Studies in humanism
Of the essays which compose this volume about half have appeared in various periodicals Mind, the Hibbert Journal, the Quarterly Review, the Fortnightly Review, and the Journal of Philosophy during the past three years, and I am indebted to their editors for the leave to republish. Additions have, however, grown so extensive that of the matter of the book not more than one-third, and that the less constructive part, can be said to have been in print before.
That the form should still be discontinuous is due to the fact that the conditions under which I have had to work greatly hamper and delay the composition of a continuous treatise, and that it seemed imperative to deal more expeditiously with the chief strategic points of the philosophic situation. I hope, however, that the dis- continuity of the form will not be found incompatible with an essential continuity of aim, argument, and interest. In all these respects the present Studies may- most naturally be regarded as a continuation of Humanism and of my share in Personal Idealism, without, however, ceasing to be independently intelligible.
They have had to reflect the developments of philosophy and the progress of discussion, and this has rendered them, I fear, slightly more technical on the whole than Humanism. Nor can their main topic, the meaning of Truth, be made an altogether popular subject.
On the other hand, they touch more fully than Humanism on subjects that are less exclusively technical, such as the nature of our freedom and the religious aspects of philosophy. That is the construction of the content should be somewhat largely mixed with controversy is in some respects regrettable. But whether one can avoid controversy depends largely on whether one's doctrines are allowed an opportunity for peaceful development. Also on what one has undertaken to do. And in this case, the most harmless experiments in fog - dispelling have been treated as profanations of the most sacred mysteries.
It is, however, quite true that the undertaking of the new philosophy may be regarded as in some ways the most stupendous in the history of thought. Heine, in a well-known passage, once declared the feats of the German Transcendentalists to have been more terrific than those of the French Revolutionaries, in that they decapitated a Deity and not a mere mortal king. But what was the Transcendental boldness of Kant, as described by Heine, when armed only with the ' Pure Reason,' and attended only by his ' faithful Lampe ' and an umbrella, he ' stormed Heaven and put the whole garrison to the sword,' to the Transatlantic audacity of a philosophy which is seriously suspected of penetrating into the ' supercelestial ' heavens of the Pure Reason, and of there upsetting the centre of gravity of the Intelligible Universe, of dethroning the ' Higher Synthesis of the Devil and the Deity,' the Absolute, and of instituting a general ' Gbtzendammerung ' of the Eternal Ideas?
Even its avowed aim of humanising Truth, and bringing it back to earth from such altitudes, seems at least as sacrilegious and Promethean as the theft of fire. What wonder, then, that such transcelestial conflagrations should kindle burning questions on the earth, and be reflected in the heating of terrestrial tempers? But after all, the chief warrant for polemical handling of these matters is its strict relevance. The new truths are most easily understood by contrast with the old perplexities, and the necessity of advancing in their direction is rendered most evident by the impossibility of advancing in any other.
Preface--I. The definition of pragmatism and humanism--II. From Plato to Protagoras.--III. The relations of logic and psychology.--IV. Truth and Mr. Bradley.--V. The ambiguity of truth.--VI. The nature of truth.--VII. The making of truth.--VIII. Absolute truth and absolute reality.--XI. Empiricism and the absolute.--X. Is absolute idealism solipsistic? XI. Absolutism and the dissociation of the personality.--XII. Absolutism and religion.--XIII. The papyri of Philonous, I-II.--XIV. I. Protogoras the humanist.--XV. II A dialogue concerning gods and priests.--XVI. Faith, reason, and religion.--XVII. The progress of psychical research.--XVIII. Freedom.--XIX. The making of reality.--XX. Dreams and idealism.-- Index
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