara, Richard T.
Richardson, Norman E.
Schubart, W. Richard
Survival of the Fittest
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
History of Science, Technology, and Medicine
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AbstractThe singular impact of Darwin in fields other than biology can be attributed largely to one man, Herbert Spencer (1820- 1903). It was Spencer, not Darwin, who coined the expression "survival of the fittest." Although neglected today except by historians of the nineteenth century thought, Spencer's influence on his own time was so great that Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes was able to wonder if "any writer of English except Darwin has done so much to affect our whole way of thinking about the universe." Herbert Spencer was born into a traditionally nonconformist English family of modest means. He refused a university education and trained for a career as a civil engineer. He was employed first as an engineer and later as an editor of the Economist, a publication advocating free trade. By 1853 his major ideas were fixed and he spent his remaining years systematizing and propounding them. [excerpt]