Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Spencer, Herbert (1820–1903)
Herbert Spencer's name is associated with a general theory of evolutionary change that covered moral beliefs and social and political institutions, winning him a worldwide reputation in the second half of the nineteenth century, a reputation that waned, however, in the twentieth century, but is now undergoing a reappraisal. Spencer was born in Derby, England, on April 27, 1820. His father was a noted teacher and secretary of the town's science-minded philosophical society. His parents shared nonconformism in religion; his mother's impact on his childhood was dwarfed by his father's passion for the causes of things and radical questioning of authority. In 1833, responsibility for Spencer's education passed to his evangelical uncle Thomas, a Cambridge graduate and perpetual curate of Hinton Charterhouse, Somerset. Spencer initially absconded, but an enduring bond developed with his uncle while at Hinton. Mathematics and science appealed more than languages and history. He assisted with his ...