Page:A Brief History of Modern Philosophy.djvu/253
is beyond our powers. That is to say, his philosophy culminates in a docta ignorantia. He regarded the idea that the world is the result of chance (brute force) quite as incredible as that it should be the product of conscious design. His statement of the problem at this point reminds us of that given by Kant in the Critique of Judgment.
2. Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) gave up a life of practical affairs in order to devote himself to philosophical investigations. In his early youth he was an engineer, but soon acquired an interest in social problems and ideas which in turn led him to the study of psychology and biology. He was a self-made man. He never attended a university and never took an examination. He was peculiarly gifted in observing facts which might serve to illuminate general principles. His philosophy sprang from the necessity of discovering a governing principle which would serve the purpose of organizing a series of studies in natural science, psychology and social science into a system. He has described the course of his development in his Autobiography (1904). He remained a private citizen all his life, occupying himself with his studies and his writings.
Spencer's ideas are expressed in their purest, most original form in a series of essays, published in three volumes under the title: Essays, Scientific, Political and Speculative. From the literary point of view, the Essays form the most valuable portion of the Spencerian writings.—He had even before this, in his Social Statics (1850), applied the idea of evolution to social life. Following Coleridge he regarded the complete unfolding of life as a divine idea which is to be realized gradually. Later on he regarded this conception as too theological. He then