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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index S > Herbert Spencer Quotes > Evolution

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Herbert Spencer
(27 Apr 1820 - 8 Dec 1903)

English sociologist and philosopher who had early interests in science. He coined the phrase “survival of the fittest” (1852). Spencer published an article defending the theory of biological evolution, seven years ahead of Charles Darwin’s book, Origin of Species.


Herbert Spencer Quotes on Evolution (6 quotes)

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Evolution is an integration of matter and concomitant dissipation of motion during which the matter passes from an indefinite incoherent homogeneity to a definite coherent heterogeneity, and during which the retained motion undergoes a parallel transformation.
— Herbert Spencer
First Principles of a New System of Philosophy (1864), 407.
Science quotes on:  |  Definite (110)  |  Evolution (593)  |  Heterogeneity (4)  |  Homogeneity (8)  |  Incoherent (7)  |  Indefinite (20)  |  Integration (19)  |  Matter (801)  |  Motion (312)  |  Parallel (43)  |  Retain (56)  |  Transformation (69)

If a single cell, under appropriate conditions, becomes a man in the space of a few years, there can surely be no difficulty in understanding how, under appropriate conditions, a cell may, in the course of untold millions of years, give origin to the human race.
— Herbert Spencer
Principles of Biology (1865, 1872), 350.
Science quotes on:  |  Appropriate (61)  |  Become (815)  |  Cell (138)  |  Condition (357)  |  Course (408)  |  Difficulty (198)  |  Evolution (593)  |  Human (1470)  |  Human Race (103)  |  Man (2249)  |  Origin (241)  |  Race (268)  |  Single (354)  |  Space (501)  |  Surely (101)  |  Understanding (514)  |  Year (932)

Intellectual evolution … is…, under all its aspects, a progress in representativeness of thought.
— Herbert Spencer
In The Principles of Psychology (1872), Vol. 2, 535.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4107)  |  Aspect (124)  |  Education (379)  |  Evolution (593)  |  Intellect (233)  |  Intellectual (255)  |  Progress (468)  |  Representative (14)  |  Thought (954)

Now, we propose in the first place to show, that this law of organic progress is the law of all progress. Whether it be in the development of the Earth, in the development in Life upon its surface, in the development of Society, of Government, of Manufactures, of Commerce, of Language, Literature, Science, Art, this same evolution of the simple into the complex, through a process of continuous differentiation, holds throughout. From the earliest traceable cosmical changes down to the latest results of civilization, we shall find that the transformation of the homogeneous into the heterogeneous is that in which Progress essentially consists.
— Herbert Spencer
'Progress: Its Law and Cause', Westminster Review (1857), 67, 446-7.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4107)  |  Art (657)  |  Change (595)  |  Civilization (206)  |  Commerce (21)  |  Complex (188)  |  Complexity (111)  |  Consist (223)  |  Continuous (82)  |  Cosmos (63)  |  Development (424)  |  Differentiation (25)  |  Down (455)  |  Earth (998)  |  Evolution (593)  |  Find (999)  |  First (1284)  |  Government (111)  |  Heterogeneity (4)  |  Homogeneity (8)  |  Homogeneous (16)  |  Language (293)  |  Law (895)  |  Life (1799)  |  Literature (105)  |  Manufacture (29)  |  Manufacturing (27)  |  Organic (158)  |  Process (423)  |  Progress (468)  |  Proposition (123)  |  Result (678)  |  Science (3880)  |  Show (346)  |  Simple (406)  |  Simplicity (167)  |  Society (325)  |  Surface (209)  |  Through (849)  |  Throughout (98)  |  Trace (104)  |  Traceable (5)  |  Transformation (69)

The advance from the simple to the complex, through a process of successive differentiations, is seen alike in the earliest changes of the Universe to which we can reason our way back, and in the earliest changes which we can inductively establish; it is seen in the geologic and climatic evolution of the Earth; it is seen in the unfolding of every single organism on its surface, and in the multiplication of kinds of organisms; it is seen in the evolution of Humanity, whether contemplated in the civilized individual, or in the aggregate of races; it is seen in the evolution of Society in respect alike of its political, its religious, and its economical organization; and it is seen in the evolution of all those endless concrete and abstract products of human activity which constitute the environment of our daily life. From the remotest past which Science can fathom, up to the novelties of yesterday, that in which Progress essentially consists, is the transformation of the homogeneous into the heterogeneous.
— Herbert Spencer
Progress: Its Law and Cause (1857), 35.
Science quotes on:  |  Abstract (126)  |  Activity (210)  |  Advance (280)  |  Advancement (62)  |  Aggregate (23)  |  Aggregation (6)  |  Alike (60)  |  All (4107)  |  Back (391)  |  Change (595)  |  Civilization (206)  |  Climate (97)  |  Complex (188)  |  Complexity (111)  |  Concrete (51)  |  Consist (223)  |  Constitute (97)  |  Contemplation (73)  |  Daily (87)  |  Daily Life (17)  |  Differentiation (25)  |  Early (186)  |  Earth (998)  |  Economy (55)  |  Endless (56)  |  Environment (216)  |  Establishment (47)  |  Evolution (593)  |  Fathom (15)  |  Geology (220)  |  Heterogeneity (4)  |  Homogeneity (8)  |  Homogeneous (16)  |  Human (1470)  |  Humanity (169)  |  Individual (404)  |  Induction (77)  |  Kind (557)  |  Life (1799)  |  Multiplication (44)  |  Novelty (29)  |  Organism (220)  |  Organization (114)  |  Past (337)  |  Political (121)  |  Politics (112)  |  Process (423)  |  Product (160)  |  Progress (468)  |  Race (268)  |  Reason (744)  |  Religion (363)  |  Religious (126)  |  Remoteness (9)  |  Respect (207)  |  Science (3880)  |  Simple (406)  |  Simplicity (167)  |  Single (354)  |  Society (325)  |  Succession (77)  |  Successive (73)  |  Surface (209)  |  Through (849)  |  Transformation (69)  |  Unfolding (16)  |  Universe (861)  |  Way (1216)  |  Yesterday (36)

This survival of the fittest implies multiplication of the fittest.
[The phrase “survival of the fittest” was not originated by Charles Darwin, though he discussed Spencer's “excellent expression” in a letter to A. R. Wallace (Jul 1866).]
— Herbert Spencer
In Principles of Biology (1865, 1872), Vol. 1, 444.
Science quotes on:  |  Charles Darwin (304)  |  Evolution (593)  |  Expression (176)  |  Letter (109)  |  Multiplication (44)  |  Phrase (61)  |  Survival (96)  |  Survival Of The Fittest (40)


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Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton



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