Studies in Contemporary Metaphysics

Studies in Contemporary Metaphysics

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Studies in Contemporary Metaphysics

Studies in Contemporary Metaphysics

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Excerpt

The studies contained in this volume may be described as chips from a metaphysician's workshop, or perhaps I should rather say blocks hewn out experimentally in the effort after a systematic synthesis; not unlike the painter's sketches, or the sculptor's rough modellings in clay, which precede the finished work. The day for systems, we are constantly told, is passed, but not, let us hope, the day for philosophers to continue the effort to think systematically. Much scorn has been poured on the philosophical systems which sprang into being so abundantly a hundred years ago, fit heralds of a century which has been well called, in retrospect, "the Century of Hope". We children of an age of disillusionment need to recapture something of the confidence, the speculative daring, of the great thinkers of the past. On the printed page their "systems" are apt to appear as vain attempts to imprison the rich and varied life of the world in a rigid pattern of conceptual pigeon-holes. But of their spirit, their endeavour after wholeness, their effort to think systematically, we cannot have enough. We certainly need more than we have. At any rate, the following Studies are inspired by the conviction--itself not an a priori assumption, but a conclusion slowly gathered from the business of philosophising--that experience, taken as a whole, gives us clues which, rightly interpreted, lead to the perception of order in the universe, a graded order of varied appearances. The concepts of the "order of the universe" and--in the Platonic phrase--of the "saving of the appearances" define, between them, the ideal which I have had before me. The saving of appearances calls for a theory which enables . . .

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