Free Essay: Does Bellamy Challenge Spencer?

Published: 2023-01-20
Free Essay: Does Bellamy Challenge Spencer?
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Philosophers Public relations Social issue
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1873 words
16 min read

Both Spencer and Bellamy were philosophers at different times. Each advanced various philosophies that at times agree and at times differ. While Spencer described society as an organism where people survive for the fittest, Bellamy saw a society composed of perfect qualities depicting its citizens. As an organism that strives to attain stability and balance, society is not perfect, however, Bellamy considers the society as one that is perfect and has no problems plaguing the citizens. Hence, Spencer philosophy was based on individualism while Bellamy's philosophy of society was based on communism. Edward Bellamy, therefore, conceived society as one where people are at liberty and enjoy freedom and rights. In this regard, the poor should not be mistreated but uplifted by being given good wages and receive better legal tender mechanism from the government. Conversely, Spencer was a proponent of liberty of contract as well as laissez-fare and that freedom and liberty are characterized by individualism rather than communism. In the minds of Spencer, the citizens should own property, create and share their wealth within the society. Although Spencer's philosophies still hold today, they are highly challenged by Bellamy's philosophies of society.

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Brief Conversation

Spencer: Hey Bellamy. What is your position on women?
Bellamy: In the current world women have turned out to be as efficient as a machine and they have become happy.
Spencer: Wow! And why do you think they have become efficient and happy.
Bellamy: Every person possesses a unique character that is different from the other and as such, they are well adapted to it. Therefore, women can as well be efficient like men.
Spencer: I initially held to the idea that women were inferior to men and therefore deserved unequal treatment.
Bellamy: What about now?
Spencer: Currently, I greatly support equality among women as you do because I feel the harm and pain that people of the opposite gender do.

In the above conversation, the two philosophers, Bellamy and Spencer are talking about gender. Spencer is concerned about Bellamy's position on feminism and the status of women. Bellamy responds that she is optimistic about women and sees them as the pillars of society. According to Bellamy (2007), women have become efficient and have attained more happiness in their life. He attributes their happiness and efficiency to the unique character that each person possesses irrespective of gender. Hence, women cannot be considered a lesser being since they are equal to the task as men and produce efficiency befitting that of a machine. Owing to the previous portrayal of women the recognition of women's role makes them happy. On the other hand, Spencer states that although he initially considered women inferior to men, his stand has changed and now sees them as equal. As a result, Spencer advocates for equality between genders. He figured out the great the role that women play in society and found a convincing argument to ague out why women need absolute respect and appreciation.

Spencer's Argument

Spencer is one of the English philosophers who existed between 1820 and 1903. As a philosopher, Spencer relied on the Laissez-faire principles, conservation of energy, universal pattern of evolution and gloomy prognoses to come up with the monolithic system of society (Hofstadter, 1992). He, therefore, relied on the natural laws and synthetic integration of knowledge to develop his own social laws and ideas. His use of Darwinism concepts of natural selection was the most remembered since it was comprehensive in scope. Besides, his theories were reassuring progress in the aspects of both physics and biology (Hofstadter, 1992). Most importantly, Spencer's system of society was highly unifying everything right from animals to human beings and politics. Due to its comprehensiveness and unifying aspect, his theory replaced the Mosaic cosmogony and gave him a public influence. Albeit, the public influence was more because he transcended Darwin's laws of natural selection which had already received public demand and liking.

Survival of the Fittest

The term, "survival of the fittest" was coined by Spencer and not Charles Darwin. It can, therefore, be argued that Darwin conceived the natural selection laws from Spencer's statement (Hofstadter, 1992). The society is a unit that Spencer, imagined that a society can be compared to a living organism that possesses interdependent parts. According to him, whenever a part of the society undergoes change, so does the other parts of the society (Hofstadter, 1992). In this regard, every part of society is as important as any other and contributes to the survival and stability of the entire society. Herbert Spencer was sharp to note that whenever an aspect of the society undergoes change, others are affected and they must change and adjust to offset the malfunction created. The affected parts of the society must adjust to advance and contribute better in preserving society. Such parts of the society that changes and affect each other include the religion, education, industry, manufacturing, and government among others. Integrated together, the parts form an organism called society. Hence, Spencer's suggestions can be compared to today's effects of greenhouse gases which have affected various parts of the society but these affected societal parts have to act to make the society better and habitable by human beings (Hofstadter, 1992). Based on the above, Spencer posited that the society has its own way of overcoming the defects and more precisely, to achieves that through the natural process that he named "survival of the fittest." The societal organism ascribes to the human body process of homeostasis in which the society has to establish a state of balance or stability as its parts changes.

Spencer was against the proponent of increase state action and this led him into adopting the Darwinism concepts and interweaving them into classical economics to derive his preferred system of society (Hofstadter, 1992). Spencer, therefore, adopted "survival of the fittest as his doctrine" to describe a society that perfectly competing for whatever is available. To him, the spirit of competition meant freedom. The doctrine appears to condemn the weak and the poor as being lazy individuals who cannot strive and struggle to earn a living while in the real case it might not be the case. There are some individuals who are more favored and hence are better placed to gather what is available and others are disabled and it is wrong to condemn them for being poor. In this regard, Spencer's doctrine overlooks the weakened and puts the blame on them.


In a laissez-fair system, the players are not interfered with but operate freely as they deem fit and suitable within the market. Spencer established a relationship between the government and the society and stated that the former should leave society to establish its own stability without influence(Hofstadter, 1992). Society has its own way of working out its problems and the government should not intervene but leave it to exist naturally. Using his "survival of the fittest" analogy, Spencer emphasized that the fittest in the society such as the rich, wealthy, powerful, and successful individual are so because they did their best and nature favored them. Conversely, the less powerful, poor and disadvantaged are in their status because nature has not favored them and designed that they be so. A society becomes healthy when the poor feed themselves without receiving assistance from the government. When the society is deeded its mandate through government interference, it becomes weakened and the laws of nature are defied. As a result, Spencer depicted society as an entity that is free of interference and hence in a laissez-fair situation. Hofstadter (1992) writes that "There cannot be more good done ... than that of letting social progress go on unhindered; yet an immensity of mischief may be done in the way of disturbing, and distorting and repressing, by policies carried out in pursuit of erroneous conceptions" (27). Spencer considered a true society as a lubricant that can grease the wheels preventing friction from occurring rather than sustaining the motion of an engine. Hence, the general truth of biology is enough and will not violate the selection principle.


The doctrine of socialism is based on the ideologies that a community owns the means of production, exchange as well as distribution and as such it regulates them. According to socialism, people are contented with their workplace and possess a sense enough to allude to natural and reasonable ideas. Socialists believe that every person should be regulated for the few unregulated to gain. Through the centralized power, socialists feel that the society would be built on love, creativity and that every person who be sensitive. According to Heilbroner (2011), capitalism breeds into socialism and later collapses. Moreover, capitalism creates a social class that is highly trained and disciplined and this would certainly create a technical base for socialism to thrive.

Spencer was opposed to the idea of socialism and as a result, he used the "survival of the fittest" to imply permanent supremacy of human animals (Hofstadter, 1992). Contrary, Bellamy was a proponent of socialism and believed that people will be set free by their truth. Hence, truth is inevitable for anybody who would wish to achieve freedom. As a socialist, Bellamy alluded to the imposing control over people to enable them to conform to the government undertakings. In his opinion, centralizing help in attaining efficiency in an economy compared to smaller entities that may not attain such efficiency. Bellamy described the society as pone that attains efficiency similar to that of a machine. In such a society, the human condition is improved through equality. He developed the concept of socialism as a way to counteract the concept of individualism as described by Spencer and other social reformists. Scientific socialism preferred not to leave the technical specifications in the hands of the human beings but in the hands of a perfected government. That functions the way a machine function. The opinion was that the perfected government would create efficiency mimicking the machine. Just like a machine produces the best in the hands, a government system posses greater concern and performs a highly mastered work hence delivering accurate results. He argued that a human being cannot be left free alone since a human will is not predetermined and the destiny of a human being cannot be etched in stone. He saw a non-reconciliatory existence between the ambitions if a human and the will of God. In this regard, Bellamy posited that the fate of human remains in its own hands. Hence, shaping the human condition in their own hands poses tremendous risks that are not worth risking. This warrant leaving the human conditions in the hands of the government that ca better takes control of the happenings.

Bellamy taught that women ought to work outside the home since there are people who cook, do the cleaning and laundry (Bellamy, 2007). Sensitivity is another character that Bellamy possesses. He is highly sensitive to various issues such as the plight of women in the 19th century who worked tiressly to make ends meet. As evident from Bellamy's description of socialism, the socialists use brutal struggle to survive and exists, they use mockery and dictatorship, among other brutal means to make people surrender (Bellamy, 2007). In contrary, Spencer advocated for a society in which people struggle to fight on their own without impending the struggle of the other individual.

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