The English philosopher Herbert Spencer (1820 - 1903) was a colossus of the Victorian age. His works ranked alongside those of Darwin and Marx in the development of disciplines as wide ranging as sociology, anthropology, political theory, philosophy and psychology.
In this acclaimed study of Spencer, the first for over thirty years and now available in paperback, Mark Francis provides an authoritative and meticulously researched intellectual biography of this remarkable man that dispels the plethora of misinformation surrounding Spencer and shines new light on the broader cultural history of the nineteenth century. In this major study of Spencer, the first for over thirty years, Mark Francis provides an authoritative and meticulously researched intellectual biography of this remarkable man. Using archival material and contemporary printed sources, Francis creates a fascinating portrait of a human being whose philosophical and scientific system was a unique attempt to explain modern life in all its biological, psychological and sociological forms.
Herbert Spencer and the Invention of Modern Life fills what is perhaps the last big biographical gap in Victorian history. An exceptional work of scholarship it not only dispels the plethora of misinformation surrounding Spencer but shines new light on the broader cultural history of the nineteenth century. Elegantly written, provocative and rich in insight it will be required reading for all students of the period.
Mark Francis is Professor of Political Science at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.
Preface List of Illustrations Introduction Part I An Individual and his Personal Culture 1. A Portrait of a Private Man 2. The Longing for Passion 3. The Problem with Women 4. Feminist Politics 5. Culture and Beauty 6. Eccentricities: Health and the Perils of Recreation Part II The Lost World of Spencer's Metaphysics 7. The New Reformation 8. Intellectuals in the Strand 9. The Genesis of a System 10. Common Sense in the Mid-Nineteenth Century 11. From Philosophy to Psychology Part III Spencer's Biological Writings and his Philosophy of Science 12. On Goodness, Perfection and the Shape of Living Things 13. The Meaning of Life 14. Science and the Classification of Knowledge Part IV Politics and Ethical Sociology 15. The Spencerian Foundations of Liberalism 16. Early Victorian Radicalism 17. Sociology as an Ethical Discipline 18. Sociology as Political Theory 19. Progress 'versus' Democracy Notes Bibliography Index