Herbert Spencer’s Synthetic Philosophy

Herbert Spencer isn’t a name that most people would recognize, but his prospectus on the System of Synthetic Philosophy was extremely influential. He was born in Derby in 1820. Though he died in 1903, Spencer’s ideas eerily foreshadowed the way in which humanity would evolve into a technological utopia. Moreover, he was the first individual to apply Darwinian ideology to psychology.

His psychology papers were first published in 1855. Ironically enough, Spencer then suffered a nervous breakdown. However, the System of Synthetic Philosophy would be released in 1860. Through the course of ten volumes, Spencer wrote about how the rhythm and direction of motion is one of the driving forces of human expansion. Knowledge was to become somewhat tangible in the new society. Data is something to be cherished, and information is more precious than any other resource.

Evolution and the laws of evolution were also major driving forces, and these tied back into the conception of the direction of motion. Spencer believed that humanity was slowly beginning to evolve into something new due to the presence of technological and philosophical developments. Time, matter, force, motion and space were all supposed to work together to shape individual human beings.

However, in another sense, humanity is perhaps becoming more collective. These forces act equally upon everyone. As human beings become more developed, these fundamental forces shape them even further. One could postulate that if Spencer were alive today, he’d predict the horizon of a human singularity that collectively represents the consciousness of innumerable thinkers.

Image Credit: Edward Gooch/Getty Images

Post Navigation