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Comment: This book shows minor shelf wear on the cover or jacket. This book has been read, resulting in slight bends to pages or other minor but noticible changes from new. The interior pages have crisp clear text, but some pages do show underlining, highlighting, or notes.
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The Man Versus the State Paperback – November 30, 2009

4.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) was an English philosopher, political theorist, sociological theorist, author, and editor. He served in the later capacity for the "Economist" from 1843 to 1853. He is perhaps best known for applying evolutionary theory to social development and coined the term "survival of the fittest." His best known works are "Man versus the State" and the multi-volume "System of Synthetic Philosophy". --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 550 pages
  • Publisher: Liberty Fund Inc.; New Ed edition (November 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0913966983
  • ISBN-13: 978-0913966983
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #630,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book, deservedly, is a classic. Although relatively short, it is chock-full of insights -- many of which anticipate the important work decades later by F.A. Hayek. Spencer's passion for freedom, and his understanding of the nature of politicized and depoliticized societies, was deep. This is an inspiring work.
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Format: Hardcover
I agree with Dr. Boudreaux.

When Hayek said "We understand now that all enduring structures above the level of simplest atoms, and up to the brain and society, are the results of, and can be explained only in terms of, processes of selective evolution..." He was reiterating the insights that Spencer was already expounding over a century earlier. Given my current state of ignorance I believe that Herbert Spencer is the greatest intellectual of all time, with F.A. Hayek coming in a close second. It seems like the world is just beginning to catch up to Hayek. Who knows how much longer till we rediscover Spencer.

This book is a masterpiece. It has been a long time since I read it and the essay I remember most is "Over-legislation" where he does a great job criticizing government interventions into what he referred to as the social organism. He was right! We really are a social organism... or has Hayek would mention "extended order". I quote this wonderful essay often in my book.

No wonder Darwin himself said to him "Every one with eyes to see and ears to hear (the number, I fear, are not many) ought to bow their knee to you, and I for one do." and in another occasion referred to Spencer as "twenty times my superior."
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Format: Paperback
Herbert Spencer believed in the ubiquity of the fundamental processes of integration, dissolution, equilibration, segregation and differentiation. These are subsumed under his concept of evolution, defined as the trend towards increasing differentiation coupled with integration--the trend from the simpler to the more complex.

These matters, however, are touched upon only briefly in this work, competently edited and provided with an erudite introduction. As the title indicates, the book expounds Spencer's views on politics and ethics rather than his contributions to sociological and anthropological theory; and the reader interested in the latter must look at his Principles of Sociology.

Spencer believed ethics ought to rest upon biology and sociology, which alone can reveal the goal of social evolution; and that the value of individual as well as collective practices can be assessed by ascertaining whether they subserve or impede the attainment of this goal. This view is based on a premise that the general direction of the march of mankind must be good.

Spencer favored laissez-faire in all matters (e.g., education policy, public health, etc.). His diatribes against the short-sightedness, inertia, pettiness and selfishness of politicians and bureaucrats retain their perennial topicality. For now, bureaucracy is the chief agent of oppression and exploitation, which endows Spencer's impassioned pleas for liberty, and his tirades against the bureaucratic octopus, with perhaps more merit today than they did when they were penned.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Spencer discusses the self-serving behavior of the State. He explains that it is the State's own interests and not those of the people that are paramount.For the State is not organized to solve social problems but instead to complicate them after the problem has been deemed one for which the State has a political interest. Once the problem comes under the purview of the State, it serves the State's interests to maintain and magnify the problem so as to have a reason to maintain the bureacracy set up to supposedly 'solve' the problem.
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