Forever on the Scaffold By Roderick on April 3, 2008 3 Charles Johnson defends Herbert Spencer against Richard Dawkins. Ethics, Left-Libertarian, Spencer
Clearly, evil and wickedness must have been selected for by evolution, since there is so much of both. 🙂
I’ve seen Spencer misunderstood this way many times. It annoys me.
BTW, have you seen Jacoby’s new book The Age of American Unreason? It actually contains MORE Spencer-bashing than Freethinkers! Most of the third chapter is about the evils of “Social Darwinism” promogulated by Spencer and Sumner. And many of the points are repeated right out of the ones in Freethinkers, with many of the same phrases being recycled almost verbatim from the earlier material.
Oh, and I found a piece where Jacoby herself explains why she airbrushed Rand and Mencken from her history of freethought: because she doesn’t consider them to be freethinkers at all (!), again because of the evils of “right-wing social Darwinism”:
“American freethought has run the gamut from deism–belief in a God who set the universe in motion but takes no active role in the affairs of men–to outright atheism. Freethinkers are not necessarily atheists (neither Thomas Paine nor Thomas Jefferson were atheists, but both were freethinkers), and atheists are not necessarily freethinkers. The novelist Ayn Rand and the satirist H.L. Mencken, both well-known for their atheism, were devotees not of the democratic freethought tradition but, ultimately, of right-wing social Darwinism.”