Social Darwinism and Humanism

Document Type:Admission / Scholarship Essay

Subject Area:Philosophy

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Advocated by Herbert Spencer and his colleges in the 19th and early 20th century, Social Darwinism was used to justify imperialism, conservatism, racism and discourage reforms or interventions. Based on Charles Darwin’s rules of natural selection, Social Darwinism stated that weak people in a society were diminished and their cultural practices eliminated while the strong and capable people of society grew in power and their cultural influence over the vulnerable people (Jones et al. Social Darwinists stated that the life of people in a community or society was a struggle for dominance, leadership, and existence based on “Survival for the fittest,” as proposed by the British philosopher Herbert Spencer. Humanitarian value and development have greatly influenced behavioural change in many societies around the globe.

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Humanism is an ethical and philosophical stance that emphasizes the agency and worth of people both collectively and individually, and entirely prefers pieces of evidence and critical thinking to superstitions or acceptance of dogma. According to the ideology of Social Darwinism, the human race gets a similar comparison as plants and animals concerning Charles Darwin’s “Survival for the fittest. ” Herbert Spencer mainly focusses on the social differences and cultural superiorities of stronger and capable people in a society as opposed to conforming to the concepts of equality. Humanism on the other hand completely differs from the concepts of natural selection as proposed by Herbert in his theory of Social Darwinism. Fredrich Niethammer focuses on the value of humanity as well as the responsibilities of people in the world.

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