The "list" referred to included the words meta(g)nostic, nouns and adjective, meta(g)nosticism, meta(g)noiology, and meta(g)nosis. The definitions given were made approximately parallel with the definitions of the words diagnostic, prognostic, diagnosis, prognosis, etc., as found in Webster, and need not he here presented.
P. S.—The foregoing letter was complete on Saturday last. On Sunday, the 24th inst., by a coincidence that seems to me not to be a mere coincidence, Dr. Abbott, without any knowledge of this correspondence or my intentions, took for his subject the sermon of Paul on Mars' Hill, for the purpose of dealing with the "new doctrine" and "new thing" involved in the "new theology" now agitating the American churches. He referred to your position and that of Prof. Huxley, quoted from your writings, and practically placed himself not only in line with agnosticism as explained by you, but so near to the position I have given him in these pages that the next step must have brought out the new word. His expressed thought implied it, and I had prepared myself to hear it, when he suddenly brought his sermon to a close. I feel myself, therefore, once more justified in my statements, and am all the more anxious to use, or rather to have you use, the present opportunity. I will ask him to print the sermon, that I may send it to you in confirmation. J. A. S.
Dr. Janes having unexpectedly and without suggestion of mine used my name in connection with the term "metagnosticism," I feel compelled to make my use of it as clear as possible at once, without waiting another occasion.
The doctor chooses his words with exceeding skill and care. He says that he will endeavor, in defining philosophical agnosticism, to show that "in every department of scientific, historical, and true philosophic investigation, indeed, it is consistent and coincident with the meta-gnosticism of his friend Mr. Skilton."
As so limited—to the definition of philosophical agnosticism—the statement and the subsequent showing are both entirely satisfactory. But the limitation is not so.
As adopted and used by me, the term meta-gnosticism has a much larger meaning, and has an important bearing not only upon science, history, and philosophy, but also upon and in re-
- The substance of the sermon is embodied in an article in the Forum for April, 1890.
- For a discussion of meta(g)nosticism in relation to the evolution of society, see Evolution—Popular Lectures and Discussions, before the Brooklyn Ethical Association, pp. 216-227.