Some Turns of Thought in Modern Philosophy eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 84 pages of information about Some Turns of Thought in Modern Philosophy.
in his allegiances and hopes, he was the prototype of a race of philosophers native and dominant among people of English speech, if not in academic circles, at least in the national mind.  If we make allowance for a greater personal subtlety, and for the diffidence and perplexity inevitable in the present moral anarchy of the world, we may find this same Lockian eclecticism and prudence in the late Lord Balfour:  and I have myself had the advantage of being the pupil of a gifted successor and, in many ways, emulator, of Locke, I mean William James.  So great, at bottom, does their spiritual kinship seem to me to be, that I can hardly conceive Locke vividly without seeing him as a sort of William James of the seventeenth century.  And who of you has not known some other spontaneous, inquisitive, unsettled genius, no less preoccupied with the marvellous intelligence of some Brazilian parrot, than with the sad obstinacy of some Bishop of Worcester?  Here is eternal freshness of conviction and ardour for reform; great keenness of perception in spots, and in other spots lacunae and impulsive judgments; distrust of tradition, of words, of constructive argument; horror of vested interests and of their smooth defenders; a love of navigating alone and exploring for oneself even the coasts already well charted by others.  Here is romanticism united with a scientific conscience and power of destructive analysis balanced by moral enthusiasm.  Doubtless Locke might have dug his foundations deeper and integrated his faith better.  His system was no metaphysical castle, no theological acropolis:  rather a homely ancestral manor house built in several styles of architecture:  a Tudor chapel, a Palladian front toward the new geometrical garden, a Jacobean parlour for political consultation and learned disputes, and even—­since we are almost in the eighteenth century—­a Chinese cabinet full of curios.  It was a habitable philosophy, and not too inharmonious.  There was no greater incongruity in its parts than in the gentle variations of English weather or in the qualified moods and insights of a civilised mind.  Impoverished as we are, morally and humanly, we can no longer live in such a rambling mansion.  It has become a national monument.  On the days when it is open we revisit it with admiration; and those chambers and garden walks re-echo to us the clear dogmas and savoury diction of the sage—­omnivorous, artless, loquacious—­whose dwelling it was.

[1] Paper read before the Royal Society of Literature on the occasion of the Tercentenary of the birth of John Locke.

[2] See note I, p. 26.

[3] See note II, p. 29.

[4] See note III, p. 35.

[5] See note IV, p. 36.

[6] See note V, p. 37.

[7] See note VI, p. 39.

[8] See note VII, p. 43.

[9] See note VIII, p. 46.



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Some Turns of Thought in Modern Philosophy from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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