Friedrich Nietzsche And His Influence By John G. Robertson 1900
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"In the literature of modern Germany Friedrich Nietzsche seems to me the most interesting writer." These are the opening words of an essay written by Dr. Georg Brandes in 1888, which marks the beginning of Nietzsche's career as a European personality. About the same time Germany herself
awakened to the consciousness that she possessed in Nietzsche an intellectual force of the first order; now, after the lapse of a decade, the genial significance of his work is recognized everywhere. To the readers of Reveu des Deux Mondes, for instance, no foreign name is at present more familiar. In French opinion Nietzsche is, to quote from M. Victor Basch's suggestive address on "Le mouvement intellectuel en Allemagne" (Rouen, 1897), "'e dernier nom allemand qui soit devenu europeen." In England, again, Mr. Havelock Ellis, in an essay ("Affirmations," London, 1897) which remains the most satisfactory account of Nietzsche we have yet had in English, has claimed him as ''one of the greatest spiritual forces which have appeared since Goethe." His influence is traceable in much of the Continental literature which professes to be "in the movement." M. de Wyzewa finds it alike in the recent fiction of Russia and in that of France. It extends from Sweden as represented by Strindberg to the Italy of D'Annunzio. In the present paper I propose to discuss briefly the extent of Nietzsche's influence upon the literature of his own country, to consider in how far his ideas and his manner of expressing those ideas are a source of inspiration for imaginative work in Germany.
First, however, to glance at the literature of which Nietzsche is himself the center. In the course of the past few years a library has grown up with almost incredible rapidity around Nietzche's personality and writings; his name is seldom absent from lists of German publications, and one rarely takes up a new volume of collected essays in which the place of honor is not occupied by a study of Friedrich Nietzsche. In fact, the books and pamphlets which have appeared in his name since 1889 afford an instructive object lesson on the fate of a man of genius in these days. Nietzsche is at the present moment in the position in which Ibsen stood ten and Wagner twenty years ago; he is the victim of his own disciples. By a veritable irony this relentless thinker, who desired only "ein paar Leser, die man bei sich selbst in Ehren halt, und sonst keine Leser," and preached only for the few who, like himself, bad laboriously fought their way fiom the valleys to the heights, has become the center of an orgy of unripe worshippers. This, at least, is the thought that forces itself upon one when passing in review the voluminous Nietzsche literature of the last few years. Here we have youths with the gymnasium hardly behind them to whom the whole past of human thought is virtually an unwritten page, hailing
Nietzsche as the one and only thinker. Another form of panegyric comes from writers who themselves have shrunk from the conflicts and renunciations of life, and find in Nietzsche a shield for egotism and self-seeking. And still another, less harmful, if more superfluous, from women who, on the strength of an occasional meeting with the. philosopher, write impertinent books about themselves. In this extensive literature we find pamphlets written to prove that Nietzsche is the stanch supporter of the Christian faith, that he is an apostle of emancipation of women, and even of social
democracy; indeed, it would be hard to mention another thinker who in his time had been so persistently misinterpreted and misrepresented. And the tragedy of it is that he must sit unconscious of everything in Weimar, powerless to raise his hand in his own defense. One could wish for nothing
better than that the shadow which rests upon Nietzsche's life might for a moment be lifted to allow him to do execution upon the "Nietzschianer."
When we sift the literature that professes to deal critically with Nietzsche's philosophy we find exceedingly little of permanent value. There is the essay by Dr. Brandes, to which I have already referred ("Essays: Fremmede Personligheder." Copenhagen, 1889); there is a suggestive little volume by Dr. Rudolf Steiner ("Friedrich Nietzsche, ein Kaempfer gegen seine Zeit." Weimar, 1895), and a reprint of two papers contributed by Professor Ludwig Stein to the Deutsche RutidscAau("Friedrich Nietzsches.Weltanschaunng und ihre Gefahren." Berlin, 1893); lastly, there is Professor Alois Riehl's "Friedrich Nietzsche, der Kuenstler und der Denker." (Second Edition, Stuttgart, Frommann, 1898), which, although hardly more than a pamphlet, is the best monograph that has yet appeared on Nietzsche. Professor Rielh's aim is obviously to judge Nietzsche in accordance with the established canons of philosophical criticism, and, although he does not altogether succeed in bringing Nietzsche into line with his predecessors, he has given us a sympathetically written study; and it is something to have a book of tbis kind from a critic who does not belong to the inner circle of hierophants.
The impression to be gathered from recent criticism of Nietzsche is thus no favorable one. There is clearly not much hope of the general reader arriving at a fair appreciation of Nietzsche's work until some other interpretation is forthcoming than that which his prophets have to offer. The devotee at Zarathustra's shrine who respects neither the "Republic" nor the "Critique of Pure Reason" is no less harmful than the Wagnerian who will not hear of Gluck or Mozart or Weber. We still await a liberal-minded critic who has not only a firm grasp of Nietzsche's thinking—and no philosophy in form is more elusive—but who has also assimilated the older philosophies and can interpret Nietzsche by the light of the development of human thought. This is what seems most conspicuously wanting in the literature that has hitherto appeared on Nietzsche; his ideas have not yet been presented to us as forming, so to speak, a link in the philosophic chain: To his sympathizers he is the great exception, to his enemies a misgrowth of decadence. Beyond the statement which is repeated in almost the same words by every writer on the subject: "Als Denker ist Nietzsche von Schopenhauer ausgegangen," there is little in these books to help us to understand Nietzsche's position. To this criticism it might, of course, be answered that Nietzsche is no rigidly consistent thinker. Had he been able to complete "Umwertung alier Werte" it might have been otherwise; but, as it is, it is hardly possible to regard him in the same light as philosophers like Hegel or Schopenhauer, whose ideas fit, more or less, into
definite philosophical systems. The only attempt, it might be pointed out, that has been made to discover a system in Nietzsche's thinking, that by Frau Andreas-Salome ("Friedrich Nietzsche in seinen Werken." Vienna, 1894), failed; indeed, it might not be too rash to say that the philosopher with a definite system is a thing of the past. And even if Nietzsche has no system, it does not necessarily imply that he is a kind of intellectual free-lance. We might compare him, for instance, with Hamann, the "Magus of the North," who lived at the close of the last century. Hamann, too,
scattered his ideas abroad in brilliant aphorisms; he was no philosopher with a system; but there is little difficulty in giving him his niche in the temple of eighteenth century thought. To see Nietzsche's work in its historical perspective, we shall probably have to wait a few years yet; his ideas are too vitally interesting to his contemporaries, too close to us, to be judged dispassionately.
In the meantime, the most valuable contribution that has yet been made to our knowledge of Nietzsche is not critical but biographical, namely, the authoritative "Leben Friedrich Nietzsches" by the philosopher's sister, Frau Forster-Nietzsche, of which two volumes have appeared (Leipzig:
Naumann, 1894, 1897). Frau Forster has carried out her task in a manner which shows that the ability of the Nietzsche family was not all concentrated in her famous brother. Her book is written with admirable tact, and to readers who have hitherto been dependent for their knowledge of Nietzsche on the caricatures of his self-appointed interpreters, it is nothing short of a revelation. Nietsche becomes in these pages one of the most absorbingly interesting personalities of his time. In the wonderful precocity of his early boyhood, in his school life at Schulpforta, in the brilliant university career which culminated in a call to the university at Basel before he had even obtained a doctor's degree, there is a distinction about Nietzsche which fascinates us. In an age that has no lack of brilliant talents, he stands out as the unmistakable man of genius; he is, we feel it, made of the same stuff as the intellectual leaders of the past. Frau Forster's second volume covers the period during which
Nietzsche was professor in Basel, a period in which the happiest hours were those spent with the Wagner family at Tribschen on Lake Lucerne. The close intimacy which bound him to Wagner, and the inevitable struggle between the two men as they began to grow apart, each too full of his own work and ideas to yield to the other—this is for us the most important crisis in Nietzsche's life. Indeed, this antagonism between the two greatest literary geniuses which Germany possessed in the seventies has a deep significance for the intellectual history of our time. It represents in nuce the antagonism between the pessimism of Schopenhauer and the optimistic faith in a future for humanity, of which Nietzsche's philosophy is the extreme expression, and which every year finds clearer expression in German literature. When the first part of "Menschliches Allzumenschliches" appeared, in 1878, Nietzsche sent two copies of it to Bayreuth.
"Durch ein Wunder von Sinn im Zufall," he wrote ten years later, "kam gleichzeitig bei mir ein schoenes Exemplar des 'Parsifal' Textes an, mit Wagners Widmung an mich: 'Herzlichen Grass and Wunsch seinem teuren Freunde Friedrich Nietzsche, Richard Wagner, Oberkirchenrat.' Diese Kreuzung der zwei Buecher—mir war's, als ob ich einen ominoesen Ton dabei hoerte. Kiang es nicht, als ob sich Degen kreuzten? Jedenfalls empfanden wires Beide so; denn wir schwiegen Beide."
To find a parallel to this "crossing of swords," we have to go back, it seems to me, more than a hundred years, to the breach that opened up between the "Literary Letters" of Lessing, with their pride of eighteenth century enlightenment, and the "Fragments" of Herder, with their romantic
enthusiasm and premonitions of the coming time. If the ethical background of works like "The Sunken Bell," the lyrics of Liliencron, Avenarius, and a host of minor singers, has little in common with the pessimism of "Das goldene Vliess" and "Tristan and Isolde," if the German novels of to-day
regard life from a less passive point of view than that to be found in the fiction of the sixties and seventies, the reason is to be sought in the change that has come over the intellectual temper of northern Europe, a change that finds its most poignant expression in the conflict between Wagner and Nietzsche.
One must be cautious, however, in ascribing this optimistic individualism in contemporary German literature to the actual influence of Nietzsche; for that influence, as we shall see, is not by any means so widespread as might be expected. The chief source of this new literary spirit is to be sought, not in Germany, but in Scandinavia, a fact which lends a peculiar interest to a comparison of Nietzsche with the Danish pioneer of individualism, Soren Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard has only within recent years received the attention which he deserves; a translation of Professor Hoffding's monograph on him, which appeared a few months ago (Stuttgart. Frommann), supplements to some extent Dr. Brandes' attractive volume, hitherto the main source of information accessible to German readers. Like Nietzsche himself, Kierkegaard is a leader in what may be considered the chief philosophical movement of the latter half of the century, the revolt against Hegelianism, but there is this important difference: while Kierkegaard was old enough to come into direct conflict with the undiluted Hegelianism of Hegel himself, or at least of his Danish prophet, Heiberg, Nietzsche found the worst of the battle already fought by Schopenhauer. Nietzsche, however, is as much in arms as Kierkegaard against the leveling effects of Hegelianism, and in consequence both men find themselves to a certain extent in touch with the older Romantic thinkers. This is a point worth emphasizing; it is this 'ewige Wiederkunft,' as Nietzsche would have called it, which has tempted more than one critic to find, for example, parallelisms betweeen Nietzsche's thought and the pre-Hegelian Romanticism of Carlyle's philosophy. Both Kierkegaard and Nietzsche were men of letters, poets rather than philosophers; both were masters of a wonderful literary style; both loved to express themselves with the exaggeration of
the aphorism. Kierkegaard, no less than Nietzsche, fought against the weakness, the want of stamina, in the moral life of his time; both insisted on the rights of the individual as opposed to those of the majority. But while the Danish thinker fell back on a kind of primitive Christianity as the key to the riddle of existence, Nietzsche, with a more penetrating radicalism, sought his ideals of heroic individualism in the early stages of a nation's life. In a recent volume entitled "Deutsche Charaktere," by Dr. R. M. Meyer (Berlin: E. Hofmann) there Pre two suggestive essays which throw not a little fresh light upon this most interesting question, the emancipation of the individual in modern thought.
Looking now to the influence which these two thinkers, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, have exerted upon literature, there is little difficulty in deciding which is the most important. It is to Kierkegaard, if to any thinker, that we must look for the germs from which the modern literature of Scandinavia has arisen; Ibsen, and Bjornsen, unwilling as patriotic Norwegians may be to admit it, are more strongly influenced by this Danish philosopher than any modern German writer of eminence has yet been influenced by Nietzsche. This may be partly accounted for by the narrower intellectual horizon of Scandinavia, by the conditions that prevailed when Kierkegaard became a dominating force; in Germany, with its more cosmopolitan spirit, it is hardly possible for any one man to gain that ascendency over the best minds of the nation which for a time Kierkegaard gained in Denmark. But there is, I think, another reason why Nietzsche has hitherto had so little beneficial influence upon German literature; the new wine of his thought was too strong for the old literature, and the new literature refuses as yet to assimilate it. Kierkegaard, less uncompromising and less radical than Nietzsche, was more litteratur/aehig; his ideas were better adapted to pass into literature. When we consider, further, that of all the determining influences upon modern German literature that from Scandinavia has been the most powerful, it is no paradox to see in this little-known Dane, rather than in Nietzsche, one of the chief sources of the individualistic movement of the time. The "Ubermensch" in German literature, of which we have heard so much recently—see, for example, Herr Leo Berg's volume of criticism, "Der Uebermensch in der Modernen Litteratur"—is less the "Uebermensch" of Nietzsche than the "Uebermensch" which Germany has learned to know from her Scandinavian masters, the "individual" of Kierkegaard. The tendency of German criticism at the present moment—conspicuous, for instance, in J. E. von Grotthuss' volume of essays, '"Probleme und Charakterkoepfe"—is to exaggerate the importance of Nietzsche's thought as a force in literature, to confuse the intellectual movement of the time with the actual and direct influence of Nietzsche himself.
We might take as a prominent example the case of Hermann Sudermann, to whom Baron von Grotthuss devotes one of the best of his essays. It is often stated that Herr Sudermann's work shows traces of Nietzsche's influence; yet I am doubtful if a single important thought in his writings could be proved to be directly inspired either by Nietzsche's work or by the popular conception of it. Magda, for instance, in "Heimat," is no more a product of Nietzchian influence than is Ibsen's "Nora"; and Sudermann's finest male characters, Leo von Sullethin (in "Es war") and Freiherr von Rocknitz ("in Glueck im Winkel")are equally independent of it. The hero of which these characters may be taken as types, the strong, masterly nature, impatient of obstacles, a little mysterious but fascinating and full of humor, occurs again and again in both fiction and the drama at present, and it is tempting to find in this figure some affinity with Nietzsche's "Herrenmensch." But the Renaissance heroes of Nietzsche's imagination were made of sterner, more primitive stuff than these modern characters, who are really more akin to old-fashioned bon vivant heroes such as Freytag's Konrad Bolz. Sudermann's leading male characters are merely the legitimate descendants of the normal type of German romance hero, which may be followed back without difficulty through the literature of the past thirty years, to the Oswalds and Leos of Spielhagen's first great novels. The only difference is that a manlier individualism has taken the place of the socialistic dreaming of the older books.
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Still less could we say that Herr Sudermann's "Johaunes" was inspired by the philosophy of the "Uebermensch." Its importance, however, as the chief contribution to the European drama of the year, makes it impossible for me to pass it over in silence. This new tragedy is a more convincing proof than any of its predecessors of Herr Sudermann's mastery of the art of dramatic construction. There is something un-German in the unerring judgment with which he here calculates every stroke of dramatic effect. But from another point of view, "Johannes" is German to a fault. In the midst of an
accurately realistic picture of the old Biblical world—the Pharisees and Roman soldiers live in Sudermann's pages as they never lived in Biblical drama before—we have a Baptist tormented with metaphysical problems as the rough preacher of the wilderness assuredly never was. Even the Tetrarch is raised to a plane of refined intellectuality that is essentially German, and belies the realistic detail of his surroundings. This is the weak side of the play; Sudermann tries to combine naturalism with the methods of the old masters. Goethe's Germanization of Tasso does not offend us, but had Goethe attempted to reproduce with the photographic accuracy of a writer of our day the historical milieu of the Court of Ferrara, his hero would have been impossible. This is one of the dangers to which a writer of Herr Sudermann's temperament is exposed; this, too, is why his plays of
modern German life— when they do not offend by too many concessions to the theatre—are more satisfying than this Biblical tragedy. But these flaws need not blind us to the very real beauties of the play. Not only is "Johannes" written in noble, majestic prose, but it is built up upon an idea of deep poetic significance. The tragedy of the play takes place in the soul of the Baptist, who, like an old Hebrew prophet, hopes for a Messiah "mit goldenem Panzer angethan, das Schwert gereckt ueber seinem Haupte," and finds instead a simple carpenter's Son, who preaches an incredible doctrine
—that of love. The rough preacher of the Old Covenant is broken by the new ideas he cannot grasp. Love in different forms passes before him until, in the last moments of his life the great truth dawns upon him. "Selig ist," Christ has said, "der sich nicht an mir aergert." "Ich," says John,
"Ich habe mich an ihm geaergert, denn ich erkannte ihn nicht. Undmein Aergernis erfuellte die Welt, denn ich erkannte ihn nicht... Die Schluessel des Todes—ich hielt sie nicht; die Wagschalen der Schuld—mir waren sie nicht vertrauet. Denn aus Niemandes Munde darf der Name Schuld ertoenen, nur aus dem Munde des Liebenden. Ich aber wollte euch weiden mit eisernen Ruthen! Darum ist mein Reich zu Schanden worden, und meine Stimme ist versiegelt. Ich hoere rings ein grosses Rauschen, und das selige Licht umhullet mich fast... Ein Thron ist herniedergestiegen von Himmel mit Feuerpfeilern. Darauf sitzet in weissen Kleidern der Feurst des Friedens. Und sein Schwert heisset 'Liebe' und 'Erbarmen' ist sein Schlachtruf..."
In "Johannes" there may be nothing that suggests Neitzsche's way of looking at life, but it bears evidence to the fascination for the German mind of a problem which also lies at the bottom of Nietzsche's thought, that involved in the conflict between the mildness of Christianity and the sturdy spirit of a more primitive world. Although Sudermann's books are free from the pessimism of the literature inspired by Schopeahauer, he has not altogether joined hands with the "moderns;" his tragic conflicts have more in common with those of German classical literature than is consistent with the spirit of Nietzsche's philosophy.
If we turn to the other leading writer in contemporary Germany, to Gerhart Hauptmann, our quest after philosophic optimism will hardly be more successful. Herr Hauptmann has published no new play in the course of the past year, but his life and work have been made the subject of no less than three monographs. Of these, however, only that by the new director of the Vienna Burg Theater, Dr. Paul Schlenther, has more than an ephemeral interest. Dr. Schlenther's book is full of suggestive criticism, and affords many interesting side-lights on the poet's life; the only ground for complaint is that it is a little premature; Herr Hauptmann is still a young man. In all Dr. Schlenther's volume, however, the name Nietzsche is not, so far as I remember, once mentioned, and it would, as a matter of fact, be hard to put one's finger on thoughts in Hauptmann's work which bear the unmistakable stamp of being directly inspired by Nietzsche. The shadow of "Zur Genealogie der Moral" may possibly have fallen across "The Sunken Bell," but that is all. Hauptmann owes far more to the northern influence, tempered by the dramatic ideas of Tolstoi, than to anything that has been written or thought in Germany itself.
There is another aspect of the influence of Nietzsche upon contemporary literature which, although of minor importance, cannot be overlooked, and that is the aspect which finds expression in Adolf Wilbrandt's romance, "Die Osterinsel" in J. V. Widmann's play "Jenseits von Gut und Bose," or more recently, in Otto von Leixner's story, "Also sprach Zarathustra's Sohn." In these books we have what might be called an objective treatment of Nietzsche's ideas. Hermann Adler, for instance, in Herr Wilbrandt's novel, is obviously modeled on Nietzsche himself. To realize his dreams of a higher manhood, Adler proposes to found a colony of "Uebermenschen" on Easter Island in the Pacific; but his plan fails, and his pamphlets are hailed as a gospel of Socialism. Here we have a significant comment on the vicissitudes which Nietzsche's own work has undergone. No thinker is surely farther removed from social democracy than Friedrich Nietzsche, the most radical aristocrat that ever wrote; yet, strange to say, not a few of Nietzsche's would-be prophets are found in the ranks of the socialistic party. There is still, in wider circles, very little knowledge of the real Nietzsche. Minor misconceptions could be understood, but it is not so easy to see how Nietzsche, the aristocrat and optimist, reappears in the popular imagination as a socialist and pessimist. Herr von Leixner's "Also sprach Zarathustra's Sohn" gives expression to another side of these current misconceptions; it describes the attitude of the "decadence" of the day towards Nietzsche. The hero whose conversion from Nietzscheism takes place amidst a good deal of tearful sentiment, is the author of a book entitled "Also sprach Zarathustra's Sohn," extracts from which give Herr Leixner an opportunity for some clever imitations of Nietzsche's style.
Although a classical scholar of high attainments, Nietzsche was too much of a poet to be a trustworthy aesthetic or literary critic. At times, with these piercing aphorisms of his, he may afford a deeper insight into the truth than the conscientious student who spends the best part of his life
laboriously marshalling facts. But in most cases the personal element in his judgments is too strong; he sees men and things through the colored glass of his own temperament. In Nietzsche's earlier battles with the German philological world, the genius and the brilliant ideas may have been on
his side, but the truth lay more on the side of the despised "pedants."
The literary genre on which Nietzsche has as yet left the deepest traces is the lyric. In the drama and novel—unless we take seriously the unripe productions of the extremely young and extremely free Berlin decadents who have flocked to a standard which, if not exactly Nietzsche's, is sufficiently Nietzche's to serve their purpose—in the drama and novel his influence have been restricted to a mere coloring of the individualism of the time; among the lyric writers, on the other hand, Nietzsche's ideas have made themselves felt with considerable force. And first, it is worth drawing attention to a fact which is sometimes overlooked, and that Is that Nietzsche is himself a lyric poet of no mean distinction. The firm of C. G. Naumann, in Leipzig, which has so completely identified itself with the publication of Nietzche literature, has supplemented the handsome edition of Nietzsche's works—dainty little volumes containing "Also sprach Zarathustra" and "Gedichte und Spruche." It is to these books we must turn to realize Nietzsche's eminence as a literary artist." The poems which are here collected are taken in the main from his already published works, but there are also a few which appear for the first time in this volume. It is impossible to trace the growth of Nietzsche's lyric powers from the remarkable productions of the boy of 14 and 15 to the grandiose dithyrambs of "Zarathustra," without feeling that, had Nietzsche chosen, he might have been one of the first singers of his age. The best verses in this little volume have no need to fear comparison with the finest German poetry of the time. Here, for example, are the first and last stanzas of the poem entitled 'Mein Glueck,'verses which seem to carry with them their own delicate music:
Die Tauben von San Marco seh ich wieder:
Still ist der Platz, Vormittag ruht darauf.
In sanfter Kuehle Schick, ich inuessig L,ieder
Gleich Taubenschwarmen in das Ulau hinauf—
Und locke sie zurueck,
Noch einen Reim zu haengen in's Gefieder—
Mein Glueck! Mein Glueck!
Fort, fort, Musik! Lass erst die Schatten dunkeln
Und wachsen bis zur braunen lauen Nacht!
Zum Tone ist's zu frueh am Tag, noch funkeln
Die Gold-Zieraten nicht in Roseu-Pracht,
Noch blieb viel Tag zurueck,
Viel Tag fur Dichten, Schleichen, Einsam-Munkeln—
Mein Glueck! Mein Glueck!
Or a verse or two of the little poem entitled "Im Sueden":
Das weisse Meer liegt eingeschlafen,
Und purpurn steht ein Segel drauf,
Fels, Feigenbaeume, Turin und Hafen,
Idylle rings, Gebloek von Schafen—
Unschnld des Suedens, nimm mich auf!
Nur Schritt fuer Schritt—dast keiu Leben,
Stets Bein vor Beln macht deutsch und schwer,
Ich heiss den Wind mich aufwaerts heben,
Ich lernte mit den Voegeln schweben—
Nach Sueden flog ich ueber's Meer.
If the history of German thought in the last fifty years may be described as a gradual emancipation from Hegelianism, we may, I think, in the same way regard that of the German lyric as an emancipation from the traditions of Heine. "Das Buch der Lieder" has had an unfortunate influence upon the German lyric for the best part of the century; its un-German Romanticism, its concrete, Oriental imagery, its tearful and often morbid sentimentality—all this, combined with a consummate mastery of form, has made it a veritable "Loreley" for the singers who came after. It has lured the German lyric on to false paths, and set up for German poets models that are untrue to the best national traditions; it has made it easy for them to forget the exquisite spirituality of Walther von der Vogelweide, of Goethe, of Eicbendorff, of the Volkslied. More than this, by virtue of those very cosmopolitan qualities which are so difficult to reconcile with the national German lyric, Heine has come to be regarded by foreign nations as the German singer par excellence; he is read and admired abroad, while men like Morike, Storm, Keller, who are the real torch-bearers of German song, are unknown. Even did Nietzsche's literary influence go no further, it would be something to have helped, as it is doing, to free the lyric from the sway of Heine. Among the young men who stand under Nietzsche's spell, there is, it is true, not yet one for whom more than an ephemeral fame can be prophesied; there is none to compare with Detlev von Liliencron, who, without having much in common with Nietzsche, has made the bravest stand that the modern lyric has yet made against Heine. But, apart from Liliencron, all that shows most promise in the German lyric of to-day comes
from those writers who have drunk at the spring of "Zarathustra."
If we look for a moment at the matter comparatively, it will not seem surprising that a philosophy so thoroughly individualistic as that of Nietzsche should find its first literary expression in the lyric. It was the culte de Mot, as M. Brunetiere would say, which was responsible for the lyric outburst of German Romanticism at the close of the last century, and for the brilliant spell of French lyrisme in the early decades of the present century. In the same way, it may not be too much to hope that the stimulus of Nietzsche's individualism will lead to an actual revival of the German lyric. From among the group of poets who owe more or less of their inspiration to Nietzsche, I might single out Franz Evers as an example. Herr Evers is a singer with hardly more than one string to his lyre; his stock of poetic ideas is small, too small, I fear, for the number of volumes he has published. This, at least, is the impression to be gathered from the latest of them ("Paradiese.") If we turn, however, to his
"Konigslieder" we shall find, amidst a good deal of mediocre verse, an occasional inspiration of genuine poetry. The lyrics of this volume repeat in varying keys the jubilant thought of the Zarathustrian higher manhood.
Die Jahrtausende sehn auf michnieder,
Und sie grussen mich und meinen Weg.
Denn sie haben mich emporgehoben,
Mich, deu zukunfstarken Sohn der Zeit.
Weil ich irdisch bin, bin ich von oben:
Und mein Herz schlagt voll von Ewigkeit.
There is extravagance and occasionally bombast in this poetry, but Herr Evers has a touch of the real lyric afflatus. He has, above all, a sense for verse music which is so conspicuously absent in a poet like Richard Dehmel, who is perhaps known to a wider circle of readers. But, after all, it is the promise of Dawn rather than the dawn itself, and many readers will turn with greater pleasure to the volume of old and new verse which Paul Heyse published in the course of the past year. But, from the standpoint of criticism, more weight is to be laid on the new spirit that is inspiring these younger poets than to the well-worn changes which Herr Heyse rings for us.
Lastly, something must be said of Nietzsche's own wonderful prose style. With a sense of form rare among his countrymen, Nietzsche has consistently followed out the Flaubert-like principle of "working at a page of prose as at a statue." Nothing in contemporary German literature can be placed
beside some of the wonderful periods of "Also sprach Zarathustra"— the "Nachtlied," the "Grosse Sehnsucht," or the following magnificent lines from the chapter on "Die Sieben Siegel":
Wenn ich dem Meere hold bin und Allem, was Meeres-Art ist, und am holdesten noch, wenn es mir zornig widerspricht:
Wen jene suchende Lust in mir ist, die nach Unendecktem die Segel treibt, wenn eine Seefahrer-Lust in meiner Lust ist:
Wenn je mein Frohlocken rief: "die Kueste schwand—nun fiel mir die letzte Kette ab—
Das Grenzenlose braust um mich, weit hinaus glaenzt mir Raum und Zeit, wolan! wolauf! altes Herz!"
Oh wie sollte ich nicht nach der Ewigkeit brunstig sein und nach dem hochzeitlichen Ring der Ringe—dem Ring der Wiederkunft?
Nie noch fand ich das Weib, von dem ich Kinder mochte, es sei denn dieses Weib, das ich liebe:
Denn ich liebe dich, oh Ewigkeit!
"La Tentation de Saint Antoine" alone, perhaps, in modern literature, is worthy of being placed beside Nietzsche's achievements in prose. And it would be strange if Nietzsche did not from this side also exert an influence upon the literature of his country; as a matter of fact, one comes across reminiscences of Nietzsche's style in most unexpected quarters among modern German books. But when we remember what the influence of authors with a distinctive style has been on French literature in the past, and on our own English literature in the nearer present, we might almost hope that Nietzsche's style should not become too powerful a factor in the literature of his time. In all styles of perfection there lies hidden an element that makes for decadence; and it might speak best for the health of German literature were this side of Nietzsche's influence only a passing one. This view may seem strange, especially to foreign readers, who are accustomed to regard German prose style as by nature bad and much in need of regenerating influences; only the other day Frederic Harrison, writing in the Nineteenth Century, told us that "Germans since Heine had no style at all." A statement like this seems to me to be based upon a misconception of the meaning of a national style. What is good style in one language is not necessarily good style in all; it is as unreasonable to measure German style by French standards as it would be to reverse the process. There is no reason why the writings of Goethe, of Schopenhauer, of Heyse, should not be taken as representing the norm of German prose style, and authors like Heine or Nietzsche, who introduce foreign elements, as anomalies. After all, a national style is not a thing that can be made or unmade by single writers; it is the slow work of generations. Style is more than the man; it is the nation.
The influence of Friedrich Nietzsche on German literature cannot yet be regarded from any point of view as a considerable one. Nine-tenths of what is popularly supposed to come from him can, as we have seen, be traced back to Scandinavian sources. It may only be that Nietzsche's time has not yet come to be a motive power in literature; almost a generation elapsed between the publication of 'Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung' and the culmination of the literature which Schopenhauer inspired; Kierkegaard was some time dead before Scandinavian literature awoke to new life upon his ideas. In the same way we may have to wait until the new century to see a real Nietzschian literature in Germany. In the meantime, the relation in which his thought stands to the popular literature of the day shows how difficult it is for a philosophy to adapt itself to the purposes of literature, without first undergoing dilution. The thoughts that fall fresh from the the brain of a great and original thinker are too new, too strange; they must undergo a certain popularization, perhaps even degeneration, before they can become the yeast of imaginative literature.
But it might also be asked: Is there not something too un-German about Nietzsche's philosophy to permit of it ever blending with the spiritual life of the German people? It might be argued that it stands in direct antagonism to the spirit which has inspired the literature of Germany in the past. The ethical moment of that literature, to make a somewhat wide generalization, has throughout its entire history—from the spiritual and moral "doubt" of Wolfram's "Parzival" to the forebodings of "Faust," to the problems of "Medea" or "The Nibelung's Ring"— centered in the conception of tragic renunciation. Rarely has the paean of triumphant optimism rung out in German literature as it once rang out in the brighter literature of Greece, of Italy, or Spain. The Titans of German poetry have always been hurled into the abyss; it is in the tragedy of unachieved desire, of broken hopes, of renunciation, that it has touched its highest point. What the future may have in store it is hard to say, but it is doubtful if the ethical spirit of at least 700 years will be so easily dethroned as many of Nietzsche's admirers believe.
Of the purely ethical aspects of Nietzsche's teaching it lies beyond my province to speak. Much has been said of the dangers of Nietzsche's ideas, and dangers they undoubtedly have for the unripe, but, as Nietzsche himself says, "Alles Grosse, znmal Neue ist gefaehrlich." The philosophy of
Zarathustra is a philosophy for the few, for the exceptions: "Ich bin ein Gesetz fuer die Meinen, ich bin kein Gesetz fuer Alle." Nietzsche wrote not for the "slaves" but for the "masters" whose "Wille zur Macht" has sprung from a deep experience of the meaning of slavery; his ethics stand in no such strong contrast to Goethe's rising on our dead selves to higher things, or even to the Hegelian "die to live," as some of his prophets would have us think.
The eternal value of men like Nietzsche is that they go through their age like ploughshares; they tear up the weeds of conventionality and expose fresh soil to the air. They force men to think the vital thoughts of life all over again. Nietzsche's last work was to have been entitled "Die Umwertung aller Werte." but no better collective title could be found for all his work, from the "Geburt der Tragodie" onwards. Here lies his most obvious importance as an intellectual force; he was an "Umwerter aller Werte."—Cosmopolis.
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Friday, March 31, 2017
The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America's CampusesMany books have discussed political indoctrination on American campuses, but none is as thorough and damning as this one. Alan Kors, a history professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and Harvey Silverglate, a criminal defense attorney and civil liberties litigator, present overwhelming evidence that the loss of liberty on campuses is far greater than most people realize. Speech codes, which punish students and faculty for offensive or “harassing” speech, are ubiquitous. Due process is the exception rather than the rule: secret judicial proceedings routinely deny accused faculty and students the right to be represented by legal counsel, to confront or call witnesses, and to have an impartial judge and appeals process. Most chilling of all, “sensitivity training,” a.k.a. thought reform, tells students what to believe and labels them as “in denial” or as “oppressors” unless they profess the politically correct orthodoxy about race, gender, and so on.
Most people, even critics of political correctness, are unaware of this system because much of it happens outside the classroom. To see the destruction of liberty on American campuses one must also examine offices of student life, residential advisers, judicial systems, deans, freshmen orientation, and the promulgation of rules and regulations. These aspects of the university are inescapable for students (and increasingly for faculty), and punishment for violating its rules occurs behind closed doors. Hence the book’s title: The Shadow University.
Kors and Silverglate rip the veil off this system, revealing far more cases than have hitherto been reported. Besides providing compelling narratives of various assaults on liberty, the authors also cogently explain the basic moral and constitutional principles of free speech and academic freedom, due process, and freedom of conscience, which are routinely violated throughout academia. A hallmark of their violation is the double standard: provocative speech (such as “born again bigot,” “Uncle Tom”) by the politically correct is protected, but those who appear to criticize feminism, affirmative action, or other reigning orthodoxies may be censored and/or re-educated.
I’ll sketch only a few of the incredible cases: a (white) student at the University of Pennsylvania calls noisy (black) students “water buffaloes” and is charged with racial harassment; a professor at Dallas Baptist University criticizes feminist arguments, is charged with defamation, and is then fired, along with the dean who defended him; a student at Sarah Lawrence is sentenced to sensitivity training for “homophobia” for laughing at a remark made about a gay student; a Catholic residential adviser at Carnegie Mellon University is fired for refusing to wear a symbol in support of gay and lesbian students; freshmen orientation at Williams College requires everyone to gather in a dark auditorium where insults are hurled at them from all directions; a professor at Cornell University is found guilty of sexual harassment at a hearing that he is forbidden to attend or call witnesses, and where the head of the investigating committee says “we have to make the rules as we go along.”
How did this arise? Bad ideology plus careerist administrators, answer the authors. The bad ideology is New Left theorist Herbert Marcuse’s argument in his 1965 essay “Repressive Tolerance,” that the marketplace of ideas masks repression of “progressive” ideas. To prevent the silencing of these ideas, “reactionary” ideas must be censored. This zero-sum view of freedom is followed by today’s defenders of speech codes and other assaults on liberty. (However, the authors give no evidence that today’s censors were influenced by Marcuse.) As for administrators, they perform their jobs in hopes of moving on to a more prestigious position, often at a new campus. To move on, their reign must be relatively untroubled, which means they aim to appease groups who can cause trouble: militant feminists, blacks, and gays. Sacrifice of other people’s freedom doesn’t matter.
I wish the authors had dug deeper on the careerism issue. They remark that colleges and universities have taken on many of the trappings of large corporations, minus the accountability, but they do not discuss whether re-establishing accountability requires that colleges become proprietary institutions.
Kors and Silverglate suggest two strategies for restoring liberty. First, litigate. Court challenges to university oppression frequently succeed. State universities are bound by the First Amendment and the requirements of due process; private universities are contractually bound to keep their promises of free inquiry and procedural fairness. Second, publicize oppression: Universities hate publicity. Publicity can shame the university into change, and/or arouse freedom-minded colleagues to revolt.
This is a great book, and that’s not hyperbole. It is not an enjoyable topic, but one indispensable for anyone concerned with liberty in academia. I am in awe of the authors. It must have taken enormous energy, intellectual focus, and a burning passion for justice to uncover this massive oppression on American campuses. All lovers of liberty are in their debt.
This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.
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Are books fitted to be our companions? That depends. You and I read them with pleasure; others do not care for them; to some the reading of any book at all is as impossible as the perusal of a volume in Old Slavonic would be to most of us. These people simply do not read at all. To a suggestion that he supplement his usual vacation sports by reading a novel, a New York police captain—a man with a common school education—replied, “Well, I’ve never read a book yet, and I don’t think I’ll begin now.” Here was a man who had never read a book, who had no use for books, and who could get along perfectly well without them. He is not a unique type. Hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens might as well be quite illiterate, so far as the use that they make of their ability to read is concerned. These persons are not all uneducated; they possess and are still acquiring much knowledge, but since leaving school they have acquired it chiefly by personal experience and by word of mouth. Is it possible that they are right? May it be that to read books is unnecessary and superfluous?
There has been some effort of late to depreciate the book—to insist on its inadequacy and on the impracticality of the knowledge that it conveys. “Book-learning” has always been derided more or less by so-called “practical men”. A recent series of comic pictures in the newspapers makes this clear. It is about “Book-taught Bilkins”. Bilkins tries to do everything by a book. He raises vegetables, builds furniture, runs a chicken farm, all by the directions contained in books, and meets with ignominious failure. He makes himself, in fact, very ridiculous in every instance and thousands of readers laugh at him and his absurd books. They inwardly resolve, doubtless, that they will be practical and will pay no attention to books. Are they right? Is the information contained in books always useless and absurd, while that obtained by experience or by talking to one’s neighbor is always correct and valuable?
Many of our foremost educators are displeased with the book. They are throwing it aside for the lecture, for laboratory work, for personal research and experiment. Does this mean that the book, as a tool of the teacher, will have to go?
What it all certainly does mean is that we ought to pause a minute and think about the book, about what it does and what it can not do. This means that we ought to consider a little the whole subject of written as distinguished from spoken language. Why should we have two languages—as we practically do—one to be interpreted by the ear and the other by the eye? Could we or should we abandon either? What are the advantages and what the limitations of each? We are so accustomed to looking upon the printed page, to reading newspapers, books, and advertisements, to sending and receiving letters, written or typewritten, that we are apt to forget that all this is not part of the natural order, except in the sense that all inventions and creations of the human brain are natural. Written language is a conscious invention of man; spoken language is a development, shaped by his needs and controlled by his sense of what is fitting, but not at the outset consciously devised.
We are apt to think of written language as simply a means of representing spoken language to the eye; but it is more than this; originally, at least in many cases, it was not this at all. The written signs represented not sounds, but ideas themselves; if they were intended to correspond directly with anything, it was with the rude gestures that signified ideas and had nothing to do with their vocal expression. It was not until later that these written symbols came to correspond to vocal sounds and even to-day they do so imperfectly; languages that are largely phonetic are the exception. The result is, as I have said, that we have two languages—a spoken and a written. What we call reading aloud is translation from the written to the spoken tongue; while writing from dictation is translation from the spoken to the written. When we read, as we say, “to ourselves,” we sometimes, if we are not skilful, pronounce the spoken words under our breath, or at least form them with our vocal organs. You all remember the story of how the Irishman who could not read made his friend stop up his ears while reading a letter aloud, so that he might not hear it. This anecdote, like all good comic stories, has something in it to think about. The skilful reader does not even imagine the spoken words as he goes. He forgets, for the moment, the spoken tongue and translates the written words and phrases directly into the ideas for which they stand. A skilful reader thus takes in the meaning of a phrase, a sentence, even of a paragraph, at a glance. Likewise the writer who sets his own thoughts down on paper need not voice them, even in imagination; he may also forget all about the spoken tongue and spread his ideas on the page at first hand. This is not so common because one writes slower than he speaks, whereas he reads very much faster. The swift reader could not imagine that he was speaking the words, even if he would; the pace is too incredibly fast.
Our written tongue, then, has come to be something of a language by itself. In some countries it has grown so out of touch with the spoken tongue that the two have little to do with each other. Where only the learned know how to read and write, the written language takes on a learned tinge; the popular spoken tongue has nothing to keep it steady and changes rapidly and unsystematically. Where nearly all who speak the language also read and write it, as in our own country, the written tongue, even in its highest literary forms, is apt to be much more familiar and colloquial, but at the same time the written and the spoken tongue keep closer together. Still, they never accurately correspond. When a man “talks like a book,” or in other words, uses such language that it could be printed word for word and appear in good literary form, we recognize that he is not talking ordinary colloquial English—not using the normal spoken language. On the other hand, when the speech of a southern negro or a down-east Yankee is set down in print, as it so often is in the modern “dialect story,” we recognize at once that although for the occasion this is written language, it is not normal literary English. It is most desirable that the two forms of speech shall closely correspond, for then the written speech gets life from the spoken and the spoken has the written for its governor and controller; but it is also desirable that each should retain more or less individuality, and fortunately it is almost impossible that they should not do so.
We must not forget, therefore, that our written speech is not merely a way of setting down our spoken speech in print. This is exactly what our friends the spelling reformers appear to have forgotten. The name that they have given to what they propose to do, indicates this clearly. When a word as written and as spoken have drifted apart, it is usually the spoken word that has changed. Reform, therefore, would be accomplished by restoring the old spoken form. Instead of this, it is proposed to change the written form. In other words, the two languages are to be forced together by altering that one of them that is by its essence the most immutable. Where the written word has been corrupted as in spelling “guild” for “gild,” the adoption of the simpler spelling is a reform; otherwise, not.
Now is the possession of two languages, a spoken and a written, an advantage or not? With regard to the spoken tongue, the question answers itself. If we were all deaf and dumb, we could still live and carry on business, but we should be badly handicapped. On the other hand, if we could neither read nor write, we should simply be in the position of our remote forefathers or even of many in our own day and our own land. What then is the reasons for a separate written language, beyond the variety thereby secured, by the use of two senses, hearing and sight, instead of only one?
Evidently the chief reason is that written speech is eminently fitted for preservation. Without the transmittal of ideas from one generation to another, intellectual progress is impossible. Such transmittal, before the invention of writing, was effected solely by memory. The father spoke to the son, and he, remembering what was said, told it, in turn, to the grandson. This is tradition, sometimes marvellously accurate, but often untrustworthy. And as it is without check, there is no way of telling whether a given fact, so transmitted, is or is not handed down faithfully. Now we have the phonograph for preserving and accurately reproducing spoken language. If this had been invented before the introduction of written language, we might never have had the latter; as it is, the device comes on the field too late to be a competitor with the book in more than a very limited field. For preserving particular voices, such as those of great men, or for recording intonation and pronunciation, it fills a want that writing and printing could never supply.
For the long preservation of ideas and their conveyance to a human mind, written speech is now the indispensable vehicle. And, as has been said, this is how man makes progress. We learn in two ways: by undergoing and reflecting on our own experiences and by reading and reflecting on those of others. Neither of these ways is sufficient in itself. A child bound hand and foot and confined in a dark room would not be a fit subject for instruction, but neither would he reach a high level if placed on a desert island far from his kind and forced to rely solely on his own experiences. The experiences of our forebears, read in the light of our own; the experiences of our forebears, used as a starting-point from which we may move forward to fresh fields—these we must know and appreciate if we are to make progress. This means the book and its use.
Books may be used in three ways—for information, for recreation, for inspiration. There are some who feel inclined to rely implicitly on the information that is to be found in books—to believe that a book can not lie. This is an unfortunate state of mind. The word of an author set down in print is worth no more than when he gives it to us in spoken language—no more and no less. There was, to be sure, a time when the printed word implied at least care and thoughtfulness. It is still true that the book implies somewhat more of this than the newspaper, but the difference between the two is becoming unfortunately less. Now a wrong record, if it purports to be a record of facts, is worse than none at all. The man who desires to know the distance between two towns in Texas and is unable to find it in any book of reference may obtain it at the cost of some time and trouble; but if he finds it wrongly recorded, he accepts the result and goes away believing a lie. If we are to use books for information, therefore, it is of the utmost consequence that we know whether the information is correct or not. A general critical evaluation of all literature, even on this score alone, without going into the question of literary merit, is probably beyond the possibilities, although it has been seriously proposed. Some partial lists we have, and a few lists of those lists, so that we may know where to get at them. There are many books about books, especially in certain departments of history, technology, or art, but no one place to which a man may go, before he begins to read his book, to find out whether he may believe what he reads in it. This is a serious lack, especially as there is more than one point of view. Books that are of high excellence as literature may not be at all accurate. How shall the boy who hears enthusiastic praise of Prescott’s histories and who is spellbound when he reads them know that the results of recent investigation prove that those histories give a totally incorrect idea of Mexico and Peru? How is the future reader of Dr. Cook’s interesting account of the ascent of Mount McKinley to know that it has been discredited? And how is he to know whether other interesting and well-written histories and books of travel have not been similarly proved inaccurate? At present, there is no way except to go to one who knows the literature of the subject, or to read as many other books on the subject as can be obtained, weighing one against the other and coming to one’s own conclusions. Possibly the public library may be able to help. Mr. Charles F. Lummis of the Los Angeles library advocates labelling books with what he calls “Poison Labels” to warn the reader when they are inaccurate or untrustworthy. Most librarians have hesitated a little to take so radical a step as this, not so much from unwillingness to assume the duty of warning the public, as from a feeling that they were not competent to undertake the critical evaluation of the whole of the literature of special subjects. The librarian may know that this or that book is out of date or not to be depended on, but there are others about which he is not certain or regarding which he must rely on what others tell him. And he knows that expert testimony is notoriously one-sided. It is this fear of acting as an advocate instead of as a judge that has generally deterred the librarian from labelling his books with notes of advice or warning.
There is, however, no reason why the librarian should take sides in the matter. He may simply point out to the reader that there are other books on the same subject, written from different points of view, and he may direct attention to these, letting the reader draw his own conclusions. There is probability that the public library in the future will furnish information and guidance of this kind about books, more than it has done in the past.
And here it may be noted in passing that the library is coming out of its shell. It no longer holds itself aloof, taking good care of its books and taking little care of the public that uses them. It is coming to realize that the man and the book are complementary, that neither is much without the other, and that to bring them together is its duty. It realizes also that a book is valuable, not because it is so much paper and ink and thread and leather, but because it records and preserves somebody’s ideas. It is the projection of a human mind across space and across time and where it touches another human mind those minds have come into contact just as truly and with as valuable results as if the bodies that held them stood face to face in actual converse. This is the miracle of written speech—a miracle renewed daily in millions of places with millions of readers.
We have, in the modern library, the very best way of perpetuating such relations as this and of ensuring that such as are preserved shall be worth preserving. When the ancients desired to make an idea carry as far as possible, they saw to the toughness and strength of the material object constituting the record; they cut it in stone or cast it in metal, forgetting that all matter is in a state of continual flux and change; it is the idea only that endures. Stone and metal will both one day pass away and unless some one sees fit to copy the inscription on a fresh block or tablet, the record will be lost. It is, then, only by continual renewal of its material basis that a record in written language can be made to last, and there is no reason why this renewal should not take place every few years, as well as every few centuries. There is even an advantage in frequent renewal; for this ensures that the value of the record shall be more frequently passed upon and prevents the preservation of records that are not worth keeping. This preservation by frequent renewal is just what is taking place with books; we make them of perishable materials; if we want to keep them, we reprint them; otherwise they decay and are forgotten.
We should not forget that by this plan the reader is usually made the judge of whether a book is worth keeping. Why do we preserve by continual reprinting Shakespeare and Scott and Tennyson and Hawthorne? The reprinting is done by publishers as a money-making scheme. It is profitable to them because there is a demand for those authors. If we cease to care for them and prefer unworthy writers, Shakespeare and Scott will decay and be forgotten and the unworthy ones will be preserved. Thus a great responsibility is thrown upon readers; so far they have judged pretty well.
Just now, however, we are confining ourselves to the use of books for information; and here there is less preservation than elsewhere. Especially in science, statements and facts quickly become out of date; here it is not the old but the new that we want—the new based on the accurate and enduring part of the old.
Before we leave this part of the subject it may be noted that many persons have no idea of the kinds of information that may be obtained from books. Even those who would unhesitatingly seek a book for data in history, art, or mathematics would not think of going to books for facts on plumbing, weaving, or shoe-making, for methods of shop-window decoration or of display-advertising, for special forms of bookkeeping suitable for factories or for stock-farms—for a host of facts relating to trades, occupations, and business in general. Yet there are books about all these things—not books perhaps to read for an idle hour, but books full of meat for them who want just this kind of food. If Book-taught Bilkins fails, after trying to utilize what such books have taught him, it is doubtless because he has previously failed to realize that books plus experience, or, to put it differently, the recorded experience of others plus our own is better than either could be separately. And the same is true of information that calls for no physical action to supplement it. Books plus thought—the thoughts of others plus our own—are more effective in combination than either could be by itself. Reading should provoke thought; thought should suggest more reading, and so on, until others’ thoughts and our own have become so completely amalgamated that they are our personal intellectual possessions.
But we may not read for information at all—recreation may be what we are after. Do not misunderstand me. Many persons have an idea that if one reads to amuse himself he must necessarily read novels. I think most highly of good novels. Narrative is a popular form of literary expression; it is used by those who wish to instruct as well as to amuse. One may obtain plenty of information from novels—often in a form nowhere else available. If we want exact statement, statistical or otherwise, we do not go to fiction for it; but if we wish to obtain what is often more important—accurate and lasting general impressions of history, society, or geography, the novel is often the only place where these may be had. Likewise, one may amuse himself with history, travel, science, or art—even with mathematics. The last is rarely written primarily to amuse, although we have such a title as “Mathematical recreations,” but there are plenty of non-fiction books written for entertainment and one may read for entertainment any book whatever. The result depends not so much on the book or its contents as on the reader.
Recreation is now recognized as an essential part of education. And just as physical recreation consists largely in the same muscular movements that constitute work, only in different combinations and with different ends in view, so mental recreation consists of intellectual exercise with a similar variation of combinations and aims.
Somebody says that “play is work that you don’t have to do”. So reading for amusement may closely resemble study—the only difference is that it is purely voluntary. Here again, however, the written language is only an intermediary; we have as before, the contact of two minds—only here it is often the lighter contact of good-fellowship. And one who reads always for such recreation is thus like the man who is always bandying trivialities, story-telling, and jesting—an excellent, even a necessary, way of passing part of one’s time, but a mistaken way of employing all of it.
The best kind of recreation is gently stimulating, but stimulation may rise easily to abnormality. There are fiction drunkards just as there are persons who take too much alcohol or too much coffee. In fact, if one is so much absorbed by the ideas that he is assimilating that the process interferes with the ordinary duties of life, he may be fairly sure that it is injuring him. If one loves coffee or alcohol, or even candy, so dearly that one can not give it up, it is time to stop using it altogether. If a reader is so fond of an exciting story that he can not lay it aside, so that he sits up late at night reading it, or if he can not drop it from his mind when he does lay it aside, but goes on thinking about the deadly combat between the hero and Lord William Fitz Grouchy when he ought to be studying his lessons or attending to his business, it is time to cut out fiction altogether. This advice has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the fiction. It will not do simply to warn the habitual drunkard that he must be careful to take none but the best brands; he must drop alcohol altogether. If you are a fiction drunkard, enhanced quality will only enslave you further. This sort of use is no more recreation in the proper sense of the word than is gambling, or drinking to excess, or smoking opium.
And now we come to a use of books that is more important—lies more at the root of things—than their use for either information or recreation—their use for inspiration. One may get help and inspiration along with the other two—reading about how to make a box may inspire a boy to go out and make one himself. It is this kind of thing that should be the final outcome of every mental process. Nothing that goes on in the brain is really complete until it ends in a motor stimulus. The action, it is true, may not follow closely; it may be the result of years of mental adjustment; it may even take place in another body from the one where it originated. The man who tells us how to make a box, and tells it so fascinatingly that he sets all his readers to box-making, presumably has made boxes with his own hands, but there may be those who are fitted to inspire action in others rather than to undertake it themselves. And the larger literature of inspiration is not that which urges to specific deeds like box-making, or even to classes of deeds, like caring for the sick or improving methods of transportation; rather does it include in its scope all good thoughts and all good actions. It makes better men and women of those who read it; it is revolutionary and evolutionary at the same time, in the best sense of both words.
What will thus inspire me, do you ask? It would be easy to try to tell you; it would also be easy to fail. Many have tried and failed. This is a deeply personal matter. I can not tell what book, or what passage in a book, will touch the magic spring that shall make your life useful instead of useless, that shall start your thoughts and your deeds climbing up instead of grovelling or passively waiting. Only search will reveal it. The diamond-miner who expects to be directed to the precise spot where he will find a gem will never pick one up. Only he who seeks, finds. There are, however, places to look and places to avoid. The peculiar clay in which diamonds occur is well known to mineralogists. He who runs across it, looks for diamonds, though he may find none. But he who hunts for them on the rock-ribbed hills of New Hampshire or the sea-sands of Florida is doing a foolish thing—although even there he may conceivably pick up one that has been dropped by accident.
So you may know where it is best to go in your search for inspiration from books, for we know where seekers in the past have most often found it. He who could read the Bible or Shakespeare without finding some of it is the exception. It may be looked for in the great poets—Homer, Virgil, Dante, Chaucer, Milton, Hugo, Keats, Goethe; or the great historians—Tacitus, Herodotus, Froissart, Macaulay, Taine, Bancroft; or in the great travellers from Sir John Mandeville down, or in biographies like Boswell’s life of Johnson, or in books of science—Laplace, Lagrange, Darwin, Tyndall, Helmholtz; in the lives of the great artists; in the great novels and romances—Thackeray, Balzac, Hawthorne, Dickens, George Eliot. Yet each and all of these may leave you cold and may pick up your gem in some out-of-the-way corner where neither you nor anyone else would think of looking for it.
Did you ever see a car-conductor fumbling about in the dark with the trolley pole, trying to hit the wire? While he is pulling it down and letting it fly up again, making fruitless dabs in the air, the car is dark and motionless; in vain the motorman turns his controller, in vain do the passengers long for light. But sooner or later the pole strikes the wire; down it flows the current that was there all the time up in the air; in a jiffy the car is in motion and ablaze with light. So your search for inspiration in literature may be long and unsuccessful; you are dark and motionless. But the life-giving current from some great man’s brain is flowing through some book not far away. One day you will make the connection and your life will in a trice be filled with light and instinct with action.
And before we leave this subject of inspiration, let us dwell for a moment on that to be obtained from one’s literary setting in general—from the totality of one’s literary associations and impressions, as distinguished from that gained from some specific passage or idea.
It has been said that it takes two to tell the truth; one to speak and one to listen. In like manner we may say that two persons are necessary to a great artistic interpretation—one to create and one to appreciate. And of no art is this more true than it is of literature. The thought that we are thus cooperating with Shakespeare and Schiller and Hugo in bringing out the full effect of their deathless conceptions is an inspiring one and its consideration may aid us in realizing the essential oneness of the human race, so far as its intellectual life is concerned.
Would you rather be a citizen of the United States than, we will say, of Nicaragua? You might be as happy, as well educated, as well off, there as here. Why do you prefer your present status? Simply and solely because of associations and relationships. If this is sentiment, as it doubtless is, it is the kind of sentiment that rules the world—it is in the same class as friendship, loyalty, love of kin, affection for home. The links that bind us to the past and the threads that stretch out into the future are more satisfactory to us here in the United States, with the complexity of its interests for us, than they would be in Nicaragua, or Guam, or Iceland.
Then of what country in the realm of literature do you desire to be a citizen? Of the one where Shakespeare is king and where your familiar and daily speech is with the great ones of this earth—those whose wise, witty, good, or inspiring words, spoken for centuries past, have been recorded in books? Or would you prefer to dwell with triviality and banality—perhaps with Laura Jean Libbey or even with Mary J. Holmes, and those a little better than these—or a little worse.
I am one of those who believe in the best associations, literary as well as social. And associations may have their effect even if they are apparently trivial or superficial.
When the open-shelf library was first introduced we were told that one of its chief advantages was that it encouraged “browsing”—the somewhat aimless rambling about and dipping here and there into a book. Obviously this can not be done in a closed-shelf library. But of late it has been suggested, in one quarter or another, that although this may be a pleasant occupation to some, or even to most, it is not a profitable one. Opponents of the open shelf of whom there are still one or two, here and there, find in this conclusion a reason for negativing the argument in its favor, while those of its advocates who accept this view see in it only a reason for basing that argument wholly on other grounds.
Now those of us who like a thing do not relish being told that it is not good for us. We feel that pleasure was intended as an outward sign of benefits received and although it may in abnormal conditions deceive us, we are right in demanding proof before distrusting its indications. When the cow absorbs physical nutriment by browsing, she does so without further reason than that she likes it. Does the absorber of mental pabulum from books argue wrongly from similar premises?
Many things are hastily and wrongly condemned because they do not achieve certain results that they were not intended to achieve. And in particular, when a thing exists in several degrees or grades, some one of those grades is often censured, although good in itself, because it is not a grade or two higher. Obviously everything depends on what is required. When a shopper wants just three yards of cloth, she would be foolish to buy four. She would, of course, be even more foolish to imagine that, if she really wished four, three would do just as well. But if a man wants to go to the eighth story of a building, he should not be condemned because he does not mount to the ninth; if he wishes a light lunch, he should not be found fault with for not ordering a seven-course dinner. And yet we continually hear persons accused of “superficiality” who purposely and knowingly acquire some slight degree of knowledge of a subject instead of a higher degree. And others are condemned, we will say, for reading for amusement when they might have read for serious information, without inquiring whether amusement, in this instance, was not precisely what they needed.
It may be, therefore, that browsing is productive of some good result, and that it fails to effect some other, perhaps some higher, result which its critics have wrongly fixed upon as the one desirable thing in this connection.
When a name embodies a figure of speech, we may often learn something by following up the figure to see how far it holds good. What does an animal do, and what does it not do, when it “browses”? In the first place it eats food—fresh, growing food; but, secondly, it eats this food by cropping off the tips of the herbage, not taking much at once, and again, it moves about from place to place, eating now here and now there and then making selection, from one motive or another, but presumably following the dictates of its own taste or fancy. What does it not do? First, it does not, from choice, eat anything bad. Secondly, it does not necessarily consume all of its food in this way. If it finds a particularly choice spot, it may confine its feeding to that spot; or, if its owner sees fit, he may remove it to the stable, where it may stand all day and eat what he chooses to give it. The benefits of browsing are, first, the nourishment actually derived from the food taken, coupled with the fact that it is taken in small quantities, and in great variety; and secondly, the knowledge of good spots, obtained from the testing of one spot after another, throughout the whole broad pasture.
Now I submit that our figure of speech holds good in all these particulars. The literary “browser” partakes of his mental food from books and is thereby nourished and stimulated; he takes it here and there in brief quantities, moving from section to section and from shelf to shelf, selecting choice morsels of literature as fancy may dictate. He does not, if he is a healthy reader, absorb voluntarily anything that will hurt him, and this method of literary absorption does not preclude other methods of mental nourishment. He may like a book so much that he proceeds to devour it whole, or his superiors in knowledge may remove him to a place where necessary mental food is administered more or less forcibly. And having gone so far with our comparison, we shall make no mistake if we go a little further and say that the benefits of browsing to the reader are twofold, as they are to the material feeder—the absorption of actual nutriment in his own wilful, wayward manner—a little at a time and in great variety; and the knowledge of good reading obtained from such a wide testing of the field.
Are not these real benefits, and are they not desirable? I fear that our original surmise was correct and that browsing is condemned not for what it does, but because it fails to do something that it could not be expected to do. Of course, if one were to browse continuously he would be unable to feed in any other way. Attendance upon school or the continuous reading of any book whatever would be obviously impossible. To avoid misunderstanding, therefore, we will agree at this point that whatever may be said here in commendation of browsing is on condition that it be occasional and not excessive and that the normal amount of continuous reading and study proceed together with it.
Having settled, therefore, that browsing is a good thing when one does not occupy ones’ whole time with it, let us examine its advantages a little more in detail.
First: about the mental nourishment that is absorbed in browsing; the specific information, the appreciation of what is good, the intellectual stimulation—not that which comes from reading suggested or guided by browsing, but from the actual process itself. I have heard it strenuously denied that any such absorption occurs; the bits taken are too small, the motion of the browser is too rapid, the whole process is too desultory. Let us see. In the first place a knowledge of authors and titles and of the general character of their works is by no means to be despised. I heard the other day of a presumably educated woman who betrayed in a conversation her ignorance of Omar Khayyam—not lack of acquaintance with his works, but lack of knowledge that such a person had ever existed. If at some period in her life she had held in her hand a copy of “The Rubaiyat,” and had glanced at its back, without even opening it, how much embarrassment she might have been spared! And if, in addition, she had glanced within for just ten seconds and had discovered that he wrote poetry in stanzas of four lines each, she would have known as much about Omar as do many of those who would contemptuously scoff at her ignorance. With so brief effort may we acquire literary knowledge sufficient to avoid embarrassment in ordinary conversation. Browsing in a good library, if the browser has a memory, will soon equip him with a wide range of knowledge of this kind. Nor is such knowledge to be sneered at as superficial. It is all that we know, or need to know, about scores of authors. One may never study higher mathematics, but it may be good for him to know that Lagrange was a French author who wrote on analytical mechanics, that Euclid was a Greek geometer, and that Hamilton invented quaternions. All this and vastly more may be impressed on the mind by an hour in the mathematical alcove of a library of moderate size. And it will do no harm to a boy to know that Benvenuto Cellini wrote his autobiography, even if the inevitable perusal of the book is delayed for several years, or that Felicia Hemans, James Thomson, and Robert Herrick wrote poetry, independently of familiarity with their works, or that “Lamia” is not something to eat or “As you like it” a popular novel. Information of this kind is almost impossible to acquire from lists or from oral statement, whereas a moment’s handling of a book in the concrete may fix it in the mind for good and all. So far, we have not supposed that even a word of the contents has been read. What, now, if a sentence, a stanza, a paragraph, a page, passes into the brain through the eye? Those who measure literary effect by the thousand words or by the hour are making a great mistake. The lightning flash is over in a fraction of a second, but in that time it may reveal a scene of beauty, may give the traveller warning of the fatal precipice, or may shatter the farmer’s home into kindling wood. Intellectual lightning may strike the “browser” as he stands there book in hand before the shelf. A word, a phrase, may sear into his brain—may turn the current of his whole life. And even if no such epoch-making words meet his eye, in how brief a time may he read, digest, appreciate, some of the gems of literature! Leigh Hunt’s “Jennie kissed me” would probably take about thirty seconds; on a second reading he would have it by heart—the joy of a life-time. How many meaty epigrams would take as long? The whole of Gray’s “Elegy” is hardly beyond the browser’s limit.
In an editorial on the Harvard Classics in the “Chicago evening post”, (April 22), we read, “the cultural tabloid has very little virtue;… to gain everything that a book has to give one must be submerged in it, saturated and absorbed”. This is very much like saying, “there is very little nourishment in a sandwich; to get the full effect of a luncheon you must eat everything on the table”. It is a truism to say that you can not get everything in a book without reading all of it; but it by no means follows that the virtue of less than the whole is negligible.
So much for the direct effect of what one may thus take in, bit by bit. The indirect effect is even more important. For by sampling a whole literature, as he does, he not only gets a bird’s-eye view of it, but he finds out what lie likes and what he dislikes; he begins to form his taste. Are you afraid that he will form it wrong? I am not. We are assuming that the library where he browses is a good one; here is no chance of evil, only a choice between different kinds of good. And even if the evil be there, it is astonishing how the healthy mind will let it slip and fasten eagerly on the good. Would you prefer a taste fixed by someone who tells the browser what he ought to like? Then that is not the reader’s own taste at all, but that of his informant. We have too much of this sort of thing—too many readers without an atom of taste of their own who will say, for instance, that they adore George Meredith, because some one has told them that all intellectual persons do so. The man who frankly loves George Ade and can yet see nothing in Shakespeare may one day discover Shakespeare. The man who reads Shakespeare merely because he thinks he ought to is hopeless.
But what a triumph, to stand spell-bound by the art of a writer whose name you never heard, and then discover that he is one of the great ones of the world! Nought is comparable to it except perhaps to pick out all by yourself in the exhibition the one picture that the experts have chosen for the museum or to be able to say you liked olives the first time you tasted them.
Who are your favorites? Did some one guide you to them or did you find them yourselves? I will warrant that in many cases you discovered them and that this is why you love them. I discovered DeQuincey’s romances, Praed’s poetry, Béranger in French, Heine in German, “The Arabian nights”, Molière, Irving’s “Alhambra,” hundreds of others probably. I am sure that I love them all far more than if some one had told me they were good books. If I had been obliged to read them in school and pass an examination on them, I should have hated them. The teacher who can write an examination paper on Gray’s “Elegy”, would, I firmly believe, cut up his grandmother alive before the physiology class.
And next to the author or the book that you have discovered yourself comes the one that the discoverer himself—your boy or girl friend—tells you about. He knows a good thing—she knows it! No school nonsense about that; no adult misunderstanding. I found out Poe that way, and Thackeray’s “Major Gahagan”, and many others.
To go back to our old illustration and consider for a moment not the book but the mind, the personality whose ideas it records, such association with books represents association with one’s fellowmen in society—at a reception, in school or college, at a club. Some we pass by with a nod, with some we exchange a word; sometimes there is a warm handgrasp; sometimes a long conversation. No matter what the mental contact may be, it has its effects—we are continually gaining knowledge, making new friends, receiving fresh inspiration. The complexion of this kind of daily association determines the cast of one’s mind, the thoroughness of his taste, the usefulness or uselessness of what he does. A man is known by the company he keeps, because that company forms him; he gets from it what becomes brain of his brain and soul of his soul.
And no less is he formed by his mental associations with the good and the great of all ages whom he meets in books and who talk to him there. More rather than less; for into a book the writer puts generally what is best in him, laying aside the pettiness, the triviality, the downright wickedness that may have characterized him in the flesh.
I have often heard the comment from one who had met face to face a writer whose work he loved—“Oh! he disappointed me so!” How disappointed might we be with Thackeray, with Dickens, even with Shakespeare, could we meet them in the flesh! Now they can not disappoint us, for we know only what they have left on record—the best, the most enduring part, purified from what is gross and earthly.
In and among such company as this it is your privilege to live and move, almost without money and without price. Thank God for books; let them be your friends and companions through life—for information, for recreation, but above all for inspiration.
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David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Christianity and Psychical Research by James H. Hyslop 1917
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Philosophers know well the relation of Hume to Kant and both of them to Scepticism, Positivism or Phenomenalism. Theologians know well the relation of Hume to the doctrine of miracles and the hot controversies that were waged against him for his destructiveness of faith in the claims of religion in regard to miracles. Hume was the bete noir of all believers in religion, and Kant, tho his position in regard to all such questions was essentially like that of Hume, enjoyed a better reputation because he favored religion in his Practical Reason and his Religion innerhalb der Grenzen der reinen Vernunft. But the main influence of Kant was nevertheless destructive of the tendencies of naive orthodoxy and his "religion" was in fact mere ethics, a view not in itself objectionable to those who understand ethics rightly, but still it eliminated many things that theologians regarded as essential to their religious structure.
But I wish to show here that Hume's philosophy may afford a better basis for the acceptance of miracles than the systems which philosophers have defended for the purpose. This will seem very paradoxical to most people who are familiar with the controversies of his times. Nevertheless I think an interesting point can be made out of this contention, and in spite of the fact that Hume denied the credibility of miracles. I shall show that he, like Kant, did not understand the criterion of truth to which he appealed.
Hume applied scepticism to the metaphysics of Locke and Berkeley. He showed that the logic of Locke resulted in the denial of the existence of matter, or the reduction of knowledge about it to sensation. On the same principles he resolved Berkeley's mind into mental states and thus anticipated the phenomenalistic or positive philosophy. Sensation or experience with him, as with Locke, was the basis of knowledge. Anything which could not be reduced to experience was without assured credentials for belief, and tho his argument was largely ad hominem, it was serious enough, or at least strong enough, to make heavy inroads upon the theological beliefs of the time. He had only to apply it to the doctrine of miracles to disturb the real or alleged foundations of Christianity. This he did. He asserted that experience was the criterion of truth, holding that this experience was the union of sensation and interpretation. Hence as we had no experience with miracles, we had no ground to believe in them. He showed that we disbelieved all assertions in our own time, in whatever connection, that did not find their verification in present experience, and hence as miracles had no present testimony in their favor they were incredible.
Now his position was purely destructive. He made no attempt to extend the constructive import of experience. He was content to use it as a destructive weapon against miracles. His antagonists might have effectively replied to him by producing the "miracles" in his time, but for the fact that they too conceded their non-existence in that age. They had limited their possibility to antiquity and to a special person or set of persons. They agreed that they were not credible in this age and so forfeited the chance to reply to him, and Hume had no special interest in repeating the phenomena on which the doctrine of ancient miracles was based. If Hume had been interested in the constructive side of science and experience, he might have gone to work to prove that "miracles" were possible today. But it was reserved for psychic research, from the time of Mesmer down, to do this. All that we required was experience to show that there was some credibility in the stories in which Christianity originated. We should no doubt alter the definition of "miracles" which both Hume and his opponents accepted, but we should find that the same facts existed today that were reported in ancient times and which were certainly unusual in ordinary experience, but quite verifiable. This simply means that an appeal to experience which Hume admitted to be the criterion of truth would prove the existence of miracles. His opponents, like Hume himself, were too indolent and too little sympathetic with scientific method to seek evidence where it was discoverable. They preferred barren logic and discussion about tradition. But we have only to take Hume seriously to find a means for setting aside his verdict in regard to the past, at least in so far as the facts are concerned, tho we should admit that the so-called miracles were consistent with the natural order of things. Experience may be as constructive in its meaning as it was destructive with Hume.
The same contention can be made about Kant. It was his theory of Practical Reason that is supposed to protect religion. But the fact is that this afforded a very precarious foundation for its dogmas about revelation and miracles on which the minds of that time based it. However, there is a resource of which neither Kant nor his followers bethought themselves. Kant had a more constructive mind than Hume. After being influenced by the latter's scepticism, he went about an inquiry for a constructive theory of knowledge, and he combined his doctrine of "categories" and experience to determine it. Hume made nothing of the laws of thought or "categories". He was content with "experience" more or less analyzed. But Kant sought in the "categories" or fundamental laws of thought the basis of all knowledge and experience furnished the concrete contents of that knowledge. These "categories" were the forms of knowledge and experience the matter of it. But we shall not require to go into the details of this question. The distinction means that the mind acts on the contents of sensation and experience to interpret them and to construct the ideas of the "understanding". All this is true enough and less mysterious than the formidable terminology of Kant would seem to imply. But it is the characterization of these forms or "categories" that determines the real crux of the question. Kant spoke of them as determining the limits of knowledge and these he regarded as fixed and that all beyond them was unknown. Experience gave us all the knowledge that we could possibly have and anything asserted as beyond this was unknown, and therefore not verifiable or to be asserted with any assurance. God and immortality were beyond experience and so unprovable. Knowledge was limited to experience, and this, as in Hume, was composed of sensation and the application of the "categories", or functions of the understanding, in the interpretation of perception.
But in limiting his knowledge, Kant forgot the complex nature of his experience. It was the form or type of experience, sensation and perception, that was fixed and defined the limits of knowledge. The content of it was not fixed. The form of experience might be as fixed as you please, but the facts or contents of it were not fixed or limited, and it was in this direction in which he should have sought for the solution of his problem.
Now Kant in his earlier work had undertaken to study Swedenborg and as a consequence wrote his Traume eines Geistessehers in which he balanced the arguments for the immortality of the soul as between Swedenborg's experiences and the results of physiology and psychology, without coming to any definite conclusion. But he did say that some day the case would be scientifically, proved. Instead, however, of going in the scientific direction for his proof he reverted to philosophic speculation and tested the claims of "Pure Reason" (Kritik der reinen Vernunft) to decide the case and came to the conclusion that nothing could be proved, because the limits of human knowledge would not admit of proof for a transcendental world. That is, sense experience did not include evidence for a spiritual world. The limits of knowledge were fixed at sense perception. But he forgot that the data of sensation were not fixed or limited. The functions of reason were fixed, but the possibilities of experience might be illimitable tho the forms of it were limited. Now if he had ventured to go into science and study this experience he might have found a way out of the wilderness. He had predicted that immortality would be scientifically proved, but he did not try to find light in that direction. Experience was the field of science and after suggesting that there the solution of his problem was to be found he ought to have turned his vision in that direction. But he remained within the limits of speculation and neglected science. It was the same with Hume. Both suggested the field of inquiry, Hume in a destructive and Kant in a constructive way. But neither of them sought a solution of the problem in the direction of the method which they approved.
It is apparent that the "miracles" which Hume repudiated might be proved to be facts today, and if they were so proved those of the past would become entirely credible. True, this becomes true only on the condition that we conceive them as more in harmony with the order of the cosmos than both defenders and antagonists assumed. Both believer and sceptic had refused to admit them to be consistent with the cosmic order as known and defined, and hence the irreconcilable conflict. But the investigation of experience might show just what the facts were and so define them in a perfectly credible sense, showing that both schools were wrong in their conception of the facts, and one of them wrong and the other right about the method of solving the problem. But the sceptical school was unwilling to investigate in the direction that its views suggested and the other had too little confidence in science and too much in philosophy to find a credible solution.
The whole crux of the matter is this. Philosophy plays about the fixed laws of experience and science about the variations of its contents and the conditions which determine its significance. The first always remains within the limits of any given experience and the latter is always progressing beyond those limits, in so far as actual content is concerned, and hence is the field in which solutions are to be found. That is why Kant should have pursued science, after saying that it was the direction in which knowledge was to be found. He should not have emphasized so much the limits of knowledge as its unlimited nature in the field of experience. He had too much faith in the scholastic tendency to respect a priori methods and too little in the methods of science, the interrogation of the present moment and its data of experience.
It is thus a curious fate to find the basis of a religious philosophy, and of Christian views, in the field which both philosophers neglected, but hinted at, and in a direction opposed by the antagonists of both men. Philosophers sought a solution in the denial of both scepticism and transcendentalism, when they should have turned to the very field in which both these schools found their weapons against "miracles" and religious doctrine. Both avoid it, one from fear and the other from indifference. One had faith in philosophy and the other did not, but neither had the courage to pursue the method which actually offered a way out of their difficulties. It was psychic research that took up the challenge and bids fair to find a clue out of the labyrinth. Ariadne is finding her way to the light.
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