Quoted from the author's "Preface."
"THE five years of continuous scientific activity which have passed since this work first appeared have not furnished any evidence that modifies the conclusions it offers, or any part of the argument on which those conclusions rest. If we were to believe some of the statements made by contemporary religious observers, those five years have seen a great change, or the culmination of a great change, in the attitude of the modern mind. Materialism has gone out of fashion, they say, and spiritualism has prevailed over the temporary impatience or rebellion of science. If any substantial change of this nature had in reality
occurred, it would be foolish to present this work without modification to a new circle of readers. But the transitory popularity of the works of Professor Bergson — a popularity chiefly founded on his high literary qualities and not encouraged by our philosophers — neither constitutes nor indicates such a change. Materialism was never in fashion; and
Agnosticism, which was the fashion in the mid-Victorian days to which these writers refer, is more fashionable than ever."
"This short Preface may, however, be used in making plainer the relation of the work to the two great systems of thought, or attitudes of mind, which we call materialism and spiritualism. It is not a work of psychology. A professor of psychology of an American University, who genially took the chair at a lecture I delivered under its auspices, referred
politely to this book, and, when I smilingly replied that I did not regard it as a work of psychology, he promptly said : " No, it is not." To the inexpert this may seem a reproach. How can a work on "mind " be of value if it is not a psychological study?"
"But the reader who has any acquaintance with modern psychology will know that that science does not purport to deal with the nature of mind, and it is precisely to that problem that I address myself, as is explained at length in the Introduction. The psychologist deals with what he calls the phenomena of mind, with states of consciousness. Modern philosophy has impressed deep on us the distinction between phenomena and the underlying reality,
material or spiritual, of which they are, so to say, the visible garments. Although the Kantian philosophy which is chiefly responsible for this does not now find much favour, science seems still to be under its spell to some extent: certainly the science of psychology, which is more nearly related to philosophy. To be entirely candid, one must add also that psychology approaches very closely to theology, for the theologian has a very definite and dogmatic view as to the nature of mind. Under this unhappy influence psychology continues to disavow the ambition to explain the nature of mind. In other words, it does not propose to offer its votaries any evidence which may help them to make a choice between materialism
and spiritualism: a choice which lies beyond the range of science."
"The problem is, however, one of great interest. We are repeatedly assured that some of the gravest issues of practical life depend on our choice between these contradictory attitudes towards life. Materialism is represented as the dragon, the temptress, the evil spirit that is ever seeking to slow the steps of advancing humanity and enslave it to voluptuous and enervating impulses. Spiritualism is described as the star to which we must hitch our wagon; the angel of light beckoning us on. This very popular and quite general language is, as I have often shown, based on a most astounding fallacy. If by spirit you mean simply the higher powers of man — his intellect, his moral and aesthetic sentiments — it is at once
clear that all progress depends on the appreciation and cultivation of these powers. But it is equally clear that our appreciation of them does not depend in the slightest degree upon the view we take of their nature. Whether the mind is material or spiritual, it remains true that it is the cultivation of mind which has made civilisation, and on the further cultivation of mind we depend for the maintenance and advance of our human culture."