Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/659

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

considered valuable only if it conduces to happiness. On the other hand, life must in the long run so conduce, whatever its present value may appear to be, because a constant process of adjustment is going on which is bound sooner or later to lead to a complete adjustment which will be perfect happiness. This is the refutation of pessimism, which ultimately agrees with optimism in making pleasure the standard of value. In this reasoning Spencer appears to have overlooked the possibility of an expansion of the ethical environment. If this is as rapid as (or more rapid than) the rate of adaptation, there will be no actual growth of adaptation and so no moral progress. Complete adaptation to an infinitely receding ideal is impossible, and relative adaptation depends on the distance between the actual and the ideal. Spencer, however, considers that he can not only anticipate such a state of complete adjustment, but even lay down the rules obtaining in it, which will constitute the code of “Absolute Ethics” and the standard for discerning the “least wrong” actions of relative ethics. He conceives it as a state of social harmony so complete that in it even the antagonism between altruism and egoism will have been overcome. Both of these are original and indispensable, but egoism has the priority, since there must be egoistic pleasure somewhere before there can be altruistic sympathy with it. And so in the ideal state everyone will derive egoistic pleasure from doing such altruistic acts as may still be needed. In it, too, the sense of duty will have become otiose and have disappeared, being essentially a relic of the history of the moral consciousness. Originally the socially salutary action was in the main that which was enjoined on the individual by his political and religious superiors and by social sentiment; it was also in the main that to which his higher, more complex and re-representative feelings prompted. Hence the fear with which the political, religious and social controls were regarded came to be associated also with the specifically moral control of lower by higher feelings, and engendered the coercive element in the feeling of obligation. Its authoritativeness depends on the intrinsic salutariness of self-control, and must cease to be felt as the resistance of the lower feelings relaxes. Hence Spencer concludes that the sense of duty is transitory and must diminish as moralization increases. In the preface to the last part of his Ethics (1893) Spencer regrets that “the Doctrine of Evolution has not furnished guidance to the extent he had hoped,” but his contributions to ethics are not unlikely to be the most permanently valuable part of his philosophy.

After completing his system (1896) Spencer continued to revise

it, and brought out new editions of the Biology (1898-1899) and First Principles (1900). The dates of his chief works are as follows: 1842, Letters to the Nonconformist, “The Proper Sphere of Government.” 1850, Social Statics. 1852, The Theory of Population (cf. part vi. of Biology); “The Development Hypothesis” (in Essays, vol. i.) 1853. The Universal Postulate (cf. Psychology, part vii.). 1854, “the Genesis of Science” (in Essays, vol. ii.). 1855, Principles of Psychology (1 vol.). 1857, Progress, its Law and Cause (Essays, vol. i.). 1858, Essays (containing most of his contributions to the Westminster Review; 1863, vol. ii.; 1885, vol. iii.). 1861, Education: Intellectual, Moral, Physical. 1862, First Principles (2nd ed., 1867; 6th, 1900). 1864-1867, Principles of Biology (2 vols.). 1872, Principles of Psychology (2nd ed., in 2 vols.). 1873, The Study of Sociology. 1876, vol. i., The Principles of Sociology; vol. ii., Ceremonial Institutions, 1879, Political Institutions, 1882; vol. iii., Ecclesiastical Institutions, 1885, completed 1896. 1879, The Data of Ethics (part i. of Principles of Ethics in 2 vols.; part iv., Justice, 1891; parts ii. and iii., Inductions of Ethics and Ethics of Individual Life, 1892; parts v. and vi., Negative and Positive Beneficence, 1893). 1884, Man versus the State. 1886, Factors of Organic Evolution. 1893, Inadequacy of Natural Selection. 1894, A Rejoinder to Professor Weismann and Weismannism once more. 1897, Fragments. 1902, Facts and Comments. An Autobiography in 2 vols. appeared posthumously in 1904. For a full bibliography of his works see W. H. Hudson's Introduction to the Philosophy of Herbert Spencer (up to 1895); and for a useful summary of his chief doctrines by Spencer himself, his preface to Collins's Epitome of the Synthetic Philosophy. He also supervised the compilation of a comprehensive series of volumes by various writers on Descriptive Sociology, of which by 1881 eight parts on different racial areas had been published (at a loss to him of £3250) as the result of fourteen years of labour. He then suspended this undertaking, but resolved that at his death it should be continued at the cost of his estate. In his will he appointed trustees, who were to entrust the supervision to Mr. H. R. Tedder, librarian of the Athenaeum Club; and the work was resumed accordingly after his death, five more parts

being arranged for, one of which was published in 1910.

SPENCER, JOHN CHARLES SPENCER, 3rd Earl (1782- 1845), English statesman, better known by the courtesy title of Lord Althorp, which he bore during his father's lifetime, was the son of George John, 2nd Earl (1758-1834), grandson of John (1734-1783), created 1st Earl Spencer in 1765, and great-grandson of Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland. His father served in the ministries of Pitt, Fox and Grenville, and was first lord of the admiralty from 1 794-1 801; and his interest in literature was shown in his attention to the Althorp library, inherited from the 3rd Earl of Sunder- land, which he developed into the finest private library in Europe; his wife, the eldest daughter of the 1st Earl Lucan, was conspicuous in London society for her gaiety and brightness. Their eldest son, John Charles, was born at Spencer House, London, on the 30th of May 1782. In 1800 he took up his residence at Trinity College, Cambridge, and for some time applied himself energetically to mathematical studies; but he spent most of his time in hunting and racing. Almost im- mediately after taking his degree in 1802, he set out on a conti- nental tour, which was cut short, after he had passed some months in the chief cities in Italy, by the renewal of war. Through the influence of Pitt's government he was returned to parliament for the borough of Okehampton in Devonshire in April 1804, and, although he vacated his seat in February 1806, to contest the university of Cambridge against Lord Henry Petty and Lord Palmerston (when he was hopelessly beaten), he was elected in the same month for St Albans, and appointed a lord of the treasury. At the general election in November 1806, he was elected for Northamptonshire, and he continued to sit for the cqunty until he succeeded to the peerage. His tastes were then, as ever, for country life, but his indignation at the duke of York's conduct at the Horse Guards led him to move a resolu- tion of the House of Commons in 1809 for the duke's removal from his post. For the next few years after this speech Lord Althorp occasionally spoke in debate and always on the side of Liberalism, but from 1813 to 1818 he was only rarely in the House of Commons. His absence was partly due to a feeling that it was hopeless to struggle against the will of the Tory ministry, but more particularly to his marriage on the 14th of April 1 8 14, to Esther, only daughter of Richard Acklom of Wiseton Hall, Northamptonshire, who died in childbirth 1818. In 1819, on his return to political life after her death, and for many years after that date he pressed upon the attention of the house the necessity of establishing a more efficient bankruptcy court, and of expediting the recovery of small debts; and he saw both these reforms accomplished before 1825. During the greater part of the reign of George IV. the Whigs lost their legitimate influence in the state from their want of cohesion, but this defect was soon remedied in 1830 when Lord Althorp was chosen their leader in the lower house, and his capacity for the position was proved by experience. When Lord Grey's administration was formed at the close of the year the chan- cellorship of the exchequer combined with the leadership of the House of Commons was entrusted to Lord Althorp, and to him more than to any other man, with the exception of the prime minister and the lord chancellor, may be attributed the success of the government measures. The budget, it is true, was a failure, but this misfortune was soon forgotten in the struggles over the Reform Bill. The consideration of the preliminaries of this measure was assigned to four ministers, two in the cabinet and two outside that body; but their proposals were, after careful examination, approved or rejected by Lord Grey and Lord Althorp before they were brought under the notice of the cabinet. When the Bill was ready for introduction to the House of Commons its principles were expounded by Lord John Russell; but from the commencement of the protracted discussion over its details he had the assistance of Lord Althorp, and after some