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The Life and Philosophy of Edward Caird
Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Glasgow and Master of Balliol College, Oxford by Sir Henry Jobes and John Henry Muirhead (1921)


Caird himself has written of Carlyle: “The ordinary gossip of biography is interesting enough, but I must profess for myself an entire disbelief that any important additional light is thrown by it upon the character of men who have otherwise expressed themselves so fully as he.” There were well-known reasons why the friends of Carlyle should prefer to judge him by his teaching rather than by the “gossip" of his biographers. There are none such in the case of Caird. It is in this conviction that the editors have ventured to disregard his warning and in the first part of this book put together the main facts of a life which, though singularly devoid of “events” in the ordinary sense, yet in its even flow and its encounter with men and things so accurately reflects the spirit of the man. Their hope is that it will assist those who had the good fortune to know him to recall, those who had not, to realise how entirely of one piece were the teaching and spirit of his writings with those of his life and daily conversation.

He has said in the same essay that “The best way of dealing with a great author is, in the first instance, to go to him without much criticism and with a receptive mind, and to let his way of thinking permeate into our minds, until it becomes part of their very substance. For, till we have done so, our criticism will not be adequate; it will be wanting in sympathy, and it will rather tend to defend us against his spirit than enable us to appreciate it. When, however, we have for a long time submitted to such a powerful influence, when we have learned to live in the atmosphere of our author’s ideas, so that we can almost anticipate the turn his thoughts will take on any occasion it is advisable for us to change our method, to put him, so to speak, at arm’s length and to attempt calmly to estimate what we have got from him, and so to determine his proper place among the inhabitants of our private Walhalla—among the company of the wise'to whom we return ever again and again, as the permanent possessions of our intellectual life.” It is in some such spirit and after having had to submit themselves to some such discipline that the writers have added the short appreciation of Caird’s Philosophy which follows the Life and Letters, and which they desire herewith to dedicate to all old fellow-pupils in Glasgow and Oxford.

It may seem that some apology is needed for the delay in the publication of this volume. Owing to circumstances over which the writers had no control, among these the War and illness, the work of its preparation has once and again had to be postponed. Perhaps the delay is not without compensation if it has enabled both writer and reader to view Caird’s work from a greater distance and in better perspective.

For the earlier part of the “Life” up to Caird’s election to the Mastership of Balliol and for Chapter I. of the “Philosophy,” the first of the editors is responsible; for the last chapter of the “Life,” for the editing of the Letters, and for the remaining chapters of the “Philosophy,” the second. For assistance in obtaining materials for the Oxford period they have to thank many Oxford friends and contemporaries, including the present Master, Mr. Urquhart and Mr. Lindsay, Fellows of Balliol, Professor J. A. Smith, Mr. F. J. Wylie and Principal Ernest Barker. But thanks are especially owed to Principal H. J. W. Hetherington of University College, Exeter, who not only devoted much time to interviews and the verification of references in Oxford, but read the whole of the MS. of Chapter III. of the “ Life,” Chapters II.-VIII. of the “ Philosophy,” and assisted the writers with many valuable criticisms and suggestions—acting, in fact, as a third editor of the book. They have further to thank Professor J. S. Mackenzie for reading the whole book in proof and for his generous encouragement; and Mr. John W. Harvey for preparing the Index and improving the accuracy of the text.

Michaelmas, 1921.

I. Life

Chapter I. School and College
Chapter II. Fellow of Merton
Chapter III; Professor of Moral Philosophy in Glasgow
Chapter IV. University and Social Reform
Chapter V. Master of Balliol

II. Letters

III. Philosophy

Chapter I. The Spirit of Caird’s Philosophy
Chapter II. The Problem of Modern Philosophy
Chapter III. Metaphysical Foundations
Chapter IV. Science and Philosophy
Chapter V. Ethics
Chapter VI. Social Philosophy
Chapter VII. Philosophy of Religion
Chapter VIII. Idealism and Recent Thought

Appendix

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