Andrew Carnegie

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Andrew Carnegie : biography

November 25, 1835 – August 11, 1919

On the subject of charity Andrew Carnegie’s actions diverged in the most significant and complex manner from Herbert Spencer’s philosophies. In his 1854 essay Manners and Fashion, Spencer referred to public education as “Old schemes”. He went on to declare that public schools and colleges, fill the heads of students with inept useless knowledge, which excludes useful knowledge. Spencer stated that he trusted no organization of any kind, “political, religious, literary, philanthropic”, and believed that as they expanded in influence so too did its regulations expand. In addition Spencer thought that as all institutions grow they become evermore corrupted by the influence of power and money. The institution eventually loses its “original spirit, and sinks into a lifeless mechanism”.Spencer, Herbert. 1854 (Manners and Fashion)The Collected Works of 6 Books (With Active Table of Contents) (Kindle Locations 74639-74656). Kindle Edition. Spencer insisted that all forms of philanthropy uplift the poor and downtrodden were reckless and incompetent. Spencer thought any attempt to prevent “the really salutary sufferings” of the less fortunate “bequeath to posterity a continually increasing curse”.Spencer, Herbert; Eliot, Charles William (2011-09-15). The Collected Works of 6 Books (With Active Table of Contents) (Kindle Locations 45395-45420). Kindle Edition. Carnegie, a self-proclaimed devotee of Spencer, testified to Congress on February 5, 1915: "My business is to do as much good in the world as I can; I have retired from all other business."Nasaw, David. Andrew Carnegie. p 787. Penguin Books. 2007.

Carnegie held that societal progress relied on individuals who maintained moral obligations to themselves and to society.Nasaw, David (2007-10-30). Andrew Carnegie (Kindle Locations 11529-11536). Penguin. Kindle Edition. Furthermore, he believed that charity supplied the means for those who wish to improve themselves to achieve their goals.Carnegie, Andrew (2011-03-31). The Gospel of Wealth and Other Timely Essays (Kindle Locations 747-748). Neeland Media LLC. Kindle Edition. Carnegie urged other wealthy people to contribute to society in the form of parks, works of art, libraries and other endeavors that improve the community and contribute to the “lasting good.”Carnegie, Andrew (2009-12-14). The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie and The Gospel of Wealth . Neeland Media LLC. Kindle Edition. Carnegie also held a strong opinion against inherited wealth. Carnegie believed that the sons of prosperous businesspersons were rarely as talented as their fathers. By leaving large sums of money to their children, wealthy business leaders were wasting resources that could be used to benefit society. Most notably, Carnegie believed that the future leaders of society would rise from the ranks the poor.Carnegie, Andrew (2011-03-31). The Gospel of Wealth and Other Timely Essays (Kindle Locations 682-689). Neeland Media LLC. Kindle Edition. Carnegie strongly believed in this because he had risen from the bottom. He believed the poor possessed an advantage over the wealthy because they receive greater attention from their parents and are taught better work ethics.

Religion and world view

Witnessing sectarianism and strife in 19th century Scotland regarding religion and philosophy, Carnegie kept his distance from organized religion and theism.Nasaw, David. Andrew Carnegie (New York: The Penguin Press, 2006) Carnegie instead preferred to see things through naturalistic and scientific terms stating, "Not only had I got rid of the theology and the supernatural, but I had found the truth of evolution."Carnegie, Andrew. Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie (1920, 2006). ISBN 1-59986-967-5 (p. 339)

Later in life, Carnegie’s firm opposition to religion softened. For many years he was a member of Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, pastored from 1905 to 1926 by Social Gospel exponent Henry Sloane Coffin, while his wife and daughter belonged to the Brick Presbyterian Church.. The New York Times. April 23, 1919. He also prepared (but did not deliver) an address to St. Andrews in which he professed a belief in "an Infinite and Eternal Energy from which all things proceed".