Herbert Spencer Quotes

Image, Is it stupidity or is it moral cowardice which leads men to

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Is it stupidity or is it moral cowardice which leads men to continue professing a creed that makes self-sacrifice a cardinal principle, while they urge the sacrificing of others, even to the death, when they trespass against us? Is it blindness, or is it an insance inconsistency, which makes them regard as most admirable the bearing of evil for the benefit of others, while they lavish admiration on those who, out of revenge, inflict great evils in return for small ones suffered? Surely our barbarian code of right needs revision, and our barbarian standard of honour should be somewhat changed.

Herbert Spencer

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Image, If men were wise they would see that the affection that God

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If men were wise they would see that the affection that God has implanted in us is amply sufficient, when not weakened by artificial aid, to ensure permanence of union; and if they would have more faith in this all would go well. To tie together by human law what God has tied together by passion, is about as wise as it would be to chain the moon to the earth lest the natural attraction existing between them should not be sufficient to prevent them flying asunder.

Herbert Spencer

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Image, Any piece of knowledge which the pupil has himself acquired- any problem

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Any piece of knowledge which the pupil has himself acquired- any problem which he has himself solved, becomes, by virtue of the conquest, much more thoroughly his than it could else be. The preliminary activity of mind which his success implies, the concentration of thought necessary to it, and the excitement consequent on his triumph, conspire to register the facts in his memory in a way that no mere information heard from a teacher, or read in a schoolbook, can be registered.

Herbert Spencer

Image, How truly language must be regarded as a hindrance to thought, though

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How truly language must be regarded as a hindrance to thought, though the necessary instrument of it, we shall clearly perceive on remembering the comparative force with which simple ideas are communicated by signs. To say, "Leave the room," is less expressive than to point to the door. Place a finger on the lips is more forcible than whispering, "Do not speak." A beck of the hand is better than, "Come here." No phrase can convey the idea of surprise so vividly as opening the eyes and raising the eyebrows. A shrug of the shoulders would lose much by translation... Read more »

Herbert Spencer

Image, If there be an order in which the human race has mastered

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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. 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.

Herbert Spencer

Image, People … become so preoccupied with the means by which an end is

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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.

Herbert Spencer

Image, The belief, not only of the socialist but of those so-called liberals

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The belief, not only of the socialist but of those so-called liberals who are diligently preparing the way for them is that by due skill an ill working humanity may be framed into well-working initiations. It is delusion. The defective natures of citizens will show themselves in bad acting of whatever social structure they are arranged into. There is no political alchemy by which you can get golden conduct out of laden instincts.

Herbert Spencer

Image, There is a story of some mountains of salt in Cumana, which

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There is a story of some mountains of salt in Cumana, which never diminished, though carried away in much abundance by merchants; but when once they were monopolized to the benefit of a private purse, then the salt decreased; till afterward all were allowed to take of it, when it had a new access and increase. The truth of this story may be uncertain, but the application is true; he that envies others the use of his gifts decays then, but he thrives most that is most diffusive.

Herbert Spencer

Image, The chief arguments that are urged against an established religion, may be

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The chief arguments that are urged against an established religion, may be used with equal force against an established charity. The dissenter submits, that no party has a right to compel him to contribute to the support of doctrines, which do not meet his approbation. The rate-payer may as reasonably argue, that no one is justified in forcing him to subscribe towards the maintenance of persons, whom he does not consider deserving of relief.

Herbert Spencer

Image, As there must be moderation in other things, so there must be

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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.

Herbert Spencer