Am reading William James’ Varieties of Religious Experience, and it is really the most helpful religious or philosophical work I have ever read. Nothing else anywhere near as good for the groping mind that wants to be led cautiously, reasonably, suggestively to the “Water of Life,” but shown that there is water there. (Pretty poor figure, but perhaps understandable.) I must re-read his answer to the questionnaire in his Letters, and compare it with his conclusions in this book. You remember my thought that probably Emerson, William James, and Henry George had been the greatest writing minds we had produced. Probably you can improve on this.
Have been interested myself in thinking of a list of books that have made great movements in the world, Darwin’s Descent of Man, for illustration. Books that have provoked the minds of men into action of one kind or another:—The Bible, Koran, in religions, of course! What started modern medicine? I mean in the way of a book?
What are, or have been, the great movements in history, anyway? Wars, of course, don’t count, when merely predatory.
Man’s relation to God.
Man’s relation to the World.
Man’s relation to Man.
Man’s relation to the Good.
Man’s relation to the True.
Man’s relation to the Beautiful.
These ought to cover Art, Science, Philosophy, Religion, Progress. Civilization of every kind. And this progress has come in waves, hasn’t it? Did any book start, or give evidence of the starting of these waves? That’s the question. Outside religion and philosophy books were the results not the causes of movements. How true is that? As always and always,
F. K. L.
Pasadena, [February, 1921]
I’m writing this late at night and will mail it in the morning, for I’m going to Santa Barbara for a couple of days. Do with it what you will. Judge for me what it is wise to say. And be as condensed as possible.
What I’ve written is to be dropped in at the right places, it is not conservative. Will see you next week, I hope, perhaps Saturday.
Cooperation is the word of this century and we don’t know what it means yet. We work together most imperfectly in things political, and we are just beginning to feel our way into the worlds of social and industrial life. I’m not afraid of socialism. I really don’t know anyone who is. We’re all afraid of blundering attempts at getting a thing called by that name, which is a mechanical method of bringing the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, without changing the human spirit.
The call for socialism or communism is generally a call for more of justice and of honesty and of fair dealing between men, rather than a demand for any particular and organized method of carrying on industrial life. If business is squarely conducted we won’t try experiments in mechanicalizing and sterilizing business. But a few more years of profiteering, and Conservatives would have become Reds.