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Preface to the Second Edition

THOUGH the first edition of this work was exhausted more than a year ago, my engagements have prevented me till recently from completing such revision as seemed essential to the issue of a second. Besides making numerous corrections and emendations in the text, suggested by various reviewers and correspondents, I have added at the end of each volume a number of ‘Explanatory Notes,’ dealing chiefly with controverted points. In a Supplementary Note to Part I, I have endeavoured to reply to the defence of ‘physical realism’ advanced by Sir Arthur Rücker in his Presidential Address to the British Association in 1901.

The wish has been frequently expressed that, instead of stopping short on the threshold of Spiritualistic Monism, I had proceeded to discuss the relation of God as the Supreme Mind to finite minds. When I began to write these lectures, eight years ago, I planned to devote the second course to the subject of Optimism and Pessimism and to find in this an opportunity for a full discussion of the problem of the One and the Many in its most important aspects. But my first topic, Naturalism and Agnosticism, proved too unwieldy, and gradually absorbed all the time and space at my command. After the publication of the first edition I still had thoughts of writing one or two lectures dealing with this problem to be added to a second edition, should one be called for. But the said lectures are still unwritten and the writing would take me long. Meanwhile several important works have appeared devoted chiefly or entirely to this problem,1 and I now feel that such cursory treatment as I contemplated would be out of place and unsatisfactory: out of place, because, after all, my main purpose was to deal with what I have called ‘the demurrer’ of the scientific spirit of the age to theism altogether; and unsatisfactory, because it is plain that any adequate treatment of so large a question cannot be brief. So I must revert to my original plan and rest content with the hope that in the future I may have time and strength to accomplish it.

Professor Poynting and Dr. Hobson have again laid me under deep obligations by generous help; and to Professor J. Arthur Thomson of Aberdeen I am indebted for valuable direction in biological matters.


May, 1903.

  • 1.

    I refer especially to the two volumes, The World and The Individual (1900-1901), by my successor in the Gifford Lectureship at Aberdeen, Professor Royce of Harvard; also to Professor Howison's Limits of Evolution (1901), Dr. M‘Taggart's Studies in Hegelian Cosmology (1901), Professor James's Varieties of Religious Experience (1902), and M. Renouvier's Le Personnalisme (1903).