Panentheism.  Revisionism.  Anarchocapitalism.



Essays by Me

Essays by Others

Mid-Twentieth Century American Philosophy, Peter A. Bertocci, ed.  New York: Humanities Press, 1974, pp. 140-154.

Philosophy after Fifty Years

Charles Hartshorne


It is really more than fifty years that I have been doing philosophy.  In 1918, as an orderly in a military hospital, I thought out the basis of the philosophical doctrine I still hold.  At that time I had read a few philosophical writings and had heard one lecture in a class formally devoted to philosophy.  The writings were: Emerson’s essays (on the edges of philosophy here and there), Coleridge’s Aids to Reflection, Royce’s Problem of Christianity, James’s Varieties of Religious Experience, Augustine’s Confessions.  None of these were particularly in my mind as I reached three basic convictions.

I.  Experience is essentially emotional and social.  Sensation is the objective side of emotional experience; it is feeling, but feeling that is one’s own only derivatively.  Primarily it is feeling to which we respond, rather than feeling by which we respond.  (I did not then put it in these words.)  Then years later Whitehead’s “feeling of feeling” neatly expressed the point.  There is a given emotional unity in all experience, but there is a duality in this unity.  It is social or participatory, not merely egoistic; public as well as private.  In 1925 the study of Peirce acquainted me with rather similar ideas.  He identifies sensation and feeling as forms of Firstness; and his Secondness and Thirdness, as well as his doctrines of agapism and synechism, affirm the social unity in the duality or plurality.

II. Even the totality of human and animal wills is plurality in unity, a unity which in principle is directly experienced.  Human purposes are given as overlapping in many ways and degrees.  Here Royce’s discussion of “community” was probably an influence.  Motivation is not reducible to mere self-interest and there is no wholly distinct self.  Here, too, monistic and pluralistic extreme are both wrong.  There is a many in one.  The inclusive oneness I interpreted as deity.

III.  Because of (I) there is no need to limit the divine unity to living things, leaving the nonliving world outside, as H. G. Wells (in Mr. Britling and The Bishop) at that time proposed to do.  A dualism of mind or will as opposed to mere insentient matter contradicts the very structure of experience as throughout participation in sentience or feeling other than one’s own.

It is clear that, with these positions taken, my philosophical task had from the outset considerable focus.  Any hard dualism or materialism was only a curiosity.  But so was any mere spiritualistic monism, such as Bradley’s.  Plurality in unity seemed as truly given as plurality in unity.  So Bradley’s challenge, when I came to it, was for me merely technical: where did his critique of relations beg the question or commit a logical fallacy?  But equally R. B. Perry’s or Russell’s unmitigated pluralism, like Hume’s, must conceal a blunder somewhere.  I thought I could see where the fallacies were.

Many questions remained, however.  One was, What are the primary subjects of the objective feelings, those only secondarily or by participation one’s own?  I had no idea of the answer in 1918.  Troland’s form of panpsychism, later Peirce’s and Whitehead’s, and the monadology of Leibniz, helped me to an answer.  The subjects are chiefly microentities, especially (judging from current science) cells or living subhuman individuals in one’s own body, but involving, in less distinct fashion, the very atoms or molecules of which the cells are composed, and also more or less indirectly the active individuals composing matter in the environment.  At this point the divergence from the Berkeleyan subjectivism (which I used to find it amusing to defend) became definite.  We do not experience mere ideas, even divine ideas, but rather subjects having ideas—or at least feelings—of their own, subjects on countless levels other than either the divine or the human.  What we feel in sensation is how these other subjects feel.  Whitehead is by far the most explicit on this point of all the philosophers I have read.  But Peirce did write, “consciousness is a sort of public spirit among the brain cells.”  (I should say, nerve cells in general, with probably the peripheral sense organs—rods and cones, say—included.)

Another question concerns the temporal relations of subjects.  Is the “I” in “I feel” something strictly identical throughout the life of a human animal, something already there before the infant can possibly say or understand “I”?  Or is the actual subject doing or suffering the feeling something that comes into being with the feeling, to be superseded by a new – though closely related – subject with new feelings the next moment?  On this point I am indeed Whitehead’s disciple (though James had already taken the position).  The Concept of Nature, and Northrup’s enthusiasm for this book appealed to me (about 1922), and later Religion in the Making and the metaphysical works, plus the discovery that the Buddhists had thought in this way for two thousand years, reinforced the conviction.  I came to think that the West, until Hume, James, and Whitehead, had failed to think through the relativity of self-identity, had made it into a false absolute.  Strawson and Shoemaker exhibit this incomplete analysis once more.  They perhaps succeed in refuting certain alternatives to the traditional substance view, but not all alternatives.

A third question concerns the interpretation of the cosmic unity of life and experience as deity.  By the principle just set forth, a divine subject should be momentary, destined to be superseded by other divine subjects.  (I shall not here discuss the puzzling question how this is to be related to relativity physics.)  Rather oddly it was Hocking, before I knew anything of Whitehead, who prepared me to accept this implication.  For he led me to break finally with the medieval (in a later version Roycean) view of the divine experience as a totum simul spanning all time once for all, leaving no future really open for God.  I don’t recall ever quite accepting this view; but it was a discussion with Hocking, who on this point sided with James against Royce, that brought my thinking to an explicit conviction. A merely immutable deity I have long regarded as an empty abstraction, just as Fechner and Pfleiderer (as I eventually learned) had long ago said it was.  On this issue I am an Hegelian: the merely infinite, or merely absolute, could not be a concrete reality.  God must be finite and infinite, relative and absolute, mutable and immutable.  In spite of Hegel there need be no contradiction in this, since there is a distinction of respects.  The absolute side is an abstraction.  There is no law of logic forbidding a thing to be immutable, say, in some abstract aspect, but mutable in its concrete fullness.

Still another basic question concerns the causal structure of the cosmic process.  Do the initial conditions of a process and the causal laws strictly and completely specify the process (classical causality), or do the conditions and laws specify the process only incompletely and statistically, rather than absolutely (neoclassical causality)?  I was early convinced the William James and Hocking that classical causality cannot apply to human actions.  Subsequently, Peirce, Whitehead, Heisenberg, and still others led me to the clear conviction that the classical principle, rather than merely falling short of universal validity, is universally invalid, applying strictly to nothing whatever.  It is an artificial simplification or exaggeration, a typical case of absolutizing an essentially relative principle.  Always the initial conditions and causal laws restrict the possible outcome, but they never specify it with absolute precision.  Not because of our ignorance.  Saying that it is because of ignorance that we must formulate the laws statistically is itself but an expression of ignorance.  No one knows that nature is classical in its causal structure.  All attempts to prove it have failed, from Spinoza down.  Peirce showed, long before quantum mechanics, that (as Maxwell had hinted) a classically causal world is, as such, an unknowable world.  Peirce showed more than this.  Before Bergson and Whitehead, he argued cogently that a satisfactory world view is possible only if we admit creativity (his word was “spontaneity,” but he meant about what Bergson and Whitehead have meant by the other word) as universal principle, inherent in concrete reality as such.  Causality is then the way in which any given act of creativity (and this is the same as any given unit of concrete reality or becoming) is influenced or made possible, but yet not fully determined, by antecedent acts.

What limits freedom is simply earlier cases of freedom—otherwise nothing whatever.  “Limit” does not mean absolutely determine.  To ask “Why may not the antecedent cases completely determine the given case?” is to show that one has not grasped the meaning and pervasiveness of creativity or spontaneity.  To create is to determine the otherwise undetermined, particularize the otherwise and antecedently unparticularized, and thus add to the richness of reality.  As Peirce saw, particularity is in principle arbitrary. It cannot follow either from any universal necessity or from antecedent particularity.  Each new particular is a new dose of arbitrariness, of causally transcendent freedom.  Laws are universals, and they cannot, even in combination with antecedent particulars, generate or fully specify subsequent particulars.  Peirce and Whitehead between them have, to my satisfaction, proved this so far as anything philosophical can be proved.

Heisenberg’s famous paper of 1927 was shown to me by a young physicist friend almost as soon as it was published.  I showed it to R. B. Perry, who didn’t seem to like it.  Since I had already bade farewell to the classical causal concept, I saw in it the dawning of a new day in science.  During the forty-three years since then numbers of philosophers have persisted in reacting defensively to the new principle.  They have explained it away, hoped it would be reversed by later experiments and theories, and argued that it left the philosophical question unchanged.  In a sense it did, but what was the philosophical question?  For a Pericean or Bergsonian, for Whitehead or Dewey, the question was, what is the logic of the causal concept?  There are two views.  On either view, causality is real possibility:  the initial conditions and laws limiting what can happen in a particular situation.  Any sane philosophy grants so much.  It remains, however, to decide whether what can happen has all the specificity of what then does happen, or whether instead antecedent causal or “real” possibility is less specific or particular than the actual subsequent event.  There is paradox in the first view.  For if what can happen is the same in character as what does happen, then the distinction between possibility and actuality seems to be nothing definite at all.  Further, if nothing different from what can happen could happen, then real or causal possibility coincides with causal necessity.  Thus modal distinctions collapse.  This alone should make us suspicious.  There are many other conceptual reasons for this suspicion.  I am entirely persuaded that unqualified determinism is a mishandling of concepts.

The philosophic issue in its purity is indeed not changed by quantum mechanics, but only because the philosophically perspicuous position was nonclassical all along.  Yet something has been changed, and significantly so.  This is the cultural position of philosophy relative to science. In the days of Hume and Kant, scientists and philosophers alike thought in classical terms, and no one had the imagination to anticipate a probabilistic science.  To take science seriously was to take classical determinism seriously.  True, Descartes was an indeterminist regarding the human will, and so were Locke and Crusius.  But their view of science had no integral relation to this doctrine.  Thus philosophers faced the dilemma:  either a blind dualism of causal concepts, or a universal determinism.  This situation is gone forever.  We now know that science can be done in nonclassical ways.  From now on determinists must assume full philosophical responsibility for their view, without appeal to the prestige of science.  And the philosophical case for determinism has been as thoroughly explored as any topic, from the Stoics and Spinoza to Kant, Schopenhauer, De Broglie, and many others.  I say that the deterministic project has failed.  Qualified determinism, yes indeed; every animal must live as though the initial conditions limited future possibilities.  But no animal must or even can show by its actions that it takes the future as absolutely determined.  Life is devoid of any such absolute, whether absolute order or absolute disorder.

There is one ambiguity in the present scientific situation.  Quantum uncertainty seems negligible on the macroscopic level of animal organisms, where the statistical probabilities may be so high as to amount to virtual certainties.  Heisenberg’s calculations allow a human being, according to most competent judges, virtually no leeway, given the initial conditions.  But here again a philosophical issue is involved.  As some physicists have argued, formulae designed to explain systems in which no quality of experience or thought corresponds to a system as a whole may not apply, without qualification or “supplementation” (Heisenberg’s word in this connection) for a system which has a unity of feeling, thought, and purpose.  As Wigner puts it, the presence of consciousness must make a difference, and since quantum mechanics says nothing as to what difference it makes, the laws it proposes cannot be accurate for the whole of nature.  A philosopher is no more obligated to accept the absolute adequacy of quantum mechanics than Kant was obligated, though he seems to have thought he was, to accept that of Newtonian mechanics.  But the one way in which quantum mechanics will not be superseded is by a reinstatement of classical physics.  As a chemist friend said to me once, “whatever we do we’re not going back to those fleshpots.”

Becoming is creation.  It is not the mere exhibition of something whose specificity has been already created.  This has immensely important theological applications.  For one thing, it disposes of the classical form of the argument from evil.  For this argument takes divine creativity to be the only efficacious creativity, capable of determining once for all every particular.  But the creationist view denies that this is so much as conceivable.  God could not determine all particulars; for particulars must be in some degree self-determining.  Why then is there evil?  This question should be paired with the really more fundamental question, why is there good?  For if each particular entity is self-determining, how can there be harmony between the entities?  I hold that the best answer is in terms of eminent Creativity, universally influencing but in no case determining all non-eminent creative acts.  In this way limits are set to discord, to frustration of creatures by creatures.  But within the limits it is a matter of chance and not of providence just what goods and evils ensue.  That there is supreme creativity explains how there can be good; that there are lesser but genuine forms of creativity explains how there can be evil.

Consider a floating object in a narrow river.  Because the river is narrow we know much about where the object will be so long as it continues to float.  But the wider the river the less the location of the banks tells us about the future location of the object.  To eliminate all uncertainty by making the width of the river infinitesimal is to make it impossible for any significant object to float in it.  This is the dilemma confronting a world creator.  If there are to be significant happenings, there must be appreciable scope for creaturely self-determination.  But his means appreciable scope for unfortunate conflicts as well as for fortunate harmonies.  Make the risks trivial and you make the opportunities trivial.  I really believe that the dilemma is rigorous.  A harmless but rich and vital scheme of things, a pure utopia, is a contradiction, or else mere verbiage.

Unfortunately the problem of evil is not the only, or for me the most puzzling, difficulty in the theistic view.  I remain a theist, but I do not claim to have lucid solutions for all its problems.

I have now sketched my position, as it has been for much of the fifty-year period in question.  Now I ask myself, what have the cultural changes during that time taught me as to the significance of such a philosophy?  Is it still relevant?  What will the philosophical future do to its fortunes?

The cultural changes are considerable.  Fundamental Protestant and Jewish religions seem much less influential, and Roman Catholic fundamentalism much less dominant.  We have the search for purified religion, and the search for some non-religious yet if possible adequate world-view.  More or less definitely Marxist conceptions have become more widespread.  In technical American philosophy the New Realism is forgotten and Critical Realism as such is scarcely to be found, unless Wilfred Sellars in his ingenious, complicated way is to be considered as in this tradition.  Pragmatism is no doubt influential, but usually merged with other trends.  The idealism of Royce, Bradley, or Hegel has but a few scattered defenders.  The “linguistic turn” is much in evidence, and so is the influence of symbolic logic.  Specialization is a notable feature.  A philosopher today is primarily an aesthetician, or a meta-ethicist, or a logician, or a socio-political philosopher, or a philosopher of science, or an historian of philosophy, or perhaps a philosopher of religion.  My own specialty is easier stated negatively: I am not a logician, though I try to make some use of modern logic; I am not a meta-ethicist, though a few basic ethical principles are important for my whole philosophy.  I am not a philosopher of science in the sense of having competence in the technicalities of mathematics, physics, genetics, or evolutionary theory, though I think a good deal about the philosophical bearings of natural science and psychology.  Aesthetics and metaphysics, including the global history of the latter, and one branch of ethology (the study of animal behavior) are my specialties, though I have published little on the first.

The decline of fundamentalist religion in some ways favors the acceptance of the philosophical values I treasure, in some ways perhaps disfavors it.  For example, consider the belief in “personal immortality.”  (I use quotes because there are two quite different possible meanings for the phrase.)  the “neoclassical metaphysics,” as I call my view, gives no support to the most usual form of this belief.  Until recently this meant a serious conflict with religious sentiment.  But how serious is the conflict now?  Neither Tillich nor Niebuhr is clearly committed to the conventional idea of immortality.  Do most church members really live to get themselves (or others) into heaven or avoid getting into hell?

All readers of Whitehead know that there is another view of immortality which seems, for some at least, able to do the real work of the conventional view.  True, one can no longer try to scare would-be villains into tolerable behavior by threats of everlasting torment.  But how well did this method ever really work?  Is it not a deplorably ignoble method of trying to influence people for good?

I can see a sentimental appeal in the idea that we shall meet our friends again in the hereafter, but I think it is more wholesome to think that what we wish to do for our friends must be done in this life.  As Frost has it, “Earth’s the right place for love, I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.”  This is at any rate where I stand on that issue.  Can we have a humane culture on that basis?  If not, can we have a humane culture?

There is the objection that many have no fair chance in this life and should have another and better opportunity elsewhere.  But on the creationist view, there will, in any sphere, be chance and good and bad luck.  Moreover, since self-identity, as I shall argue presently, is secondary, and the basic motive is precisely not one’s own long-run advantage, the demand for justice, to each according to his deserts, is not an ultimate axiom, valid cosmically or metaphysically.

That many persons have needless luxury while many others have deeply impoverished lives is tragic.  The remedy, however, is not heaven, but better social arrangements and better conduct on all our parts.   “Voluntary austerity” needs to be adopted as an old yet new virtue.  In this I agree with Denis Goulet.  It is foolish and almost wicked to indulge in dreams of an economy of abundance for the entire world.  No such thing is in sigh as a sober political prospect.  To will luxury for all is, practically, to will misery for hundreds of millions, or even billions.  There are large pockets of fantastic abundance and large pockets of terrible deprivation.  The former are more obvious in this country, the latter in Asia and South America.  But both are almost everywhere.  The old rich-poor contrast is not going to disappear by everyone’s becoming rich.  This is wishful thinking.  The best we can hope for in the foreseeable future is that the class of neither rich nor poor will grow relatively to the other two classes (especially the second) and that the renunciation of riches will become more voluntary.  Earth’s resources are finite, and man’s population expansion, which shows no sign of ceasing in the near future, guarantees that the world economy will not be one of abundance.  Man will press against his resources in any future we can reasonably predict, and the question of distribution will remain critical.  The justice we need is on earth, not in heaven. The gospel suspicion of riches is not irrelevant, but more relevant that ever.  Here the clergy may have much to repent about.  (Still more their rich parishioners.)  Have they dared to preach on this point?  Have the hippies had some insight into this?

Because self-determination and hence chance is pervasive, any justice anywhere will be rough, not exact.  But the degree of injustice in the historic treatment of blacks, for instance, is indefensible.  The point is not that the universe owes each of us this or that, but that the rational aim for each of us can only be the general good and that it is not for the general good that individuals should be grossly disadvantaged by irrelevant criteria such as color.  Slavery and its lingering fragments and consequences are basic causes of present unrest and disillusionment. We have sown the wind and need not be surprised by the whirlwind.  It is, however, a tragic truth of history that such whirlwinds often injure the very persons whose grievances are their causes.

I mentioned a non-conventional view of personal immortality.  This is the Bergsonian-Whiteheadian doctrine of the cumulative nature of becoming, or “the immortality of the past.”  It is our earthly lives that are imperishable, our actual experiences.  They persist as background content, memories, perceptions, through all future experience.  True, these memories and perceptions are mostly, in ordinary cases, very faint.  But according to theistic philosophy there is also the extraordinary or “eminent” case, divine perception and memory.  Thanks to it, the full vividness of our experiences can “live forevermore.”  Is this personal immortality?  If one’s actual concrete experiences are not personal, I do not know what would be.  They represent all that one actually is.  Beyond our actual experiences our personalities are simply potentialities for experience.  Those who want to “wake up” in heaven are not asking for the preservation of their earthly actuality; rather they ask for the actualization of additional possibilities.  I hold with Whitehead that actual occurrences, experiences, are the concrete entities and that all actual value is in these.  If immortality is preservation of the already created, Whitehead’s view furnishes it.  But we should know what we are asking, whether preservation or additional creation.  Before Whitehead, what great philosopher has been clear about this distinction?  Perhaps Fechner was.  The future of religion will depend in no small part upon whether people can realize that preservation of what we create in ourselves and other suffices to give life a lasting meaning, and that to ask also for endless further self-creation is not easily distinguishable from asking that we should be God, who indeed is endlessly self-creative.

The feeling that death is wrong, in principle an evil, or the evil, rests on several confusions.  (1) There is the confusion between the concrete and the abstract.   Preservation of an animal organism means not that something concrete and actual remains in being; for what the animal is now it will in any case not be the next moment.  Rather, something of what it potentially is now it will actually be the next moment, and what it actually is now will belong to the reality of the past, and only so far as remembered or perceived will it belong to the reality of the new present.  What is preserved in animal endurance is something abstract, the identical form or pattern of the animal.  But its present experiences will belong to the past.  The basic preservation of the actual is not through this abstract continuance.  The animal instinctively strives to maintain itself; however, this self, an abstraction, is but a link in the more abstract continuance of the species, and the still more abstract continuance of life in general of earth.  Animals sometimes instinctively risk death to preserve their young.  Self-preservation is not an absolute in nature.

(2) There is the confusion between the failure of one’s own consciousness to continue in new experiences and the failure of consciousness in general to continue.  This latter failure would indeed be monstrous; nay more, it is, I hold veritably inconceivable, as some say their own failure to continue is inconceivable to them.

(3) There is, for those of us who are theists, the confusion between ordinary and divine experience.  It is not my death, but God’s that would make my life a mere absurdity.  (But the idea is itself an absurdity.)  For all of life is, wittingly or not, an offering to the divine life.  Death, and even more than death, the way each of our experiences vanishes into the (humanly speaking) largely forgotten past should convince us that we are not the final reapers of the harvests we sow.

In my opinion, held now for 52 years without encountering a shadow of reason to alter it, self-interest, i.e., interest in one’s own future adventures, fortunes, misfortunes, and death, is in no sense whatever the rational motive for action.  It is a rational motive in exactly the same sense as interest in the future of another person is rational.  It is merely stupid to find only one’s own future appealing or interesting.  The present actual self enjoys aiming at future consequences, whether upon one’s own future life or another’s, and this present enjoyment in aiming at future consequences needs no guarantee that the same animal individuality will always benefit by what I now does.  One’s future selves are interesting, so are the future selves of others; and not to be interested in the interesting is the essence of ignorance or irrationality.  Self-identity of the single empirical individual through change is not the key to motivation.  Every Buddhist has known this for two thousand years.  Whitehead knew it.  How many in the West have not known it?  As Whitehead said, one weakness in both Buddhism and Christianity is the way each has protected itself from the other.  Millions of Christians have mouthed the words, “love thy neighbor as thyself,” and yet have more or less definitely accepted a metaphysics which implied: “I love myself because I am myself; I am not the other person, hence I cannot love him as myself.”  This is a scandal in nearly all Western philosophy of religion.

There is still another confusion in the feeling that death is wrong.  Death coming too early, before one has actualized one’s essential potentialities, is of course an evil.  I do not see such deaths as providential but as unlucky tragedies.  Human life has a basic pattern: infancy, childhood, adolescence, the prime of life, old age.  Each brings basic novelties that furnish refreshing contrast to previous experience.  Each in fortunate cases lasts long enough so that the variations on the theme of the stage in question are not tediously numerous, yet numerous enough to bring out the value of the themes.  I seriously propose the aesthetic analogy here.  A theme is worth a finite, not an infinite number of variations.  A human individuality is a theme, a subtly complex one, to be sure, but still a theme.  It can stand many variations.  But the conventional idea of immortality implies infinite variations.  I deeply disbelieve that my individuality could stand an infinity of diverse expressions, except so far as it is God, rather than myself, who enjoys the variations.  God will, I take it, recombine his memory of me with an infinity of other objects of his experience. But this amounts to saying that the only theme worthy of infinite variations is deity.  I go on record here and now as not claiming for myself any such infinite inexhaustibility.

There is then nothing evil about death simply as such.  It is only a boundary, establishing the definiteness, the distinctiveness, of each non-divine theme.  That in all these centuries of philosophizing the points made in the previous paragraph have rarely been expressed seems strange.  No wonder people are confused.  They do not even have a decent theory of death.  The other animals need no such theory, for they do not know that they die.  But man does need it, for he does know.

Giving up dreams of heaven and nightmares of hell should make it easier to focus on our actual problems of helping one another to live nobly on earth.

Contemporary youth is exacting in requiring that views be “relevant.”  I should like to mention one way in which the doctrine of creationism is relevant.  The deterministic bias, whether in the theological or secular form, easily leads to the idea that life could be completely non-tragic, harmless but beautiful, devoid of conflict but full of vitality.  Perhaps the First Cause could arrange such an ideal scheme of things, or human ingenuity and determination could do it.  The initial conditions once perfected, everything would be ideal and according to everyone’s desire.  The philosophy of creativity banishes these dreams.  All the utopians unwittingly imagine an absence of creativity.  Self-determined beings only by good luck fulfill each other’s purposes entirely. I decide X, you decide Y, what ensues is X and Y, and this neither of us decided.  Introduce deity, eminent decision, and still you and I must be in some degree self-decided, so that there will be an XY which not even God has decided or intended.  Nor was it causally predetermined.  It just happens. The familiar practice of scornfully deriding chance as having nothing to do with freedom misses this point as if by magic.  Chance intersections of self-determining purposes are inherent in the very idea of a plurality of genuinely active individuals, if “chance” means, not intended by anyone, and not the only causally possible occurrence, given the initial conditions.  Accidents will happen in any scheme of things, and some of them will be unpleasant.

The impossibility of utopia does not mean that all reform is foolish.  The real aim of reform is not to bring us closer to heaven but, under the given conditions, to optimize the ratio of risks and opportunities.  With the changes inherent in science and technology, customs and institutions lose their previous fitness, so that without reform not only do we not move closer to heaven but we do move closer to hell.  Obviously pollution of our environment is a worsening of life; we will be lucky to slow down the deterioration.  Heaven is not the end of this road.

The early modern view of science as chiefly increase in man’s power for good tended to make far too light of the truth that man’s power for evil is similarly increased.  All freedom is dangerous; science magnifies the consequences of man’s freedom, and in some ways the freedom itself.  On either count it magnifies the risks, already great, in the human mode of animal existence.  it should have been taken for granted all along that immense care would be needed to keep the new risks from outweighing the new opportunities.  Purely non-tragic views of life are woefully inadequate.  Deterministic philosophies are partly responsible for such views.  Theological determinism first, secular determinism afterwards, both are bad and their consequences are still with us.  I have known kind persons who thought that the poor were so only because they deserved to be; for, after all, God, who arranges everything, is just.  There are secular versions of the same sort of cruelty.  And all utopians indulge in it.  They imply that there is or could be a right scheme of things:  if it exists, misfits deserve little sympathy; if not, it should be brought into existence and all who stand in the way are to be brushed aside.  But social arrangements do not exist to eliminate all risks; they exist to mitigate the possible unlucky consequences of freedom and favor the lucky ones.  They do not exist to eliminate luck, good and bad, for this cannot be.  And the unlucky are also fellow human beings.  A federal commission has reported that our present economic arrangements virtually guarantee not only considerable unemployment but pitifully low incomes for substantial numbers of those employed.  Considering the waste and frivolous luxury which we also have, it cannot be held that this is the best we can do.  But raw violence does not seem the most promising way to persuade the more fortunate or influential groups to make the needed changes.

The anarchistic trend noticeable today reminds one of the saying of Ortega, a true philosopher of creativity: “Anarchism is a social disease.”  Coherent social action is a wonderful creation.  It is at least as amazing how much good human beings do to each other as how much harm they do.  The problem of cooperation to maintain a city, or even a family, is not simply how those with good intentions, or even good intentions and good intelligence, can prevail over the wicked or stupid.  Good and intelligent men use their creativity in various ways which only by extremely good luck can prove entirely harmonious.

What is wrong with “bourgeois” ideas or ideals is partly their non-tragic, deterministic faith in the absolute goodness of some actual or possible form of social order.  But anarchistic revolutionaries also have a form of this faith.  It is hard to admit that in any society there would be evils for which no one was wholly responsible.  I understand the impatience of the victims of racism, that centuries-old wickedness and folly.  But no establishment, and no absence of an establishment, will make life on a high level easy, or enable us to dispense with patience for our own fate and charity for our fellow creatures.

It should not be overlooked that accelerating technological change is bound to make parts of our tradition dangerously inadequate. The challenge of Marx at this point was more relevant than most of our ancestors admitted, and so was the challenge of Malthus.  Indeed technology has accentuated the threat to which Malthus pointed.  Scientific hygiene has made the easy answers to this thinker even less convincing than they otherwise were, and scientific studies of genetics and of environmental, especially family, influences have made it even more obvious than before that racism is a doctrine resting upon quarter truths.  More and more its defence implies ignorance or dishonesty.

All freedom has risks, man has the most freedom, scientific man the most of all.  From freedom come all dangers as well as all opportunities.  People who accept cars and television, but expect social routines to continue as they were in their own youth, when the understanding that made these things possible was not yet in being, are deceived.  It may not suit our convenience that novelty cannot be limited to mere gadgets, but it cannot.  We shall have to create socially as well as mechanically and electronically.  Creativity is the ultimate principle.

I believe, however, that one ancient truth remains, and it is clear that some of our restless young are aware of this, the truth that love also is ultimate.  Indeed, creativity and love are two aspects of one principle.  We create out of creations by past selves, including our own past selves, and we create for future selves, our own future selves in no absolute sense having the primacy.  All life is socially dependent, socially contributory, as well as in some degree, self-determining.  Each person may do “his own thing,” but only by participating in the lives of others; each acts for the present joy of acting, and beyond the present looks to the joys of those who come after.  While life lasts, one is oneself among those who at least may come after, but this is not guaranteed and, if one faces the centrality of death in life, it is not the main point.  The present appropriates the past and (at best) willingly serves the future.  Man is the one animal who can conceive the universal; his privilege and dignity is that the individual can see himself as one pebble on the beach.  Ultimately, taking the entire future into account, it is the total content of the beach that matters.  For me it is only a clearer statement to say that it is God, the fully immortal being, who finally matters.  He alone is the reaper of all harvests.  For us is the joy of the planting, for him the joy of the reaping.   This is what it means to me to say that the meaning of life is the glory of God.  

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