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TO ADOLPHUS WILLIAM WARD, LITT.D., LL.D.,

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Principal of Owens College, Manchester,
Honorary Fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge.

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MY DEAR WARD,

If the following pages contain anything helpful towards the solution of the problems which I discuss, it is largely due to the masters of Teutonic thought cited by me from time to time. It has been their mission to reassert, in the language proper to the age, the idea of perfection as an inward condition of mind and spirit: to main. tain the truth, which underlies all rational philosophy, that the great mechanism of the world exists for something beyond itself: that it exists for the realization of moral worth - worth in character and in conduct. Kant and Hegel, Trendelenburg and Lotze, furnish an antidote to the dissolvent doctrine of sensualistic individualism, by which the French intellect seems hopelessly poisoned, and which has disastrously affected many an excellent understanding among ourselves. They, more than any other modern writers, have vindicated the conception of human society as organic and ethical. To

you I directly owe it that

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I have learnt of these teachers. When, in my undergraduate days at Peterhouse, I enjoyed the advantage of your

instruction as Classical Lecturer of the College and as my Private Tutor, you did much more than direct my Academical reading with: sagacious judgment, and supplement it with wide and accurate knowledge. Your precept and example sent me to the study of the language and literature of Germany, in which you alone, I think, of my Cambridge friends, were deeply versed. The debt of gratitude thus laid upon me I have never forgotten, and have long wished to record. You greatly add to it by your kindness in allowing me to write here a name so highly and so justly lionoured by all students of English literature and of scientific history.

I am, my dear Ward,
Most sincerely yours,

W. S. LILLY.

ATILENEUM CLUB,

LONDON,
November 2nd, 1891.

SUMMARY

CHAPTER I.

PROGRESS.

PAGE

One of the most striking characteristics of the present

day is the great influence exercised by Shibbolethis.

1

The reason why this is so is to be found in the domina

tion of the Many. The vast majority of men are
swayed by rhetoric rather than by logic; and, in
some cases, an apt phrase becomes a Shibboleth, the
faculty of effectively pronouncing which is a key to
popular favour

2

The object of the present work is to examine seven Shib

boleths which largely dominate contemporary life.
The first of them is the Shibboleth of Progress,
which is, in some sort, the parent of the rest.

2

The word is employed very vaguely. Those who use it

most carefully and conscientiously intend to signify
by it the ascent of mankind from bad to good and
from good to better: the advancement of our race
towards perfection: the continuous enhancement of
the value of human life

3

But these are question-begging generalities, underlain by

the profoundest problems. The positive value of life
is not self-evident, does not admit of logical proof,

PAGE

and would be denied by the overwhelming majority of mankind; and the general concept of humanity employed in the current phrases about Progress is fairly open to severe criticism

4

The progressive races are a small minority of the human

tribes peopling the globe; and what we generally mean when we speak of Progress is European civilization

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.

Wherein does this Progress consist ? Two thousand

years ago Sophocles struck the true note of it in the noble choric song which celebrates the might, the wondrousness, the cleverness of man

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The item of it which most strikes the imagination is the

marvellous advance of the physical sciences

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In this sphere our Progress is absolute. But, more, the

spirit in which the physicist works has vastly con-
tributed to our advance in other provinces of the
human intellect

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In historical science, for example

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In linguistic science

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And in the new science of religion which has sprung from

the science of language

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But great as is our gain, direct and indirect, from the

Progress of the physical sciences, there are draw-
backs to it

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Among them must we reckon the new dogmatism of

physicists, who, committing the fault which they
impute to theologians, seek to draw within their
jurisdiction provinces of the human intellect with
which physical science, as such, has no concern

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