These Lectures were delivered in Cambridge during the Lent Term of last year, on the invitation of a Committee presided over by the Master of Magdalene, before an audience of from three hundred to four hundred University men, chiefly Under-graduates. They were not then, and they are not now, intended for philosophers or even for beginners in the systematic study of philosophy, but as aids to educated men desirous of thinking out for themselves a reasonable basis for personal Religion.
The Lectures—especially the first three—deal with questions on which I have already written. I am indebted to the Publisher of Contentio Veritatis and the other contributors to that volume for raising no objection to my publishing Lectures which might possibly be regarded as in part a condensation, in part an expansion of my Essay on 'The ultimate basis of Theism.' I have dealt more systematically with many of the problems here discussed in an Essay upon 'Personality in God and Man' contributed to Personal Idealism (edited by Henry \'7bx\'7d Sturt) and in my 'Theory of Good and Evil.' Some of the doctrinal questions touched on in Lecture VI. have been more fully dealt with in my volume of University Sermons, Doctrine and Development.
Questions which were asked at the time and communications which have since reached me have made me feel, more even than I did when I was writing the Lectures, how inadequate is the treatment here given to many great problems. On some matters much fuller explanation and discussion will naturally be required to convince persons previously unfamiliar with Metaphysic: on others it is the more advanced student of Philosophy who will complain that I have only touched upon the fringe of a vast subject. But I have felt that I could not seriously expand any part of the Lectures without changing the whole character of the book, and I have been compelled in general to meet the demand for further explanation only by the above general reference to my other books, by the addition of a few notes, and by appending to each chapter some suggestions for more extended reading. These might of course have been indefinitely enlarged, but a long list of books is apt to defeat its own purpose: people with a limited time at their disposal want to know which book to make a beginning upon.
The Lectures are therefore published for the most \'7bxi\'7d part just as they were delivered, in the hope that they may suggest lines of thought which may be intellectually and practically useful. I trust that any philosopher who may wish to take serious notice of my views—especially the metaphysical views expressed in the first few chapters—will be good enough to remember that the expression of them is avowedly incomplete and elementary, and cannot fairly be criticized in much detail without reference to my other writings.
I am much indebted for several useful suggestions and for valuable
assistance in revising the proofs to one of the hearers of the
Lectures, Mr. A. G. Widgery, Scholar of St. Catherine's College,
Cambridge, now Lecturer in University College, Bristol.
NEW COLLEGE, OXFORD,
Jan. 6, 1909.
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