Skip to main content

Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

See other formats

Of all studies the most universal is that which we call science, and
with its advent in the seventeenth century the unity of mankind
became especially emphasized. Such was the principle which the
French scientist and philosopher Pascal detected in the continuity
of research in the sciences: "The whole succession of men through
the ages should be considered as one man, ever living and always
The Idea of Nationality
Mankind, however, has shown itself to be still unprepared to accept
the idea of universal human brotherhood, and has often denied it
most loudly when maintaining the universal fatherhood of God.
Tribal, religious, and national sentiment have, time and again, over-
ruled the sentiment for humanity. The idea of nationality has
yielded as fruit that patriotism which has proved itself one of the
strongest forces known to history, second perhaps only to religion.
It is hardly necessary to emphasize the part played by patriotic senti-
ment in the moulding of Europe. The passionate desire for freedom
from foreign dominationówhich we may note is very far from the
desire for freedom itself, with which it is often confusedówas one of
the preponderating political factors of the nineteenth century. In
Germany it broke the power of Napoleon and later created an empire;
it freed Italy from the rule of Austria and made her a nation; it
drove the Turk almost out of Europe and stimulated nationalist senti-
ments among the Greeks and among all the peoples of the Balkans.
It has also been the main idea in the formation of the "succession
states95 since the War of 1914-18.
All the movements toward national unity that were so character-
istic of the nineteenth century present certain features in common.
Among these we would note especially the rise of a myth, so similar
in all these cases that we must suppose that it is a natural way of
thinking for peoples in like circumstances. Among all the newer and
almost all the older nationalities a state of freedom from external
political domination has been fictitiously supposed to have existed in
the past and has been associated with a hypothetical ancient unity,
itself considered as derived from an imaginary common inheritance.
The implications of this unity are usually left vague. A "nation"
has been cynically but not inaptly defined as "a society united by a
common error as to its origin and a common aversion to its neighbours."
The economic movements of the nineteenth century gave rise to
unparalleled social and political dislocations. The resulting conflicts
have by some been interpreted as originating from an incompatibility