BLTC Press Titles

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Knowledge of Higher Worlds and its Attainment

Rudolf Steiner

Theory of Colours

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The Revolt of the Netherlands

Friedrich Schiller

The Diplomatic Background of the War

Charles Seymour

Glimpses of the cosmos

by Lester Frank Ward


History.—Written January i to December 26, 1892. The bulk of the work, all, in fact, except Chapters XXXIII and XXXVIII, was written from January 1 to March 17th. None of it was rewitten.

AFTER the appearance of Dynamic Sociology in 1883, I dropped philosophy for the most part during a number of years and devoted myself almost exclusively to science, for the pursuit of which my connection with the United States Geological Survey afforded such a splendid opportunity. But echoes of my book kept coming to my ears, and the apparent dulness of the critics in failing to comprehend the simplest principles somewhat exasperated me. But I did not wish to put the responsibility wholly upon them, and I realized that a part of it must belong to me in assuming too much on their part.

The great stumbling block was my theory of social forces, which had seemed to me too simple and self-evident to require a minute psychological analysis. They were simply defined, assumed as known, and then very thoroughly classified and exhaustively treated. On November 7, 1889, a club was formed for the reading of Schopenhauer's works, and the Welt als Wille und Vorstellung was read that winter. It impressed me profoundly, as I saw that Schopenhauer's Wille was the same as my social forces. I also saw that his philosophy gave a subjective trend to human thought. Thenceforward my mind turned largely to psychology, and especially to subjective psychology, or the philosophy of the feelings. Being asked to address a joint meeting of the Channing Club and the Emerson Art Club in the fall of 1891, I prepared notes on what I first called Philosophy from the Side of the Feelings, and later Subjective Psychology, or the Philosophy of the Feelings, and delivered the address on December 17, 1891, before a large but very select audience at All Souls Church. It was too long (an hour and three quarters), but all stayed and heard me through. They also gave me a vote of thanks and made complimentary speeches.

"The congratulations at the close of the meeting were profuse. It was the most important effort I ever made at off-hand speaking, and there is no subject in which I am more interested than that of Subjective Psychology or the Philosophy of the Feelings."

So runs the record. Mr. Victor Louis Mason was present and took down my remarks in shorthand, and he was good enough to write them out on the typewriter and give them to me. Words that he was unable to understand he left space for, and I have gone through and inserted them and revised the manuscript. That manuscript I still possess.

As that address was delivered before I had decided to write a book, and as it so largely foreshadows the book itself, I will introduce it here.

Ladies And Gentlemen:

It shall be my principal purpose this evening to draw your attention to what I regard as an important advance—an advance almost amounting to a revolution—or a change of front in philosophy, which is going on at the present time, and has been in process for some fifty years and upwards. There are two kinds of philosophy which may be classified respectively as cosmology and psychology. Cosmology deals with the universe, as the term implies, and philosophers of all ages have been working at the universe with the view to understand the one we have, or to create one of their own. They sometimes characterize this as the macrocosm, as distinguished from the study of man, whom they call the microcosm; but in studying man they have almost exclusively, until recently, confined their investigations to the mind of man, and, as I shall endeavor to show, to one—important it is true—but relatively small department of the human mind. The great cosmologists or cosmological philosophers may be enumerated. I will mention the names of only a few as illustrative of what I mean by cosmological philosophy. Among the ancients: Thales, Pythagoras, Democritus, Lucretius, and certainly Aristotle, whether we include Socrates or not; in the middle ages, St. Augustine and the other metaphysical dialecticians; in more modern times: Bacon, Hobbes, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibnitz, and probably, Newton; and still more recently, within the present century, Comte; and of our living philosophers, certainly Spencer. But the revolution which has taken place in cosmology, while it is equally great with that which has taken place in psychology, has led to our modern scientific philosophy, and it is not my purpose to dwell upon this change. Note, however, that we now have, in place of philosophers proper, great men of science—men like Darwin, Huxley, Tyndali, and many others.

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