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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

month, and, though I am now better, I must avoid every mental tax, however small.

I did not receive the journal which you named in your last, containing some matter respecting Dr. Abbott's address (I think it was).

Very truly yours,
Herbert Spencer.
J. A. Skilton, Esq.
 
LETTER OF PROFESSOR HUXLEY.
Eastbourne, England, December 10, 1889.

Dear Sir: I have read the papers which accompanied your letter of the 25th of November with much attention; but, I regret to say, with the result that I can discover no good ground for the change of nomenclature which you propose. Permit me to trouble you with my reasons for that conclusion:

The term "Agnostic" was not suggested by the passage in the "Acts of the Apostles" in which Paul speaks of an inscription to the "Unknown God" (άγνὡστᾤ Θεᾤ). It is obvious that the author of that inscription was a theist—I may say an anxious theist—who desired not to offend any God, not known to him, by ignoring the existence of such a deity. The person who erected the altar was, therefore, in the same position as those philosophers who, in modern times, have brought about the apotheosis of ignorance under the name of the "Absolute" or its equivalents.

"Agnostic" came into my mind as a fit antithesis to "Gnostic"—the "Gnostics" being those ancient heretics who professed to know most about those very things of which I am quite sure I know nothing.

"Agnostic," therefore, as the name of a philosophical system is senseless; its import lies in being a confession of ignorance—a warning set up against philosophical and theological phantoms—which was never more needed than at the present time, when the ghost of the "Absolute" slain by my masters Hume and Kant and Hamilton is making its appearance in broad daylight.

Your definition of "metagnosticism" says that it "relates to beyond-knowledge." That is exactly what all the "absolute" philosophers profess the "Absolute" does; and it is precisely that profession which I consider to be futile and mischievous. To my mind science is exact and organized knowledge—neither more nor less. And the knowledge which goes "beyond knowledge" is something which my cognitive faculties do not enable me to apprehend.

The term "Evolution Philosophy" which you employ seems to have different meanings for different people.

For me, evolution is a name for a certain process, the occurrence of which in various groups of things is as nearly demonstrated as any historical event can be. And this, I think, consti-