The complicated legacy of Herbert Spencer

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Herbert Spencer, born 200 years ago, was every bit as enamoured with evolution as Darwin was; it was he, not Darwin, who coined the phrase "survival of the fittest." But Spencer applied evolutionary thinking far beyond biology, laying the groundwork for what would come to be known as "social Darwinism."  In a feature for Smithsonian, I look at Spencer's complicated legacy.