Classics in the History of Psychology

An internet resource developed by
Christopher D. Green
York University, Toronto, Ontario
ISSN 1492-3713

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To the Reader

William T. Harris (1867)
First published in Journal of Speculative Philosophy, 1, 1.

Posted September 2000

For the reason that a journal devoted exclusively to the interests of Speculative Philosophy is a rare phenomenon in the English language, some welds may reasonably be expected from the Editors upon the scope and design of the present undertaking.

There is no need, it is presumed, to speak of the immense religious movements now going on lit this country and in England. The tendency to break with the traditional, and to accept only what bears for the soul its own justification, is widely active, and can end only in the demand that Reason shall find and establish a philosophical basis for all those great ideas which are taught as religious dogmas. Thus it is that side by side with the naturalism of such men as Renan, a school of mystics is beginning to spring up who prefer to ignore utterly all historical wrappages, and cleave only to the speculative kernel itself. The vortex between the traditional faith and the intellectual conviction cannot be closed by renouncing the latter, but only by deepening it to speculative insight.

Likewise it will be acknowledged that the national consciousness has moved forward on to a new platform during the last few years. The idea underlying our form of government had hitherto developed only one of its essential phases -- that of brittle individualism -- in which national unity seemed an external mechanism, soon to be entirely dispensed with, and the enterprise of the private man or of the corporation substituted for it. Now we have arrived at the consciousness of the other essential phase, and each individual recognizes his substantial side to be the State as such. The freedom of the citizen does not consist in the mere Arbitrary, but in the realization of the rational conviction which finds expression in established law. That this new phase of national life demands to be digested and comprehended, is a further occasion for the cultivation of the Speculative.

More significant still is the scientific revolution, working out especially in the domain of physics. The day of simple empiricism is past, and with the doctrine of "The Correlation of forces" there has arisen a stage of reflection that deepens rapidly into the purely speculative. For the further elucidation of this important point the two following articles have been prepared. It is hoped that the first one will answer more definitely the question now arising in the mind of the reader, "What is this Speculative Knowing of which you speak?" and that the second one will show whither Natural Science is fast hastening.

With regard to the pretensions of this Journal, its editors know well how much its literary conduct will deserve censure and need apology. They hope that the substance will make up in some degree for deficiencies in form; and, moreover, they expect to improve in this respect through experience and tile kind criticisms of friends.