Herbert Spencer

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Herbert Spencer

Postby Tommy-S » Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:58 pm

"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" __ Herbert Spencer (BB, Appendix II)

Q. What is the story behind the Herbert Spencer quote in Appendix II of the Big Book?

A. The Herbert Spencer quote first appeared in the First Edition, First Printing of the Big Book (1939), on page 380, at the beginning of the story “An Artist’s Concept.” The quote was included with this story throughout all 16 printings of the First Edition, from 1939 through 1955. That story was dropped when the Second Edition of the Big Book was published in 1955 – and the Spencer quote was dropped with it. The Spencer quote does not appear in the Second Edition/First Printing (1955) or the Second Edition/Second Printing (1957). However, the quote was added to the Third Printing of the Second Edition in 1959, at the end of Appendix II, where it still appears today.

We have been unable to locate the source for this quote in any work by Spencer, who published an enormous amount on a great variety of topics. The quote is attributed to Spencer on page 650 of The Great Quotations, compiledby George Seldes and published in 1961. More recently, one scholar conducted a considerable amount of research into the origin of the quote and concluded that it derives from a Christian apologetic work by the 18th Century British theologian William Paley. We can neither confirm nor refute this finding, but share it here as an additional resource. (Frequently asked Questions about AA History http://www.aa.org/subpage.cfm?page=287#diecisiete
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