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Herbert Spencer

Geburtstag: 27. April 1820
Todesdatum: 8. Dezember 1903

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Herbert Spencer war ein englischer Philosoph und Soziologe. Als erster wandte er die Evolutionstheorie auf die gesellschaftliche Entwicklung an und begründete damit das Paradigma des Evolutionismus, das oft als Vorläufer des Sozialdarwinismus angesehen wird.

Zitate Herbert Spencer

„The ideal form for a poem, essay, or fiction, is that which the ideal writer would evolve spontaneously.“

— Herbert Spencer
Context: The ideal form for a poem, essay, or fiction, is that which the ideal writer would evolve spontaneously. One in whom the powers of expression fully responded to the state of feeling, would unconsciously use that variety in the mode of presenting his thoughts, which Art demands. Pt. II, sec. 4, "The Ideal Writer"

„The blindness of those who think it absurd to suppose that complex organic forms may have arisen by successive modifications out of simple ones becomes astonishing when we remember that complex organic forms are daily being thus produced.“

— Herbert Spencer
Context: The blindness of those who think it absurd to suppose that complex organic forms may have arisen by successive modifications out of simple ones becomes astonishing when we remember that complex organic forms are daily being thus produced. A tree differs from a seed immeasurably in every respect... Yet is the one changed in the course of a few years into the other: changed so gradually, that at no moment can it be said — Now the seed ceases to be, and the tree exists.

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„Those who cavalierly reject the Theory of Evolution, as not adequately supported by facts, seem quite to forget that their own theory is supported by no facts at all.“

— Herbert Spencer
Context: Those who cavalierly reject the Theory of Evolution, as not adequately supported by facts, seem quite to forget that their own theory is supported by no facts at all. Like the majority of men who are born to a given belief, they demand the most rigorous proof of any adverse belief, but assume that their own needs none.

„Progress, therefore, is not an accident, but a necessity.“

— Herbert Spencer
Context: Man needed one moral constitution to fit him for his original state; he needs another to fit him for his present state; and he has been, is, and will long continue to be, in process of adaptation. And the belief in human perfectibility merely amounts to the belief that, in virtue of this process, man will eventually become completely suited to his mode of life. Progress, therefore, is not an accident, but a necessity. Instead of civilization being artificial, it is part of nature; all of a piece with the development of the embryo or the unfolding of a flower. The modifications mankind have undergone, and are still undergoing, result from a law underlying the whole organic creation; and provided the human race continues, and the constitution of things remains the same, those modifications must end in completeness. Pt. I, Ch. 2 : The Evanescence of Evil, concluding paragraph

„We have a priori reasons for believing that in every sentence there is some one order of words more effective than any other“

— Herbert Spencer
Context: We have a priori reasons for believing that in every sentence there is some one order of words more effective than any other; and that this order is the one which presents the elements of the proposition in the succession in which they may be most readily put together. Pt. I, sec. 3, "The Principle of Economy Applied to Sentences"

„An insatiate lust of conquest transmutes manslaying into a virtue; and, amongst more races than one, implacable revenge has made assassination a duty. A clever theft was praiseworthy amongst the Spartans; and it is equally so amongst Christians, provided it be on a sufficiently large scale.“

— Herbert Spencer
Context: Attila conceived himself to have a divine claim to the dominion of the earth: — the Spaniards subdued the Indians under plea of converting them to Christianity; hanging thirteen refractory ones in honour of Jesus Christ and his apostles: and we English justify our colonial aggressions by saying that the Creator intends the Anglo-Saxon race to people the world! An insatiate lust of conquest transmutes manslaying into a virtue; and, amongst more races than one, implacable revenge has made assassination a duty. A clever theft was praiseworthy amongst the Spartans; and it is equally so amongst Christians, provided it be on a sufficiently large scale. Piracy was heroism with Jason and his followers; was so also with the Norsemen; is so still with the Malays; and there is never wanting some golden fleece for a pretext. Amongst money-hunting people a man is commended in proportion to the number of hours he spends in business; in our day the rage for accumulation has apotheosized work; and even the miser is not without a code of morals by which to defend his parsimony. The ruling classes argue themselves into the belief that property should be represented rather than person — that the landed interest should preponderate. The pauper is thoroughly persuaded that he has a right to relief. The monks held printing to be an invention of the devil; and some of our modern sectaries regard their refractory brethren as under demoniacal possession. To the clergy nothing is more obvious than that a state-church is just, and essential to the maintenance of religion. The sinecurist thinks himself rightly indignant at any disregard of his vested interests. And so on throughout society. Pt. II, Ch. 16 : The Rights of Women

„Be it or be it not true that Man is shapen in iniquity and conceived in sin, it is unquestionably true that Government is begotten of aggression, and by aggression.“

— Herbert Spencer
Context: Be it or be it not true that Man is shapen in iniquity and conceived in sin, it is unquestionably true that Government is begotten of aggression, and by aggression. In small undeveloped societies where for ages complete peace has continued, there exists nothing like what we call Government: no coercive agency, but mere honorary headship, if any headship at all. In these exceptional communities, unaggressive and from special causes unaggressed upon, there is so little deviation from the virtues of truthfulness, honesty, justice, and generosity, that nothing beyond an occasional expression of public opinion by informally-assembled elders is needful. Conversely, we find proofs that, at first recognized but temporarily during leadership in war, the authority of a chief is permanently established by continuity of war; and grows strong where successful aggression ends in subjection of neighboring tribes. And thence onwards, examples furnished by all races put beyond doubt the truth, that the coercive power of the chief, developing into king, and king of kings (a frequent title in the ancient East), becomes great in proportion as conquest becomes habitual and the union of subdued nations extensive. Comparisons disclose a further truth which should be ever present to us — the truth that the aggressiveness of the ruling power inside a society increases with its aggressiveness outside the society. As, to make an efficient army, the soldiers in their several grades must be subordinate to the commander; so, to make an efficient fighting community, must the citizens be subordinate to the ruling power. They must furnish recruits to the extent demanded, and yield up whatever property is required. An obvious implication is that the ethics of Government, originally identical with the ethics of war, must long remain akin to them; and can diverge from them only as warlike activities and preparations become less. <!-- The first sentence is attributed as a statement of 1850 in the introduction of [http://www.barefootsworld.net/nockoets0.html Our Enemy, the State] by Albert Jay Nock -->

„There can be little question that good composition is far less dependent upon acquaintance with its laws, than upon practice and natural aptitude.“

— Herbert Spencer
Context: There can be little question that good composition is far less dependent upon acquaintance with its laws, than upon practice and natural aptitude. A clear head, a quick imagination, and a sensitive ear, will go far towards making all rhetorical precepts needless. Pt. I, sec. 1, "The Principle of Economy"

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„It is provable both that the historical sequence was, in its main outlines, a necessary one; and that the causes which determined it apply to the child“

— Herbert Spencer
Context: It is provable both that the historical sequence was, in its main outlines, a necessary one; and that the causes which determined it apply to the child as to the race.... as the mind of humanity placed in the midst of phenomena and striving to comprehend them has, after endless comparisons, speculations, experiments, and theories, reached its present knowledge of each subject by a specific route; it may rationally be inferred that the relationship between mind and phenomena is such as to prevent this knowledge from being reached by any other route; and that as each child's mind stands in this same relationship to phenomena, they can be accessible to it only through the same route. Hence in deciding upon the right method of education, an inquiry into the method of civilization will help to guide us.<!--pp.76-77

„To the clergy nothing is more obvious than that a state-church is just, and essential to the maintenance of religion. The sinecurist thinks himself rightly indignant at any disregard of his vested interests. And so on throughout society.“

— Herbert Spencer
Context: Attila conceived himself to have a divine claim to the dominion of the earth: — the Spaniards subdued the Indians under plea of converting them to Christianity; hanging thirteen refractory ones in honour of Jesus Christ and his apostles: and we English justify our colonial aggressions by saying that the Creator intends the Anglo-Saxon race to people the world! An insatiate lust of conquest transmutes manslaying into a virtue; and, amongst more races than one, implacable revenge has made assassination a duty. A clever theft was praiseworthy amongst the Spartans; and it is equally so amongst Christians, provided it be on a sufficiently large scale. Piracy was heroism with Jason and his followers; was so also with the Norsemen; is so still with the Malays; and there is never wanting some golden fleece for a pretext. Amongst money-hunting people a man is commended in proportion to the number of hours he spends in business; in our day the rage for accumulation has apotheosized work; and even the miser is not without a code of morals by which to defend his parsimony. The ruling classes argue themselves into the belief that property should be represented rather than person — that the landed interest should preponderate. The pauper is thoroughly persuaded that he has a right to relief. The monks held printing to be an invention of the devil; and some of our modern sectaries regard their refractory brethren as under demoniacal possession. To the clergy nothing is more obvious than that a state-church is just, and essential to the maintenance of religion. The sinecurist thinks himself rightly indignant at any disregard of his vested interests. And so on throughout society. Pt. II, Ch. 16 : The Rights of Women

„The current opinion that science and poetry are opposed is a delusion.“

— Herbert Spencer
Context: The current opinion that science and poetry are opposed is a delusion. … Think you that a drop of water, which to the vulgar eye is but a drop of water, loses any thing in the eye of the physicist who knows that its elements are held together by a force which, if suddenly liberated, would produce a flash of lightning? Think you that what is carelessly looked upon by the uninitiated as a mere snow-flake does not suggest higher associations to one who has seen through a microscope the wondrously varied and elegant forms of snow-crystals? Think you that the rounded rock marked with parallel scratches calls up as much poetry in an ignorant mind as in the mind of a geologist, who knows that over this rock a glacier slid a million years ago? The truth is, that those who have never entered upon scientific pursuits know not a tithe of the poetry by which they are surrounded. Lectures on Education delivered at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, London, 1855, published in "What Knowledge is of Most Worth", The Westminster Review (July 1859) volume CXLI, p. 1-23, at [http://books.google.com/books?id=5NQ6AQAAMAAJ&pg=RA1-PA19 p. 19]

„Throughout all organic nature there is at work a modifying influence“

— Herbert Spencer
Context: Throughout all organic nature there is at work a modifying influence of the kind... as the cause, these specific differences: an influence which, though slow in its action, does, in time, if the circumstances demand it, produce marked changes—an influence, which to all appearance, would produce in the millions of years, and under the great varieties of condition which geological records imply, any amount of change.

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„Let men learn that a legislature is not “our God upon earth,” though, by the authority they ascribe to it, and the things they expect from it, they would seem to think it is. Let them learn rather that it is an institution serving a purely temporary purpose, whose power, when not stolen, is at the best borrowed.“

— Herbert Spencer
Context: “No human laws are of any validity if contrary to the law of nature; and such of them as are valid derive all their force and all their authority mediately or immediately from this original.” Thus writes Blackstone, to whom let all honour be given for having so far outseen the ideas of his time; and, indeed, we may say of our time. A good antidote, this, for those political superstitions which so widely prevail. A good check upon that sentiment of power-worship which still misleads us by magnifying the prerogatives of constitutional governments as it once did those of monarchs. Let men learn that a legislature is not “our God upon earth,” though, by the authority they ascribe to it, and the things they expect from it, they would seem to think it is. Let them learn rather that it is an institution serving a purely temporary purpose, whose power, when not stolen, is at the best borrowed. Pt. III, Ch. 19 : The Right to Ignore the State, § 2

„Education has for its object the formation of character.“

— Herbert Spencer
Context: 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

„Ethical ideas and sentiments have to be considered as parts of the phenomena of life at large.“

— Herbert Spencer
Context: Ethical ideas and sentiments have to be considered as parts of the phenomena of life at large. We have to deal with man as a product of evolution, with society as a product of evolution, and with moral phenomena as products of evolution. Ch. 1, Introductory

„The ruling classes argue themselves into the belief that property should be represented rather than person — that the landed interest should preponderate. The pauper is thoroughly persuaded that he has a right to relief.“

— Herbert Spencer
Context: Attila conceived himself to have a divine claim to the dominion of the earth: — the Spaniards subdued the Indians under plea of converting them to Christianity; hanging thirteen refractory ones in honour of Jesus Christ and his apostles: and we English justify our colonial aggressions by saying that the Creator intends the Anglo-Saxon race to people the world! An insatiate lust of conquest transmutes manslaying into a virtue; and, amongst more races than one, implacable revenge has made assassination a duty. A clever theft was praiseworthy amongst the Spartans; and it is equally so amongst Christians, provided it be on a sufficiently large scale. Piracy was heroism with Jason and his followers; was so also with the Norsemen; is so still with the Malays; and there is never wanting some golden fleece for a pretext. Amongst money-hunting people a man is commended in proportion to the number of hours he spends in business; in our day the rage for accumulation has apotheosized work; and even the miser is not without a code of morals by which to defend his parsimony. The ruling classes argue themselves into the belief that property should be represented rather than person — that the landed interest should preponderate. The pauper is thoroughly persuaded that he has a right to relief. The monks held printing to be an invention of the devil; and some of our modern sectaries regard their refractory brethren as under demoniacal possession. To the clergy nothing is more obvious than that a state-church is just, and essential to the maintenance of religion. The sinecurist thinks himself rightly indignant at any disregard of his vested interests. And so on throughout society. Pt. II, Ch. 16 : The Rights of Women

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