Recent Developments in European Thought
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'To hope till Hope creates From its own wreck the thing it contemplates.'

Prometheus Unbound.








This volume, like its two predecessors, arises from a course of lectures delivered at a Summer School at Woodbrooke, near Birmingham, in August, 1919. The first, in 1915, dealt with 'The Unity of Western Civilization' generally, the second, in 1916, with 'Progress'. In this book an attempt has been made to trace the same ideas in the last period of European history, broadly speaking since 1870.

It was felt at the conclusion of the course that the point of view was so enlightening and offered so many opportunities of useful further study that it should, if possible, be resumed in future years. A large number of subjects were suggested—'The Relations of East and West,' 'The Duty of Advanced to Backward Peoples,' 'The Role of Science in Civilization,' &c.—all containing the same elements of 'progress in unity' which have inspired the previous volumes. It was thought that possibly for the next session 'World Reconstructions Past and Present' might be most appropriate.

If any reader feels moved by interest or sympathy with the general idea to send suggestions, either as to possible places of meeting, or topics for treatment or any other kindred matter, they would be welcomed either by the Editor or by Edwin Gilbert, Woodbrooke, Selly Oak, Birmingham.


BERKHAMSTED, December, 1919.

[** Transcriber's Note: This text contains a single instance of a character with a diacritical mark. The character is a lower-case 'r' with a caron (v-shaped symbol) above it. In the text, that character is depicted thusly: ř **]




II. PHILOSOPHY 25 By Professor A.E. TAYLOR, St. Andrews.

III. RELIGION 65 By Dr. F.B. JEVONS, Hatfield Hall, Durham.

IV. POETRY 91 By Professor C.H. HERFORD, Manchester.


VI. POLITICAL THEORY 164 By A.D. LINDSAY, Balliol College, Oxford.





XI. A GENERATION OF MUSIC 262 By Dr. ERNEST WALKER, Balliol College, Oxford.





We are trying in this book to give some impression of the principal changes and developments of Western thought in what might roughly be called 'the last generation', though this limit of time has been, as it must be, treated liberally. From the political point of view the two most impressive milestones, events which will always mark for the consciousness of the West the beginning and the end of a period, are no doubt the war of 1870 and the Great War which has just ended. From 1870 to 1914 would therefore be the most obvious delimitation of our study; and it is a striking illustration of human paradox, that a great stage in the growth of unity should be marked by two international tragedies and crowned by the most terrible of all.

Nearly coincident with the political divisions there are important landmarks in the history of thought. During the 'sixties, while the power of Prussia was rising to its culmination in the Franco-Prussian War, the Darwinian theory of development was gaining command in biology. To many thinkers there has appeared a clear connexion between that biological doctrine and the 'imperialism', Teutonic and other, which was so marked a feature of the time. In any case 'post-Darwinian' might well describe the scientific thought of the age we have in view.

Industrially the epoch is as clearly defined as it is in politics and science. For in 1871, the year of the Treaty of Frankfort, an act was passed after a long working-class agitation, assisted by certain eminent members of the middle class, legalizing strikes and Trade Unions. And now at the end of the war, all over the world, society is faced by the problem of reconciling the full rights, and in some cases the extreme demands, of 'labour', with democratic government and the prosperity and social union of the whole community. This is the situation discussed in our seventh and eighth chapters.

In philosophy and literature a similar dividing line appears. In the 'sixties Herbert Spencer was publishing the capital works of his system. The Principles of Psychology was published in 1872. This 'Synthetic Philosophy' has proved up to the present the last attempt of its kind, and with the vast increase of knowledge since Spencer's day it might well prove the last of all such syntheses carried out by a single mind. Specialism and criticism have gained the upper hand, and the fresh turn to harmony, which we shall notice later on, is rather a harmony of spirit than an encyclopaedic unity such as the great masters of system from Descartes to Comte and Spencer had attempted before.

In literature also the dates agree. Dickens, most typical of all early Victorians, died in 1870. George Eliot's last great novel, Daniel Deronda, was published in 1876. Victor Hugo's greatest poem, La Legende des Siecles, the imaginative synthesis of all the ages, appeared in the 'seventies. There have been many writers since, with Tolstoi perhaps at their head, in whom the fire of moral enthusiasm has burnt as keenly, nor have the borders of human sympathy been narrowed. Yet one cannot fail to note a less pervading and ready confidence in human nature, a less fervent belief that the good must prevail if good men will only follow their better leading.

Here then is our period, marked in public affairs by a progress from one conflict, desperate and tragic, between two of the leading nations of the West, to another and still more terrible which swept the whole world into the maelstrom; and marked in thought by a certain dispersion and depression of mind, a falling in the barometer of temperament and imagination, but also by a grappling with realities at closer quarters. No wonder that some have seen here a 'tragedy of hope' and the 'bankruptcy of science'.

But it must be noted at once that these obvious landmarks, though striking, are in themselves superficial. They require explanation rather than give it, and in some cases an explanation, much less tragic than the symptom, is suggested by the symptom itself. We may at least fairly treat them at starting simply as beacon-hills to mark out the country we are traversing. We have to go deeper to find out the nature of the soil, and travel to the end to study the vista beyond.

In making this fuller analysis of man's recent achievement, especially in the West, the first, and perhaps ultimately the weightiest, element we have to note is the continued and unexampled growth of science. Was there ever a more fertile period than the generation which succeeded Darwin's achievement in biology and Bunsen's and Kirchhoff's with the spectroscope? Both have created revolutions, one in our view of living things, the other in our view of matter. In physics the whole realm of radio-activity has come into our ken within these years, and during the same time chemistry, both organic and inorganic, has been equally enlarged. All branches of science in fact show a similar expansion, and a new school of mathematicians claim that they have recast the foundations of the fundamental science and assimilated it to the simplest laws of all thinking. Some discussion of this will be found in the chapter on philosophy.

It may serve as tonic—an antidote to that depression of spirits of which we have spoken—to consider that such an output of mental energy, rewarded by such a harvest of truth, is without precedent in man's evolution. No single generation before ever learnt so much not only of the world around it but also of the doings of previous generations. For since 1870 we have been living in an age as much distinguished for historical research as for natural science. If mankind is now to go down in a wrack of war, starvation, bankruptcy, and ruin, the sunset sky at least is glorious.

And there is tonic in another thought which rises from the very nature of this recent blossoming of knowledge. It marks the growing co-operative activity of mankind. The fact that science and research of every kind have advanced so rapidly is not only, or even primarily, a proof of the continued vigour of the human intellect, but of the stability of society, the coherence of social classes and nations, the readiness of the bulk of men to allow their more immediately productive work to be used for the support of those whose labours are in a more remote and ideal sphere. Science did not begin until the ancient priesthoods were enabled to pursue disinterested inquiries without the need of earning their daily bread. Civilization, we may be assured, is not threatened in its most vital part so long as the general will permits the application of the general resources to the promotion of learning and research without a claim for immediate marketable results. Our last generation has not only permitted but has encouraged this in all Western countries, and in other countries, such as China and Japan, influenced by the West. The money thus spent is vastly greater than in any equal period before, and the United States, the land of the fullest democratic claims, is also the land of the amplest generosity for scientific and educational purposes.

The growth of knowledge is a symptom not only of the collective capacity of living man but also of the continuity of the present age with those which had laid the earlier foundations. One school of vigorous action, and still more vigorous talk, advises our generation to be done with the past and make a fresh start on more ideal lines. This is not the voice of science, which, just in proportion to its growth, has shown more and more care for its origins and its past: and this is true at every stage in the history of thought. The Greeks, fighting for freedom and establishing in the city-state a new form of political organization for the world, were yet in their scientific evolution true and grateful successors of the priests who first compiled the observations necessary for the scientific study of the heavens and founded the art of medicine. The men of the Renascence, who were burnt and imprisoned for doubting the verbal inspiration of Aristotle and the Bible, were in fact going back to an earlier impulse than that of the scholastic philosophy. The mathematics of Pappus and the mechanics of Archimedes had to be carried further before the new sciences of which Aristotle had given the first sketch could be securely founded. The pioneers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries built therefore on the past, although accused of impiety and revolution; and it must be so with any intellectual construction which is to hold its own and form the future. So far from there being any opposition in nature between history and science, the two are but different aspects of one continuous enlargement of the human spirit, which sees and lives more fully at each great moment of its progress, and, so far as it is alive, is always informed by the real achievements of the past. We illustrate this advance in the marvellous record of our fifth chapter, and its spirit is summed up in the great saying of Benedetto Croce that 'all history is contemporary history'.

But the reader may here begin not unnaturally to feel some impatience with the argument, and to think that he is being carried into a region of ideal imaginings quite out of touch with the realities of blood and hatred and starvation with which we have been actually surrounded at the end of our period. It is well to be thus sharply reminded of the contrariety of facts, when we are sailing smoothly along on the current of any theory, whether of education or politics, religion or art. To get right with our objector, to set our sail so that the rocks in the stream may not completely wreck us, we will go back to the point where we were insisting on the obvious truth that the collective resources and capacity of mankind have of late enormously increased.

The material fruits of science are among our most familiar wonders—the motor-car, the aeroplane, wireless telegraphy. But it is not sufficiently realized how all these things and the like are dependent upon the co-operation of a multitude of minds, the collective rather than the individual capacity of man. Men had dreamt for ages of flying, but it was not until the invention of the internal combustion engine that bird-like wings and the mechanical skill of man could be brought together and made effective. It is Humanity that flies, and not the individual man alone. The German Daimler, the French Levassor, are the two names which stand out most prominently in this later development of engineering as our own Watt and Stephenson stand in the history of the steam-engine. Wireless telegraphy offers a similar story. Faraday, Maxwell, Hertz, Lodge, Marconi; the names are international. In 1913, before ever the League of Nations had been planned, Lord Bryce was telling an International Congress in London that 'the world is becoming one in an altogether new sense.... More than four centuries ago the discovery of America marked the first step in the process by which the European races have gained dominion over nearly the whole earth. As the earth has been narrowed through the new forces science has placed at our disposal, the movements of politics, of economics, and of thought, in each of its regions, become more closely interwoven. Whatever happens in any part of the globe has now a significance for every other part. World History is tending to become one History.'

The war, tragically as it has shaken this growing oneness of mankind, has not destroyed it. In some ways it has even stimulated growth. Against a background of blood and fire the League of Nations has been forced into actual being, and the long isolation alike of the ancient East and the youthful West has been broken down at last. Within the State, again, even allowing for all setbacks, the efforts at social solidarity have on the whole been strengthened, not weakened. This war his been an accelerator of, not, as the Napoleonic, a brake upon, reform. Many reforms, especially in England, which had been long discussed and partly attempted before the war, were carried out with dispatch at its close. This was the case with education, with the franchise and with measures affecting the health, the housing, and the industrial conditions of the people. And there is now a greater and stronger demand among us for a further advance, above all for making every citizen not merely or even primarily a voting unit, but a consciously active, consciously co-operative, member of the community.

Comte, who died in 1857 just before our period, was perhaps the clearest voice in Europe to herald both movements: the advance to international unity, and social reform within the State. It was he who, under the title of Western Republic, proclaimed the existence of a real unity of nations, whose business it was to strengthen themselves as a moral force, to act as trustees for the weaker people and lead the world. It was he who, in the phrase 'incorporation of the proletariate', summed up all those social reforms in which we are immersed, which aim at making every citizen a full member of his nation. Like all ideals it was far easier to conceive and to respect than to foresee or to secure the necessary means to put it into effect. Perhaps the perfect symmetry of the plan, the over-sanguine hopes of the man who framed it, have even proved some hindrance to its rapid spread. It has seemed, like Dante's polity in the De Monarchia, to take its place rather among the utopias than the practical schemes of reform, and when men saw the infinite complexity of the problems and met the living lions in the path, they suffered the comparative depression which we have noticed as a feature of the age.

Here indeed it would appear that we have reached one of the most serious cross-currents in recent European thought. In science, in philosophy, in politics, and in social economics, though we see the goal at least in outline, we are in some danger of being overwhelmed by the difficulties of the pursuit. Our vision is somewhat clouded and our steps hampered by the entangling details of the country between. It is substantially the same problem which faces us both in the philosophical and the practical sphere, and the analogy between the two is instructive. Spencer's synthesis, which we instanced as the last encyclopaedic attempt to present all knowledge—at least all scientific knowledge—in one system, has been riddled fore and aft by hostile shot, though in the end more of it may be found to have survived than is seen at present above water. The philosopher who in our generation has acquired the European vogue most comparable to that of Spencer is Bergson. Now Bergson has dealt some of the shrewdest blows at Spencer's system, but he does not set out to construct a rival system of his own. He is most careful to say that he is not doing this, that any such work must be done by later workers, that he is only making suggestions for a new point of view. It is interesting to note in general terms what that point of view is, as we shall have occasion later on to revert to it. It rests on a new interpretation of the nature and growth of conscious life. He is in short a semeur d'idees-force rather than an encyclopaedist or a system-maker. The difference is characteristic of the age and might be traced in the other contemporary schools, the pragmatists, the new realists, and the rest. The new Descartes is looked for but not announced. Perhaps when he arrives he will prove to be a whole army and not a single man. But if an army, it will need a better co-ordination, a more clearly defined common spirit, than is at present apparent in the philosophic hosts.

A similar perplexity in the practical sphere has a similar cause but a graver urgency. The multiplicity and contrariety of the facts are upon us as we face in practice the ideals which we have accepted from the earlier thinkers, from the century of hope. In science and philosophy we feel that the cause of unity may with some safety be left to look after itself. If the new Descartes does not appear in person, we may have confidence that plenty of inferior substitutes will be found, who, if they work together, will keep alive the great task of unifying thought. For in this region the nature of things assists our efforts and will sooner or later get the work done. The stars in their courses are fighting for us and for unity. But in the world of wills the task is tenfold more difficult and the dangers imminent. The poor and labouring millions, the oppressed and dissatisfied nations, are forcing the door, and though there is fair agreement in theory as to how they should live and work together in peace, yet the realization is by no means automatic, and the difficulties thicken as we come nearer to them.

But even here, perhaps most of all here, it is the first word of wisdom to take stock of the favourable symptoms, to see clearly the forces on which we can rely in our forward march. And they are not far to seek in all classes and in every Western land. Read any account of an English community in the early nineteenth century, say George Eliot's 'Milby' in the Scenes of Clerical Life. How far more humane, more enlightened, and happier is the state of the succeeding community, the Nuneaton or Coventry of the present day! No question but the novelist would have welcomed as a convincing proof of her 'meliorist' doctrine the progress made in her own homeland in the century since her birth. We know by personal experience the general kindliness and cheerfulness of our fellow citizens, their tolerance, their readiness to hope, their prevalent orderliness and self-restraint. We are thinking perhaps of a certain tendency to slackness, a dangerous falling-off in the output of work. If that be so, we need only look at the activities of any playground, or of a class-room in a well-ordered school, to be sure of the future. The natural man, at least in our temperate climates, and as exhibited in the behaviour of his natural progenitor, the child, is all for vigour and experiment. It is we, the adult community, the trustees of the child, who are to blame if his maturity fails of the eager questioning and the untiring labours of his unspoilt youth.

But we are dealing in this volume rather with changes of thought than with the actual life of the times. Theories affecting the organization of work, the distribution of the product, and the government of society have had much to do with our present difficulties. They have arisen from the conditions of the industrial revolution and the doctrines of the political revolution which began about the same time, and they have reacted ever since on the work and wages, the life and government of the mass of Western men. They are discussed in our eighth chapter. It may be said broadly that in this sphere, as in philosophy, the old and simpliste doctrines have been criticized almost to the point of extinction, but that no new all-embracing practical synthesis has taken their place. The Marxian theory that social evolution has been due mainly to economic causes, that these have produced inevitably the present—or recent—capitalist system, which inevitably must be turned upside down in the interests of manual labour—this is no longer dominant in any Western community, though it is fighting a desperate battle in Eastern Europe. But it is equally true that the capitalist system, presented in an ideal and moralized form in the Utopias of St. Simon and Comte, is not generally accepted now as an ideal for industry. The spirit which Comte desired and believed would animate the moralized employer, acting as the providence of his workpeople, we look to find rather in a reconstituted and moralized State. We all share this hope in our degree, The Times as well as the Daily News, and we do not expect the new spirit to operate simply through the free-will and private capacity and initiative of individuals. The joint stock company has settled that.

What we are waiting and hoping for is the time when, under the aegis of a benevolent State, capital and labour may live together in many mansions and, like the monks of old, follow many rules of life. In this region our ideal of unity is more diversified than in the realm of thought, and there is no demand for a Descartes.

And here it is interesting to note that one of the most telling books on social reconstruction published since the war is by an international writer. This is Dr. Walther Rathenau, a German of Jewish descent, whose ideas have just been popularized by a Frenchman, M. Gaston Raphael[1]. He fits in well with our general argument by virtue of his double attitude, holding, on the one hand, that under the general supervision of the State, industry should be organized in various self-governing groups, 'Social Guilds' or 'professional syndicates' in which both employers and workmen would be included with representatives of the Government; while, on the other hand, he is emphatic that progress must proceed from a changed and widening mentality, and aim in turn at increasing the depth and capacity of the individual soul.

Our book has no special chapter on the League of Nations itself. The idea pervades the whole, and the subject was treated in detail in the first volume of this series (The Unity of Western Civilization, 1915). The history behind the League offers a striking analogy to the other struggles for unity of which we have spoken. There is the same advance from the idea of a unity dictated and controlled by one mind to a unity of spirit arising from the free co-operation of many diverse elements all aiming at the same general good. Down even to yesterday it seemed to many minds a necessary condition that one man, gathering in his hands the resources of one great State, should from that centre dominate the world. And in the dawn of human history it was no doubt often true, the only way in which the world could then advance. This was true for Alexander, the prototype of all the Roman conquerors, and true, conspicuously, for the Roman empire at its best. But, after the break-up of the empire, unity of this type became a delusive mirage, misleading all who, like the Holy Roman emperors, sought to enjoy it again. By the time of Napoleon it had become an anachronism of the most dangerous and reactionary kind. The world was then too vast, the freedom of men and nations too various and deeply rooted. Meanwhile a real unity, stronger than before, had been forming beneath the surface and needed fresh institutions to body it forth. This movement for unity has been, as we have seen, precipitated by the war into visible and decisive action. It had been simmering for three hundred years in 'Great Designs', 'Projects of Peace', Treaties of Arbitration, and Hague Conventions.

Among much that is doubtful in the future of the League, one thing stands out as a capital certainty. Without losing the very spirit of its being it can never become a satellite system, revolving round one dominant Power or even a dominant clique. It was formed to contradict and destroy an oppressive imperialism: it can only thrive by the free co-operation of the partners, finding their proper end in a prosperity shared by all.

Such is a short summary of some of the leading topics treated here, those perhaps in which public interest has been most keenly aroused. But nothing has been said in this introduction of Art or Music, and of Religion only a little by implication. It may be well in conclusion to attempt a still more summary impression of the main drift of the period on the spiritual side. We may in such a wider view see some common tendency in all these activities, some inspiration of religion, some link with art, some impulse to live strongly and to hope.

The present writer would find this leading thread in the increasing stress laid by recent European thought on the spiritual, or psychological, side of every problem, in the growing desire to understand the character of man's own nature and to develop all the powers of his soul.

One of the latest authorities[2] on anthropology has told us that 'to develop soul is progress', and he has followed the clue through the meagre relics of Palaeolithic and Neolithic man. So does the last science of the nineteenth century throw light on the dim recesses of the past. For unquestionably psychology is the characteristic science added to the hierarchy in our period; it has crowned biology and is exercising a profound influence on philosophy, literature, and even politics. If Aristotle was its founder, if it was Descartes who first showed its profound connexion with philosophy, it is to workers in our own day that we must look for those methods of accurate observation, comparison, and the study of causes without which it could not advance farther. And modern psychology has advanced far enough to see that we must include in its purview the 'soul' of a minnow as well as of a man. Descartes had stopped too short, for to him animal life, as distinct from human, showed only the movements of automata. But now, just as the biologist conceives man as part of one infinite order of living things, so the psychologist believes that the facts of his consciousness, the crown of life, must find their place somewhere related to the simplest movements of the amoeba. Hence the whole of animate evolution, and not only that part of which Dr. Marett spoke, may be thought of as the growth of soul.

But, the objector will inquire, does this imply the enlargement of every individual or even of the average or the typical personality? And if not, what becomes of a 'growth of the soul'?

To this we must admit the impossibility of any complete, or even approximate, answer with our present knowledge. We can only note one or two points of certainty or of confident belief. The first, that there have been individual men, an Aristotle or a Shakespeare, in the past, with whom later ages never have, and perhaps never may, compare. The second, that there are good grounds for thinking that the average man has improved in goodness and in knowledge since we first knew him dimly in the dawn of history. But more important and more certain is the fact that the collective soul of man has grown, and all the extensions of knowledge and of power of which our volume speaks bear witness to it. They are essentially social in origin and outlook, and rest on a foundation of common thought immeasurably wider than any in the more distant past.

The man of science, the statesman, even the poet, now speaks for a multitude, and out of a multitudinous consciousness, which had not gathered to support, to inspire, or to weigh down, an Aristotle, a Pericles, a Cromwell. This is a dominating fact from which it is well to take our start. Assuredly the soul of mankind has been collectively enlarged and enriched. How far the individual can share in this enlargement is still one of the problems of the future. The West has committed itself to a general policy of education which aims at making every citizen a full partaker in the advance of the race. But it cannot be said that this policy has yet been really tried. It is the acknowledged ideal to which in all Western countries partial steps have been taken, and the democracy, through their most enlightened leaders, will continue to press for its fulfilment. As this approaches, the individual may become more and more in his degree the microcosm which philosophers have proclaimed him, and the enlargement of the soul, which we know to be a fact for humanity, will become a fact for every man. Need we doubt that with the general raising in the level new eminences will appear? Do not great mountains sometimes rise from the sea and sometimes from the high plateau? We are now in the very midst of a struggle for settlement and incorporation, which, as it is accomplished, should prepare the way for new excellences of every kind. What may not be hoped of men if once they learn to live with their fellows? And they can only so learn by studying them. This is felt by all contemporary writers from Bergson in philosophy to Graham Wallas in politics. Poets and novelists, above all, have turned more and more to problems of the inner life.

The novelists who ushered in our age are significant of this, and none more so than George Eliot, whose work, though somewhat out of fashion for the moment, is yet marked by the transition from Victorian complacency to modern unrest and modern hopes. Full of love and appreciation for the old order in England—the contentment and humours of the country-side, the difference of classes, the respect for religion—she was carried by the evolutionary philosophy of her time into thoughts of an eternal and world-wide order, the growth of humanity, the kinship of man with the universe, the social nature of duty. Her contribution was essentially psychological; she enlarged our knowledge of the soul. She showed us, not certainly more living types than Scott or Dickens, but more play of motives, more varied interests in life, more mental crises. The soul, above all the woman's soul, had widened its horizon between Flora Macdonald and Dorothea Brooke.

Every reader will think of famous novelists who have followed the same broadening path, and their work is often really great as well as famous. The history of thought has in fact throughout the last century been a commentary on those words of Keats to which many of us have turned of late for comfort and inspiration: 'The world is not a vale of tears, but a vale of soul-making.' Tears there are in abundance, as the tears of children. But sorrow is not the leading note of children, nor should it be of humanity in growth. Soul-making—the practice and the theory—has become more and more clearly and consciously the object of human thought and endeavour. We need the greater mind to see the links in the overwhelming mass of science, in the mazes of human action and history. We need it still more to grasp and to preserve the unity of our social life. Most of all for the healing of the world is the greater soul needed, with a world-consciousness, some knowledge, some sympathy, some hope for all mankind. Without this, a league of nations would be dead before its birth.

The recent development of psychology, social as well as individual, its pursuit on scientific lines, and its alliance with biology, suggest one thought which applies generally to an age of science and may be found to throw some illumination even on the future. Which of all types of modern men is the most habitually hopeful, the man of letters, the politician, the business man, or the man of science? There can be no question of the answer. The typical man of science is sure of the greatness and solidity of the work he shares, and confident that the future will extend and make still more beneficial its results. His forward glance is more assured because the backward reveals a course of growing strength and continuous ascent. The physicist foresees unmeasured sources of energy, still untapped. He warns us of our dangers, but has no doubt that, with due foresight, we may overcome them, and make the reign of man upon the planet wider and firmer than before. The doctor knows no disease which may not in time yield to scientific treatment. The agricultural expert foresees, and can produce, new types of grain and fruit which will surpass the best yet known. And the trainer of youth, the man to whom the new science of psychology stands most in stead, is the most hopeful of them all. Dealing with human nature in its growth he puts no limits to its powers of goodness and activity. He deplores the want of wise methods in the past, and if he errs at all it is in an excess of optimism, in believing that with new methods we may make a new man.

On this enlargement of the soul, enlightened by science, we build the future. It is the crowning vision of the modern world, first sketched by Descartes, filled out and strengthened by the life and thought of three hundred years. In the interval we have lived much and learnt much, both of our own nature and of the world in which we live. In our own age a powerful stimulus has been given by a transformed biology and a new science which shows the soul itself in growth from an immemorial past, moulding the future by its own action, surmounting, while assimilating, the mechanism which surrounds it. But for this building two things are needed. One, that our souls, as builders, shall act as one with all our fellows and strive for unity as well as power. The other, that in the building the laws of growth shall be followed, which science has already revealed in part and will reveal more fully. For the spirit of science is the spirit of hope.


[Footnote 1: Walther Rathenau. Ses Idees et ses Projets d'Organisation Economique. By Gaston Raphael (Paris: Payot, 4f. 50 c).]

[Footnote 2: R.R. Marett in Progress and History (Oxford University Press).]




Between forty and fifty years ago a great European man of science, Emil du Bois-Reymond, delivered before an audience of the leading scientific men of Germany a famous discourse on The Limits of our Knowledge of Nature, which he followed up some years later with a second discourse on the Seven Riddles of the Universe. His object was to convince the materialists of the 'seventies that there were at least seven such unsound places in their story of everything. Some of the 'riddles', he admitted, might prove to be soluble as science advances, but the most important of them will always remain unanswered. Our position as regards them will always be ignoramus et ignorabimus—we do not know the solutions and we never shall know them. I do not ask now whether du Bois-Reymond was right in his judgement or not. If he was right, that means, of course, that the one tale of everything will never be told by human lips to human ears. There will no more ever be a finally true Philosophy than there will ever be a finally perfect poem or picture or symphony. But there is no reason why we should not, at any rate, try to make our story as nearly perfect as we can, to reduce the number of the places where we have to break off with 'that is another story', and perhaps even to hazard a 'wide solution' in matters where absolute certainty is beyond our reach. This is the work of human Philosophy as I conceive it, and every man who is disinterestedly trying, without one eye on wealth or fame or domination over the minds of others, to make any contribution, however humble, to the telling of this one story or the removal of loose threads from it, is inspired by the true spirit of Philosophy. Whoever is doing anything else, no matter under what name or with what profit or renown to himself, is no true philosopher.

This point of view implies, it will be seen, no sharp dividing line between Philosophy and Science. The avoidance of this commonly made distinction may offend two different sets of students—students of metaphysics who wish to exalt their own pursuit at the expense of the 'special' sciences, and students of natural science who are accustomed to pride themselves on the contrast between the finality and definiteness of their own results and the vagueness and dubiousness of the conclusion of the metaphysicians. But I must avow my own conviction that the only distinction we can make is one of convenience, and it may help to make my peace with both parties if I explain where I take this distinction of convenience to come in. If we are ever to construct an approximation to the one story of everything, clearly one result will consist of a relatively few first principles and a great mass of conclusions which can be inferred from them. And clearly again, since men differ so widely in their mental aptitudes, some men will be most successful in the detection of the principles which underlie all our knowledge, and others most successful in the accumulation of facts and the detailed working out of the application of the principles to the facts. For convenience' sake it will be well that some of us shall be engaged on the discovery of principles which are so very ultimate that most men take them for granted without reflecting on them at all, and others on the work of detail. Further, it will be convenient that, within this second group, various students shall give their attention to more special masses of detail, according to their several tastes and aptitudes, some to the behaviour of moving particles, some to the behaviour of living organisms, some again to the structure and institutions of human societies, and so on. For convenience we may agree to call preoccupation with the great ultimate principles Philosophy and preoccupation with the application of the principles to masses of special facts Science. If we make the distinction in this way, we shall be following pretty closely the lines of historical development along which 'special' sciences have gradually been constituted. When we go back far enough in the history of human thought, we find that originally, among the great Greeks who have taught the world to think, there was no distinction at all between Science and Philosophy. Men like Plato and Aristotle were busied at once with the discovery of the first principles on which all our knowledge depends and with the construction of a satisfactory theory of the planetary motions or of the facts of growth and reproduction. As the study of special questions was pursued further, it became advisable to hand over the treatment of first one and then another group of closely interconnected questions to students who would pursue them independently of research into ultimate presuppositions. This is how Geometry, Astronomy, Biology came, in ancient times, to be successively detached from general Philosophy. The separation of Psychology—the detailed study of the processes of mental life—from Philosophy hardly goes back beyond the days of our fathers, and the separation of such studies as 'sociology' from general Philosophy may be said to belong quite definitely to our own time. If our children have leisure for study at all, no doubt they will see the process carried much further. But it is important to bear in mind that neither Philosophy in the narrower sense nor Science in the narrower sense will be fruitfully prosecuted unless the men who are working at each understand that their own labours are only part of a single undivided work. Without a genuine grasp of some department of detailed facts no man is likely to achieve much in the search for principles, for it is by analysis of facts that principles are to be found, and without real insight into broad general principles the worker in detail is likely to achieve nothing but confusion. The antagonism between 'philosophers' and 'men of science' so characteristic of the last half of the nineteenth century has been productive of nothing but evil. It has given us 'philosophers' whose knowledge about the facts with which serious thinking has to deal has been hopelessly inaccurate; it has also given us 'men of science' who have been 'ageometretes' and have, by consequence, when forced to offer some account of first principles, taken refuge in the wildest and weirdest improvisation. For really fruitful work we need the union in one person of the 'man of science' and the 'philosopher', or at least the most intimate co-operation between the two. Our theories of first principles require to be constantly revised, purified, and quickened by contact with knowledge of detailed fact; and our representations of fact call for constant restatement in terms of a system of more and more thoroughly thought-out postulates or first principles. This is perhaps why the department of human knowledge in which the last half-century has seen the most remarkable advances is just that in which unremitting scrutiny of principles has gone most closely hand-in-hand with the mastery of fresh masses of detail, pure mathematics, and again why the present state of what is loosely called 'evolutionary' science is so unsatisfactory to any one who has a high ideal of what a science ought to be. It exhibits at once an enormous mass of detailed information and an apparently hopeless vagueness about the meaning of the 'laws' by which all this detail is to be co-ordinated, the reasons for thinking these laws true, and the precise range of their significance. The work of men like Cantor, Dedekind, Frege, Whitehead, Russell, is providing us with an almost unexceptional theory of the first principles required for pure mathematics. We are already in a position to say with almost complete freedom from uncertainty what undefined simple notions and undemonstrated postulates we have to employ in the science and to express these ultimates without ambiguity. 'Evolutionary science,' rich as is its information about the details of the processes going on in the organic world, seems still to await its Frege or Russell. It talks, for example, much of 'hereditary' and non-hereditary peculiarities, and some of us can remember a time when our friends among the biologists seemed almost ready to put each other to the sword for differences of opinion about the inheritability of certain characteristics; but no one seems to trouble himself much with the question a philosopher would think most important of all—precisely what is meant by the metaphor of 'inheritance' when it is applied to the facts of biology. (Indeed, it is still quite fashionable to talk not merely as if a 'character' were, like a house or an orchard, a thing which can be transferred bodily from the possession of a parent to the possession of the offspring, but even as though an 'heir' could 'inherit' himself.)

This last remark leads me to a further consideration. Science and Philosophy are alike created by the simple determination to be thorough in our thinking about the problems which all things and events present to us, to use no terms whose meaning is ambiguous, to assert no propositions as true until we are satisfied that they are either directly apprehended as true, or strictly deducible from other propositions which are thus apprehended. But now that the area of facts open to our exploration has become far too vast for a modern Francis Bacon to 'take all knowledge for his province', and convenience has led to the distinction between the philosopher and the man of science, a practical distinction between the two makes its appearance. It is convenient that our knowledge of detail should be steadily extended by considering the consequences which follow from a given set of postulates without waiting for the solution of the more strictly philosophical questions whether our postulates have been reduced to the simplest and most unambiguous expression, whether the list might not be curtailed by showing that some of its members which have been accepted on their own merits can be deduced from the rest, or again enlarged by the express addition of principles which we have all along been using without any actual formulation of them. The point may be illustrated by considering the set of 'postulates' explicitly made in the geometry of Euclid. We cannot be said to have made geometry thoroughly scientific until we know whether the traditional list of postulates is complete, whether some of the traditional postulates might not be capable of demonstration, and whether geometry as a science would be destroyed by the denial of one or more of the postulates. But it would be very undesirable to suspend examination of the consequences which follow from the Euclidean postulates until we have answered all these questions. Even in pure mathematics one has, in the first instance, to proceed tentatively, to venture on the work of drawing inferences from what seem to be plausible postulates before one can pass a verdict on the merits of the postulates themselves. The consequence of this tentative character of our inquiries is that, so far as there is a difference between Philosophy and Science at all, it is a difference in thoroughness. The more philosophic a man's mind is, the less ready will he be to let an assertion pass without examination as obviously true. Thus Euclid makes a famous assumption—the 'parallel-postulate'—which amounts to the assertion that if three of the angles of a rectilinear quadrilateral are right angles, the fourth will be a right angle. The mathematicians of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, again, generally assumed that if a function is continuous it can always be differentiated. A comparatively unphilosophical mind may let such plausible assertions pass unexamined, but a more philosophical mind will say to itself, when it comes across them, 'You great duffer, aren't you going to ask Why?' Suppose that, by way of experiment, I assume that the fourth angle of my quadrilateral will be acute, or again obtuse, will the body of conclusions I can now deduce from my set of postulates be free from contradictions or not? If I really give my mind to the task, cannot I define a continuous function which is not differentiable? The raising of the first question led in fact to the discovery of what is called 'non-Euclidean' geometry, the raising of the second has banished from the text-books of the Calculus the masses of bad reasoning which long made that branch of mathematics a scandal to logic and led distinguished philosophers—Kant among them—to suspect that there are hopeless contradictions in the very foundations of mathematical science.

Now, the effect of such careful scrutiny of first principles is not, of course, to upset any conclusions which have been correctly drawn from a set of premisses. All that happens is that the conclusion is no longer asserted by itself as a truth; what is asserted is that the conclusion is true if the premisses are true. Thus we no longer assert the 'theorem of Pythagoras' as a categorical proposition; what we assert is that the theorem follows as a consequence from the assertion of some half-dozen ultimate postulates which will be found on analysis to be the premisses of Euclid's proof of his forty-seventh proposition.

To come back to the point I wish to illustrate. The peculiarity of the philosopher is simply that he still goes on to 'wonder' and ask Why when other persons are ready to leave off. He is less contented than other men to take things for granted. Of course, he knows that, in the end, you cannot get away from the necessity of taking something for granted, but he is anxious to take for granted as few things as possible, and when he has to take something for granted, he is exceptionally anxious to know exactly what that something is. De Morgan tells a story of a very pertinacious controversialist who, being asked whether he would not at least admit that 'the whole is greater than the part', retorted, 'Not I, until I see what use you mean to make of the admission.' I am not sure whether De Morgan quotes this as an ensample for our following or as a warning for our avoidance, but to my own mind it is an excellent specimen of the philosophic temper. Until you know what use is going to be made of your admission, you do not really know what it is you have admitted. It is this superior thoroughness of Philosophy which Plato has in mind when he says of his supreme science 'Dialectic' that its business is to examine and even to 'destroy' ([Greek: anairein]) the assumptions of all the other sciences. It does not let propositions which they have been content to take for granted pass without challenge, and it may actually 'destroy' them by showing that there is no justification for asserting them. Thus Euclid's assumption about parallels ceased to be included among the indispensable premisses of geometry, and was 'destroyed' in Plato's sense when Lobatchevsky, Bolyai, and Riemann showed that complete bodies of self-consistent geometrical theory can be deduced from sets of postulates in which Euclid's assumption is explicitly denied. There are two further points I should like to put before you in this connexion. One of them has been forcibly argued by Mr. Bertrand Russell in his admirable little work The Problems of Philosophy; the other has not. Indeed, it is just in his unwillingness to allow the second of these points to be raised at all that Mr. Russell seems to me to fall conspicuously and unaccountably short of being what, by his own showing, a great philosopher ought to be.

To take first the point with which Mr. Russell has dealt. There is one very important branch of inquiry, if we ought not rather to say that there are two, which appear to belong wholly to general Philosophy and not to any of the 'sciences'. We cannot so much as ask the simplest question without making the implication that there is an ultimate distinction between true assertions and false ones, and certain definite principles by which we can infer true conclusions from true premisses. It is thus a very important part of the true 'story of everything' to state the principles upon which valid reasoning depends, and to enunciate the ultimate postulates which have to be taken for granted whenever we try to reason validly about anything. This is the inquiry known by the name of logic. We cannot expect men whose time is fully taken up with the task of reaching true conclusions about some special class of facts, those which concern the history of living organisms, or the production and distribution of 'wealth', or the stability of various forms of government, to burden themselves with this inquiry in addition to their other tasks. They may fairly be allowed to leave the construction of logic to others. But the man who makes it the business of his life to get back to ultimate first principles must plainly be a logician, though he need not be a specialist in biology or economics or 'sociology'. One great advantage which our children should have over their parents as students of Philosophy is that the last half-century has been one of unprecedented advance in the study of logic. In the 'logic of relations', founded by De Morgan, carried out further in the third volume of Ernst Schroeder's Algebra der Logik, and made still more precise in the earliest sections of the Principia Mathematica of Whitehead and Russell, we now possess the most potent weapon of intellectual analysis ever yet devised by man.

We must further remark that the serious pursuit of any kind of science implies not only that there are truths, but that some of them, at least, can be known by man. Hence there arises a problem which is not quite the same as that of logic. What is the relation we mean to speak of when we talk of 'knowing' something, and what conditions must be fulfilled in order that a proposition may not only be true but be known by us to be true? The very generality of this problem marks it out as one which belongs to what I have been all along calling Philosophy. (We must be careful to note that the problem does not belong to the 'special science' of psychology. Psychology aims at telling us how particular thoughts and trains of thought arise in an individual mind, but it has nothing to say on the question which of our thoughts give us 'knowledge' and which do not. The 'possibility of knowledge' has to be presupposed by the psychologist as a pre-condition of his particular investigations exactly as it is presupposed by the physicist, the botanist, or the economist.) The study of the problem 'what are the conditions which must be satisfied whenever anything at all is known' is precisely what Kant meant by Criticism, though the raising of the problem in this definite form is not due to Kant but goes back to Plato, who made it the subject of one of his greatest dialogues, the Theaetetus. The simplest way to make the nature and importance of the problem clear is perhaps the way Mr. Russell adopts in the Problems of Philosophy—to give a very rough statement of Kant's famous solution.

Kant held that careful analysis shows us that any piece of knowledge has two constituents of very diverse origin. It has a matter or material constituent consisting, as Kant held, of certain crude data supplied by sensation, colours, tones of varying pitch and loudness, odours, savours, and the like. It has also a form or formal constituent. Our data, when we know anything at all, are arranged on some definite principle of order. When we recognize an object by the eye or a tune by the ear, we do not apprehend simply so much colour or sound, but colours spread out and forming a pattern or notes following one another in a fixed order. (If you reverse the movement of a gramophone, you get the same notes as before, but you do not get the same tune.) Further, Kant thought it could be shown that the data of our knowledge are a disorderly medley and come to us from without, being supplied by things which exist and are what they are equally whether any one perceives them or not, but the element of form, pattern, or order is put into them by our own minds in the act of knowing them. Our minds are so constructed that we can only perceive things or think of them as connected by certain definite principles of orderly arrangement. This, he thought, explains the indubitable fact that we can sometimes know universal propositions to be true without needing to examine all the individual instances. I can know for certain that in every triangle the greater angle is subtended by the greater side, or that every event has a definite cause among earlier events, though I cannot examine all triangles or all events one by one. This is because the postulates of geometry and the law of causality are types of order which my mind puts into the data of its knowledge in the very act of attending to them, and it is therefore certain that I shall never perceive or think anything which does not conform to these types.

I give Kant's answer to the problem of Criticism not because I believe it to be the correct one, but to show what important consequences follow from our acceptance of a solution of this problem. If it is true that one of the constituent elements of every piece of knowledge is a lump of crude sensation, it follows that we can have no knowledge about our own minds or souls, and still less about God, since, if there are such beings as my soul and God, at any rate neither furnishes me with sense-data. Hence a great part of Kant's famous Critique of Pure Reason is taken up by an elaborate attempt to show that psychology and theology contain no real knowledge. We cannot even know whether there is any probability for or against the existence of the soul or of God, though Kant was very anxious to show that it is our duty on moral grounds to believe very firmly in both. Now if Kant is right about this, his result is tremendously important. If psychology and theology are wholly devoid of scientific value, it is most desirable that we should know this, not only that we may not waste time in studying them, but because it may reasonably make a very great difference to the practical ordering of our lives. If Kant can be proved wrong, it is equally important to be convinced that he is wrong. We may have been led by belief in his teaching to neglect the acquisition of a great deal of knowledge of high intrinsic interest, and may even have been betrayed into basing the conduct of life on wrong principles. If, for example, we can really know something about the soul, it may be possible to know whether it is immortal or not, and it is not unreasonable to hold that certain knowledge, or even probable belief, on such a point ought to make a great difference to our choice between rival aims in life. There is clearly much less to be said for the recommendation to 'eat and drink for to-morrow we die' if we have reason to believe our souls immortal than if we have not, and some of us do not share Mr. Russell's view that Philosophy is called upon to abdicate what the Greeks thought her sovereign function, the regulation of life. It is true that Kant convinced himself that it is a moral duty to act as if we knew the truth of doctrines for or against which we cannot detect the slightest balance of probability. But the logically sound inference from Kant's premisses would be that, to use Pascal's famous metaphor, a prudent man will do well to bet neither for nor against immortality. Unfortunately, as Pascal said, you can't help betting; il faut parier. If it makes any difference to the relative values of different goods whether the soul dies with the body or not, one must take sides in the matter. In making one's choices one must prefer either the things it is reasonable to regard as good for a creature whose days are threescore years and ten or those which it is reasonable to regard as best for a being who is to live for ever. The only way to escape having to bet is not to be born.

I come to the second problem, the one which, as I think, Mr. Russell arbitrarily ignores. A human being is not a mere knowledge-machine. The relation of knower to known is not the only relation in which he stands to himself and to other things. The 'world' is not merely something at which he can look on, it is also an instrument for achieving what he regards as good and for creating what he judges to be beautiful. To do good and to make beautiful things are just as much man's business as to discover truth. A knowledge of the world would be very incomplete if it did not include knowledge of what ought to be, whether because it is morally best or because it is beautiful, as well as knowledge of what is actually there. And it is not immediately evident how the two, knowledge of what ought to be and knowledge of what merely is, are connected.

There is, to be sure, one way in which it is pretty plain that they are not related. You cannot learn what ought to be—what is beautiful or morally good—merely by first finding out what has been or what is likely to be. This simple consideration of itself deprives many of the big volumes which have been written about the 'evolution' of art and morals of most of their value. They may have interest if they are treated only as contributions to the history of opinion about art and morals. But unhappily their authors often assume that we can find out what really is right or beautiful by merely discovering what men have thought right and beautiful in the remote past or guessing what they will think right or beautiful in the distant future. The fallacy underlying this procedure has been happily exposed by Mr. Russell himself in an occasional essay where he remarks that it is antecedently just as likely that evolution is going from bad to worse as that it is going from good to better. Unless it is going from bad to worse it is obviously absurd to suppose that you can find out what is good by discovering what our distant ancestors thought good. And if (as may be the case) it is going from bad to worse, no amount of knowledge about what our posterity will think good can throw any light on the question what is good. There is, in fact, no ground whatever for believing that 'evolution' need be the same thing as progress, and this is enough to knock the bottom out of 'evolutionary ethics'.

On the other hand, it is quite certain that when we call an act right or a picture beautiful we do not mean to be expressing a mere personal liking of our own, any more than when we make a statement about the composition of sulphuric acid or the product of 9 and 7. As Dr. Rashdall has put it, when we say that a given act is right, we do not pretend to be infallible. We know that we may fall into mistakes about right and wrong just as we may make mistakes in working a multiplication sum. But we do mean to say that if our own verdict 'that act is right' is a true one, then the verdict of any one who retorts 'that act is wrong' is false, just as when we state the result of our multiplication we mean to assert that if we have done the sum correctly any one else who brings out a different answer has worked it wrongly. Indeed, we might convince ourselves that these verdicts are not meant to be expressions of private and personal liking in a still simpler way. All of us must be aware that the line of action we pronounce 'right' is not always what we like nor the conduct we call 'wrong' what we dislike. We often like doing what we fully believe to be wrong and dislike doing what we believe right, without being in the least confused in our moral verdicts by this collision of liking and conviction. So again it is a common thing to like one poem or picture better than another, and yet to be fully persuaded that the work we like the less is the better work of art. Indeed, the whole process of moral and aesthetic education may be said to exist just in learning to like most what is really best.

All this, put into so many words, may seem too simple to call for statement, but it makes nonsense of a great deal that has been written about ethics of late years. It disposes once for all of the theory that moral and aesthetic verdicts are 'subjective', that is, that they mean no more than that the persons who make them have certain personal likes and dislikes of which these verdicts are a record. Of course, it might be urged that all of us do indeed mean to express truths which are independent of our personal likings when we make moral and aesthetic judgements, but that we never succeed in doing so. A man might conceivably hold that there is no real distinction between right and wrong or between beautiful and ugly, but that it is a universal illusion of mankind to suppose that there are such distinctions. Or he might hold that the distinctions are real, but that we do not know where to draw them. He might suggest that some ways of acting are really right and others really wrong, but that we do not know which are the right acts and so regularly confuse what we like doing with what is 'really' right. Mr. Russell, in some of his later writings, seems to incline to views of this sort. But the suggestion is really unmotived. It would be just as reasonable to suggest that all geometrical or astronomical propositions are only expressions of the personal and private feelings of geometers and astronomers, and that either there is no distinction between truths and falsehoods in geometry and astronomy, or that, at any rate, we do not know which the true propositions are. That there is a real distinction between true and false propositions and that, with pains and care, we can discover some truths are assumptions we must make if we are to recognize the possibility of pursuing knowledge at all, and there is no reason to suppose that these assumptions do not hold as good in matters of art and morals as elsewhere. No doubt, in practice men are prone to mistake what they like for what is right or beautiful, but this danger, such as it is, is not confined to art and morals. Men do often call acts right merely because they like doing them or pictures beautiful merely because they get pleasure from them. But it is also notorious that many men are prone to believe that a thing is likely to happen merely because they wish it to happen, or that it is unlikely to happen merely because they wish it not to happen. Yet no one seriously makes the reality of these tendencies a ground for denying the possibility of 'inferring the future from the past'. We must then, I hold, regard it as an integral part of the whole story of everything to find an answer to the questions What is good? and What is beautiful? as well as to the question What is fact? By the side of the so-called 'positive sciences', which deal with the third question, we must recognize as having an equal right to exist the so-called 'sciences of value', which deal with the first and the second.

I want now to take a further step in which disciples of Mr. Russell would perhaps decline to follow me. We have already seen what is meant by the co-ordination of the sciences into a single body of deductions from definite ultimate postulates, though in what we have said about the task we were content to speak provisionally as if the sciences of 'what is' were all the sciences to be co-ordinated. We talked, in fact, as if the work of Philosophy were merely to work into a coherent story all that can be known of 'objects that present themselves to the contemplation' of a knower. But, of course, if Philosophy is ever to attack its final problem, we must take into account two things which we have so far ignored. The 'whole story of everything' includes the knowing intelligence itself as well as the 'objects' which present themselves to its gaze. Indeed, it is not even accurate to speak as if 'objects' 'presented themselves' to a merely passive intelligence; to be apprehended, they have to be actively attended to. If we would see them, we have to be on the look-out for them. And the knowing intelligence is not aware merely of these objects. It is also aware of itself, though it is certainly never a 'presented object'. Also, it is not only a knower but a doer and a maker. Intelligence is shown as much in the ordering of life by a rule based on a right valuation of goods and in the making of things of beauty as in the discovery of propositions about what is. Hence, we can hardly be content to leave the 'positive' sciences and the 'sciences of values' simply standing over against one another. There is that which 'is', and there is that which 'ought to be', and, at first sight at any rate, the two seem very different. Much that is—ignorance, sin, misery, ugliness—ought not to be, and much that ought to be is very far from being fact. We are accustomed to regard this as a matter of course, but, closely considered, it is perhaps the supreme wonder of all the wonders. We creatures of circumstance, as we call ourselves, can take stock of the sum of things to which we belong, and judge it. It is not simply that we can, and often do, wish that it were different in various ways; we can judge that it ought to be different, and you may find a man of science like Huxley, after a life spent in trying to understand the laws which prevail in the world, deliberately making it his last word to his fellows that their duty is to set themselves to reverse the 'cosmic process', to select for preservation just the human types which, if the much-abused metaphor may be tolerated, Nature, left to herself, selects for destruction.

We might, of course, regard this apparently unreconcilable conflict between the arrangements which do prevail; as is commonly supposed, in the world, and those which ought to prevail, as a mystery which we must despair of ever understanding. But, to say the least of it, it is hardly consistent with the philosophic temper to treat any question as an insoluble riddle until one has tried all ways of solution and found them culs-de-sac. If we are to be thoroughly loyal to the spirit which prompts all intelligent inquiry, we are bound at least to ask whether it is, after all, beyond the power of human intelligence to think of the world as a system in which somehow, in the end, what ought to be prescribes what is. It is true that, for reasons already mentioned, we cannot, like Spinoza or the Sufis, reconcile facts and values by the simple assumption that what is is shown, by the fact that it is, to be what ought to be, and that our common conviction that sin and ugliness are painfully real is only an illusion due to spiritual short sight. We have just as much reason to believe that some pleasures are good, that pain which is not a means to good is evil, that justice and purity are good, lewdness and cruelty bad, that some colours are lovely and others odious, as we have to believe that between any two points there is always a third, or that, if B and C are two points there is always a point D on the straight line BC such that C is between B and D, and a point A on CB such that B is between C and A. Indeed, the most fanatical champion of what Mr. Russell in his anti-ethical mood calls 'ethical neutrality' cannot well avoid recognizing the truth of at least one proposition in ethics, the proposition that knowledge of scientific truth is better than ignorance of it. The admission of this single truth of value is enough to raise all the time-honoured problems of ethics and theodicy. If knowledge of truth is better than ignorance of it, the actual present state of the world, in which so much truth is yet to seek, is by no means wholly good, and there really is at least one way in which it is our duty to make it more like what it ought to be.

If then we cannot get rid of the apparent conflict between Is and Ought by saying that Ought is an illusion, can we get rid of it, in the only other possible way, by holding that what ought to be is the lasting and primary reality and that the 'facts' which are so far from being what they ought to be are by comparison only half-real, much what shadows are to the solid things which throw them? This was the doctrine of Plato, who makes Socrates say in the Phaedo that it is the 'Good' which holds the Universe together, and that in the end the true reason for each particular arrangement in the world, whether we can see it or not, is that it is 'best' that this arrangement, and no other, should exist. It is also the foundation of Kant's well-known contention that, however barren speculative theology and psychology may be, the reality of the moral order and the unconditionality of moral obligation compel us to make the existence of God, the immortality of our souls, and the moral government of the world postulates of practical philosophy. More generally, it is just this conviction that 'what is' has its source and explanation in what 'ought to be', which is the central thought of all philosophical Theism. If we can accept such a faith, we shall not, of course, be enabled to eliminate mystery from things. We shall, for instance, be still quite in the dark about the way in which evil comes to be in a world of God's making. We shall neither be able to say how any particular thing comes to be other than it ought to be, nor how in the end good is 'brought out of evil'. But if we are to have a right to hold a view of the Platonic or Theistic type, we must be able, not indeed to say how evil comes about or how it is to be finally got rid of, but to say, in a general way, what it is 'good for'. Thus, if there are certain goods of the highest value which could not exist at all except on the condition of the existence of less important evils, this consideration will remove, so far as those goods and evils are concerned, the time-honoured puzzle how evil can exist at all if God is. To take a specific example. To many of us it appears directly certain that such qualities of character as fortitude, patience, superiority to carnal lusts, magnanimity, are goods of the highest value. We think also that we see that these qualities are not primitive psychological endowments but require for their development the experience of struggle and discipline in a world where there is real suffering, real disappointment, real temptation. To us, therefore, there seems to be no contradiction between the existence of God and the presence in a world made by God of the evils needed for the development of these virtues. And this will include some of the worst of all the evils we know of. Few things are more ghastly than some of the cruelties which have been practised in the late War and are still being practised in the distracted country of Russia. Yet we know how revulsion from these horrors has made many a man who seemed to be sunk in sloth or greed or carnality into a Bayard or a Galahad. It may well be that this moral re-birth would never have been effected if the evils which provoked it had been less monstrous. Here, then, we seem to discern a principle which may be adequate to explain what all the ills of human life are 'good for'.

I must not deny that all such explanation, in my judgement, involves the postulate that the ennoblement of character and deepening of insight brought about by suffering are permanent—in fact, that it requires the postulates of the existence of God and the reality of everlasting life. Mr. Russell, I imagine, would regard this as a confession that I am sunk in what he airily dismisses as 'theological superstitions'. I should reply that the 'superstition' is on his side; to dismiss God and the eternal soul, without serious inquiry, as 'superstitions' is just the most superficial of all the superstitions. It is, of course, incumbent on anyone who holds the Platonic view to show that its postulates are not inconsistent with any known truth, and I would add that he ought also to show that there are at any rate known facts which seem to demand just this kind of explanation. Both these points, as I hold, can be established, but I do not in the least wish to suggest that any philosopher will ever find it an easy task to 'justify the ways of God to man'. As Timaeus says in Plato, 'to find the father and fashioner of the Universe is not easy', and I want rather to lay stress on the magnitude of the task than to extenuate it. But I am concerned to urge that the doctrine which accounts for what is by what ought to be is the only philosophical theory on which it ceases to be an unintelligible mystery that we should have—as I maintain we certainly have—the same kind of assurance about values that we have about facts. The chief complaint I have to make about the mental attitude of Mr. Russell and some of his friends is that, in their zeal for the unification of science, they seem inclined to assume that the larger problem of the co-ordination of Science with Life does not exist, or, at any rate, need not occupy our minds. This is what I should call mere atheistic superstition. On this point they might, I believe, learn much which it imports them to know from the works of some of the notable living philosophers of Italy, in particular from Professor Varisco of Rome and Professor Aliotta of Padua, whose labours have been specially directed to the co-ordination in a consistent system of the principles of the sciences of fact with those of the sciences of value. Though, after all, those who have refused to learn the lesson from the noble philosophical work of Professor James Ward, the illustrious champion of sober thought in their own University of Cambridge, are perhaps unlikely to master it in the schools of Rome or Padua.

You will readily see that I am suggesting in effect that if Philosophy is ever to execute her supreme task, she will need to take into much more serious account than it has been the fashion to do, not only the work of the exact sciences but the teachings of the great masters of life who have founded the religions of the world, and the theologies which give reasoned expression to what in the great masters is immediate intuition. For us this means more particularly that it is high time philosophers ceased to treat the great Christian theologians as credulous persons whose convictions need not be taken seriously and the Gospel history as a fable to which the 'enlightened' can no longer pay any respect. They must be prepared to reckon with the possibility that the facts recorded in the Gospel happened and that Catholic theology is, in substance, true. If we are to be philosophers in earnest we cannot afford to have any path which may lead to the heart of life's mystery blocked for us by placards bearing the labels 'reactionary', 'unmodern,' and their likes. That what is most modern must be best is a superstition which it is strange to find in a really educated man—especially after the events of the last five years. A philosopher, at any rate, should be able to endure the charge of being 'unmodern' with fortitude. It is at least a tenable thesis that many of the qualities which we Western men have been losing in our craze for industrialism and commercialistic 'Imperialism' are just those which are most necessary to the seeker after speculative truth. Abelard and St. Thomas would very likely have failed as advertising agents, company promoters, or editors of sensational daily papers. But it may well be that both of them were much better fitted than Lord Northcliffe, Mr. Bottomley, or Mr. A.G. Gardiner to tell us whether God is and what God is. In fact, one would hardly suppose habitual and successful composition of effective 'posters' or alluring prospectuses to be wholly compatible with that candour and scrupulous veracity which are required of the philosopher. As for 'reaction', no one but a writer in a 'revolutionary' journal would be fool enough to use the word as, in itself, an epithet of reproach. Most persons who have a bowing acquaintance with Mechanics know that you cannot have an engine in which there is all action and no reaction, and most sane men can see that before you pronounce a given 'reaction' good or bad you need to know what it is reacting against. If a man who wants to go east discovers that he is walking west, he is usually reactionary enough to go back on his steps.

In short, if we mean to be philosophical, our main concern will be that our beliefs should be true; we shall care very little whether they happen to be popular or unpopular with the intellectual 'proletarians' of the moment, and if we can get at a truth, we shall not mind having to go back a long way for it. Indeed, when one wants to get on the track of the most ultimate and important truths of all, there is usually a great positive advantage in going back a very long way for them. The questions which deal with first principles, being the simplest—though the hardest—of all, are mostly raised very simply and directly by Plato and Aristotle, who were the very first writers to raise them. In the discussions of later times, the great simple questions about principles have so often been overlaid by mainly irrelevant accretions of secondary details that it is usually very hard indeed 'to see the wood for the trees'. This is the chief reason why one who, like myself, finds it his main business in life to introduce younger men and women to the study of Philosophy must think indifference to Greek literature about the worst misfortune which could happen to our intellectual civilization.

I have tried in what I have said so far to explain what I understand by the philosophical spirit and what I regard as the primary problems with which Philosophy has to wrestle. If what I have said is not wholly wide of the mark, it should be clear what is the deadliest enemy of the true spirit of Philosophy. It is the temper which is too indolent to think out a question for itself and consequently prefers to accept traditional ready-made answers to the problems of Science and Life. Traditionalism, wherever it is found, is the enemy, because Traditionalism is only another name for indolence. Observe that I say Traditionalism, not Tradition. Nowhere in life, and least of all in Philosophy, is the solitary likely to work to much purpose unless he has behind him that body of organized sound sense which we call Tradition. And I do not mean that true philosophers are necessarily 'heretics', or that 'orthodoxy' is less philosophical than 'heterodoxy'. I mean that however true an 'orthodox' proposition may be, it is no living truth for me unless I have made it my own, as its first discoverer did, by personal labour of the spirit. The truth is something which each generation must rediscover for itself. True traditions may be quite as injurious, if they have become mere traditions, as false ones. It was not so much because the Aristotelian doctrines were false that the unquestioning acceptance of Aristotelian formulae all but strangled human thought in the later days of Scholasticism. Some of these doctrines were false, but many of them were much truer than anything the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries had to put in their place, and the rediscovery of their real meaning is perhaps the chief service of the Hegelian school to Philosophy. The trouble was that mechanical repetition of Aristotle's formulae as matters of course inevitably led to loss of real insight into the meaning the formulae had borne for Aristotle.

We may say, generally, that because Traditionalism is the death of sound thinking, the ages in which the prospects of advance in Philosophy are brightest are just those in which a powerful historical tradition has broken down and men feel themselves compelled to go back on their steps and raise once more the fundamental questions which their fathers had supposed to be disposed of once for all by a formula. This has happened twice since the downfall of the degenerate Scholasticism, Protestant and Roman, of the sixteenth century. In the seventeenth century the result was the great movement in Philosophy, Mathematics, and Physics, of which Descartes and Galileo are the principal figures. Towards the end of the eighteenth century, when the doctrines of Descartes had themselves been traditionalized, the same thing happened again, the leading actors in the drama being David Hume and Immanuel Kant; the result was first the revival of the 'critical' problem by Kant, and then the great, if over-hasty, attempt at a positive interpretation of the Universe which culminated in the philosophical system of Hegel. In our own age, it is mainly Kant and Hegel who have been traditionalized, and we seem to be living through the last stages of the discrediting of this third tradition with every prospect of a great advance if our own time can only find its Descartes. In what I am going on to say I must naturally speak of the disintegrating influences chiefly as we have seen them at work in our own country; but I should like, before I do so, to remark that on the Continent splendid work has been done in the requickening of genuine philosophical thought by an influence which has, so far, not made itself widely felt among ourselves. I mean the revival of Thomism so earnestly promoted in the academies of the Roman Church by Pope Leo XIII. Neo-Thomism, I am convinced, if its representatives will only maintain it at the high level characteristic, for example, of the Italian Rivista Neo-Scolastica, has a very great contribution to make to the Philosophy of the future, and is much more deserving of the serious attention of students in our own country than the much-advertised 'impressionism' of Pragmatists and Bergsonians. Indeed, I hardly know how much we may not hope from the movement if it should please Providence to send into the world a Neo-Thomist who is also a really qualified mathematician.

Of the state of thought in our own country we may fairly say that a generation ago opinion on the ultimate questions was, in the main, fairly divided into two camps. There were the professional metaphysicians, mainly living on a tradition derived from Kant and Hegel, and there were the men of science whose 'philosophy', such as it was, is perhaps best represented by two well-known and most instructive books, Mach's Science of Mechanics and Karl Pearson's Grammar of Science. The men of the Kant-Hegel tradition, whatever their family dissensions, were generally united by the common view that—as William James accused them of teaching—the function of sensation in contributing to knowledge, whatever it is, is something 'contemptible'. Kant himself, as we have seen, had thought very differently, but he was supposed to have been 'corrected' on this, as on so many points, by Hegel. The most distinguished of my own Oxford teachers seemed agreed to believe that our thought builds up the fabric of knowledge entirely from within by what Hegel called an 'immanent dialectic'. A rough idea of what this means may be given in the following way. You take any experience you please and try to put what you experience into a proposition. The proposition may, to begin with, be as vague as, e.g. 'I am now feeling something,' 'I am now aware of something.' On reflection you find that the statement does not do justice to the experience. You feel the need to say more precisely what you are feeling or are aware of, how it is related to what you experience on other occasions, and what the 'I' is which is said to 'have' the experience. Until you have done this your thought is a miserable reproduction of your experience, and if you could ever do it completely, it would turn out that a really adequate account of the most trivial experience would involve complete knowledge of the structure and working of everything. Thus, if you once begin to think about your experience at all, you are irresistibly driven on to endless further reflection. If you try to stop short anywhere in the process, the results of your reflection are found to contain unexplained contradictions, just because you have not yet fitted on the fact on which you are reflecting to everything else there is to know. All the assumptions of every-day 'common sense' and all the more recondite assumptions of the sciences are saturated with these contradictions, because both 'common sense' and the sciences leave so much of the whole 'story of everything' untouched. If the whole story were told, all things would be found to be just one thing, which these philosophers call the 'Absolute', and the only perfectly true statement we can make would be a statement about this Absolute in which we asserted of it all that it is. Since no science ever attempts to say anything at all about this one sole thing, far less to get all there might be to be said about it into a single statement, no scientific proposition can be more than 'partially' true, and unhappily we do not know what alterations would be required to make our 'partial' truths quite true. Naturally enough Kant's allegation that mathematical first principles are so self-contradictory that you can rigidly demonstrate mathematical propositions which contradict each other was grist to the Hegelian mill. That our notions of space, time, the infinitely great, the infinitely little, are all a jumble of contradictions was steadily repeated by the Hegelian philosophers, and indeed the mathematicians were accustomed to state their own principles so loosely and confusedly that there was a great deal of excuse for the suspicion that the fault lay with Mathematics and not with the mathematicians.

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