« НазадПродовжити »
weight has in it a measurable power of sustaining the substance of the body; a cubic foot of pure air, a fixed power of sustaining its warmth, and a cluster of flowers of given beauty, a fixed power of enlivening or animating the senses and heart.” 1
Our claim is not that Mr. Ruskin has formed a system of sociology, or that he has advanced far towards such a system, but that he has pointed the way to such a science, and has laid down certain hypotheses of fact and terminology such as are consistent with advances made independently by other scientific men. By insisting upon the reduction of all economic terms, such as value, cost, utility, etc., to terms of “ vitality,” by insisting upon the organic integrity and unity of all human activities, and the organic nature of the co-operation of the social units, and finally by furnishing a social ideal of reasonable humanity, Mr. Ruskin has amply justified his claim as a pioneer in the theory of Social Economics.
1 " John Ruskin,” by Patrick Geddes (Round Table Series),
MR. RUSKIN'S THEORY OF SOCIAL ECONOMICS.
§ 1. The literary method of social teaching. § 2. The problem
of wealth stated in “Munera Pulveris" - A partial analysis. $ 3. Intrinsic value the essence of wealth. § 4. The capacity of the user as a condition of wealth. $ 5. Distribution as a determinant of wealth. § 6. A corresponding analysis of “cost” required. $7. Incompleteness of formal analysis in Mr. Ruskin's theory. $ 8. Relations of industrial to nonindustrial wealth not treated. $ 9. Defective grasp of social evolution. $ 10. Huxley's false distinction of “cosmic” and "ethical”— A statical conception of society. § 11. Summary of Mr. Ruskin's contribution to Social Economics.
§ 1. It is not unnatural that the term “ criticism” should have acquired a censorious or condemnatory meaning which does not rightly belong to it; for a judge may often with propriety leave the virtues of a man or a thing to stand upon their own patent merits, and devote his time and attention chiefly to exposure of faults, which, either by escaping notice for what they are, or by some semblance of goodness or utility, may remain as hidden dangers. Such criticism will always be a special function of reformers; but it is only a shortsighted and partial view of their work of criticism which will regard it as negative and destructive merely: all criticism in the hands of such men will be reformatory in purpose, the distinctively critical work only serving
as the foundation of constructive work, which will proceed continuously from it.
It is in this sense that Mr. Ruskin ever ranks as critic; there is in him nothing of the intellectual “wrecker;” his analytic faculty directed against the faults of a bad system of art, education, or social order is always charged with the spirit of repair, which is eager to exert itself in imposing order upon chaos, supplanting noxious weeds by wholesome fruit-bearing plants, and preparing the barren ground for useful cultivation.
In approaching the social doctrine of Mr. Ruskin, it has been convenient to regard him as the assailant of current economic thought, partly because this rightly represents the historical evolution of his social work, and partly because this hostile attitude towards current teaching marks with dramatic emphasis his positive contribution towards the right handling of the social problem.
We find this destructive and constructive work almost inextricably interwoven in the fabric of nearly all his books, and the form thus imposed upon his thinking has often proved a stumbling-block to the full comprehension and acceptance of his teaching.
But this is only part of the larger character of superficial disorder which prevails in most of his writings, and which nothing but a sympathetic appreciation of the free laws which govern “the literature of power” is able to unravel. In order to understand the method of a thinker, we must understand his purpose.
The sound and consistent structure of Mr. Ruskin's social theory has seldom gained full recognition, because it is nowhere presented in that continuous systematic
form of statement which is commonly adopted by teachers who address the intellect. He never addresses the intellect alone; in his writing there always lurks a double appeal: he ever seeks to touch the heart as well as to convince the understanding. The system which underlies this process is thus one of literary rather than of logical order, and the blending of passion with argument, which it involves, is apt to cause confusion and distrust in those who like to have their reasoning dry. Moreover, this literary mode of exposition, proper though it was for Mr. Ruskin, often beguiled him into the opposed errors of discursiveness and excessive condensation.
§ 2. In no one of his books do we find a full, clear, and consistent statement of his social principles. “ Unto this Last,” “ Munera Pulveris,” and “ Fors Clavigera, each and all profess such utterance; large and just principles of exposition are laid down, but the performance, noble though it be, is nowhere a complete fulfilment of the initial promise. Not merely must his full teaching be gathered from many quarters in order to yield a consistent body of doctrine, but even then we shall find considerable lacunæ in the application of the basic principles.
The most systematic of his books, “ Munera Pulveris," serves to illustrate this statement. At the opening we find a full definition of the scope of his work. “The essential work of the political economist is to determine what are in reality useful or life-giving things, and by what degrees and kinds of labour they are attainable and distributable.” 1
1 Munera Pulveris, $ xi.
Now here is laid down with admirable succinctness the fundamental antithesis between the cost or labour which goes into making “ goods,” and the utility or enjoyment to be got out of them. A right consideration of Industry from the human or social standpoint requires that the goods considered as “ wealth" shall be resolved into these costs and utilities, and shall be estimated with equal reference to both. One of the gravest accusations which lies against the commercial economists is that they look too exclusively to the products and not sufficiently to the processes of production, rating the prosperity of a people by the sum of its material goods, without considering how far this gain is offset by increased duration, intensity, monotony, and unwholesomeness of work. In his broad declaration, “ There is no wealth but life," as in his unceasing stress upon the need of good work for all men, Mr. Ruskin has laid down as the foundation-stone of social theory the organic relation between work and life, between production and consumption. It was therefore to be expected that in
Munera Pulveris 66 wealth” would be resolved into both its human constituents, human cost receiving the same attention as human utility, and that the laws of the natural and moral interaction between work and life would be expounded. A logical analysis of Ruskinian wealth would take the concrete forms which constituted " commercial wealth," and, after ascertaining how much cost of painful or injurious effort went with the making of each of them, how much vital use would be got out of each of them by the consumer into whose hands it passed by distribution, would rate the true “ wealth” embodied in these forms by the surplus of utility over