AN elaborate preface to a philosophic work usually impresses one as a last desperate effort on the part of its author to convey what he feels he has not quite managed to say in the body of his book. Nevertheless, a collection of essays on various topics written during a series of years may perhaps find room for an independent word to indicate the kind of unity they seem, to their writer, to possess. Probably every one acquainted with present philosophic thought -- found, with some notable exceptions, in periodicals rather than in books -- would term it a philosophy of transition and reconstruction. Its various representatives agree in what they oppose -- the orthodox British empiricism of two generations ago and the orthodox Neo-Kantian idealism of the last generation -- rather than in what they proffer.
The essays of this volume belong, I suppose, to what has come to be known (since the earlier of them were written) as the pragmatic phase of the newer movement. Now a recent German critic has described pragmatism as, "Epistemologically, nominalism; psychologically, voluntarism; cosmologically, energism; metaphysically, agnosticism; ethically, meliorism on the basis of the Bentham-