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Herbert Spencer

Date de naissance: 27. avril 1820
Date de décès: 8. décembre 1903

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Herbert Spencer, né le 27 avril 1820 à Derby et mort le 8 décembre 1903 à Londres, est un philosophe et sociologue anglais.

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Citations Herbert Spencer

„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

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„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 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

„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

„People … become so preoccupied with the means by which an end is achieved, as eventually to mistake it for the end.“

—  Herbert Spencer
Context: People … become so preoccupied with the means by which an end is achieved, as eventually to mistake it for the end. Just as money, which is a means of satisfying wants, comes to be regarded by a miser as the sole thing to be worked for, leaving the wants unsatisfied; so the conduct men have found preferable because most conducive to happiness, has come to be thought of as intrinsically preferable: not only to be made a proximate end (which it should be), but to be made an ultimate end, to the exclusion of the true ultimate end. Ethics (New York:1915), § 14, pp. 38-39

„That by any series of changes a protozoon should ever become a mammal, seems to those who are not familiar with zoology“

—  Herbert Spencer
Context: That by any series of changes a protozoon should ever become a mammal, seems to those who are not familiar with zoology, and who have not seen how clear becomes the relationship between the simplest and the most complex forms when intermediate forms are examined, a very grotesque notion. Habitually, looking at things rather in their statical aspect than in their dynamical aspect, they never realize the fact that, by small increments of modification, any amount of modification may in time be generated.

„Influences of various kinds conspire to increase corporate action and decrease individual action.“

—  Herbert Spencer
Context: Influences of various kinds conspire to increase corporate action and decrease individual action. And the change is being on all sides aided by schemers, each of whom thinks only of his pet plan and not at all of the general reorganization which his plan, joined with others such, are working out. It is said that the French Revolution devoured its own children. Here, an analogous catastrophe seems not unlikely. The numerous socialistic changes made by Act of Parliament, joined with the numerous others presently to be made, will by-and-by be all merged in State-socialism—swallowed in the vast wave which they have little by little raised. "But why is this change described as 'the coming slavery'?," is a question which many will still ask. The reply is simple. All socialism involves slavery.

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„All socialism involves slavery.“

—  Herbert Spencer
Context: Influences of various kinds conspire to increase corporate action and decrease individual action. And the change is being on all sides aided by schemers, each of whom thinks only of his pet plan and not at all of the general reorganization which his plan, joined with others such, are working out. It is said that the French Revolution devoured its own children. Here, an analogous catastrophe seems not unlikely. The numerous socialistic changes made by Act of Parliament, joined with the numerous others presently to be made, will by-and-by be all merged in State-socialism—swallowed in the vast wave which they have little by little raised. "But why is this change described as 'the coming slavery'?," is a question which many will still ask. The reply is simple. All socialism involves slavery.

„As there must be moderation in other things, so there must be moderation in self-criticism.“

—  Herbert Spencer
Context: 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. Ch. 10, General Conclusions

„The education of the child must accord both in mode and arrangement with the education of mankind, considered historically.“

—  Herbert Spencer
Context: The education of the child must accord both in mode and arrangement with the education of mankind, considered historically. In other words, the genesis of knowledge in the individual, must follow the same course as the genesis of knowledge in the race. In strictness, this principle may be considered as already expressed by implication; since both being processes of evolution, must conform to those same general laws of evolution... and must therefore agree with each other. Nevertheless this particular parallelism is of value for the specific guidance it affords. To M. Comte we believe society owes the enunciation of it; and we may accept this item of his philosophy without at all committing ourselves to the rest.<!--p.75

„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.“

—  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

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„If there be an order in which the human race has mastered its various kinds of knowledge, there will arise in every child an aptitude to acquire these kinds of knowledge in the same order.“

—  Herbert Spencer
Context: If there be an order in which the human race has mastered its various kinds of knowledge, there will arise in every child an aptitude to acquire these kinds of knowledge in the same order. So that even were the order intrinsically indifferent, it would facilitate education to lead the individual mind through the steps traversed by the general mind. But the order is not intrinsically indifferent; and hence the fundamental reason why education should be a repetition of civilization in little.<!--p.76

„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.“

—  Herbert Spencer
Context: 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. The Principles of Biology, Vol. I (1864), Part III: The Evolution of Life, Ch. 7: Indirect Equilibration

„Government being simply an agent employed in common by a number of individuals to secure to them certain advantages, the very nature of the connection implies that it is for each to say whether he will employ such an agent or not.“

—  Herbert Spencer
Context: As a corollary to the proposition that all institutions must be subordinated to the law of equal freedom, we cannot choose but admit the right of the citizen to adopt a condition of voluntary outlawry. If every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man, then he is free to drop connection with the state — to relinquish its protection, and to refuse paying towards its support. It is self-evident that in so behaving he in no way trenches upon the liberty of others; for his position is a passive one; and whilst passive he cannot become an aggressor. It is equally selfevident that he cannot be compelled to continue one of a political corporation, without a breach of the moral law, seeing that citizenship involves payment of taxes; and the taking away of a man’s property against his will, is an infringement of his rights. Government being simply an agent employed in common by a number of individuals to secure to them certain advantages, the very nature of the connection implies that it is for each to say whether he will employ such an agent or not. If any one of them determines to ignore this mutual-safety confederation, nothing can be said except that he loses all claim to its good offices, and exposes himself to the danger of maltreatment — a thing he is quite at liberty to do if he likes. He cannot be coerced into political combination without a breach of the law of equal freedom; he can withdraw from it without committing any such breach; and he has therefore a right so to withdraw. Pt. III, Ch. 19 : The Right to Ignore the State, § 1 http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/273#lf0331_label_200

„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 p. 19 http://books.google.com/books?id=5NQ6AQAAMAAJ&pg=RA1-PA19

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