Elements of Politics.

London: Macmillan and Co., 1891 Stock Code: 123669
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With a postcard to fellow Cambridge Apostle and academic Donald MacAlister

First edition, with an autograph postcard from Sidgwick to the Scottish physician Donald MacAlister laid in, postmarked from the year of publication, 15 August 1891, and sent from Zermatt. Mailed to MacAlister at his St John's College, Cambridge address, Sidgwick writes: "It was stupid of me to omit to say that I should be in Switzerland at the launch-time: I hope everything went off well. H. Sidgwick". The event to which Sidgwick refers is unknown.

As students, both Sidgwick and MacAlister were members of the highly selective Cambridge Apostles society, though at different times; the former was invited to join in 1857, and the latter was a member from 1876 to 1882. The weekly meetings of the Apostles and the friendships that stemmed from them constituted a formative part of Sidgwick's career: "It was these gatherings rather than his formal education that revealed to Sidgwick his true vocation, which he later characterized simply as 'thought exercised on the central problems of human life' (Sidgwick and Sidgwick, 35)" (ODNB). Their acquaintance was further cemented by their academic posts at Cambridge - Sidgwick being the Knightbridge Professor of Moral Philosophy and founder of Newnham College; MacAlister a Fellow at St John's - and by their mutual working interests. MacAlister, for example, sat on the council of the Society for Psychical Research, of which Sidgwick was the founding president.

This is one of Sidgwick's two main works on political economy, the other being Principles of Political Economy (1883). A follower of Bentham, he adhered to the analytical methods of classical economics rather than adopting the mathematical and historical approaches then in vogue. Elements of Politics "addressed itself to institutional and procedural matters as well as to more purely theoretical issues, attempting to show how analytical reasoning based on 'certain propositions as to human motives and tendencies which are derived primarily from the ordinary experience of civilized life' issued in broadly utilitarian conclusions Though The Elements of Politics, like Sidgwick's other treatises, never achieved any popular success, for some years it enjoyed considerable academic standing (a 4th edition was published in 1919)" (ODNB).

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Octavo. Original red-brown pebble-grain cloth, spine lettered and ruled in gilt, covers ruled in blind, black coated endpapers. With an autograph postcard, signed by Sidgwick, printed in red on buff card.


Extremities rubbed, spine ends and corners bumped, boards a little scuffed, front inner hinge cracked but firm, contents occasionally faintly spotted, overall a bright, clean copy. The postcard creased but otherwise in very good condition.


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