Herbert SpencerHerbert Spencer, (1820-1903) British author, economist, philosopher

Questionable Herbert Spencer Quote

“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is a proof against all argument, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is condemnation before investigation.”

Herbert SpencerHerbert Spencer
~ Herbert Spencer

Often cited as a quote from Social Statics (1850); however, the quote is not in the text:

Ratings and Comments

deBish, www.playingitloud.com

Quoter corroborated by "The Great Quotations" George Seldes -Pocket Books, NY 1960,1967

Richard R., Texas

I thought it was contempt prior to investigation!

Waffler, Smith

Good translation Robert. In my local paper a letter to the editor asked them not to publish a politicians party designation beside their name as in (D) or (R). I thought it an excellent suggestion. That might go far in advancing us from the darkness of ignorance.

Mike, Norwalk

I don't know that the quote's concept can be placed under the umbrella of a principle but, accurate none-the-less, most of the time.

cal, lewisville, tx

Herbert Spencer, the "Father of Sociology" did say to "leave society alone-it will find it's own way." Will someone inform our social engineers in DC about this!

J Carlton, Calgary

Oddly, my first thought went to Janet Napolitano's campaign and her list of "right wing extremists". Veterans returning from overseas, NRA members, Ron Paul accolites, Minuteman organizations...you know "Real American Patriots". I wonder what label they'll get next....Dissidents? Subversives?

jim k, austin

Right on, Cal. Along with this, here's my definition as to the difference between a politician and a rattle snake. A rattle snake won't bother, annoy, or hurt you unless you bother it first.

jim k, austin

J carlton, don't forget us nasty Tea Party folk.

J Carlton, Calgary

Right Jim...can't forget the Tea Party folks. Keep up the good work.

  • Reply
RBESRQ    9/22/09

yes, yes. 100%

  • Reply
    Anonymous    9/23/09

    Now you guys ignore the quote and go to labeling yourselves and naming all those other labels, in effect condemning or more like promoting a group (Tea Party'ers) rather than their teachings or what they say. It is interesting that when politicians retire and sit around they can agree on a lot of things, once they drop their labels.

    E Archer, NYC

    One of the reasons I could never call myself a 'democrat' or 'republican' or 'christian' or 'atheist' or even 'right.' The search for truth or even the willingness to question one's own beliefs is not as easy as simply reacting out of one's own predjudices. While the truth may be in front of us, we can often jump to simple conclusions (usually those that benefit us in some way). The truth is often uncomfortable and even scary. Deluding ourselves is easier and places responsibility on others.

    L Frechette, San Rafael, CA

    I too think it is "contempt prior to investigation."

    Bob, Charlotte, VT

    Brain-stirring !


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