What I Believe
James Hayden Tufts
MY generation has seen the passing of systems of thought which had reigned since Augustine. The conception of the world as a kingdom ruled by God, subject to his laws and their penalties, which had been undisturbed by the Protestant Reformation, has dissolved. We watch the process, but as yet are scarcely awake to its possible outcome. The sanctions of our inherited morality have gone. Principles and standards which had stood for nearly two thousand years are questioned. The process goes on among us in methods which are perhaps no less radical because they are not violent. In Russia the change is both radical and violent. It is seen at work in our great institutions of law, politics, business, industry, and philanthropy. To understand and interpret the origins of moral life and the complex relationships between moral ideas and the great social institutions has seemed to me a fascinating field of work. I began my work in philosophy with studies in its history. I changed to ethics because, as I came to gain a clearer view of the important tendencies of the time, I thought the ethical changes the most significant.
I was born and received my early education in western Massachusetts. My ancestry along all its various lines, with the exception of the paternal Tufts strain, had come to Massachusetts in the Puritan migration of 163o or shortly afterwards. My great-great-grandfather, John Tufts, had come to western Massachusetts in the considerable company of Scotch-Irish about a hundred years later. One of the emigrant ancestors, the Reverend Ralph Wheelock, is said to have been enrolled in Clare College, Cambridge; but with this exception all my ancestors in both lines were farmers until my grandfather, James Tufts, went to Brown University (then Providence College) as a preparation for the ministry, graduating in 1789; and my maternal grandfather fitted himself for the practice of medicine by attendance upon lectures in Dartmouth College. Both settled in a pioneer town of southern Vermont, high on the Green Mountains. My clerical ancestor remained in this, his first parish, until his death, and in accord with what seems to have been a not uncommon usage, was
( 334) known as "Priest" Tufts through all the county, and indeed beyond. He was in his theology a follower of Nathaniel Emmons, with whom he had studied after graduation from college. It was a stern doctrine which he preached; yet for forty years he was a commanding influence as the spiritual ruler of the community. Very probably it was the ambition of the alert-planning mother, who was quite as influential in family decisions as the more formally educated father, that encouraged the second James Tufts, my father, to set out from home across the mountain, forty miles on foot, his outfit in a small satchel, to begin preparation for Yale College. My father never lost the atmosphere of this Green Mountain town in which the church was the centre and circumference of the community life, and in which no one thought of questioning the minister's declaration of the counsels of God. The Yale College of that day was a group of very serious young men, many of them expecting to enter the ministry. The atmosphere of the parsonage was repeated in New Haven and further found in Andover Theological Seminary, to which my father went from Yale. Sudden loss of voice prevented my father from preaching as he had intended, but he maintained throughout his long life his theological interest, and this was an element in the environment of my early years.
My father was fond of discussion. On week days the morning newspaper, on Sunday the subjects of the morning sermon were invariably discussed, and the boys of our family were expected to remember at least the minister's text and to state the principal "heads" of the discourse.
My mother was also an important influence in my education, although during the formative years of my childhood she was a nearly helpless invalid. She had received a good education according to the standards of that day for women, and had been a successful teacher previous to her marriage. She had inherited from both father and mother a refinement of spirit; her religious experience of conversion had given scope and purpose to her life. To meet her ambitions and standards was a goal to be striven for.
My early education was of a somewhat irregular sort. After my father had remained for some years without definite occupation,
( 335) owing to the loss of his voice, he was induced by his old college friend to become principal of one of the New England academies. After a few years he resigned from this position and took into his home a small number of boys for private instruction. Some of these boys were fitting for college, and my own preparation was hitched on somewhat casually to the work which chanced to be under way. If a boy came along who wished to begin algebra, I began or reviewed algebra, and when other boys began Latin or Greek, I formed one of the beginning class in that subject. My father was an excellent drill master, and I had thorough preparation in the classics with a minimum of hours devoted to study. It was a relatively easy and enjoyable journey that I traversed through Caesar and Cicero and Virgil, Xenophon and Homer. At fourteen I had covered the ground prescribed for college entrance, although in many other lines my education was grossly deficient.
Meanwhile, I was getting another sort of education for which I have always been thankful. My father's homestead included a small farm whose dairy and garden supplied the family table with a large share of what hungry boys ate and drank. The manual labour was in the charge of a capable hired man, but there seemed to be a large amount of work which was within the powers and duties of a boy. In the winter, the care of the cattle after the morning's milking; in the summer, the work of planting and haying and harvesting—all offered strength and health and fellowship with other workers. From being a rather delicate young child I became well and strong. I acquired a constitution that knew little fatigue and seemingly no limits of endurance, during my years of study and early teaching. What was, perhaps, almost equally valuable was my acquaintance with the point of view of the man who works with his hands, and my ability to meet many sorts and conditions of men on common terms. During the four years after I had traversed the preparatory studies for admission to college, and before the actual date of my entrance upon my college course, I had read a considerable amount of history, had reviewed and extended my reading of the classics, and had (unwisely) taught a district school for two years. I had also
( 336) become a member of the Congregational Church. So far as I can recall, I accepted even the somewhat comprehensive creed. While I do not think that doctrines relating to the future life occupied relatively a large part in actual worship and preaching, I presume that if asked I should have given them assent. At eighteen I entered college and a new stage of my intellectual life began.
The New England college of those days has now completely vanished. The curriculum, indeed, had been partially liberalized by the introduction of a considerable number of elective courses. But the spirit of the college remained much as it had been in the days of its founders, sixty years earlier. We studied the Classics, mathematics, the basal natural sciences, the modern languages and literatures. In the senior year, all students had the course in philosophy. But the outstanding feature of the college, as I now picture its atmosphere and its influence, was the religious seriousness. The impressive figure of President Seelye made morning chapel and Sunday church service the most characteristic exercises of the week. I elected typical courses in language, literature, natural science, and philosophy. Professor Garman began his work as teacher in our freshman year, as our instructor in mathematics. In our senior year he taught us philosophy, but he had not yet worked out the course which gave him such a conspicuous position among American teachers of philosophy. Yet even so, his sympathetic grasp of the undergraduates' somewhat bewildered state of mind in traversing Hickok's texts and his illumination of the deeper issues in religion and society left a leaven at work.
A conviction of the influence of ideas was one of the chief reasons for the selection of a career. The atmosphere of my home was almost compelling. I recall vividly my mother's report of a conversation which she had with the mother of a classmate at the time of my graduation from college. The two mothers were comparing notes as to the plans and prospects of their sons. The mother of the classmate said, "I don't know what X will do, but his mind is filled with plans for making money." She spoke in a tone of disappointment, and my mother repeated the conversation as though such disappointment was the most natural thing in
( 337) the world. For women of their antecedents some professional career was the only thinkable line of work. I had never discussed seriously the question of a career, but my own interest in this case coincided with the expectations of my parents. My father, although he had himself expected to enter the ministry, until loss of health compelled him to change to the allied profession of teaching, was more scrupulous than might have been expected in attempting to influence my choice, although I knew he would be greatly disappointed if I did not choose a career which had in it the opportunity for useful work of some sort. In the Amherst College of the 'eighties a transition was in progress. Until that period a large proportion of the able students among the graduates had entered the ministry. In the 'eighties and 'nineties the profession of college or university teacher began to be increasingly effective. President Seelye and Professor Garman did much to encourage this tendency. President Seelye spoke frequently and with pride of the numbers of Amherst men upon the faculty of Columbia and of the recently organized Johns Hopkins. It was the conviction of President Seelye and Professor Garman that in the days of transition in religious and political views which was then in progress, the opportunity of the thoroughly trained teacher was greatest of all. He seemed to embody in concrete form the power of ideas. It was hard for one who had passed four years in the study of ideas and their relationships to life and institutions to think in any other terms than in those of the opportunity for influence thus afforded. Reports reached us, through Garman's course, of new industrial organizations, of the beginnings of the struggle of the Government with corporate wealth. But to all except a few of the students of the college these reports seemed to be from a world which did not concern us. If we took them seriously we thought of our function in society as that of understanding and discussing rather than of actually plunging into the world of affairs. At any rate, to understand what was going on and to teach young people seemed to many of us at that time one of the genuinely worth-while lines of effort.
Two years spent in the college as an instructor in mathematics helped to define my problem further. I was still somewhat hesitant
( 338) between teaching philosophy, as advised by President Seelye and Professor Garman on the one hand, and entering the ministry. During my college course I had taken an active part in student activities from football to debating. I enjoyed speaking to an audience, and thought it probable that the executive opportunities in the ministry might appeal to my interests in that direction. I entered Yale Divinity School with the question still undecided, and divided my time nearly equally between the divinity course, on the one hand, and studies in philosophy with Professor Ladd and anthropology under William G. Sumner on the other. It was an invitation from President Angell to become an instructor in the University of Michigan, coming in the summer after my graduation from the Divinity School, which was the decisive factor in my career. Henceforward I gave myself to the life of the scholar, although at intervals I have taken on administrative work as Dean of the Colleges; and when in 1925 President Burton, of the University of Chicago, felt the need of assistance in his large plans for a new creative epoch, I found a fascinating though extremely difficult field in the office of Vice-President.
The University of Michigan in 1889 was a stimulating place. President Angell was surrounded by a faculty comprising some of the older generation, and some men fresh from Johns Hopkins and other schools of graduate work. Many who have since achieved the highest eminence in their fields were then on the staff. The University was undoubtedly the most active centre of research west of the Alleghanies. Professor Dewey had already made himself known by his Psychology and his Leibniz. The tradition of philosophy, as this had been built by Professor George Morris, was that of a commanding and enriching subject. The ablest students elected it. A young instructor could have had no more favourable conditions.
But at Yale I had studied with Professor W. R. Harper and had been greatly impressed by his tireless energy and far-reaching ideas. When, therefore, he invited me to join the faculty which he was assembling for the new University of Chicago I reluctantly decided to leave my attractive position at Ann Arbor and to cast in my lot with the new enterprise. Believing that study in Europe
( 339) would be important for effective work in the new institution, I spent a year at Berlin and Freiburg, taking my doctor's degree at the latter university under Aloys Riehl with a thesis upon Kant's Teleology. My years of academic training had reached an end. I was eager to join the body of scholars which assembled on October 1, 1892, and with the exception of the year 1920-21, spent as visiting professor in Columbia University, I have continued in my position in the University of Chicago.
Stimulating and absorbing as it was to take part in the making of a new university, I can now see that this was, perhaps, less crucial for my development in the long run than the contacts with the City of Chicago, and the challenge to all my previous philosophy which the unaccustomed conflicts of forces presented. At the outset I devoted myself to the history of philosophy, and during the first year translated Windelband's History. But I began almost from the first to feel the impact of an environment very different from that of my New England scheme of the political and economic order. On the one hand, Chicago was then, and continued to be, a city of power. The centre of marketing, transportation, finance, for the great Middle West, it had been a school for forceful leaders. In the building of vast industries, of establishments for wholesale and retail trade, and of substantial banking organizations, it was a city of opportunity. It was a city still in the making, and with ambitions not limited by ordinary bounds. The beauty of its World's Fair augured well for its future support of a university.
Power and the attitude of brooking no resistance to great plans gave rise in some cases to a disposition which, if not arrogant, was at any rate little disposed to submit to restraint or dictation from any opposing body of opinion, whether from labour unions, or from politicians, or from courts. Least of all, perhaps, was it inclined to seek wisdom from academic opinion or social reformer. The tendency was rather toward fighting out controversies than toward compromise. The contrast between dwellings upon the Lake front and those back of the Yards, or in South Chicago, evidenced the sharp division of wealth from poverty.
What place could the University be expected to fill in such a
( 340) turbulent, swift-moving stream? Would the City dominate the University? Would the University in time supply new interests and contribute toward new standards of individual and civic life? Coming closer to my own field, the many threads which had been thus far weaving no definite pattern beyond that of the traditional systems and methods seemed gradually to fit into an order which for me, at least, was a new structure. The making of ideas and the reaction of ideas upon the forming and reforming of moral and civic trends became a focus of attention.
Ethics must begin by understanding our ethical conceptions. It came home to me that these could not be adequately under-stood by purely intellectual analysis. Justice, I found, meant different things to different persons and different groups. Perhaps similar ambiguities lurked beneath other concepts. I determined to ask whether history would throw any light upon their formation. I was not definitely challenging Lotze's distinction between origin and validity. In fact, I had been taken by it when I had first heard it applied to the field of religion. Rather I was following a line which had always been fascinating to me and which had been strongly reinforced by my studies in anthropology and folkways under Professor William G. Sumner. But as time went on I came incidentally upon difference in ethical premises, in what we like to think of as our common morality, which could apparently be accounted for only by the attitudes of mind begotten by status or occupation. I found myself impelled in the direction of the thesis : (1) Moral ideas are shaped under the influence of economic, social, and religious forces; (2) and ideas in turn do not remain as objects of contemplation or scientific analysis only, but become patterns for action, emerging, it may be, in a Russian revolution.
Opportunities for more specific testing of both phases of the above thesis were not wanting. For example, I found myself Chairman of a committee of the social agencies of the City, which had been appointed to keep track of all legislation, proposed or enacted, that might concern the civic, philanthropic, and protective work of these agencies. We framed a number of bills, some of which passed the legislature and became laws. The subsequent fate of a proposal for providing health insurance by the
( 341) State was very instructive. A commission was authorized for the investigation of the proposal, a competent expert was engaged, and an excellent study made, but the report which came from the committee to the legislature bore no relation to the data of the experts' inquiry. The combined opposition of labour unionists, physicians, and those opposed to any new and unusual plan killed the measure. It is not easy to pass a law which is likely to interfere with a vested interest.
My closest contact was made possible through an invitation to act as Chairman of the Board of Arbitration in the Hart Schaffner & Marx clothing industry—a responsibility which later came to cover the clothing industry in Chicago. It was of the essence of this function that the arbitration was a continuous process. The Board was like a court in that it recorded all its decisions and followed precedents if these seemed to be the best ways of meeting changing situations, but differed from a court in having no necessary rules except those jointly agreed upon by the firm and the union. As the Board of Arbitration met, not as is frequently the case in arbitration proceedings, to settle a particular strike, but rather as a permanent body to make a substitution of reason for force and determine such policies as would promote peace and efficiency in the industry, the conditions called for adjustment, not on the basis of compromise, but rather on the basis of finding, so far as is humanly possible, what was the right thing and what would give permanent satisfaction.
I served for two years in this work and found it very difficult, but also very much worth while. For nearly every moral principle which I had been reaching by study of industry from the outside was called upon in the settlement of the questions which were presented to the Board. Fortunately, my predecessor had laid well the foundations for subsequent procedure, but every contest for appeal tested the method which I had been following. I repeatedly found that to know the whole history of the situation put a controversy in a different light. I learned at first hand how certain of our basal conceptions are affected by origins.
The thesis that moral ideas are subtly coloured or infected by particular circumstances is opposed to the doctrine that such
( 342) ideas are independent of time and place and human bias; that right is right, and may be discovered and fixed by rational intuition unaided and unaffected by feeling or non-rational factors. In the study of this thesis, I had been particularly struck with the obvious derivation of many moral concepts from class distinctions. "Honour," "nobility," are obviously the qualities required or found in a superior class; "mean" and "villain" are correlates. The military class, the sporting class, the trading class, the working class, each has its term of class approval, and some of these ultimately get recognition as good ethical concepts. But with some of the fundamental ethical concepts, the subtle influence of class is less commonly recognized. Let us examine certain influences that work in fixing the meaning of honesty and justice. These are conceptions which Sidgwick treats as lacking in clearness and certainty, when used by common sense.
One day, as Chairman of the Board of Arbitration in a local industry, I had been listening to a rather severe complaint on the part of the management. The charge was made that in a certain workroom the standard of efficiency was low. The particular part of the manufacturing process which was performed in this room had not been placed upon a piece-work basis, nor yet had it been so thoroughly standardized as to give a fairly accurate measure of the work of each man. It was claimed by the management that some of the workers took advantage of the situation and shirked or slacked. "We pay a fair wage; these men do not give a fair day's work in return; they are not honest." Whereupon one of the workers' representatives, not so much in reply to the charge as in genuine uncertainty, exclaimed half under his breath," What is `honest'?" I thus had forcibly presented the doubt of the worker as to the standard employed. For when one considers the process of gradual speeding up which has been the accompaniment of constantly improved machinery and constant division of labour, one is forced to recall that the wage cost per hour of product has greatly diminished, while the wage, although increasing, has often increased far less than the total gain from improved processes would seem to warrant. How can we determine what would be the honest share of labour in the increased efficiency
( 343) of the machine process? Should all the profit go to the manufacturer, or should a part go to the workman? And if the latter, then how much will be an honest share? Can we say that the bargaining of the market will yield a standard of division which can claim moral sanction, or are we forced to say that if the standard is set purely by the market, then the amount of labour given in return should be set likewise by a purely market pace? In other words, honesty under such circumstances is no longer an unambiguously moral conception.
A slightly different aspect of the ambiguity in the conception of honesty is presented by the so-called double-standard of business and industry. The workman in industry is expected to perform some service and to receive a wage which represents as nearly as can be determined a fair payment therefor. But in many business transactions the only limit of profit is what you can get. The successful business man is he who can reap the largest profit with the least expenditure of effort. It is, of course, not unknown to the worker that profit is justified on the basis of risk which is a feature of speculation. Nevertheless the obstinate fact remains that in many specific cases huge profits are the result of accident, or of sudden demands for real estate, or to general business trends, and do not imply any useful service on the part of the man who profits. The less expenditure in time and effort which he makes the greater the praise for his shrewdness and business capacity. Certainly it is somewhat awkward to have these two standards side by side, especially since it has been customary to shift a considerable part of risk to the shoulders ofemployees by reducing the force when times are slack.
Conceptions of justice afford a peculiarly complex example of the mingling of rational and non-rational factors. Justice, together with its allied conceptions of what is fair, or equitable, or reason-able, may plausibly claim to be a conception reached by rational analysis. It seems to disclaim any sociological, or economic, or political warping. The appeal of the Hebrew prophet to do justly, no less than the philosophic conception of the Roman Jurisconsult, to live honourably, to injure none, and to give every man his own,or the principles of natural law laid down by Blackstone, may
( 344) plausibly claim to be a fixed standard. From the prophetic revival in ancient Egypt unto the present day the scales have been the symbol of justice, and the cry of the "eloquent peasant": "Can the scales weigh falsely?"seems to deserve but one answer. Nevertheless to one who traces the history of the concept in law and morals two strands are evident: on the one hand justice seeks equality through its principle of equality before the law; on the other it is tender to vested interests or existing status; on the one hand it magnifies permanence and fixity ; on the other it leans toward giving some place for change; on the one hand it is the ideal of reason; on the other it is the decree of authority. And according as this authority takes the form of precedent or that of the will of the sovereign or of the people, we have the basis for the divided attitude of our poets and the divided conceptions of justice which prevail among our different social classes. Or if wetake the mode of defining justice which conceives it as securing and protecting rights, we have still more apparent the influence of class and status. To the property-owning class, rights of property seem fundamental to the established order and good of society. On the other hand, the alleged right of a workman to his job seems a fantastic and fully unjustifiable claim. And a second article in the creed of Union labour, "Thou shalt not take a fellow-workman's job,"is likewise incomprehensible to an employer, for whom labour is a commodity to be bought and sold in the open market as is any other unit necessary for production. The thinking of the workman naturally starts from what seems to him the most fundamental of all rights—namely, the right to live. How can one live unless he can get a living? And how can he geta living except as he has a job? And to the man who knows but one craft, what job can he claim if not the one which he has learned and practised?
To the employer, on the other hand, especially if he has built up a business largely through his own organizing ability, the work-man has no claims beyond the close of the day or week or month for which he is hired. There may be a place for kindness to the workman who is ill, but there is no requirement of justice.
A head-on collision between conceptions of justice is presented
( 345) by recent controversy between mine-owners and miners. In the Hitchman cases the mine-owner required the applicant for a job to sign a contract by which he agrees not to join any labour union while working for the company. On the basis of prohibiting interference with these contracts, the Miners' Union is enjoined by the court from inducing or persuading any of the contracting miners to join the union.
Here, then, is a conflict of fundamental rights which to each party respectively appear absolute. The workman regards the contracts, the signing of which is a necessary condition of getting a job, as depriving him of his natural rights to combine with others in order to improve his conditions. If he is deprived of all help from association, what is left to him ? The fact that he has signed a contract does not, in his view, alter the main fact, viz. that he has signed away his one phase of freedom which was most important to him. On the other hand, the mine-owner conceives the business as his business and his property. In his view the union is an outside organization which is interfering with the conduct of his business. He does not ask anyone to work for him. He accepts men who apply. He requires a contract which prevents them from joining a union, but he places no coercion upon any man to compel him to sign this contract. The right of property and the right to combine are here in flat contradiction. Which set of rights is favoured by courts will evidently depend upon which, in the opinion of the court, are most important to preserve.
In other words, justice is in certain hard cases dependent upon the standard set by the court.
The theory is, of course, that the courts decide cases according to law and not according to bias. No doubt this is true in many types of cases, but in the cases which involve fundamental conceptions, where it is often the decision of the court that will make the law and not vice versa, we see the complex influences at work.
The conclusive evidence that the judges are expected to make the law in a given direction is seen in the weight attached in a presidential campaign to the appointing power of the President. When a strong argument for the election of a given candidate for the presidency is found in the probability that he will appoint
( 346) safe or radical members of the court, no further evidence is needed that the Supreme Court is expected to follow the elections.
The logic which underlies such facts as we have quoted is highly instructive for the procedure in pronouncing judgments in new situations. On the one hand, we attack a situation, bringing to bear previous judgments, which have been more or less consolidated into a rule. But the new situation presents stubborn facts which are not easily brought under the rule. To abide by the rule as a definite standard satisfies one demand; it yields the formula for equality of treatment which is certainly one of the factors in justice. But as Professor Pound has so clearly shown, the opposing demand is equally strong, viz. that we should not be influenced by abstract reasoning in such fashion as to lead us to ignore the actual circumstances of the specific case. "General propositions," says Mr. Justice Holmes, in his famous dissenting opinion in the case of Lochner v. New York, "do not determine concrete cases." The logic of the whole process of idea formation and reconstruction could scarcely be better suggested than by the above statement and its implication.
The uncertainty which Sidgwick found in the concept of justice as it functions in the morality of common sense is not surprising when we consider the origins and developments of court rulings. The standard will swing this way or that according as influences of class, or profession, or individual temperament come in to decide which rights ought to prevail.
If, now, it be asked what effect this habitual mode of seeing problems in their concrete and institutional settings has had upon my attitude toward the great historical problems of philosophy, I think I should answer somewhat as follows: I had been easily persuaded by the many arguments by which Plato endeavoured to prove that pleasure could not be considered as the only good. A health of the soul, a life guided by reason, and fulfilling a function in society, a balanced or measured life in which thought and feeling, intelligence and pure pleasures, should all have a place—this seemed and still seems a fair picture. It appeals to the young, it has a permanent message for each new generation.
Nevertheless the picture does not include the greater issues of our day. To interpret these Kant had projected his concepts of duty, universal law, worth of personality, freedom through autonomy. It was an interpretation which sought to include the sacredness of the Hebrew-Christian divine law to which had been added the rational basis of the Stoic-Roman conception of law of nature. When the authority of this universal law was transferred from external power to the legislative self, and when such a self was declared to have ultimate worth, it might appear that Kant summed up the twofold outcome of the process which culminated in the American and French Revolutions. At least, it presented an approach to a moral problem which had a fair claim to be set beside the Greek picture.
As I sought to adjust these two rival systems, centering respectively in the concepts of the good and of right and duty, I thought I found in my genetic studies a more valuable clue to the problem as to which concept should be taken as primary and which made subordinate, than an attempt to solve the problem by analysis. For if we look at the origins of these ideas we find they are distinct. The idea of good is the correlate of desire. It finds its birth in a civilization in which values of various kinds—economic, political, religious, ęsthetic—are present; in which wealth, power, delight of sense, or imagination, at once stimulate and satisfy. Wherever, through competition and comparison, the various impulses and suggested objects of desire, which give promise of satisfying some urge or interest, come into a field of intelligent choice, choice that involves in the last analysis the determination of a new self at the same time with the preference of the object, we have the category of the good emerging.
The categories of right and duty belong rather to a world of personal relations. Both right and duty speak the language of a principle emerging with the dawning consciousness of personalities in relationship to one another, of a social order which speaks of both permanence and change. It is not strange that a culture, such as that of Greece, made the conception of good central. It was not strange that the interpreter of religion, law, and freedom, should make the conceptions of right and duty fundamental.
But the great ethical question of to-day is not precisely that of Plato, nor that of Kant. It is the question of the ethical principles which are now on trial in our social-economic-political system. It is not a question of imagining a perfect state laid up in heaven, but rather of watching the forces and ideas at work in the societies of America, of Europe, and in the not distant future of Asia. If anything was needed to sharpen our interest, Russia has supplied the lack. Capitalism and communism stand over against each other, while Fascism holds itself proudly above both.
Capitalism, as interpreted by Adam Smith, combines three ethical principles. It was based on freedom—freedom to do what one likes; freedom to control one's own property; freedom to buy and sell and exchange as one pleases; freedom to adjust prices by bargaining rather than have them adjusted by guild or government. It was opposed to the medieval doctrine of status. Such a doctrine was welcomed in Europe, but it seemed even more at home in America, for it had no vested rights to fetter it.
In the second place, capitalism made strong appeal to self-interest. The natural right of property, or of the pursuit of happiness, seemed already to put the individual into the centre of his world of affairs. Adam Smith held that a man could look after his own affairs better than another. If each man could look forward to profit from his activity he would have the strongest motive to production. The whole motivation of capitalism has its focus in self-interest. In other words, capitalism rests for its second support upon egoism.
In the third place, however, the egoism of capitalism is harmonized with the universal and democratic principle of utilitarian-ism. If everyone sought his own good, he would contribute in the most effective way toward the happiness of all. Certainly a system which could combine egoism with general welfare, freedom with equality, might claim to be the work of divine wisdom and divine benevolence as Smith declared. But as the system developed in full force, as it employed not merely the new forces of steam and machines, but the co-operation of great numbers of men, the accumulation of credit, the control over transportation, the fixing of prices, it created huge organizations of capital
( 349) and threatened complete control over the laws of debt and credit, of supply and demand, of price and valuation. On the one hand, the power of wealth with its extraordinary inequality of distribution, on the other, the power of the people expressed through legislation. On the one hand, the masters of our economic life, selected by the competition of the market; on the other hand, the masters of our political life, selected by votes. It is a conflict upon a grand scale. On the one hand, capitalism is immensely profitable ; it makes possible a general level of .comfort such as had not been known before. On the other hand, is it not probable that to rely upon egoism as the great motive for the world's work is to foster a certain hardness of temper on the part of masters of industry, and to make material wealth the highest value in the scheme of life? I fear that it is. I believe that we have, on the whole, reason to be content with our culture and civilization in proportion as we have found a balance for the naked principle of capitalism. This balance is found, not so much in the attempted legislative control of trusts and monopolies, of huge fortunes, of railroads and banks, as in the policy of public education for all children and young people, which has become increasingly the pride and the serious enterprise of American life. The equality of opportunity, which is afforded in education, stands over against the inequality of property and income, and is in the long run likely to be at least equally significant for liberty of soul.
Capitalism is on trial as to its ability to secure decent living conditions for all members of society. It is worth while to have an experiment which seeks to make sure of a minimum of necessities for all its citizens. Brutal as the rule of the Bolshevik has been in its methods of control, it has one principle which it may be well for the world to see tried under fair terms. The principle that all should share in at least the necessities is worth trying. At any rate, it is likely to have a considerable trial. The philosopher may be permitted to watch it, although he may expect in some quarters condemnation for his temerity. When the great world conducts a gigantic experiment, the philosopher may at least watch and learn.
My experience in college teaching, which will complete its
( 350) fortieth year this coming spring, has been highly fortunate in the contacts which I have made with young men and young women. Very few of them, so far as I have been able to follow their careers, have failed to be useful men and women, and many of them have become distinguished in the world of scholarship and the world of affairs. I differ strongly from the opinion of many writers upon educational subjects who condemn our American system of college education and would confine the work of universities to graduate and professional schools, and who regret the increased tendency on the part of young people to seek a college education.
With the highest respect for men in the professions, they are not, on the whole, the most influential members of the common-wealth. If the college and the university fail to give education to the men of affairs who are the strongest power in American life, they are missing a great opportunity and forsaking a trust. With all due respect to the importance of devoting time and funds to research, through which the causes of natural and social processes can be brought to light, it may be questioned whether any process is more important than the process of education, and whether college and university can afford to omit from their programme the education of those who are probably for some generations still to come likely to be the leaders in the commonwealth. It may well be that a different college system may give better results than the apparently wasteful methods now in vogue. It seems that our colleges, like our cities, have outgrown the village form of organization and government which gives rise to grossly defective administration. Yet it ought to be possible to maintain for college students the ideals of scholarship and the union of freedom with responsibility which have marked our best institutions. Having taught in an endowed small college for men, in a co-educational state university, and finally for most of my life in an endowed university in which research has been a prominent feature, I believe that the small college will continue to have a place in education ; that the State universities in the greater states will probably be forced to divide their numbers in some fashion, especially their under-graduates, or else find in the organization of junior colleges a measure of relief; and that endowed universities may wisely
( 351) experiment along a variety of types of organization, but will, in my judgment, make a mistake if they disclaim all interest in the education of men of affairs. At present, one of the most serious questions is the somewhat mediocre type of student who presents himself for graduate work. It is a common complaint that numbers of candidates for the master's degree are increasing in quantity without any corresponding improvement in quality, and that even a considerable proportion of those who receive the doctor's degree prove unable or disinclined to carry on scholarly production after their doctor's thesis. In other words, the calibre of those who are candidates for positions as college and university teachers is by no means what is to be desired, if American scholarship is to occupy an appropriate place in the field of world scholarship.
So much concerning the general problem of education I have ventured to put forth as an article of faith to which 1 have come to subscribe during my administrative experience as Dean and Vice-President.
Thus far my more reasoned beliefs. I add certain reflections—perhaps they do not merit the term beliefs—which have a place in my total attitude. These concern art and religion.
My early life was not particularly adapted to cultivate a taste for art. A country village provided no art except music, and Amherst in the 'eighties, although one of the world's choice places for its natural beauty, offered likewise meagre opportunities in the Fine Arts other than literature. Yet in this college period two windows were opened which have never ceased to afford calm and refreshment—namely, Greek tragedy and modern literature, especially English and German. Travel has enabled me to enter into the ideals and constructions of Western Europe, and I have found much material for instruction and appreciation in the cultures and products of our American Indians. I have found in the teaching of esthetics to successive classes of young people an opportunity to afford some aid in appreciating both natural beauty and the forms through which the human spirit has found expression. I believe strongly that our young people need in their lives at just the college age the control and poise and sublimation which
( 352) are found in the best types of art and literature. I have found interest and satisfaction in aiding them to see nature and art and to listen to music with more intelligent appreciation, and to recognize that the values of life are not exhausted by knowing and doing. I look at the decorations, patterned from the lotus flower, which beautify many of our buildings, and wonder whether anything which we are now thinking or doing or creating will last five thousand years and find itself as perennially a source of joy. I believe that it helps to give students a juster view of the worth of different cultures and the capacities of other peoples, to become familiar with the patterns which these folk of past ages and wide areas of earth have devised. To follow sympathetically the expressions of beauty, to be lifted by the sublime, to confront calamity and catastrophe with tragic depth of comprehension, and to look upon all human efforts and good or ill fortune with the sympathy and detachment of friendly good humour—all this belongs to the philosophy of life.
I began this sketch with a reference to the changes in religious doctrines which I have seen and in a sense felt to be vital. The religious community of to-day is beginning to be aware of the gap between the facts which early religion sought to interpret and the symbolism which was used in this effort at interpretation. But no new symbolism has yet proved adequate to embody the profounder experiences which religion has included. Liberally minded members of the great community are seeking new imagery, but to find an imagery for spiritual needs and values, comparable in power and tenderness with the symbolism of the ages, is not easy. Meanwhile, those for whom religion is a spirit rather than a doctrine may at least find themselves united in the desire to bring about a better order in human society, and as such may feel, if they cannot know, a unity with whatever makes for good.
More than most, perhaps, who have aimed to think through these problems honestly, I have continued a relationship with the Church, for I have considered the common purpose and the common feeling more important than the credo. The Church has, on the whole, and in spite of its failures, borne witness to the exist-
( 353) -ence of other than material aims. How the future will meet the change in symbolism and preserve the spirit which has declared the abiding values to be faith, hope, and love, I am content to leave for coming generations to disclose.
Windelband's History of Philosophy (Translator and Editor). New York. Macmillan, 1893, 1901.
Ethics (jointly with John Dewey). New York. Henry Holt, 1908.
The Ethics of Co-operation. Boston. Houghton Mifflin, 1917.
"The Moral Life and the Creation of Values and Standards," in Creative Intelligence. New York. Henry Holt, 1917, pp. 354-408.
The Real Business of Living. New York. Henry Holt, 1918.
Education and Training for Social Work. New York. The Russell Sage Foundation, 1923.