The great event of the New York cultural

The great event of the New York cultural Herbert Spencer, a sixty-two-year-old English philosopher and social commentator, paid a visit in 1882. Spencer’s books, such as Social Statics and The Data of Ethics, were acclaimed as convincing reasons for laissez-faire capitalism in the United States, where he had a larger and more ardent following. Competition was predetermined; its outcome was progress; and any organisation that interfered with individual liberty was breaking the natural order. ― Free competition became a social as well as a natural law when Spencer coined the expression “survival of the fittest.” Spencer was undoubtedly the most prominent systematic thinker of the nineteenth century, yet his influence was short-lived in comparison to Darwin, Marx, and Mill. Talcott Parsons, a Harvard sociologist, said in 1937, “Who now reads Spencer?” The question is still relevant seventy years later, even though no one reads Talcott Parsons anymore. Spencer was the greatest of philosophical hedgehogs in his day, and his success arose from the fact that he had one huge, readily comprehended notion and a slew of smaller, more specific ideas that apparently flowed from it. The big theory was evolution, but while Darwin focused on species change and only hazily speculated on society and culture, Spencer saw evolution at work everywhere. This law of organic advance, he wrote, is the law of all progress, whether in the development of the Earth, the development of Life on its surface, the development of Society, Government, Manufactures, Commerce, Language, Literature, Science, [or] Art. Spencer has been labelled a social Darwinist, yet Darwin should be referred to as a biological Spencerian. Spencer was a well-known evolutionist even before Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was published in 1859, and even those who had little interest in the Galápagos finches were interested in whether the government should provide for the destitute or whether it was appropriate to colonise India.


1 Why did Spencer have a large enthusiastic following in the United States?

A. Because he believed in Darwin’s theory of evolution

B. Because his work was perceived to justify capitalism

C. Because he was a English philosopher

D. None of these

Answer: B

2 Which of the following will the author agree to?

A. Mill, Marx and Darwin are more famous than Spencer as of today.

B. Spencer is more famous than Mill, Marx and Darwin as of today.

C. Mill, Darwin, Marx and Spencer are equally famous

D. Mill, Darwin, Marx and Parsons are very famous today today.

Answer: A

3 What does Talcott Parson’s statement, “Who now reads Spencer?” imply?

A. No one read Spencer in 1937

B. He is asking a question to his students.

C. Everyone should read Spencer

D. None of these

Answer: A

4 What could possibly “laissez-faire” mean as inferred from the context in which it has been used in the passage?

A. Restricted

B. Not interfered by the government

C. Unprincipled

D. Uncompetitive

Answer: B

5 According to the author, why was Spencer so popular in the 19th Century?

A. He supported capitalism

B. He extended Darwin’s theory of evolution to a lot of things.

C. He had one broad and simple idea and many specific ideas flowed from it.

D. He was a friend of Parson’s.

Answer: C

6 What is the author most likely to agree to in the following?

A. Darwin’s idea of evolution preceded that of Spencer

B. Both Darwin and Spencer got the idea of the evolution at the same time

C. Spencer’s idea of evolution preceded that of Darwin

D. Darwin and Spencer worked on totally different models of evolution

Answer: C

7  What must have been the most-likely response/reaction of the New York audience to Spencer’s talk in 1882?

A. Vindication

B. Surprise

C. Happiness

D. Depression

Answer: B

8 Which people is the author referring to in the statement: “people who had limited interest in the finches of the Galápagos”?

A. People who were not interested in the bird finch

B. People who were not interested in finches in particular from Galapagos.

C.People who were not interested in animal species or natural evolution

D. People who did not have interest in birds.

Answer: C


The great event of the New York cultural

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