Ward, Lester Frank

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Ward, Lester Frank

Lester Frank Ward, 1841–1913, American sociologist and paleontologist, b. Joliet, Ill. Largely self-educated, he eventually took degrees in medicine and law. He worked as a government geologist and paleontologist from 1881 to 1906, when he became professor of sociology at Brown. One of the first and most important of American sociologists, Ward developed a theory of planned progress called telesis, whereby man, through education and development of intellect, could direct social evolution. His theories and those of his contemporary, William Graham Sumner, represent two main trends in 19th-century American sociology. Among his important works are Dynamic Sociology (1883), Psychic Factors of Civilization (1893), Pure Sociology (1903), and Glimpses of the Cosmos (6 vol., 1913–18).

See S. Chugerman, Lester F. Ward, the American Aristotle (1939, repr. 1965).

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