|Biography: Herbert Spencer |
Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) was an English philosopher, scientist, engineer, and political economist. In his day his works were important in popularizing the concept of evolution and played an important part in the development of economics, political science, biology, and philosophy.
Herbert Spencer was born in Derby on April 27, 1820. His childhood, described in An Autobiography (1904), reflected the attitudes of a family which was known on both sides to include religious nonconformists, social critics, and rebels. His father, a teacher, had been a Wesleyan, but he separated himself from organized religion as he did from political and social authority. Spencer's father and an uncle saw that he received a highly individualized education that emphasized the family traditions of dissent and independence of thought. He was particularly instructed in the study of nature and the fundamentals of science, neglecting such traditional subjects as history.
Spencer initially followed up the scientific interests encouraged by his father and studied engineering. For a few years, until 1841, he practiced the profession of civil engineer as an employee of the London and Birmingham Railway. His interest in evolution is said to have arisen from the examination of fossils that came from the rail-road cuts.
Spencer left the railroad to take up a literary career and to follow up some of his scientific interests. He began by contributing to The Non-Conformist, writing a series of letters called The Proper Sphere of Government. This was his first major work and contained his basic concepts of individualism and laissez-faire, which were to be later
References: • Elliot, Hugh. Herbert Spencer. London: Constable and Company, Ltd., 1917 • Elwick, James • Elliott, Paul 'Erasmus Darwin, Herbert Spencer and the origins of the evolutionary worldview in British provincial scientific culture ', Isis 94 (2003), 1-29 • Francis, Mark, Herbert Spencer and the Invention of Modern Life • Harris, Jose. "Spencer, Herbert (1820–1903)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography,(2004) online, a standard short biography • Hofstadter, Richard, Social Darwinism in American Thought • Kennedy, James G. Herbert Spencer. Boston: G. K. Hall & Co., 1978 • Lightman, Bernard, The Origins of Agnosticism: Victorian unbelief and the limits of knowledge • Mandelbaum, Maurice, History, Man, and Reason : a study in nineteenth-century thought. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1971. • Richards, Robert J. Darwin and the Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Mind and Behavior Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987. • Taylor, Michael W., Men versus the State: Herbert Spencer and Late Victorian Individualism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992. • Taylor, Michael W., The Philosophy of Herbert Spencer. London: Continuum, (2007) • Three Initiates (1912) • Spencer, Herbert. Education: Intellectual, Moral, and Physical (1891) 283pp full text online • Spencer, Herbert Biographical • "Herbert Spencer" article by David Weinstein in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2008-02-27 • [pic] "Spencer, Herbert". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911. Sources