In May 1969 the Principal of Edinburgh University wrote to J. R. Lucas in these terms:
Dear Mr Lucas,
You will, I am sure, know what our Gifford Lectures are. In the past we have nearly always invited one lecturer to give a double series, that is to say, 10 lectures one year and 10 lectures the next year, and these are normally printed as a book.
The Gifford Committee, however, is disposed for the period 1971/72 and 1972/73 to try something different. Our idea, which is by no means fully formulated, is to persuade, if we can, four people to combine, giving perhaps five lectures each, with, we would hope, some joint seminars or disputations, the whole thing to be a developing concept. The general theme would be in the very broadest sense the development of mind, and we hope to start with a physical scientist, to move on with an animal behaviourist, or a psychologist, then some sort of philosopher, and finally a theologian.
We now have in the University as a Royal Society Professor someone who is, I believe, a friend of yours, namely Christopher Longuet-Higgins, who is much concerned nowadays with the physical basis of mind, and he has agreed to take part. We have just had a further meeting of the Committee with him, as a result of which we felt unanimously that we should like to ask you to be the theological participant. Although we had a number of ideas of biologists, psychologists, and philosophers of one sort or another, we didn't feel quite sure who would fit in best, and in the end we agreed that I should approach you to see whether you were in any way interested, and, if you were, further to invite you to get together with Christopher Longuet-Higgins and decide what other people you might like to rope in.…
The invitation was accepted, and before long the team was completed by the recruitment of A. J. P. Kenny, representing philosophy, and C. H. Waddington, representing biology. The individual participants gave notice that they might step outside their allotted roles, as indeed they did when the time came. It was agreed to entitle the two-year series The Phenomenon of Mind; the title of the 1971/72 lectures would be The Nature of Mind and of the 1972/73 lectures The Development of Mind.
The lectures comprising The Nature of Mind were published in 1972; the second series of lectures was duly given, and the present volume is a record of them. In writing them up we have been a little kinder to ourselves than with the first series, and have attempted to transform our more rambling remarks into acceptable prose. As in the previous year, most of the lectures began with a formal presentation by one of the lecturers, followed by a discussion introduced by another who had seen the detailed text of the prepared talk. But in the fifth lecture we attempted to answer questions submitted in advance by members of the audience, and in the last lecture we took it in turn to answer questions put to us by our three colleagues.
As before we would like to express our sincere thanks to Sir Michael Swann, and to our other colleagues who took the Chair. Our special thanks are due to Miss Constance Masterton, the secretary of the Gifford Committee, for her tact and efficiency in making all the practical arrangements.
H. C. Longuet-Higgins
J. R. Lucas
C. H. Waddington.