"Survival Of The Fittest"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Herbert Spencer, English philosopher, undertook to systematize all knowledge on the basis of science with special attention to the theory of evolution. Influenced by such men as Charles Lyell and Jean de Monet, he produced his masterwork, A System of Synthetic Philosophy. In the second phase of his study, The Principles of Biology, he argues the theory of evolution as he finds it in that science. Explaining the impact of environmental forces on living creatures, he says:

. . . it cannot but happen that those individuals whose functions are most out of equilibrium with the modified aggregate of external forces, will be those to die; and that those will survive whose functions happen to be most nearly in equilibrium with the modified aggregate of external forces.
But this survival of the fittest, implies multiplication of the fittest. Out of the fittest thus multiplied, there will, as before, be an overthrowing of the moving equilibrium wherever it presents the least opposing force to the new incident force. And by the continual destruction of the individuals that are the least capable of maintaining their equilibria in presence of this new incident force, there must eventually be arrived at an altered type completely in equilibrium with the altered conditions.