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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/207

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203
A DEFENCE OF PRAGMATISM

from illness and was forced to quit after an hour's trial with the shovel. Then the weary task of looking for employment was again resumed. Thoroughly discouraged, Corcoran returned to his home last night to find his wife and children without food and the notice of dispossession on the door. On the following morning he drank the poison.

The records of many more such cases lie before me [Mr. Swift goes on]; an encyclopedia might easily be filled with their kind. These few I cite as an interpretation of the Universe. 'We are aware of the presence of God in his world' says a writer in a recent English review. [The very presence of ill in the temporal order is the condition of the perfection of the eternal order, writes Professor Royce ('The World and the Individual,' II., 385).] 'The Absolute is the richer for every discord and for all the diversity which it embraces,' says F. H. Bradley ('Appearance and Reality,' 204). He means that these slain men make the universe richer, and that is philosophy. But while Professors Royce and Bradley and a whole host of guileless thoroughfed thinkers are unveiling Reality and the Absolute and explaining away evil and pain, this is the condition of the only beings known to us anywhere in the universe with a developed consciousness of what the universe is. What these people experience is Reality. It gives us an absolute phase of the universe. It is the personal experience of those best qualified in our circle of knowledge to have experience, to tell us what is. Now what does thinking about the experience of these persons come to, compared to directly and personally feeling it as they feel it? The philosophers are dealing in shades, while those who live and feel know truth. And the mind of mankind—not yet the mind of philosophers and of the proprietary class—but of the great mass of the silently thinking men and feeling men, is coming to this view. They are judging the universe as they have hitherto permitted the hierophants of religion and learning to judge them. . . .

This Cleveland workingman, killing his children and himself, is one of the elemental stupendous facts of this modern world and of this universe. It can not be glozed over or minimized away by all the treatises on God, and Love, and Being, helplessly existing in their monumental vacuity. This is one of the simple irreducible elements of this world's life, after millions of years of opportunity and twenty centuries of Christ. It is in the mental world what atoms or sub-atoms are in the physical, primary, indestructible. And what it blazons to man is the imposture of all philosophy which does not see in such events the consummate factor of all conscious experience. These facts invincibly prove religion a nullity. Man will not give religion two thousand centuries or twenty centuries more to try itself and waste human time. Its time is up; its probation is ended; its own record ends it. Mankind has not æons and eternities to spare for trying out discredited systems. . . . What is man that thou art mindful of him? Why, the answer is that thou art not mindful of him. Thou permittest him to die like a weed, though with all the fiery sorrow that a sentient being can feel.[1]

Such is the reaction of an empiricist mind upon the rationalist bill of fare. It is an absolute 'No, I thank you.' (Religion,' says Mr. Swift, 'is like a sleep walker to whom actual things are blank.' And such, though possibly less tensely charged with feeling, is the verdict of every seriously inquiring amateur in philosophy to-day who turns to the philosophy-professors for the wherewithal to satisfy the fullness of his nature's needs. Empiricist writers give him a material-


  1. Morrison I. Swift, 'Human Submission,' Part Second, Philadelphia, Liberty Press, 1905, pp. 4-10.