Herbert Spencer


English Philosopher, Social Scientist, Journalist for The Economist

Author Quotes

As there must be moderation in other things, so there must be moderation in self-criticism. Perpetual contemplation of our own actions produces a morbid consciousness, quite unlike that normal consciousness accompanying right actions spontaneously done; and from a state of unstable equilibrium long maintained by effort, there is apt to be a fall towards stable equilibrium, in which the primitive nature reasserts itself. Retrogression rather than progression may hence result.

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.

It cannot but happen that those individuals whose functions are most out of equilibrium with the modified aggregate of external forces, will be those to die; and that those will survive whose functions happen to be most nearly in equilibrium with the modified aggregate of external forces. But this survival of the fittest, implies multiplication of the fittest. Out of the fittest thus multiplied, there will, as before, be an overthrowing of the moving equilibrium wherever it presents the least opposing force to the new incident force.

Evolution is definable as a change from an incoherent homogeneity to a coherent heterogeneity, accompanying the dissipation of motion and integration of matter.

All evil results from the non-adaptation of constitution to conditions. This is true of everything that lives.

The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.

Every cause produces more than one effect.

All socialism involves slavery.

There is a principle that is guaranteed to keep man in everlasting ignorance. That principle is contempt prior to investigation.

Progress, therefore, is not an accident but a necessity; it is a part of nature.

The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.

Morality knows nothing of geographical boundaries or distinctions of race.

Hero worship is strongest where there is least regard for human freedom.

How often misused words generate misleading thoughts.

Vigorous health and its accompanying high spirits are larger elements of happiness than any other things whatever.

Uniformity brings death, variety brings life.

Time: That which people are always trying to kill, but which ends in killing them.

Truth generally lies in the coordination of antagonistic opinions.

The ultimate result of shielding people from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.

There is no more mischievous absurdity than this judging of actions from the outside as they look to us, instead of from the inside as they look to the actors; nothing more irrational than to criticize deeds as though the doers of them had the same desires, hopes, fears, and restraints as ourselves.

The highest conduct is that which conduces to the greatest length, breadth, and completeness of life.

Opinion is ultimately determined by the feelings and not by the intellect.

Science is organized knowledge.

Nature’s rules… have no exceptions.

No apparatus of senators, judges, and police can compensate for the want of an internal governing sentiment… No administrative sleight of hand can save us from ourselves.

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English Philosopher, Social Scientist, Journalist for The Economist