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Some Turns of Thought in Modern Philosophy eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 71 pages of information about Some Turns of Thought in Modern Philosophy.
of studies, and for my own part I should be content to dwell almost exclusively in that poetic and moral atmosphere, in the realm of literature and of humanism.  Yet I cannot help seeing that neither in logic nor in natural genesis can perspectives be the ultimate object of science, since a plurality of points of view, somehow comparable, must be assumed in the beginning, as well as common principles of projection, and ulterior points of contact or coincidence.  Such assumptions, which must persist throughout, seem to presuppose an absolute system of nature behind all the relative systems of science.

The other circumstance which points to further revolutions is social.  The new science is unintelligible to almost all of us; it can be tested only by very delicate observations and very difficult reasoning.  We accept it on the authority of a few professors who themselves have accepted it with a contagious alacrity, as if caught in a whirlwind.  It has sprung up mysteriously and mightily, like mysticism in a cloister or theology in a council:  a Soviet of learned men has proclaimed it.  Moreover, it is not merely a system among systems, but a movement among movements.  A system, even when it has serious rivals, may be maintained for centuries as religions are maintained, institutionally; but a movement comes to an end; it is followed presently by a period of assimilation which transforms it, or by a movement in some other direction.  I ask myself accordingly whether the condition of the world in the coming years will be favourable to refined and paradoxical science.  The extension of education will have enabled the uneducated to pronounce upon everything.  Will the patronage of capital and enterprise subsist, to encourage discovery and reward invention?  Will a jealous and dogmatic democracy respect the unintelligible insight of the few?  Will a perhaps starving democracy support materially its Soviet of seers?  But let us suppose that no utilitarian fanaticism supervenes, and no intellectual surfeit or discouragement.  May not the very profundity of the new science and its metaphysical affinities lead it to bolder developments, inscrutable to the public and incompatible with one another, like the gnostic sects of declining antiquity?  Then perhaps that luminous modern thing which until recently was called science, in contrast to all personal philosophies, may cease to exist altogether, being petrified into routine in the practitioners, and fading in the professors into abstruse speculations.

IV

A LONG WAY ROUND TO NIRVANA

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