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MODERN HUMANISTS

SOCIOLOGICAL STUDIES OF CARLYLE, MILL, EMERSON

ARNOLD, RUSKIN, AND SPENCER

WITH

AN EPILOGUE ON SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION

BY

JOHN M. ROBERTSON
AUTHOR OF “ESSAYS TOWARDS A CRITICAL METHOD; " “CHRIST AND

KRISHNA; THE PERVERSION OF SCOTLAND;" &c.

91

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PREFACE.

THE following papers, excepting the Epilogue, which condenses an unwritten lecture, were first prepared and delivered last winter as a course of lectures for the South Place Ethical Society, London, under the title “Modern Criticisms of Life." The title “Modern Humanists" is now substituted because of a strong representation made to me that “Criticism of Life” is an esoteric conception, which has not yet conquered the general intelligence, however wide be the literary vogue of the phrase. "Humanist" is, perhaps, not quite a popular conception either, but the significance of that term is less easily missed, and it properly covers the different lines of thought dealt with. At the same time, the original title determined the small amount of space given to the purely literary side of the work of the writers discussed.

To a certain extent some of the lectures have been extended, and all have been revised; but they substantially keep the lecture form, which, in respect of some past experience, I trust will be more conformable to the general reader's convenience than it has been to my own bookish prejudice. I have attempted to increase the value of the book so far as may be by adding a number of references and elucidations. This has been done more particularly in the section on Carlyle, for the reason that that section stands the greatest chance of exciting opposition, and so most needs to be backed by evidence and testimony.

have elsewhere contended that one of the greatest needs in literary criticism is the comparison and analysis of conflicting judgments, after the example set in the physical sciences; and this will hold good of criticism of characters and doctrines as well as of the discussion of asthetic qualities. Despite attacks made on this view, I can only regret that want of leisure and consequent want of knowledge have hindered me from more fully annotating many points in these papers.

In the essay on Emerson, for instance, certain proposi. tions are made as to the spontaneous nature of critical as of other ideas. Only since those pages went to press have I met with the Théorie de l'Invention of Professor Souriau (1881), which handles the whole problem with remarkable freshness and penetration. And here is a new instance of the need of more careful documentary record in mental and moral science: chancing to resume a former examination of the Idéologie of Destutt de Tracy, I find that he had to a large extent made the investigation independently taken up by M. Souriau. Needless to say, there are other writers to be cited in the same connection.

I have only to express, further, my sense of the inadequacy of the following studies all round, and of one or two in particular. In the essay on Emerson I now note an omission to dwell on valuable points in his teaching which I had formerly acknowledged. Lack of due leisure caused other oversights. But to remedy all would have been to make each section into a treatise ; and I fancy I do better to keep nearly within those limits which, at least, secured an audience for the lectures.

June, 1891.

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