Herbert Spencer


From AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY, 1904 by Herbert Spencer

Connected with my residence in the house of Mr. Wilson . . there is but one incident worth recalling.

Up to this time I had never paid any attention to mental philosophy, save under the form of phrenology ; respecting some doctrines of which my criticisms . . imply a leaning towards subjective analysis. But the science of mind had no temptation for me, otherwise than as affording these occasions for independent judgment : there had never been any deliberate study of it. All through my life Locke's Essay had been before me on my father's shelves, but I had never taken it down ; or, at any rate, I have no recollection of having ever read a page of it. My glance over a small part of Mill's Logic . . had, indeed, shown that there was a latent interest in psychological questions of the intellectual class ; but nothing more had come of it. Now, however, I was led to consider one of the cardinal problems which the theory of human intelligence presents.

For I found in Mr. Wilson's house . . a copy of a translation of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, at that time, I believe, recently published. This I commenced reading, but did not go far. The doctrine that Time and Space are " nothing but " subjective forms,—pertain exclusively to consciousness and have nothing beyond consciousness answering to them,—I rejected at once and absolutely ; and, having done so, went no further. Being then, as always, an impatient reader, even of things which in large measure interest me and meet with a general acceptance, it has always been out of the question for me to go on reading a book the fundamental principles of which I entirely dissent from. Tacitly giving an author credit for consistence, I, without thinking much about the matter, take it for granted that if the fundamental principles are wrong the rest cannot be right ; and thereupon cease reading—being, I suspect, rather glad of an excuse for doing so.

New York : Appleton 1904,
Vol. I, pp. 288-9.


From MOLE PHILOSOPHY AND OTHER ESSAYS, 1927 by Cassius Jackson Keyser

When I was a very young man Herbert Spencer was in great vogue, so much so that people who did not know what the great thinker had said upon any given subject, and he wrote upon nearly all subjects, were not regarded as being in touch with the best thought of the time.

( Dutton 1927. )
The Collected Works of Cassius Jackson Keyser, Vol. II.
New York : Scripta Mathematica 1952, p. 257.


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