The first libertarian

Abstract

In his short review of The Political Philosophy of Herbert Spencer , Timothy Virkkala (May 1999) praises Tim S. Gray's discussion of the great classical liberal's methodology as a synthesis of "individualist" and "holist" approaches to social theory. But Virkkala remarks This method -I'm tempted to call it "dialectical," but Spencer's prose and position seem so far from Hegel's that the term is almost indecent -confuses many readers. But it is surely his strength. Gray is one of the few Spencer scholars to see this method as fundamental, and to present sophisticated analyses of Spencer's syntheses. It is unfortunate that Virkkala refuses to give into his temptation, because crucially significant aspects of Herbert Spencer's work are, indeed, dialectical.

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Chris Sciabarra
New York University

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