Recent Developments in European Thought eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 337 pages of information about Recent Developments in European Thought.

The recent development of psychology, social as well as individual, its pursuit on scientific lines, and its alliance with biology, suggest one thought which applies generally to an age of science and may be found to throw some illumination even on the future.  Which of all types of modern men is the most habitually hopeful, the man of letters, the politician, the business man, or the man of science?  There can be no question of the answer.  The typical man of science is sure of the greatness and solidity of the work he shares, and confident that the future will extend and make still more beneficial its results.  His forward glance is more assured because the backward reveals a course of growing strength and continuous ascent.  The physicist foresees unmeasured sources of energy, still untapped.  He warns us of our dangers, but has no doubt that, with due foresight, we may overcome them, and make the reign of man upon the planet wider and firmer than before.  The doctor knows no disease which may not in time yield to scientific treatment.  The agricultural expert foresees, and can produce, new types of grain and fruit which will surpass the best yet known.  And the trainer of youth, the man to whom the new science of psychology stands most in stead, is the most hopeful of them all.  Dealing with human nature in its growth he puts no limits to its powers of goodness and activity.  He deplores the want of wise methods in the past, and if he errs at all it is in an excess of optimism, in believing that with new methods we may make a new man.

On this enlargement of the soul, enlightened by science, we build the future.  It is the crowning vision of the modern world, first sketched by Descartes, filled out and strengthened by the life and thought of three hundred years.  In the interval we have lived much and learnt much, both of our own nature and of the world in which we live.  In our own age a powerful stimulus has been given by a transformed biology and a new science which shows the soul itself in growth from an immemorial past, moulding the future by its own action, surmounting, while assimilating, the mechanism which surrounds it.  But for this building two things are needed.  One, that our souls, as builders, shall act as one with all our fellows and strive for unity as well as power.  The other, that in the building the laws of growth shall be followed, which science has already revealed in part and will reveal more fully.  For the spirit of science is the spirit of hope.


[Footnote 1:  Walther Rathenau.  Ses Idees et ses Projets d’Organisation Economique.  By Gaston Raphael (Paris:  Payot, 4f. 50 c).]

[Footnote 2:  R.R.  Marett in Progress and History (Oxford University Press).]




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Recent Developments in European Thought from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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