Spencer's Conception of Evolution and Its Application to the Political Development of Societies

Authored by: Robert L. Carneiro

Handbook on Evolution and Society

Print publication date:  January  2015
Online publication date:  November  2015

Print ISBN: 9781612058146
eBook ISBN: 9781315634203
Adobe ISBN: 9781317258339


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After indicating how Spencer first became interested in evolution, the chapter tells how he carefully distinguished its various aspects, culminating in the formulation of his classical definition of the process. This is followed by a discussion of the manifestation of evolution in a number of different fields. The major portion of the chapter is devoted to tracing the course of political evolution, in which Spencer depicts its successive stages, from autonomous villages to states and empires. In doing so he pays particular attention to the role of warfare in this process. Then, turning to more recent times, Spencer describes the tension existing between the military and industrial institutions of societies and how this tension has shaped the modern state.

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