The American Science of Politics: Its Origins and Conditions

By Bernard Crick | Go to book overview

III
AMERICAN LIBERALISM
REFURBISHED BY PROGRESS:
SPENCER AND DARWIN

It was reserved for Herbert Spencer to discover this all-comprehensive
law which is found to explain alike all the phenomena of man's
history and all those of external nature. This sublime discovery, that
the Universe is in a continuous process of evolution from the homo-
geneous to the heterogeneous, with which only Newton's law of
gravitation is at all worthy to be compared, underlies not only physics,
but also history.

From a review of the American edition of Spencer
First Principles in the National Quarterly Review

H. Spencer you English never quite do justice to, or at least those I
have talked to do not. He is dull. He writes an ugly uncharming
style, his ideals are those of a lower middle class British Philistine.
And yet after all abatements I doubt if any writer of English except
Darwin has done so much to affect our whole way of thinking about
the Universe.

OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES, JR., in a letter
to Sir Frederick Pollock


1. The Role and Need of Progress

WHILE the colleges and universities expanded and reorganized and the systematic study of politics began, there were also, as conditions of this same age of enterprise, new intellectual doctrines that were widely and warmly received. These became so influential that, although at first rarely mirrored in the actual lectures offered in the new Political Science departments, yet they formed the foreground of an educated man's thought at that time and the background of ideas without which the distinctive development of the method of political science in the early twentieth century could not be understood.

The theories of a necessary progress and of a therapeutic science

-37-

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