Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

dent establishments of their own, while leaving as their parents' dowry only certain insoluble problems which were supposed to have neither interest nor importance for practical minds. This was the application to the intellectual world of the division of labor which was so fruitful in the economic world, and it resulted in conceiving the individual sciences as independent of each other in a way much more clear than in the case of economic effort, because in the commercial world the division of labor never lost its relation to the united management under which it was conducted ; but in intellectual efforts there has been less combination with a view to a total result, and each specialist has been left to pursue his labors with less feeling of dependence upon the coöperation of others, although not being able wholly to dispense with the assistance he derived from them, often unconsciously. Hence there has been less inducement, in the prosecution of the sciences, to acknowledge the solidarity of interest belonging to them, which was more quickly discovered in the economical field, although not to its full extent until recently. But just as in the latest economic developments, when their organization has been realized on a large scale, there has been a tendency to the combination of smaller forms of business into larger and more comprehensive systems of production and distribution, so in the intellectual world there has · arisen a tendency to comprehend the scattered and disconnected sciences under a more consolidated system of principles, and so to gain that enlarged view which is a security against the evils of scientific arrogance in special fields of inquiry. The Protagorian homo mensura of Ethics and Psychology has too long been the maxim of the individual sciences in general. The kind of liberty which it favors prevents the attainment of all comprehensive results, and hence we are learning that scientific individualism may create as much anarchy in the philosophic world as unrestricted liberty in the political world is likely to create in society. Hence, although the consolidation of the sciences is a late effort, the very fact that it is done upon a basis which is a distinct surrender of the homo mensura doctrine may suggest the extension of the new principle to the social and political world on a vast scale. The bare contemplation of this will intimate the beginning of an immense revolution, although it may take centuries to consummate it. Freiheit ist keine Tösung, says a German proverb, and the idea may throw a side light upon the limitations of independence in the sciences as well as those of liberty in the social world.

The first chapter of the present volume is a sort of introduction, and treats of the method and scope of “ Social Philosophy.” Several traditional methods are considered, and a kind of eclectic method chosen as best adapted to the object of the author. The mutual relations between the sciences of Ethics, Economics, and Politics are very well outlined, although neither so positively nor so fully as is desirable. The author seems more conscious of their interdependence than of the reason for the fact. Had he observed that they are all occupied with some form of human conduct, he would have discovered the common basis which connects them, and in spite of certain differences makes them one in their general conception. The second chapter is a statement of the “social problem," with its difficulties, and the means of overcoming them. The consideration of the latter points is preceded by a brief account of the stages of modern history, which are represented to be subjugation, liberation, and organization. The student will remark in this division a very

good characterization of the different movements leading up to the present. They define just what the problem is now. The last, organization, describes the character of the present age in every department of its activity, and the topic might take up a volume of itself. The subordinate elements in the general problem, making up the difficulties to be encountered in its solution, are enumerated as the land question, over-population, and industrial difficulties. On the matter of over-population, the author at first seems a little more optimistic than the facts appear to justify, for he says the means of subsistence are practically unlimited. But he qualifies this admission by giving the question an importance which the existence of unlimited natural resources would not allow it to have, and by asserting that over-population is possible. As a check to it, it is interesting to remark that an elevation of the standard of comfort often or generally acts in this way, and hence he advocates ultimate cooperation as a solution of the problem. Perhaps it is this thought that induces the author to believe that the present material prosperity and its continuance is a condition of hope in a practical settlement of the question. But it is possible to urge against this two very important facts. The first is, that it is a general belief, and perhaps the general experience of mankind, that material prosperity is not accompanied by a corresponding moral development. Cotter Morison suggests that Ethics is having its Nemesis against the Epicurean in the demoralization that is following the increased gratification of human desires, and Professor Mackenzie admits in one passage that moral growth has not kept pace with the industrial. The second fact is, that the consumption of material resources in particular localities of the world puts an end to the material prosperity upon which the author relies for a solution of the problem ; while the trouble is, that population grows until this limit is reached, and the whole difficulty of the problem arises just when the pressure of needed contraction is felt, and this pressure is felt precisely in proportion to the stringency of the limitations imposed by the impossibility of any farther expansion on the one hand, and by the decrease of natural resources on the other. Up to the present time, neither of these forces has operated in the world at large, but have been only local. This will not always be the case.

The third chapter begins the consideration of the “ social organism." It is introduced by an examination of the different forms of unity characterizing speculative thought in all departments of knowledge. These are specified as Monadism, Monism, Mechanism, Chemism, and Organism, and are illustrated from the subjects of theology, philosophy, psy. chology, and law. The classification is a little peculiar, and hardly appears as systematic, but it suffices to develop the conception of “organism” as the basis upon which “ social philosophy" must rest. The organic nature of society is then developed in a way to contrast the social organizations of man with those of the animal world, upon the basis of self-consciousness in man which gives an ideal toward which both individual and social effort are directed. The need of an ideal in rational beings, therefore, gives rise to the ethical problem which is the subject of the next chapter. Here several theories are briefly passed in review. The theory of Hedonism is considered at greatest length, and its standard of pleasure, as the end of conduct, rejected as useless, and the end of self-realization set up in its place. But as this cannot be conceived in a purely egoistic or individualistic way, and as it involves society for its

[ocr errors]

attainment, the social ideal is its complementary aspect. This, then, becomes the subject of the fifth chapter. The author enumerates three one-sided social ideals, which are, “ The Ideal of Liberty,” “ The Ideal of Equality,” and “ The Aristocratic Ideal.” The three main topics discussed under the second of these are, “the abolition of inheritance," s scientific socialism,” and “ethical socialism.” Some very suggestive observations are made upon each of these subjects. They are, above all, sober and cautious. But we can give no adequate account of his views upon them, as our time and space will not permit of it. The student, however, will find hints for reflection in the inidst of very comprehensive discussions which avoid the extremes of partisanship on either side without losing in suggestiveness and value. The last ideal the author calls “ The Organic Ideal,” which he does not consider one-sided. But it is difficult to find in a watchword of this kind what is meant by the term. The others are intelligible enough to all, as they express the common aspirations of different periods of civilization, and of the organic ideal” we have only the vague notion of modern tendencies in the solidarity of all groups of phenomena to give us a conception. It is perhaps true, however, that new ideals can never be very clear or self-explaining until they have been realized. The author explains it as containing, in the proper proportions and with mutual limitations, the elements of the other three ideals. But in its other details it is not developed fully enough to satisfy those who are taught by the discussion of other ideals that a new one must be adopted. Here was an opportunity for a little constructive work that has not been done as would be expected. We wish the author had been more lengthy upon this topic.

The last chapter is one of the most interesting in the volume. It is an examination of “the elements of social progress," which are stated to be," the subjugation of nature," "social organization,” and “personal development.” On the first of these topics the reader will not find a better and more compact statement of the ethical and economical questions involved in the utilization of material resources for human wants. Very wide and interesting questions are opened for those who care to think, but we cannot enter into them at present. Under social organizations, or “the perfection of social machinery,” the author discusses briefly the family, district, workshop, trade, church, civic community, nation, and international organization. It will be observed that these represent a graduated scale of complexity and extent of application, so that in the latest stages of development the problem is complicated by all that preceded it, with the addition of all increments due to progress. On each of them there is such a mass of wise and often terse observations, that we must despair of giving any adequate idea of them without going into the subject at greater length than can be allowed. We must content ourselves with an illustration or two as samples. In regard to government by an intellectual aristocracy, he remarks: “ Wisdom can hardly maintain its character as wisdom when it becomes also power. There can be little doubt that Plato was right in making the lives of his rulers a comparatively unenviable one." And then, again, alluding to the oscillation of history between the effects of the two agencies, knowledge and power, he observes : “ Carlyle has characterized the two great influencing forces among mankind as light and lightning. On the one hand there is the force of insight, and on the other hand that of practical effectiveness. It is the great misfortune of human history that these

have been so often distinct, and it is the great problem of politics to combine them.” The author ought to have said, “ to combine them without any evil consequences,” for the first passage indicates clearly the dangers incident to the union of wisdom and power when not modified by moral judgment. But whatever allowance must be made for his language, the author could not have intimated in a more forcible manner the two conceptions upon which turn the great problems of modern social life. The absence of either element is disastrous, and the presence of both without moral character is worse still. All associated questions are treated by the author in the same suggestive way as these are treated. The last topic, “ personal development," represents education in three stages, elementary, technical, and general, which last the author calls “education in wisdom." The second includes university education and that of technical schools. The observations upon these subjects are of a kind with those upon the various forms of social organization, and contain much comprehensive thought. There is an interesting hint on the method of elementary instruction which teachers might profit by, and it is that the goal should not be too distinctly held up before the child's mind, or it will both lose the pleasure of pursuit and chill its curiosity by a false preconception of the end. The remarks on university education apply largely, if not exclusively, to the condition of things in England, and, in a measure, commend a modification of the existing system.

If any criticism of the volume be proper after the high praise which we would bestow upon it, it is that the work is too short for one of its pretensions. It is a mere outline, which, to be filled out completely, would require several volumes. This brevity also, perhaps, makes it more difficult to appreciate the merits of the work until one has formed some acquaintance with the several subjects at large which compose it. An introduction to social philosophy ought perhaps to serve for giving elementary instruction in the matter rather than presume it as a condition of understanding what is said upon it. Nevertheless, if the student reads the volume with the intention of utilizing its suggestiveness, and of not allowing its summarized account of things to put an end to his inquiries, its brevity and comprehensiveness will not be faults. The only danger is, that some readers will be content with the general spirit of the work, and then proceed to deduce all kinds of fallacious conclusions without an adequate knowledge of particular facts. But with judicious use, the volume will prove one of the most useful in the new field of sociology, less as an accumulation of interesting facts than as a summary of principles. At any rate, we welcome it with the hope that it will prove very beneficial in this respect.

J. H. Hyslop. COLUMBIA COLLEGE, N. Y.

THE ETHICS OF SOCIALISM. By Ernest BELFORT Box. 12mo. Pp. 210.

London : Swan, Sonnenscheim & Co. 1890. THE RELIGION OF SOCIALISM. By ERNEST BELFORT Box. 12mo. Pp. 177. London : Swan, Sonnenscheim & Co. 1890.

The peculiarity of these two volumes is, that they treat of exactly the same general subject under the different titles, “Ethics” and “Religion.” They consist of essays and lectures previously delivered on special occasions, and here published in book form for a wider public.

There is no excuse for a difference of title except, perhaps, the need of a new form for one of the volumes which appeared soon after the other. They are the quintessence of radicalism on the subject of Socialism. The author has a fearless, savage style and a recklessness of statement quite characteristic of his sect, and does not wince at false statements if only he can say something effective, and perhaps arouse antagonism. As usual, he is unjust to the religious side of his problems. But this would not weaken his appreciation with those who are willing to applaud him for anything he may say against religious people and religious beliefs. Pugnacious minds, indeed, will here find much force in a kind of assertion that hits forcibly, but nevertheless convinces no fair intellect, and proves nothing, even to those who want an expression for their prejudices. They will throw up their caps at any statement which sounds well for their side. The author's sympathy with poverty and suffering is commendable. But he seems to have an unbounded faith in the mere method of organization for effecting a reformation of the evils he so strongly commiserates. But he does not reckon with his host. His " ethics" consist, not in the reform of the individual in self-control, pru. dence, virtue, etc., but only in modifying the distribution of the goods already produced. He does not see that, even if suffering, like blessings, is vicarious, the evil at the outset comes from individuals who hold the balance of power to produce inequality, and that nothing short of absolute despotism will avail to establish and maintain any sort of proprietary equality. Under such a system no assurance can be had that the sum total of labor and labor efficiency now prevailing could be realized. Unless this could be achieved, the distribution, even if it were more equable, might neither realize the ideal he is dreaming of, nor prevent suffering from being as great as it already is. Undoubtedly the social state is the true ideal. But, like all ideals, it assumes conditions which do not exist ; namely, in this case the willingness of the individual to live according to the principles of the social system. But this is precisely what the majority of mankind show no tendency to do, and hence it is not the system of government outside his own soul that will ever improve him, but only his own inner character. Hence Ethics and Religion must begin there. It is true that law, organization, and new economic methods will be powerful factors and aids in bringing about such a result, by producing a set of conditions making moral regeneration possible, and perhaps desirable. But they will not produce it. All the work of morality and religion will remain to be done after the social system has been outlined and achieved, and we more than suspect that no practical scheme can even be applied until that moral regeneration of the individual has been effected. The two must at least go together. It is all well enough to determine the theoretical ideal. But we cannot safely assert socialism to be more, before man has become more ideal in his head, his heart, and his will. All this is entirely ignored by the author.

Some of the essays, however, can be read with great profit, in spite of their radical spirit. In some respects the reader must be quite indifferent to what he reads, and must have his opinions well formed, to fortify himself against the author's assertions. One who understands the passions that are boiling in the controversy between science and religion, and has reached a serener atmosphere above them, can appreciate and pardon the extravagances of the author, and get many suggestions from him. But, after all, these will be much fewer than the number of pages

« НазадПродовжити »