Volume VI of this series presents A Perplexed Philosopher (1892), Henry George’s devastating critique of Herbert Spencer’s changing views on the “land question” after Spencer achieved fame as the author of the “Synthetic Philosophy.” Social Statics (1850), Spencer’s first major work, affirms an equal right of all to the use of the earth. By the early 1890s, Spencer had recanted this view in Justice (1891) and an abridged version of Social Statics (1892). This betrayal of principle by Spencer provoked George to write A Perplexed Philosopher. In this volume, George’s original text is supplemented by critical annotations and an extensive topical bibliography. A cumulative index covers all six volumes in the series.
Henry George wrote A Perplexed Philosopher to correct the many confusions about the land question by a major nineteenth-century philosopher. In doing so, he made a significant contribution to such topics as the issue of compensation, when a wrongful entitlement is taken away from a privilege-holder, and the tendency towards materialistic positivism. A Perplexed Philosopher reveals fundamental differences between George’s philosophical outlook and other prevailing views in the nineteenth century. A Perplexed Philosopher is not only a major contribution to nineteenth-century scholarship with regard to the relation between humanity and nature, but it also illuminates a stark contrast between George’s animating philosophy of equitable reform and Spencer’s philosophy of the status quo.
Francis K. Peddle is professor of philosophy, Dominican University College, Ottawa.
William S. Peirce is professor emeritus of economics, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland.
Francis K. Peddle
Social Evolution and Moral Sophistry
A Perplexed Philosopher: Being an Examination of Mr. Herbert Spencer’s Various Utterances on the Land Question, with some Incidental Reference to his Synthetic Philosophy
Chapter I—“Social Statics”—The right to land
Chapter II—The incongruous passage
Chapter III—“Social Statics”—The right of property
Chapter IV—Mr. Spencer’s confusion as to rights
Chapter V—Mr. Spencer’s confusion as to value
Chapter VI—From “Social Statics” to “Political Institutions”
Chapter I—Letter to the St. James’s Gazette
Chapter II—“The Man versus The State”
Chapter III—Letter to the Times
Chapter IV—This apology examined
Chapter V—Second letter to the Times
Chapter VI—More letters
Chapter I—The fate of “Social Statics”
Chapter II—The place of “Justice” in the synthetic philosophy
Chapter III—The synthetic philosophy
Chapter IV—The idea of “Justice” in the synthetic philosophy
Chapter V—Mr. Spencer’s task
Chapter VI— “The rights to the uses of natural media”
Chapter VII—“Justice” on the right to light and air
Chapter VIII—“Justice” on the right to land
Chapter IX—“Justice”—The right of property
Chapter X—The right of property and the right of taxation
Chapter XII—“Justice”—The land question
Chapter XIII—Principal Brown