Herbert Spencer

Herbert Spencer

Overview
Herbert Spencer was an English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 philosopher, biologist
Biologist
A biologist is a scientist devoted to and producing results in biology through the study of life. Typically biologists study organisms and their relationship to their environment. Biologists involved in basic research attempt to discover underlying mechanisms that govern how organisms work...

, sociologist, and prominent classical liberal
Classical liberalism
Classical liberalism is the philosophy committed to the ideal of limited government, constitutionalism, rule of law, due process, and liberty of individuals including freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and free markets....

 political theorist of the Victorian era
Victorian era
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

.

Spencer developed an all-embracing conception of evolution
Evolutionism
Evolutionism refers to the biological concept of evolution, specifically to a widely held 19th century belief that organisms are intrinsically bound to increase in complexity. The belief was extended to include cultural evolution and social evolution...

 as the progressive development of the physical world, biological organisms, the human mind, and human culture and societies. He was "an enthusiastic exponent of evolution" and even "wrote about evolution before Darwin
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

 did." As a polymath
Polymath
A polymath is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. In less formal terms, a polymath may simply be someone who is very knowledgeable...

, he contributed to a wide range of subjects, including ethics
Ethics
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

, religion, anthropology, economics, political theory, philosophy, biology, sociology, and psychology.
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Quotations

All evil results from the non-adaptation of constitution to conditions. This is true of everything that lives. Does a shrub dwindle in poor soil, or become sickly when deprived of light, or die outright if removed to a cold climate? it is because the harmony between its organization and its circumstances has been destroyed.

Part I, Ch. 2 : The Evanescence of Evil, § 1

Evil perpetually tends to disappear.

Part I, Ch. 2 : The Evanescence of Evil, § 2

Every man may claim the fullest liberty to exercise his faculties compatible with the possession of like liberties by every other man.

Pt. II, Ch. 2, Derivation of a First Principle

Limiting the liberty of each by the like liberty of all, excludes a wide range of improper actions, but does not exclude certain other improper ones.

Pt. II, Ch. 2, 'Derivation of a First Principle

Equity knows no difference of sex. In its vocabulary the word man must be understood in a generic, and not in a specific sense.

Pt. II, Ch. 16, The Rights of Women

A clever theft was praiseworthy amongst the Spartans; and it is equally so amongst Christians, provided it be on a sufficiently large scale.

Pt. II, Ch. 16, The Rights of Women

Education has for its object the formation of character. To curb restive propensities, to awaken dormant sentiments, to strengthen the perceptions, and cultivate the tastes, to encourage this feeling and repress that, so as finally to develop the child into a man of well proportioned and harmonious nature — this is alike the aim of parent and teacher.

Pt. II, Ch. 17, The Rights of Children
Encyclopedia
Herbert Spencer was an English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 philosopher, biologist
Biologist
A biologist is a scientist devoted to and producing results in biology through the study of life. Typically biologists study organisms and their relationship to their environment. Biologists involved in basic research attempt to discover underlying mechanisms that govern how organisms work...

, sociologist, and prominent classical liberal
Classical liberalism
Classical liberalism is the philosophy committed to the ideal of limited government, constitutionalism, rule of law, due process, and liberty of individuals including freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and free markets....

 political theorist of the Victorian era
Victorian era
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

.

Spencer developed an all-embracing conception of evolution
Evolutionism
Evolutionism refers to the biological concept of evolution, specifically to a widely held 19th century belief that organisms are intrinsically bound to increase in complexity. The belief was extended to include cultural evolution and social evolution...

 as the progressive development of the physical world, biological organisms, the human mind, and human culture and societies. He was "an enthusiastic exponent of evolution" and even "wrote about evolution before Darwin
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

 did." As a polymath
Polymath
A polymath is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. In less formal terms, a polymath may simply be someone who is very knowledgeable...

, he contributed to a wide range of subjects, including ethics
Ethics
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

, religion, anthropology, economics, political theory, philosophy, biology, sociology, and psychology. During his lifetime he achieved tremendous authority, mainly in English-speaking academia. "The only other English philosopher to have achieved anything like such widespread popularity was Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic. At various points in his life he considered himself a liberal, a socialist, and a pacifist, but he also admitted that he had never been any of these things...

, and that was in the 20th century." Spencer was "the single most famous European intellectual in the closing decades of the nineteenth century" but his influence declined sharply after 1900; "Who now reads Spencer?" asked Talcott Parsons
Talcott Parsons
Talcott Parsons was an American sociologist who served on the faculty of Harvard University from 1927 to 1973....

 in 1937.

Spencer is best known for coining the concept "survival of the fittest
Survival of the fittest
"Survival of the fittest" is a phrase originating in evolutionary theory, as an alternative description of Natural selection. The phrase is today commonly used in contexts that are incompatible with the original meaning as intended by its first two proponents: British polymath philosopher Herbert...

", which he did in Principles of Biology (1864), after reading Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

's On the Origin of Species. This term strongly suggests natural selection
Natural selection
Natural selection is the nonrandom process by which biologic traits become either more or less common in a population as a function of differential reproduction of their bearers. It is a key mechanism of evolution....

, yet as Spencer extended evolution into realms of sociology and ethics, he also made use of Lamarckism
Lamarckism
Lamarckism is the idea that an organism can pass on characteristics that it acquired during its lifetime to its offspring . It is named after the French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck , who incorporated the action of soft inheritance into his evolutionary theories...

.

Life


Herbert Spencer was born in Derby
Derby
Derby , is a city and unitary authority in the East Midlands region of England. It lies upon the banks of the River Derwent and is located in the south of the ceremonial county of Derbyshire. In the 2001 census, the population of the city was 233,700, whilst that of the Derby Urban Area was 229,407...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, on 27 April 1820, the son of William George Spencer (generally called George). Spencer’s father was a religious dissenter who drifted from Methodism
Methodism
Methodism is a movement of Protestant Christianity represented by a number of denominations and organizations, claiming a total of approximately seventy million adherents worldwide. The movement traces its roots to John Wesley's evangelistic revival movement within Anglicanism. His younger brother...

 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
Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi
Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi was a Swiss pedagogue and educational reformer who exemplified Romanticism in his approach....

 and also served as Secretary of the Derby Philosophical Society
Derby Philosophical Society
The Derby Philosophical Society was a club for gentleman in Derby founded in 1783 by Erasmus Darwin. The club had many notable members and also offered the first institutional library in Derby that was available to some section of the public.-History:...

, a scientific society which had been founded in the 1790s by Erasmus Darwin
Erasmus Darwin
Erasmus Darwin was an English physician who turned down George III's invitation to be a physician to the King. One of the key thinkers of the Midlands Enlightenment, he was also a natural philosopher, physiologist, slave trade abolitionist,inventor and poet...

, 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
Erasmus Darwin
Erasmus Darwin was an English physician who turned down George III's invitation to be a physician to the King. One of the key thinkers of the Midlands Enlightenment, he was also a natural philosopher, physiologist, slave trade abolitionist,inventor and poet...

 and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck
Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de la Marck , often known simply as Lamarck, was a French naturalist...

. 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
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 to enable him to translate some easy texts. Thomas Spencer also imprinted on his nephew his own firm 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.

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
The Economist
The Economist is an English-language weekly news and international affairs publication owned by The Economist Newspaper Ltd. and edited in offices in the City of Westminster, London, England. Continuous publication began under founder James Wilson in September 1843...

, during which time he published his first book, Social Statics
Social Statics
Social Statics, or The Conditions essential to Happiness specified, and the First of them Developed is an 1851 book by the British polymath Herbert Spencer...

 (1851), which predicted that humanity would eventually become completely adapted to the requirements of living in society with the consequential withering away of the state.

Its publisher, John Chapman
John Chapman (publisher)
John Chapman was a publisher who had medical training and was based at 142 Strand, London.His entry in the Concise Dictionary of National Biography, reads: "Chapman, John physician, author, publisher; apprencticed at Worksop and was in business in Adelaide; studied medicine in Paris and at St...

, introduced him to his salon which was attended by many of the leading radical and progressive thinkers of the capital, including John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill was a British philosopher, economist and civil servant. An influential contributor to social theory, political theory, and political economy, his conception of liberty justified the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state control. He was a proponent of...

, Harriet Martineau
Harriet Martineau
Harriet Martineau was an English social theorist and Whig writer, often cited as the first female sociologist....

, George Henry Lewes
George Henry Lewes
George Henry Lewes was an English philosopher and critic of literature and theatre. He became part of the mid-Victorian ferment of ideas which encouraged discussion of Darwinism, positivism, and religious scepticism...

 and Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot
George Eliot
Mary Anne Evans , better known by her pen name George Eliot, was an English novelist, journalist and translator, and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era...

), 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
Auguste Comte
Isidore Auguste Marie François Xavier Comte , better known as Auguste Comte , was a French philosopher, a founder of the discipline of sociology and of the doctrine of positivism...

’s positivism
Positivism
Positivism is a a view of scientific methods and a philosophical approach, theory, or system based on the view that, in the social as well as natural sciences, sensory experiences and their logical and mathematical treatment are together the exclusive source of all worthwhile information....

 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
Phrenology
Phrenology is a pseudoscience primarily focused on measurements of the human skull, based on the concept that the brain is the organ of the mind, and that certain brain areas have localized, specific functions or modules...

, 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
Lamarckism
Lamarckism is the idea that an organism can pass on characteristics that it acquired during its lifetime to its offspring . It is named after the French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck , who incorporated the action of soft inheritance into his evolutionary theories...

 mechanism of use-inheritance. The Psychology, he believed, would do for the human mind what Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton PRS was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who has been "considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived."...

 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 Système 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.

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
Athenaeum Club, London
The Athenaeum Club, usually just referred to as the Athenaeum, is a notable London club with its Clubhouse located at 107 Pall Mall, London, England, at the corner of Waterloo Place....

, an exclusive Gentleman's Club in London open only to those distinguished in the arts and sciences, and the X Club
X Club
The X Club was a dining club of nine men who supported the theories of natural selection and academic liberalism in late 19th-century England. Thomas Henry Huxley was the initiator: he called the first meeting for November 3, 1864...

, 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
Royal Society
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

).

Members included physicist-philosopher John Tyndall
John Tyndall
John Tyndall FRS was a prominent Irish 19th century physicist. His initial scientific fame arose in the 1850s from his study of diamagnetism. Later he studied thermal radiation, and produced a number of discoveries about processes in the atmosphere...

 and Darwin's cousin, the banker and biologist Sir John Lubbock. There were also some quite significant satellites such as liberal clergyman Arthur Stanley
Arthur Penrhyn Stanley
Arthur Penrhyn Stanley was an English churchman, Dean of Westminster, known as Dean Stanley. His position was that of a Broad Churchman and he was the author of works on Church History.-Life and times:...

, the Dean of Westminster; and guests such as Charles Darwin and Hermann von Helmholtz
Hermann von Helmholtz
Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz was a German physician and physicist who made significant contributions to several widely varied areas of modern science...

 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 suffrage and made common cause with the landowners of the Liberty and Property Defence League
Liberty and Property Defence League
The Liberty and Property Defence League was a historic organization, founded in 1882 by Lord Elcho, for the support of laissez-faire trade...

 against what they saw as the drift towards 'socialism' of elements (such as Sir William Harcourt) within the administration of William Ewart Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone FRS FSS was a British Liberal statesman. In a career lasting over sixty years, he served as Prime Minister four separate times , more than any other person. Gladstone was also Britain's oldest Prime Minister, 84 years old when he resigned for the last time...

 - largely against the opinions of Gladstone himself. Spencer's political views from this period were expressed in what has become his most famous work, The Man versus the State.

The exception to Spencer's growing conservativism was that he remained throughout his life an ardent opponent of imperialism
Anti-imperialism
Anti-imperialism, strictly speaking, is a term that may be applied to a movement opposed to any form of colonialism or imperialism. Anti-imperialism includes opposition to wars of conquest, particularly of non-contiguous territory or people with a different language or culture; it also includes...

 and militarism. His critique of the Boer War
Boer War
The Boer Wars were two wars fought between the British Empire and the two independent Boer republics, the Oranje Vrijstaat and the Republiek van Transvaal ....

 was especially scathing, and it contributed to his declining popularity in Britain.

Spencer also invented a precursor to the modern paper clip
Paper Clip
"Paper Clip" is a 1995 episode of The X-Files television series. It was the second episode broadcast in the show's third season. Paper Clip concludes the story regarding the agents' possession of a digital tape containing government secrets on extraterrestrials.- Plot :Continuing from the previous...

, though it looked more like a modern cotter pin
Cotter pin
A split pin, also known in U.S. usage as a cotter pin or cotter key, is a metal fastener with two tines that are bent during installation, similar to a staple or rivet. Typically made of thick wire with a half-circular cross section, split pins come in multiple sizes and types.The British...

. This "binding-pin" was distributed by Ackermann & Company. Spencer shows drawings of the pin in Appendix I (following Appendix H) of his autobiography along with published descriptions of its uses.

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
Highgate Cemetery
Highgate Cemetery is a cemetery located in north London, England. It is designated Grade I on the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England. It is divided into two parts, named the East and West cemetery....

 facing Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

's grave. At Spencer's funeral
Funeral
A funeral is a ceremony for celebrating, sanctifying, or remembering the life of a person who has died. Funerary customs comprise the complex of beliefs and practices used by a culture to remember the dead, from interment itself, to various monuments, prayers, and rituals undertaken in their honor...

 the Indian nationalist leader Shyamji Krishnavarma announced a donation of £1,000 to establish a lectureship at Oxford University
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

 in tribute to Spencer and his work.

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
First law of thermodynamics
The first law of thermodynamics is an expression of the principle of conservation of work.The law states that energy can be transformed, i.e. changed from one form to another, but cannot be created nor destroyed...

 and biological evolution.

In essence Spencer's philosophical vision was formed by a combination of deism
Deism
Deism in religious philosophy is the belief that reason and observation of the natural world, without the need for organized religion, can determine that the universe is the product of an all-powerful creator. According to deists, the creator does not intervene in human affairs or suspend the...

 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
George Combe
George Combe , was a Scottish lawyer and writer on phrenology and education. In later years, he devoted himself to the promotion of phrenology. His major work was The Constitution of Man .-Early life:...

'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
Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation
Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation is a unique work of speculative natural history published anonymously in England in 1844. It brought together various ideas of stellar evolution with the progressive transmutation of species in an accessible narrative which tied together numerous...

 (1844). Although often dismissed as a lightweight forerunner of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species
The Origin of Species
Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, published on 24 November 1859, is a work of scientific literature which is considered to be the foundation of evolutionary biology. Its full title was On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the...

, 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.

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
Westminster Review
The Westminster Review was a quarterly British publication. Established in 1823 as the official organ of the Philosophical Radicals, it was published from 1824 to 1914. James Mill was one of the driving forces behind the liberal journal until 1828....

 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
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, Romantic, literary critic and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic Movement in England and a member of the Lake Poets. He is probably best known for his poems The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla...

's essay 'The Theory of Life'—itself derivative from Friedrich von Schelling's Naturphilosophie
Naturphilosophie
Naturphilosophie is a term used in English-language philosophy to identify a current in the philosophical tradition of German idealism, as applied to the study of Nature in the earlier 19th century...

—with a generalization of von Baer
Karl Ernst von Baer
Karl Ernst Ritter von Baer, Edler von Huthorn also known in Russia as Karl Maksimovich Baer was an Estonian naturalist, biologist, geologist, meteorologist, geographer, a founding father of embryology, explorer of European Russia and Scandinavia, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, a...

’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
Evolution of complexity
The evolution of biological complexity is an important outcome of the process of evolution. Evolution has produced some remarkably complex organisms - although the actual level of complexity is very hard to define or measure accurately in biology, with properties such as gene content, the number of...

 was radically different from 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
Natural selection
Natural selection is the nonrandom process by which biologic traits become either more or less common in a population as a function of differential reproduction of their bearers. It is a key mechanism of evolution....

. But although after reading Darwin's work he coined the phrase 'survival of the fittest
Survival of the fittest
"Survival of the fittest" is a phrase originating in evolutionary theory, as an alternative description of Natural selection. The phrase is today commonly used in contexts that are incompatible with the original meaning as intended by its first two proponents: British polymath philosopher Herbert...

' 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
Lamarckism
Lamarckism is the idea that an organism can pass on characteristics that it acquired during its lifetime to its offspring . It is named after the French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck , who incorporated the action of soft inheritance into his evolutionary theories...

 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. He tried to apply the theory of biological evolution to sociology. He proposed that society was the product of change from lower to higher forms, just as in the theory of biological evolution, the lowest forms of life are said to be evolving into higher forms. Spencer claimed that man's mind had evolved in the same way from the simple automatic responses of lower animals to the process of reasoning in the thinking man. Spencer believed in two kinds of knowledge: knowledge gained by the individual and knowledge gained by the race. Intuition, or knowledge learned unconsciously, was the inherited experience of the race.

Sociology


Spencer read with excitement the original positivist sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 of Auguste Comte
Auguste Comte
Isidore Auguste Marie François Xavier Comte , better known as Auguste Comte , was a French philosopher, a founder of the discipline of sociology and of the doctrine of positivism...

. A philosopher of science, Comte had proposed a theory of sociocultural evolution
Sociocultural evolution
Sociocultural evolution is an umbrella term for theories of cultural evolution and social evolution, describing how cultures and societies have changed over time...

 that society progresses by a general law of three stages
Law of three stages
The Law of Three Stages is an idea developed by Auguste Comte. It states that society as a whole, and each particular science, develops through three mentally conceived stages: the theological stage, the metaphysical stage, and the positive stage....

. Writing after various developments in biology, however, Spencer rejected what he regarded as the ideological aspects of Comte's positivism, attempting to reformulate social science in terms of evolutionary biology. One might broadly describe Spencer's sociology as socially Darwinistic
Social Darwinism
Social Darwinism is a term commonly used for theories of society that emerged in England and the United States in the 1870s, seeking to apply the principles of Darwinian evolution to sociology and politics...

 (though strictly speaking he was a proponent of Lamarckism
Lamarckism
Lamarckism is the idea that an organism can pass on characteristics that it acquired during its lifetime to its offspring . It is named after the French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck , who incorporated the action of soft inheritance into his evolutionary theories...

 rather than Darwinism).

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
Social organism
In sociology, the social organism is theoretical concept in which a society or social structure is viewed as a “living organism.” From this perspective, typically, the relation of social features, e.g. law, family, crime, etc., are examined as they interact with other features of society to meet...

' 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.

Though Spencer made some valuable contributions to early sociology, not least in his influence on structural functionalism
Structural functionalism
Structural functionalism is a broad perspective in sociology and anthropology which sets out to interpret society as a structure with interrelated parts. Functionalism addresses society as a whole in terms of the function of its constituent elements; namely norms, customs, traditions and institutions...

, his attempt to introduce Lamarckian or Darwinian ideas into the realm of social science was unsuccessful. It was considered by many, furthermore, to be actively dangerous. Hermeneuticians of the period, such as Wilhelm Dilthey
Wilhelm Dilthey
Wilhelm Dilthey was a German historian, psychologist, sociologist and hermeneutic philosopher, who held Hegel's Chair in Philosophy at the University of Berlin. As a polymathic philosopher, working in a modern research university, Dilthey's research interests revolved around questions of...

, would pioneer the distinction between the natural sciences (Naturwissenschaften) and human sciences (Geisteswissenschaften). In the 1890s, Émile Durkheim
Émile Durkheim
David Émile Durkheim was a French sociologist. He formally established the academic discipline and, with Karl Marx and Max Weber, is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science and father of sociology.Much of Durkheim's work was concerned with how societies could maintain...

 established formal academic sociology with a firm emphasis on practical social research
Social research
Social research refers to research conducted by social scientists. Social research methods may be divided into two broad categories:* Quantitative designs approach social phenomena through quantifiable evidence, and often rely on statistical analysis of many cases to create valid and reliable...

. By the turn of the 20th century the first generation of German sociologists, most notably Max Weber
Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

, had presented methodological antipositivism
Antipositivism
Antipositivism is the view in social science that the social realm may not be subject to the same methods of investigation as the natural world; that academics must reject empiricism and the scientific method in the conduct of research...

.

Ethics



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 distinctive view of musicology was also related to his ethics. Spencer thought that the origin of music is to be found in impassioned oratory. Speakers have persuasive effect not only by the reasoning of their words, but by their cadence and tone—the musical qualities of their voice serve as "the commentary of the emotions upon the propositions of the intellect," as Spencer put it.

Music, conceived as the heightened development of this characteristic of speech, makes a contribution to the ethical education and progress of the species. "The strange capacity which we have for being affected by melody and harmony, may be taken to imply both that it is within the possibilities of our nature to realize those intenser delights they dimly suggest, and that they are in some way concerned in the realization of them. If so the power and the meaning of music become comprehensible; but otherwise they are a mystery."
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
Agnosticism
Agnosticism is the view that the truth value of certain claims—especially claims about the existence or non-existence of any deity, but also other religious and metaphysical claims—is unknown or unknowable....

. He rejected theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 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



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
Libertarianism
Libertarianism, in the strictest sense, is the political philosophy that holds individual liberty as the basic moral principle of society. In the broadest sense, it is any political philosophy which approximates this view...

 and anarcho-capitalists. Economist Murray Rothbard
Murray Rothbard
Murray Newton Rothbard was an American author and economist of the Austrian School who helped define capitalist libertarianism and popularized a form of free-market anarchism he termed "anarcho-capitalism." Rothbard wrote over twenty books and is considered a centrally important figure in the...

 called Social Statics "the greatest single work of libertarian
Libertarianism
Libertarianism, in the strictest sense, is the political philosophy that holds individual liberty as the basic moral principle of society. In the broadest sense, it is any political philosophy which approximates this view...

 political philosophy ever written." 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." As a result of this perspective, Spencer was harshly critical of patriotism
Patriotism
Patriotism is a devotion to one's country, excluding differences caused by the dependencies of the term's meaning upon context, geography and philosophy...

. In response to being told that British troops were in danger during the Second Afghan War, he replied: "When men hire themselves out to shoot other men to order, asking nothing about the justice of their cause, I don’t care if they are shot themselves."

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
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

, 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 the Liberal party - the wing to some extent hostile to Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone FRS FSS was a British Liberal statesman. In a career lasting over sixty years, he served as Prime Minister four separate times , more than any other person. Gladstone was also Britain's oldest Prime Minister, 84 years old when he resigned for the last time...

, this faction of the Liberal party Spencer compared to the interventionist "Toryism" of such people as the former Conservative party Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli). 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 (what Gladstone himself called "Construction" an element in the modern Liberal party that he opposed). 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
Friedrich Hayek
Friedrich August Hayek CH , born in Austria-Hungary as Friedrich August von Hayek, was an economist and philosopher best known for his defense of classical liberalism and free-market capitalism against socialist and collectivist thought...

, 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.

While often caricatured as ultra-conservative Spencer has opposed land private property claiming that each citizen has a latent claim to participate in the use of the earth.
He was sympathetic to Georgism
Georgism
Georgism is an economic philosophy and ideology that holds that people own what they create, but that things found in nature, most importantly land, belong equally to all...

 ,He called himself "a radical feminist
Feminism
Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women. Its concepts overlap with those of women's rights...

" and advocated the organization of voluntary labor unions as a bulwark against "exploitation by bosses", and favored an economy organized primarily in free worker co-operatives as a replacement for wage-labor.

Social Darwinism


Spencer is sometimes credited for 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.

According to a review by Geoffrey M. Hodgson of the JSTOR
JSTOR
JSTOR is an online system for archiving academic journals, founded in 1995. It provides its member institutions full-text searches of digitized back issues of several hundred well-known journals, dating back to 1665 in the case of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society...

 English language database, the term "social Darwinism" was first used in an English-language academic journal in a 1895 book review by the Harvard economist Frank Taussig (It had been used as early as 1877 in Europe). JSTOR data indicates that term was only used 21 times before 1931. The first time Spencer was associated with "social Darwinism" was in a 1937 book review by Leo Rogin
Leo Rogin
Leo Rogin was an American economist, economic historian and historian of economic thought.-Major publications:...

.

Spencer's reputation as a Social Darwinist can be largely traced to Richard Hofstadter
Richard Hofstadter
Richard Hofstadter was an American public intellectual of the 1950s, a historian and DeWitt Clinton Professor of American History at Columbia University...

's book Social Darwinism in American Thought 1860-1915, "a hostile critique of Spencer's work, published in 1944, [which] sold in large numbers and was very influential, especially in academic circles. It claimed that Spencer had used evolution to justify economic and social inequality, and to support a political stance of extreme conservatism, which led, amongst other things, to the eugenics movement. In simple terms, it is as if Spencer's phrase, 'the survival of the fittest,' had been claimed by him as the basis of a political doctrine." While Hofstadter is generally credited with popularizing the term in his book "Social Darwinism in American Life" it was Talcott Parsons
Talcott Parsons
Talcott Parsons was an American sociologist who served on the faculty of Harvard University from 1927 to 1973....

 who paved the way for Hofstadter. In his hugely influential book The Structure of Social Action (1937) Parsons wrote that "Spencer is dead" and then put the question: "Who killed him and how?". Hodgson finds that Parsons "extended the usage of 'Social Darwinism' from its previous ideological associations to anyone who believed in 'the application of Darwinian concepts of variation and selection to social evolution'. But it is not clear whom he had in mind."

Use of the term skyrocketed after Hofstader's book was published in 1944, and Hofstader is frequently cited in the secondary literature as an authoritative account of the Synthetic Philosophy. Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

 economist Tim Leonard (2009) has argued, in the article Origins of the Myth of Social Darwinism, that Hofstadter's influential characterization of Spencer is flawed. According to Roderick Long
Roderick Long
Roderick Tracy Long is a professor of philosophy at Auburn University and libertarian anarchist blogger. He also serves as a senior scholar for the Ludwig von Mises Institute, an editor of the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, director and president of the Molinari Institute, and an advisory panel...

, Leonard argues that "Hofstadter is guilty of distorting Spencer's free market views and smearing them with the taint of racist Darwinian collectivism." Leonard suggests that, 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. While Spencer did advocate "survival of the fittest" in the competition among men, Leonard emphasizes that it is inaccurate to call Spencer a Social Darwinist, because he actually held Lamarckian views: he believed that parents acquire traits through voluntary exertion and then pass on them to their progeny.

The claim that Spencer was a Social Darwinist might have its origin in a flawed understanding of his support for competition. Whereas in biology the competition of various organisms can result in the death of a species or organism, the kind of competition Spencer advocated is closer to the one used by economists, where competing individuals or firms improve the well being of the rest of society. Furthermore, Spencer viewed charity and altruism positively, as he believed in voluntary association and informal care as opposed to using government machinery.

Focusing on the form as well as the content of Spencer's "Synthetic Philosophy", it has recently been identified as the paradigmatic case of "Social Darwinism", understood as a politically motivated metaphysic very different in both form and motivation from Darwinist science.

General influence



While most philosophers fail to achieve much of a following outside the academy of their professional peers, by the 1870s and 1880s Spencer had achieved an unparalleled popularity, as the sheer volume of his sales indicate. He was probably the first, and possibly the only, philosopher in history to sell over a million copies of his works during his own lifetime. In the United States, where pirated editions were still commonplace, his authorized publisher, Appleton, sold 368,755 copies between 1860 and 1903. This figure did not differ much from his sales in his native Britain, and once editions in the rest of the world are added in the figure of a million copies seems like a conservative estimate. As William James
William James
William James was a pioneering American psychologist and philosopher who was trained as a physician. He wrote influential books on the young science of psychology, educational psychology, psychology of religious experience and mysticism, and on the philosophy of pragmatism...

 remarked, Spencer "enlarged the imagination, and set free the speculative mind of countless doctors, engineers, and lawyers, of many physicists and chemists, and of thoughtful laymen generally." The aspect of his thought that emphasized individual self-improvement found a ready audience in the skilled working class.

Spencer's influence among leaders of thought was also immense, though it was most often expressed in terms of their reaction to, and repudiation of, his ideas. As his American follower John Fiske observed, Spencer's ideas were to be found "running like the weft through all the warp" of Victorian thought. Such varied thinkers as Henry Sidgwick
Henry Sidgwick
Henry Sidgwick was an English utilitarian philosopher and economist. He was one of the founders and first president of the Society for Psychical Research, a member of the Metaphysical Society, and promoted the higher education of women...

, T.H. Green, G.E. Moore, William James
William James
William James was a pioneering American psychologist and philosopher who was trained as a physician. He wrote influential books on the young science of psychology, educational psychology, psychology of religious experience and mysticism, and on the philosophy of pragmatism...

, Henri Bergson
Henri Bergson
Henri-Louis Bergson was a major French philosopher, influential especially in the first half of the 20th century. Bergson convinced many thinkers that immediate experience and intuition are more significant than rationalism and science for understanding reality.He was awarded the 1927 Nobel Prize...

, and Émile Durkheim
Émile Durkheim
David Émile Durkheim was a French sociologist. He formally established the academic discipline and, with Karl Marx and Max Weber, is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science and father of sociology.Much of Durkheim's work was concerned with how societies could maintain...

 defined their ideas in relation to his. Durkheim’s Division of Labour in Society is to a very large extent an extended debate with Spencer, from whose sociology, many commentators now agree, Durkheim borrowed extensively.

In post-1863-Uprising
January Uprising
The January Uprising was an uprising in the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth against the Russian Empire...

 Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, many of Spencer's ideas became integral to the dominant fin-de-siècle
Fin de siècle
Fin de siècle is French for "end of the century". The term sometimes encompasses both the closing and onset of an era, as it was felt to be a period of degeneration, but at the same time a period of hope for a new beginning...

 ideology
Ideology
An ideology is a set of ideas that constitutes one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things , as in common sense and several philosophical tendencies , or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to...

, "Polish Positivism
Positivism in Poland
Positivism in Poland was a socio-cultural movement that defined progressive thought in literature and social sciences of Partitioned Poland following the suppression of the 1863 January Uprising against the occupying army of Imperial Russia...

". The leading Polish writer of the period, Bolesław Prus, hailed Spencer as "the Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 of the nineteenth century" and adopted Spencer's metaphor
Metaphor
A metaphor is a literary figure of speech that uses an image, story or tangible thing to represent a less tangible thing or some intangible quality or idea; e.g., "Her eyes were glistening jewels." Metaphor may also be used for any rhetorical figures of speech that achieve their effects via...

 of society-as-organism, giving it a striking poetic presentation in his 1884 micro-story
Flash fiction
Flash fiction is a style of fictional literature or fiction of extreme brevity. There is no widely accepted definition of the length of the category...

, "Mold of the Earth
Mold of the Earth
"Mold of the Earth" is one of the shortest micro-stories by the Polish writer Bolesław Prus.The story was published on 1 January 1884 in the News Year's Day issue of the Warsaw Courier . The story comes from a several years' period of pessimism in the author's life...

", and highlighting the concept in the introduction to his most universal novel, Pharaoh
Pharaoh (novel)
Pharaoh is the fourth and last major novel by the Polish writer Bolesław Prus . Composed over a year's time in 1894–95, it was the sole historical novel by an author who had earlier disapproved of historical novels on the ground that they inevitably distort history.Pharaoh has been described...

 (1895).

The early 20th century was hostile to Spencer. Soon after his death, his philosophical reputation went into a sharp decline. Half a century after his death, his work was dismissed as a "parody of philosophy", and the historian Richard Hofstadter
Richard Hofstadter
Richard Hofstadter was an American public intellectual of the 1950s, a historian and DeWitt Clinton Professor of American History at Columbia University...

 called him "the metaphysician of the homemade intellectual, and the prophet of the cracker-barrel agnostic." Nonetheless, Spencer’s thought had penetrated so deeply into the Victorian age that his influence did not disappear entirely.

In recent years, much more positive estimates have appeared, as well as a still highly negative estimate.

Political influence


Despite his reputation as a Social Darwinist, Spencer's political thought has been open to multiple interpretations. His political philosophy could both provide inspiration to those who believed that individuals were masters of their fate, who should brook no interference from a meddling state, and those who believed that social development required a strong central authority. In Lochner v. New York
Lochner v. New York
Lochner vs. New York, , was a landmark United States Supreme Court case that held a "liberty of contract" was implicit in the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The case involved a New York law that limited the number of hours that a baker could work each day to ten, and limited the...

, conservative justices of the United States Supreme Court could find inspiration in Spencer's writings for striking down a New York law limiting the number of hours a baker could work during the week, on the ground that this law restricted liberty
Liberty
Liberty is a moral and political principle, or Right, that identifies the condition in which human beings are able to govern themselves, to behave according to their own free will, and take responsibility for their actions...

 of contract
Contract
A contract is an agreement entered into by two parties or more with the intention of creating a legal obligation, which may have elements in writing. Contracts can be made orally. The remedy for breach of contract can be "damages" or compensation of money. In equity, the remedy can be specific...

. Arguing against the majority's holding that a "right to free contract" is implicit in the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.Its Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship that overruled the Dred Scott v...

, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. wrote: "The Fourteenth Amendment does not enact Mr. Herbert Spencer's Social Statics." Spencer has also been described as a quasi-anarchist
Anarchism
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

, as well as an outright anarchist. Marxist
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 theorist Georgi Plekhanov
Georgi Plekhanov
Georgi Valentinovich Plekhanov was a Russian revolutionary and a Marxist theoretician. He was a founder of the Social-Democratic movement in Russia and was one of the first Russians to identify himself as "Marxist." Facing political persecution, Plekhanov emigrated to Switzerland in 1880, where...

, in his 1909 book Anarchism and Socialism, labeled Spencer a "conservative Anarchist."

Spencer's ideas became very influential in China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 largely because he appealed to the reformers' desire to establish a strong nation-state with which to compete with the Western powers. His thought was introduced by the Chinese scholar Yen Fu, who saw his writings as a prescription for the reform of the Qing state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

. Spencer also influenced the Japanese Westernizer Tokutomi Soho
Tokutomi Soho
was the pen-name of a journalist and historian active from late Meiji period through mid-Shōwa period Japan. His real name was Tokutomi Iichirō. He was the older brother of noted author Tokutomi Roka.-Biography:...

, who believed that Japan was on the verge of transitioning from a "militant society" to an "industrial society," and needed to quickly jettison all things Japanese and take up Western ethics and learning. He also corresponded with Kaneko Kentaro
Kaneko Kentaro
was a statesman and diplomat in Meiji period Japan.- Early life :Kaneko was born into a samurai family of Fukuoka Domain . At the age of 9, he began his studies at Shuyukan...

, warning him of the dangers of imperialism. Savarkar
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
Vināyak Dāmodar Sāvarkar was an Indian freedom fighter, revolutionary and politician. He was the proponent of liberty as the ultimate ideal. Savarkar was a poet, writer and playwright...

 writes in his Inside the Enemy Camp, about reading all of Spencer's works, of his great interest in them, of their translation into Marathi
Marathi language
Marathi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by the Marathi people of western and central India. It is the official language of the state of Maharashtra. There are over 68 million fluent speakers worldwide. Marathi has the fourth largest number of native speakers in India and is the fifteenth most...

, and their influence on the likes of Tilak
Bal Gangadhar Tilak
Lokmanya Tilak –, was an Indian nationalist, teacher, social reformer and independence fighter who was the first popular leader of the Indian Independence Movement. The British colonial authorities derogatorily called the great leader "Father of the Indian unrest"...

 and Agarkar
Gopal Ganesh Agarkar
Gopal Ganesh Agarkar was a social reformer from Maharashtra, India during the British Raj.-Early life:Gopal Ganesh Agarkar was born on 14 July 1856 in Tembhu , a village in Satara district now in Sangli district of Maharashtra. Agarkar had his primary education from Karad...

, and the affectionate sobriquet given to him in Maharashtra
Maharashtra
Maharashtra is a state located in India. It is the second most populous after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India...

 - Harbhat Pendse.

Influence on literature


Spencer also exerted a great influence on literature
Literature
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...

 and rhetoric
Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

. His 1852 essay, “The Philosophy of Style,” explored a growing trend of formalist
Formalism (literature)
Formalism is a school of literary criticism and literary theory having mainly to do with structural purposes of a particular text.In literary theory, formalism refers to critical approaches that analyze, interpret, or evaluate the inherent features of a text. These features include not only grammar...

 approaches to writing
Writing
Writing is the representation of language in a textual medium through the use of a set of signs or symbols . It is distinguished from illustration, such as cave drawing and painting, and non-symbolic preservation of language via non-textual media, such as magnetic tape audio.Writing most likely...

. Highly focused on the proper placement and ordering of the parts of an English sentence, he created a guide for effective composition
Composition (language)
The term composition , in written language, refers to the collective body of important features established by the author in their creation of literature...

. Spencer’s aim was to free prose
Prose
Prose is the most typical form of written language, applying ordinary grammatical structure and natural flow of speech rather than rhythmic structure...

 writing
Writing
Writing is the representation of language in a textual medium through the use of a set of signs or symbols . It is distinguished from illustration, such as cave drawing and painting, and non-symbolic preservation of language via non-textual media, such as magnetic tape audio.Writing most likely...

 from as much "friction
Friction
Friction is the force resisting the relative motion of solid surfaces, fluid layers, and/or material elements sliding against each other. There are several types of friction:...

 and inertia
Inertia
Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to a change in its state of motion or rest, or the tendency of an object to resist any change in its motion. It is proportional to an object's mass. The principle of inertia is one of the fundamental principles of classical physics which are used to...

" as possible, so that the reader would not be slowed by strenuous deliberations concerning the proper context and meaning of a sentence. Spencer argued that it is the writer's ideal "To so present ideas that they may be apprehended with the least possible mental effort" by the reader.

He argued that by making the meaning as readily accessible as possible, the writer would achieve the greatest possible communicative efficiency. This was accomplished, according to Spencer, by placing all the subordinate clauses, objects and phrases before the subject of a sentence so that, when readers reached the subject, they had all the information they needed to completely perceive its significance. While the overall influence that “The Philosophy of Style” had on the field of rhetoric was not as far-reaching as his contribution to other fields, Spencer’s voice lent authoritative support to formalist
Formalism (literature)
Formalism is a school of literary criticism and literary theory having mainly to do with structural purposes of a particular text.In literary theory, formalism refers to critical approaches that analyze, interpret, or evaluate the inherent features of a text. These features include not only grammar...

 views of rhetoric
Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

.

Spencer also had an influence on literature
Literature
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...

, as many novelists and short story
Short story
A short story is a work of fiction that is usually written in prose, often in narrative format. This format tends to be more pointed than longer works of fiction, such as novellas and novels. Short story definitions based on length differ somewhat, even among professional writers, in part because...

 authors came to address his ideas in their work. George Eliot
George Eliot
Mary Anne Evans , better known by her pen name George Eliot, was an English novelist, journalist and translator, and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era...

, Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy
Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist...

, Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy, OM was an English novelist and poet. While his works typically belong to the Naturalism movement, several poems display elements of the previous Romantic and Enlightenment periods of literature, such as his fascination with the supernatural.While he regarded himself primarily as a...

, Bolesław Prus, Abraham Cahan
Abraham Cahan
Abraham "Abe" Cahan was a Lithuanian-born American socialist newspaper editor, novelist, and politician.-Early years:...

, D. H. Lawrence
D. H. Lawrence
David Herbert Richards Lawrence was an English novelist, poet, playwright, essayist, literary critic and painter who published as D. H. Lawrence. His collected works represent an extended reflection upon the dehumanising effects of modernity and industrialisation...

, Machado de Assis, Richard Austin Freeman, and Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo , known as Jorge Luis Borges , was an Argentine writer, essayist, poet and translator born in Buenos Aires. In 1914 his family moved to Switzerland where he attended school, receiving his baccalauréat from the Collège de Genève in 1918. The family...

 all referenced Spencer. Arnold Bennett
Arnold Bennett
- Early life :Bennett was born in a modest house in Hanley in the Potteries district of Staffordshire. Hanley is one of a conurbation of six towns which joined together at the beginning of the twentieth century as Stoke-on-Trent. Enoch Bennett, his father, qualified as a solicitor in 1876, and the...

 greatly praised First Principles, and the influence it had on Bennett may be seen in his many novels. Jack London
Jack London
John Griffith "Jack" London was an American author, journalist, and social activist. He was a pioneer in the then-burgeoning world of commercial magazine fiction and was one of the first fiction writers to obtain worldwide celebrity and a large fortune from his fiction alone...

 went so far as to create a character, Martin Eden
Martin Eden
Martin Eden is a novel by American author Jack London, about a proletarian young autodidact struggling to become a writer. It was first serialized in the Pacific Monthly magazine from September 1908 to September 1909, and subsequently published in book form by Macmillan in September 1909.This book...

, a staunch Spencerian. It has also been suggested that the character of Vershinin in Anton Chekhov
Anton Chekhov
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was a Russian physician, dramatist and author who is considered to be among the greatest writers of short stories in history. His career as a dramatist produced four classics and his best short stories are held in high esteem by writers and critics...

's play The Three Sisters is a dedicated Spencerian. H.G. Wells used Spencer's ideas as a theme in his novella
Novella
A novella is a written, fictional, prose narrative usually longer than a novelette but shorter than a novel. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Nebula Awards for science fiction define the novella as having a word count between 17,500 and 40,000...

, The Time Machine
The Time Machine
The Time Machine is a science fiction novella by H. G. Wells, published in 1895 for the first time and later adapted into at least two feature films of the same name, as well as two television versions, and a large number of comic book adaptations. It indirectly inspired many more works of fiction...

, employing them to explain the evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

 of man
Man
The term man is used for an adult human male . However, man is sometimes used to refer to humanity as a whole...

 into two species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

. It is perhaps the best testimony to the influence
Social influence
Social influence occurs when an individual's thoughts, feelings or actions are affected by other people. Social influence takes many forms and can be seen in conformity, socialization, peer pressure, obedience, leadership, persuasion, sales, and marketing...

 of Spencer’s beliefs and writings that his reach was so diverse. He influenced not only the administrators who shaped their societies’ inner workings, but also the artists who helped shape those societies' ideals and beliefs.

Primary sources

  • Papers of Herbert Spencer in Senate House Library, University of London
  • Most of Spencer's books are available online
  • "On The Proper Sphere of Government" (1842)
  • Social Statics: or, The Conditions Essential to Human Happiness Specified, and the First of Them Developed (1851)
  • "A Theory of Population" (1852)
  • Principles of Psychology (1855), first edition, issued in one volume
  • Education (1861)
  • System of Synthetic Philosophy',' in ten volumes
    • First Principles ISBN 0-89875-795-9 (1862)
    • Principles of Biology (1864, 1867; revised and enlarged: 1898), in two volumes
      • Volume I — Part I: The Data of Biology; Part II: The Inductions of Biology; Part III: The Evolution of Life; Appendices
      • Volume II — Part IV: Morphological Development; Part V: Physiological Development; Part VI: Laws of Multiplication; Appendices
    • Principles of Psychology (1870, 1880), in two volumes
      • Volume I — Part I: The Data of Psychology; Part II: The Inductions of Psychology; Part III: General Synthesis; Part IV: Special Synthesis; Part V: Physical Synthesis; Appendix
      • Volume II — Part VI: Special Analysis; Part VII: General Analysis; Part VIII: Congruities; Part IX: Corollaries
    • Principles of Sociology, in three volumes
      • Volume I (1874–75; enlarged 1876, 1885) — Part I: Data of Sociology; Part II: Inductions of Sociology; Part III: Domestic Institutions
      • Volume II — Part IV: Ceremonial Institutions (1879); Part V: Political Institutions (1882); Part VI [published here in some editions]: Ecclesiastical Institutions (1885)
      • Volume III — Part VI [published here in some editions]: Ecclesiastical Institutions (1885); Part VII: Professional Institutions (1896); Part VIII: Industrial Institutions (1896); References
    • The Principles of Ethics (1897), in two volumes
      • Volume I — Part I: The Data of Ethics (1879); Part II: The Inductions of Ethics (1892); Part III: The Ethics of Individual Life (1892); References
      • Volume II — Part IV: The Ethics of Social Life: Justice (1891); Part V: The Ethics of Social Life: Negative Beneficence (1892); Part VI: The Ethics of Social Life: Positive Beneficence (1892); Appendices
  • The Study of Sociology (1873, 1896)
  • An Autobiography (1904), in two volumes

See also

Essay Collections:
  • Illustrations of Universal Progress: A Series of Discussions (1864, 1883)
  • The Man Versus the State (1884)
  • Essays: Scientific, Political, and Speculative (1891), in three volumes:
    • Volume I (includes "The Development Hypothesis," "Progress: Its Law and Cause," "The Factors of Organic Evolution" and others)
    • Volume II (includes "The Classification of the Sciences", The Philosophy of Style (1852), The Origin and Function of Music," "The Physiology of Laughter," and others)
    • Volume III (includes "The Ethics of Kant", "State Tamperings With Money and Banks", "Specialized Administration", "From Freedom to Bondage", "The Americans", and others)
  • Various Fragments (1897, enlarged 1900)
  • Facts and Comments (1902)

Philosophers' critiques

  • Herbert Spencer: An Estimate and Review (1904) by Josiah Royce
    Josiah Royce
    Josiah Royce was an American objective idealist philosopher.-Life:Royce, born in Grass Valley, California, grew up in pioneer California very soon after the California Gold Rush. He received the B.A...

    .
  • Lectures on the Ethics of T.H. Green, Mr. Herbert Spencer, and J. Martineau (1902) by Henry Sidgwick
    Henry Sidgwick
    Henry Sidgwick was an English utilitarian philosopher and economist. He was one of the founders and first president of the Society for Psychical Research, a member of the Metaphysical Society, and promoted the higher education of women...

    .
  • Spencer-smashing at Washington (1894) by Lester F. Ward.
  • A Perplexed Philosopher (1892) by Henry George
    Henry George
    Henry George was an American writer, politician and political economist, who was the most influential proponent of the land value tax, also known as the "single tax" on land...

    .
  • A Few Words with Mr Herbert Spencer (1884) by Paul Lafargue
    Paul Lafargue
    Paul Lafargue was a French revolutionary Marxist socialist journalist, literary critic, political writer and activist; he was Karl Marx's son-in-law, having married his second daughter Laura. His best known work is The Right to Be Lazy...

    .
  • Remarks on Spencer's Definition of Mind as Correspondence (1878) by William James
    William James
    William James was a pioneering American psychologist and philosopher who was trained as a physician. He wrote influential books on the young science of psychology, educational psychology, psychology of religious experience and mysticism, and on the philosophy of pragmatism...

    .

See also

  • Auberon Herbert
    Auberon Herbert
    Auberon Edward William Molyneux Herbert was a writer, theorist, philosopher, and "19th-century individualist anarchist." A member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, Herbert was the son of the 3rd Earl of Carnarvon, brother of Henry Herbert, the 4th Earl, and father of the 9th Baron Lucas...

  • Classical liberalism
    Classical liberalism
    Classical liberalism is the philosophy committed to the ideal of limited government, constitutionalism, rule of law, due process, and liberty of individuals including freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and free markets....

  • Cultural evolution
  • Eugenics
    Eugenics
    Eugenics is the "applied science or the bio-social movement which advocates the use of practices aimed at improving the genetic composition of a population", usually referring to human populations. The origins of the concept of eugenics began with certain interpretations of Mendelian inheritance,...

  • Liberalism
    Liberalism
    Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

  • Contributions to liberal theory
    Contributions to liberal theory
    Individual contributors to classical liberalism and political liberalism are associated with philosophers of the Enlightenment. Liberalism as a specifically named ideology begins in the late 18th century as a movement towards self-government and away from aristocracy...

  • Libertarianism
    Libertarianism
    Libertarianism, in the strictest sense, is the political philosophy that holds individual liberty as the basic moral principle of society. In the broadest sense, it is any political philosophy which approximates this view...

  • "Mold of the Earth" (a story by Bolesław Prus, inspired by a concept of Spencer's)
  • Pharaoh (a novel by Bolesław Prus, partly inspired by a concept of Spencer's)
  • Scientism
    Scientism
    Scientism refers to a belief in the universal applicability of the systematic methods and approach of science, especially the view that empirical science constitutes the most authoritative worldview or most valuable part of human learning to the exclusion of other viewpoints...

     and positivism

By Spencer



External links


Biographical
  • Herbert Spencer entry in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
    Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
    The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy is a free online encyclopedia on philosophical topics and philosophers founded by James Fieser in 1995. The current general editors are James Fieser and Bradley Dowden...

     by William Sweet
  • Review materials for studying Herbert Spencer
  • Long, Roderick
    Roderick Long
    Roderick Tracy Long is a professor of philosophy at Auburn University and libertarian anarchist blogger. He also serves as a senior scholar for the Ludwig von Mises Institute, an editor of the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, director and president of the Molinari Institute, and an advisory panel...

    . Herbert Spencer: Libertarian Prophet, The Freeman
    The Freeman
    The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty is one of the oldest and most respected libertarian journals in the United States. It is published by the Foundation for Economic Education . It started as a digest sized monthly study journal; it currently appears 10 times per year and is a larger-sized magazine. FEE...

     (July/August 2004)
  • Richards, Peter. Herbert Spencer: Social Darwinist or Libertarian Prophet?, Mises Institute


Sources