Herbert Spencer is usually thought to use a biological metaphor for understanding social-evolutionary processes. Spencer’s evolutionary theory is an ‘energetic’ theory, premised on a particular understanding of physical principles; he applied these ‘energetic’ principles equally to inorganic, organic and supra-organic (social) evolution. The centrality of energy metaphors makes Spencer’s theory of social evolution directly relevant in a global society where energy has once again become an important political, economic and environmental issue. Spencer omits the social use of non-human energy forms in his writings, and this gap is addressed in the context of its implications for his theory of evolution as a whole, providing a corrective to his oversight.
- social evolution