Scepsis Scientifica - Bibliographic Note

Bibliographic Note

The Vanity of Dogmatizing, the first work of Joseph Glanvill to be printed, was published in 1661. It probably appeared around March of that year since the dedicatory epistle, which also gives some account of its composition, is dated March 1, 1660. (In those days the year began on 25th March; so 1 March 1660 by Glanvil's reckoning is 1 March 1661 by ours.)

The second edition is entitled Scepsis scientifica: or, Confest ignorance the way to science . . . (&c.), and is dated 1665, though it was presented to the Royal Society in December 1664.

The two editions are much the same except for some rearrangements, minor stylistic changes, and slight omissions and additions. Of these omissions, the one of most general interest is the story on which Matthew Arnold based his Scholar-Gypsy. The second edition does not contain the dedicatory epistle addressed to Joseph Mynard, the Preface to the reader (a part of which, however, was recast to form chapter III of the Scepsis), or the three commendatory verses. In place of these the Scepsis Scientifica contains the long dedicatory epistle addressed to the Royal Society. Following the main treatise in the Scepsis scientifica there is added a reply to Thomas White's Sciri, sine sceptices & scepticorum a jure disputations exclusio (1663), which had attacked The Vanity of Dogmatizing.

The final version of The Vanity of Dogmatizing is that in Glanvill's Essays on Several Important Subjects in Philosophy and Religion (1676). The first essay in this volume, Against confidence in philosophy, and matters of speculation, is in the main a reprint of the principal discourse as it appeared in the Scepsis scientifica, with further omissions and slight rearrangements. The essay begins with the third chapter of The Vanity of Dogmatizing (the fourth of the Scepsis Scientifica), the dropping of these preliminary chapters being the only alteration in material of any consequence. Of decided importance, however, are the stylistic changes, which are complete and thoroughgoing.

This edition has been created by combining the full text of the second edition (taken from an 1885 reprint by Kegan Paul, Trench & Co.) with the dedicatory epistle, introduction, three poetical testimonials and the story of the Scholar-Gypsy, in the first edition (taken from a facsimile published by the Facsimile Text Society, 1931). The spelling has been modernized.

The .epub (e-book reader) version was prepared by Richard Gamble.

Title page of the 1931 edition of The Vanity of Dogmatizing

Title page of the 1885 edition of the Scepsis Scientifica.


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