Evolution Of Philosophy
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
"Education among the ancients was the business of slaves; in the middle ages it was left to the church; in our day it is a trade ; but the education of the race must become a religion."—Royce.
There are many degrees of education,—physical, technical, intellectual, moral, esthetic, etc.—but real education consists of all the elements which give discernment and power to the intelligent entity or soul. The Century Dictionary gives this definition: "Education in a broad sense comprehends all that disciplines and enlightens the under-standing, corrects the temper, cultivates the taste and forms the manners and habits."
Thus, it is the essential entity, the individual soul, which is to be educated. The chief capacities and powers of the soul collect materials for Reason through the primary capacity of Consciousness. A strong, tempered Will is necessary to hold all the capacities, faculties and powers to their work of gathering the essential facts. Reason is the power which supervises all the faculties, capacities and powers. Reason compares, contrasts, connects and correlates the facts and truths. Reason deduces from the facts, knowledge of methods, principles and laws. Choice makes decisions and determines conduct.
Education is the method of Philosophy or the process of developing Philosophers. Philosophy is impossible without ideas, and correct ideas are impossible without knowledge of facts, methods, principles and laws. Philosophy results from the application of Reason to these essential materials. Philosophy is the essential truth deduced from scientific facts by Reason.
All who would study Philosophy or be Philosophers must learn from Socrates in "The Bible of the Wise," known as Plato's Dialogues.
"And may we not say of the philosopher that he is a lover, not of a part of wisdom only, but of the whole? Yes, of the whole.
He who has a taste for every sort of knowledge and who is curious to learn and is never satisfied, may be justly termed a philosopher? Am I not right?
He said : Who, then, are true philosophers?
Those, I said, who are lovers of the vision of truth. That is also good, he said, but I should like to know what you mean ?
Those who see the absolute and eternal and immutable may be said to know, and not to have opinion only. The one love and embrace the subjects of knowledge, the other those of opinion. Those who love the truth in each thing are to be called lovers of wisdom and not lovers of opinion."—Plato's Republic, Book Y., 475-480, Jowett's translation.
Education is synonymous with the knowledge and practice of Philosophy. Intelligence is identified with devotion to truth. Knowledge infallibly leads to obedience to law. The evolution of Philosophy is indicated by the clearness of the expression of truth, and by the power of truth included in Philosophy to make Philosophers.
We are already in the period of evolution where the education of the race has become a religion to many great souls. Before this epoch, as indicated by the unreality of Philosophy, the power of theorizing ran far ahead of actual knowledge. Now that so much progress has been made in knowledge of both man and his environment, there is certainly needed a broader, deeper and higher correlation of the marvelous array of facts which have been discovered and classified as Sciences. It is the duty of Philosophers (and the ideal is that every man and woman should become a Philosopher) to keep pace with the discovery of facts and to appropriate readily every new truth which affects human life. This means Education, and Education means all this.
What is the test of genuine Education and worthy Philosophy? That which frees the soul. Slavery and vice exist in proportion to ignorance. Freedom and virtue exist in proportion to intelligence. Education is not the apparent possession of knowledge, either in a book-case or in the memory. The right use of knowledge is a measure of the real education of an individual. Education is the comprehension of the value of knowledge. Emerson says : "A new degree of intellectual power is cheap at any price." And again : "Thought is the substance for which we give days."
Education increases culture and power. Power and culture increase education. Thus, education is an evolutionary cause and an evolutionary effect. It is an involution as well as an evolution. The effect of education is to produce a greater cause which will inspire to the labor of acquiring more education. No Philosopher estimates that he has attained wisdom. He is always a lover of wisdom. He is ever seeking greater knowledge. He is ever attaining higher wisdom.
Notwithstanding these axiomatic truths, there exists much of reputed Philosophy which is chiefly remarkable for the immense expenditure of words upon non-essentials. The history of Philosophy furnishes a record of the development of abstractions indicating little knowledge of the real nature of man. There have been few endeavors to answer scientifically the fundamental question, What is the proper object of human thought and effort? Indeed there are few people who have yet formulated this question, given it consideration, and answered it reasonably. The proof of this is in the desires and efforts everywhere in evidence. The vast majority are so busy "earning a living" that they have no time or strength left to live adequately and properly. People are not to blame for this condition. It only indicates the development or the lack of it.
The ambition to acquire riches has a thousand devotees to one at the shrine of Wisdom. Money is a cheap God. Yet for money thousands throw away their opportunity to possess intellectual and moral wealth. "Business" is earning money to buy groceries, houses and automobiles; whereas the occupation of every person awakened to the opportunity which life affords should be to cultivate the powers of the soul. Genuine intelligence soon observes this. A developed intellect readily distinguishes between essentials and non-essentials.
Before the great mass of people can ever become awakened to a knowledge of essential truth and adapt their lives to it, Philosophy must be vitally expressed. It is the duty of those who have any real conception of the facts, the value and possibilities of man's life upon the earth to teach in a manner adapted to the common understanding. Much Philosophy is inaccessible to the people because of the profundity, or density, of its expression. This is not a very serious loss because the Philosophy which is the most valuable, can be simply and clearly expressed.
Mr. Herbert Spencer spent many years writing about abstractions as well as about the facts of the lower phases of life. His accumulations of materials furnish valuable data, but many of his conclusions have no particular value. His Philosophy represents a phase of thought which is al-ready rapidly giving place to a higher understanding. Nearly every prominent thinker and writer quotes from his collection of facts, but disagrees with his deductions. As an example for the necessity for this in correct thinking take the conclusion of his long argument, "If Religion and Science are to be reconciled, the basis- of reconciliation must be this deepest, widest and most certain of all facts —that the Power which the Universe manifests to us is utterly inscrutable."
Concerning this dictum, it is evident that the Religion and the Science which can unite on the basis of an "utterly inscrutable" mystery cannot have substance enough to make them worthy the. consideration of intelligent men. The reconciliation has not been advanced one particle by this declaration. It is not acceptable to either the Religionist or the Scientist.
In the next place, the Power which the universe manifests to us cannot be utterly inscrutable. It is a contra-diction in terms. It nullifies Science as well as Religion.
Every fact, process, principle -or law manifests something of the nature and character of the Power which energizes it. The most profitable occupation in life is learning to know this always-present, ever-active Power and to labor in harmony as rapidly as comprehended.
Again, the real reconciliation of Science and Religion is certainly in their harmonious interpretation of the facts of life, including the constitution of man. Man himself will reconcile Science and Religion by developing and purifying both. While each is imperfect in its development and dogmatic in its ignorance, naturally they do not agree. The intelligent and reverent man is the best representative of both Science and Religion. There cannot be an abstract reconciliation. They are reconciled in man, according to the degree in which he possesses both.
May the evolution of Philosophers finally reach the degree of insight where they perceive their mission, namely, to unite the facts of Science into such clear truth that Religion will become inevitable ! And again, may the mission of Philosophers be to make the truths of Religion so clear from superstition, from unprovable and unimportant beliefs that they will stand out as identical with Science !
Science and Religion are not antagonistic, though Science and Superstition certainly are; and so also are Religion and Ignorance, even though the latter may be dressed up as Science. The mission of Philosophy seems to be partly that of mediator between Science and Religion; in other words, so to correlate the facts of the Sciences that the natural and logical deductions made therefrom will be directly applicable to human life and conduct. This application in a life constitutes Religion.
The value of Philosophy consists in its helpfulness in the living of a life which will secure the largest measure possible of realization of what God, or nature, purposed man to be. Or, if any object to this language, the value of Philosophy consists in its helpfulness to the realization of inherent potentialities and possibilities.