Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/158

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adoption of the Galveston or Des Moines plan of city government, a plan which looks toward organized social efficiency more than it does toward the preservation of individual rights. Nietzsche died in nineteen hundred, too early perhaps to realize that the scientific foundations for the work of his life were crumbling beneath his feet.

Emerson's death occurred in 1882. It must have been then even less clear that the theological basis for his philosophy, if it may be so called, was also in no very long time to lose much of its weight. The idealism that in unitarianism lifted man up to the level of Christ soon wrought a kind of self-destruction by bringing Christ down to the level of man. The exaltation of man, of his individual greatness through his kinship with the divine that was Emerson's especial word ceased to be an exaltation when it reduced the divinity of Christ to a merely human greatness. Protestant theology, going forward to its ultimate conclusions, accepting the results of the higher criticism, studying the Bible as a great but as a human literature, compromising with evolution as a causo-mechanical explanation of the origin of things, finally leaves Emerson's individualism without any sufficient body of supporting voices in the house of his friends. There remain, to be sure, the christian scientists. They derive from Emerson, and, with a beautiful blindness to the results of both christian scholarship and the conclusions of modern science, they push the Emersonian ideas to a point at which they become nonsense. Theirs is a beautiful madness, but it is madness. They represent only the aberrant tendencies of more or less unbalanced minds. Their belief that each human being may be the master of himself, his body and the material world, may be himself a kind of God, if he wills, does not go far in support of individualism as a general feeling among men. It was otherwise with Emerson. He and those of his fellowship were enormously influential in American thinking. It may be doubted whether any other man has been equally important in shaping the ideals of the more intelligent classes in America. It is something of moment when on one side that influence is breaking down and on another is turning into the vagaries of people who clutch at cobwebs spun out of the froth of some fanatic's ravings.

One thing is to be borne in mind and that is that the truth or falsity to be found in either Emerson or Nietzsche is for the moment of no matter. It is sufficient as explanation of the growing preponderance of socialistic over individualistic tendencies to show that two of the fundamental inspirations for individualism as seen in them are materially less active forces in society than they were twenty or thirty years ago. If that were mere change of sentiment, it would be of less importance. The fact that it is not sentiment, that it is a change of front resultant from a changed understanding of what the world is for man, and that it is a new establishment of values of things for man to achieve and be