The Human Situation: The Gifford Lectures Delivered in the University of Glasgow, 1935-1937

The Human Situation: The Gifford Lectures Delivered in the University of Glasgow, 1935-1937

The Human Situation: The Gifford Lectures Delivered in the University of Glasgow, 1935-1937

The Human Situation: The Gifford Lectures Delivered in the University of Glasgow, 1935-1937

Excerpt

Had Emil Meyerson been alive I should not now be addressing you. He had accepted the invitation to succeed His Grace, The Archbishop of York, as Gifford Lecturer in this University. From him, had he survived, you would have had a survey of modern thought such as I cannot hope to rival. By his scientific attainments, his subtle and searching intellect, he was brilliantly equipped for such a survey. Few among the thinkers of our time possessed in as high a degree that delightful lucidity of thought and expression which seems to be a birthright of all Frenchmen. To your misfortune an amateur takes the place of a tried and laurelled veteran.

If it be said, and it is no more than the truth to say, that I owe my position here to the friendship of my colleagues, I would wish this to be added, that I take more pleasure in the regard of my friends than in any honour that could be done me. And yet their choice is, indeed, a great and signal honour. Possibly--it is a conjecture--I was invited to deliver this course of lectures partly at least in the hope that if I could not be so profound as my predecessors, I might, for that reason, be more easily followed. My colleagues may have had the Founder's intention in mind. The 'Deed of Gift' clearly sets forth his wish that the Gifford Lectures should be 'popular discourses'. 'Popular' I take to be within the compass of the plain man's understanding. Some Gifford Lecturers have ranked his mental powers and accomplishments very high, so high, indeed, that I have wondered at times whether I had myself attained to them. You would wish me, I fancy, to avoid the 'holy jungle of transcendental metaphysics', as Swinburne irreverently called it, the tangled wilderness of technical and inconclusive debate. You would prefer discourses as little in the manner of Spinoza or Hegel as possible. If such be your wish, I am in the heartiest sympathy. You might even go so far as to hope that I am in a state of innocence in respect of philo-

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