Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 26.djvu/40

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30
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

prepared to enter upon the studies of a university? The number of those who firmly believe that substantially this course is the best for all boys up to the usual college age is rapidly increasing. They are active and in earnest, and are making their influence felt; but mark what they ask—not that all boys shall be required to take this training, but that boys so trained shall be admitted to equal privileges with those trained in the old way. They would put the two methods squarely side by side, confident of the survival of the fittest. Those defenders of the classics who would anticipate a decline in the study of Greek and Latin under these conditions, have little faith in the justness of their own claims.


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ORIGIN OF THE SYNTHETIC PHILOSOPHY.[1]

By HERBERT SPENCER.

To the Editor of the Times.

SIR: As you have placed before a multitude of readers Mr. Frederic Harrison's anniversary address on "The Memory of Auguste Comte and his True Works," I may, I think, properly ask you to place before the same readers the disproof of a statement made by Mr. Harrison which gravely compromises me. He said that "Mr. Herbert Spencer, who had written a book to explain his divergences from Comte, was himself in all essentials his unconscious imitator, * Synthetic Philosophy being nothing but an attempt to play a new tune upon Comte's instrument. All the idées-mères, as the French said, of the Synthetic Philosophy, were those of the Positive Philosophy. Had there been no Comte, assuredly there would have been no Spencer." Even had I no other motive than that of showing my independence of Comte, I should, I think, be justified in not allowing this statement to pass unchallenged. But I have a further motive. As I have recently been passing a very outspoken judgment on the absurdities of the Comtean religion, the above passage implies that I have been ridiculing a man to whom I am deeply indebted, and the desire to clear myself from this aspersion compels me to speak.

A reader of literary history, struck as he must be with the numerous disputes about originality and priority, might sum up the result in somewhat Irish fashion by saying—No man's ideas are his own; they always belong to somebody else. My experiences might serve to support his paradox. Three distinct origins have been assigned for the Synthetic Philosophy. The current belief is that I have simply accepted Mr. Darwin's doctrine, and occupied myself in giving to it a wider extension; the truth being that the essential principles of the Synthetic Philosophy were set forth by me in two essays on "Progress:

  1. From the "Times" of September 9, 1884.