In author's own words
In selecting these essays I have been guided partly by the desire to present matter likely to be of interest to the general reader; but also I have aimed at a certain unity of topic and argument, a unity indicated by the title of the volume.
A brief summary may help the reader to grasp that unity and to follow the somewhat scattered argument. Man, I contend, is more than a machine, and more than a mirror that reflects the world about him. He is an active being with power to direct his strivings towards ideal goals; and there is ground for belief that those goals are neither wholly illusory nor wholly unattainable. There is no novelty about this view; but there is novelty in the argument by which the conclusion is reached. The same view has been propounded a thousand times by that form of wishful thinking which is commonly called philosophical. In this case the conclusion has been forced by the pressure of the evidence during more than forty years of cold and sceptical inquiry. The process is indicated in briefest outline in the first three essays of this volume. Any reader who may desire to follow the process in more detail may turn to my various published works, more especially to my Body and Mind, which remains pivotal for all my later thinking.