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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

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T BELIEVE that life can be worth living. I believe this in spite of
X pain, squalor, cruelty, unhappiness, and death. I do not believe
that it is necessarily worth living, but only that for most people it
can be,
I also believe that man, as individual, as group, and collectively as
mankind, can achieve a satisfying purpose in existence. I believe this
in spite of frustration, aimlessness, frivolity, boredom, sloth, and
failure. Again I do not believe that a purpose inevitably inheres
in the universe or in our existence, or that mankind is bound to
achieve a satisfying purpose, but only that such a purpose can be
I believe that there exists a scale or hierarchy of values, ranging
from simple physical comforts up to the highest satisfactions of love,
aesthetic enjoyment, intellect, creative achievement, virtue. I do not
believe that these are absolute, or transcendental in the sense of being
vouchsafed by some external power or divinity; they are the product
of human nature interacting with the outer world. Nor do I suppose
that we can grade every valuable experience into an accepted order,
any more than I can say whether a beetle is a higher organism than a
cuttlefish or a herring. But just as it can unhesitatingly be stated that
there are general grades of biological organization, and that a beetle
is a higher organism than a sponge, or a human being than a frog, so
I can assert, with the general consensus of civilized human beings,
that there is a higher value in Dante's Divina Commcdia than in a
popular hymn, in the scientific activity of Newton or Darwin than in
solving a crossword puzzle, in the fulness of love than in sexual
gratification, in selfless than in purely self-regarding activities—
although each and all can have their value of a sort.
I do not believe that there is any absolute of truth, beauty, morality,
or virtue, whether emanating from an external power or imposed by
an internal standard. But this does not drive me to the curious con-
clusion, fashionable in certain quarters, that truth and beauty and
goodness do not exist, or that there is no force or value in them.
I believe that there are a number of questions that it is no use our
asking, because they can never be answered. Nothing but waste,
worry, or unhappiness is caused by trying to solve insoluble problems.
Yet some people seem determined to try. I recall the story of the
philosopher and the theologian. The two were engaged in. disputation