LESTER FRANK WARD

Lester F Ward (June 18, 1841 - April 18, 1913) was born at Joliet in Illinois where he received his early education. After the death of his father, Lester and his brother moved to Pennsylvania where they worked first with a businessman and then as farm labourers. He later joined the Columbian College in Washington (now George Washington University) from where he received his BA degree in 1869, LLB in 1871 and MA in 1873. After he practised law for some time, he was appointed a geologist in the US Geological Society and served as its second director during 1881-1894. Later he was made director of the Bureau of Ethnology in the prestigious Smithsonian Institution. In 1892, he was named palaeontologist for the USGS, a position he held until 1906, when he resigned to accept the chair of Sociology at Brown University. He was later elected the first president of the American Sociological Association. In Pure Sociology (1903), Ward stresses the role of conflict in human history and progress. It was through conflict that hominids gained dominance over animals, and Homo Sapiens wiped out the less advanced species. To Ward, war is a natural evolutionary process though it is, like all natural evolutionary processes, capricious, slow, often ineffective and having no regard for the pain inflicted on living creatures. No wonder this world view, which links him to Darwin and Spencer, has been a butt of criticism in the last one century or so. Neo-Darwinism and Neo-Lamarckism (1891), Dynamic Sociology (2 volumes, 1883 and 1897) and The Psychic Factors of Civilisation (1893) are some other major works by Ward, besides a very large number of articles.

LESTER FRANK WARD