Spencer, Herbert, 1820-1903

Born 1820; educated at Hinton Charterhouse near Bath, 1833-1836; assistant schoolmaster at Derby, 1837; worked as a draftsman and engineer during the building of the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway, 1837-1841; sub-editor of the Pilot , the organ of the Complete Suffrage Movement, 1844; occupied himself anew with engineering, 1844-1846, and experimented with mechanical inventions, 1846-1847; sub-editor of The Economist in London, 1848-1853; visited house of John Chapman, the advanced publisher, 1849, and became part of a literary circle which included George Eliot, Huxley and Tyndall; published Social Statics (1851), advocating an extreme individualism; contributed articles to the Leader , Westminster Review , and other periodicals, collecting many of these in Essays (1857, 1863, and 1864); published Principles of Psychology (1855), but during the writing of this book his health gave way, and was never fully restored; in 1858 he planned a system of synthetic philosophy, covering metaphysics, biology, psychology, sociology, and ethics, which broke down about 1865, though he published Principles (1862) and Principles of Biology (1864 and 1867); wrote Education (1861), a treatise aiming at a natural development of the child's intelligence, which became a leading textbook; in order to deal with the principles of sociology he employed assistants to collect systematically large masses of facts, of which eight volumes under general title of Descriptive Sociology were issued by 1881, while additional volumes appeared after Spencer's death; he wrote extensively on philosophical and social issues, including Principles of Sociology (1876, 1882, and 1896), Principles of Ethics (1892 and 1893); formed with Frederic Harrison and John Morley and others an Anti-Aggression League, 1882; died 1903.

From the guide to the SPENCER, Herbert, 1820-1903, philosopher, [1838-1839], (British Library of Political and Economic Science)


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