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humility which is indispensable to gen- set up a shining new school, in which uine reform.
there are to be only new subjects, new We have only to recall the recent methods, and new teachers; but we literature of the subject in order to be must not allow this part of the proconvinced that these difficulties are gramme to distract our attention from real. Our experts are divided into two the negative and abolitionary section. rival classes; and they are spending It may for a moment appear that the more energy in the pursuit of dialec- Modern is making a genuine confession tical victories than in the search for of wrongdoing; but only for a moment. truth. This battle of the experts has of Fortunately there is a simple and sure course its amusing side; and we have test which we can apply to him. been familiar with it for centuries un- Mr. Flexner and his fellow Moderns der the name of the battle of Ancients never by any accident begin their conand Moderns. But the public is grow- fessions' by saying, 'We have done ing weary of being amused. We want wrong'; on the contrary, they always guidance; and instead of giving us what begin by enlarging upon the blackness we want, such men as Mr. Abraham of the sins which the Humanists have Flexner and Professor Shorey are ex- committed. And that is not a sign of changing eloquent abuse. That is the humility; that is not a doctrine which first difficulty; and it is serious enough. is calculated to awaken us to a sense But if it becomes manifest that neither of our own failings. We are only too party to this quarrel has taken the willing to listen to accusations which trouble to found his programme of re- are brought, not against ourselves, but form upon a confession of wrongdoing against some third party. We know that then we shall have to request their something indeed is wrong. Here is a resignation as guides, reduce them to world in chaos; and our need was never the ranks, and proceed to think for our- more bitter that the next generation of selves.
men should have more control over Now, it is notorious that a confession themselves and their destiny than we of sin is not worth much unless it is per- have attained. And in the face of these sonal, unless it is made by the man or facts the Moderns come and proclaim the party or the nation that committed to us that the trouble lies, not with us, the sin. It does not require much hu- but with the Humanists! The future mility to confess the sins which some will be secure, if only we will make the one else has committed. And the Hu- Humanists serve as the scapegoats of manists and the Moderns are both en- the present; and so the Modern, with gaged in the delightful task of confess- the lash of his derisive satire, bids us ing each other's sins. Examine Mr. drive from the City of Learning all Flexner, who is a typical Modern, and the old and evil ‘traditional subjects, you will find that his writings are one Latin and Greek, history and literalong denunciation of the way in which ture, and with the subjects those who Latin and Greek and mathematics and are engaged in teaching them. history are taught. Current teaching, The Modern, therefore, is proudly says Mr. Flexner, is an abominable confessing the sins of the Humanists; failure; and so is everything which is and the fact that some of the sins are connected with it, subjects, schedule, real and others imaginary is no reason and teachers — all these Mr. Flexner why we should accept the Modern as would have us throw away as rubbish. our guide to a better education. The Afterwards, Mr. Flexner would have us Modern not only fails to point out to us
wherein we have erred: he does not can scarcely be called an intellectual even know that we have erred. He is virtue, but it is none the less precious literally telling us to reform by sinning on that account. The Modern does harder; and to a world which has for at least believe that our education is ages suffered from the blind tendency susceptible of improvement; and the of men to worship power and wealth realization of this fact is an indispensafor their own sake, a world whose chief- ble preliminary to reform. est sins are abuse of power, tyranny, and greed, — in the very midst of a
II war in which science and industry have at man's bidding been combined into Now let us turn to the Humanists. a single instrument for the destruction Let me say at once that I have the utof men, — the Modern proclaims that most sympathy with what the Humanthe proper thing to do is to make the ist represents. It is the business of the education of the future exclusively Humanist to understand and to interscientific and industrial. That is Re- pret the record of man's spiritual form - with a vengeance!
achievement, as it is presented in hisUntil the brain of the Modern is tory and art and literature, and there stung sufficiently awake for him to real- is no nobler business than that, and ize that science and industry are not none which ought to be a surer guardivine, being supreme over man, but anty that the men who follow it should are mere tools which man has made for be able to give the public expert advice his own service and which, like every upon educational reform. tool, are susceptible of abuse, the Mod- But unfortunately the Humanists ern will continue not to deserve his
have contracted a habit of never aputation as an expert in education. He pearing in public except to damn the is so busy confessing the sins of the Modern. They confess the sins of the Humanist that he has lost all contact Modern with fully as much delight as with the world about him. His doctrine the Modern confesses theirs; but we sounded plausible enough in the years have seen reason to believe that this before the war; but to-day that gospel game of vicarious confession has been of the nineteenth century has an odd unduly prolonged. The Humanists and pathetic ring. For how many must bear their share of the guilt. You years have men fought and suffered cannot help a man to reform simply by and died in the naïve faith that science telling him that you will be quite conwould make them whole! Science, of tented if he does not become any worse course, is knowledge; and knowledge is than he is now. And that is just what not virtue. But what a terrible price the Humanists are always doing; for we are paying for that simple lesson! their conception of reform is negative. And it would be ridiculous, if it were They have been attacked so often by not tragic, that Mr. Flexner and his the Modern that they have come to fellow worshipers of science should al- associate the very idea of reform with ways be insisting that they and their the specific 'reform' which the Moddoctrines are peculiarly modern. They ern proposes. And because the Modern were modern, in the last century; but proposes to reform by abolishing huthey withered, let us hope forever, in manism along with the Humanist, the 1914.
Humanist very naturally — and very Before the Modern departs to the foolishly-dreads reform just as a child ranks, let us recall his one virtue. It might shrink from eating bread if he
were constantly told that bread would men. Let us have less disdain, and poison him.
more humanism. It is not the summit Examine Professor Shorey's brilliant of wisdom to deride all reform merely essay 'The Assault on Humanism,' and because Mr. Flexner is called a 'reyou will see that Professor Shorey is former'; and the policy of obstruction, not unlike such a child. His essay is an which has too often been practiced by excellent piece of polemic. He ruins the Humanists, will prove, if they adall the so-called facts and figures and here to it, fatal both to them and to arguments presented by Mr. Flexner; humanism. Change is sure to come, in and then he sits down in the midst of education as in everything else; and the the wreckage and exults because an- only question for the Humanist and the other reform is dead. His choicest public is whether these changes shall epithets are reserved for those who are be made in accordance with an intellisilly enough to believe that any inten- gent plan or by the Mr. Flexners of this tional improvement in education is' world. The Humanist therefore must possible. All such people are impatient abandon his complacency, which is a revolutionaries'; and they have always hard task, and set about the construchad the incredible folly of thinking tion of an intelligent scheme of reform, that education, as it is, is a ‘no less which is a still harder task. But he unsatisfactory and bungling makeshift may lighten these labors by reflecting than marriage, government, the dis- that the alternative is suicide. tribution of property, or life itself.' In other words, Professor Shorey feels
III that it is just as stupid to believe that education is susceptible of improve- We have now examined the two prinment as it is to believe that the insti- cipal classes of educational experts, and tution of marriage, government, the we have found that they are engaged in distribution of property, and life are a stupid and distracting quarrel. Each also susceptible of improvement. And of them is vaguely aware that our yet, if Professor Shorey is right, the system of education is imperfect; but human race is in a bad way, and we what remedy has either one of them to are doomed to perish with our sins propose? The Humanist advises us upon us. If we cannot help ourselves, to let things alone; and in so doing he then surely the gods will not help us. forgets that neither humanism nor
The only gleam of hope which Pro- common sense has anything to say in fessor Shorey allows to penetrate is his praise of men who have let things reminder — addressed to the disdain- alone. It would be difficult to imagine ful Humanist' — that these crudities a remedy more frivolous, if it were not are inseparable from the wasteful proc- for the Moderns, who have surmounted ess of human evolution, and that the the difficulty, and who advise us to final outcome of agitation is sometimes sever our bonds with the past and to a good unforeseen by the agitator.' worship science and industry. The Now, it may be all very well for the very magnitude of their error sheds lower animals to put their faith in evo- some light upon the direction in which lution and the passage of time, though we must search for the truth; and it I doubt if the lower animals find the re- is the direction of the search which sults much to their liking. But surely' really matters, inasmuch as the absothe 'disdainful Humanist' goes too far lute truth is and will remain inaccessiwhen he ventures to give such advice to ble, and all that we can hope for is an VOL. 121 - NO. 2
approximation. Let us therefore avoid happy future; and the vast interval becondemning the Moderns and their tween their belief and the fact is the proposals as useless. Their utility as a measure of their absent-mindedness. warning cannot be exaggerated.
Transpose and heighten the maladThe Modern is still dreaming. To justment of consciousness to action every one except the Modern, it has which makes the philosopher laughable; become plain that science and industry intoxicate a nation with power, drug it are not panaceas. All men, except the with self-worship, drill it into insensiModern, are aware that knowledge is bility; and you will produce a nation not virtue, and that our science, which which is far less aware of what it is has endowed us with vast powers over doing than was the philosopher. But nature, has signally failed to enable us absent-mindedness which is so transto control ourselves. This is the con- posed and heightened becomes no fession of sin which we must prefix to laughing matter; and the maladjustany scheme of reform: though masters of ment of consciousness to action which, the world, we are not masters of ourselves. on the lower plane, endangered only the And therefore the problem of educa- individual, may, if it spreads through tion is essentially the same as the prob- a whole nation or body of nations, enlem of government: how shall men sub- danger the world. In the present cridue their own desires and turn them sis, when hatred runs high, it is fatally into the channels of right action? If it easy to believe that Germany was the is possible to discover some of the only nation which was thus infected. reasons why we have failed in this But the truth is that the rest of the effort to attain self-mastery, then it western world was suffering from the will also be possible to suggest what same malady. new demands we must make of educa- Examine the record of the nineteenth tion, and in what ways the system that century, of the epoch which closed has broken down must be amended. three years ago, and you will find that
Fortunately there is no need to re- it is a record of increasing absentsort to abstruse metaphysical argu- mindedness on the part of men and ment. The catastrophe which has nations who imagined that they were overtaken the world has its origin in a doing one thing but who were actually sort of absent-mindedness; and it is engaged in doing something else. They
; precisely like the lesser catastrophes imagined that they were making the which penalize absent-mindedness in future secure by their feverish activity; the individual. Between the ridiculous they imagined that they had only to errors of action which we find in all the devote themselves to science and to inanecdotes of absent-minded men, and dustry in order to be happy. But, as a the tragic criminality which character- matter of fact, the whole tendency of izes the actions of a Prussian autocrat, their activity was to make the future lies a kinship too close to be denied. insecure; and their blind faith in science Between the philosopher who walks and industry is being repaid by the unwith one foot in the gutter and the na- speakable misery of war. The relation tion which invaded Belgium there are between their former faith and their indeed many differences, but in this present misery is plainly one of cause one respect they are alike: they do not and effect. How should a world which know what they are doing. The Germans thought that it was already saved pay believed that they were so acting as to attention to what it was doing? Since secure for themselves a glorious and men believed in automatic progress, it
was only natural that they should tery over the impulse of the moment. abandon themselves to the task of On the contrary, it is notorious that all multiplying wealth and power in every his memory and his experience will go form, and that they should cease to in- for nothing, unless he puts forth an quire whether these vast new powers effort of voluntary attention. Without were likely to be well and wisely em- that effort to understand his past, to ployed. It was only natural that they grasp it, and to carry it with him so should come to regard Germany, which that it may illuminate the decisions was first in science and industry, as a which life forces him to make in the model nation. But there is one respect present, he cannot be free and he canin which their faith in automatic prog- not be master of himself; and just in ress is startlingly unnatural. It is easy the proportion that he relaxes that to comprehend the results of their effort, he loses his hold upon his past faith. But how could their faith be so experience and upon his humanity, and profound? How could an age which sinks back into an existence like that boasted of its knowledge of the past fail of the lower animals, bestial, dominated so completely to profit by human ex- no longer by his own spirit, but unconperience?
scious, the slave of instinct and of imThe nineteenth century failed be- pulse, mechanically carrying out activcause it refused to make the incessantly ities of whose direction and tendency renewed effort of attention to past and he is unaware. present, the effort which is the price of Such was the fate of the nineteenth consciousness; and the extent of its century. Lulled into a false security, it failure is measured in the most positive lost its hold upon the past experience of manner by the shock of the awakening the human race; and men abandoned in 1914. We are familiar enough with their minds to the oldest of all deluthe fate which overtakes a man who sions— to the belief that the possession fails to make this effort of attention to of power is the sufficient pledge of a past and present; we say of him that he happy and virtuous future. Under the is incapable of learning by experience. influence of this delusion, they divinBut what shall excuse our folly if we ized every form of power; but most of refuse to apply this familiar lesson to all, they worshiped science and industhe nineteenth century?
try, in the blind assurance that science No power on earth or in heaven can and industry would save the world. save men from making mistakes. But And thus they made once more an there does exist a power which can ancient and deadly error. How ancient save men, if they will but make the effort an error this is, and how often men and to use it, from making the same mis- nations have succumbed to it, it would take over and over again. In the case be impossible to say. History, which is of the individual, we call that power the memory of the race, records the irmemory; and we say that in memory is
retrievable ruin which has overtaken stored the past experience of the in- those men and those nations; but the dividual. But we are always forgetting men of the nineteenth century suffered that the mere storage of past experi- all the precious experience which is imence in memory does not in the slight- plicit in history to go to waste, and est degree guarantee that the individ- they relaxed the effort to comprehend ual will not repeat the mistake he has and to vivify the past, until in the later already made, and therefore does not decades before the war men came to guarantee his self-control and his mas- regard the study of the past as frivo