The Philosophy of the Present


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This volume contains the material from which Mr. Mead's Philosophy of the Present was to have been developed. No part of it, except the last two Supplementary Essays, was intended for publication in the form in which it now appears. Chapters One to Four are the Carus Lectures as read at the Meeting of the American Philosophical Association at Berkeley in December, 1930. They had not been planned as more than a partial statement of a more extensive project. Unfortunately, Mr. Mead, in his capacity as chairman of the department of philosophy at the University of Chicago, was forced to surrender the time he had set aside for the completion of the lectures to administrative concerns of an unexpected and disturbing character. As a consequence the lectures were written hurriedly, in large part on the journey from Chicago to Berkeley; and he had no opportunity in the weeks immediately following their delivery to begin the revisions he already had in mind. By the end of January he was seriously ill and he died within a few weeks. As here printed, the lectures are in substance precisely as they were presented at Berkeley; but the whole has undergone verbal revision, and the second lecture has been divided to form Chapters Two and Three. All footnotes are additions to the original manuscript.

After Mr. Mead's death there were found among his papers two additional manuscripts which are obviously preliminary drafts of the Carus Lectures. In large part these cover the same ground as the lectures themselves, but each also contains additional material of importance. The first three of the Supplementary Essays have been selected from these manuscripts. In the second, two parallel versions of

(viii) the analysis have been retained. The difficulty of the exposition seemed to indicate the desirability of such repetition. The titles for these essays have been supplied by the editor. The fourth Essay is reprinted from the Proceedings of the Sixth International Congress of Philosophy, and the fifth from the International journal of Ethics, April 1925. Each presents an essential aspect of Mr. Mead's theory not adequately dealt with in the lectures themselves.

Those who have known Mr. Mead through his teaching will feel keenly the incompleteness of this presentation of his philosophy. He himself was reconstructing his theory in the light of "emergent" material just as long as he was able to do so. At the time of my last conversation with him, in the week before his death, he was at work on Bergson's Durée et Simultanéité in its relation to his own account of relativity in Chapter Three. The importance of the material as it stands, however, both in the account it offers of the development of social experience and of scientific hypotheses, and in its suggestion of the more comprehensive theory toward which he was working seems fully to justify its publication in the only form in which it can now be made available.

I am greatly indebted to my colleague Professor Blake and to Miss Natalie Washburn for their generous help in the preparation of the manuscript for publication. The index is the work of Mr. F. K. Ballaine.


Providence, R. I. April, 1932.


No notes

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