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The Vocation of Man/Preface

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Whatever in the more recent Philosophy can be useful beyond the limits of the schools is intended to form the contents of this work, set forth in that order in which it would naturally present itself to unscientific thought. The more profound arguments by which the subtle objections and extravagances of over-refined minds are to be met, — whatever is but the foundation of other Positive Science, — and lastly, whatever belongs to Pedagogy in its widest sense, that is, to the deliberate and arbitrary Education of the Human Race, — shall remain beyond the limits of our task. These objections are not made by the natural understanding; — Positive Science it leaves to Scholars by profession; and the Education of the Human Race, in so far as that depends upon human effort, to its appointed Teachers and Statesmen.

This book is therefore not intended for philosophers by profession, who will find nothing in it that has not been already set forth in other writings of the same author. It ought to be intelligible to all readers who are able generally to understand a book at all. To those who only wish to repeat, in somewhat varied order, certain phrases which they have already learned by rote, and who mistake this business of the memory for understanding, it will probably be found unintelligible.

It ought to attract and animate the reader, and to elevate him above the world of sense, to a transcendental region; — at least the author is conscious that he has not entered upon his task without such inspiration. Often, indeed, the fire with which we commence an undertaking disappears during the toil of execution; and thus, at the conclusion of a work, we are in danger of doing ourselves injustice upon this point. In short, whether the author has succeeded in attaining his object or not, can only be determined by the effect which the work shall produce on the readers to whom it is addressed, — and in this the author has no voice.

I must, however, remind my reader that the “ I ” who speaks in this book is not the author himself, but it is his earnest wish that the reader should himself assume this character, and that he should not rest contented with a mere historical apprehension of what is here said, but really and truly, during reading, hold converse with himself, deliberate, draw conclusions, and form resolutions, like his representative in the book, and, by his own labour and reflection, develope out of his own soul, and build up within himself, that mode of thought the mere picture of which is laid before him in the work.