Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/290

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the same external forces, have created and discovered their common soul. Spiritual unity is a natural product. There are those who see a great mystery in the presence of eternal values and impersonal ideals in a moving and animal world, and think to solve that dualism, as they call it, by denying that nature can have spiritual functions or spirit a natural cause; but nothing can be simpler if we make, as we should, existence the test of possibility. Ab esse ad posse valet illatio. Nature is a perfect garden of ideals, and passion is the perpetual and fertile soil for poetry, myth, and speculation. Nor is this origin merely imputed to ideals by a late and cynical observer: it is manifest in the ideals themselves, by their subject matter and intent. For what are ideals about, what do they idealise, except natural existence and natural passions? That would be a miserable and superfluous ideal indeed that was nobody’s ideal of nothing. The pertinence of ideals binds them to nature, and it is only the worst and flimsiest ideals, the ideals of a sick soul, that elude nature’s limits and belie her potentialities. Ideals are forerunners or heralds of nature’s successes, not always followed, indeed, by their fulfilment, for nature is but nature and has to feel her way; but they are an earnest, at least, of an achieved organisation, an incipient accomplishment, that tends to maintain and root itself in the world.

To speak of nature’s successes is, of course, to