The Life and Letters of Herbert Spencer

Overview

One of the most famous intellectuals of the second half of the nineteenth century, Herbert Spencer (1820–1903) wrote across an impressive range of scientific and philosophical subjects. Although at the time his work was successful and influential, especially in America, it has since been subjected to criticism and reassessment. Principally remembered for his evolutionary theory and for coining the term 'survival of the fittest', Spencer came to be regarded as a Social Darwinist and proponent of unrestricted ...
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Overview

One of the most famous intellectuals of the second half of the nineteenth century, Herbert Spencer (1820–1903) wrote across an impressive range of scientific and philosophical subjects. Although at the time his work was successful and influential, especially in America, it has since been subjected to criticism and reassessment. Principally remembered for his evolutionary theory and for coining the term 'survival of the fittest', Spencer came to be regarded as a Social Darwinist and proponent of unrestricted capitalism. In the field of sociology, he advocated the application of scientific examination to social phenomena, and his individualist philosophy provided inspiration for later libertarian thinkers. Published in 1908 by David Duncan (1839–1923), this substantial biography closely tracks Spencer's developing interests, closing with an assessment of his character and significance. It contains an abundance of extracts from letters to such figures as Charles Darwin, John Stuart Mill and T. H. Huxley.
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Table of Contents

Preface; 1. Family history and parentage; 2. Childhood and youth; 3. Engineering; 4. Literature wooed, but not won; 5. Engineering once more; 6. His first book; 7. A new psychology; 8. The unification of knowledge; 9. First principles; 10. Biology; 11. Sunshine and shadow; 12. Psychology and descriptive sociology; 13. The study of sociology; 14. Distaste for honours and ceremonial; 15. The secularization of morals; 16. Egypt and America; 17. A political creed for true liberalism; 18. Religious discussion; 19. The factors of organic evolution; 20. In defence of freedom and justice; 21. Altruism as a factor in social evolution; 22. Latter day controversies; 23. Completing the synthetic philosophy; 24. Congratulations; 25. Revision of Biology and First Principles; 26. Inorganic evolution; 27. His last book; 28. The close of life; 29. Characteristics and personal reminiscences; 30. Spencer's place in the history of thought; Appendices; Index.
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