Riddles of the sphinx: a study in the philosophy of humanism - PDF by F. C. S. Schiller

Study in the philosophy of humanism

Study in the philosophy of humanism
study in the philosophy of humanism

It is no easy matter to compose a new preface to a book on metaphysics written twenty years ago. For in twenty years, even the most stationary of subjects may make some progress, and even the most case-hardened of metaphysicians must have had a good deal more experience, and ought to know a good deal better. It happens, moreover, as regards the present book, that the subject has evolved at a revolutionary rate, and that its author has been carried along in the central whirl of the movement. 

The discovery in philosophic method, which is generally called Pragmatism, but more truly and significantly Humanism, has rendered more or less out of date every earlier work in metaphysics, in much the same way as the rise of evolutionism rendered out of date every pre-Darwinian book on biology, not of course in the sense that nothing of value remained in the work of the earlier era, but because so distinctive a novelty had come into being among philosophic positions that it was imperative that every writer should define his attitude towards it. 

But this revolution has antiquated no work more painfully than that of those who have been most conspicuously sympathetic towards the new method and have most wholeheartedly adopted it. For they must feel most keenly the defectiveness, stupidity and blindness of their earlier gropings.

The practical difficulties to be surmounted in a revision of Riddles of the Sphinx, would therefore probably have seemed insuperable if I had not felt that I owed a debt of gratitude to the taste of the unknown public which throughout those twenty years steadily showed its appreciation of a work for which neither its author nor the critics had done anything to speak of The author had flung it namelessly upon an alien world and then turned to other researches; the critics, as was natural, had ignored it. For, of course, it was a hard book to review; it could neither be dealt with by the method of reviewing the author's last book nor by noticing the label of the school to which it belonged and discoursing about that. 

Its readers, therefore, could not but be people who had found it out for themselves; and so, when a new edition was called for, it seemed a duty to make a special effort to continue to cater for their taste. /Yet it could not conscientiously be issued without extensive revision.

For not only had my own views undergone enormous development and expansion, owing to the philosophic revolution I have referred to, but my estimate of the proper place of philosophy in the world, and my attitude towards metaphysics, had been deeply modified, and I could not honestly refrain from indicating this.

The change in both cases has tended towards greater modesty. I no longer dare to claim so much cosmic im- portance, either for philosophy in general or for my own speculations in particular. Greater experience of the world has forced me to admit that philosophers have enormously exaggerated the importance of their functions and that the world has always known little, and cared less, about what they thought of it.

the book details :
  • Author: F. C. S. Schiller
  • Publication date: 1910
  • Company: London: s. Sonnenschein; New York, Macmillan

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