Famous Education Quotations from Philosopher Herbert Spencer

Herbert Spencer - Hulton Archive - Stringer Getty Images-2628697
Hulton Archive - Stringer Getty Images-2628697

Herbert Spencer was an English philosopher, prolific writer, and advocate of education, science over religion, and evolution. He wrote four essays on education and is known for espousing that science is the knowledge of the greatest worth.

Herbert Spenser Quotations

“Mother, when your children are irritable, do not make them more so by scolding and fault-finding, but correct their irritability by good nature and mirthfulness. Irritability comes from errors in food, bad air, too little sleep, a necessity for change of scene and surroundings; from confinement in close rooms, and lack of sunshine.”

“The great aim of education is not knowledge, but action.”

“For discipline, as well as for guidance, science is of chiefest value. In all its effects, learning the meaning of things is better than learning the meaning of words.”

“Those who have never entered upon scientific pursuits know not a tithe of the poetry by which they are surrounded.”

“Education has for its object the formation of character.”

“Science is organized knowledge.”

“People are beginning to see that the first requisite to success in life is to be a good animal.”

“In science the important thing is to modify and change one's ideas as science advances.”

“The behavior of men to the lower animals, and their behavior to each other, bear a constant relationship.”

“It cannot but happen…that those will survive whose functions happen to be most nearly in equilibrium with the modified aggregate of external forces…This survival of the fittest implies multiplication of the fittest.”

“Progress, therefore, is not an accident, but a necessity…It is a part of nature.”

“The survival of the fittest, which I have here sought to express in mechanical terms, is that which Mr. Darwin has called "natural selection, or the preservation of favored races in the struggle for life."

“When a man's knowledge is not in order, the more of it he has, the greater will be his confusion.”

“Never educate a child to be a gentleman or lady alone, but to be a man, a woman.”

“How often misused words generate misleading thoughts.”

“The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly, is to fill the world with fools.”

“Every cause produces more than one effect.”

“Government is essentially immoral.”

“Life is the continuous adjustment of internal relations to external relations.”

“Music must take rank as the highest of the fine arts - as the one which, more than any other, ministers to the human spirit.”

“No one can be perfectly free till all are free; no one can be perfectly moral till all are moral; no one can be perfectly happy till all are happy."

“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance - that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”

“Much dearer be the things which come through hard distress.”

“We too often forget that not only is there a soul of goodness in things evil, but very generally a soul of truth in things erroneous.”

“Our lives are universally shortened by our ignorance.”

“Be bold, be bold, and everywhere be bold.”


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Peterson, Deb. "Famous Education Quotations from Philosopher Herbert Spencer." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, thoughtco.com/famous-education-quotations-herbert-spencer-31420. Peterson, Deb. (2021, February 16). Famous Education Quotations from Philosopher Herbert Spencer. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/famous-education-quotations-herbert-spencer-31420 Peterson, Deb. "Famous Education Quotations from Philosopher Herbert Spencer." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/famous-education-quotations-herbert-spencer-31420 (accessed June 10, 2023).