Studies in human nature - PDF-ebook by J. B. Baillie

Studies in human nature - PDF-ebook

Studies in human nature

The aim of these studies is to examine with all possible freedom from theoretical bias some phases of human nature which are of great interest in themselves, and in the light of the analysis to draw certain conclusions. 

It would have been natural to have included in such a series the consideration of certain other aspects of human nature, more especially those that concern morality and civic institutions. Morality and the conditions of citizenship are in many ways the most important forms of human life which can engage our attention at the present time; and the influence of the recent upheaval in our experience has brought before us many moral problems with a peculiar, and perhaps even a new, prominence. 

It has seemed better, however, to reserve the consideration of these and kindred subjects for another occasion. It is not the purpose of these papers to defend or support any of the familiarly accepted theories, whether of idealism or realism. Human nature is far more interesting and much more important than any theory, and on that account perhaps is tolerant of many theories. 

It may be remarked, however, that the momentum which carried forward one particular form of idealism — the confident and confiding idealism of a generation ago — seems now to have spent its force; and that realism that takes the form of new materialism can hardly claim to be in a position to show a better way.

 For, apart from the shock which optimistic idealism has received from the inter-national catastrophe of the recent war, the elaboration of a theory of a completed and perfect universe, " all-inclusive and harmonious," (whether this is a demand or a fact, matters not), leaves too little for the creative spirit of man to do; while, on the other hand, the exposition of the world in a way which treats human suffering and human ends as derivative or secondary- leaves for a man nothing worth doing. 

We best avoid the defects of one-sided theories if we follow the path of what Sidgwick used to call critical common sense and hold to the natural solidarity of human experience to which it clings. This may lead us to a theory, or it may not. But we may feel sure that our reflection can never keep close enough to common sense. " 

To the solid ground of nature trusts the Mind that builds for aye." The best service that philosophy can render at any time is that of supplying a criticism of life. At a time like the present, when so much of the past has broken from us, and our main hopes for security lie in the future, this service seems all the more necessary. It should have its effect more particularly on the higher aims of the education of a nation, on the proper direction of which so much of the future depends. It is not promising in these days to see this great agency for advanced operating without a convincing plan of action or clear guidance, and, in default of these requirements for success, withdrawing behind mediaeval defences slightly altered to meet the demands of modern economic efficiency. Men want confidence in the future as well as confidence in the past to make life tolerable in the present. And this confidence can only come from a fuller insight into the resources of human nature.

Introduction.--Anthropomorphism and truth.--The realistic character of knowledge.--Certain non-logical factors in the process of knowledge.--The nature of memory-knowledge.--The function of emotion in the consciousness of the real.--The significance of philosophical scepticism.--The place of philosophy in human nature.--Science and the humanities.--Laughter and tears: the sense of incongruity

the book details :
  • Author: Sir James Black Baillie, OBE was a British moral philosopher and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds. He wrote the first significant translation of Hegel's "Phenomenology of Mind." He is said to be the model for the character Sir John Evans in the novel The Weight of the Evidence by Michael Innes.
  • Publication date: 1921
  • Company:  London: G. Bell and sons, ltd.

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