Catalog # SKU1209
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 2.00 lbs
Author Name Horation W. Dresser





Sometimes the inroads of science have seemed to threaten the foundations of man's most sacred faith. But in the end the essentials of faith have been marvellously enriched. The widespread inquiry into customs, traditions, races, and religions has tended toward the unification of all our thinking about mankind.

Excerpt from Chapter 1:

Hence, many distinctions between creeds and doctrines have faded out in the light of the larger sympathy and sense of brotherhood which the inquiry has inspired. A new spirit of tolerance has brought a willingness to admit that, despite all differences in creed and dogma, men who are really in earnest are striving for the same great ends, the world over. The important consideration is to know how far a man has advanced in moral and religious evolution, what manner of life he lives.

This new demand that man shall understand himself in the light of all the causes that have operated to produce him has still more significance when we turn from the outer world to the inner. Thus far, evolutionary science has dealt with man in large part as a physical being. There was a time, in fact, during the middle of the nineteenth century when the entire inquiry seemed to make for materialism. Closer scrutiny of the results showed, however, that the ultimate problems of life, the questions concerning the real nature of existence, the character of the real man, and the like, were left for idealistic philosophy to solve.

We now know that to maintain the evolutionary point of view is by no means to be materialistic. At any rate, evolutionary materialism is a failure. There are decided limits beyond which mere evolutionism has been unable to go. It is difficult also for natural science to advance into the inner world, for science deals with the universal, and the inner life is in a peculiar sense the home of the individual. Even experimental psychology fails in the attempt to discover the true character of the inner life.

The most interesting questions are still unanswered when psychology has completed its description of our states of consciousness. In fact psychology as a natural science explicitly disclaims the right to ascertain the values of inner experience or discover the nature of the self. It is necessary, if the search for origins is to be complete, for each man to take up the work where science leaves it, and pursue the investigation by the same fruitful method of systematic research.

There are plenty of sceptics to raise objections to any such procedure. It will be said that the era of morbid self-examination and conscientiousness will again return. Others will insist that the inner life is a mystery past finding out. To all this the reply is that man already lives in and knows much about the inner life. This is no new venture. It is only a question of substituting more knowledge for less knowledge. It is the half-way positions of imprisoning self-consciousness that distress us.

There is no inherent danger in analytical self-knowledge or rational synthesis. The essential is that such analysis and synthesis shall be thorough. Ordinarily out self-knowledge stops short of the most important consideration. If we are to be thorough, we must ask, What is man's ultimate origin? What is his real environment? Whither is he tending? These are profound philosophical questions, to be sure. But there are respects in which they are also problems for experimental investigation.

No man is more truly a child of this practical age than the one who approaches these issues in the spirit of empirical research. Individual man now has far more material to draw upon in his effort to investigate the inner life in a free, profitable spirit. Whatever one may think of the conclusions which bear upon the belief in a future life, it is clear that the finer aspects of psychic research have thrown light upon the mysteries of the inner world. Meanwhile, a new science has been springing up, midway between experimental psychology and the realm of the individual soul, namely, the psychology of religion; and a new literature of the soul has also begun to appear. It remains for the individual to seize upon the results of all this finer, more exact thinking, and verify or correct them in the light of personal problems. The farther science advances into the inner world the easier it will be to avoid imprisoning subjectivism.

The essential is to approach the study in the right temper. In a sense the inner life is a gift which all men share. Its universal characteristics each man may verify. What makes it real is the fact that each of us just now possesses it. First of all it is owned and observed as experience. It pulsates, presents new moments even while we observe it. Every man is in possession of clues which will reveal the deeper meanings of this surging stream.

For every man has perplexities which have been postponed and postponed, not because they are insoluble but simply because these difficulties have not been met in precisely the situation where they arose. It seems probable that the interest, the problem of the living present is the most direct clue to the larger truth of life as a whole. Hence it is perspective that we need, not the limited point of view of morbid introspection. We must regard our own little moment of life in the same comprehensive spirit wherewith the geologist approaches the phenomena of an epoch in the earth's history. We should view life as a whole, as a tendency amidst a universal environment. In short, we must begin at last to be philosophical.

To begin to be philosophical is to be thorough, moderate, painstaking; to pursue truth wherever it may lead. The venture seems too bold, at first thought. But again it is profoundly simple, since it is concerned with the commonest experiences of life and in a particular sense with the individual interest of the observer. It is clear that life is a problem which has for each an individual solution. No one can wholly solve it for us, precisely because it possesses this individual element. Life has had its particular history in each case. In every instance it wears a different aspect. The temperamental distinction which once seemed baffling therefore proves to be the clue to intelligent thinking.

The utmost that one individual may do for an other is to state the facts and laws of life as he apprehends them. That is, another may present the universal element; it is the particular application which makes it true. Hence each man must investigate for himself. Hence each man must think. And thinking is not so hard a task after all. We make it difficult because we think in borrowed terms, or because we have no method.

300+pages - 8.25 x 5.25 inches SoftCover


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