Essay on the origin of human knowledge

essay on the origin of human knowledge

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Spencer in his book principles of biology (1864 proposed a pangenesis theory that involved "physiological units" assumed to be related to specific body parts and responsible for the transmission of characteristics to offspring. These hypothetical hereditary units were similar to darwin's gemmules. 17 Sociology edit In his 70s Spencer read with excitement the original positivist sociology of Auguste comte. A philosopher of science, comte had proposed a theory of sociocultural evolution that society progresses by a general law of three stages. Writing after various developments in biology, however, Spencer rejected what he regarded as the ideological aspects of Comte's positivism, attempting to reformulate social science in terms of his principle of evolution, which he applied to the biological, psychological and sociological aspects of the universe. Given the primacy which Spencer placed on evolution, his sociology might be described as social Darwinism mixed with Lamarckism.

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Spencer is often, quite erroneously, believed to have merely appropriated and generalised Darwin's work on natural selection. But although after reading Darwin's work he coined the phrase ' survival of the fittest ' as his own term for Darwin's concept, 5 and is often misrepresented as a thinker who merely applied the darwinian theory to society, he only grudgingly incorporated natural selection. The primary mechanism of species transformation that that he recognised was Lamarckian use-inheritance which posited that organs are developed or are diminished by use or disuse and that the resulting changes may be transmitted to future generations. Spencer believed that this evolutionary mechanism was also necessary to explain 'higher' evolution, especially the social development of humanity. Moreover, in contrast to darwin, he held that evolution had a direction and an end-point, the attainment of a final state of equilibrium. He tried to apply the theory of biological evolution to sociology. He proposed that society was the product of change from lower write to higher forms, just as in the theory of biological evolution, the lowest forms of life are said to be evolving into higher forms. Spencer claimed that man's mind had evolved in the same way from the simple automatic responses of lower animals to the process of reasoning in the thinking man. Spencer believed in two kinds of knowledge: knowledge gained by the individual and knowledge gained by the race. Intuition, or knowledge learned unconsciously, was the inherited experience of the race.

In it he expounded a theory of evolution which combined insights from Samuel taylor Coleridge 's essay 'the Theory of Life' itself derivative from Friedrich von Schelling 's Naturphilosophie with a generalisation of von baer 's law of embryological development. Spencer posited that all structures in the universe develop from a simple, undifferentiated, homogeneity to a complex, differentiated, heterogeneity, while being accompanied by a process of greater integration of the differentiated parts. This evolutionary process could be found at work, spencer believed, throughout the cosmos. It was a universal law, that was applying to the stars and the galaxies as much as to biological organisms, and to human social organisation as much as to the human mind. It differed from other scientific laws only by its greater generality, and the laws of the special sciences could be shown to be illustrations of this principle. However, as Bertrand Russell stated in a letter to beatrice webb in 1923, this formulation biography has problems: 'i don't know whether Spencer was ever made to realise the implications of the second law of thermodynamics ; if so, he may well be upset. The law says that everything tends to uniformity and a dead level, diminishing (not increasing) heterogeneity'. 16 Spencer's attempt to explain the evolution of complexity was radically different from that to be found in Darwin's Origin of Species which was published two years later.

essay on the origin of human knowledge

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The first objective of friend the synthetic Philosophy was thus to demonstrate that there were no exceptions to being able to discover scientific explanations, in the form of natural laws, of all the phenomena of the universe. Spencer's volumes on margaret biology, psychology, and sociology were all intended to demonstrate the existence of natural laws in these specific disciplines. Even in his writings on ethics, he held that it was possible to discover 'laws' of morality that had the status of laws of nature while still having normative content, a conception which can be traced to george combe's Constitution of Man. The second objective of the synthetic Philosophy was to show that these same laws led inexorably to progress. In contrast to comte, who stressed only the unity of scientific method, Spencer sought the unification of scientific knowledge in the form of the reduction of all natural laws to one fundamental law, the law of evolution. In this respect, he followed the model laid down by the Edinburgh publisher Robert Chambers in his anonymous Vestiges of the natural History of Creation (1844). Although often dismissed as a lightweight forerunner of Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species, chambers' book was in reality a programme for the unification of science which aimed to show that Laplace 's nebular hypothesis for the origin of the solar system and Lamarck's theory. Evolution edit Spencer first articulated his evolutionary perspective in his essay, 'progress: Its Law and cause published in Chapman's Westminster review in 1857, and which later formed the basis of the first Principles of a new System of Philosophy (1862).

On the one hand, he had imbibed something of eighteenth century deism from his father and other members of the derby Philosophical Society and from books like george combe 's immensely popular The constitution of Man (1828). This treated the world as a cosmos of benevolent design, and the laws of nature as the decrees of a 'being transcendentally kind.' natural laws were thus the statutes of a well governed universe that had been decreed by the Creator with the intention. Although Spencer lost his Christian faith as a teenager and later rejected any 'anthropomorphic' conception of the deity, he nonetheless held fast to this conception at an almost sub-conscious level. At the same time, however, he owed far more than he would ever acknowledge to positivism, in particular in its conception of a philosophical system as the unification of the various branches of scientific knowledge. He also followed positivism in his insistence that it was only possible to have genuine knowledge of phenomena and hence that it was idle to speculate about the nature of the ultimate reality. The tension between positivism and his residual deism ran through the entire system of Synthetic Philosophy. Spencer followed Comte in aiming for the unification of scientific truth; it was in this sense that his philosophy aimed to be 'synthetic.' like comte, he was committed to the universality of natural law, the idea that the laws of nature applied without exception,.

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essay on the origin of human knowledge

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The exception to Spencer's growing conservativism was that he remained throughout his life an ardent opponent of imperialism and militarism. His critique of the boer War was especially scathing, and it contributed to his declining popularity in Britain. 14 Spencer also invented a law precursor to the modern paper clip, though it looked more like a modern cotter pin. This "binding-pin" was distributed by Ackermann company. Spencer shows drawings of the pin in Appendix I (following Appendix H) of his autobiography along with published descriptions of its uses.

In 1902, shortly before his death, Spencer was nominated for the nobel Prize for literature. He continued writing all his life, in later years often by dictation, until he succumbed to poor health at the age. His ashes are interred in the eastern side of London's Highgate cemetery facing Karl Marx 's grave. At Spencer's funeral the Indian nationalist leader Shyamji Krishnavarma announced a donation of 1,000 to establish a lectureship at Oxford University in tribute to Spencer and his work. 15 Synthetic philosophy edit The basis for Spencer's appeal to many of his generation was that he appeared to offer a ready-made system of belief which could substitute for conventional religious faith at a time when orthodox creeds were crumbling under the advances of modern. Spencer's philosophical system seemed to demonstrate that it was possible to believe in the ultimate perfection of humanity on the basis of advanced scientific conceptions such as the first law of thermodynamics and biological evolution. In essence Spencer's philosophical vision was formed by a combination of deism and positivism.

His works were translated into german, Italian, Spanish, French, russian, japanese and Chinese, and into many other languages and he was offered honours and awards all over Europe and North America. He also became a member of the Athenaeum, an exclusive gentleman's Club in London open only to those distinguished in the arts and sciences, and the x club, a dining club of nine founded. Huxley that met every month and included some of the most prominent thinkers of the victorian age (three of whom would become presidents of the royal Society ). Members included physicist-philosopher John Tyndall and Darwin's cousin, the banker and biologist Sir John Lubbock. There were also some quite significant satellites such as liberal clergyman Arthur Stanley, the dean of Westminster; and guests such as Charles Darwin and Hermann von Helmholtz were entertained from time to time. Through such associations, Spencer had a strong presence in the heart of the scientific community and was able to secure an influential audience for his views.


Despite his growing wealth and fame he never owned a house of his own. The last decades of Spencer's life were characterised by growing disillusionment and loneliness. He never married, and after 1855 was a perpetual hypochondriac who complained endlessly of pains and maladies that no physician could diagnose. Citation needed by the 1890s his readership had begun to desert him while many of his closest friends died and he had come to doubt the confident faith in progress that he had made the center-piece of his philosophical system. His later years were also ones in which his political views became increasingly conservative. Whereas Social Statics had been the work of a radical democrat who believed in votes for women (and even for children) and in the nationalisation of the land to break the power of the aristocracy, by the 1880s he had become a staunch opponent. Spencer's political views from this period were expressed in what has become his most famous work, the man Versus the State.

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This was in contrast to the views of many theologians of the time who insisted that some parts of creation, in particular the human soul, were beyond the realm of scientific investigation. Comte's Système de Philosophie positive had been written with the ambition of demonstrating the universality database of natural law, and Spencer was to follow Comte in the scale of his ambition. However, Spencer differed from Comte in believing it was possible to discover a single law of universal application which he identified with progressive development and was to call the principle of evolution. In 1858 Spencer produced an outline of what was to become the system of Synthetic Philosophy. This immense undertaking, which has few parallels in the English language, aimed to demonstrate that the principle of evolution applied in biology, psychology, sociology (Spencer appropriated Comte's term for the new discipline) and morality. Spencer envisaged that this work of ten volumes would take twenty years to complete; in the end it took him twice as long and consumed almost all the rest of his long life. Despite Spencer's early struggles to establish himself as a writer, by the 1870s he had become the most famous philosopher of the age. 13 His works were widely read during his lifetime, and by 1869 he was able to support himself solely on the profit of book sales and on income from his regular contributions to victorian periodicals which were collected as three volumes of Essays.

essay on the origin of human knowledge

The book was thesis founded on the fundamental assumption that the human mind was subject to natural laws and that these could be discovered within the framework of general biology. This permitted the adoption of a developmental perspective not merely in terms of the individual (as in traditional psychology but also of the species and the race. Through this paradigm, Spencer aimed to reconcile the associationist psychology of Mill's Logic, the notion that human mind was constructed from atomic sensations held together by the laws of the association of ideas, with the apparently more 'scientific' theory of phrenology, which located specific mental. 10 As a young man Spencer argued that both these theories were partial accounts of the truth: repeated associations of ideas were embodied in the formation of specific strands of brain tissue, and these could be passed from one generation to the next by means. The Psychology, he believed, would do for the human mind what Isaac Newton had done for matter. 11 However, the book was not initially successful and the last of the 251 copies of its first edition was not sold until June 1861. Spencer's interest in psychology derived from a more fundamental concern which was to establish the universality of natural law. 12 In common with others of his generation, including the members of Chapman's salon, he was possessed with the idea of demonstrating that it was possible to show that everything in the universe including human culture, language, and morality could be explained by laws.

intellectual or professional discipline. He worked as a civil engineer during the railway boom of the late 1830s, while also devoting much of his time to writing for provincial journals that were nonconformist in their religion and radical in their politics. From 1848 to 1853 he served as sub-editor on the free-trade journal The Economist, during which time he published his first book, social Statics (1851 which predicted that humanity would eventually become completely adapted to the requirements of living in society with the consequential withering. Its publisher, john Chapman, introduced Spencer to his salon which was attended by many of the leading radical and progressive thinkers of the capital, including John Stuart Mill, harriet Martineau, george henry lewes and Mary Ann evans ( george Eliot with whom he was briefly. Spencer himself introduced the biologist Thomas Henry huxley, who would later win fame as 'darwin's Bulldog' and who remained his lifelong friend. However it was the friendship of evans and Lewes that acquainted him with John Stuart Mill's a system of Logic and with Auguste comte 's positivism and which set him on the road to his life's work. He strongly disagreed with Comte. 9 The first fruit of his friendship with evans and Lewes was Spencer's second book, principles of Psychology, published in 1855, which explored a physiological basis for psychology.

Charles Darwin 's, on the Origin of Species. 5, this term strongly yardage suggests natural selection, yet as Spencer extended evolution into realms of sociology and ethics, he also made use. 6, contents, spencer was born in, derby, england, on, the son of William george Spencer (generally called george). Spencer's father was a religious dissenter who drifted from Methodism to quakerism, and who seems to have transmitted to his son an opposition to all forms of authority. He ran a school founded on the progressive teaching methods of Johann heinrich Pestalozzi and also served as Secretary of the derby Philosophical Society, a scientific society which had been founded in 1783 by Erasmus Darwin, the grandfather of Charles Darwin. Spencer was educated in empirical science by his father, while the members of the derby Philosophical Society introduced him to pre-darwinian concepts of biological evolution, particularly those of Erasmus Darwin and jean-Baptiste lamarck. His uncle, the reverend Thomas Spencer, 7 vicar of Hinton Charterhouse near Bath, completed Spencer's limited formal education by teaching him some mathematics and physics, and enough Latin to enable him to translate some easy texts. Thomas Spencer also imprinted on his nephew his own firm free-trade and anti-statist political views.

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For other people named Herbert Spencer, see. Herbert Spencer ( 8 December 1903) was an English philosopher, biologist, anthropologist, sociologist, and year prominent classical liberal political theorist of the, victorian era. Spencer developed an all-embracing conception of evolution as the progressive development of the physical world, biological organisms, the human mind, and human culture and societies. As a polymath, he contributed to a wide range of subjects, including ethics, religion, anthropology, economics, political theory, philosophy, literature, astronomy, biology, sociology, and psychology. During his lifetime he achieved tremendous authority, mainly in English-speaking academia. "The only other English philosopher to have achieved anything like such widespread popularity was. Bertrand Russell, and that was in the 20th century." 1, spencer was "the single most famous European intellectual in the closing decades of the nineteenth century" 2 3 but his influence declined sharply after 1900: "Who now reads Spencer?" asked. Talcott Parsons in 1937. 4, spencer is best known for the expression " survival of the fittest which he coined in, principles of biology (1864 after reading.


Essay on the origin of human knowledge
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are in order you are embarking on an activity that is going to change the way you think and add to the overall body of human knowledge. Publishers Note The rst series of Essays on the gita appeared in the monthly review Arya between August 1916 and July 1918.

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  1. An essay on the origin of language, based on modern researches, and especially on the works. Essai sur l'origine des connaissances Essay on the origin of human knowledge in oeuvres Completes Tome. review of the origin of the conflict between Popper and Ludwig Wittgenstein, focused on events leading up to their volatile first. Therefore, he almost completely ignored the topic of human evolution in On the Origin of Species. On the phrase default of origin as applied to derrida's work,.

  2. published his, essay on the, origin of, human, knowledge, one of many attempts during the century to determine how we organize and. The, origin of, species' by Charles Darwin in 1859 human evolution was not specifically mentioned, only that light. sixth grade a group of the origin of knowledge there was written in education india tamil general knowledge essays his experience. our essay writing professionals, it is build upon the knowledge from natural sciences, including the discoveries about the origin. Buy custom The origin Story of Human Race essay and eve have eaten from the fruit of knowledge and become aware of their nakedness. an attack on the cartesian view of knowledge, which holds that human beings are born with certain ideas already in their mind.

  3. Basic Writings, on the, origin of the work of Art. 1st Harper Perennial Modern Thought Edition.,. an, essay on the, origin of, human, knowledge, being a supplement. Essay on the, human, understanding, Translated by Thomas. Jean-Jacques rousseau, on the, origin. Inequality; On the political Economy; Emile or, On Education, The social Contract.

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