Biography of Herbert Spencer

Herbert Spencer – the most famous philosopher of the Victorian era, deserved recognition for his characteristic political views.

Childhood and early years

Herbert Spencer was born April 27, 1820 in the English city of Derby. His father, William George Spencer, was a believer who rebelled against official religious dogmas and passed from the Methodist church to the Quaker society. He headed a school that preached the progressive methods of teaching Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi. He was also the secretary of the Derby Philosophy School. Father taught his son empiricism, and other representatives of the Philosophical School introduced the boy to pre-Darwinian views on the theory of evolution. Herbert’s uncle, Reverend Thomas Spencer, gave the boy the necessary education, teaching him math, physics and Latin. He also nurtured his nephew physiocratic and anti-state views.

Philosophical activity

Not finding a use in the field of intellectual knowledge and professional specialties, Herbert works as an engineer of railways on the railway. But at the same time he publishes provincial journals, nonconformist in their views on religion and radical in their political ideas. From 1848 to 1853, Spencer is an assistant editor of the physiocratic journal The Economist. At the same time, he writes his first work, “Social Statistics”. The publisher of the book, John Chapman, represents Spencer to the leading progressive minds of his time – John Stuart Mill, Garriet Martino, George Henry Lewis and Mary Ann Evans. Just at this time, Spencer is getting acquainted with the biologist Thomas Henry Huxley, with whom they will be closely associated in the future. With the help of Lewis and Evans, Spencer gets acquainted with ” The system of logic “of John Stuart Mill and the positivism of Auguste Comte all this will form the basis of his second book,” Principles of Psychology. “His study of psychology is led by the true desire to establish the unity of natural law. As with most thinkers of the time, Spencer was literally obsessed with the idea of ​​proving that any phenomenon in the universe, including human culture, can be explained by laws of a universal nature, this belief was contrary to contemporary theological concepts, which stated that a number elements of creation – such as the soul of a person – is beyond scientific research. In 1858, Spencer begins to form views that will lead to the writing of the “System of Synthetic Philosophy,” whose goal is to demonstrate the application of the principles of evolution in biology, psychology, sociology and ethics. This work, which will consist of ten volumes, Spencer will devote almost the rest of his life.

Late years

By 1870, Mr. Spencer became the most popular philosopher of his time. His work is widely known, bringing the author a considerable income from sales. On this income, as well as on the fees for his ongoing work in the field of Victorian journalism, he lives. The articles he wrote for Victorian journals will later be merged into the Essay collection. His works will be translated into German, Italian, Spanish, French, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, as well as many other languages ​​of the world. In Europe and North America, Spencer receives numerous honors and awards. He becomes a member of the “Athenaeum” – a privileged club of gentlemen in London, open only to the most outstanding figures of art and science. Spencer also joins the ranks of the prestigious club “X” – a society founded by TG Huxley, which had the honor to consist of only nine people, the most influential thinkers of the Victorian era. The meetings of the society were held on a monthly basis. Among them, besides Spencer and Huxley, were also the philosopher-physicist John Tyndall and cousin Darwin, the banker and biologist Sir John Lubbock. Guests of the “X” club were Charles Darwin and Hermann von Helmholtz himself. Such good connections helped Spencer take a special position in the scientific world. Even getting rich, Spencer never got his own house. All... his life he remained a bachelor, and therefore the last decades of his life he spends alone and increasingly disappointed in his former views. At the end of life, he becomes a hypochondriac and continually complains of pain and mental disorders. In contrast to their early theories on the protection of women’s rights and the nationalization of the land, set out in the “

Death

Over his books, Spencer worked to the end of his days. He died on December 8, 1903, at the age of 83 years. His ashes are buried in the eastern part of the Hagate cemetery in London.

Influence on philosophical thought

In the 1870s and 1880s, Spencer acquired the popularity that his predecessors rarely managed to achieve. He became the first and only philosopher, during his lifetime, more than a million copies of his works were sold. His work had a significant impact on the views of a number of contemporaries, including Henry Sidgwick, TG Green, JE Moore, William James, Henry Bergson and Emily Durkheim. Political views of the time were formed largely according to his theories. The philosophical thought Spencer inspired those who stood on the fact that man is the master of his own destiny and should not tolerate the slightest interference in it by the state. Part of his philosophy was the assertion that a strong centralized power is necessary for social development. Spencer’s teachings became extremely popular in China and Japan. The prolificator of his ideas in China was the Chinese philosopher Yan Fu, whose theories, in turn, had an impact on the Japanese journalist Tokutomi Soho, who believed that Japan was on the verge of moving from a “fighting state” to an “industrial society”, which urgently needed to be adopted Western ethics and teachings. A significant impact of Spencer’s work was also on the development of literature and rhetoric. His ideas were used by such famous writers and authors as George Eliot, Leo Tolstoy, Thomas Hardy, Boleslav Prus, Avrom Kagan, DG Lawrence, Machado de Assis and Richard Austin Freeman. G. J. Wells, in his famous story “The Time Machine”, with the help of Spencer’s theories explained the process of evolution of man into two species of individuals. had an impact on the Japanese journalist Tokutomi Soho, who believed that Japan was on the verge of moving from a “fighting state” to an “industrial society,” which urgently needed to adopt Western ethics and teachings. A significant impact of Spencer’s work was also on the development of literature and rhetoric. His ideas were used by such famous writers and authors as George Eliot, Leo Tolstoy, Thomas Hardy, Boleslav Prus, Avrom Kagan, DG Lawrence, Machado de Assis and Richard Austin Freeman. G. J. Wells, in his famous story “The Time Machine”, with the help of Spencer’s theories explained the process of evolution of man into two species of individuals. had an impact on the Japanese journalist Tokutomi Soho, who believed that Japan was on the verge of moving from a “fighting state” to an “industrial society,” which urgently needed to adopt Western ethics and teachings. A significant impact of Spencer’s work was also on the development of literature and rhetoric. His ideas were used by such famous writers and authors as George Eliot, Leo Tolstoy, Thomas Hardy, Boleslav Prus, Avrom Kagan, DG Lawrence, Machado de Assis and Richard Austin Freeman. G. J. Wells, in his famous story “The Time Machine”, with the help of Spencer’s theories explained the process of evolution of man into two species of individuals. Machado de Assis and Richard Austin Freeman. G. J. Wells, in his famous story “The Time Machine”, with the help of Spencer’s theories explained the process of evolution of man into two species of individuals. Machado de Assis and Richard Austin Freeman. G. J. Wells, in his famous story “The Time Machine”, with the help of Spencer’s theories explained the process of evolution of man into two species of individuals.


Biography of Herbert Spencer