Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/76

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72
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

errors are seen in relation to each other and to the whole as partial truths, so all the so-called evil impulses of man must be represented constructively in that outcome of the moral struggle which we call the good. "Nothing succeeds like success," "It's true if it works," are phrases which are capable of an idealistic interpretation in relation to social progress as well as of an egoistic and ethically materialistic interpretation which results in anarchy.

Life is a game of skill, and pragmatism is an attempt to "play the game" as well as possible, since perforce we must play it. It is a philosophy of work, of practise, of labor, of the strenuous life; but it is not simply that. Since, as we have seen, it is not mere practise, but likewise a theory of practise, this brings in the other side which we have called its idealistic aspect. But pragmatism is more than either an empiricism or an idealism: it is an immediatism or mysticism in the good sense of the word—it is a philosophy of play and a branch of fine art. It provides for moral holidays; it is a philosophy of that culture which in its leisure is not idle; it finds a place for the feelings and values and ends of life as well as for conduct and ideas and the means of living. The simple life is as truly its goal as the strenuous life! The simple life!—the "last refuge of complexity!" How much effort people put forth in the endeavor to lead the simple life! It is not getting away from complexity, but controlling complexity in relation to the attainment of the values of life, that pragmatism recommends—not the simple life, but the simplified life. And among other means of the control of cultured living, a true philosophy finds its place: first, as a balance-wheel to the tangential tendencies of lopsided common sense with its uncommon stupidities and rigidities and foreshortening of view; second, as a clearing-house for balancing up the credit and debit accounts of science in relation to this great problem of the control of the conditions of living; and third, as an enhancement of the appreciation of the values of life in emotional and personal terms, by seeing all knowledge and conduct in their widest cosmic and deepest spiritual implications, and feeling with Kant and Tennyson the relation of the flower in the crannied wall of one's own door-yard to the stars above and the moral law within. This is pragmatism and this is a philosophy which must recommend itself to men and women of to-day.