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From October 1911 until June 1914 I was a student in the Harvard Graduate School as a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. This degree was to be attained in three stages: at the end of the second year by Preliminary Examinations in which one was tested in all the branches of philosophy which one had studied, and in the ability to translate French and German philosophical work into English; later by the presentation of a dissertation on a subject approved by the heads of the department; and finally a viva, in which the aspirant defended his thesis and was again tested for his command of logic, psychology, and the history of philosophy.

The dissertation, which is here published for the first time, was prepared during those years and during a year in which, thanks to the award of a Sheldon Travelling Fellowship by Harvard University, I was at Merton College as a pupil of Harold Joachim, the disciple of Bradley who was closest to the master. To Harold Joachim I owe a great deal: the discipline of a close study of the Greek text of the Posterior Analytics, and, through his criticism of my weekly papers, an understanding of what I wanted to say and of how to say it. 3 On going down from Oxford in 1915 I made the decision to stay in England, and had to seek a source of livelihood. From the autumn of 1915 until the end of 1916, I earned my living as a schoolmaster. I did not, however, abandon immediately the intention of fulfilling the conditions for the doctor’s degree. Harvard had made it possible for me to go to Oxford for a year; and this return at least I owed to Harvard. So, amongst my other labours, I completed the first draft of my dissertation, and despatched it across the Atlantic for the judgment of the Harvard Department of Philosophy. In April 1916, when this work was completed, I was a junior master at the Highgate Junior School. 4

So much for the origins of this study of the theory of knowledge according to the philosophy of Francis Herbert Bradley. I did not return to Harvard to complete the requirements for the doctor’s degree, and I did not see that University again for seventeen years after I had left it. Nor did I give any further thought to this dissertation after learning that it had been officially approved. A few years ago Professor Hugh Kenner of California in his book The Invisible Poetdrew attention to it in a chapter on my debt to Bradley. 5 My curiosity, however, was first stimulated by a visit from Professor Anne Bolgan of the University of Alaska, who had read the script in the Harvard University archives, and had obtained, with my permission, a photostatic copy. She had also seen there the carbon copy of a letter to me from Professor J. H. Woods written shortly after my dissertation had been presented, in which he said that Josiah Royce, the doyenof American philosophers, had spoken of it “as the work of an expert.” 6 Mr.William Jackson, curator of the Houghton Library at Harvard, supplied me with a photostatic copy of the text (the original typescript being, of course, the property of the University).

To Professor Bolgan, who has made a close study of this essay, I am deeply indebted. She has read the present text and made important corrections and suggestions; she has most painstakingly edited the text. We have endeavoured, however, only to remove such errors and blemishes as appear to have been due to carelessness or haste. She has also checked my references (as far as is now possible) and has prepared a select bibliography, the index, and valuable notes. 7

I wish also to thank Mr. Peter Heath of the University of St. Andrews, for translating the passages quoted from German authors. 8

Forty-six years after my academic philosophising came...

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