Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/640

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finds a partner who has money, and the importance which he attaches to this obvious and, so to speak, palpable condition, leads him to overlook the less obvious but equally important conditions of character, compatibility of disposition, and business aptitude. He finds to his cost in a short time that these things should not have been overlooked. Men, again, who have unlimited faith in the power of statute law to work moral reforms are so far materialists. Their trust is really in physical force. The whole school of political economists have helped to cultivate materialistic modes of thought, by making abstractions of all the influences that modify the working of their so-called economic laws. The truth of the matter is, that the moral condition of society at any given time profoundly modifies the whole course of business. Paralyze confidence between man and man, and the whole commercial and industrial world falls out of gear. Restore confidence, and the wheels of exchange once more begin to move. In a thousand ways, that people with materialistic modes of thought are apt to overlook, tangible results depend upon intangible causes, or are governed by intangible conditions. A true philosophy bids us always to try and rise in our speculations to the level of the phenomena with which we have to deal, and always to beware of denying or ignoring the complexity of a problem merely to indulge our intellectual indolence. Materialism, according to Comte's definition, is essentially the habit of judging things from too low a plane, and this is the sense in which I use the word throughout this paper. To suppose that any particular grossness attaches to matter is a conception worthy only of the moles and bats of philosophy. Before we could affirm grossness or anything else of matter we should have to get some of it, and compare it with something that was not matter, but which yet could be legitimately compared with it. Until this feat is accomplished, it would be well for all sensible people to refrain equally from praise and from abuse of matter. What there can be no risk of error in assuming is, that the exercise of certain faculties gives us the conception we have of matter, and that the exercise of other faculties gives us mental experiences of quite a different order. The materialist insists upon the convertibility of all experiences of the latter kind into experiences of the former kind. The positivist, on the contrary, feels under no obligation to perform any operation of this kind; and fails to see how he would be advantaged if he could or did perform it. He is content to believe that we are in no less real a world when we are dealing with human affections and passions, with social laws and forces, and with spiritual results in general, than when we are occupying ourselves with things that appeal directly to the outward senses, and that give us our impressions of form, color, and weight.

It has thus, I trust, been made apparent why the positivist would refuse to be called a materialist, and why he would equally object to be spoken of as an idealist. He is. the only man, as it seems to me,