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APPLIED PHILOSOPHY

PART I.
Introductory.

CHAPTER I.
LIFE A DUALITY.

It is in the application of philosophy—in applied philosophy—that the future development of man is to be found. Too great delight in the abstract was the failing of an ancient philosophical world; too great a disregard for it is the danger of our times. Life is essentially a duality. Life is neither thought alone nor acts alone. It is the two in conjunction. In great life it has always been the practical combined with the imaginative. Divorced from one another, and the dreamer is as useless as the fussy busybody, aimless and purposeless. For epoch-making results we must have not only the great work of the master builder, but the enthusiastic idealism of the inspired architect. In physics we speak of momentum, i.e. of mass multiplied by velocity. And the measure of its effectiveness is neither mass alone nor velocity alone but the resultant of them both. And Napoleon, extending the idea to war, spoke of the momentum of an army as its effective force—its mass multiplied by its velocity. And may we not press the parallel a little further and find the same momentum in every phase of life? Life is made up of reason and action; principles and practice; of faith and acts; of philosophy and conduct; and this duality, as we have said, may we not well speak of it even if with no great precision of definition as moral momentum? Then the effective measure of life will be not the measure of its reason or philosophy alone nor yet of its actions or conduct alone but of the two in conjunction. It is theory and practice which make the effective man, e.g. we want neither the lawyer nor the physician who is purely academic, any more than the empiric who has not mastered the underlying principles of his profession. And thus in particular we find the great politician like Mr. Gladstone not only the practical man of affairs but also a great master of principle as well. And it was in this full view of life that Bacon was supreme. It was no indifference to the abstract that divided him from the schools of the past, but that such abstract should be so hopelessly divorced from the realities of existence. Philosophy, finding no counterpart in conduct, is but idle dreaming; still, conduct with no ordered thought behind is a ship without a rudder. That principles were essential he fully agreed; it was with their methods of arriving at them that he differed. He entirely distrusted principles evolved a priori from fondly imagined premises. Truth alone was to be found in the patient examination of life itself. The pursuit of an absolute has been the quest of the philosopher in every age. Its very illusiveness has an irresistible fascination. But there is no absolute to be found in churning up the workings of one's own mind. Get facts, more facts, and in them you may possibly get a glimmer of an absolute, but in no other way. But not so a world of the past. Human nature, ever averse to patient toil, far preferred its armchair theorizing; its postulation of premises, its elaboration of syllogism. Our days have seen a mighty advance. With Bacon, the scientific mind positively craves for facts. Possibly the want is a little more of that mindanalysis of an ancient world. Possibly the want is a

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little more of that breadth of view which shall see facts in their bearing on one another. Digestion and collation of facts is also a necessary stage in progress. But it is a wholesome step forward, this demand for realities. To adapt a trite proverb make sure of the facts, and the philosophy will take care of itself. And every new fact discovered is a step forward in our road Godwards. He is the consummation of all facts. A new fact, and we know a little more about Him. “I had rather believe all the fables in the Legend and the Talmud and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without a mind," and then in examination of His works he will have us seek a little further insight into this mind.. And this mind needs seeking out. It has made life infinitely complex. To the ignorant alone is life simple. The ancients used to say the greatest progress made by man was from unconscious to conscious ignorance. The only confidence is that blind to every outlook but its own. For every wonder fathomed ten develop. Once the world-our little world—was the hub of the universe : then grew consciousness of the vastness of space. Now we would know, is this space more than a bubble in infinity? And what of the all-controlling “Mind”? And life is full of problems, nor do we know any short cut to any principle or truth or absolute that shall solve every difficulty. That there may be some allembracing truth, some absolute, some master principle, probably must be, is, undoubted; but it is given to an Infinite being alone to know it. The truth is like a glorious gem which a deity alone can vision as a. whole. With our finite intelligence we are singularly favoured if we are shown but one facet. And that we shall all see the same facet is neither probable nor desirable. That we all see differently is part of that infinite variety in which our Maker delights. No two leaves are even the same; then why two human beings? Thus the impossibility of enunciating any principle of universal application. Attempt it and exceptions submerge it in their flood. Attempt it, and

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other principles as plausible have to be reconciled. Attempt it, and we are lost in a world of the imagination alone. For us poor human beings there is no such thing as a principle at large. Our limitations are so great that we can only rationally consider a principle in conjunction with actual facts in which it is involved. Thus the fatuity of general argument. Any discussion of principle, to be of the slightest value, must always be ad hoc. Hence the magnificence of our common law. It is law thus evolved. Its basis is that moral consciousness born of infinite experiences, essence of the race itself, which in concrete cases has been reduced to form and words. Thus have found enunciation those broad principles of right, honesty, and honour in the application of which to new and particular instances is told the great lawyer and the great judge. And above all it is the great judge who, knowing the limitations of human powers, is disinclined to ever state principles at large. He severely limits his decision to the found facts before him. Who does not remember that shrewd old judge, our late Master of the Rolls—who greater in knowledge? who acuter in intellect?-but who was never to be beguiled into stating any principle other than as it applied to the actual case he was considering. And hence the weight of his decisions. And in the elucidation of life, it is such decisions ad hoc, which are of supreme value. In the patient investigation of innumerable cases, principles may emerge which, derived from the actual facts of actual life, may help us somewhat when faced with similar difficulties. But even so derived, we must beware of hasty generalization from insufficient data. Such hasty generalization is the weakness of human nature. The mind, ever indolent, derives as it imagines certain immutable principles from altogether insufficient premises, and then takes such principles as the basis of conduct with which they have little relation. And still more indolent, the mind delights to crystallize such immature principles into phrases, and in their easy statement find a universal solvent of every doubt. And going a step further, such phrases become sacred, and the rights and wrongs of life are to be determined, not on their merits, but by their approximation to these essential truths (?). Thus our words, like Liberty, Democracy, Progress, Progressive, Monopoly, Liberalism, Socialism, Communism, etc., etc., with phrases like Selfdetermination; Capital and Labour; a living wage; a fair wage; the right to work; the greatest good of the greatest number; equality of opportunity; Peace, Retrenchment, and Reform; Unearned increment; Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality, etc., etc., the chief merit of all being that they sound well; beg many a question; and can assume any meaning which the user chooses to give them. That they are so hopelessly vague that they never appeal to two minds in the same way is of no consequence, and they are used as if they were the first and last word on such subject, and as if rights and wrongs were to be determined by interpretation of them, instead of their being recognized as merely a loose way of expressing certain ideas with which—with proper reservations, exceptions, and distinctions made-we are mostly in accord.

There is no short cut to the determination of right and wrong. In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred the determination of right and wrong is a matter of infinite difficulty and demands infinite trouble if a correct conclusion is to be arrived at. Salvation is not to be found by trying to change mankind in the mass, but by seeking what is just in the unit. God never asked the wisest of us to remake His works. He has given us a certain intelligence which may to some small extent master the conditions of our immediate environment, but little more. And not a few of our present evils are that we will be wiser than God. Instead of inquiring how He solves a problem in actual life, we will advance our puny theories of how it ought to be solved with the further modest suggestion in the background that if only the making of the universe had been in our hands there would never have been

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