The Study of Philosophy: An Outline

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The Study of Philosophy: An Outline  (1919) 
by William Henry Chamberlin

The Study of


The Study of Philosophy, Chamberlin, cover image.png

An Outline


W. H. Chamberlin, M. A.

of the University of Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah


The Study of Philosophy

An Outline

The Study of Philosophy, Chamberlin, title page image.png

By W. H. Chamberlin, M. A.

Salt Lake City, Utah




The Study of Philosophy has been prepared for the use of my students. It is hoped that it will also serve the needs of others whose general view of life is in a formative stage. It presupposes on the part of the reader an elmentary knowledge of psychology, and, in addition, such a preparation in the other sciences as is commonly possessed by students who have completed their course in high school.

W. H. Chamberlin.

University of Utah, August, 1919.

The Study of Philosophy


Section 1.

As long as an instrument fits into what we are doing, or works well, there is commonly no interest in examining it. So with living itself. Until our lives are confronted with difficulties, and run defectively, there is no need and no motive for reflecting upon life, or upon the conditions under which its satisfactory going-on depends. But when an interest in such reflection is awakened, especially when such reflection is concerned with the most general aspects and conditions of life, there is generated the study of philosophy, the study of life and its environment, of life as a part of the world-whole.

In approaching the study of the world-whole the parts of the world and the relationship of these parts to one another are more or less vaguely conceived; the world seems to be but an aggregate of the ordinary objects of perception, and the relations of these objects or parts to one another are as lacking in clearness as are the parts of a piano, an automobile, or of any other instrument to one who is approaching the study of one of them for the first time.

Clear ideas of one of these wholes or of any of its parts are gained only as we deal with them mentally or overtly and observe how they affect one another. In the degree in which these ideas or meanings are thus cleared up, especially as it is observed how things work under definite conditions imposed by those who are studying them, and as these ideas are so organized as to serve as a means for grouping them in effective relations to one another, that system of ideas becomes a science. Just so, as convenient parts of the world-whole are discovered and their meanings become understood and organized, there is developed the science of philosophy.

The sole motive for thus forming ideas and sciences is more satisfactory life through a better adjustment to or control of the various things we set about to study. The coming into clearness of any object whatever, the awareness of which enters into experience, is dependent upon our interests.

And so the awareness of any object, when that awareness is considered apart from its conditioning interest is abstract. It is no more a reality independent of an interest, than is the flavor of an apple independent of an apple. The concreter reality is the interest, and the awareness of objects generated by the interest is a quality of the interest.

But the awareness of any object is not only dependent upon an interest. It is at the same time dependent upon a second reality, a reality which is the objective support of both the awareness and its conditioning interest. Thus, with reference to this still concreter reality, the awareness of objects is doubly abstract, depending both upon our subjective interests and upon an objective reality, a reality which supports both these subjective interests and the awareness of objects which depend upon them. With either the subjective interest or the objective support lacking, the awareness of any object would not exist; it is at one and the same time a quality or aspect of both.

Most of the sciences deal with objects without needing for their purposes to investigate either the subjective or the objective conditions of our awareness of objects. It is sufficient that the objects exist and that uniformities in their ways of appearing can be discovered. In describing objects, then, awareness or cognitive aspects of them are commonly emphasized and there is a strong tendency to regard them as the most fundamental, the concretest realities, realities upon which both interests and objective support are dependent qualities. The true order of dependence is thus-reversed. The physchological sciences consider carefully our interests, the subjective support of our awareness of objects, and do not commonly investigate the nature of the reality which supports our experience of objects.

Philosophy, the science of the world-whole, can, for its purpose of understanding our lives and their conditioning environment, or the concreter whole of which they are a part, ignore neither, it must be the concretest science of all; although one in persisting in this effort to view things concretely must constantly oppose strong customary tendencies, both in himself as he thinks and in others, to regard abstract or dependent aspects of life as the truly concrete because they are simple, easily reacted to, and, as a matter of historic development, came first to be understood and obvious.

In view of the fact that our interests are aspects of this concretest reality, aspects to which the awareness of objects is subordinate, and in view of the further fact that our interests are correlated with or confluent with the objective support of our experience of things to form this concretest reality, the suggestion becomes strong that a study of interests may be a happy approach, or a key, to the appreciation of the nature of the parts of the world-whole. We begin, therefore, our study of the world-whole, by a study of interests.


Dewey, How We Think, ch. 9.
Colvin and Bagley, Human Behavior, chapters 1 and 13.

Section 2.

The interests that constitute the lives of each one of us are realities or active processes which manifest themselves either “in mind” as ideas or overtly in acts. They may also be described as efforts through these ideas or acts to fit into or adjust to our environment.

Interests may also be described as dynamic realities. They have this character of power because of habits through the correlation of which the interests are able to realize themselves in these ideas and acts. One, for example, may have an interest in speaking to a friend, an interest whose realization is possible because he has formed habits of pronouncing words, and other habits which result in an arrangement of these words in a definite, orderly way.

Or one who has learned by long exercise certain other habits, and who has formed habits of correlating these habits in a definite way may have a genuine interest in playing a musical composition for a friend; and, moreover, he has the power to execute or realize this interest.

In the exercise of any interest, we may commonly discover two other important aspects besides this aspect of active power. The one is that of a feeling of value or of lack of value in the ideas or acts in which the process manifests itself, the other is that of a cognition or awareness stimulated and supported by certain features in the conditioning enironment, an awareness which functions in directing such efforts so that they will issue in ideas and acts that realize the interest. In hoeing, for example, an interest in getting a crop manifests itself in ideas and acts whose value is felt in furthering that interest and in ideas and acts which at the same time are directed by a vague awareness of the weeds which tends to retard that interest. Or, derived from such an interest, there may arise other interests which may result in examining the weeds themselves, and then other feelings and other awarenesses will arise as these acts of observing objects fulfill or inhibit these derived interests.


Judd, Psychology, chapters 6, 7, 8, 9.
Ames, Psychology of Religious Experience, chapters 16, 17.

Section 3.

Interests, together, of course, with each of their aspects, are growing realities. A child with an interest in plants may for the first time approach a rose to grasp it. In grasping it carelessly as it has been accustomed to grasp flowers, it experiences pain sensations. The awareness of pain sensations is henceforth an element in the meaning or awareness of a new kind of plant, the thorny rose. Correlated with this change and growth of the awareness aspect of a general interest in plants, now become more specific, is a modified manner of action and valueing, greater caution is henceforth exercised in seizing the modified object, the thorny rose.

In the above example the growth of an interest was almost accidental. But very often the growth is a matter of design, proceeding tentatively and through a thought process. The interest in expressing itself in idea or in action proves inadequate or dissatisfying. Along with this feeling of need or dissatisfaction there arise eiforts at reforming, the old interest, now disintegrating or in need of amendment. What the reformed and adequate interest will be is not known or valued. The effort to achieve it is therefore a matter of faith or hope and not of knowledge.

While in this state of putting forth efforts through a faith in the possibility of new values about to be discovered and seized or achieved, other interests from the same mind appear as suggestions. As such suggestions they are tentatively incorporated, mentally or overtly, in the halting interest, and after testing are either repelled as failing to create a satisfactory union, or, if a suggestion issues in a satisfactory result, it is attracted to the interest struggling to live on successfully, and held to it. When, finally, the old interest is modified so as to become adequate in adjusting to the new situation, the new or more specific interest, integrated out of the old and inadequate interest, and a suggestion coming from the same mind, may now live on to manifest itself in ideas and acts again and again in similar situations.

From the nature of a growing interest it may now be seen that each advance made may also be called a process of creation. Each one, according to his faith and eagerness and experience, adopts through his own preference alternative suggestions into the reintegrating interest. The resulting interest is a new reality. When it is achieved it may also be referred to as a case of new knowledge and new value born into the world. Because some one was able to be dissatisfied with an old and inadequate interest and to will that it should die, it is able to live again in a new and better interest.


Judd, Psychology, chapters, 11, 12.
Dewey, How We Think, chapters 1, 8, 9.

Section 4.

The growth of a disintegrating interest may issue not only through the appearance of suggestions coming from the mind in which the difficulty arises, but also, by the appearance of suggestions from other minds with whose interests his own interests are in a process of interaction. For example when one converses with a friend, the interest which that friend is trying to express is experienced by one as in immediate interaction with his own interests, the interests being satisfied or fulfiled in the act of listening. In this case the reality to which the interest being engaged in by the listener is adjusting and realizing itself is the meaning or interest of the person who is speaking. One is, if aware at all of another's meaning, aware of it as immediately as he is of the existence of a suggestion coming from his own mind or life, to aid in integrating an interest which is able thereafter to express or fulfil his own life. It is also true that that which conditions the growth of the new and socialized interest, which one through this immediate relationship to others comes to live, is like that which conditions the growth of interests or knowledge and values from other interests existing in his own life. There must be an interest in his own life and the need its failure to work satisfactorily establishes of the suggested or supporting interests. One’s interest being blocked and it being necessary to reorganize it or form an interest that can fulfil or create itself under the circumstances, certain subjective interests appear as suggestions one after another from his own life or from the lives of others and are either drawn, attracted to, or incorporated in the growing interest, or, if they further inhibit the forming interest, they disappear or are repelled by it.

All of our interests are found in this way to be socialized processes. One, for example, who grows up in ysmpathetic association with a farmer comes to have an interest in a sunflower through which he perceives and values it as a mere weed to be destroyed as a hamperer of his interest in growing a crop. One who grows up with one possessed of esthetic interests comes to perceive and to enjoy the sunflower as an object of beauty and one to be conserved. One who grows up for a time with a botanist comes to see and to ideate the sunflower as an object that fulfils certain intellectual interests. And, in fact, co-operation with others is a condition, of the existence and growth of any perceptual or ideational interest whatever. Just as one cannot form a new idea or plan of action without the aid of other interests in his own life, by a process analogous to that of self-fertilization, so one cannot grow into new and stable interests without the stimulus and co-operation of the interests that constitute the lives of others and through a process as of cross-fertilization.

In this socialized growing of interests the field is indefinitely enlarged from which support or correction for the growing interests may be gained, and there is indefinitely increased the probability of successful adjustment and so of living in interests of increasing stability, power, complexity, and richness. All that survive of the interests of the past survive because they have successfully served the needs, in the way just described, of the succesively arriving generations of men. The interest of an architect living at the present time began to grow in other men as far back in the distant past as the time when men first began to be interested in building. The ideas, percepts, acts of the men of one age promote the growth of the building interests in the men of that generation as the leaves of each season of growth nourish the stem that puts them forth, then, like the leaves. they disappear, but the interests they nourish survive as they are assimilated by and become the interests of each new generation, and the powers, forces, or factors of advancing civilization.


1. Merz, Religion and Science, Part I.
2. Cooley, Human Nature and the Social Order, chapter l.
3. Ellwood, Introduction to Social Psychology, chapter 3.

Section 5.

In the development or integration of any new interest whatever, these primary or relatively abiding interests will be discovered to hold in correlation a number of subsidary or secondary interests. These secondary interests also grow one after another in a more or less regular order, an order determined by the order in wsich a feeling of need in the supporting interests is felt. In a machine, for example, each part may become the centre of such a derived interest, especially those parts that happen to work poorly and the need of understanding which is pressing. As each of these secondary interests develops, like the primary interest it tends to develop a system of tertiary interests, and so on. The whole process is like that seen objectively in the growth of a tree which tends to produce each season a whorl of branches. each of which in turn produces dependent whorls, and so on.

As each interest develops consciousness passes back and forth, backward to a prior stage of development, and forward to a stage that is to be, but what-it is to be is not yet clear. Alternating suggestions of what is to be arise, depending on the past experience and the powers of the individual to reproduce them. There is an eager awaiting of an outcome. Finally the most satisfying suggestion to appear is chosen by the one creating the new reality, with its power, knowledge, and value. This mode of growth is illustrated subjectively by what goes on in the life of one engaging in dramatic composition. In writing a drama the leading interest is one developed in a chief character. This is sustained and developed through the correlating with it of interests in the various lesser persons of the drama. Now one person appears, and then another, until all have appeared repeatedly and in cooperation express a leading interest. But every growing interest illustrates the same process of the growth of a relatively permanent or abiding interest composed of or supported by interests each of which changes in a more or less regular order, and each of which as it changes attending to the past and showing an interest in an outcome,[1] new life about to be.


1. Dewey, How We Think, pp. 193-5

Section 6.

The awareness and the value aspects of an interest are intense in but one of these newly forming interests at a time, but the dynamic aspect must be considered as the abiding core of the growing reality and the condition upon which the appearance of the awareness and value aspects constantly depends. The interest whose active core is lacking these ephemeral aspects may be called an automatized interest. Since awareness and feeling of value appear in connection with but one of these growing interests at a time, the number of automatized interests in a person’s life in proportion to those which are new must be very great. As one lives, a vast and increasing number of these is ever becoming involved in the expression of each new interest. For example, in expressing a simple thought to a friend, one is not commonly conscious, save feebly at least, of the words, syllables, and elementary sounds he is using, and upon the power to utter which his expression of his thought or interest is so dependent. Thus awareness and feeling of value do not appear in any great intensity in relation to by far the greater part of one’s life, even the ever-increasing store of dynamic habits that make possible the realizing or creating in one’s self of any new life whatever, and the execution of the same either in idea or in overt act. One has many tendencies to action or attitudes where one uses one, or acts once. Because of their omnipresence the attitudes may and do escape attention and the awareness and feeling aspect may seem the obvious and the understood and so the concrete reality. But when seen in a true perspective, the dynamic or energy character of life is immeasurably more concrete than its ephemeral awareness and feeling aspects, or what is most apt to be limited or recognized in any effort to define these aspects.

As an interest in growing becomes satisfying and its value as a means to life becomes appreciated, it may often be reenacted or lived for the pleasure or practical value such re-living gives. In such cases the regular order in which the subsidiary interests grow is repeated and becomes cyclic. Each stage in the growth appears one after another in a cycle as in a poem or song, or even in all economical and customary responses to the environment. The chief determiner of this cyclic nature of the movement of life may now be seen to be the concreter realm of automatized interests or attitudes, the energy aspect of life. Upon what man has been satisfied to go on here clearly hangs the vivid sensory and the vivid feeling aspects of life. Until the presence and nature of this energy aspect of life becomes understood as the relatively independent or important aspect of life, and the habit formed of seeing the awareness, and the feeling aspects of life as very subordinate to or dependent upon this aspect, and so what is commonly regarded as the obvious, the understood, or the concrete is corrected, our lives cannot be understood.


1. Varisco, The Great Problems, pp. 76-85; Palmer, The Nature of Goodness, chapters 3 and 8.

Section 7.

When the dynamic or energetic core of an interest is accompanied by a clear awareness aspect, as when an interest is being lived either in ideas, as when an interest in eating an apple is being mentally engaged in, or when it is being realized in acts, as when one is actually engaged in eating an apple, the awareness aspect can also be analysed into subordinate aspects. It can be analysed into a sensory aspect, an aspect composed of visual sensations, in the example just given the apple is red or green, pressure sensations, the apple is hard or soft, and other sensations, it has its characteristic flavor, smell, etc. There are also experienced sensations due to the action of the muscles, the arm, the hand, and the mouth. Its analysis also reveals space forms of the arrangement of these sensations, the apple is round, has an inside and an outside and a center. Its analysis also reveals time forms of arrangement of these sensations, kinesthetic sensations arise as one grasps the apple and before one experiences its flavor, or they arise as one chews the apple and at the same time as one enjoys its taste and smell. Then also the exercise of certain habits with their associated group of sensations conditions the exercise of other habits with their group of sensations; the sensations connected with chewing are said to condition the appearance of the sensations of taste and smell which constitute the flavor of the apple. This conditioning relationship is also called the causal relationship or form. And finally in such an awareness aspect there can be discovered changes going on. There are motions among the groups of sensations. Viewed in this abstract way these sensations, forms, and motions are determined, inert, lifeless realities, but they are determined by the dynamic or energetic core of an interest, the habits of grasping and chewing which have been slowly formed and correlated. But the abstract sensations, forms and motions, together with the habits that determine them, are elements of the nature of the person who lives the interest. Man has in himself, by virtue of this nature, the wonderful power both to determine and to be aware of sensations, of their space, time and causal forms, and of their motions. Though abstract, these awarenesses of senations, forms, and motions, are elements of man’s nature, and man also determines them or has the power through which they live in him. In other words man has the power to determine the determined content of the awareness aspect of his interests, a content so determined that he, by developing an interest in knowing the order of the appearance of the elments in this content, can discover that order, and thus become able to predict the appearance of these elements. The careful study of this order is in fact the work to which many psychologists tend to limit themselves.

These abstract and inert realities are more concretely viewed when seen in their dependence upon the dynamic or energetic core of the interest which determines them and of which they are but aspects. They are more concretely viewed when they are seen themselves as entering into the determining process, although it is advantageous for some purposes to regard these abstract elements as themselves the truly concrete, the understood, the obvious, the unquestioned, the inert or established reality from which one starts his investigation of the world. But they are still more concretely viewed when they are seen to be also dependent upon an objective reality of which they are a determined aspect. For example, when in the thought process a suggestion from one’s own subconscious interests appears in support of a forming plan of action, or idea, the various sensory elements, their movements, and the spatial, temporal and causal forms of the awareness aspect of the new interest, are clearly supported by or dependent upon both the new interest and the interest called a suggestion. Another subjective interest, the suggestion, is here the objective support of the new subjective interest, of its value aspect, and of its awareness aspect with its sensory, and its time, space, causal and movement elements. Without this other interest, the new interest and all of its aspects would not be experienced in any actual case. That is, man has in himself the wonderful power to support in one of his own interests its value and awareness aspects, and the sensory, space, time causal and movement elements of the latter aspect.

That another interest can be the objective support of the value and awareness aspects of an interest can be more easily seen when the interest called a suggestion is an interest of another persona In conversing with another, the other’s interests or meanings are in immediate interaction with our own interests.[2] When a need arises in us because our own ideas need amendment, they may be supported or checked by the ideas or suggestions of a friend. In cases of such interaction of interests the awareness aspects of our growing interests are clearly dependent upon or objectively supported by the interest of another. At least that other person is an essential factor, in the example given, of such objective support. Without him those particular interests with their aspects would not arise in the mind.

Section 8.

In cases of communication like the one just considered we are often compelled by the failure to grasp another’s meaning into the analysis of his interests into dynamic realities and the awarenesses in another which they condition or support. For while, as a friend expresses himself, we are usually absorbed in his meaning and are but dimly aware of his speech, we may and do at times become interested in the latter, a mere accompaniment or aspect determined in us by his effort to express his meaning. We may become distinctly conscious of sound and other sensations, with their changing spatial, temporal, and causal relationships, and which the interests and efforts of another support in us. In case of complete inability to take in the meaning of another, as when we hear the speech of a foreigner, our interests would be commonly reduced to interests in such abstract aspects of their objective support. But the other person, the foreigner, would easily be recognized as a cooperating factor in the concrete whole.

Now when another speaks to us, while he is an essential factor in the objective support of the particular set of awarenesses to which he gives rise in us, we can clearly recognize other essential factors in the objective support of the experience. Vocal cords, the ear, the body, the air, and in general nature, are all essential cooperating factors in the full. concrete reality. We cannot understand our lives as parts of the world-whole until we consider these cooperating factors. All easily recognize the presence in our experience of the awareness of nature. "All recognize the existence of energies supporting in us this awareness of nature. A chief problem of philosophy is in regard to the fuller nature of these supporting energies.

We have already seen how an interest in our own mind or an interest in the life of another can support our other interests together with their awareness aspects. We have also noticed how other interests have two quite separate effects. They support an interest in the process of communication or mutual understanding, and then they support, unintentionally, a different type of interests, interests in the sensory forms of experience. These sensory forms are known to be supported by an energy which is the dynamic core of the interests of others. In nature however, these sensory forms, or material objects, are commonly thought of as supported by an impersonal energy.

From the fact, however, that material forms such as sound objects are known to be supported by the interests of other persons, interests which are at least as links of support confluent with and cooperating with these so-called impersonal energies, and from the further fact that all of the realities commonly accepted as concrete, understood, obvious, unquestioned, such as matter, time, space, forces, and energy, are, so far as we are aware of them, but abstract aspects of our interests, we may thoughtfully and confidently adopt the suggestion that the material forms and the energies of physical nature are, when more fully and concretely considered, but abstract aspects of the interests of a spiritual or personal reality whose interests, besides supporting our experience of nature and providing the energies in cooperation with which we live, are full of knowledge and the appreciation of such values as are achieved by its efforts. It is a spiritual reality that embraces the material forms of nature and their energies as elements into which its life can be analysed, and a reality which, being composed of psychological realities or interests like those in man, is ever growing through a process of dying to live, and is ever creating by faith, by thought, and by ever renewed efforts, new life, new knowledge, and new values. As in every thought process, we now proceed to test or prove this suggestion. We trust that by it we may be able to more fully understand our lives as parts of the great world-whole.


Morgan, The Interpretation of Nature.
Rogers, the Religious Conception of the World, pp. 93-120.

Section 9.

According to this suggestion our experience of nature is an aspect of life supported by the interests of a spiritual reality like man. Like man it supports a large number of interests whose awareness aspects can be analysed into sensory forms and relationships whose support is a dynamism or energy, like the energetic aspect or core of man’s interests. Such a dynamism is of course an unsensed, an invisible, intangible, and an unpicturable aspect of experience for it is the support of our experience of these. In efforts to describe this aspect of reality, especially when he has in view the most general aspect of our experience of nature, namely, physical nature, the physicist must use some term like activity, as when Oersted says that “matter is not an inanimate existence, but an expression of activity.” The word energy is oftener ,used, as when Tunzelmann in his Electrical Theory says: “All the phenomena of the material universe may therefore be considered as arising solely from changes in energy distribution. That is to say, energy is the sole phenomenal basis of matter.”

The higher spiritual reality which, from the point of view of our suggestion, constitutes the chief factor in our environment would of course be differentiated into interests, and these in turn would be capable of being analysed into habits, just as in the case of a man. Consider man’s common interest in expressing himself by means of language. He can live this interest or come to be able to express himself, because he has achieved an organization of certain habits which from our point of view are also powers to awaken and support, powers to determine, definite sensory elements and material forms and movements in the lives of others. One possessed of a limited number of such habits, a dozen or more, can, by organizing them in various ways, give expression to an unlimited number of interests. At the same time that he expresses any one of these interests, he, automatically and subconsciously and by virtue of the effects of the habits involved in the expression of that interest, can support in others, as many as can listen and become interested in observing them, an experience of an unlimited number of words and sentences, of objects organized out of elementary sounds. just so, the spiritual reality which environs and supports our lives and our experience of nature automatically awakens in our lives a perception of objects all of which can be analysed into a small and definite number of elements, such as oxygen, hydrogen and carbon. Our experience of the compounds of the elements, such as water and carbon dioxide, would thus be due to the effect upon our experience of habits constantly combining because of the need they serve in the expression of its interests. These inorganic compounds would ‘be analogous to syllables and words used by man in expressing his interests by means of discourse. The chemical forces involved in the combining of these elements into their compounds, or in the disrupting of these compounds into their elements, are like the interhabital forces experienced by us when a new interest or plan of action is being formed through the integration of established habits, or when an old interest is being disintegrated into its constitutent habits. And the energy which supports in us the experience of the elements, of the objects these elements compose, and of the blind forces or causal relationships that maintain among them, is but the dynamic aspect or core of the varying interests of this environing spiritual life. Even the sun and its attendant planets would, according to this suggestion, come to be viewed as our experience of the energetic core or habits of the living interests of this spiritual reality, and the attractions and repulsions that exist among these larger bodies of matter would come to be viewed as the forces that hold or that sunder the various habits, the organized systems of habits, and the interests that constitute the life or nature of this spiritual reality. Finally, the rotatory motions that go on in these large masses of matter will come to be understood as due to the cyclical order in which the automatized interests that constitute the dynamic core of the life of this spiritual reality, an order realized by us all, at least subconsciously, among the routine of habits that determines the most economical and efficient daily efforts of us all. Special cases of this routine order in a system of habits often subconsciously operating are experienced in the singing of a song, the recitation of a poem, the playing of a musical instrument, by one who is interested in doing entirely different things. That is, in each of us there are systems of habits po.tent to awaken in others experiences of groups of sensations moving in a spiral or rotatory order in case others become interested in observing them. The interests of every well organized life rest upon the energies of habits potent as the inmost core of all these interests, and potent to awaken automaically an experience of routine movement for those interested in the abstract observation of them. The same would be true of the greatest spiritual reality of all.

Section 10.

The inorganic elements, their compounds and relationships, being identified with the habits and the interhabital relationships in a spiritual reality more advanced than man, would be organized in systems more or less stable, and such as are manifest to us in organic forms. These organic forms as observed by us would be due to the energies or habits in the interests of the higher spiritual reality, to interests which have also been largely automatized, but not so largely as in the case of the habits which give rise to our experience of the inorganic elements and compounds, just as the interests automatized in a proverb or song are not so stable as are those in a word or elementary sound. Nevertheless, these more stable habits which support our experience of the inorganic elements could not well have come into existence, or at least could not have maintained their existence, save in relationship to the growing organic forms in which they become organized. And this conclusion has been confirmed by the chemist Henderson who, after a thorough examination of the properties of the three elements, oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon, concludes: "There is, in truth, not one chance in countless millions that the many unique properties of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. and especially of their stable compounds, water and carbonic acid, which chiefly make up the atmosphere of a new planet, should simultaneously occur in the three elements otherwise than through the operation of a natural law which somehow connects them together, There is no greater probability that these unique properties should be without due (i. e. relevant) cause uniquely favorable to the organic mechanism."[3] At another time the same chemist says:

“Yet the connection between these properties of the elements, almost infinitely improbable as the result of contingency, can only be regarded, is in truth only fully intelligible even if mechanistically explained, as a preparation for the evolutionary process. By this I mean to say it resembles adaptation.”[4]

When one who is learning to express himself by means of language has an interest sufficiently stable to maintain the effort to adjust until his elementary habits become organized to his satisfaction, he slowly becomes able to pronounce words and sentences. By practice he can make his newly won powers to utter those words or sentences become automatic or habitual, so that the use both of such powers of uttering words and, of course, of the included elementary sounds, becomes an unconscious accompaniment of his expression of his interests. This also applies to the correlation of words in forms that even involve temporal elements, as in a familiar song. And so in nature everywhere organic forms are being organized out of the elements, and the movement or arrangement of these elements and of their accompanying forces is controlled by the efforts put forth in the realization of interests. If the interests so achieved are often repeated so as to become automatized or habitual, the organic form becomes fixed, capable of description as a species, and henceforth arises automatically.

This control of the inorganic elements by automatized interests or ends may well be illustrated by the development of the embryos of animals. Take for an exceptional example the egg of a sea-urchin. The cells of the embryos of the sea—urchin, viewed abstractly, are equi-potential with respect to their power to develop into the adult form. A change in one part of the developing embryo takes place with reference to changes going on in other parts and involve such changes in the organism as a whole that a definite adult form is the outcome. It is as if this final form were a pattern which in some way controls the process of organization from the beginning. The zoologist Driesch calls these automatized interests or ends which he cannot fully describe in terms of sensory forms and changes, but which he must postulate in order to account for the sensory forms and changes which he does percieve, entelechies.[5]

The same control and the same organization of inorganic elements by interests which have resulted in a stable organization of habits so that a definite set of organic changes and a specific organic form results automatically is everywhere illustrated in the development of plant forms. The Bryophyllum Calycinum is a unique example. If a leaf of this plant is cast upon a favorable soil any cell in its surface may, if stimulated to action, grow into the perfect adult form. Every case of developing organic forms illustrates the same subordination of the dynamic powers or habits supporting our experience of the inorganic elements to interests that develop automatically, like the words or tones of a familiar song, when upon stimulation it is unconsciously sung. Very many illstrations of this same truth are afforded by the regeneration of lost parts in both animals and plants. To illustrate this truth Von Hartman among many other examples refers to that of the salamander. “The four legs with their ninety eight bones, besides the tail with its vertebrae, were regenerated six times in three months; in some, the lower jaw, with all its muscles, vessels, teeth, etc., was regenerated. The eye was restored within a year if the optic nerve remained, and a part of the coats of the eye remained behind in the old orbit.”[6] Similarly, the zoologist Eimer, after many experiments and observations made in the effort to discover the cause of organic development, and after testing and rejecting other hypotheses, says: “I hold it to be a kind of striving towards a goal, or teleology, in the face of which the recognition of a directing power conceived as personal, existing outside material nature and ruling all things, would seem to me fully justified.”[7]

Section 11.

Further light will be thrown upon the relationship of our lives to the life and interests of the spiritual reality which in general automatcially supports our experience of the inorganic elements and- also of organic forms, if we now give more explicit attention to the spiritual realities that unconsciously and automatically stimulate and control, check and fulfil, the developing interests of the superhuman spiritual reality that are manifest to us in our awareness of the inorganic elements, their compounds, and all organic forms. Facts which show the dependence of organic forms upon our interests as they have developed are so numerous and so clear that the psychologist McDougall has concluded that we and our subhuman ancestors have slowly created our own bodies. After arguing for such a view McDougall writes: “If, therefore, we accept this view we shall regard the congenital neural dispositions, both those that dominate pure reflexes and those that determine instinctive actions, as having been acquired and consolidated under the guidance of individual experience, with the cooperation, to a degree which we cannot determine, of natural selection. And since the nuscular system works under the control of the nervous system and becomes moulded by the activities evoked in it by the nervous system, and since the muscles in turn largely mould the structure of the skeleton, we shall regard the structure of all the body as in a large measure the product of experience accumulated by transmission from generation to generation.” From such facts the Lamarckians among biologists have concluded that the same is true of all organic forms, all depend upon the interests of lower sentient realities for their existence; all organic forms arise in connection with these interests, and are due to changes in the nervous, the muscular, and skeletal structure correlated with the growing interests. A persistent interest will be correlated with a change in the organic or bodily form, and this form will be passed to the coming generations by heredity. But in the light of the dependence of the interests of a great spiritual reality upon men, who constitute elements of its environment, the growth and modification of the body in close correlation with the interests of men, as well as the inheritance of acquired characters, receives far more satisfactory explanation.

Thus change in organic form requires for its full explanation the interests of at least two persons in interaction. When a person speaks, definite organic forms, like words and sentences, or definite organic changes in brain and body, take place in relationship to all who hear. “Many definite organic changes result or are created for many different lives by one system of impulses expressing one interest. If no one hears, these definite organic forms do not come into existence. When such organic forms or changes do exist, they exist as discriminable aspects of the interacting interests of persons. Whatever may be properly said in biology and psychology, sciences which commonly study limited aspects of these interests abstracted from a wider and concreter reality, it is necessary in philosophy to say that the body and the brain, like language, depend upon persons and not the persons on them. Our organic bodies are functional in our lives; they are relative and dependent aspects of our lives; as leaves that nourish a fixed stem the organic forms though necessary are but passing aspects of abiding lives.


McDougall, Physiological Psychology, p. 156, 7.

Section 12.

More concrete, more ultimate,'more fixed and independent than the human form are the various systems of interests, the spiritual realities or persons, the social whole upon which it depends and of whose interacting interests the organic form is an abstract aspect. Commonly, however, this order of dependence is reversed, and this more easily describable organic form is taken both by laymen and by students of biology as the concrete, the obvious, the unquestioned reality, from which we must start in the effort to understand life and its interests.

The various persons of the social whole live in an immediately experienced relationship to one another. Because the different lives -of our fellowmen come to be associated by us with the separate organic bodies of a perceptual world, we should not permit ourselves to regard realities immediately experienced together to be sundered from one another or made at all subordinate to those separate bodies regarded as independent realities. When we perceive a passing automobile, our visual sensations are correlated by us with the activity of the visual centres in the back of the brain. We have in like manner learned to associate the auditory sensations involved in the experience with the auditory centres at the sides of the brain. Because we associate these and other sensations involved in this case of perception with parts of the brain separated spatially, temporally, and materially by us, we are not led to sunder the unitary process of perception of which these sensory elements are aspects. Neither should we, because we associate persons with different material bodies and brains, sunder the unity among persons so commonly experienced by us in our inter-communication with others. A preoccupation with the spatially, temporally, and materially separated words of a discourse or the similarly separated notes of a musical composition, does not lead us to disrupt the complex but unitary interests that we experience as we appreciate these. Even so, a preoccupation with the spatially and materially separated brains and bodies of interacting persons, forms that presuppose or depend upon persons, should not lead us to disrupt in our thinking the complex unity in which the interests of different persons are in their interaction immediately experienced, nor should we seek to make dependent upon these separate and vanishing organic forms the enduring realities or persons upon which they depend. As the activity of different brain centres of a person engaged in the unitary process of perceiving objects presupposes, or would not go on without, the unitary process, so the activity of different brains of persons living in an immediately experienced interaction presuppose the unity of interacting persons. The view that makes the persons presuppose the brains and not the brains the persons, grows out of a view of life like that which makes an interest depend upon the cognitive aspect of that interest viewed as an idea or object existing prior to and independent of that interest, a view of life which constantly errs by making a concrete reality depend upon an abstract aspect of itself simply because the abstract aspect is more simple and more easily described and reacted to.

For similar reasons we should not hesitate to acknowledge the immediate presence of a superhuman spiritual reality, of a person differing not in kind from man but only in the greater degree of its power, wisdom, and love. Upon this reality we constantly depend. Its energies support our lives and our awareness of the chief aspects of nature. We should not make this concrete, living reality depend upon an abstract aspect of itself, the material or physical world, because this abstract aspect of its life is more simple and more easily described and reacted to by us. In this spiritual reality, or supported by it, we live, and move, and have our being. We should not fail to acknowledge the presence of this spiritual reality which must be recognized by us if we would achieve a concrete view of our lives simply because its constant effectiveness in our lives admits of its seeming to make no difference to our lives. The white corpuscles of our blood are individuals, They can be kept alive in specially prepared liquids outside our bodies. Naturally, however, they live in our blood and supply their needs there as the blood swirls along in its course and varies its movements in automatic response to each change in the thoughts and feelings which preoccupy us, and of which thoughts and feelings the white blood cells can know nothing. As long as these cells live they cannot of course suspect the presence of the intelligence of the man upon which they depend. With men however it is not so. Not being a leukocyte man can suspect the presence of the higher spiritual reality in his environing world, and cannot give a concrete explanation of his life without acknowledging the presence of the spiritual reality preoccupied in interests in his well-being and finding his work and life in creating new life and new opportunities for men.

When viewed most concretely, then, the world-whole of which our lives form a part is a natural federation of lives or persons. Persons of various degrees of intelligence in a natural unity should come to be regarded as the great independent real. Man is not a reality within his skin looking out through the windows of sense upon a world which is foreign to himself. His varying awarenesses of nature are functions of his varying interests, and, since man is coextensive with his interests, much more must he be regarded as inclusive of his various awareness of nature, but partial aspects of his interests. He is also inclusive of the specific experiences of nature which his interests support in others. Other lives, human, subhuman, and superhuman, in unsunderable relationship to him are also in an important sense integral parts of him and they are the sole support of his life and of his varying awarenesses of nature. Beca.use these awarenesses of nature are automatically supported by the lives of those who constitute the environment they are easily and almost universally taken in abstraction both from those who perceive nature and from those who automatically support the interests involved in the acts of perception, and so these aspects of interacting lives seem to most people to be the truly concrete realities.

Persons also, being thus the support of the awareness by others of the sensory, the spatial, the temporal, and the causal forms and motions of nature, of matter and all material objects, niust be regarded as by nature inclusive of matter and energy, and of space, time, and cause and motion. Matter, energy, spaces, times, forces and motions are abstract qualities of persons, as the color or smell of the rose are qualities of the rose, and when they are concretely viewed they are full of consciousness and emotion. For most of our purposes these abstract aspects of reality are the well understood, the truly concrete, the clearly definable and picturable. The more concrete psychological realities or interests, since they do all picturing, are themselves unpicturable. In trying to picture interests or persons we must regard ourselves as material and as caused, and must place ourselves in time and space, thus trying to assimilate the concrete to an abstract aspect of itself, to make the apple depend upon its flavor, to make the rose a quality of its sweet perfume; but persons, like interests, to be known must be lived, they must be reproduced or imitated by us, the effort to picture them or to know them as we know the abstract, determined, and picturable aspects of the higher spiritual reality, aspects into which we commonly resolve nature, is utterly futile. Persons must come to be seen as the concrete, the obvious, the basic and static reality, by those who would understand their lives.


1. Anderson, Social Value, Part III.
Bowne, Personalism.
Rogers, The Religious Conception of the World.
McTaggart, Studies in Hegelian Cosmology.
Ward, The Realm of Ends.
Royce, The World and the Individual, Vol. II., chapter V.

Section 13.

If a man’s body is but a dependent aspect of his life, and presupposes not only his own life but the life of a superhuman spiritual reality which lives largely in efforts at adjustment to his growing interests and needs, the same may be said, of all organic forms, animal and plant, they are growing and passing aspects of the interests of a great spiritual reality which lives in interaction with and dependence upon lesser spiritual realities such as we associate with animal and plant forms.

If these organic forms, the concrete realities of the biologist, are abstract, then the earth with its soils and the sun with its heat and light, upon which organic forms depend, the concrete realities of the astronomer, are doubly abstract. They are taken in abstraction both from the organic forms upon which they really depend, and, like these organic forms, they are taken in abstraction from the interacting interests without which neither the organic or the inorganic would exist. And so the inorganic commonly seems far more removed than the organic from the truly concrete or psychological realities.

As the habits forming at any given time in a person’s life depend for support on the habits formed in prior periods of that life, so the habits which in the lives of spiritual realities give rise at any time to our experience of organic forms depend upon the supporting energies of habits which have been formed in prior periods of time and such as give rise to our experience of the earth and the sun. These inorganic bodies not only live, they are the energetic core of living, psychological realities.

As in remote ages the interests of spiritual or psychological realities grew in interaction with one another great changes took place in the internal content of their lives, changes not designed but an automatic accompaniment of their growing interests. Some of these changes we now describe abstractly as geological changes in the environment of animals and plants. But the conditions which accompanied these changes tended to stimulate new needs in animals and plants by blocking old interests and necessitating their reorganization. After periods of incubation, so to speak, when new interests and changes in internal contents, habit structures, etc., had taken place in the lives of both the lower and the higher spiritual realities, there resulted the possibility of the appearance to us of new organic forms, mutations, new species. From the abstract, biological point of view, should the new forms fail to permit of the satisfactory adjustment of animals and plants to the new environment, these new forms would cease to arise, or, speaking figuratively, we say they were selected out by the environment.

The whole process of evolution, as the abstract aspect of this process of growing is called, may be illustrated by the way in which we learn to engage in any new kind or principle of action. Take the case of one learning to pronounce new words. A child heard her teacher talking about organisms. This to her was a new word, a change in her environment. In adjusting to the change she must learn to pronounce a new word. In reporting the teachers talk, she spoke of “orgacisms.” The way in which the members of her family, a part of her environment, reacted to this caused her to be dissatisfied and led her to put forth new efforts, efforts that resulted successively in the forms, “organocisms,” “organcisms,” and finally “organisms.” The last form or new species of pronunciation fit harmoniously into the environment and still persists. The other forms ceased to be used. All forms but the last one were selected out by the environment.

Just so, as new organic species arise and meet all the tests imposed by the environment satisfactorily they become fixed. The interests of the superhuman spiritual reality which in interaction with all lives capable of being stimulated to reaction give rise to new organic forms become automatized. To those who carefully study these forms they become capable or accurate description and the uniformities in their appearance become as predictable as do the appearances of any forms that occur in inorganic nature. To those who come to regard all of nature as impersonal, like the inorganic and organic forms when these are taken abstractly, all the changes of nature regarded as automatic are regarded also as predictable. To all such the appearance of a new species must finally come to be regarded as a miracle. But when the personal or creative character of the interests that cause these changes is recognized, the appearance of new species, being understood in terms of our own experience, will cease to seem magical.

The formation of a new species would be analogous to the extension of a man’s life through the discovery of a new invention. A water faucet means to us what will happen if it is turned so that water pours forth. Our need or convenience impelled us to its creation. The eye appeared in response to the need of interests not fully satisfied by lower sense organs like those of touch. Through the efforts put forth by the lesser spiritual realities, as these were automatically reacted to by the higher spiritual reality, the lower sense organs were slowly and tentatively developed into the eye. The water faucet and most inventions of that type are but extensions of the human hand, and are a part of the organic form that constitutes the organic form of man, and so is the eye. Both are parts of us because they help us in what we do. They are an established, a taken for granted, a fully accepted fact, a basis for the achievement of new interests. But the eye, the hand, and the entire body, had their genesis in the efforts put forth by the lesser spiritual realities to grow through the creation of new interests upon the basis of the old ones.


McDougall, Mind and Body, pp. 377-9.
Bergson, Creative Evolution, chapter 1.
Cope, The Primary Factors of Organic Evolution.
Darwin, The Origin of Species.
Johnson, God in Evolution.
Kellogg, Darwinism Today.
Le Conte, Evolution in its Relation to Religious Thought.
Packard, Lamarck, His Life and Work.
Shaler, The Interpretation of Nature.
De Vries, “Die Mutation Theorie.”

Section 14.

As a new organic form or species is thus a condensed record of a vast number of stages of growth through the tentative discovery of new inventions, new structures, so the condensed statement of the outcome of the interests correlated with the advancing organic structures is to be found in instincts. These instincts, the outcome of ages of struggles on the part of lesser spiritual realities to satisfy their needs must be accepted as the obvious, the understood basis for any efforts to further study the nature of our interests, our lives, for all of our interests grow out of them and are but an expansion of them.

But the lesser spiritual realities as they grew in this instinctive life were always in an automatic interaction with the interests of the higher spiritual reality and have always depended upon the energies of this spiritual reality. Also the higher spiritual reality, responding thus automatically to the growing interests of lesser beings, could become conscious of these responses, as a man can turn attention to such words as “and,” “house,” “rock,” etc., words long used unconsciously. Able to give attention to its automatic reactions to the interests and needs of the lesser realities, the higher reality could note the bearings of these reactions on the lesser lives and begin to use its reactions as a means of furthering new interests growing up within itself by either increasing or withdrawing that element of its life which was supporting the interests of the lesser lives. In this way instincts at the same time they were fulfilling the interests of the lesser realities could be made to achieve the ends of the higher spiritual reality.

This would account for an almost universal characteristic of instincts, their character of achieving ends without being conscious of the most important consequences of these ends, and ends, too, which must usually be regarded as superior to the wisdom of the lesser realities that live the instinctive interests. Because of his constant discovery of this character in his study of ants, the zoologist Wheeler was led to postulate the presence of the influence of higher spiritual realities upon the lives of these ants, where, he says, they "direct and coordinate their instinctive actions in their adaptive course."

The work of the pronuba moth also, for its comprehension by us, requires us to postulate this character. The pronuba moth, according to the botanist Coulter, instinctively deposits its eggs in a hole which it makes in the ovary of the yucca flower. It then carries pollen and thrusts it into the stigma of the same flower. Without knowing anything about the nature of the food of its young, or of the process of fertilization that goes on in plants, it seems to make use of such knowledge, and in doing so it makes possible the continued existence of both pronuba moths and yucca plants, a result of which it knows nothing and could not seek to achieve on its own initiative. Of countless other examples of similar import we select the case of the pitcher plant. The pitcher plant grows in the forests of India. It has no roots and so cannot assimilate nitrogen from the soil. To secure the nitrogen its continued existence requires certain of its leaves are extended into wonderful pitchers. In these pitchers a liquid which attracts and digests insects is secreted. About its upper edge a number of sharp bristles grow and extend downward from the mouth of the pitcher. Over the top of the pitcher a cover is loosely extended. The bristles, the cover, and the poisonous liquid serve to entrap the insects that are drawn into the pitcher. Thus the plant secures the nitrogen necessary to its existence and achieves thereby an end of which it could of course know nothing. And instinctive acts, generally. while they achieve the interests of the spiritual realities which they constitute, at the same time and in a seemingly arbitrary manner work out the interests of the higher spiritual reality.


Bergson, Creative Evolution, pp. 139-40.
Coulter, Plant Life and Plant Uses, p. 315.
Von Hartmann, The Philosophy of the Unconscious, p. 92, 100fl.
Wheeler, Ants, p. 521.

Section 15.

The lives of spiritual realities when largely constituted by these instinctive interests are lived in immediate responses to their environment. Such lives as are not so lived imply hesitation, doubt, and thought. Thoughtful lives are able to check the tendency of an interest to live in immediate responses to the environment, and they are able to try an interest on “in mind” and “in mind” to tentatively reintegrate an interest. In this process alternative interests appear, and as they are tried on “in mind” they are held or they are repelled by one’s leading interests. Now interests are formed on the basis of preferences or choices permitted or necessitated by such a mental testing of alternative interests. When the spiritual reality that manifests its interests in organic forms and their correlated instincts created and automatized those of its interests which support the human body and the human brain with its large association areas, it destroyed the possibility of such immediate responses as the lower animals make, forced spiritual realities to select from several possible modes of response, and made them henceforth more largely responsible, upon the basis of such instinctive interests as they had been able to achieve, for their creating of their own interests. Thus the superhuman spiritual reality created for the lesser spiritual, realities about it the possibilities of a new life; and thereupon such of these as were able to respond and to take advantage of the new opportunities thus afforded passed to a new estate and became men. Thus were created free agents, spiritual realities who could actively develop in new and preferred interests, beings capable of responsibility for their interests.

Spiritual realities of a lower grade than man must more or less blindly cooperate with the superhuman spiritual reality in the development of their instinctive interests. If the .superhuman spiritual reality approves of their interests, it would react to them in such a way as to automatically provide them aid or energize them. The manifestation of the interests would become easy through a correlated, supporting, and directing organic structure constantly supported by an automatized interest in the life of the superhuman spiritual reality, and henceforth appearing regularly as an acquired and an hereditary factor in their organic bodies and as a new instinctive interest in their lives. If the higher spiritual reality does not approve of the newly developing interest it perishes by a seemingly arbitrary suppression.

It is obvious that such a mode of creation is concerned with the welfare of an individual, but only as the individual is a member of a large group or species. It implies no direct attention to the lives of particular individuals. It is analogous to the growth a teacher causes in the lives of the members of a large class in lecturing to them. He speaks to all and not to particular individuals. The same change of interest and the same kind of brain change take place in all who adequately attend. But with the creation of man’s body this arbitrariness must cease. There must henceforth be no response such as will make hereditary, through a change in body structure, the interest of a class. Such would be but a continuation of lives on an instinctive plane, the lives of animals. Thinking beings could not be developed in this way.

With the creation of the human brain this arbitrariness ceases. Henceforth when a man on the basis of inherited brain structure and its correlated interests expresses an interest chosen or preferred by himself, the reaction of the superhuman spiritual reality is still automatic, but the resulting automatic structure is not inherited. There is a correlated brain change favoring the becoming habital of the preferred interest, good or bad, save as the higher spiritual reality checks or furthers it in particular cases. For the development of this habit man is chiefly responsible. In this way there begins to appear specifically human interests, and human life and human history begins. Thus human history may be regarded as a process in which men are both individually and cooperatively ever trying on both mentally and overtly every kind of interest which is able to be suggested, and is ever proving both mentally and pragmatically these interests, selecting some from among them and organizing them as the lives that will best satisfy them, as their highest good.

Section 16.

As a dynamic, growing part of a world-whole of spiritual realities various stages in man’s growth can be assumed. His growth takes place as his interests manifest themselves in acts and ideas, as that of plants goes on by means of the changing leaves it puts forth. When leaves cease to function in growth they fall. Then growth ceases until a change in the environment takes place and new leaves are put forth. Then growth continues. Just so, the life of man advances through and in connection with his acts and ideas until a change in the environment makes these out of date. Then these disappear, and growth of the checked interest ceases until the interest is made over in response to the needs of the new environment. Then growth continues through new acts and ideas. It is impossible to remember the acts and ideas through which our interests were expressed during our first and second years, vivid as they doubtless were, and it is also impossible to recover those of pre-existent stages of growth through which man as an ultimate being has undoubtedly passed. As the outcome, however, of all prior periods of growth, when a man is born with a human brain he begins at once to manifest a large number of tendencies to action, many of which we have already referred to as instincts. At first man has interests in common with the animals. They have largely to do with the survival of the organic body. They manifest themselves in eating, in drinking, in capturing prey, in escaping from danger, in feeling comfortable, etc. It might be said that he lives to eat. He values eating, and drinking, and feeling comfortable for their own sake. They are the obvious thing to do, the practical.

During childhood man continues to grow through a period of transformation of these interests. At first, like the animals, he is preoccupied in living interests such as have just been mentioned. He lives in immediate responses to his environment. But correlated with his brain man has the power to check the immediate response and can try things on in mind. As he engages in action thoughtfully, he is led to attend to things that are but incidentally and automatically related to his doing of things and to the main interest. He can cease paying attention to the meaning of a friend, with whom he is conversing and can give attention to his words, his pronunciation, and his grammar. He can cease hoeing, and can attend to the hoe, or to the weeds, or to the plants being cultivated. Perceiving things and indulging in ideas of them are at first incidental, gratuitous, and not practical. Most people converse many times, where they perceive and ideate words once; they use brooms, brushes, etc., much and examine them but rarely. To stop and examine things is regarded as wasteful and unpractical. But these Incidental interests through exercise become interesting processes in themselves. They even become interests that characterize man and raise him so far above the animals. When men began to engage in these subsidiary interests, it was as if they, having been compelled no search for asses, had to their great surprise discovered a kingdom. For having once engaged in these subsidiary interests, men may be held by them. Having engaged in business interests for the sake of engaging in the practical interests of making a living, the business interests may come to preoccupy them. The practical interest in making a living may be lost sight of or itself become incidental to business interests being engaged in for their own sakes, and these interests may come to dominate life. The lives of men now consist of their business or industrial pursuits. Once engaging in these in order to eat, they now eat in order to live in these new interests. Thus a world of prudential interests may be formed, and these become the obvious or practical things to do.

As one engages in these prudential interests, an incidental set of interests in the objects or elements of the environment that support these prudential interests may be developed. These objects are correlated with the value aspects of the interests being fulfilled by means of them. Attention may be given to these objects as affording feelings of satisfaction. Attention to the objects as affording pleasure may be repeated until it becomes a relatively detached interest. One thus comes to view the world and its objects for the pleasure there is in viewing them, and objects supporting the new set of interests become more and more beautiful and more potent to stimulate these interests, interests distinct in quality from the prudential in which they had their genesis, and so a new set of interests, the esthetic. At first these new interests, an outgrowth of the prudential, seem wasteful and unpractical; but being an outgrowth from them and so involved in them they are sure to enhance the value of the life of prudential interests and become assimilated to what had been the practical. One may come to live in the appreciation of the beautiful and in its creation, and subordinate the prudential to the esthetic system of interests. For such they are the practical. Their value is for such tested, known, understood, and unquestioned. When such a life is however more fully examined it is seen to be nourished by and dependent upon prudential interests. It will likewise come to be seen that the prudential in order to be practically successful must nourish and cultivate the interests in the beautiful.

As one engages in his practical or tested and understood interests still another set of incidental interests is developed, the theoretical or intellectual. Interest in objects as they help us to realize our practical interests is usually generated when we fail in a successful use of them. Our need urges us to examine them and observe how they act upon other things or how they are affected by other things. The results of these observations are the meanings objects have for us. It is often practically important that we become interested in discovering these meanings, and often these new interests hold and preoccupy us, and they even tend to detach themselves from the practical interests out of which they grew. We seem to be interested in the discovery of truth for its own sake. But when the value of gaining and organizing these truths for the prudential interests out of which they grew is seen, we find that we have merely extended the realm of concrete or well-tested values. Should the pursuit of the sciences so thoroughly detach itself that a sense of its practical bearings is entirely lost, such pursuit will cease to be nourished by the energies of the stock out of which it grew, and it will sicken and die. But also, when these new values have once been lived, they must henceforth support their nourishing stock, and if they are cast aside the values of the prudential interests will tend to vanish, and they themselves will sicken and die. The fuller concrete reality, the truly practical, can not be understood until both the old and the new interests are seen to be but abstract aspects of it.

Section 17.

In a similar way men achieve interests in persons. At first the persons in our environment are needed because they help us to satisfy our interests. Parents, playmates, and others are indispensable to the child’s life. The child is absorbed in what they help him to do, rather than in them. Interests in others are at first incidental and secondary. But as we check our other interests and recognize others, especially as we communicate with them, we come to know them sympathetically. We become interested in their interests, in what they are doing. Then, if their interests are checked our own interests are blocked. Seeing their interests fulfilled has become our interest, and our lives are fulfilled as we succeed in cooperating with others so as to aid them in getting what they want. Our lives have grown from being absorbed in egoistic interests and a life in which others were valued only as they were thought to contribute to these interests, to an altruistic one in which we are absorbed in interests recognized as supporting the interests of others. Interests stimulated and controlled by the love of others are discovered to have a value in themselves, and those who stimulate these interests, like the objects that stimulate and sustain the interests of the esthetic life, become increasingly valued, and are loved. Henceforth, we are practical, realize tested values, or get what we want, in cultivating, or exercising, or indulging our interests in others. Finally the lower interests out of which these moral interests grew come to depend upon them, as the earlier stock of a vine comes to depend upon the parts that are growing, so that if one who has rejoiced in these moral interests loses his interest in others, he is apt to become weary of his older interests.

As we learn to recognize the superhuman spiritual reality, whom men commonly call God; and as we come to value him as the potent, wise, and loving nourisher of our lives, as our Father, we trust, love, and reverence him. As the flowers stimulate and support our esthetic interests and in doing so become beautiful and dear to us, so our Father, as the support of this new social interest, becomes loved, and interests expressed in ideas and acts engaged in in order to further his life, or do his will, become the supremely satisfying religious interests. He is no longer valued as a mere means of a livelihood, or as an aid to our achievement of any economic or political success, but for the joy of recognizing his character and of being in his presence, either with or without his attention. As God realizes his life in furthering the interests of men, our interests in doing his will, will commonly be created or realized as we, though our faith in men, seek in various ways the well-being of men. In other words we must learn to be and to act like God in order to know him, and in order to achieve the religious interests and thus test religious values.

The world-whole, the world of persons seems to permit of no greater values than those which are embodied in moral and religious interests, the religious being but the moral extended to embrace the greatest person of all, even God. Moral and religious interests grew out of the organic and the prudential. The latter are tested first and are trusted as the most concrete and practical. The practical may come to embrace esthetical and theoretic values. But the moral and religious values once being proved and thus made concrete, all lower values become embraced by them, depend upon them, and without them would sicken and die. One who acts from love of others and then becomes absorbed in industrial, esthetical, or scientific pursuits to the extent that he is unmindful of the interests of others, has at first a feeling of constraint, a sense of duty or sin, but later, unless this feeling of constraint corrects his sense of values, there arises an increasing conflict between his interests and those demanded by the nature of the world-whole, the world of persons. The interests in others are supported by the nature of the world, and because persons that stimulate and sustain these interests are abiding or eternal, these interests may abide as the core of one's life. All other objects in time vanish, and interests supported by them must fail unless they can be made to support the interests of others and so the interest in others. Moral and religious interests are the truly concrete and the practical. Other interests can survive only as abstract aspects of these more inclusive interests. The interests we at first most fully trust must die in order to live as elements of the life that is to abide. Without love of others the promise of the world and all of its glories will prove false. And in love of others we may realize at any and all times our highest good, the greatest values at that time within our reach; and at the same time, through the ideas and the acts through which these highest values are reached, we strengthen the interests that gave rise to them and insure the possibility of new fulfilments.

Section 18.

The history of man consists in the tentative discovery and growth of these interacting interests. This growth may be described as an extension of the concrete. Both in the intellectual and in the moral life there is a strong tendency to be satisfied with proved and understood values. The extension of this realm of the concrete or tested values is painful, for this extension always seems like the death of the old life or interests. It is not at first clear that the newly integrating interest embodies all that was worth while in the old interest, that the old, life will rise again in the new one, and with increased vigor. But as the new suggestion is proved and valued it enters the realm of automatized interests and there abides as the concrete and obvious until it passes through death to be a support to still fuller life.

As new interests become established in one life, that life becomes a centre of life for others, and either passively and unintentionally, or else actively and creatively passes the new life to others. By those who are capable of assimilating such life it is taken over by a process which, while a process of thinking, may also be described as one of imitation, suggestion, or sympathy, as its active, its cognitive, or its feeling aspects are emphasized. Or if the new life is actively and intentionally created in others, it is created by a process of education.

In either case this process of increasing life is highly selective, for the advance can only take place on the basis of past achievements of interests; and these achieved interests, as one imitates or learns the interests of others, attract or repel on the basis of what supports or inhibits what one wants. For when men either think or act, their ideas and acts are but manifestations of what are relatively very stable and persisting realities, the automatized interests or the attitudes that constitute his character. Such realities determine what one can select or know in the lives of others. But through the new ideas and acts thus arising and passing, the more persistent reality grows, creates more life or more reality, just as the leaves put forth by a vine in each new season of growth nourish a persisting and growing stem and then pass away.

The sum of the relatively abiding interests in a man’s life is called his character, and the sum of the relatively abiding interests of men in any historic period is called the civilization or culture of that period, In contrast with nature, this culture is the human environment. It manifests itself in language, literature, government, science, art, industry, morality, religion and all other human institutions.

When these institutions are regarded in abstraction from the interacting and growing interests or lives upon which when so abstracted, they depend, and become identified with the forms through which they incidentally manifest themselves, they give rise to the same type of static and determined realities, the same concrete or understood realm, as those to which the similar abstraction of nature from its personal cause gives rise. In the latter case man subordinates himself and his follows to the sun, the ocean, the trees, the human body, matter, energy, etc. In the former case man subordinates himself and his fellows to laws, to truths, the church, the Sabbath, etc. The life of each one is lived and grows in efforts at adjustment to nature and to the civilization of his time, and the interests that live through such efforts, when they are most widely viewed or most fully understood, are lived in interaction with or in cooperation with other persons, especially with God.

Section 19.

The superhuman spiritual reality, or God, in interaction with men, is the chief cause or determiner of civilization as well as of nature. Men enter into the creation of nature as relatively passive factors. Their dependence upon God as the support of their experience of nature is very great. But in the case of the creation of civilization God seems the relatively passive factor and to be very dependent upon man. The interests of men that constitute civilization are created by men. For their creation God is dependent upon men. And yet, since men largely make up the environment of God, God can only progressively achieve his life, his power, wisdom and love, in interests resulting from efforts to further these interests of men, their civilization, interests that only live or become created as they are proved or tested by men.

That men might be able to create, value, and know the interests that constitute them, the reaction of the higher spiritual reality to the ideas and acts that express the interests of men has automatically given rise to help which we describe as nervous and other organic changes, Habits are thus formed in the spiritual reality the effects of which on our interest in them we describe as these organic changes. These habits cooperate with, energize, or render easier the further exercise of the interests which are also nourished by us in the act, just as they act in the case of instincts. But in order that the possibilites in the lives of the realities called men might be discovered by God, he could not react to these interests in such a way as to fix them by a stable habit that by us would be described as an organic inheritance. For if they should be, a new species would result and the choices of one age would be rendered too easy or forced as it were upon the next, men would become a means to ends not fully lived as their own, would never be fully responsible for their lives, would not be ends in themselves, and so capable of being loved by God. And God, not able to reverence or love men for their intrinsic value, could not become a moral being. But the interests of men, not inherited biologically, are inherited as elements of the traditional and cultural environment of men, and thus they can be tried by men, and attracted or repelled, chosen or rejected, by men, and so all men can come to progressively and freely realize their possibilities, and become partakers of the responsibility for the formation of their characters and for the character of the world in which they live.

This being true, in cooperating with men in the creation of civilization, God is dependent upon and must await man’s initiative. Being in immediate relationship to men, God, as a moral being, must strive to create life in men, but he must wait for their interests to develop the sense of need to which the growth of these gives rise, and then through faith in men he must labor in a hope for the becoming real of the unseen. God would certainly have a civilization in which men could make themselves physically comfortable, but anthropology teaches that he had to wait for a vast period of time, many thousands of years, for some genius to discover how to make fire at will. History teaches that God had to wait during another long period for man to learn to smelt ores for the metals, or for one with organizing ability to hold by force a host of men in a large kingdom, such as the Assyrian and Persian empires. The same science teaches that it took still thousands of years for men to develop in such interests as to be able to be discontented with the idea that some were divinely authorized to rule over them without their consent or choice. It will take much time yet for men to learn to live successfully as members of a democratic government or church. How slow was man in learning to limit the power of kings and priests, to eliminate special privileges, to secure the right of trial by jury, to secure the right to vote and become an active factor in the formation of the government, laws, etc., by which he lives. All these things have added to the lives of men and must have been desired for them by God. But it seems that God has been unable to help man until man has learned to help himself and to initiate a new advance.

God is limited, because of the nature of the world-whole, in his power to create a better world for men as a teacher is limited by the interests and ideas of students, or as the Great Teacher was limited in his efforts to establish certain interests in the lives of the men of his time. In efforts to create life in others all are limited by the interests and habits of others. These habits are to others also material elements, and their organizations in interests are material forms to others. These elements and forms resist efforts both internal and external, subjective and objective, to change them. But while from one point of view they limit, from another they are a means or aid to those who would learn how to change their environment, either when taken impersonally and abstractly, or personally, for they make direct communication and so a change of life in others possible. And where a direct changing of the lives in our environment is possible there is also a possibility of causing changes in the impersonal environment. God, because his environment would consist of material forms sustained by lesser spiritual realities like himself could arrive at a knowledge of man’s interests. And being in interaction with man’s interests, and in the main an automatic and energetic support to man’s interests, God could, by giving attention to the elements of his life upon which man depends, vary these elements, now become interests, and conscoiusly affect the lives of men. The habits in his life which sustain the interests of men in the way above indicated could be reinforced or weakened; corresponding to this would be in the lives of men the vitalizing or the depressing of the correlated dependent interests of men. In such a case the man whose interest was thus supported or depressed would be aware of a power sustaining or weakening his interest which he might be or become able to recognize as not his own. In case of a specific response to his need, like that here seen to be possible, God has communicated with the man so affected, as much as one man can communicate with another man, for in all communication of men, one by using habits of producing sounds merely energizes or weakens the interests of another.

One thing, however, is always in the way of the recognition of the validity of the conclusion that in such cases God is the objective support of the “inspired” experience, and that is the fact that the inspired interest or flash of insight is that of the man who has it, and must always be in terms of his own personal interests and ideas. If, however, his inspiration does have the objective support he thinks it has, then the view that he is the author of his insight, that it is entirely subjective, would be abstract and inadequate. In such cases the error would be exactly like that of the Lamarckians in biology, who, because no change of organic form ever takes place except in a discoverable relationship to the activities of the “organic form,” conclude that such advance in organic form is entirely due to such individual activities. We may properly conclude, as students of philosophy, that the support of the advance in the case of the great insight as in the case of the advance in organic form may be due to the specifically willed cooperation of God in his efforts to further the interests of the persons or sentient realities dependent upon him.

We have often contrasted stable interests that form the core of life and character with the relatively ephemeral ideas and acts to which they give rise and by which they are in turn nourished. In teaching, in creating more life in others, we often err by identifying the life with which we deal with ideas and acts, we fall into the error of taking abstract aspects of the interests of such a life as the concrete realities. It is easy to so regard them. A double error results. Since we seem to be able to conjure up an idea in the mind of another in an instant, we expect to cause character to grow in too brief a time. We expect to create life by magic, by merely wishing it to grow, and we fail. Only by the slow process of education, and by a wise use of ideas and acts, can interests in others be made to increase. And we fall into the next error when we identify the life of another with his ideas and acts, and finding his ideas and acts not such as those which we have and which nourish our own interests, we reject them forthwith. In this we fail to recognize that the ideas and acts of a child or of any other person are the means only, a means ephemeral and vanishing, of growth for far more fundamental attitudes towards the world. But foolishly identifying the abstract aspect with the very concrete reality, we often despise the life for its ideas, falsely regarded as false, and .a cause or a people that are nourishing the truest attitudes towards God and man and nature, we reject for no truer reason. One’s interests require simple ideas, those of another require critical ideas, one’s work requires a simple tool, another’s will require a most complex and delicate one, the only test of the validity of the idea or of the tool that most men can or do employ is the outcome. By fruits, by good works, far more than by beliefs or ideas, are men and causes to be properly judged. A good teacher must avoid both these errors.

In his efforts to create a civilization for man God is limited as is the teacher. In inspiring the insights of men use must always be made of the ideas of men. These ideas, though ephemeral, must be used to further a fundamental interest or attitude, if this attitude is to be nourished at all. Awakening and stabilizing interests in the self or in others is a difficult process. In teaching others one usually seeks to create one stable interest at a time. In doing this he must awaken a similar interest in the one whom he would teach, and he must then use ideas and acts resultant from that similar interest as a means of checking and reforming that interest until its growth is satisfactory. These means are, relatively to the growth one is trying to nourish, as are the leaves of a tree to its growing stem, temporary and vanishing. But still like the leaves they are necessary to growth. If one is anxious to train others in a belief that God is the creator of the world, he will have to use the Hebrew or Greek idea of the world in one age, the Ptolemaic idea in another age, or the commonly accepted Copernican idea of the world in this age. Now all of these ideas are, from the point of view we are taking, false; and yet through them men have in different ages had established in their lives the same vital and fundamental belief that God is the creator of the world. Now granting that God can influence the interests of men, he must in doing so make use of the ideas of men, ideas always different in different ages. His aim must be, like that of the teacher, to establish fundamental attitudes rather than the truth of the passing ideas used by him. He must even use one set of ideas at one time, and another set at another time, all of which may be false in the sense that they could not be used successfully now, to awaken the same vital attitude.

Then any one in seeking to know God’s will, either immediately or through the scriptures in which men have written clown their own impressions of his will, must always be discriminating and looking for the truly concrete reality, the vital thing, the grains of wheat among the supporting leaves. The supporting leaves, once so necessary to the growth of the wheat, become chaff, and there is danger that the wheat may be confused with the chaff and cast away with it.

Section 20.

But God, in seeking to develop man’s cultural environment or civilization by efforts at such immediate development of the interests of men would be handicapped by another limitation. While God differs from man only in degree and not in kind, as our whole attempt to construct an idea of his relationship to men in terms of the experience of men implies, he is far in advance of us in power, and knowledge, and love. His interests could not specifically be like the interests of men. He would seem to be able to advance the interests of men only through the help of those who have interests in common with men. Our studies suggest that God could know and value sentient realities before they were born into this earthly stage of growth, and that he would be very apt to select some from among these to be leaders, or centres of life for men, and that he would place them in the midst of peoples prepared by their consciously felt needs to assimilate their lives. Thus it is quite possible that the leaders in, man’s advancing civilization, such as Moses, Plato, Shakspere, Kant, Darwin and many others were not mere accidents, but that they appeared when they did because of a peculiar fitness. God may have chosen them before they were born, as Jeremiah thought that he was chosen, to be rulers in the lives of men and transformers of civilization.

Especially would God need help in revealing his character and man’s highest interests to men. He could not reveal himself to men through nature, through the sun, the earth, the ocean, or the winds, for these are abstract aspects of his life, and when so taken are impersonal. Being a person he could only reveal himself through men, and through men only as they became like him in character, like him in their fundamental interests. It should be obvious then, that revealing his life to men would be a slow and tentative process, a process in which many men of great insight would be used to rule in the lives of a people selected because of their possession of promising attitudes.

As a matter of fact, the ideas of God most commonly held in the highest civilization of the present time had their genesis in the lives of the people of Israel. And the ideas of God achieved by the people of Israel had their genesis in the lives of leaders of great insight who appeared among them at critical times and taught them ever newer and better ideas of God. These ideas they committed to writing, and the literature known as the Old Testament was the result.

These scriptures may express numerous ideas and hopes now believed to be false. But, even so, without these false notions of God and human life, better ones could not possibly have been developed. The false must be transformed into the truer, and while the process of transformation was going on, the energies that were manifest in the false ideas and acts would be becoming able to put forth, like an embryonic growth, new ideas and acts. Only through the death of the old life, now become, from being what was as a nourishing and protecting set of leaves, or perhaps a hard shell and a prickly rind, mere refuse, could the new and better life be created. With all their false notions, to those who have characters which admit of their seeing the good attitudes, these scriptures are believed to reveal, as through a glass darkly, the character or will of God and the highest interests of men. The moral and religious ideals developed in the lives of the Jewish people have entered as the most vital and all pervading elements into the civilization that is being worked out by and for men.

But these scriptures express ideas chiefly, and but partial ideas, of the character of God, and the nature of man’s fullest interests. Ideas, however, are but a source of the life overtly lived, a nourisher and a means of the fullest living. God could only reveal his character and the nature of the most satisfactory living to man through a human life fundamentally like his own. It is commonly believed by the most civilized peoples of the present time, that God has made the most perfect revelation of these through the life of the Great Teacher, the Man of Galilee. And Jesus himself taught that he came to reveal God’s character (Cf. John 14:7 and 17:6) and man’s fullest life (Cf. John 10:10).

Jesus taught that God was present in the world and immanent in nature, blessing with sunshine and rain the just and the unjust, and clothing the lilies of the field in their splendor. But in trying to describe his character he had to select the best he could find in man as man was already known by men. He drew the picture of a human father silently and hopefully yearning over a wayward son, until that keen and watchful love caught sight of his repentant and returning son, and caused him to run to meet him long before the dull regard of his son enables him to see the father whom he so much needs. This, means Jesus, is the way God loves us men, and yearns over us even when our lives are meagre and rebellious.

In regard to the fullest life Jesus taught by his words and by his life that to achieve it our love for our Heavenly Father should be unselfish, that we should trust his wisdom and love in the face of neglect and obstacles, that we should never impudently presume upon his love because of its abundance, and that we should never become forgetful of him by becoming absorbed in any of the lesser interests of life, by bowing down before evil. In the same way he taught that we should be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect, serving -his children, our brothers and sisters, for naught, as he serves them. He taught that we should actively seek to discover and to satisfy the needs of men. He further taught us to rebuke, severely if necessary, the helplessness and presumption that tend inevitably to grow up in the lives of the recepients of our generosity, blinding them to their need of the greater reality made accessible to them by our generosity, the spirit of love itself. And, finally, he taught that, like God we should constantly be willing to suffer, to let our cherished life or interests die in order that others may be able to live more abundantly, that only thus through death could we create or rise into our fullest life.

It was the belief of Jesus and his disciples that God often showed his approval of Jesus’ work in cooperating with him in his deeds of love by means of certain signs. It was the undoubted belief of these same disciples that God restored his crucified and dead body to Jesus, and that after the death of his body Jesus again associated with them in order to restore their faith in him as the Christ for whom they yearned, and in order that they might become centres of the new life for all mankind. The validity of these beliefs must be largely left to the scientific students of history. Many able scholars have pronounced the beliefs valid. But it is easy for us to recognize that this belief that God raised Jesus from the dead afforded such help to a despairing group of disciples that they were soon able to timidly risk the adoption of Christ’s spirit of service and trust in the process of dying to live, a thing they were certainly not able to do while Jesus was with them. And at a pentecostal feast, after they had made some progress in assimilating these attitudes of their Lord, a large number of disciples become strangely energized or strengthened in their new life. They felt a potent objective support, even God they thought, supporting their new life. If this is true, as the words of a leader can affect a host of men, an impulse in God’s life energized the individual lives of all these disciples, and they began to present the life of Jesus as God’s greatest means of helping men to live successfully.

Some of these disciples wrote down many of the sayings and deeds of Jesus. From the point of view of our studies in philosophy, these scriptures, called gospels, are the most precious possession of mankind. These gospels also express the conviction that if men will test the values of the interests of Jesus, or assimilate and know his character, that the values they would thereby achieve will be a witness to the validity of his claims to be a revealer of the fullest life. They also express the conviction that God himself will be an objective support to such lives, and that when he sees fit he will satisfy the needs and prayers of individual men.

Such a revelation and such a confirmation are just what our studies in philosophy would lead us to expect. After ages of striving in interaction with lesser spiritual realities, God came to constitute the energies of the sun and the earth, to be the creator of organic forms, and the nourisher of the physical needs of men. It is proper to expect that he would effect some way of becoming a spiritual sun for men. He with Christ now, because of the interests that constitute their lives, are ever supplying the energies through which the higher interests and fuller lives of men are being stimulated and nourished. For their interests are being slowly assimilated by men and institutions and are becoming the most vital elements in the cultural environment of men, or of that civilization in connection with which man achieves and fulfils his life, and through which God completes his work of creating beings able to commune with him, beings in his own image.


Dewey and Tufts, Ethics, chapter 6.
Kent, Histories of the Hebrew People.
Kent, History of the Jewish People.
Rhees, Life of Jesus of Nazareth.
Sanday, Outlines of the Life of Christ.
Burton and Mathews, The Life of Christ.
Purves, Apostolic Age.

Section 21.

In concluding our study of philosophy we again call attention to the fact that it is the science of the world-whole. In this science the ideas used are very largely tested in the more special sciences, just as in the science of geology the ideas used are tested by the more special sciences of physics, chemistry, and biology. The genesis of mountains is a geological question, yet mountain formation illustrates the idea of the contraction of cooling bodies, an idea developed and tested in physics. The relationship between the fauna and flora of Australia and that of the continent of Asia is a geological question, but it can not be dealt with save as a set of illustrations of the ideas of adaptation, ideas developed and tested in biology. The genesis of the world-whole, or the genesis of the human body and brain, is a philosophical question, but its consideration is impossible without a use of ideas developed and tested in psychology and biology. The development of civilization is a philosophical question, yet its consideration depends upon the use of ideas worked out by the more special sciences of anthropology, history, and theology. Any whole that can be recognized can be analyzed into parts, and the ideas of these parts can be organized into a science of the whole recognized. Thus there can be a science of the automobile, a science of living organisms, biology, and a science of the earth, geology. As there is a world-whole, so there is a science of philosophy.

Sciences are studied by man in order to better fulfil his interest in dealing with the objects studied. As he through his ideas brings the parts of objects into effective relationship to each other, he can adjust his life to the objects, or use them. And man studies his life as a part of the world-whole in order to be able to bring his life into effective relationship to the world-whole. As every man recognizes the world-whole, he can not avoid the formation of a notion of the world-whole; and that notion, no- matter how vague and childish, is his notion of the world-whole, his philosophy. As the crude notion fails to satsify one’s interest in fitting into the world, one elaborates the notion, or studies philosophy. In this study, as in all others, there is opportunity to err. The error will tend to result in poor adjustment and so in unsatisfactory living, and so in a need of revision. This fact should warn us, that as our science is thus an economic device, we should be as careful as possible in our study.

Our study has led us to conclude that the world-whole is made up of interests or psychological realities, or else of systems of these interests or persons, and that it is a unity or natural federation of these persons. Our study has also let us to conclude that a person has the native power to awaken in other persons an awareness or experience of matter, space, time, cause, and motion. But the awareness of these simple realities, sundered from the accompanying awareness of the interests of persons in interaction with us is abstract and provisional. But every child, just as he begins with the idea that the world is flat and that the sun rises and sets, begins with the idea that the world is made up of such simple realities as matter, space, time, cause, and motions. The full psychological realities are so complex that they are difficult at first to recognize, and so the philosophy of us all is at first materialistic, and for most men materialism remains a permanent philosophy. As matter, space, etc., are dependent aspects of interacting interests it is only a matter of time when this philosophy will be modified, and ideas, feelings, and the power to do, other undoubted realities, will be recognized, first as coordinate with and then as superior to matter. But, until that modification has been made, materialism, like all other ideas, being an active process and one that works among other ideas, tends to depress life by subordinating it to lifeless and impersonal matter, space, etc. But even when men come to recognize a dependence of material objects on ideas of these objects, there arises a tendency to regard such undoubted and simple realities or ideas, as the stuff in terms of which the world-whole is to be understood, and thus men become idealists in philosophy. But ideas are abstract and no more independent realities than realities like matter. In fact we form ideas of material things and so ideas are dependen upon material things. Ideas as abstract aspects of interacting interests are of course inert and impersonal. Ignoring undoubted realities like will and feeling, and causes, and motions, idealism must also in time correct itself. But until that time, idealism, ignoring vital elements of personality, being an active process working in the midst of other active processes that constitute life, tends to depress life by subordinating it to lifeless and impersonal ideas.

Our study of philosophy has also led us to conclude that organic bodies are also but aspects of interacting interests or persons. Organic bodies are undoubted realities and compared with interests they are simple and easily recognized. And so by many they are regarded as more real than the interacting persons of whose growing lives they are but aspects. .By such the true order of dependence is reversed and personal life is made to depend upon impersonal bodies and processes. Evolutionism is a common outcome of such philosophising. The origin and growth of the body is regarded as a blind, impersonal process. In time this philosophy will correct itself, but meanwhile, since as a philosophy it is an active interest working among and controlling other active interests, and since it makes life depend upon a lifeless and unmanageable process, all evolutionism is depressing and destructive to life. In contrast with materialism, idealism and evolutionism, our philosophy, recognizing the dependence of life only on the personal and manageable, is optimistic. It is an active interest working among other interests to reenforce them and increase life. Our philosophy is known as spiritual realism. Its first modern exponent was Berkeley.

In studying life as a part of a world-whole we were led to conclude that all our interests are supported by other persons, and that as we organize our interests consciously we must subordinate them all to the interests in persons, so that when our highest good is being achieved the lesser interests will be revealed as mere abstract aspects of the fuller interests. But in the genesis of our interests there is always, because of the constant necessity of satisfying organic and instinctive needs, an early exercise of organic interests, and so an early testing of the values found in satisfying them. They are the known and the concrete, they cannot be doubted. The practical life is lived in exercising these and closely associated industrial and commercial pursuits. Thus commercialism and industrialism arise and remain the philosophies of perhaps most people. But we live in interaction with others and all our interests are conditioned by this fact. Others with us are the determiners of all values. Interests in others are the nourishers of all other interests. But to achieve these higher interests and the fullest living we must risk the loss of all the lower and tested interests. We must really consent to the painful loss and death of the old interests and serve others for naught before we can achieve and test and know the higher interests. Only then can we realize that all the lower interests can be preserved and even increased in service. What was worth saving in the old practical life is saved in the new practical life and commercialism and all forms of selfishness are known to be false. Meanwhile commercialism and all such philosophies depress and destroy the lives of all those who are controlled by them. But our realistic philosophy is an interest that lives in the midst of all our other interests to energize and control them, and Ito fill them with hope for the cooperation of the real interests of all other persons. With such a philosophy we can hope soon to bring our lives into effective relationship to the world-whole.

More specifically our philosophy leads us to regard birth as an entrance by man into a new season of growth, with goods and opportunities to discover, prove, and choose new interests, and to organize these new interests into our highest good or fullest living by subordinating all interests to an interest in the well being of others. These same studies teach us that full living is by no means an easy process. For all vital interests include the thought process, and thinking always arises through the death of an old interest and a struggle to create new life, new interests, in the face of obstacles. Even in the love of others, there must be a thoughtful and unavoidable observation of the bearings or meanings of our acts on the lives of others; and then in thoughtful action we cannot assert the fuller interests of life without coming into conflict with the cherished but often false interests of others. Every true man will of necessity be crucified by those whom "he loves, but he will make his death a means of fuller life for others and so, as we now see, for himself, and will be content. Thus in the love of others, each of our fellows may become an abiding source of fulfilment of life here, and in their service each of us may discover here far more satisfying work to do than any of us can hope soon to accomplish, and each of us will of necessity limit his field of joyful tasks and eagerly pray for the cooperation of others, and for more time and strength.

Our studies in philosophy have also led us to see that the present life is lived in a very real heaven, that heaven is here and now, that our Heavenly Father is here at work, automatically sustaining by his life the light of the sun, the energies of the fruitful earth, and clothing with glory the wild flowers of the field, and that he is just like the lovable and stern Jesus. With our help he would make this world a better place to live in, a place where children can play and where youth may love and be ambitious, a place where manhood and womanhood can find and fulfil earnest tasks, and where old age can dwell content. Engaged in devoted service to our Father, which will at the same time be the service of our fellows, we may come to be like him, to be like God, and thus to know him. Since he can respond to our interests with attention, as he commonly does automatically and unconsciously, we can learn to commune with him here and now as one man communes with another. Thus devotion to God here can carry our lives to the richest fulfilment here, and we must not postpone such fulfilment to a fictitious future and an impossible heaven. He is in our midst and ever within call, though there are difficulties in the way of securing his attention such as are at times in the way of our power to awaken our own latent interests, so that we may often be disappointed, and often may have to continue through many a night in prayer before our Father responds to our individual need.

Finally our studies teach us in regard to the meaning of life that life must not be identified with the body, nor should the death of the body be thought of as the destruction of our lives. We have come to view the body as a great instrument slowly and patiently developed through many millions of years, and now as a gift that permits us to enter upon this present and very precious season of growth, of growth in character or principles of action that will rise again into other seasons of growth. For the time and the energy devoted to the creation of the human body and the correlated free agency of man may be taken as a measure of God’s interest in man, and as a promise, like that which is guaranteed us by the exalted character and life of Christ, of personal immortality, or that through God’s resources we shall have such aid as will be needed in order that we may continue to be conscious of ourselves, and of course of those through whom we have been able to achieve self—consciousness here, in those other seasons of growth. Our studies encourage us to believe most confidently that in our Father's house there are many mansions besides this one in which we now live, and that no seer has yet been able to dream of the values to be achieved by us in future stages of work and growth. In fact our studies would lead us to believe that since the difference between man and God is but one of degree,[8] and that since no limit can be imagined to the increase of our intelligence, man may become as God is now, as they also suggest that God, with all his power, wisdom, and love progressively realizes his life and was once as we are now, and that he is a perfected or exalted man.

Philosophy is a scientific interest which constantly seeks to grow with life so as to function in adequately relating life to the environing world and thereby enabling us to achieve our highest good, our fullest living. A philosophy is needed and is developed by every one. It alone is never sufficient to enable us to run a machine or to fully manage any of the details of conduct. But one might understand a ship in all of its parts and be able to manage it most efficiently. The captain of the ship might sleep. But without a constant use of the compass or the stars by the man at the wheel, the ship might be wrecked or get nowhere. One’s philosophy provides direction for the general course of life but cannot offer specific directions for the running of an automobile, a ship, a farm, a government, or a life. Each successful man must study scientifically the instruments or things with which he deals, but every man has a philosophy and should study the general meaning of his life, for his philosophy will enter in to urge and control him in his specialty. It is a potent and almost subconscious factor in all living.


Howison, Limits of Evolution.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1926.

The author died in 1921, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 99 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.

  1. Dewey, How We Think, pp. 221-4.
  2. Merz, Religion and Science, Part I.
  3. Henderson, The Fitness of the Environment, p. 276.
  4. Henderson, The Order of Nature, p. 190.
  5. Driesch, The Science and Philosophy of the Organism, passim.
  6. Von Hartman, Philosophy of the Unconscious, Vol. I. pp. 44, 148.
  7. Eimer, Organic Evolution, p. 53.
  8. Palmer, Field of Ethics, pp. 166-8.
    Ward, Realm of Ends, pp. 192-4.