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VOLUME IX, NO. 24 JUNE 13, 1956 AN UNORTHODOX LECTURE [This article is an abridgement of an AllUniversity Lecture delivered by Dr. Paul Wienpahl, professor of philosophy at the University of California in Santa Barbara. It has not appeared elsewhere. As Damon Runyon used to say, "a story also goes with this." Reactions to Dr. Wienpahl's lecture were extreme—ranging all the way from the worried suggestion by two colleagues that Dr. Wienpah1 see a psychiatrist, to a demand for copies from enthusiastic students. In publishing this version of the lecture MANAS editors hope that readers will be pleased to learn that self-questioning does sometimes occur within ivied halls, and will be stimulated by these unprofessional questions. Dr. Wienpahl has been an occasional contributor to MANAS. Two of his articles dealt with the unfortunate consequences of compulsory loyalty oaths.—Editors, MANAS.] THE following remarks, which I have with misgivings called "philosophical" reflections, will appear disconnected. They will not flow from one another as sentences in rational discourse should. This is because the connections between the reflections are not of the sort which are called logical. Were I a poet, that which I have written would not need justification. For the poet is expected to be interested by other connections than the logical, and even to ignore altogether connections and relations between things. He is concerned with particular things. As one whose interest is supposedly philosophical, therefore, I should offer some justification for presenting you with what will seem to be an irrational discourse. Well . . . though there are few if any logical or rational connections between my remarks, there are connections between them. The reflections are chronological, for I set them before you in the temporal order in which they occurred to me. And they are connected by the thread of the life of a man. Then, too, I have grown tired of thinking and the rational. This is not to say that thinking and the rational can be found to be unimportant. It is rather to say that something else slips in. I feel the need for control, and, hence, for the rational and reasonable, as strongly as ever. But from investigation I have gone to reflection,—from the river to the pool, from the clear and clean to the turgid and opaque. The way is not easy and perhaps I should not have selected it for myself. Finally, I am doing what I am doing here because I do not believe that philosophy and science are the same thing, or that philosophy is a science, or that there is only one way of knowing. To proceed as I am is to register my protest about the presently accepted notion of philosophy. * * * There is ambiguity in the word "voyage." So a man may be interested in the voyage of another without being interested in the physical details of that voyage. And one can voyage without leaving home. Terms like "physical" and "spiritual," therefore, have a use. And one can speak of the spiritual without being mystical or other-worldly. About writing and living. Writing can be and living is a creative act. Seeing them this way helps to see that neither can be forced. They come into being, and grow out of themselves. But this does not mean that they must be formless. It means only, I think, that the form which they have must develop within them. It can not be impressed from without. Nor, on the other hand, does it seem to me now that creative writing and living can be without some sort of conscious direction. For, if they were, they would lack form. MANAS Reprint - LEAD ARTICLE 2 If this were not true (that creativity contains some conscious direction), why should sustained creative acts be so difficult? Of course, they do seem, just to "come." And it may be this element of the spontaneous about them which leads us to suppose that there is no direction about them. No work involved. But it is a different kind of work from physical work which is present. Creative action is the sort of action which Spinoza called "actions as opposed to passions," actions in which the source of the action is within rather than without. Words and ideas are tools. My life, and it may be, the life of any intellectual is troubled because of living only with the tools—and without using them. I am like the miser who forgets what money is for, and has only the money. There seem to be two ways in which a person becomes an individual. He grows; and he looks back through himself. The one way is obvious and the other is not, and so it is easy to describe the one and difficult to describe the other. I think that the second process of growth is what has been called the development of self-awareness. In so far as psychoanalysis can be considered nonpathologically, this second process of growth is psychoanalysis. Or perhaps we should say that the tools which the analysts have produced can be of use in this second process. Philosophers see and show us things about themselves and others which we do not ordinarily notice. They do not provide us with theories and their utterances are not theories; their utterances are far more like a poem or a painting than they are like a theory. So the philosopher's utterances are not to be taken literally as one takes a theory or a statement of fact. This is one reason why philosophers are difficult to understand, particularly nowadays when people tend to take everything literally. Perhaps philosophers should talk only and not write. For the philosopher has nothing to say. He has only something to see and to show, because he is concerned with particulars as particulars and Volume IX, No. 24 not as members of aggregates as is the scientist. The prevailing reliance on scientia or knowledge makes us interested in aggregates instead of ourselves. Nor is this to disparage knowledge. It is just that there is something more, many things more than knowledge. And there are other ways than the rational for coming into contact with these things. Philosophy is one of these ways. I find it hard to relax and admit that there is something else than knowledge. For it gives my friends the chance to say that I am becoming mystic. And what I don't like about this is that it seems to say that I disparage knowledge. I don't. I simply now see that knowledge is not everything. And this seems so obvious a thing to see that one wonders why it should be remarked. Kierkegaard wrote that the secret of modern philosophy which stems from the cogito-ergo-sum lies in the identification of thought with being, whereas Christianity identifies being with faith. John Dewey wrote that the philosophic fallacy lies in hypostatizing concepts. These are cryptic statements of the revolt against idealism, a revolt which is a search for reality outside thought. As I see it, the point is not to identify reality with anything except itself. (Tautologies are, after all, true.) If you wish to persist by asking what reality is; that is, what is really, the answer is that it is what you experience it to be. Reality is as you see, hear, feel, taste and smell it, and as you live it. And it is a multifarious thing. To see this is to be a man without a position. To get out of the mind and into the world, to get beyond language and to the things is to cease to be an idealist or a pragmatist, or an existentialist, or a Christian. I am a man without a position. I do not have the philosophic position that there are no positions or theories or standpoints. (There obviously are.) I am not a sceptic or an agnostic or an atheist. I am simply a man without a MANAS Reprint June 13, 1956 3 position, and this should open the door to detachment. I hate to think that I need a catalyst like a friend. Yet I am afraid that if I go on by myself, I won't get anywhere. But there's the nub. Who wants to get anywhere? Why not let myself become what I shall? Trying to become something is trying to be a copy. I guess that we are afraid to become ourselves, and that is why we are seldom original. This helps me to see that I would rather become a mediocre Paul Wienpahl than a successful type, say a successful college professor. But I am afraid of individuality and, hence, of originality, which is the thing I also prize most. No wonder it doesn't come. I am doing everything I can to prevent it. It is like peace for the world today. And it is the striving for it which would cause me not to recognize it if it did, by a miracle, come. For then it, I, would be like no other thing. And I couldn't recognize it because of this and because of the striving. In this direction seem to lie disorder and revelation, chaos and mysticism, immorality and insanity. Things despised. But I sense that here also lies freedom. And by this means one can see through the trouble of our times. Ours is not an age of discovery. It is an age of the exploitation of discoveries. A technical age. It is an age in which science is the god. An age of planning and order. An age of psychoanalysis. We are bound, therefore, to destruction, as everything living, when bound, will die. Nor can the religionist take hope. For he also is bound because he thinks that he knows where we should go. I do not want a version of life. I am bothered renunciation. by the languages of Morality is conventional, not natural. It is, therefore, binding. A man is responsible only when he goes beyond good and evil, when he is Volume IX, No. 24 outside the law. Responsibility is positive when you are free. It is negative when you are bound. That is, when you are moral. There is another kind of discipline than that which we ordinarily have in mind when we speak of discipline. It is the "discipline" which a plant or an animal has which "makes" or "allows" it to take the form which it has. It may be what Aristotle called the essence of a thing. (And see here how Sartre is wrong.) All ordinary discipline, which is order imposed from without, tends only to destroy a thing. The resolution of the paradox, if you can call it that, that life is impossible without discipline, lies in seeing that there is a third kind of living which lies between the two of life with and life without discipline (in the ordinary sense). That third kind of life is one which is free of ordinary discipline. It is one in which the "discipline" comes, so to speak, from within. When one says that he is a man without a position, does this mean that he is without direction? Perhaps. But this is misleading. For it means too that I have a direction and that direction is my own. It will come from within rather than being imposed from without. It means that I will guide it, I will give my life its form. And consciously too. Which seems to be hoisting one by one's bootstraps, but is not. It is just difficult. Being without a position also means that I cannot judge others. I have said that I have come to see what people mean by saying that there is evil in the world. In fact, I can see this thing. To be unable to judge, however, seems tantamount to believing that there is no evil. I seem, therefore, to be saying contradictory things. But the contradiction is apparent only, for I think that what people have called evil is simply the recalcitrant, the unmanageable. And it is the latter that I now see better than I did before. An aspect of it is what Freud called the unconscious. Another is death. It is change. I have been thinking that I want to get away from knowing to living, from trying to understand MANAS Reprint June 13, 1956 4 and classify things to the things themselves. This has bothered me because "wanting" to know is a part of us. Now I see that the split is not between knowing and living, but between two kinds of knowing. The one kind is science and brings with it control over things. The other kind might be called philosophical knowledge. It does not give us control over anything. It simply brings us into contact with things, a kind of relaxed contact which may lead to resignation but not to control. The interest in science can be carried too far. It can lead to authoritarianism and totalitarianism, or the condition in which control and domination become everything. The opposite of the condition of freedom. The interest in knowing cannot be carried too far. In so-called rational knowledge the thing is lost sight of, and by being related to a host of other things, disappears. The mystic is he who sees things for what they are, or as they are (in so far as one can speak of things as they are). He sees them in their particularity. As the child does. A man is not responsible for what he does until he sees that he is free. In a sense he then becomes totally responsible for he cannot rely on anything. I used to believe that no one is really responsible for his acts. I liked the belief because it implied that praise and blame cannot be justified except as educative measures. The saint blames no man. And the hero cannot understand the praise which we heap upon him. But here is the rub. If there is no such thing as responsibility, then there is no such thing as freedom. Praise and blame, then, make another kind of sense. And that is the trouble with being a saint. "Looking within" is a mysterious phrase if you think that the process to which it refers will bring knowledge. For it brings only acquaintance with an individual thing. We do not easily accept solitude. It is almost as though we do not like to be cut-off and thus free. The cry of the babe at birth is symbolic. There is some sense in the notion that men do not really want liberty. They talk of it. But when it is Volume IX, No. 24 presented they cast down the platter. For freedom brings solitude which, in prospect, is frightening. And liberty takes strength, strength which must come from yourself. And few of us are willing to give freely of ourselves in any way. When I speak of the inner life as contrasted with the outer, I sometimes mean simply the private life as contrasted with the public. A man is living his inner life when he is living privately. We can come to see what the inner, the spiritual and the mysterious mean. They refer to what is your own and characteristically your own; that which is your own and which no one else could possibly share in the sense of "have the same as." These are the unique things, and that is why they are mysterious. They are your memories, your reveries, your dreams, the private happenings in your life, the picture you paint, the song you sing. What else is there which can be surely your own except the things which you create and which are you? This is why the poor man's house can be happier than the rich man's. The rich man's house is "better" because it is standard. It does not have the defects of individual workmanship. But the poor man's house is happier because it is his own in a way in which the rich man's cannot be. No one else's hands came in to perfect the poor man's house, no machines, and make it thus like all other houses. The trouble with philosophic systems is that they are like crutches. They keep us from walking alone. We used to walk on all fours and there are many of us who still cannot stand alone. For the crutches by means of which we "walk" in this world can be material things as well as they can be our children or our parents or the so-called spiritual things, such as philosophic doctrines and ethical codes. But when individuality is achieved, when a man can live by himself and out of himself, then neither property nor concept nor doctrine is important.—This is why people are slaves to their property, why they cannot bear to part with it or even see it damaged. It is their crutch, their MANAS Reprint June 13, 1956 5 substitute for living; and taking it away from them is like taking life itself from them. And so it is with their religion and their gods. We live with the symbols rather than the stuff and so believe in heroes rather than in ourselves. My friend said that creativity consists mostly in letting the world come to us. Usually we are projecting our cares, pleasures and needs onto it. Our problem now is that of accepting creativity consciously. Self-knowledge is the kind of knowledge which is completely useless. We acquire all other forms of knowledge for their use; unless, like the miser, we have come to confuse the means with the end. But why should something useless be desirable? Because life itself is useless (the mistake of the dictator is to use people). And because, like a human being or a painting, it has what is called intrinsic value. Which is, I think, to say that it has no value at all. And this is to say that it is natural and real. Values are utilities, that is to say, things which are used and not accepted for themselves. In this respect they are unreal, for it is not they which count, but that to which they lead. Nowadays we know the value of everything and are nothing. When you know yourself, you've got nothing. This is true because what happens in knowing yourself is that you become something, not that you get something. And when you become something you do not need anything. It is then that you attain to the detachment from things which allows you to accept them instead of demanding them.—It is when things have no use that you enjoy them. The old insight, expressed in the doctrine of freedom of the will, is that men are responsible for what happens to them. The new insight, expressed in the doctrine that moral responsibility is meaningless, is that things happen to people. Neither insight should be lost and neither should be stressed. For the first makes for harshness and Volume IX, No. 24 individuality, and the second for tolerance and loss of individuality. There is the problem of whom to blame when things are going all right and we nonetheless find ourselves in difficulties. It can easily be put as a psychiatric problem, but I think that it is often not that, though psychiatric techniques might aid in its solution. It is a problem which we are increasingly ignoring under the lure of the notion that everything can be explained. We explain our difficulties by tracing them to their origins without thereby solving them. The solution to the problem is the acceptance of the inexplicable but nonetheless knowable. The "problem" is that of living. The way into the realm of grace is through purgatory. That is, we only get next to ourselves by admitting to things which we want most to deny. It is not really that there is an inner being. It is rather that there seems to be one because the individuals we are have been laid over with levels of personality which have been smeared on us by social custom and usage. Usually the lower levels speak only in our dreams and in slips of the tongue. In the great philosopher or artist they speak out directly. Even in the great scientists the discoveries are probably made by the lower levels of the man's being. I am like the man who has lost interest in his business and wonders what he has been doing. This may be where philosophy begins. If it is philosophy it is harder than I thought. For philosophy would then begin where everything seems unimportant. The abiding truth in religion is the realization that there is something external to our minds which is more powerful than we are. The mistake lies in believing that it is external to us as well as to our minds. You might say that the personal, the private, has its place and that this is not in the public. Why then a published article of this sort? The MANAS Reprint June 13, 1956 6 answer, I think, may be seen by turning the coin over. Not to be personal in public is nowadays part of the sublimation of the individual which as much as anything characterizes our times. We are pushing the individual so far into the background that one day he will cease to exist. Otherwise it is true that the personal should not be aired in public. PAUL WIENPAHL Santa Barbara Volume IX, No. 24 MANAS Reprint June 13, 1956 7 REVIEW DOCTORS FOR THE TIMES Two or three years ago, one of the MANAS editors came back from a Los Angeles meeting of doctors—psychiatrists—who were graduates of the Menninger Foundation, unable to talk about much of anything except the sense of mission and devotion to their work manifest in the men who spoke at the meeting. There was also a startling honesty in what was said—not that honesty was unexpected, but when a man who has given years of his life to special medical training gets up and says that a layman—or an oldtime family doctor— who is extraordinarily intuitive and sympathetic to the mentally ill may actually understand and help a disturbed person as much as a trained psychiatrist, this is something for the book. There is no tiresome professionalism among doctors who are able to think in this way, and are not afraid to talk about it. The point, in this instance, was that intuitive persons of this sort are hard to find, and that, while extensive training is no substitute for warmth, intuitive insight, and understanding, trained men are likely to make fewer mistakes while trying to develop in themselves the qualities which will make them into good doctors of the mind, and even the soul. It is not surprising, although it is rare, to discover individuals of this sort, but when groups of men share such attitudes, a kind of minor miracle has taken place. Now, having read The Menninger Story, by Walker Winslow (Doubleday, 1956, $5.00), we find that the miracle does not become less wonderful because it is possible to understand how it came about. Walker Winslow, who wrote If a Man Be Mad (under the name of Harold Maine), brought to the task of writing The Menninger Story three essentials to the composition of a fine book on this subject. He knew the agonies and problems of psychic disturbance as both patient and therapist, he knew the Menningers and their work, and he was equipped with both imagination and Volume IX, No. 24 integrity as a writer. These ingredients are so well put together in this book about the Menningers that the reader may neglect to notice how remarkably fine a book it is, as the intensely human story of a man and his wife and their sons unfolds. The craft of the writer is entirely hidden by his insight into the life and work of these people. The Menningers are not "great" men, in the usual sense of this word, but together they have done a great thing. This may be far better for the world than being "great." The splendor of their achievement emerges in Winslow's book without the least flattery or suppression of what, we suppose, might be termed human "defects" or foibles or inadequacies. What grows on the reader is the fact that great things can be done by people who have foibles and fallibilities. Perhaps we are putting this wrong. The real point may be that the Menningers did what they did without the slightest indulgence of "humanitarian" posturing. You look for the insignia of conscious altruism, and you never find it. Some small-town doctors who happened to be father and sons kept on trying to do what they wanted to do until the largest center in the world for the training of psychiatrists and psychiatric aides came into being. It's there in Topeka for everyone to see, as solid and substantial as the Presbyterian Church. In 1908 Dr. Charles Frederick Menninger, a homeopathic doctor of Topeka, Kansas, visited the Mayo Clinic. He returned to Kansas with the idea of starting a similar clinic in Topeka. He was then forty-six years old. He told his sons: "You boys are going to be doctors and we are going to have a clinic like that right here in Topeka." He— and they—did, although it would take forty-five more years to bring the full fruition of the dream. The inclination of this resolve in the direction of psychiatry reflected an awareness of the trend of modern medicine, and Dr. Menninger had always been sensitive to the psychosomatic aspects of disease. When his son, Dr. Karl, returned from Harvard Medical School and psychiatric training MANAS Reprint June 13, 1956 8 in 1919, the Menninger Diagnostic Clinic was organized along the same lines as the Mayo Clinic. Then, as Winslow says: Just as the older Dr. W. W. Mayo's general practice was to be dominated by the specialty of surgery, so psychiatry became the leading specialty at Menningers'. If anything, the Menninger practice seems to be proof, as many physicians have contended, that 60 per cent of all patients the average doctor sees have illnesses in which there is some degree of emotional involvement.... any one who examines closely the history of modern medicine will not find it strange that psychiatry dominates the whole of the Menninger enterprises. By 1925 it became evident that the clinic was not enough, and the Menninger Sanitarium and the Southard School for treatment of mentally ill children were founded. About this time Dr. William C. Menninger, Karl's younger brother, came home from Cornell and a psychiatric internship at Bellevue to manage the Sanitarium. Now the three Menningers were together in professional association. (A third brother, Edwin, went into publishing.) After the passage of fifteen years, what began as the realization of Dr. C. F. Menninger's dream for himself and his sons began to turn into a response to the need of the country. First a non-profit foundation for research was established. Then, in 1945, the Sanitarium, which represented the life-savings of the family, was converted into a non-profit institution to permit expansion into an education center to train psychiatrists. Finally, in 1952, Dr. C. F. Menninger, on his ninetieth birthday, laid the cornerstone for a new hospital in Topeka that would bear his name, although he was to die before the hospital was ready in 1954 to receive patients. Walker Winslow reports on the accomplishments to date of the Topeka training center: Already nearly 400 psychiatrists have received training under the Menninger auspices and are teaching and practicing in most of the states and in several foreign countries. There would appear to be a high degree of dedication among this group; the Volume IX, No. 24 majority have shunned remunerative private practice in order to work and teach in those institutions where they are most needed. One medical journal said, "It's interesting to speculate why this is so—why a specialist who could earn as much as $35,000 (a year) on his own prefers to accept an appointment at as little as $9000." In any case, these young doctors work throughout America with ever increasing influence and each year there are more applications for training at Menningers'. It is impossible in a brief review to convey the mood of this slow birth and development of an attitude toward mental health. The life of Charles Menninger directly paralleled the slow awakening of the modern world to the deep-seated and farreaching problems of mental and emotional disturbance, so that his career may be taken as symbolic of as well as instrumental to this awakening. He was a wise and balanced man, but neither a dramatically brilliant one nor a specializing genius. For this reason, he was able to do for his countrymen what a more sensational figure might have failed completely in accomplishing. He was known, respected, and appreciated by the people of Topeka. His wife, who should be receiving more attention in this review, had won a similar respect in her spheres of activity. Topeka understood the Menningers, or thought it did, and so the people of Topeka were willing to help with the doctor's projects. It would be a mistake to call Dr. Charles Menninger a "conventional" man, yet he was not unconventional. He did not mind conventional ways. What he set out to do did not offend the mores of Topeka, and the Doctor and Mrs. Menninger had helped so many people in so many ways that what the Doctor attempted had to be all right. In the I930's, the Menningers were already training three to five doctors a year in psychiatry, and holding summer institutes in psychiatry for general practitioners. At this time, Dr. C. F., who had had no psychiatric training, felt he was not keeping pace with his sons. Dr. Karl was famous as author of The Human Mind, and Dr. Will, who was later to become widely known as chief MANAS Reprint June 13, 1956 9 psychiatric consultant to the Army's Surgeon General during the war, was deep in plans for research and experiment in the social and preventive applications of psychiatry. Dr. C. F. decided he should have an analysis, which is a first step in the training of psychoanalysts. He applied to Dr. Smith Ely Jelliffe, one of the best-known analysts in America and an old friend. Walker Winslow tells what happened: Dr. Jelliffe had trained many doctors, but after talking to Dr. C.F. he had to tell him, "I could not undertake to analyze you and I doubt if you can find a good analyst in America who will. You are that rare thing, a truly mature man. I don't mean that in age only. I would feel like a fool with you on my couch. There would be no gain for you and it might be a shattering experience for me." Dr. C.F. was to apply for analysis elsewhere and he always got the same answer. That this answer was a compliment did not lessen the disappointment. He was always to feel that an important part of his education as a doctor had been neglected. This is a book about what three men did in Topeka for the mentally ill of Kansas, and for many out-of-state patients; and a book about how their achievements in Kansas are contributing to changes and reforms in the care and treatment of patients in institutions all over the country. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of battle-disturbed veterans owe their recovery to Karl and Will Menninger. Formerly hopeless patients of the Topeka State Hospital are now living normal lives, due to the Menningers. Their influence for good is literally immeasurable, although Walker Winslow, in The Menninger Story, gives you a sense of having seen it for yourself. Volume IX, No. 24 MANAS Reprint June 13, 1956 10 COMMENTARY AN APPRECIATION WE have no desire to put a "label" on Dr. Wienpahl, especially since he refuses to do so himself, and makes the fact that he is a "positionless man" a major point of his article. It is clear, however, that he establishes a kinship of mood and idea with at least two profound philosophical traditions. "background," and his environment. You could list the nurturing "influences" on him by the dozen. But the really important thing about this lecture is itself, and not the influences, which doubtless were "instrumental," but did not, could not, make it. According to a recent Knights of Columbus advertisement, Pride is one of the seven deadly sins. Guilt finds us pleasantly unrepentant. We're proud of this issue. In form and content, there are moments when Dr. Wienpahl reminds us of Lao-tze. This does not make him a Taoist, but it didn't make Lao-tze a Taoist either. Then there are times when he sounds like a Zen Buddhist in a non-traditional mood, which makes it all right. There is material for dozens of articles and discussions in this "unorthodox lecture." We naturally hope that this is not the last of Dr. Wienpahl's writing in this vein, but we suspect that thinking and writing of this sort are essentially climactic. If so, we are glad that a MANAS editor was around to capture the manuscript at the moment of blooming. For this is the kind of climax in modern thinking that we have been trying to predict. It may be poor praise to paraphrase a work of this sort, but the temptation is too great. Dr. Wienpahl seems to be saying that no real knowledge is instrumental. For human beings, to know is to be. Humans are so mixed up with needs for instrumental knowledge, in order to stay alive, that we tend to suppose that having instrumental knowledge—knowledge which measures, and can be measured—is living. It is not. Instrumental knowledge makes only the coarse rind of life. So it is the old problem of nature versus nurture, and what to nurture in order to preserve nature, or just discover it. Dr. Wienpahl probably has all sorts of obligations to his time, his culture, his Volume IX, No. 24 MANAS Reprint June 13, 1956 11 CHILDREN . . .and Ourselves HOW TO TEACH PHILOSOPHY REGARDING the planning of a curriculum by students themselves, we should like to quote once more from C. J. Ducasse of Brown University. His paper, "A Terminal Course in Philosophy," which appeared in The Journal of Higher Education (November, 1953), seems to strike a balance between irresponsible "democracy" in student decision and the "authoritarian" control from above which Dr. Hopkins was recently quoted as attacking. Dr. Ducasse and others planned this "terminal" course to stimulate independent thinking. The intent was to stress "the fact that philosophy, or more exactly philosophical reflection, is an activity natural to man; that it occurs spontaneously in almost any man on occasions of certain kinds even if he is unaware that what he is then doing constitutes philosophical reflection; and that this kind of reflection performs practical functions that are of strategic importance in his daily life." Dr. Ducasse explains: The course is a two-semester one entitled "Philosophy and the Types of Human Experience." It is part of a distribution requirement which, in the curriculum adopted in 1947, comprises 16 semester courses. Of these, six are in the sciences, four in the social studies, and six in the humanities. The student can omit only two out of the sixteen. This means that, if he omits any two of them other than philosophy, then the philosophy course must be included in his distribution program. For the third meeting the class is divided into discussion sections of about twenty students each, and is conducted by graduate assistants. As I name these topics, I want to emphasize that what is primarily discussed under each is concrete problems which have already confronted the student in his own experience. For example, in Part II of the course, it is moral judgments, not ethical or axiological theories as such, which are the topic. Theories are brought into the discussion functionally—as means for the solution of moral Volume IX, No. 24 problems that have already thrust themselves on the student. Similarly, in Part V, the topic is not Philosophy of Science but Science; that is, knowledge and the process of attaining it. The discussion of it, of course, constitutes philosophical and, more specifically, epistemological reflection. But what is reflected upon is science, not epistemology. Part VI, to which about four weeks are devoted, deals with religion. The chief aim here is to get the student to start with his own religious experiences and reach from them an understanding of the nature of religion in general. This means, to discern the typical functions, both personal and social, which all the religions verifiably tend to perform; to notice the forms of belief and of cult which implement those functions; and to consider the main types of religious experience, including conversion, prayer, and mystical states. The classical arguments for the existence of God are set forth and examined; and something is said about the problem of evil and about the belief in a life after death. The last four weeks of the course are given to Part VII, entitled Metaphysics. In it, an attempt is made to give the student an idea of the manner in which the kind of problems called metaphysical come to force themselves upon the attention of ordinarily reflective persons, even if they do not know those problems under that name. The success of such a program, clearly, depends upon arousing genuine interest in the students. To this end, the larger classes are divided into discussion sections of some twenty students for each third meeting. Talk can range widely, and should—swinging the light of philosophy in various spontaneously chosen directions. This sort of approach is also suggested by Gordon Keith Chalmers, in his Republic and the Person. Dr. Chalmers proposed that university departments be disbanded for an indefinite period of time, and that all philosophy professors be required to teach other subjects. By this means, he hoped, both professors and students would be led to recognize that philosophy, as Ducasse puts it, is "an activity natural to man; that it appears spontaneously in almost any man on occasions of certain kinds, even if he is unaware of what he is doing." MANAS Reprint June 13, 1956 12 Dr. Ducasse also suggests how students may be helped to acquire a passion for philosophic analysis. In Part II of the course, devoted to analysis of "morality," six weeks are given to study of "concrete instances in which moral judgments actually conflict sharply; for example, mercy killings, capital punishment, a physician's lying to his patient for the patient's own good, and so on." Then, possible rational solutions are indicated, with accompanying arguments. In this part of the course, attempt is made to give light on such questions as that of free will and determinism in relation to moral responsibility; the question of in what sense morality is "relative"; the question of whether every action is really "selfish," and the distinction between egoism and altruism; the question of what good and evil ultimately consist in, and the distinction between being either intrinsically or instrumentally good or evil. come to meet with him because of a desire to do so, either singly or in twos and threes, they begin to learn the meaning of participation in philosophy. They should bring with them a desire for the attainment of discipline in evaluative thought, and the professor should bring willingness to discuss anything beneath, or within, the heavens. There is only one acceptable criterion in the teaching of philosophy: Do the students tend to keep on talking "value" after class? Do they probe and puzzle when they return to their dormitories, fraternity and sorority houses, or to their homes? A few will always enjoy intellectual exercise in the manipulation of concepts, but if the majority of the class is reached by a teacher, outof-class discussions will focus on the imminent problems of daily life—with experimental interest, also, in the new dimensions of consideration encountered in the course. A good teacher knows that a student reaches the first glimmering of the meaning of philosophy when he becomes a participant in philosophical thought; names and dates and historical descriptions of the various systems are only tools, and not very important ones. A philosophy professor, ideally, should work short hours in class and long hours afterward. Unless he extends an open invitation—both implicitly in his attitude and explicitly in what he says—to private visitation during the "afterhours," he is either too shy to be a philosophy teacher or he is a time-server. If the students Volume IX, No. 24 MANAS Reprint June 13, 1956 13 FRONTIERS The Design of Nature FOR a history of our epoch in capsule form, it might be said that, during the first thousand years of Western Christendom, God was established as the enemy of Nature; that, in retaliation, Man became the enemy of God; and that, in our own time, we are hard at work trying to regain sensible ideas of God, Nature, and Man. L. L. White gives an illustration of the latter process in an article in Arts and Architecture for last January. His title is, "Some Thoughts on the Design of Nature and their Implication for Education." After discussing the omnipresence of design in nature, he says: One of the greatest needs in education is for a method of approach which brings the vast range of contemporary knowledge into some kind of order, so that the mind is not intimidated and confused. More particularly, we need a view of nature which gives the imagination its proper status, and so promotes its development. The standardization and mechanization of life can only be compensated by a view which gives new authority to the individual imagination. Such a view would also throw light on the relations of scientific and aesthetic activity. I suggest that the idea of a formative process has something to offer here. The demand that imagination be recognized as an authentic and in a sense independent power is a fundamental step of reconstruction after the long war of religion. We have had enough heresy hunts. The theologians hunted the philosophers and the early scientists and established a threatening policy of "containment" for mystics who dared to give voice to their pantheistic intuitions. Then, when the church lost its political power, the angry and resentful among the scientifically minded set out upon a heresy hunt of their own. Not content with reading God out of the cosmos, they turned against all the godlike powers of man, and against man himself, for what is left of a human being after you declare that he is nothing more than an offprint of his heredity and his environment, a mere intersection of physical Volume IX, No. 24 and biological events? The widespread sense of impotence felt by modern man may be the wholly natural result of the devaluation of human powers, and of the insistence that there is no real man at all, but only a creature who is to be explained by causes external to himself. L. L. White continues: In an age of science how can a balanced culture survive unless science recognizes the central role of the creative imagination both in the life of the individual and in the history of the race? Human thought is not based on mere computation, as some apostles of the "electronic brain" seem to suggest. Thought is the ordering of experience, and science cannot recognize the supreme faculty of the human mind until it has paid more attention to ordering processes in the rest of nature. But if we accept, as a provisional working hypothesis, the idea that formative or ordering processes play a central part in the design of nature, then the human imagination acquires the power and dignity which are proper to it as the expression of a natural principle, for then every human being must in some degree share in this faculty. The godlike, then, belongs to both nature and man, since man is a part of nature, and nature, perhaps, finds its climax in man. Now Mr. White alters a familiar inquiry: We have outgrown the question: who designed the universe? But can we turn it around and ask instead: "What general design must nature possess if the appearance in it of human minds is not to remain an arbitrary mystery? The answer is simple: the root character of all thought, its ordering property, must be shared by inanimate and animate nature. This working assumption, if it proves to be valid, can provide the kind of moral comfort, or organic reassurance, which our age badly needs. Man, in other words, is no alien in the world of nature, for the world of nature is also a world of mind, just as man is a being of mind. We have always felt that the poets who write of nature are conscious celebrants of this kinship. Wordsworth has lines which seem drenched with the common life of man and nature, and there is hardly a man who has not, at some time or other, MANAS Reprint June 13, 1956 14 felt that nature speaks to him, with himself making wordless reply. Is this enough "moral comfort"? It may not be, if we are fearful of being left alone in a world of life, without supernatural partisans to defend us against the dreadful unknowns which haunt the jungle of our ignorance. The idea of a Friend behind the cosmic veil usually hides the hope that we shall be forgiven our sins—which ought to be called our "unnatural" acts—and that we can somehow avoid being called to account. Perhaps a guilty subconscious throbs with memory of offenses against the world and our fellow men, so that a mere expectation of justice from the laws of life is an exceedingly painful prospect. One thing, however, ought to be clear. A world without a personal God by no means needs to be conceived as a world of desolate materialism. Immortality and transcendental existence are not logically dependent upon the existence of a God. Rather they depend upon some credible notion of moral law and of values in human life which partake of an eternal dignity and beauty. For L. L. White, the question becomes one of finding new depths in nature: Somehow the developing design of nature led to the human designer. That extraordinary fact has not yet been taken sufficiently seriously. For it implies that no scientific doctrine can claim general authority until it can show how a species capable of religion, æsthetic, and scientific activity came into existence. Atomic physics remains tentative and restricted, and cannot claim all nature for its realm, until that has been done. The design of nature must be much subtler and richer than has yet been imagined. Mr. White reverts to a view of theoretical progress in physical theory which was stated by Albert Einstein many years ago: that the more general and all-inclusive the theories, the more remote they become from experience, and hence more difficult to understand. As White puts it: Volume IX, No. 24 The current view is that physics proceeds by increasing abstraction and therefore becomes progressively more difficult. My belief and hope is that through some enriched concept of form and formative process, fundamental principles may acquire a new immediacy, clarity, and human meaning. How may this become possible? Only, we think, through the progressive study of man. For generations it has been assumed that, to know more of man, we must give nature a more exhaustive examination. But this, while it has had liberating effects, has also confined the imagination in its estimate of man. To know man, we take his measurements, or try to. We seek his history in the artifacts of ancient civilizations, and his ancestors in the bones of archaic fossils. Only recently has it become at all respectable for man to study himself, in himself, and not as a biological or anatomical or sociological specialty. The efforts in the direction of self-study are faltering at best. We lack the habit of reflective introspection. Too often, the scientific man fears an inward perspective almost as much as the Puritan trembles at the thought of a Freudian investigation of his secret inclinations. The only difference, it may be, is that the scientific man will be blandly contemptuous of the "futility" of introspection, while the Puritan will erect selfrighteous defenses instead of offering dispassionate criticism and appreciation of Freud's theories. The tide, however, is changing. Increasingly are heard men who have found a new stance of independence, who take their conceptions of themselves from their own thoughts, and not from wornout authorities. Mr. White is plainly one of the prophets of this revolution. MANAS Reprint June 13, 1956 ... - [detail] - [similar]
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