(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

PHILOSOPHY IN A WORLD AT WAR
[NOTE.óWhen 1 was in the U.S.A. airly in 194^ Fortune magazine was
running a scries with the above title. After reading the articles by
W, E. Hocking, Professor of Philosophy at Harvard, W, L, Sperry,
Dean of the Harvard Divinity School, W. P. Montague, Professor of
Philosophy at Columbia, and Jacques Maritain, the well-known French
writer and scholar, I asked if I might state the biologist's position; and
this essay is the result.]
WHAT has Philosophy to do with War, the one so abstract and
theoretical, the other so terribly concrete and practical? In
point of fact, the two have a great: deal to do with each other. Philo-
sophy in the broad sense is an attitude to the universe, a Weltan-
schauung, an appraisal of values in their relation to brute material facts.
Its essence, in Professor Montague's words, is not proof but vision: it
is concerned with what Professor Hocking has called the continued
revision of goals. And war must be about something,, must have a
goal. No nation ever went to war without some beliefin the value
of the war's goal. Even when the mainspring of a war is merely
economic advantage or conquest, some justification has to be in-
ventedóthe Tightness of your cause, or defence against aggression, or
the superiority of your race, or the sacred duty to spread your religion;
and the justification, even if hypocritical in its origin, will have its effect
on the thoughts and actions of those who fight the war. Kven then, and
stillmorc in those numerous cases when moral aims genuinely exist arid
do not have to be invented, war is deeply entangled with philosophy.
To-day all the protagonists have a philosophy of the war they arc
wagingówe in saying that we fight for freedom; the Germans in
saying that they fight for the triumph of the highest human race; the
Russians in saying that they fight for their fatherland and to rid the
world of the evil thing they call Hitlcrism. Such philosophies arc all
incomplete; some of them, like the Germans' claim to be a super-
race, arc dcrnonstrably erroneous,
The business of Philosophy with a capital P is to provide us with
the completest and truest philosophy possible, Once we have a
philosophy, it can be applied to the immediate needs of the war, just
as pure scientific knowledge can be applied to satisfy immediate
material needs. One of its main applications lies in its helping us to
achieve a stronger morale and to formulate peace aims. The truer
our philosophy, the more complete, and the more efficiently it is
applied to the circumstances of the war (which of course implies a
164