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A General View of the Materialistic Philosophy.


Materialistic Philosophy amongst the Ancients; Rise and Spread of Christianity and Ecclesiasticism; Mohammedanism and Arabian Philosophy and Science; The Mediaeval Period and Scholasticism.

The instructive series of Lectures delivered in many of our Towns under the auspices of the Gilchrist Trustees, embodying the most recent results and observations in the domain of the natural and physical sciences, have probably caused this reflection in the minds of some who followed their course— To what do they tend? What is likely to be their broad and general effect upon the popular mind? Taken together with the attention which is now occupied by the literature of Materialism; the dissemination of this literature far and wide by means of our Free Public Libraries—representing, as it is one of the functions of these to do, all intellectual phases of human inquiry—and the consequent spread and growth of Materialistic opinions amongst all intelligent ranks and classes of society,—their latent tendency insensibly suggests to the popular mind a Materialistic view of Nature, and of Man's place in Nature. It is true they have not been characterised by the freedom of speculation displayed by Professor Tyndall in his well-known Address, delivered at Belfast in the year 1874, as President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science—speculative conclusions have been barely hinted at in these lectures. Truth, however, and wherever Truth led, has been professedly their ultimate object. Pilate's sceptical question naturally arises here: What is Truth? The inquiry is a very ancient one. The purpose of the following pages, undertaken solely for the general reader, is to suggest that the methods and canons of what is commonly known as Materialism are not to be hastily accepted as the key of that reasoned thought to which we give the name of Philosophy.

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