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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

PHILOSOPHY IN A WORLD AT WAR

by utilizing the fact of repression, with its accompanying load of guilt.
Society must make rational use of an irrational mechanism to create
the system of values it wants.

I would draw some such general conclusion as this. A scientifically
based philosophy enables us in the first place to cease tormenting our-
selves with questions that ought not to be asked because they cannot
be answered—such as questions about a First Cause, or Creation, or
Ultimate Reality. Secondly, it encourages us to think in terms of
right direction and optimum speed in place of ^complete but static
solutions. At the present moment, for instance, it is much more
essential to know that we are moving with reasonable speed toward
certain general types of supernational co-operation than to nail some
elaborate blue-print of international organization to our masthead.
Thirdly, it is capable of giving man a much truer picture of his nature
and his place in the universe than any other philosophic approach.
Man is now the dominant biological type, and the developed human
individual the highest product of the cosmic process that \ve know.
That is a proud piece of knowledge. It is tempered by the reflection
that very few human individuals realize a fraction of their possibilities,
and that in a large proportion passive or active evil predominates.
But the knowledge has important practical bearings. Once we realize
that the development of individuals is the ultimate yardstick by which
to measure human progress, we can see more clearly how to formulate
our aims for the world after the war.
The fact that we, all the human beings now in existence, are the
exclusive trustees for carrying any further the progress already
achieved by life is a responsibility which, if sobering, is also inspiring;
as is the fact that we have no longer either the intellectual or the
moral right to shift any of this responsibility from our own shoulders
to those of God or any other outside power. Indeed, the problem that
appears to be the most perplexing and distressing turns out, in the
light of a thoroughgoing scientific approach, to be full of encourage-
ment. I mean the problem of ethical and other values. We have
been accustomed to think of these as a scaffolding for our morals, con-
veniently run up for us by some outside agency. Now that this is no
longer possible, we feel bewildered, unable to conceive of any firm
moral construction in which we can abide. The truth, however, as
shown by the extension of scientific method into individual and social
psychology, is that we create our own values. Some we generate
consciously; some subconsciously; and some only indirectly, through