Amazing articles on just about every subject...




World's Great Philosophers:
 Descartes

 Hobbes And Locke

 Spinoza

 Berkeley And Hume

 The Germans

 Condillac

 Emerson

 Comte

 Spencer

 Read More Articles About: World's Great Philosophers

Spencer

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

"Not as adventitious will the wise man regard the faith which is in him. The highest truth he sees he will fearlessly utter; knowing that, let what may come of it, he is thus playing his right part in the world knowing that if he can effect the change he aims at well; if not well also; though not so well."

Judged by this standard, which is stated here in his own words, Herbert Spencer is certainly the wise man he speaks of; and the world at large, or at least the best and most discriminating part of that world, has no hesitation in pronouncing him the wisest man of this age, and one of the wisest if not still the wisest of all ages in the history of Man's intellectual progress.

We shall undertake in this section to explain the philosophy of Herbert Spencer and to give some account of his life, although of biographical details there must necessarily be a paucity; for Spencer's life and Spencer's work are one. He is the last of the philosophers; his system differs from those of all the others we have considered, and he himself differs from all the philosophers whose names have been mentioned, in that he is yet alive.

Perhaps the intellectual influence of no man has extended as far among those who have scarce heard his name as has that of the Apostle of Evolution. His writings have seriously modified the thought of many learned divines who, after much shifting of opinion, have at last unconditionally surrendered to his arguments. Principles he has discovered and announced are now familiar to per-sons who never read a line of his works, and to many who know not that he ever lived. Many of his terms are household words with men who have no conception what-ever of the source of them. His doctrines have been preached from pulpits and taught from lecture platforms and seldom has just credit been placed where it is due. Unbidden, he has entered the domain of special sciences and has forced the specialists to admit that he has been able to make valuable and original discoveries. And above all, there is no man, living or dead, who, among writers on the subjects he has discussed, has so many slavish imitators as he.

The philosophy of Spencer, when carefully considered, will give pause to any man who is capable of deep thought. He is received with attention and admiration by all who are willing to listen to a message conceived in the most conscientious of minds, and delivered in words that are considerate of all cherished opinions. Regarded by his avowed followers as unapproached and unapproachable in the realm of thought, he is praised, and warmly praised, by those who do not adhere to all he teaches and by those who are not convinced that he has been successful in doing what no man has yet done--establish a true system of philosophy.

Whether we agree with him or not, in the main, we cannot but admit that Spencer is the supreme conqueror in the world of intellect in this day. In the wide range of that all-inclusive system of his The Synthetic Philosophy he has solved many obscure problems in many of the sciences; he has made clear to men the origins of customs and arts and industries and institutions which, but for him, had lain in the darkness where he found them; he has probed into mysteries which had been ever tacitly accepted as mysteries by thinking men, and he has found the secret cause that lay concealed at the bottom; he has undertaken the task of presenting to men a system of ethics which, if accepted and lived out, will make men better and juster, gentler and nobler. And all this without once offending the most devotedly cherished belief or seeking to do more than that high duty defined in the words we have quoted.

It is to be hoped that we will be able to interest the reader in the philosophy of Herbert Spencer. It is pleasing to know that a very large by far the largest part of that philosophy is open to any intelligent person who will but study it; that it is written in modern English and in a style more clear and simple than that of any other writer in this field; and that it is written for the world in general rather than for a coterie of a few minds engaged in the subtleties of metaphysics. These are the reasons, probably, why his books have so large a sale among those who read the English language.

Spencer was born in 1820 at Derby, in England. His father was a teacher of mathematics and his uncle was a highly cultured Congregational minister, who was noted for the extraordinary gentility of his character and the good work he wrought among the helpless poor. The founder of the Synthetic Philosophy was not educated in any school or college, but was taught by his father and his uncle a fact which seems to have had somewhat to do with his opposition to public education and his extreme views on the subject of education in general.

When he was seventeen years old he undertook to learn the profession of civil engineering and showed splendid capacity for that work. Fortunately for the world, he could find little employment although he practiced engineering for a few years with marked ability and he was compelled to turn his attention to other pursuits. A way was opened to him in literature. He had already, indeed, made his début in that line by several essays published in the Architect's Journal and in the Civil Engineer.

At the early age of twenty-two, therefore, we find Spencer appearing in the Nonconformist as the author of a series of articles On the Proper Sphere of Government. This fairly launched him in literature, and he occupied thereafter several important editorial positions, among them the editorship of the London Economist, the Westminster Review, and the Edinburg Review. He did not sever his journalistic connections for many years, but he was meanwhile meditating the ambitious scheme of thought which was afterward to be embodied in the ten volumes wherein he develops the germ of his system that was planted in his first work of importance, Social Statics; or, the Conditions Essential to Human Happiness Specified and the First Developed.

This work had a moderately large sale, and may be said to be the gospel of Individualism Individualism, that is, as opposed to Communism or Socialism, although there is no writer who is more widely quoted by Socialists than is Spencer, and that, too, from this very work in which Communism is so severely and so ably combated. Some of the opinions expressed in Social Statics, notably the theological features of the work and his treatment of the land and woman's rights questions, were afterward eliminated by the author and the earlier editions suppressed. But the book in its present day form is, with these exceptions, precisely what it was when it first issued from the press, forty-eight years ago.

In 1855 appeared The Principles of Psychology, the most important scientific work in the line indicated in the title that had yet appeared in Europe. This work, which is a masterpiece of analysis, was the first to place psychology on a firm and sure footing and to give it its place among those sciences which have perfectly definite limitations and are capable of laboratory demonstration. Little has been done to improve upon Spencer's work in so far as the principles of the science are concerned. When it is considered that the author was but thirty-five when The Principles of Psychology was published, we need have but small wonder at the lofty heights to which Spencer attained in his more mature and in his old age.

The philosopher was now living in London, and already at work upon his system. In 186o he had completely outlined the great task he had set himself that of founding a perfectly new system of philosophy and in that year he published a prospectus of the system, which is usually reprinted in editions of First Principles. The latter book followed the publication of the Psychology. The bare contemplation of the prospectus is sufficient to stagger the mind of any but a Spencer himself. For thirty-seven years he gave himself up to the work of filling the promise he thus made thirty-nine years ago.

He himself realized the stupendousness of the under-taking, and his only fear has ever been that he would die before it was finished. During all these years the boldest of the Evolutionists has been an invalid. He has said himself that he can scarce remember when he has had a night's sound sleep. The great work suffered delays. For days, months, and even years it languished. The progress was slow. But little by little was added to the gigantic structure until, in 1897, the last stone was laid. In that year was issued the third volume of The Principles of Sociology, and the life purpose of one of the world's most pro-found thinkers was accomplished.

This labor, involving, as it did, a range of reading that would seem impossible for any one man to cover, was pursued with little recreation or pleasure save the association of a few beloved friends. These were among the great ones of the earth, worthy the association of a Spencer. Early in his career Spencer met George Henry Lewes, the noted biologist and historian. At the same time he became acquainted with Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot), and these two became his life-long friends. Tyndall, Huxley, and Darwin were likewise congenial friends, and in the association of such minds as these the philosopher could find such comfort as was denied him in the contact with persons less capable of the appreciation of an intellect that towered so high among the growths around it.

A victim of insomnia and dyspepsia, the philosopher, with the mountain-weight of his work upon him, could scarcely be expected to lead that life which would most conduce to recovery and complete health. Once, it is true, he determined to travel. He had been long a student of social conditions in America. In many of his works he uses Americans and American customs and industries to illustrate his laws. His intimate knowledge of even household habits in this country is amazing. To America, therefore, he came when he had once made up his mind to go abroad.

This journey was a most distressing failure. Mr. Spencer's peculiar disposition abhors noise. It would be amusing, were it not so pathetic, to hear him in his philosophy citing the music of the Salvation Army as an example of outrage on men's liberty. The air, he says, may be polluted as much by noise as by foul odors.

What his suffering must have been when he reached New York and was engulfed in the roar of its granite streets may be well imagined by those who have sensitive nerves. He traveled as far as Chicago and returned forth-with to his quiet retreat in London, to leave it no more except for short journeys into the country.

His keen sensitiveness to noise, of any disturbing kind, is illustrated in an anecdote which, at the same time, is an illustration of his vast powers of deduction. He was once sleeping at a hotel in the country when he was awakened by the crowing of a cock soon after midnight. Mr. Spencer arose, dressed, and, going into the yard, securely bound the wings of the cock with his handkerchief. To crow with satisfaction, or at least with audible effect, the cock must flap his wings ! Mr. Spencer slept the night in peace. We have all of us observed the flapping of the wings as a constant accompaniment to the crowing of cocks; but perhaps not all of us would think of the expedient that at once occurred to the mind of the greatest master of deduction the world has ever known.

Owing to this extreme ailment, Mr. Spencer has lived in the most complete seclusion for many, many years. It has been a long time since any visitor has been admitted to his presence. He has seen no one but his assistants, who have cheerfully and gratuitously given him such purely clerical aid as he found necessary in the completion of his system. Some very few exceptions, of course, must be taken to this rule, but the great Synthesist has lived a life, one may say, of utter solitude, alone with his work for the quarter of a century.

He shrinks from all ostentation, from all flattery, from honors of all kinds as the sensitive fern curls when touched by the hand. Titles of high degree have been laid at his feet. He has refused them all. The world's most honorable and famous societies of Science and learning have voluntarily made him their associate. He has uniformly declined all such distinction. Universities in every civilized land, and of all denominations, have conferred upon him their highest honors. He has quietly foregone each tender of this kind; and when any university has persisted in its course, Mr. Spencer has ignored its importunities. Professorships in the most noted schools of Europe have been offered him, but he has paid no heed to these earnest solicitations. Titles of nobility might have been his, but the bare thought of knighthood or lordship has been to his mind as repugnant as it has been pleasing to the minds of others.

He who would understand the motive that has prompted the philosopher to this, perhaps, unique course, may quickly know it by reading his works, especially The Principles of Ethics. That mind, which analyzed the motives of human conduct; which saw the origin of royalty and nobility in a far-off world of savagery and ignorance; which could lay bare the growth of professional and political institutions, and trace back to their primitive (and by no means pleasing) sources, the ways and words and fashions of mankind; which could see in the multi-colored pageant of life that streamed before it only the inexorable motion of that law of progress and evolution it had so well defined such a mind could not, with such convictions, associate itself with any of these vain honors or participate in any of these glittering shows.

Thus he has lived alone, it is true, but most certainly unworthy the criticism that he has lived unconcerned of men and engaged with problems outside the reach of humanity. This comment, made by Justin McCarthy in his History of Our Own Times, together with similar criticisms by the brilliant Irish author, serves only to disclose the critic's incompetence to pass judgment upon the work or the purpose of Spencer. Mr. McCarthy is the only writer of prominence who has adversely commented upon Spencer, and his attempt to summarize the Synthetic Philosophy proves beyond question that he has never read it.

It must be remembered that-Mr. McCarthy is a purely literary writer, and his further criticism of Spencer's style only justifies us in the belief that he has totally misconceived the necessities of scientific diction. There is not a single writer in all the field of Science whose style is simpler or more perfectly suited to the purpose in hand than Spencer's, not even the luminous Darwin. So far as goes Mr. McCarthy's comment on Spencer's apathy to the concerns of men, we can but express our amazement. Surely Mr. McCarthy has not read Spencer's writings on ethical, political and religious topics, to say nothing of his singularly strong and living thought upon social and economic subjects and upon education. If these are not the concerns of men we must confess we are at a loss to know what are the concerns of men.

The last days of the philosopher are being passed in a revision of his Principles of Biology, a work that has drawn to itself the unstinted admiration of the specialists in biology themselves. He is likewise calmly facing the end of his life and making ready to leave a world which will appreciate him more and know him better when he is gone.

Having given to the life of Spencer as much space as our limits will allow, we can now regard his system. In doing this we shall have occasion to quote liberally from his work, First Principles, in which his entire schema is outlined. To save repeated references, it may be under-stood that all of these quotations are from this one work unless otherwise stated.

Spencer's purpose is to found a new system of philosophy. To do this he must reject all systems that have been hitherto excogitated, and replace them with something entirely different. He is not insensible of the difficulties of the undertaking, and he safeguards himself from the possibility of misinterpretation by iteration and reiteration of his principles.

Two fields, concerning thought, are presented to the mind. The first is the Unknowable, the second the Know-able. It is clear that Philosophy must have to do with the latter only, for it is folly for the mind to attempt to know the Unknowable. But here we are met with the necessity of definitions. What is the Unknowable? What is the Knowable?

An unceasing battle has been waged in all ages, he finds, between religion and science. In all religions, however crude, there has lain and now lies hidden a fundamental verity. So said St. Augustine. There must be then some abstract proposition in which religion and Science can find a common ground. In searching for this common ground the philosopher examines ultimate religious and ultimate scientific ideas and the grounds of their validity. Of ultimate religious ideas, such as creation ex nihilo, the necessary existence of a Creator or First Cause, the origin of the universe and its essential nature, he has to say that all such ideas are impossible of conception. We cannot think of matter coming out of nothing; we cannot think of a cause that was not in its turn caused again. But if we must suppose some cause, we are in as extreme perplexities, for this cause must be finite or infinite. The mind thus finds itself in a maze of contradictions and impossibilities. Spencer quotes freely from Mansel and Hamilton, and shows how even these profound metaphysicians could only succeed. in forcing a dilemma upon the understanding.

Having satisfied himself that the ultimate ideas of religion are unknowable, he proceeds to do the like with the ultimate ideas of Science. In religion he finds that that there is some Power which manifests itself to the mind in religious forms of varied sorts. In science he finds a similar Power; for such ideas as the indivisibility of matter, infinity, eternity, the absolute, the unconditioned, the unlimited, although unthinkable and unknowable, yet are permanent facts of consciousness of which the mind cannot rid itself. Thus science and religion, when driven to their farthest confines, find themselves face to face on a common ground of an unknowable, inscrutable Power, manifesting itself to consciousness and known, if at all, only in the modes, or in the manner in which it thus does manifest itself to our perceptions.

Proceeding further, Spencer finds that all our knowledge is relative. That is, the mind can discern that one thing is like another or different from another. Certain states of consciousness tell us that what we call things bear to one another certain constant relations, and the perception of these relations constitutes knowledge. We find ourselves inevitably driven to the basic consciousness that the universe is divided into two categories, Self and Not-Self. This we must accept as a truth transcending demonstration. All lines of thought converge to the same conclusion, namely, that the Absolute, either in religion or in science, cannot be known. In this Spencer finds his reconciliation between religion and science. He says :

"Here, then, is that basis of agreement we set out to seek. This conclusion which objective science illustrates and subjective science shows to be unavoidable this conclusion which, while it in the main expresses the doctrine of the English school of philosophy, recognizes also a soul of truth in the doctrine of the antagonist German school this conclusion which brings the results of speculation into harmony with those of common sense; is also the conclusion which reconciles religion with science. Common sense asserts the existence of a reality; objective science proves that this reality cannot be what we think it; subjective science shows why we cannot think of it as it is and yet are compelled to think of it as existing; and in this assertion of a reality utterly inscrutable in nature, religion finds an assertion essentially coinciding with her own. We are obliged to regard every phenomenon as a manifestation of some power by which we are acted upon; though omnipresence is unthinkable, yet as experience discloses no bounds to the diffusion of phenomena, we are unable to think of limits to the presence of this power; while the criticisms of science teach us that this power is incomprehensible. And this consciousness of an incomprehensible power, called omnipresent from inability to assign its limits, is just that consciousness on which religion dwells."

This reconciliation of Spencer's between religion and science has been ridiculed by writers who would put religion out of the world altogether. But not a few deeply religious writers have accepted it, and it is possible that this acceptance will increase with time as science and religion become drawn more closely together as they are being drawn today. He continues:

"Thus the consciousness of an inscrutable power manifested to us through all phenomena has been growing ever clearer; and must eventually be freed from its imperfections. The certainty that on the one hand such a power exists, while on the other hand its nature transcends intuition and is beyond imagination, is the certainty toward which intelligence has from the. first been progressing. To this conclusion science inevitably arrives as it reaches its confines; while to this conclusion religion is irresistibly driven by criticism. And satisfying as it does the demands of the most rigorous logic at the same time that it gives the religious sentiment the widest possible sphere of action, it is the conclusion we are bound to accept without reserve or qualification.

"Some do indeed allege that, though the ultimate cause of things cannot really be thought of by us as having specified attributes, it is yet incumbent upon us to assert these attributes. Though the forms of our consciousness are such that the absolute cannot in any manner or degree be brought within them, we are nevertheless told that we must represent the absolute to our-selves under these forms. As writes Mr. Mansel : 'It is our duty, then, to think of God as personal; and it is our duty to believe that He is infinite.'

"That this is not the conclusion here adopted needs hardly be said. If there be any meaning in the fore-going arguments, duty requires us neither to affirm nor deny personality. Our duty is to submit ourselves with all humility to the established limits of our intelligence; and not perversely to rebel against them. Let those who can believe that there is eternal war set between our intellectual faculties and our moral obligations. I for one admit no such radical vice in the constitution of things."

Having thus cleared the ground for a philosophy which, on the one hand shall satisfy religion, and on the other shall not conflict with the dicta of science, Spencer asks what shall be the materials with which this philosophy shall work. Philosophy, clearly, can only work with the data we find in the knowable, the relative. The highest and the truest philosophy shall be that philosophy which shall completely unify all the knowledge we have. For Spencer's definition we refer the reader to the opening paragraphs of this book.

Philosophy defined, we have now to do with the data of philosophy, with that knowledge certain as any knowledge can be the only knowledge possible to the human mind. This knowledge, as already hinted, is the knowledge of differences and likenesses between things, congruities and incongruities relations. We know that a certain lump of matter is gold only because it is like other things our experience has always identified with gold, and because it is different from all other things beside. Apply this principle to all things to the entire contents of the universe as we know them and we have the material with which philosophy can deal, and the only such material. Spencer proceeds :

"Hence philosophy, compelled to make those fundamental assumptions without which thought is impossible, has to justify them by showing their congruity with all other dicta of consciousness. Debarred as we are from everything beyond the relative, truth, raised to its highest form, can be for us nothing more than perfect agreement, throughout the whole range of our experience, between those representations of things which we distinguish as ideal and those presentations of things which we distinguish as real. If, by discovering a proposition to be untrue, we mean nothing more than discovering a difference between a thing expected and a thing perceived, then a body of conclusions in which no such difference anywhere occurs, must be what we mean by an entirely true body of conclusions.

"And here, indeed, it becomes also obvious that, setting out with these fundamental intuitions provisionally assumed to be true that is, provisionally assumed to be congruous with all other dicta of consciousness the process of proving or disproving the congruity becomes the business of philosophy; and the complete establishment of the congruity becomes the same thing as the complete unification of knowledge in which philosophy reaches its goal."

We must assume, then, that the dictum of consciousness says that certain of its states are alike and certain of its states are unlike. The permanence of that consciousness of difference and likeness is the warrant for our asserting that likenesses and differences exist. In consciousness we find two currents running side by side, one now widening and pressing the other into a narrow stream and vice versa. The first of these currents is the whole category of sensation; the second is that of mental representations of these sensations sensations and ideas. The one is vivid, the other faint. Out of this process comes the product of the supreme consciousness of object and subject, of self and not-self, of Ego and non-Ego.

"So much, then, for the data of philosophy. In common with religion, philosophy assumes the primordial implication of consciousness, which has the deepest of all foundations. It assumes the validity of a certain primordial process of consciousness, without which inference is impossible, and without which there cannot even be either affirmation or denial. And it assumes the validity of a certain primordial product of consciousness, which, though it originates in an earlier process, is also, in one sense, a product of this process, since by this process it is tested and stamped as genuine. In brief, our postulates are : An unknowable power; the existence of knowable likenesses and differences among the manifestations of that power; and a resulting segregation of the manifestations into those of subject and object."

After considering the fortes in which the unknowable power manifests itself to us, and these are Space, Time, Matter, Motion, and Force, and defining the sense in which these terms are to be used, Spencer begins his induction by examining in detail the variations of these modes and preparing the way for the great generalization or law, the supreme conclusion to which his philosophy comes, and the conclusion which he teaches as being completely unified knowledge.

First, he says, we observe that matter is indestructible. This truth he shows forth by many illustrations that are already familiar to most intelligent persons. Next in order comes "the continuity of motion." No motion is ever lost, but motion is communicated to bodies other than the moving one which has come to rest. Another truth is that observed in the "persistence of force." This persistence of force, in all the wide realm of nature, is the truth that transcends demonstration, the point of agreement between religion and science.

"But now," Spencer asks, "what is the force of which we predicate persistence? It is not the force we are immediately conscious of in our own muscular efforts; for this does not persist. As soon as an outstretched limb is relaxed the sense of tension disappears. True, we assert, that in the stone thrown or in the weight lifted it exhibited the effect of this muscular tension; and that the force which has ceased to be present in our consciousness exists elsewhere. But it does not exist else-where under any form cognizable by us. On raising an object from the ground we are obliged to think of its downward pull as equal and opposite to our upward pull, and though it is impossible to represent these as equal without representing them as like in kind, yet, since their likeness in kind would imply in the object a sensation of muscular tension, which cannot be ascribed to it, we are compelled to admit that force as it exists out of our consciousness is not force as we know it. Hence the force of which we assert persistence is that absolute force of which we are indefinitely conscious as the necessary correlate of the force we know. By the persistence of force we really mean the persistence of some cause which transcends our knowledge and conception. In asserting it we assert an unconditional reality without beginning or end.

"Thus, quite unexpectedly, we come down once more to that ultimate truth in which, as we saw, religion and science coalesce. On examining the data underlying a rational theory of things, we find them all at last resolvable into that datum without which consciousness was shown to be impossible the continued existence of an unknowable as the necessary correlative of the knowable.

"The sole truth which transcends experience by underlying it is thus the persistence of force. This being the basis of experience must be the basis of any scientific organization of experiences. To this an ultimate analysis brings us down, and on this a rational synthesis must build up."

A necessary conclusion from the persistence of force is that there must be persistence of relations among forces. Two bullets of equal weight, projected by equal forces, must travel equal distances. This law has no exception, and its truth is self-evident. But there is also observed a "transformation and equivalence of forces." This is an accepted truth of physics, and is demonstrated in all the natural processes we see going on about us. But it is also a truth in the biological, psychic, and social orders. It is therefore one of the data of philosophy. So also is the familiar truth preserved in the axiom, "action and reaction are equal and opposite" a truth that is demonstrated in the everyday experience of every individual.

Remembering these things, we have now to consider "the direction of motion." The general statement that force follows the lines of least resistence or greatest traction, or more accurately, a resultant of the two, indicates the direction of motion. Spencer uses illustrations of familiar facts borrowed from physics, biology, psychology, sociology, and economics to show the truth of the law. This, then, is another datum of philosophy. But besides this necessity of the direction of motion there is also a "rhythm of motion." This rhythm invariably accompanies motion, although it may not be always apparent. Illustrations of the rhythm of motion are seen in the rocking of a vessel at sea, the waves of the ocean, the swaying of plants under the water, the vibrations of a musical string or of a wind instrument, the oscillations of railway trains, the hum of a sawmill, the jar given to the whole room by the pulsation of the heart, which we see in looking through a telescope, the undulations of light waves, the whizz of the bullet, the music of the surf, and a thousand other simple facts of nature. The rhythm of motion is an inevitable corollary from the persistence of force. Those who are familiar with such rhythm as have been here cited may not be so ready to admit that the phenomena of vegetable and animal life exhibit this law, nor do they so exhibit it manifestly. The pulsation of the heart is a complete rhythm. So is the process of breathing. But let us hear Spencer on this :

"Perhaps nowhere are the illustrations of rhythm so numerous and so manifest as among the phenomena of life. Plants do not, indeed, usually show us any decided periodicities, save those determined by day and night and by the seasons. But in animals we have a great variety of movements, in which the alternation of opposite extremes goes on with all degrees of rapidity. The swallowing of food is effected by a wave of constriction passing along the oesophagus; its digestion is accompanied by a muscular action of the stomach that is also undulatory; and the peristaltic motion of the intestines is of like nature. The blood obtained from this food is propelled not in uniform current, but in pulses; and it is aerated by lungs that alternately contract and expand. All locomotion results from oscillating movements; even where it is apparently continuous, as in many minute forms, the microscope proves the vibration of cilia to be the agency by which the creature is moved smoothly forward.

"Primary rhythms of the organic actions are compounded with secondary ones of longer duration. These various modes of activity have their recurring periods of increase and decrease. We see this in the periodic need for food, and in the periodic need for repose. Each meal induces a more rapid rhythmic action of the digestive organs; the pulsation of the heart is accelerated; and the inspirations become more frequent. During sleep, on the contrary, these several movements slacken. So that in the course of twenty-four hours those small undulations of which the different kinds or organic action are constituted, undergo one long wave of in-crease and decrease, complicated with several minor waves.

"Experiments have shown that there are still slower rises and falls of functional activity. Waste and assimilation are not balanced by every meal, but one or other maintains for some time a slight excess; so that a person in ordinary health is found to undergo an increase and decrease of weight during the recurring intervals of tolerable equality. Beside these regular periods there are still longer and comparatively irregular ones; namely, those alternations of greater and less vigor, which even healthy people experience. So inevitable are these oscillations that even men in training cannot be kept stationary at their highest power, but when they have reached it begin to retrograde.

"Further evidence of rhythm in the vital movements is furnished by invalids. Sundry disorders are named from the intermittent character of their symptoms. Even where the periodicity is very marked, it is mostly traceable. Patients rarely, if ever, get uniformly worse; and convalescents have usually their days of partial relapse or a less decided advance.

"Aggregates of living creatures illustrate the general truth in other ways. If each species of organism be regarded as a whole, it displays two kinds of rhythm. Life as it exists in all the members of such species is an extremely complex kind of movement, more or less distinct from the kinds of movement which constitute life in other species. In each individual of the species this extremely complex kind of movement begins, rises to its climax, declines and ceases in death. And every successive generation thus exhibits a wave of that peculiar activity characterizing the species as a whole."

These then are the data of philosophy; the phenomena involved in the indestructibility of matter, the continuity of motion, the persistence of force, the persistence of relations among forces, the transformation and equivalence of forces, the direction of motion and the rhythm of motion. Out of these phenomena does any general law arise which includes them all and from which any one of them may be deduced? Such a law does exist and Spencer addresses himself to the work of building up these phenomena into the synthesis which he calls "the Law of Evolution," and whence he derives the definitive name of his system. He remarks :

"But now what parts do these truths play in forming such conception? Does any one of them singly convey an idea of the cosmos, meaning by this word the totality of the manifestations of the unknowable? D& all of them, taken together yield us an adequate idea of this kind? Do they even when thought of in combination compose anything like such an idea? To each of these questions the answer must be no.

"Neither these truths nor any other such truths, separately or jointly, constitute that integrated knowledge in which only philosophy finds its goal. It has been supposed by one thinker that when science has succeeded in reducing all more complex laws to some most simple law, as of molecular action, knowledge will have reached its limit. Another authority has tacitly asserted that all minor facts are so merged in the major fact that the force everywhere in action is nowhere lost, that to express this is to express 'the constitution of the universe.' But either conclusion implies a misapprehension of the problem.

"For these are all analytical truths, and no analytical truth, no number of analytical truths will make up that synthesis of thought which alone can be an interpretation of the synthesis of things. The decomposition of phenomena into their elements is but a preparation for understanding phenomena in their state of composition as actually manifested. To have ascertained the laws of the factors is not at all to have ascertained the laws of their co-operation. The question is not how any factor, matter or motion or force behaves by itself, or under some imagined simple conditions, nor is it even how one factor behaves tinder the complicated conditions of actual existence. The thing to be expressed is the joint product of the factors under all its various aspects. Only when we can formulate the total process have we gained that knowledge of it which philosophy aspires to."

All changes in things we see about us, that is, in aggregates of things, from the solar system to a blade of grass, have two phases, one a constructive process, by which the aggregate is built up; the other a destructive process by which the aggregate is broken down. The first he calls Evolution, the second Dissolution. All aggregates such as a man, a plant, a planet, a society, a nation, an animal, exhibit in their history these phases : birth, growth or development, decay, death, and dissolution. The ascending stage, is evolution; the descending stage, dissolution. The first may be also called concentration, the second diffusion. The history of the life-growth of a man from his birth to his death, and subsequent resolvement into the gases out of which his body was built up, illustrates this law.

The phenomena, generally presented by evolution and dissolution, he indicates as follows:

"An entire history of anything must include its appearance out of the imperceptible and its disappear-ance into the imperceptible. Be it a single object or a whole universe, any account which begins with it in a concrete form, is incomplete, since there remains an era of its knowable existence undescribed and unexplained. Admitting, or rather asserting, that knowledge is limited to the phenomenal, we have, by implication, asserted that the sphere of knowledge is coextensive with the phenomenal coextensive with all modes of the unknowable that can affect consciousness. Hence, what-ever we now find being so conditioned as to act on our senses, there arise the questions, How came it to be thus conditioned? and How will it cease to be thus conditioned? Unless on the assumption that it acquired a sensible form at the moment of perception, and lost its sensible form the moment after perception, it must have had an antecedent existence under this sensible form, and will have a subsequent existence under this sensible form. These preceding and succeeding existences under sensible forms are possible subjects of knowledge; and knowledge has obviously not reached its limits until it has united the past, present and future histories into a whole.

"The sayings and doings of daily life imply more or less such knowledge, actual or potential, of states which have gone before and of states which will come after, and, indeed, the greater part of our knowledge involves these elements. Knowing any man personally implies having before seen him under a shape much the same as his present shape, and knowing him simply as a man implies the inferred antecedent states of infancy, child-hood and youth. Though the man's future is not known specifically, it is known generally; the facts that he will die and that his body will decay are facts which complete in outline the changes to be hereafter gone through by him. So with all the objects around. The pre-existence, under concrete forms, of the woolens, silks and cottons we wear, we can trace some distance back. We are certain that our furniture consists of matter which was aggregated by trees within these few generations. Even of the stones composing the walls of the house we are able to say that years or centuries ago they formed parts of some stratum imbedded in the earth. Moreover, respecting the hereafter of the wearable fabrics, the furniture and the walls, we can assert thus much, that they are all in the process of decay, and in periods of various lengths will lose their present coherent shapes.

"May it not be inferred that philosophy has to formulate this passage from the imperceptible into the perceptible, and, again, from the perceptible into the imperceptible? Is it not clear that this general law of the redistribution of matter and motion, which we lately saw is required to unify the various kinds of changes, must also be one that unifies the successive changes which sensible existences, separately and together, pass through? Only by some formula combining these characters can knowledge be reduced to a coherent whole."

This formula he sets out to build up from the facts he has already noted. Spencer, following his method, illustrates the law of concentration and diffusion, involved in all changes of aggregates, by drawing examples from all the observed facts of science and finds no exception. But in these changes are seen to be involved subordinate changes which give to evolution a compound character. The first characteristic of this kind to be noted is that in the constructive stage there is an integration of matter. This holds true whether the aggregate is a city, a man, or a solar system evolved out of nebulous gases. Accompanying this integration there is a dissipation of motion. As, for example, a loaded freight train is carried over a distance of too miles by a locomotive. The space occupied by the cargo is smaller, and the motion used is less, than the space and motion required were that cargo transported over the same distance by horses and wagons. Examples of this integration and loss of motion are seen in every aggregate in which evolutionary change is taking place. At he same time, the aggregate passes from an incoherent to a coherent state.

"Evolution, then," he says, "under its primary aspect, is a change from a less coherent form to a more coherent form, consequent on the dissipation of motion and integration of matter. This is the universal process through which sensible existences, individually and as a whole, pass during the ascending halves of their histories. This proves to be a character displayed equally in those earliest changes which the universe at large is supposed to have undergone, and in those latest changes which we trace in society and the products of social life. And throughout, the unification proceeds in several ways simultaneously.

"Alike during the evolution of the solar system, of a planet, of an organism, of a nation, there is progressive aggregation of the entire mass. This may be shown by the increasing density of the matter already contained in it; or by the drawing into it of matter that was before separate; or by both. But in any case it implies a loss of relative motion.

"At the same time, the parts into which the mass has divided severally consolidate in like manner. We see this in that formation of planets and satellites which has gone on along with the concentration of the nebula out of which the solar system originated; we see it in the growth of separate organs that advances, pari passu, with the growth of each organism; we see it in that rise of special industrial centers and special masses of population, which is associated with the rise of each society. Always more or less of local integration accompanies the general integration.

"And then, beyond the increased closeness of juxtaposition among the components of the whole, and among the components of each part, there is increased closeness of combination among the parts, producing mutual dependence of them. Dimly foreshadowed as this mutual dependence is in inorganic existence, both celestial and terrestrial, it becomes distinct in organic and super-organic existences. From the lowest living forms upward, the degree of development is marked by the degree in which the several parts constitute a coöperative assemblage. The advance from these creatures which live on in each part when cut to pieces up to those creatures which cannot lose any considerable part with-out death, nor any inconsiderable part without great constitutional disturbance, is an advance to creatures which, while more integrated in respect to their solidification, are also more integrated as consisting of organs that live for and by each other. The like contrast between undeveloped and developed societies need not be shown in detail; the ever increasing coördination of parts is conspicuous to all."

But while these processes are going on there is another and an important process at work. The aggregate, be it man, animal, plant, solar system, or society while it is becoming integrated, coherent, and is losing motion, is also becoming more definitely diverse in its parts, or, in one word, heterogeneous. It is passing from a simple to a complex state, from an incoherent to a coherent state, from an indefinite to a definite state, and from a homogeneous to a heterogeneous state. ' These laws Spencer again illustrates with an abundance of familiar examples drawn from the whole range of human experience. He says :

"The progress from myths and legends, extreme in their misrepresentations, to a history that has slowly become, and is still becoming, more accurate; the establishment of settled systematic methods of doing things, instead of the indeterminate ways at first pursued these might be enlarged upon in further exemplification of the general law. But the basis of induction is already wide enough. Proof that all evolution is from the indefinite to the definite we find to be not less abundant than proof that all evolution is from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous.

"It should, however, be added that this advance in definiteness is not a primary but a secondary phenomenon —is a result incidental on other changes. The transformation of a whole that was originally diffused and uniform in a concentrated combination of multiform parts implies progressive separation both of the whole from its environment and of the parts from one another. While this is going on there must be indistinctness. Only as the whole gains density does it become sharply marked off from the space or matter lying outside of it; and only as each separated division draws into its mass those peripheral portions which are at first imperfectly disunited from the peripheral portions of neighboring divisions, can it acquire anything like a precise outline. That is to say, the increasing definiteness is a concomitant of the increasing consolidation, general and local. While the secondary redistributions are ever adding to the heterogeneity, the primary redistribution, while augmenting the integration, is incidentally giving distinctness to the increasingly unlike parts as well as to the aggregate of them.

"But, though this universal trait of evolution is a necessary accompaniment of the traits set forth, it is not expressed in the words used to describe them. It is therefore needful further to modify our formula. The more specific idea of evolution now reached is a change from an indefinite incoherent homogeneity to a definite coherent heterogeneity, accompanying the dissipation of motion and integration of matter."

Another law that enters into the definition of Evolution is that drawn from the redistribution of the retained motion.

"A finished conception of evolution we thus find to be one which includes the redistribution of the retained motion, as well as that of the component matter. This added element of the conception is scarcely, if at all, less important than the other. The movements of the solar system have for us a significance equal to that which the sizes, forms, and relative distances of its members possess. And of the phenomena presented by an organism, it must be admitted that the combined sensible and insensible actions we call its life do not yield in interest to its structural traits. Leaving out, however, all implied reference to the way in which these two orders of facts concern us, it is clear that with each redistribution of matter there necessarily goes a redistribution of motion; and that the unified knowledge constituting philosophy must comprehend both aspects of the transformation.

"While, then, we have to contemplate the matter of an evolving aggregate as undergoing, not progressive integration simply, but as simultaneously undergoing various secondary redistributions; we have also to contemplate the motion of an evolving aggregate, not only as being gradually dissipated, but as passing through many secondary redistributions on the way toward dissipation. As the structural complexities that arise during compound evolution are incidental to the progress from the extreme of diffusion to the extreme of concentration, so the functional complexities accompanying them are incidental to the progress from the greatest quantity of contained motion to the least quantity of contained motion."

The complete formula, therefore, may be stated in these words:

Evolution is an integration of matter and concomitant dissipation of motion; during which the matter passes from an indefinite incoherent homogeneity to a definite coherent heterogeneity; and during which the retained motion undergoes a parallel transformation.

Here, then, we have the celebrated Evolution of Herbert Spencer. That it is true, he has no doubt, but how, he asks, are we to interpret it?

The test of any general law is its universal application. Can we find such universal application of the law of Evolution as defined by its originator? The first deduction we are to draw is that involved in the "instability of the homogeneous." No homogeneous body, however it may have become so, can long remain in that condition. It must become heterogeneous. This law he illustrates from physics and chemistry, and, in fact, all of the sciences. From these abundant illustrations we will select one.

The earth at one time was a molten mass much larger than it is now. It was then comparatively homogeneous. In this state it could not remain because the homogeneous is nowhere stable and fixed. Spencer shows the development of the varied combinations of the elements we now see in the earth in these words:

"There is every reason to believe that at an extreme heat the bodies we call elements cannot combine. Even under such heat as can be generated artificially some very strong affinities yield; and the great majority of chemical compounds are decomposed at much lower temperatures. Whence it seems not improbable that, when the earth was in its first state of incandescence, there were no chemical combinations at all. But, without drawing this inference, let us set out with the unquestionable fact that the compounds which can exist at the highest temperatures, and which must therefore have been the first formed as the earth cooled, are those of the simplest constitutions. The protoxides, including under that head the alkalies, earths, etc, are, as a class, the most fixed compounds known : the majority of them resisting decomposition by any heat we can generate. These, consisting severally of one atom of each component element, are combinations of the simplest order, are but one degree less homogeneous than the elements themselves.

"More heterogeneous than these, more decomposable by heat, and therefore later in the earth's history, are the deutoxides, tritoxides, peroxides, etc., in which two, three, four, or more atoms of oxygen are united with one atom of metal or other base. Still less able to resist heat are the salts, which present us with compound atoms each made up of five, six, seven, eight, ten, twelve, or more atoms, of three, if not more, kinds. Then there are hydrated salts of a yet greater heterogeneity which undergo partial decomposition at much lower temperatures. After them come the further complicated super-salts and double salts, having a stability again decreased, and so throughout. After making a few unimportant qualifications demanded by peculiar affinities, I believe no chemist will deny it to be a general law of these inorganic combinations that, other things /equal, the stability decreases as the complexity increases. And then, when we pass to the compounds that make up organic bodies, we find this general law still further exemplified : we find much greater complexity and much less stability. An atom of albumen, for instance, consists of 482 ultimate atoms of five different kinds. Fibrine, still more intricate in constitution, contains in each atom 298 atoms of carbon, 49 of nitrogen, 2 of sulphur, 228 of hydrogen, and 92 of oxygen in all, 66o atoms; or, more strictly speaking, equivalents. And these two substances are so unstable as to decompose at quite moderate temperatures; as that to which the outside of a joint of roast meat is exposed.

"Possibly it will be objected that some inorganic compounds, as phosphureted hydrogen and chloride of nitrogen are more decomposable than most organic compounds. This is true; but the admission may be made without dam-age to the argument. The proposition is not that all simple combinations are more fixed than all complex ones. To establish our inference it is necessary only to show that, as an average fact, the simple combinations can exist at a higher temperature than the complex ones. And this is wholly beyond question.

"Thus it is manifest that the present chemical heterogeneity of the earth's surface has arisen by degrees as the decreased heat has permitted ; and that it has shown itself in three forms first, in the multiplication of chemical compounds; second, in the greater number of different elements contained in the more modern of these compounds; and, third, in the higher and more varied multiples in which these more numerous elements combine.

"Without specifying them it will suffice just to name the meteorologic processes eventually set up in the earth's atmosphere, as further illustrating the alleged law. They equally display that destruction of a homogeneous state which results from unequal exposure to incident forces."

Accompanying the instability of the homogeneous there is the fact that the effects of this change are multi-plied. This truth is so plain as to need no illustration.

If one were offered, however, the development of the chick in the egg would suffice. Another law to be noted is that of "segregation" whereby like things are gathered together and separated from things unlike them. Nations, neighborhoods, clans, districts having certain characters, as manufacturing, for example, pebbles on the sea beach, are all examples of this law.

The last law to be considered is "equilibration." In treating of this law Spencer says :

"And now toward what do these changes tend? Will they go on forever, or will there be an end to them? Can things increase in heterogeneity through all future time? or must there be a degree which the differentiation and integration of matter and motion cannot pass? Is it possible for this universal metamorphosis to proceed in the same general course indefinitely, or does it work toward Some ultimate state admitting no further modification of like kind? The last of these alternative conclusions is that to which we are inevitably driven. Whether we watch concrete processes, or whether we consider the question in the abstract, we are alike taught that evolution has an impassable limit."

The end of Evolution, therefore, is equilibrium. All forces in nature seek equilibrium. The river flows to the sea, the pendulum sways forward and back until it comes to a stop, a harpstring vibrates until it ceases to move; motion in all cases tends to rest. But there is another kind of equilibrium that called moving equilibrium. The most familiar example of this is found in the top. The top at first "wabbles," but gradually takes an upright position until it is in perfect equilibrium. Its center of gravity is so rapidly readjusted as to force it to stand, moving, in a position which it could not for a moment maintain were it not spinning. This is moving equilibrium. Presently its rotation becomes less rapid, the "wabbling" is seen again, and the top falls. It is now in permanent equilibrium.

Through these processes, Spencer holds, the universe is passing and must pass. But here he confronts him-self with the question which, no doubt, has already occurred a hundred times to the mind of the reader.

"If evolution of every kind is an increase in complexity of structure and function that is incidental to the universal process of equilibration, and if equilibration must end in complete rest, what is the fate toward which all things tend? If the solar system is slowly dissipating its forces —if the sun is losing his heat at a rate which will tell in millions of years if with diminution of the sun's radiations there must go on a diminution in the activity of geologic and meteorologic processes as well as in the quantity of vegetal and animal existence if man and society are similarly dependent on this supply of force that is gradually coming to an end, are we not manifestly progressing toward omnipresent death?"

Apparently, the answer to this latter question must be in the affirmative. But as equilibration is deducible from the persistence of force, the force must remain after complete equilibrium has been attained, and what then? If we try to ponder on what the moving equilibrium of society and this world will be when it shall have been at last reached, we are discouraged from thought, although Spencer has no hesitation in saying that with that equilibrium man's happiness will be perfect. The moving equilibrium destroyed, as in the case of the top, then what?

Spencer answers this question with one word Dissolution. Force, persisting, will and must reduce the evolved universe back again into the simple, incoherent, indefinite, and homogeneous condition from which it came forth out of chaos into order. We will here refer the reader to the quotation from First Principles made in the section on the Orientals, and bearing that in mind we are now ready for Spencer's grand conclusion. It is this :

"Motion as well as matter being fixed in quantity it would seem that the change in the distribution of matter which motion effects coming to a limit in whichever direction it is carried, the indestructible motion thereupon necessitates a reverse distribution. Apparently the universally coexistent forces of attraction and repulsion, which, as we have seen, necessitate rhythm in all minor changes throughout the universe also necessitate rhythm in the totality of its changes, produce now an immeasurable period during which the attractive forces predominating cause universal concentration and then an immeasurable period during which the repulsive forces predominating cause universal diffusion alternate eras of evolution and dissolution. And thus there is suggested the conception of a past during which there have been successive evolutions analogous to that which is now going on, and a future during which successive other such evolutions may go on, ever the same in principle but never the same in concrete result."

A more precise definition of the Brahministic cosmogony, in its broad lines, could not be stated. In summing up the first principles of his system Spencer calls attention to the weakness of the materialistic philosophy and the idealistic (which he calls "spiritualistic.")

"Over and over again," he says, "it has been shown in various ways that the deepest truths we can reach are simply statements of the widest uniformities in our experience of the relations of matter, motion and force, and that matter, motion and force are but symbols of the unknown reality. A Power of which the nature remains forever inconceivable, and to which no limits in time or space can be imagined, works in us certain effects. These effects have certain likenesses of kind, the most general of which we class together under the names of matter, motion, and force; and between these effects there are likenesses of connection, the most constant of which we class as laws of the highest certainty. Analysis reduces these several kinds of effect to one kind of effect, and these several kinds of uniformity to one kind of uniformity. And the highest achievement of science is the interpretation of all orders of phenomena, as differently conditioned manifestations of this one kind of effect under differently conditioned modes of this one kind of uniformity. But when science has done this it has done nothing more than systematize our experience, and has in no degree extended the limits of our experience. We can say no more than before, whether the uniformities are as absolutely necessary, as they have become to our thought relatively necessary. The utmost possibility for us is an interpretation of the process of things as it presents itself to our limited consciousness; but how this process is related to the actual process we are unable to conceive, much less to know.

"Similarly, it must be remembered that while the connection between the phenomenal order and the ontological order is forever inscrutable; so is the connection between the conditioned forms of being and the unconditioned form of being forever inscrutable. The interpretation of all phenomena in terms of matter, motion, and force is nothing more than the reduction of our complex symbols of thought to the simplest symbols; and when the equation has been brought to its lowest terms the symbols remain symbols still. Hence the reasonings contained in the fore-going pages afford no support to either of the antagonist hypothesis respecting the ultimate nature of things.

Their implications are no more materialistic than they are spiritualistic; and no more spiritualistic than they are materialistic. Any argument which is apparently furnished to either hypothesis is neutralized by as good an argument furnished to the other.

"The materialist, seeing it to be a necessary deduction from the law of correlation, that what exists in consciousness under the form of feeling is transformable into an equivalent of mechanical motion, and by consequence into equivalents of all the other forces which matter exhibits, may consider it therefore demonstrated that the phenomena of consciousness are material phenomena. But the spiritualist, setting out with the same data may argue with equal cogency that if the forces displayed by matter are cognizable only under the shape of those equivalent amounts of consciousness which they produce, it is to be inferred that these forces when existing out of consciousness are of the same intrinsic nature as when existing in conciousness; and that so is justified the spiritualistic conception of the external world as consisting of something essentially identical with what we call mind.

"Manifestly, the establishment of correlation and equivalence between the forces of the outer and the inner worlds may be used to assimilate either to the other, according as we set out with one or other term. But he who rightly interprets the doctrine contained in this work will see that neither of these terms can be taken as ultimate. He will see that though the relation of subject and object renders necessary to us these antithetical conceptions of spirit and matter, the one is no less than the other to be regarded as but a sign of the unknown reality which underlies both."

The last words in the last quotation are the closing words of First Principles. The whole Spencerian system is developed on the lines therein laid down, according to the formula of the Law of Evolution. This law is applied throughout The Principles of Biology, which comes next in order, and then throughout the remaining books in their sequence : The Principles of Psychology, The Principles of Sociology, and The Principles of Ethics. The controversy, now happily at an end, the subject of which was whether Spencer borrowed from Comte, although an interesting, was a purposeless one. Spencer has said himself that he had outlined his system completely before he had ever read a line that Comte wrote. So far as the two systems being more than basically akin is concerned, a reading of both will satisfy anyone of the thoroughly original character of Spencer's work. As a systematist the Englishman is immeasurably superior to the Frenchman.

Is Spencer an Agnostic? If by Agnosticism we mean what Huxley, who invented the word, says he means, then the great Evolutionist is not an Agnostic. The Unknowable for him means only that which every thinker and every theologian, from Augustine and Thomas Aquinas down to Beecher and Cardinal Wiseman, have admitted to be unknowable. Agnostic, on the other hand, while in some respects describing Spencer's position, cannot be applied to him; for the Agnostic School (if we can call the opinion of one man by that name) has no definite system, no precise definitions, no body of doctrines, and not eyen a profound speculation. Professor Huxley regarded the widespread use of the word (which he coined in one of his humorous moments) as a capital joke; and he repudiated all Agnostics except himself. The word Agnostic —and candor compels us to leave Professor Huxley out of the category describes more nearly than it does anything else the opinion of the Skeptic; not Skepticism according to Pyrrho, but Skepticism according to Hume.

Spencer is not an Agnostic, nor yet a Materialist. He is an Evolutionist. To him we owe the term "The Survival of the Fittest," an expression erroneously credited to Darwin. Spencer accepted Darwin's theory of Natural Selection. He is the only author who has in any measure succeeded in applying the theory of evolution to all things, and Evolution is the substance and body of his doctrine.

We have indicated that the systems of philosophy that have been considered in this book up to the time of Spencer have been failures. Must we say that Spencer is a failure also? As a system, the Synthetic Philosophy is perhaps the most completely and scientifically wrought out of all those we have had to deal with. Yet it must share the general fate. Why? Because all philosophy must fail. Spencer perhaps will stand for centuries as the greatest generalizer of science. But the truths of science need no man to generalize them. The discoveries of a Newton or of a Darwin naturally fit themselves into truths discovered by other men. The system of man's knowledge of nature is not built up by philosophical reasoning.

Spencer's discoveries of relations between great masses of scientific facts are scientific not philosophical achievements. His has been a two-fold function; that of the investigator, that of the philosopher. Although he condemns the metaphysician, he is metaphysical himself, but that fact will never deprive mankind of the benefit of the immeasurable services he has done the world in the sciences of Psychology and Sociology and in virtually founding the science of Ethics.

Were what is here intended more than the merest sketch of the great Synthetic System we could carry out the development of the first principles through the organic, social, and ethical departments of the Spencerian scheme. But such, in the present circumstances, is impossible. Spencer's purpose, as he himself says, was chiefly to prepare a foundation for a system of ethics that would take the place of the systems that obtain to-day. It is doubtful whether he has succeeded. It must be long before his ethics is accepted by any but the most scientific men. Such do now, indeed, accept it. The departure he makes from current opinion is too abrupt to be readily followed by any but those who have become convinced that there need be no motive to do good and to act rightly other than the motive that is found on this earth here and now and in the present moment. The ethics of Spencer is involved in the single aphorism, "Virtue is its own reward."

To do the great man justice it may be said that he has lived up to his teachings. No higher conceptions of just acting can be found than his own, and his life has been an exemplar of his theory.

It will be interesting to hear what the last of the philosophers has himself to say of his own completed work. In the preface to the third volume of the Sociology (Apple-ton & Co.), Spencer, writing in 1896, says: "On looking back over the six-and-thirty years which have passed since the Synthetic Philosophy was commenced, I am surprised at my audacity in undertaking it, and still more surprised by its completion. In 1860 my small resources had been nearly frittered away in writing and publishing books which did not repay their expenses; and I was suffering under a chronic disorder, caused by overtax in 1855 which, wholly disabling me for eighteen months, thereafter limited my work to three hours a day, and usually to less. How insane my project must have seemed to onlookers, may be judged from the fact that before the first chapter of the first volume was finished, one of my nervous break-downs obliged me to desist. But imprudent courses do not always fail. Sometimes a forlorn hope is justified by the event. Though, along with other deterrents, many relapses, now lasting for weeks, now for months, and once for years, often made me despair of reaching the end, yet at length the end is reached. Doubtless in earlier years some exultation would have resulted; but as age creeps on feelings weaken, and now my chief pleasure is in my emancipation. Still there is satisfaction in the consciousness that losses, discouragements, and shattered health have not prevented me from fulfilling the purpose of my life."

It is not probable that a new philosopher with a new system will arise after Spencer. Men do not now busy themselves with the subjects that engaged the attention of the thinkers and the speculators whose lives have been touched upon in this volume. Philosophy has disappeared, on the one side in Science, and on the other in Religion. That reconciliation, proposed by him may be ratified; and if to propose it to propose this unition of Knowledge with Hope was all he accomplished, Spencer, for that alone;, would deserve a highest place among the Great Philosophers of the World.

Home | More Articles | Email: info@oldandsold.com