Survival of the fittest

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Fallacious maxims
"But from the present civilization, or, rather, from Western civilization, there flow two propositions which have almost become maxims to live by — I call them fallacious maxims. They are “might is right” and “survival of the fittest”."

Survival of the fittest is a famous phrase coined by British economist Herbert Spencer in Principles of Biology (1864), which he used to summarize natural selection. He relied on the phrase to reinforce his theories on the development of companies and societies in general.

The concept became a foundation of the eugenics movement, which sought to eliminate "less desirable" people. The phrase also went on to promote harmful ideas such as Social Darwinism and fascism.

Modern biologists tend not to use the phrase for two reasons. First, it is nonsensical because it is circular: "fittest" is defined to mean possessing attributes conducive to survival. Second, the phrase is disfavored by modern liberals who view it as politically incorrect.


  1. Mahatma Gandhi (1968). in Shriman Narayan: The Selected Works of Mahatma Gandhi: The voice of truth. Navajivan Publishing House, 278.