In this previously unpublished essay, Edward Caird attacks Spencer's Transfigured Realism, before defending an absolute idealist theory of the formation of self-consciousness. Along the way, Caird also considered the writings of Bishop George Berkeley, David Hume, Sir William Hamilton, J.S. Mill and Henry Sidgwick. Yet the primary foci of the essay were Herbert Spencer's writings, particularly First Principles, the second edition of Principles of Psychology and the third volume of Essays: Scientific, Political and Speculative . It appears to follow from Caird's 1874 review of the third volume of Spencer's Essays, a piece which concluded with the observation that: 'There are some other points of interest in Mr. Spencer's 'Replies,' particularly his strange representation of Kant's meaning , but it would take too much space to discuss the subject here.'
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