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A Defence of Idealism

By: May Sinclair

"On the whole, then, the argument from desire and design holds good. It is the weak and inefficient, the unwise in the affairs of life, the bunglers and the failures, the bankrupts and the unhappy lovers who most want to leave off living. Think of the number of suicides that occur every year through bankruptcy and unhappy love alone. Count in the suicides through poverty, and remember that these are all people whose vitality has been lowered by worry and frustrated passion and starvation, and that their aim is to end life, and not to obtain it more abundantly".

The philosophy of Idealism, revived in eighteenth-century Europe by George Berkeley, argued against philosophical materialism by maintaining that Reality is a creation of the Mind. Despite its flourishing under the leadership of Hegel, Fichte, Schopenhauer, and Schelling, Idealism had definitely fallen into decline late in the nineteenth century and early in the twentieth. May Sinclair, the writer of many popular but philosophically provocative novels and part-time World War I ambulance corps-person, was an unlikely one to take up the torch of the old school and try to revive it yet again for the twentieth century. Most notably, in this treatise she tried to formulate a union of Idealistic Monism with the New Realism as epitomized by Bertrand Russell and his mathematics-based philosophy. How successful she was is a matter for the reader to judge, but this volume and its sequel (The New Idealism) provide fascinating insights into the mind of Sinclair herself, helping the twenty-first century reader better to understand this highly significant author as she wrote in the very midst of the Great War.

Author

May Sinclair

United Kingdom

May Sinclair was the pseudonym of Mary Amelia St. Clair a popular British writer who wrote about two dozen novels, short stories and poetry. She was an active suffragist, and member of the Woman Write...

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