Herbert Spencer
HERBERT SPENCER  Macroknow Library

First Principles of a New System of Philosophy.

"Evolution is definable as a change from an incoherent homogeneity to a coherent heterogeneity, accompanying the dissipation of motion and integration of matter. . . 1a

At the same time . . . it is a change from the indefinite to the definite. Along with an advance from simplicity to complexity, there is an advance from confusion to order -- from undetermined arrangement to determined arrangement."

" . . . [T]he phenomena of Evolution have to be deduced from the Persistence of Force."1c

"Any incident force is primarily divisible into its effective and non-effective portions. . . the effective force is itself divisible into the temporarily effective and the permanently effective. . . The permanently effective force works out changes of relative position of two kinds -- the insensible and the sensible."1d*

" . . . [T]he condition of homogeneity is a condition of unstable equilibrium."1e

" . . . [T]he development of intelligence is, under one of its chief aspects, a dividing into separate classes the unlike things previously confounded together in one class -- a formation of sub-classes and sub-sub-classes, until the once confused aggregate of objects known is resolved into an aggregate which unites extreme heterogeneity among its multiplied groups with complete homogeneity among the members of each group."1f

"Thus the conclusions that a part-cause of Evolution is the multiplication of effects, and that this increases in geometrical progression as the heterogeneity becomes greater, are not only to be established inductively, but are deducible from the deepest of all truths."1g


Data of Ethics.

"Beyond the primary truth that no idea of a whole can be framed without a nascent idea of parts constituting it, and that no idea of a part can be framed without a nascent idea of some whole to which it belongs, there is the secondary truth that there can be no correct idea of a part without a correct idea of the correlative whole. There are several ways in which inadequate knowledge of the one involves inadequate knowledge of the other."1a

"The life of the social organism must, as an end, rank above the lives of its units. These two ends are not harmonious at the outset; and, though the tendency is toward harmonization of them, they are still partially conflicting."1b

"At the outset, then, fulfillment of contracts that are implied if not expressed, becomes a condition to social co-operation, and therefore to social development. . .
"Only under voluntary agreement, then, no longer tacit and vague, but overt and definite,
can co-operation be harmoniously carried on when division of labor becomes established."

"Briefly, then, the universal basis of co-operation is the proportioning of benefits received to services rendered. Without this there can be no physiological division of labor; without this there can be no sociological division of labor. . . So that beyond the primary requirement to harmonious co-existence in a society, that its units shall not directly aggress on one another; there comes this secondary requirement, that they shall not indirectly aggress by breaking agreements."1d

" . . . [L]fe is to be further facilitated by exchange of services beyond agreement: the highest life being reached only when, besides helping to complete one another's lives by specified reciprocities of aid, men otherwise help to complete one another's lives."1e

The co-existence of a perfect man and an imperfect society is impossible; and could the two co-exist, the resulting conduct would not furnish the ethical standard sought. . .
" . . . Among people who are treacherous and utterly without scruple, entire truthfulness and openness must bring ruin."1f


* Italics in the original.

1 Herbert Spencer (1820-1903). First Principles. 4th edition, 1880. American edition. New York, NY: American Publishers Corporation. (First published 1862.)
a Chp. XV: The Law of Evolution Continued, at 304.
b Chp. XVI: The Law of Evolution Continued, at 305.
c Chp. XVIII: The Interpretation of Evolution, at 335.
d Ibid., at 336.
e Chp. XIX: The Instability of the Homogeneous, at 337.
f Ibid., at 353.
Chp. XX: The Multiplication of Effects, at 386.

2 Herbert Spencer (1820-1903). Data Ethics. New York, NY: A. L. Burt, Publisher. (First issued in 1879.)
a Chp. I: Conduct in General, at 1.
 Chp. VIII: The Sociological View, at 159.
c Ibid., at 168-169.
d Ibid., at 173-174.
e Ibid., at 177.
f Chp. XV: Absolute and Relative Ethics, at 330.