Herbert Spencer Essay
[pic][pic] [pic] [pic][pic] Herbert Spencer | | |Biography: Herbert Spencer | Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) was an English philosopher, scientist, engineer, and political economist. In his day his works were important in popularizing the concept of evolution and played an important part in the development of economics, political science, biology, and philosophy.
There's a specialist from your university waiting to help you with that essay topic for only $13.90/page Tell us what you need to have done now!
Herbert Spencer was born in Derby on April 27, 1820. His childhood, described in An Autobiography (1904), reflected the attitudes of a family which was known on both sides to include religious nonconformists, social critics, and rebels. His father, a teacher, had been a Wesleyan, but he separated himself from organized religion as he did from political and social authority. Spencer’s father and an uncle saw that he received a highly individualized education that emphasized the family traditions of dissent and independence of thought.
He was particularly instructed in the study of nature and the fundamentals of science, neglecting such traditional subjects as history. Spencer initially followed up the scientific interests encouraged by his father and studied engineering. For a few years, until 1841, he practiced the profession of civil engineer as an employee of the London and Birmingham Railway. His interest in evolution is said to have arisen from the examination of fossils that came from the rail-road cuts. Spencer left the railroad to take up a literary career and to follow up some of his scientific interests.
He began by contributing to The Non-Conformist, writing a series of letters called The Proper Sphere of Government. This was his first major work and contained his basic concepts of individualism and laissez-faire, which were to be later developed more fully in his Social Statics (1850) and other works. Especially stressed were the right of the individual and the ideal of noninterference on the part of the state. He also foreshadowed some of his later ideas on evolution and spoke of society as an individual organism. A System of Evolution
The concept of organic evolution was elaborated fully for the first time in his famous essay “The Developmental Hypothesis,” published in the Leader in 1852. In a series of articles and writings Spencer gradually refined his concept of organic and inorganic evolution and popularized the term itself. Particularly in “Progress: Its Law and Cause,” an essay published in 1857, he extended the idea of evolutionary progress to human society as well as to the animal and physical worlds. All nature moves from the simple to the complex.
This fundamental law is seen in the evolution of human society as it is seen in the geological transformation of the earth and in the origin and development of plant and animal species. Natural selection, as described by Charles Darwin in the Origin of Species, published in 1859, completed Spencer’s evolutionary system by providing the mechanism by which organic evolution occurred. Spencer enthusiastically elaborated on Darwin’s process of natural selection, applying it to human society, and made his own contribution in the notion of “survival of the fittest. From the beginning Spencer applied his harsh dictum to human society, races, and the state – judging them in the process: “If they are sufficiently complete to live, they do live, and it is well they should live. If they are not sufficiently complete to live, they die, and it is best they should die. ” Spencer systematically tried to establish the basis of a scientific study of education, psychology, sociology, and ethics from an evolutionary point of view.
Although many of his specific ideas are no longer fashionable, Spencer went a long way in helping to establish the separate existence of sociology as a social science. His idea of evolutionary progress, from the simple to the complex, provided a conceptual framework that was productive and that justifies granting to him the title father of comparative sociology. His views concerning a science of sociology are elaborated in two major works, Descriptive Sociology (published in 17 volumes, 1873-1934) and The Study of Sociology (1873). Spencer was articularly influential in the United States until the turn of the century. According to William Graham Sumner, who used The Study of Sociology as a text in the first sociology course offered in an American university, it was Spencer’s work which established sociology as a separate, legitimate field in its own right. Spencer’s demand that historians present the “natural history of society,” in order to furnish data for a comparative sociology, is also credited with inspiring James Harvey Robinson and the others involved in the writing of the New History in the United States.
Economic Theories Social philosophy in the latter part of the 19th century in the United States was dominated by Spencer. His ideas of laissez-faire and the survival of the fittest by natural selection fitted very well into an age of rapid expansion and ruthless business competition. Spencer provided businessmen with the reassuring notion that what they were doing was not just ruthless self-interest but was a natural law operating in nature and human society. Not only was competition in harmony with nature, but it was also in the interest of the general welfare and progress.
Social Darwinism, or Spencerism, became a total view of life which justified opposition to social reform on the basis that reform interfered with the operation of the natural law of survival of the fittest. Spencer visited the United States in 1882 and was much impressed by what he observed on a triumphal tour. He prophetically saw in the industrial might of the United States the seeds of world power. He admired the American industrialists and became a close friend of the great industrialist and steel baron Andrew Carnegie.
By the 1880s and 1890s Spencer had become a universally recognized philosopher and scientist. His books were published widely, and his ideas commanded a great deal of respect and attention. His Principles of Biology was a standard text at Oxford. At Harvard, William James used his Principles of Psychology as a textbook. Although some of Spencer’s more extreme formulations of laissez-faire were abandoned fairly rapidly, even in the United States, he will continue to exert an influence as long as competition, the profit motive, and individualism are held up as positive social values.
His indirect influence on psychology, sociology, and history is too strong to be denied, even when his philosophical system as a whole has been discarded. He is a giant in the intellectual history of the 19th century. Spencer spent his last years continuing his work and avoiding the honors and positions that were offered to him by a long list of colleges and universities. He died at Brighton on Dec. 8, 1903. Further Reading By far the best source on Spencer’s life, education, and the development of his major ideas is his own An Autobiography (2 vols. 1904). Two of the more reliable and critical biographical works are Josiah Royce, Herbert Spencer: An Estimate and Review (1904), and Hugh Elliot, Herbert Spencer (1917). For a careful study of Spencer’s impact upon American intellectual history see Richard Hofstadter, Social Darwinism in American Thought (1944; rev. ed. 1955). Recommended for general historical background are Ernest Barker, Political Thought in England, 1848-1914 (1915; 2d ed. 1963), and William James Durant, The Story of Philosophy (1926; 2d ed. 1967). Additional Sources
Hudson, William Henry, An introduction to the philosophy of Herbert Spencer: with a biographical sketch, New York: Haskell House Publishers, 1974. Kennedy, James Gettier, Herbert Spencer, Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1978. Thomson, J. Arthur (John Arthur), Herbert Spencer, New York:AMS Press, 1976. Turner, Jonathan H. , Herbert Spencer: a renewed appreciation, Beverly Hills, Calif. : Sage Publications, 1985. Sponsored Links |Spencer Herbert at Amazon | |Low Prices on Spencer herbert Free 2-Day Shipping w/ Amazon Prime | |www.
Amazon. com/Books | |Find Herbert Spence | |Get current address, phone & more. Easy to use, search for free! | |www. usa-people-search. com | |Political Dictionary: Herbert Spencer | Top (1820-1903) English evolutionary philosopher.
Born in Derby, the only survivor in a family of nine, Spencer was educated in austere Unitarian circumstances by his father and uncle. He worked first as a railway engineer and then, at the age of 28, he became sub-editor of The Economist, a London weekly committed to free trade and laissez-faire (see Bagehot). He is now amongst the most remote and forbidding of the eminent Victorians. The fourteen enormous volumes of The Synthetic Philosophy, which were painstakingly compiled over thirty-six years, are nowadays barely looked at, let alone read. And the Autobiography completed in 1889 spreads to over 400,000 words.
In general, Spencer always endeavoured to subsume phenomena under his philosophy of evolution, a philosophy resting squarely on Lamarckism. In the course of his life, he ranged under his definition of evolution not only the nebular hypothesis, the conservation of energy, and the social organism, but also laissez-faire economics, political individualism, and a utilitarian ethic based on hedonism. However, Spencer stopped creative thinking around 1860, as he descended into despair and solitude, his own earlier and radical individualism increasingly giving way to a grumbling and pessimistic conservatism.
Longevity was Spencer’s worst enemy. Sponsored Links |Cheap Mulch Delivered | |Pick up or delivery available now Fast and Friendly service call | |www. MulchGuyBark. com | |[pic][pic]Shopping: Related products | Top Paul E. Lehr, R. Will Burnett, Harry McNaught, Herbert Spencer Zim – Weather [pic] [pic]
Herbert Spencer Zim and Lester Ingle – Seashore Life: A Guide to Animals and Plants Along the Beach [pic] [pic] Frank Harold Trevor Rhodes, Herbert Spencer Zim, Paul R. Shaffer – Fossils: A Guide to Prehistoric Life [pic] [pic] Top of Form Enter a keyword ( browse ) [pic][pic] Choose a category [pic] Bottom of Form [pic] |Britannica Concise Encyclopedia: Herbert Spencer | Top (born April 27, 1820, Derby, Derbyshire, Eng. — died Dec. 8, 1903, Brighton, Sussex) English sociologist and philosopher, advocate of the theory of social Darwinism. His System of Synthetic Philosophy, 9 vol. 1855 – 96), held that the physical, organic, and social realms are interconnected and develop according to identical evolutionary principles, a scheme suggested by the evolution of biological species. This sociocultural evolution amounted to, in Spencer’s phrase, “the survival of the fittest. ” The free market system, without interference by governments, would weed out the weak and unfit. His controversial laissez-faire philosophy was praised by social Darwinists such as William Graham Sumner and opposed by sociologists such as Lester Frank Ward. Liked or loathed, Spencer was one of the most discussed Victorian thinkers.
For more information on Herbert Spencer, visit Britannica. com. |British History: Herbert Spencer | Top Spencer, Herbert (1820-1903). Philosopher. Spencer was the son of a Derbyshire schoolteacher of radical and dissenting views. In the 1840s he joined Sturge’s Complete Suffrage Union and in 1848 became subeditor of The Economist. His Social Statics, published in 1851, allowed the state only the minimum of defence and police functions. He published Education in 1861, advocating a child-centred approach and emphasizing the importance of science.
But his main thesis—the need to limit the intervention of the state—was at variance with the spirit of the times. The miscellany of his thought gave him influence, but he was not a trained thinker and his fame faded fast. |Modern Design Dictionary: Herbert Spencer | Top (1924-2002) A highly influential British communication and typographic designer, Spencer disseminated his ideas through his work, his commitment to design education, his involvement with the pioneering magazine Typographica and the Penrose Annual, and highly perceptive writings in the field.
Born in London Spencer became interested in printing as a child, an interest that was further developed as an RAF cartographer during the Second World War. Having joined the London Typographic Designers in 1946 he embarked on a career in design. He built up a design and consultancy business from 1948, with a client list that was to include the Post Office, British Railways, Shell, and the Tate Gallery. From the late 1940s onwards he travelled in Europe, meeting many influential figures such as Max Bill and Piet Zwart who enhanced the breadth of his design thinking and knowledge.
Over many years he disseminated in Britain his familiarity with European typographic innovation. Spencer exerted considerable influence through a commitment to publishing and writing. He had a close relationship with the Lund Humphries company who began publishing the Typographica journal, which he founded in 1949, editing it until it ceased in 1967. It embraced avant-garde ideas from typography to photography, its own format often taking on fresh ideas. From 1964 to 1973 he also edited the highly respected print-focused Penrose Annual 1895-1982, also published by Lund Humphries.
Furthermore, Spencer wrote a number of books that have proved influential in the profession, including Design in Business Printing (1952), The Visible Word (1966), and Pioneers of Modern Typography (1969). His national and international reputation was reflected by his role as Master of the Faculty of RDI ( Royal Designers for Industry) from 1979 to 1981 and International President of AGI ( Alliance Graphique Internationale) from 1971 to 1974. For three decades he played an important role in graphic design education, influencing several generations of students.
From 1949 to 1955 he taught typography at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London, and in 1966 was appointed Senior Research Fellow in the Print Research Unit at the Royal College of Art and was made Professor of Graphic Arts at the RCA from 1978 to 1985. |Philosophy Dictionary: Herbert Spencer | Top Spencer, Herbert (1820-1903) English philosopher of evolution. Spencer was born in Derby of radical Wesleyan parents, and suffered a sporadic education, leaving him largely self-taught.
His early individualism is recorded in the story that, having been sent to school with an uncle in Somerset at the age of thirteen, he ran away, returning to Derby in three days, by walking 48 miles the first day, 47 the second, and about 20 the third, with little food and no sleep. He became involved in radical politics, and from 1848 worked in London on the journal the Economist, becoming known in literary circles, and narrowly failing to become a suitor of the novelist George Eliot.
His health growing precarious, he lived on small legacies and then on the considerable proceeds of his writings. His first major work was the book Social Statics (1851), which advocates an extreme political libertarianism. The Principles of Psychology was published in 1855, and his very influential Education advocating natural development of intelligence, the creation of pleasurable interest, and the importance of science in the curriculum, appeared in 1861.
In 1857 he began to plan a vast system of philosophy, which, after Darwin’s publication of the Origin of Species in 1859, turned into a scheme for a synthesis of the whole of scientific knowledge based upon the principles of evolution. His First Principles (1862) was followed over the succeeding years by volumes on the Principles of biology, psychology (recasting the earlier work of the same title), sociology, and ethics. Although he attracted a large public following and attained the stature of a sage, his speculative work has not lasted well, and in his own time there were dissident voices.
T. H. Huxley said that Spencer’s definition of a tragedy was a deduction killed by a fact; Carlyle called him a perfect vacuum, and James wondered why half of England wanted to bury him in Westminster Abbey, and talked of the ‘hurdy-gurdy monotony of him…his whole system wooden, as if knocked together out of cracked hemlock boards’ (Pragmatism, p. 39). |Columbia Encyclopedia: Herbert Spencer | Top Spencer, Herbert, 1820-1903, English philosopher, b. Derby.
In 1848 he moved to London, where he was an editor at The Economist and wrote his first major book, Social Statics (1851), which tried to establish a natural basis for political action. Subsequently, together with Charles Darwin and Thomas Huxley, Spencer was responsible for the promulgation and public acceptance of the theory of evolution. But unlike Darwin, for whom evolution was without direction or morality, Spencer, who coined the phrase “survival of the fittest,” believed evolution to be both progressive and good.
Spencer conceived a vast 10-volume work, Synthetic Philosophy, in which all phenomena were to be interpreted according to the principle of evolutionary progress. In First Principles (1862), the first of the projected volumes, he distinguished phenomena from what he called the unknowable-an incomprehensible power or force from which everything derives. He limited knowledge to phenomena, i. e. , the manifestations of the unknowable, and maintained that these manifestations proceed from their source according to a process of evolution.
In The Principles of Biology (2 vol. , 1864-67) and The Principles of Psychology (1855; rev. ed. , 2 vol. , 1870-72) Spencer gave a mechanistic explanation of how life has progressed by the continual adaptation of inner relations to outer ones. In The Principles of Sociology (3 vol. , 1876-96) he analyzed the process by which the individual becomes differentiated from the group and gains increasing freedom. In The Principles of Ethics (2 vol. , 1879-93) he developed a utilitarian system in which morality and survival are linked.
Spencer’s synthetic system had more popular appeal than scientific influence, but it served to bring the doctrines of evolution within the grasp of the general reading public and to establish sociology as a discipline. Bibliography See his autobiography (1904); J. D. Y. Peel, Herbert Spencer: The Evolution of a Sociologist (1971); M. Francis, Herbert Spencer and the Invention of Modern Life (2007). |World of the Mind: Herbert Spencer | Top (1820–1903). British philosopher.
The influence of Herbert Spencer in his lifetime was immense. It was not only in intellectual circles that his books were read, and their popular appeal in America and Asia, as well as in Britain, was enormous. But since the 19th century his reputation has suffered an uncommonly severe eclipse, and it is necessary to recall the extent of his influence. Henry Holt, an influential publisher, declared: ‘About 1865 I got hold of a copy of Spencer’s First Principles and had my eyes opened to a new heaven and a new earth. And Andrew Carnegie, prototype of the self-made American, publicized Spencer as ‘the man to whom I owe most’. For 30 years, from the 1860s, Spencer’s thought dominated American universities. The last of those decades, the 1890s, produced the revolution in educational thought and psychology led by William James and John Dewey, Stanley Hall, and E. L. Thorndike, all influenced by Spencer. In Britain, J. S. Mill backed financially the subscription scheme that launched Spencer’s work, and the scientists supported him too.
Charles Darwin wrote, ‘After reading any of his books I generally feel enthusiastic admiration for his transcendental talents’, but added that ‘his conclusions never convince me’. (He also wrote, somewhat ambiguously: ‘I feel rather mean when I read him: I could bear and rather enjoy feeling that he was twice as ingenious and clever as myself, but when I feel that he is about a dozen times my superior, even in the master-art of wriggling, I feel aggrieved. ‘) In 1863 Alfred Russel Wallace visited Spencer, commenting: ‘Our thoughts were full of the great unsolved problem of the origin of life … nd we looked to Spencer as the one man living who could give us a clue to it. ‘ And as late as 1897 Beatrice Webb noted that: ‘? “Permanent” men might be classed just above the artisan and skilled mechanic: they read Herbert Spencer and Huxley and are speculative in religious and political thought. ‘ In the 1880s Spencer was consulted by the Japanese government on education. And in Chekhov’s short story ‘The Duel’ (1891) a female character recalls the beginning of an idyllic relationship: ‘to begin with we had kisses, and calm evenings, and vows, and Spencer, and ideals and interests in common. And, finally, a letter arrived at Spencer’s home in the early 1890s addressed to ‘Herbt Spencer, England, and if the postman doesn’t know where he lives, why he ought to’. Spencer’s fame was based entirely on his books. He rarely appeared in public, save for one triumphant tour of America late in life. He was born in Derby, the only surviving son of a schoolmaster, and he was educated informally at home by his father and later in the family of an uncle. The family was staunchly Nonconformist, with a radical tradition and a keen interest in the social issues of the day.
For some years the young Spencer was a railway engineer, but by 1841 he had decided against this career. He became a journalist in London, attended meetings, and was formulating ideas on politics and education. He began to write, and became known for his radical opinions and self-confidence, traits tempered by great honesty. If in old age he became idiosyncratic, in youth he was a shrewd iconoclast who delighted in argument. Perhaps it was these qualities that led him to some influential and lifelong friendships. He got to know the young T. H.
Huxley; they had interests in common and walked together on Hampstead Heath in London. George Eliot was a fellow journalist who fell in love with him, before he introduced her to G. H. Lewes. It was a remarkably tight-knit intellectual group in which Spencer moved, and it extended into the next generation. In 1877 when William James was attacking Spencer’s books at Harvard, William’s brother Henry, the novelist, wrote describing his meeting with Spencer at George Eliot’s, and comments: ‘I often take a nap beside Herbert Spencer at the Athenaeum and feel as if I were robbing you of the privilege. Spencer’s first books were published in the serene mid-century. His essays on Education (1861) remained a standard text in colleges training teachers for many decades. By 1858 he had conceived the plan of writing a major synthetic philosophy, and the prospectus appeared in 1860. Small legacies, publications, and the support of friends enabled him to give up journalism, and for the rest of his life he was an independent author. He never married, and he devoted his life to completing the philosophy as he had originally planned it.
The whole massive project, with volumes on biology, psychology, sociology, and ethics, together with the initial First Principles (1862), was finally complete in 1896. Today one point of pursuing Spencer lies precisely in trying to understand something of the reasons for his great appeal in his own time. The social milieu in which he moved is significant. The immense popularity of his work is due to a rather special way in which it reflected some of the preoccupations of his own generation. In his thirties Spencer suffered a severe breakdown in health.
He shared the Victorian syndrome, which Darwin and Huxley also endured, of a crisis in health as a young man and thereafter constant hypochondria, insomnia, and headaches; it suggests some of the tensions in their thought and background. Spencer had no formal education. He believed this to be a great advantage which ‘left me free from the bias given by the plexus of traditional ideas and sentiments’, and he adds: ‘I did not trouble myself with the generalisations of others. And that indeed indicated my general attitude. All along I have looked at things through my own eyes and not through the eyes of others. In later life he was never able to work for long, and his reading was severely curtailed. In fact he had never read a great deal; he observed, made biological collections and mechanical inventions, and he enjoyed intelligent conversations and his own thoughts much more than reading books. Although he believed this gave him an independent attitude, it in fact left him more than usually open to the influences around him. When Darwin’s Origin of Species was published in November 1859, evolutionary theories were not new — they had been the subject of speculation for half a century.
Darwin’s achievement was to make the elements of the theory coherent and to demonstrate, by massive evidence, that it must be taken seriously. One man needed no conversion. Seven years earlier, in 1852, Spencer had published an essay on the ‘Development Hypothesis’, and coined the term survival of the fittest. Years later Huxley recalled that before Darwin’s publication, ‘The only person known to me whose knowledge and capacity compelled respect, and who was at the same time a thoroughgoing evolutionist, was Mr Herbert Spencer … ‘.
Spencer first came across evolution in a secondary work discussing the ideas of Lamarck, whose theory was partly intuitive and had never convinced professional naturalists (see Lamarckianism). Spencer was won over, before there was convincing evidence, for a characteristically mid-Victorian reason: ‘The Special Creation theory had dropped out of my mind many years before, and I could not remain in a suspended state; acceptance of the only conceivable alternative was peremptory. ‘ An important feature of Spencer’s generation of intellectuals is that they had discarded orthodox religion.
Spencer himself was never religious, and he enjoyed setting out for Sunday rambles walking provocatively in the opposite direction to the churchgoers. But unconsciously, the agnostic mid-Victorians searched for some other system of thought which could answer their doubts and give them clear first principles. Science was one alternative which was widely seized on, hence the battles over evolution and religion. Evolution offered, it seemed, an alternative conceptual framework, universally operating laws of cause and effect.
The ‘new heaven and the new earth’ which Spencer’s philosophy opened up to many of his contemporaries was essentially a systematic metaphysical cosmology: everything from the stars to the embryo, from civilizations to the individual, was in process of development, interaction, change, growth — and progress. For Spencer’s conception of universal evolution was optimistic, a view which seemed natural to successful mid-Victorians. ‘Progress, therefore, is not an accident but a necessity. Instead of civilisation being artificial, it is a part of the embryo or the unfolding of a flower. Late 18th-century laissez-faire individualism is thus reconciled with the revolutionary changes of 19th-century society. Naturalistic organic conceptions of society gained a new importance with the addition of evolutionary laws. Spencer was the first to pursue the study of such laws operating in society, and to call his analysis sociology. His book The Study of Sociology (1873) was as popular as Education. A similar but more dynamic conception was being developed in the same period by Karl Marx. Fundamentally the reverence for nature which pervades all Spencer’s work goes back to Rousseau.
It is romantic, not scientific. Spencer’s conception of evolution owes nothing to Darwin. Although greatly impressed by science, Spencer never really grasped scientific method: his method was inductive — he generalizes laws without proof, draws facts haphazardly from his own experience, and is fond of asserting his beliefs as ‘obvious’. Spencer understood his own romantic, speculative, and basically unscientific attitude, and recounts against himself the witticism of his friend Huxley that ‘Spencer’s idea of a tragedy is a deduction killed by a fact’.
Not until almost a generation later was it realized that evolutionary theories cannot supply an ethical code for human societies. Spencer’s only quarrel with Huxley was in the 1890s, when Huxley first publicly dissented from the view that the law of nature in human society was neither just nor good. The origins of Spencer’s philosophy owe much to the provincial dissenting background of his youth. By the 1880s his individualistic laissez-faire views were already anachronistic, though his book Man versus the State (1884) had enormous sales. Essentially, Spencer is a Janus figure looking as much backwards as forwards.
He only partly understood evolutionary theory and used it considerably to give a systematic framework for the individualistic ethics and organic view of the state prevalent in his youth. John Dewey, in an excellent essay, came to the conclusion that Spencer was essentially a transition figure, preserving the ideals of late 18th-century British liberalism in the only way possible: in ‘the organic, the systematic, the universal terms which report the presence of the nineteenth century’. Yet Spencer really did seize and propagandize the leading idea of his own day.
It was Spencer, not Darwin, who opened up the horizons of the evolutionary theory in psychology, sociology, anthropology, and education. He did perhaps more than anyone else to persuade others that the implications of the evolutionary theory were important, and he did it in a thoroughly Victorian manner: energetic, confident, systematic, universal, which a modern scientist, Sir Peter Medawar, salutes with respect: • I think Herbert Spencer was the greatest of those who have attempted to found a metaphysical system on naturalistic principles.
It is out of date, of course, this style of thought, it is philosophy for an age of steam. … His system of General Evolution does not really work: the evolution of society and of the solar system are different phenomena, and the one teaches us next to nothing about the other. … But for all that, I for one can still see Spencer’s System as a great adventure. (Published 1987) — Ann Low-Beer Bibliography • Medawar, P. (1967). The Art of the Soluble. • Peel, J.
D. Y. (1971). Herbert Spencer. [pic] |Quotes By: Herbert Spencer | Top Quotes: “The more specific idea of Evolution now reached is — a change from an indefinite, incoherent homogeneity to a definite, coherent heterogeneity, accompanying the dissipation of motion and integration of matter. ” “The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly, is to fill the world with fools. ” Objects we ardently pursue bring little happiness when gained; most of our pleasures come from unexpected sources. ” “The preservation of health is a duty. Few seem conscious that there is such a thing as physical morality. ” “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation. ” “A jury is composed of twelve men of average ignorance. “
See more famous quotes by Herbert Spencer |Actor: Herbert Spencer | Top • Born: 1905c in Chile • Died: Sep 18, 1992 in Culver City, California • Active: ’50s-’70s • Major Genres: Musical, Fantasy • Career Highlights: I Spy, The Andy Griffith Show, Make Room for Daddy • First Major Screen Credit: Make Room for Daddy (1953) Biography Versatile composer Herbert Spencer spent two decades working for 20th Century Fox for musical director Alfred Newman.
He also composed and arranged music for radio, theater, and television productions (his best-known theme was for The Andy Griffith Show). During the 1970s, he was an arranger and orchestrator for distinguished composer John Williams on such films as Star Wars (1977), E. T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), and The Witches of Eastwick (1987). ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide |Filmography: Herbert Spencer | Top [pic] |[pic] |[pic] |[pic] | |Jesus Christ Superstar |Scrooge |M*A*S*H |The Undefeated | |Buy this Movie |Buy this Movie |Buy this Movie |Buy this Movie | |Wikipedia: Herbert Spencer | Top For other persons named Herbert Spencer, see Herbert Spencer (disambiguation). Herbert Spencer | |Western Philosophy | |19th-century philosophy | |[pic] | |Herbert Spencer | |Full name |Herbert Spencer | |Born |27 April 1820(1820-04-27) | |Died |8 December 1903 (aged 83) | |School/tradition |Evolutionism, Positivism, Classical liberalism | |Main interests |Evolution, Positivism, Laissez-faire, | | |utilitarianism | |Notable ideas |Survival of the fittest | |Influenced by | |Charles Darwin, Auguste Comte, John Stuart Mill, George Henry Lewes, | |Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, Thomas Huxley | |Influenced | |Charles Darwin, Henry Sidgwick, William Graham Sumner, Thorstein Veblen, | |Murray Rothbard, Emile Durkheim, Alfred Marshall, Henri Bergson, Nikolay | |Mikhaylovsky, Auberon Herbert, Roderick Long, Grant Allen, Yen Fu, Tokutomi | |Soho, Carlos Vaz Ferreira | |Signature |[pic] | Herbert Spencer (27 April 1820 – 8 December 1903) was an English philosopher, prominent classical liberal political theorist, and sociological theorist of the Victorian era. Spencer developed an all-embracing conception of evolution as the progressive development of the physical world, biological organisms, the human mind, and human culture and societies.
As a polymath, he contributed to a wide range of subjects, including ethics, religion, economics, politics, philosophy, biology, sociology, and psychology. During his lifetime he achieved tremendous authority, mainly in English Speaking circles. Indeed in Britain and the United States at “one time Spencer’s disciples had not blushed to compare him with Aristotle! “ He is best known for coining the phrase “survival of the fittest,” which he did in Principles of Biology (1864), after reading Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species.  This term strongly suggests natural selection, yet as Spencer extended evolution into realms of sociology and ethics, he made use of Lamarckism rather than natural selection. Contents | |[hide] | |1 Life | |2 The System of Synthetic Philosophy | |3 Concept of evolution | |4 Sociology | |5 Ethics | |6 Agnosticism | |7 Political views | |7. 1 Social Darwinism | |8 General influence | |8. 1 Political influence | |8. 2 Influence on literature | |9 Primary sources | |10 Philosophers’ critiques | |11 See also | |12 Notes | |13 References | |13. By Spencer | |14 External links | [pic]Life Herbert Spencer was born in Derby, England, on 27 April 1820, the son of William George Spencer (generally called George). Spencer’s father was a religious dissenter who drifted from Methodism to Quakerism, and who seems to have transmitted to his son an opposition to all forms of authority. He ran a school founded on the progressive teaching methods of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi and also served as Secretary of the Derby Philosophical Society, a scientific society which had been founded in the 1790s by Erasmus Darwin, the grandfather of Charles.
Spencer was educated in empirical science by his father, while the members of the Derby Philosophical Society introduced him to pre-Darwinian concepts of biological evolution, particularly those of Erasmus Darwin and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. His uncle, the Reverend Thomas Spencer, vicar of Hinton Charterhouse near Bath, completed Spencer’s limited formal education by teaching him some mathematics and physics, and enough Latin to enable him to translate some easy texts. Thomas Spencer also imprinted on his nephew his own firmly free-trade and anti-statist political views. Otherwise, Spencer was an autodidact who acquired most of his knowledge from narrowly focused readings and conversations with his friends and acquaintances. 3] As both an adolescent and a young man Spencer found it difficult to settle to any intellectual or professional discipline. He worked as a civil engineer during the railway boom of the late 1830s, while also devoting much of his time to writing for provincial journals that were nonconformist in their religion and radical in their politics. From 1848 to 1853 he served as sub-editor on the free-trade journal The Economist, during which time he published his first book, Social Statics (1851), which predicted that humanity would shortly become completely adapted to the requirements of living in society with the consequential withering away of the state.
Its publisher, John Chapman, introduced him to his salon which was attended by many of the leading radical and progressive thinkers of the capital, including John Stuart Mill, Harriet Martineau, George Henry Lewes and Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot), with whom he was briefly romantically linked. Spencer himself introduced the biologist Thomas Henry Huxley, who would later win fame as ‘Darwin’s Bulldog’ and who remained his lifelong friend. However it was the friendship of Evans and Lewes that acquainted him with John Stuart Mill’s A System of Logic and with Auguste Comte’s Positivism and which set him on the road to his life’s work; he strongly disagreed with Comte.  The first fruit of his friendship with Evans and Lewes was Spencer’s second book, Principles of Psychology, published in 1855, which explored a physiological basis for psychology.
The book was founded on the fundamental assumption that the human mind was subject to natural laws and that these could be discovered within the framework of general biology. This permitted the adoption of a developmental perspective not merely in terms of the individual (as in traditional psychology), but also of the species and the race. Through this paradigm, Spencer aimed to reconcile the associationist psychology of Mill’s Logic, the notion that human mind was constructed from atomic sensations held together by the laws of the association of ideas, with the apparently more ‘scientific’ theory of phrenology, which located specific mental functions in specific parts of the brain.
Spencer argued that both these theories were partial accounts of the truth: repeated associations of ideas were embodied in the formation of specific strands of brain tissue, and these could be passed from one generation to the next by means of the Lamarckian mechanism of use-inheritance. The Psychology, he modestly believed, would do for the human mind what Isaac Newton had done for matter.  However, the book was not initially successful and the last of the 251 copies of its first edition was not sold until June 1861. Spencer’s interest in psychology derived from a more fundamental concern which was to establish the universality of natural law.
In common with others of his generation, including the members of Chapman’s salon, he was possessed with the idea of demonstrating that it was possible to show that everything in the universe—including human culture, language, and morality—could be explained by laws of universal validity. This was in contrast to the views of many theologians of the time who insisted that some parts of creation, in particular the human soul, were beyond the realm of scientific investigation. Comte’s Systeme de Philosophie Positive had been written with the ambition of demonstrating the universality of natural law, and Spencer was to follow Comte in the scale of his ambition. However, Spencer differed from Comte in believing it was possible to discover a single law of universal application which he identified with progressive development and was to call the principle of evolution. [pic] [pic]
Spencer at age 38 In 1858 Spencer produced an outline of what was to become the System of Synthetic Philosophy. This immense undertaking, which has few parallels in the English language, aimed to demonstrate that the principle of evolution applied in biology, psychology, sociology (Spencer appropriated Comte’s term for the new discipline) and morality. Spencer envisaged that this work of ten volumes would take twenty years to complete; in the end it took him twice as long and consumed almost all the rest of his long life. Despite Spencer’s early struggles to establish himself as a writer, by the 1870s he had become the most famous philosopher of the age.
His works were widely read during his lifetime, and by 1869 he was able to support himself solely on the profit of book sales and on income from his regular contributions to Victorian periodicals which were collected as three volumes of Essays. His works were translated into German, Italian, Spanish, French, Russian, Japanese and Chinese, and into many other languages and he was offered honors and awards all over Europe and North America. He also became a member of the Athenaeum, an exclusive Gentleman’s Club in London open only to those distinguished in the arts and sciences, and the X Club, a dining club of nine founded by T. H. Huxley that met every month and included some of the most prominent thinkers of the Victorian age (three of whom would become presidents of the Royal Society).
Members included physicist-philosopher John Tyndall and Darwin’s cousin, the banker and biologist Sir John Lubbock. There were also some quite significant satellites such as liberal clergyman Arthur Stanley, the Dean of Westminster; and guests such as Charles Darwin and Hermann von Helmholtz were entertained from time to time. Through such associations, Spencer had a strong presence in the heart of the scientific community and was able to secure an influential audience for his views. Despite his growing wealth and fame he never owned a house of his own. The last decades of Spencer’s life were characterized by growing disillusionment and loneliness.
He never married, and after 1855 was a perpetual hypochondriac who complained endlessly of pains and maladies that no physician could diagnose.  By the 1890s his readership had begun to desert him while many of his closest friends died and he had come to doubt the confident faith in progress that he had made the center-piece of his philosophical system. His later years were also ones in which his political views became increasingly conservative. Whereas Social Statics had been the work of a radical democrat who believed in votes for women (and even for children) and in the nationalization of the land to break the power of the aristocracy, by the 1880s he had become a staunch opponent of female uffrage and made common cause with the landowners of the Liberty and Property Defence League against what they saw as the ‘socialism’ of the administration of William Ewart Gladstone. Spencer’s political views from this period were expressed in what has become his most famous work, The Man versus the State. [pic] [pic] Grave of Herbert Spencer in Highgate Cemetery. It is a coincidence that his grave is near that of Karl Marx. The exception to Spencer’s growing conservativism was that he remained throughout his life an ardent opponent of imperialism and militarism. His critique of the Boer War was especially scathing, and it contributed to his declining popularity in Britain.  In 1902, shortly before his death, Spencer was nominated for the Nobel Prize for literature.
He continued writing all his life, in later years often by dictation, until he succumbed to poor health at the age of 83. His ashes are interred in the eastern side of London’s Highgate Cemetery facing Karl Marx’s grave. At Spencer’s funeral the Indian nationalist leader Shyamji Krishnavarma announced a donation of ? 1,000 to establish a lectureship at Oxford University in tribute to Spencer and his work.  The System of Synthetic Philosophy The basis for Spencer’s appeal to many of his generation was that he appeared to offer a ready-made system of belief which could substitute for conventional religious faith at a time when orthodox creeds were crumbling under the advances of modern science.
Spencer’s philosophical system seemed to demonstrate that it was possible to believe in the ultimate perfection of humanity on the basis of advanced scientific conceptions such as the first law of thermodynamics and biological evolution. In essence Spencer’s philosophical vision was formed by a combination of deism and positivism. On the one hand, he had imbibed something of eighteenth century deism from his father and other members of the Derby Philosophical Society and from books like George Combe’s immensely popular The Constitution of Man (1828). This treated the world as a cosmos of benevolent design, and the laws of nature as the decrees of a ‘Being transcendentally kind. ‘ Natural laws were thus the statutes of a well governed universe that had been decreed by the Creator with the intention of promoting human happiness.
Although Spencer lost his Christian faith as a teenager and later rejected any ‘anthropomorphic’ conception of the Deity, he nonetheless held fast to this conception at an almost sub-conscious level. At the same time, however, he owed far more than he would ever acknowledge to positivism, in particular in its conception of a philosophical system as the unification of the various branches of scientific knowledge. He also followed positivism in his insistence that it was only possible to have genuine knowledge of phenomena and hence that it was idle to speculate about the nature of the ultimate reality. The tension between positivism and his residual deism ran through the entire System of Synthetic Philosophy.
Spencer followed Comte in aiming for the unification of scientific truth; it was in this sense that his philosophy aimed to be ‘synthetic. ‘ Like Comte, he was committed to the universality of natural law, the idea that the laws of nature applied without exception, to the organic realm as much as to the inorganic, and to the human mind as much as to the rest of creation. The first objective of the Synthetic Philosophy was thus to demonstrate that there were no exceptions to being able to discover scientific explanations, in the form of natural laws, of all the phenomena of the universe. Spencer’s volumes on biology, psychology, and sociology were all intended to demonstrate the existence of natural laws in these specific disciplines.
Even in his writings on ethics, he held that it was possible to discover ‘laws’ of morality that had the status of laws of nature while still having normative content, a conception which can be traced to Combe’s Constitution of Man. The second objective of the Synthetic Philosophy was to show that these same laws led inexorably to progress. In contrast to Comte, who stressed only the unity of scientific method, Spencer sought the unification of scientific knowledge in the form of the reduction of all natural laws to one fundamental law, the law of evolution. In this respect, he followed the model laid down by the Edinburgh publisher Robert Chambers in his anonymous Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (1844).
Although often dismissed as a lightweight forerunner of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species, Chambers’ book was in reality a programme for the unification of science which aimed to show that Laplace’s nebular hypothesis for the origin of the solar system and Lamarck’s theory of species transformation were both instances (in Lewes’ phrase) of ‘one magnificent generalization of progressive development. ‘ Chambers was associated with Chapman’s salon and his work served as the unacknowledged template for the Synthetic Philosophy. Concept of evolution The first clear articulation of Spencer’s evolutionary perspective occurred in his essay ‘Progress: Its Law and Cause’ published in Chapman’s Westminster Review in 1857, and which later formed the basis of the First Principles of a New System of Philosophy (1862).
In it he expounded a theory of evolution which combined insights from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s essay ‘The Theory of Life’—itself derivative from Friedrich von Schelling’s Naturphilosophie—with a generalization of von Baer’s law of embryological development. Spencer posited that all structures in the universe develop from a simple, undifferentiated, homogeneity to a complex, differentiated, heterogeneity, while being accompanied by a process of greater integration of the differentiated parts. This evolutionary process could be found at work, Spencer believed, throughout the cosmos. It was a universal law, applying to the stars and the galaxies as much as to biological organisms, and to human social organization as much as to the human mind.
It differed from other scientific laws only by its greater generality, and the laws of the special sciences could be shown to be illustrations of this principle. This attempt to explain the evolution of complexity was radically different to that to be found in Darwin’s Origin of Species which was published two years later. Spencer is often, quite erroneously, believed to have merely appropriated and generalized Darwin’s work on natural selection. But although after reading Darwin’s work he coined the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ as his own term for Darwin’s concept, and is often misrepresented as a thinker who merely applied the Darwinian theory to society, he only grudgingly incorporated natural selection into his preexisting overall system.
The primary mechanism of species transformation that he recognized was Lamarckian use-inheritance which posited that organs are developed or are diminished by use or disuse and that the resulting changes may be transmitted to future generations. Spencer believed that this evolutionary mechanism was also necessary to explain ‘higher’ evolution, especially the social development of humanity. Moreover, in contrast to Darwin, he held that evolution had a direction and an end-point, the attainment of a final state of ‘equilibrium. ” Sociology The evolutionary progression from simple, undifferentiated homogeneity to complex, differentiated, heterogeneity was exemplified, Spencer argued, by the development of society. He developed a theory of two types of society, the militant and the industrial, which corresponded to this evolutionary progression.
Militant society, structured around relationships of hierarchy and obedience, was simple and undifferentiated; industrial society, based on voluntary, contractually assumed social obligations, was complex and differentiated. Society, which Spencer conceptualized as a ‘social organism’ evolved from the simpler state to the more complex according to the universal law of evolution. Moreover, industrial society was the direct descendant of the ideal society developed in Social Statics, although Spencer now equivocated over whether the evolution of society would result in anarchism (as he had first believed) or whether it pointed to a continued role for the state, albeit one reduced to the minimal functions of the enforcement of contracts and external defense. Ethics [pic] [pic]
The end point of the evolutionary process would be the creation of ‘the perfect man in the perfect society’ with human beings becoming completely adapted to social life, as predicted in Spencer’s first book. The chief difference between Spencer’s earlier and later conceptions of this process was the evolutionary timescale involved. The psychological—and hence also the moral—constitution which had been bequeathed to the present generation by our ancestors, and which we in turn would hand on to future generations, was in the process of gradual adaptation to the requirements of living in society. For example, aggression was a survival instinct which had been necessary in the primitive conditions of life, but was maladaptive in advanced societies.
Because human instincts had a specific location in strands of brain tissue, they were subject to the Lamarckian mechanism of use-inheritance so that gradual modifications could be transmitted to future generations. Over the course of many generations the evolutionary process would ensure that human beings would become less aggressive and increasingly altruistic, leading eventually to a perfect society in which no one would cause another person pain. However, for evolution to produce the perfect individual it was necessary for present and future generations to experience the ‘natural’ consequences of their conduct. Only in this way would individuals have the incentives required to work on self-improvement and thus to hand an improved moral constitution to their descendants.
Hence anything that interfered with the ‘natural’ relationship of conduct and consequence was to be resisted and this included the use of the coercive power of the state to relieve poverty, to provide public education, or to require compulsory vaccination. Although charitable giving was to be encouraged even it had to be limited by the consideration that suffering was frequently the result of individuals receiving the consequences of their actions. Hence too much individual benevolence directed to the ‘undeserving poor’ would break the link between conduct and consequence that Spencer considered fundamental to ensuring that humanity continued to evolve to a higher level of development.
Spencer adopted a utilitarian standard of ultimate value—the greatest happiness of the greatest number—and the culmination of the evolutionary process would be the maximization of utility. In the perfect society individuals would not only derive pleasure from the exercise of altruism (‘positive beneficence’) but would aim to avoid inflicting pain on others (‘negative beneficence’). They would also instinctively respect the rights of others, leading to the universal observance of the principle of justice – each person had the right to a maximum amount of liberty that was compatible with a like liberty in others. ‘Liberty’ was interpreted to mean the absence of coercion, and was closely connected to the right to private property.
Spencer termed this code of conduct ‘Absolute Ethics’ which provided a scientifically-grounded moral system that could substitute for the supernaturally-based ethical systems of the past. However, he recognized that our inherited moral constitution does not currently permit us to behave in full compliance with the code of Absolute Ethics, and for this reason we need a code of ‘Relative Ethics’ which takes into account the distorting factors of our present imperfections. Spencer’s last years were characterized by a collapse of his initial optimism, replaced instead by a pessimism regarding the future of mankind. Nevertheless, he devoted much of his efforts in reinforcing his arguments and preventing the mis-interpretation of his monumental theory of non-interference. Agnosticism
Spencer’s reputation among the Victorians owed a great deal to his agnosticism, the claim that it is impossible for us to have certain knowledge of God. He rejected theology as representing the ‘impiety of the pious. ‘ He was to gain much notoriety from his repudiation of traditional religion, and was frequently condemned by religious thinkers for allegedly advocating atheism and materialism. Nonetheless, unlike Huxley, whose agnosticism was a militant creed directed at ‘the unpardonable sin of faith’ (in Adrian Desmond’s phrase), Spencer insisted that he was not concerned to undermine religion in the name of science, but to bring about a reconciliation of the two.
Starting either from religious belief or from science, Spencer argued, we are ultimately driven to accept certain indispensable but literally inconceivable notions. Whether we are concerned with a Creator or the substratum which underlies our experience of phenomena, we can frame no conception of it. Therefore, Spencer concluded, religion and science agree in the supreme truth that the human understanding is only capable of ‘relative’ knowledge. This is the case since, owing to the inherent limitations of the human mind, it is only possible to obtain knowledge of phenomena, not of the reality (‘the absolute’) underlying phenomena. Hence both science and religion must come to recognize as the ‘most certain of all facts that the Power which the Universe manifests to us is utterly inscrutable. He called this awareness of ‘the Unknowable’ and he presented worship of the Unknowable as capable of being a positive faith which could substitute for conventional religion. Indeed, he thought that the Unknowable represented the ultimate stage in the evolution of religion, the final elimination of its last anthropomorphic vestiges. Political views [pic] [pic] Portrait of Herbert Spencer by John Bagnold Burgess, 1871-1872 Spencerian views in 21st century circulation derive from his political theories and memorable attacks on the reform movements of the late 19th century. He has been claimed as a precursor by libertarians and philosophical anarchists.
Spencer argued that the state was not an “essential” institution and that it would “decay” as voluntary market organization would replace the coercive aspects of the state.  He also argued that the individual had a “right to ignore the state. “ Politics in late Victorian Britain moved in directions that Spencer disliked, and his arguments provided so much ammunition for conservatives and individualists in Europe and America that they still are in use in the 21st century. The expression ‘There Is No Alternative’ (TINA), made famous by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, may be traced to its emphatic use by Spencer.  By the 1880s he was denouncing “the new Toryism” (that is, the social reformist wing of Prime Minister William E. Gladstone).
In The Man versus the State (1884), he attacked Gladstone and the Liberal party for losing its proper mission (they should be defending personal liberty, he said) and instead promoting paternalist social legislation. Spencer denounced Irish land reform, compulsory education, laws to regulate safety at work, prohibition and temperance laws, tax funded libraries, and welfare reforms. His main objections were threefold: the use of the coercive powers of the government, the discouragement given to voluntary self-improvement, and the disregard of the “laws of life. ” The reforms, he said, were tantamount to “socialism”, which he said was about the same as “slavery” in terms of limiting human freedom.
Spencer vehemently attacked the widespread enthusiasm for annexation of colonies and imperial expansion, which subverted all he had predicted about evolutionary progress from ‘militant’ to ‘industrial’ societies and states.  Spencer anticipated many of the analytical standpoints of later libertarian theorists such as Friedrich Hayek, especially in his “law of equal liberty”, his insistence on the limits to predictive knowledge, his model of a spontaneous social order, and his warnings about the “unintended consequences” of collectivist social reforms.  Social Darwinism Spencer created the Social Darwinist model that applied the law of the survival of the fittest to society.
Humanitarian impulses had to be resisted as nothing should be allowed to interfere with nature’s laws, including the social struggle for existence. This interpretation has its primary source in Richard Hofstadter’s Social Darwinism in American Thought, which is frequently cited in the secondary literature as an authoritative account of the Synthetic Philosophy. Through constant repetition Hofstadter’s Spencer has taken on a life of its own, his views and arguments represented by the same few passages, usually cited not directly from the source but from Hofstadter’s rather selective quotations[original research? ]. However, to regard Spencer as any kind of Darwinian, even of the ‘Social’ variety, is a gross distortion[original research? ].
He could never bring himself to abandon the idea that evolution equated to progress, that it involved the unfolding of a pre-existent pattern, and that there would be a final resting point—’equilibrium’—in which an ultimate state of perfection was attained. Darwinian natural selection, with its open-ended process of change based on random variations that prospered or failed depending on their adaptation to environmental conditions, was thus far removed from Spencer’s vision of progressive development, and he struggled hard to find a place for it within his overall system. Against this background, his use of the theory of natural selection could never be more than window dressing as it threatened the idea of universal evolutionary progress and thus the scientific foundation for morality that he hoped to establish.
In contrast to the harsh and unforgiving imperative that the weak must be made to go to the wall, his main political message was essentially an anti-political one about the efficacy of self-improvement rather than collective action in bringing about the promised future state of human perfection. General influence [pic] [pic] Portrait of Herbert Spencer by John McLure Hamilton, circa 1895 While most philosophers fail to achieve much of a following outside the academy or the