It is a sobering experience to be giving my first Sir Samuel Hall Oration in the line of succession of Samuel Alexander. Some of his Sir Samuel Hall Orations have been published in his book on Beauty and the Other Forms of Value and the Philosophical and Literary Pieces, and they must indeed have been a joy to his audiences. I think it is fitting that I should devote this first lecture to Samuel Alexander, taking one of the central ideas of his philosophy and considering it. If some of what I have to say is critical, I think he would have thought that was all in order. “Pitch into me,” he used to say. After all, the best tribute one can pay to a philosopher is to try to go on with one's own thinking helped by the stimulus of his ideas, and often not least helped by finding oneself impelled to criticize them.
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