Tradition and Progress

Tradition and Progress

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Tradition and Progress

Tradition and Progress

Read FREE!

Excerpt

Several of these papers have appeared in periodicals or been published in the proceedings of societies, and I have to thank the editors or the committees for the permission to reprint.

To make a collection even on a small scale of one's occasional writings on popular subjects throughout a long period of years is, I find, a matter of some anxiety. A man has generally little confidence in his past self. There is no knowing what it may have done, or what foolish things it may have thought or written, ten or twenty years ago. I confess that when I began to look through my papers with a view to the present selection I rather expected to find embarrassing self-contradictions or indiscretions of which I should now be ashamed. In this I was agreeably disappointed, but I did find what from the reader's point of view is perhaps worse, a good deal of repetition, or rather a constant attempt, by different means and in different contexts, to say very much the same thing. This discovery has suggested the order in which the essays are now arranged. Popular essays--if I may venture to hope that these are in any sense popular--are normally written upon large and profound subjects about which neither the writer nor the reader can claim exact knowledge. That is inevitable and by no means blameworthy. Yet it does seem fair to ask that one who takes it upon him to advise his neighbours about uncertain and speculative things ought first to possess exact knowledge about something or other. It is not merely that he ought to know some little corner of the world before passing judgements on the world as a whole. He ought also to know the difference between knowing and not . . .

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