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Social Statics: The Conditions Essential to Human Happiness Specified, and The First of Them Developed Hardcover – December 1, 1995
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If we have a correct estimate of the Social Statics, what explains its current obscurity? Some might claim it was obsoleted by modern variants of liberal progressivism, though this merely repeats our strange fact in more detail. Perhaps the absence of value-neutrality in Spencer's outlook, that is, the presence of Victorian moralism, tells us more. Much of modern sociology, like a large sector of modern philosophy, pursues truth in a detached, purely analytic manner, suppressing considerations of morality, which are believed to be unscientific emotions, from its explanatory principles. Spencer's generalism, part and parcel with his synthetic method and popular rhetoric, had no natural home in the 1900s, a century that celebrated specialists. Many of us now have never suffered the twentieth-century condition described by D.C. Stove as Horror Victorianorum, and therefore have an opportunity to re-explore Spencer and other Victorian thinkers with fresh minds.
Spencer's politics, as expounded in the Social Statics, can be classified as teleodeontic, a term I just coined right here, right now. Remember in ethics, not all teleological systems of ethics are organized in the same fashion. Most teleological ethics can currently be classified as consequentialist, which means morally right acts are defined as aiming to produce some specified kind of good outcomes; the concept of good plays the central role in such a system. But not all end-driven/teleological ethics are consequentialist.Read more ›
Although you will probably agree with most of what he says, don't expect to agree with everything. Just expect a brilliant and illuminating presentation of each. And expect a better and deeper understanding of the principles of human culture.
I highly recommend Herbert Spencer to anyone who would better understand the humanities - sadly missing in todays over 'psycho-babbled' society. Do, however, expect to work for it. This book was originally published in 1851 in London, and it reads like it. Keep a simple dictionary handy and expect to read slowly to get through the 150 year old grammatical construct.
He states in the Introduction of this 1851 book, "See here, then, the predicament. A system of moral philosophy professes to be a code of correct rules for the control of human beings---fitted for the regulation of the best as well as the worst members of the race---applicable, if true, to the guidance of humanity in its highest conceivable perfection. Government, however, is an institution originating in man's imperfection; an institution confessedly begotten by necessity out of evil; one which might be dispensed with were the world peopled with the unselfish, the conscientious, the philanthropic; one, in short, inconsistent with this `highest conceivable perfection.' How, then, can that be a true system of morality which adopts government as one of its premises?" (Part I, pg. 16)
In Part II, he states the famous and influential principle: "every man may claim the fullest liberty to exercise his faculties compatible with the possession of like liberty by every other man." (Ch. IV, pg.Read more ›