Tuesday, November 29, 2016

11.29.2016 DE FUTILITATE early 1940s (in the Seeing Eye by C.S. LEWIS)

the editor says this was given at Magdalen College, Oxford during World War II at the invitation of Sir Henry Tizard (ten President of the college)

when I was asked to address you, Sir Henry Tizard suggested that the problem of futility was likely to be present to many of your minds. it would have been raised by the disappointment of all those hopes with which the last war closed and the uneasy feeling that the results of the present war may prove equally disappointing. and if I remember rightly he also hinted that the feeling of futility might go even deeper. the eschatological hopes which supported our more remote and christian ancestors, and the secular hopes which supported the Revolutionaries or even the Liberals of the last century, have both rather faded out. there is a certain vacuity left: a widespread question as to what all this hustling and crowded life is ABOUT or whether indeed it is about anything.

now in one way I am the worst person in the world to address you on this subject. perhaps because I had a not very happy boyhood or perhaps because of some peculiarity

78  in my glands, I am too familiar with the idea  of futility to feel the shock of it so sharply as a good speaker on the subject ought to. early in this war a labouring man who was doing a midnight Home Guard Patrol with another educated man and myself, discovered from our conversation that we did not expect that this war would end wars or, in general, that human misery would ever be abolished.I shall never forget that man standing still there in the moonlight for at least a whole minute, as this entirely novel idea sank in and at last breaking out 'then what's the good of the ruddy world going on?  what astonished me - for I was as much astonished as the workman  - was the fact that this misgiving was wholly new to him. how, I wondered, could a man have reached the middle 40s without ever before doubting whether there WAS any good in the ruddy world going on? such security was to me unimaginable. I can understand a man coming in the end, and after prolonged consideration, to the view that existence is not futile. but how any man could have taken it for granted beat me and beats me still. and if there is anyone present whose fear of futility is based solely on such local and temporary facts as the war or the almost equally threatening prospect of the next peace, I must ask him to bear with me while I suggest that we have to face the possiblity of a much deeper and more radical futility: one which, if it exists at all, is wholly incurable.

this cosmic futility is concealed form the masses by popular Evolutionism, speaking to a scientifically trained audience I need not labour the point that popular Evolutionism is something quite different from Evolution as the biologists understand it. Biological Evolution is a theory

79  about how organisms change. some of these changes have made organisms, judged by human standards, 'better' - more flexible, stronger, more conscious. the majority of the changes have not done so. as J. B. S. Haldane says,
IN EVOLUTION PROGRESS IS THE EXCEPTION AND DEGENERATION THE RULE.
POPULAR EVOLUTIONISM IGNORES THIS.
FOR IT, 'EVOLUTION' SIMPLY MEANS 'IMPROVEMENT'.
and IT IS NOT CONFINED TO ORGANISMS,
BUT APPLIED  ALSO TO MORAL QUALITIES, INSTITUTIONS, ARTS, INTELLIGENCE and the like. there is thus lodged in popular thought the conception that improvement is, somehow, a cosmic law: a conception to which the sciences give no support at all. there is no evidence that the mental and moral capacities of the human race have been increased since man became man. and there is certainly no tendency for the universe as a whole to move in any direction which we should call 'good'. on the contrary, Evolution - even if it were what the mass of the people suppose it to be - is only (by astronomical and physical standards) an inconspicuous foreground detail in the picture.  the huge background is filled by quite different principles: entropy, degradation, disorganization . everything suggests that organic life is going to be a very short and unimportant episode in the history of the universe. we have often heard individuals console themselves for their individual troubles by saying:  'it will be all the same 100 years hence'.  but you can do the like about our troubles as a species. whatever we do it is all going to be the same in a few hundred million years hence. organic life is only a lightning flash in cosmic history, in the long run, nothing will come of it

now do not misunderstand me. I am not for one moment

80  trying to suggest that this long-term futility provides any ground for diminishing our efforts to make human life, while it lasts, less painful and less unfair than it has been up to date. the fact that the ship is sinking is no reason for allowing her to be a floating hell while she still floats. indeed, there is a certain fine irony in the idea of keeping the ship very punctiliously in good order up to the very moment at which she goes down. if the universe is shameless and idiotic, that is no reason why we should imitate it. well brought up people have always regarded the tumbril and the scaffold as places for one's best clothes and best manners. such, at least, was my first reaction to the picture of the futile cosmos. and I am not, in the first instance, suggesting that that picture should be allowed to make any difference to our practice. but it must make a difference to our thoughts and feelings.

now it seems to me that there are 3 lines, and 3 only, which one can take about this futility. in the first place, you can simply 'take it'. you can become a consistent pessimist, as Lord Russell was when he wrote The Worship of a Free Man, and base your whole life on what he called 'a firm foundation of unspeakable despair. you will feed yourself on the Wessex novels and The Shropshire Lad and Lucretius: and a very manly , impressive figure you may contrive to be. in the second place you can deny the picture of the universe which the scientists paint. there are various ways of doing this. you might become a Western Idealist or an Oriental Pantheist. in either case you would maintain that the material universe was , in the last resort, not quite real. it is a kind of mirage produced by our senses and forms of thought: Reality is to be sought elsewhere. or you might say - as Jews, Mohammedans

81  and christians do , that though Nature is as far as she goes, still there are other realities and that by bringing them in you alter the picture so much that it is no longer a picture of futility. or thirdly, one could accept the scientific picture and try to do something about the futility. I mean, instead of criticizing the universe we may criticize our own felling about the universe, and try to show that our sense of futility is unreasonable or improper or irrelevant. I imagine this third procedure will seem to you, at any rate to begin with, the most promising. let us explore it.

I think the most damaging criticism we can level against our own feeling of cosmic futility is this:  'Futility' is the opposite of 'utility'. a machine or plan is futile when it does not serve the purpose for which it was devised. in calling the universe futile, therefore, we are really applying to it a means-and -ends pattern of thought: treating it as if it were a thing manufactured and manufactured for some purpose. in calling it futile we are only expressing our naive surprise at the discovery that basic reality does not possess the characteristics of a human artifact - a thing made by men to serve the purposes of men - and the demand that it should may be regarded as preposterous: it is rather like complaining that a tree is futile because the branches don't happen to come just where we want them for climbing it - or even a stone because it doesn't happen to be edible.

this point of view certainly seems, at first, to have all the bracing shock of common sense and I certainly believe that no philosophy which does not contain this view as at least one of its elements is at all likely to be true. but taken by itself it will turn out to be rather too simple.

82  if we push it to its logical conclusion we shall arrive at something like this. the proper way of stating the facts is not to say that the universe is futile, but that the universe has produced and animal, namely man, which can make tools. the long habit of making tools has engendered in him another habit - that of thinking in terms of means and ends. this habit becomes so deeply engrained that even when the creature is not engaged in tool-making it continues to use this pattern of thought - to 'project' it (as we say) upon reality as a whole. hence arises the absurd practice of demanding that the universe should be 'good' or complaining that it is 'bad'. but such thoughts are MERELY human. they tell us nothing about the universe, they are merely a fact about Man - like his pigmentation or the shape of his lungs.
there is something attractive about this:  but the question is how far we can go. can we carry through to the end the view that human thought is MERELY human: that he thinks in a certain way: that it in no way reflects (though no doubt it results from) non-human or universal reality? the moment we ask this question, we receive a check. we are at this very point asking whether a certain view of human thought is true. and the view in question is just the view that human thought is NOT true, not a reflection of reality. and this view is itself a thought. in other words, we are asking 'is the thought that no thoughts are true, itself true? if we answer Yes, we contradict ourselves. for if all thoughts are untrue, then this thought is untrue.
there is therefore no question of a total scepticism about human thought. we are always prevented from accepting total scepticism because it can be formulated only by

83  making a tacit exception in favour of the thought we are thinking at the moment just as the man who warns the newcomer 'Don't trust anyone in this office' always expects you to trust him at that moment. whatever happens, then, the most we can ever do is to decide that certain types of human thought are 'merely human' or subjective, and others not. however small the class, SOME class of thoughts must be regarded not as mere facts about the way human brains work, but as true insights, as the reflection of reality in human consciousness.
one popular distinction is between what is called scientific thought and other kinds of thought. it is widely believed that scientific thought does put us in touch with reality, whereas moral or metaphysical thought does not. on this view, when we say that the universe is a space-time continuum we are saying something about reality, whereas if we say that the universe is futile, or that men ought to have a living wage, we are only describing our own subjective feelings. that is why in modern stories of what the Americans call 'scientifictional ' type - stories about unknown species who inhabit other planets or the depth of the sea - these creatures are usually pictured as being wholly devoid of our moral standards but as accepting our scientific standards. the implication is, of course, that scientific thought, being objective, will be the same for all creatures that can reason at all, whereas moral thought, being merely a subjective thing like one's taste in food, might be expected to vary from species to species.
but the distinction thus made between scientific and non-scientific thoughts will not easily bear the weight we are attempting to put on it. the cycle of scientific thought is from experiment to hypothesis and thence to verification an a new hypothesis. experiment means sense-experiences.

84  specially arranged. verification involves inference. 'if X existed, then, under conditions Y, we should have the experience Z.  we then produce the conditions Y and Z appears. we thence infer the existence of X. now it is clear that the only part of this process which assures us of any reality outside ourselves is precisely the inference. 'If X, then Z, or conversely 'Since Z, therefore X. the other parts of the process, namely hypothesis and experiment, cannot by themselves give us any assurance. the hypothesis is, admittedly, a mental construction -something, as they say, 'inside our own heads'. and the experiment is a state of our own consciousness. it is, say, a dial reading or a colour seen if you heat the fluid in the test tube. that is to say, it is a state of visual sensation. the apparatus used in the experiment is believed to exist outside our own minds only on the strength of an inference: it is inferred as the cause of our visual sensations. I am not at all suggesting that the inference is a bad one. I am not a subjective idealist and I fully believer that the distinction we make between an experiment in a dream and an experiment in a laboratory is a sound one. I am only pointing out that the material or external world in general is an inferred world and that therefore particular experiments, far from taking us out of the magic circle of inference into some supposed direct contact with reality, are themselves evidential only as parts of that great inference, the physical sciences, then, depend on the validity of logic just as much as metaphysics or mathematics. if popular thought feels 'science to be different from all other kinds of knowledge because science is experimentally verifiable, popular though is mistaken. experimental verification is not a new kind of assurance coming in to supply the deficiencies of mere
85  logic. we should therefore abandon the distinction between scientific and non-scientific thought. the proper distinction is between logical and non-logical thought. I mean, the proper distinction for our present purpose: that purpose being to find whether there is any class of thoughts which has objective value, which is not MERELY  a fact about how the human cortex behaves. for that purpose we can make no distinction between science and other logical exercises of thought, for if logic is discredited science must go down along with it.
it therefore follows that all knowledge whatever depends on the validity of inference. if, in principle, the feeling of certainty we have when we say 'because A is B therefore C must be K' is an illusion, if it reveals only how our cortex has to work and not how realities external to us must really be, then we can know nothing whatever. I say 'in principle' because, of course, through inattention or fatigue we often make false inferences and while we make them they feel as certain as the sound ones. but then they are always corrigible by further reasoning. that does not matter. what would matter would be if inference itself, even apart from accidental errors, were a merely subjective phenomenon.

now let me go back a bit. we began by asking whether our feeling of futility could be set aside as a merely subjective and irrelevant result which the universe has produced in human brains. I postponed answering that question until we had attempted a larger one. I asked whether IN GENERAL human thought could be set aside as irrelevant to the real universe and merely subjective. I now claim to have found the answer to this larger question. the answer is that at least one kind of thought - logical thought - cannot be subjective and irrelevant to the real universe:  for unless thought is valid we have no reason to believe in the real universe. we reach our knowledge of the universe only by inference. the very object to which our thought supposed to be irrelevant depends on the relevance of our thought. a universe whose only claim to be believed in rests on the validity of inference must not start telling us that inference is invalid. that would really be a bit too nonsensical. I conclude then that logic is a real insight into the way in which real things have to exist. in other words, the laws of thought are also the laws of things: of things in the remotest space and the remotest time.

this admission seems to me completely unavoidable and it has very momentous consequences.

in the first place it rules out any materialistic account of thinking. we are compelled to admit between the thoughts of a terrestrial astronomer and the behaviour of matter several light -years away that particular relation which we call truth. but this relation has no meaning at all if we try to make it exist between the matter of the star and the astronomer's brain, considered as a lump of matter. the brain may be in all sorts of relations to the star no doubt: it is in a spatial relation, and a time relation, and a quantitative relation. but to talk of one bit of matter as being true about another bit of matter seems to me to be nonsense. it might conceivably turn out to be the case that every atom in the universe thought and thought truly, about every
87  other. but that relation between any 2 atoms would be something quite distinct from the physical relations between them. in saying that thinking is not matter I am not suggesting that there is anything mysterious about it. in one sense, thinking is the simplest thing in the world. we do it all day long. we know what it is like far better than we know what matter is like. thought is what we start from: the simple,  intimate, immediate DATUM. matter is the inferred thing, the mystery.

in the second place, to understand that logic must be valid is to see at once that this thing we all know, this thought, this mind, cannot in fact be really alien to the nature of the universe. or, putting it the other way round, the nature of the universe cannot be really alien to Reason. we find that matter always obeys the same laws which our logic obeys. when logic says a thing must be so, nature always agrees. no one can suppose that this can be due to a happy coincidence. a grat many people think that it is due to the fact that Nature produced the mind. but on the assumption that Nature is herself mindless this provides no explanation. to be the result of a series of mindless events is one thing:  to be a kind of plan or true account of the laws according to which those mindless events happened is quite another. thus the Gulf Stream produces all sorts of results: for instance, the temperature of the Irish Sea. what it does not produce is maps of the Gulf Stream produces all sorts of results: for instance, the temperature of the Irish Sea. what it does not produce is maps of the Gulf Stream. but if logic, as we find it operative in our own minds, is really a result of mindless nature, then it is a result as improbable as that. the laws whereby logic obliges us to think turn our to be the laws according to which every event in space and time must happen. the man who thinks this an ordinary or probable result does not really understand, it is as
88  if cabbages, in addition to resulting FROM the laws of botany also gave lectures in that subject: or as if, when i knocked out my pipe, the ashes arranged themselves into letters which read:  'we are the ashes of a knocked-out pipe'. but if the validity of knowledge cannot be explained in that way, and if perpetual happy coincidence throughout the whole of recorded time is out of the question, then surely we must seek the real explanation elsewhere.

I want to put this other explanation in the broadest possible terms and am anxious that you should not imagine i am trying to prove anything more, or more definite, than i really am. and perhps the safest way of putting it is this: that we must give up talking about 'human reason'. in so far as thought is merely human, merely a characteristic of one particular biological species, it does not explain our knowledge. where thought is strictly rational it must be, in some odd sense, not ours, but cosmic or super-cosmic. it must be something not shut up inside our heads but already 'out there' - in the universe or behind the universe: either as objective as material Nature or more objective still. unless all that we take to be knowledge is an illusion, we must hold that in thinking we are not reading rationality into an irrational universe by responding to a rationality with which the universe has always been saturated. there are all sorts of different ways in which you can develop this position, either into an idealist metaphysic or a theology, into a theistic or a pantheistic or dualist theology. I am not tonight going to trace those possible developments, still less to defend the particular one which I myself accept. I am only going to consider what light this conception, in its most general form, throws on the question of futility.
89  at first sight it might seem to throw very little. the universe, as we have observed it, does not appear to be in any sense good as a whole, though it throws up some particular details which are very good indeed - strawberries and the sea and sunrise and the song of the birds. but these, quantitatively considered, are so brief and small compared with the huge tracts of empty space and the enormous masses of uninhabitable matter that we might well regard them as lucky accidents. we might therefore conclude that though the ultimate reality is logical it has no regard for values, or at any rate for the values we recognize. and so we could still accuse it of futility. but there is a real difficulty about accusing it of anything. an accusation always implies a standard. you call a man a bad golf player because you know what Bogey is. you call a boy's answer to a sum wrong because you know the right answer. you call a man cruel or idle because you have in mind a standard of kindness or diligence. and while you are making the accusation you have to accept the standard as a valid one. if you begin to doubt the standard you automatically doubt the cogency of your accusation. if you are sceptical about grammar you must be equally sceptical about your condemnation of bad grammar. if nothing is certainly right, then of course it follows that nothing is certainly wrong. and that is the snag about what I would call Heroic Pessimism - I mean the kind of Pessimism you get in Swinburne, Hardy and Shelley's Prometheus and which is magnificently summed up in Housman's line 'whatever brute and blackguard made the world. do not imagine that I lack sympathy with that kind of poetry; on the contrary, at one time of my life I tried very hard to write it - and, as far as quantity goes, I succeeded. I
90  produced reams of it. but there is a catch. if a Brute and Blackguard made the world, then he also made our minds. if he made our minds, he also made that very standard in them whereby we judge him to be a Brute and Blackguard. and how can we trust a standard which comes from such a brutal and blackguardly source? if we reject him, we ought also to reject all his works. but one of his works is this very moral standard by which we reject him. if we accept this standard then we are really implying that he is not a Brute and Blackguard. if we reject it, then we have thrown away the only instrument by which we can condemn him.  heroic anti-theism thus has a contradiction in its centre. you must trust the universe in one respect even in order to condemn it in every other.

what happens to our sense of values is , in fact, exactly what happens to our logic. if it is a purely human sense of values - a biological by-product in a particular species with no relevance to reality - then we cannot, having one realize this, continue to use it as the ground for what are meant to be serious criticisms of the nature of things. nor
91  can we continue to attach any importance to the efforts we make towards realizing our ideas of value. a man cannot continue to make sacrifices for the good of posterity is simply an irrational subjective taste of his own on the same level with his fondness for pancakes or his dislike for span=m. I am well aware that many whose philosophy involves this subjective view of values do in fact sometimes make great efforts for the cause of justice or freedom. but that is because they forget their philosophy. when they really get to work they think that justice is really good - objectively obligatory whether any one likes it or not:  they remember their opposite philosophical belief only when they go back to the lecture room. our sense that the universe is futile and our sense of a duty to make those parts of it we can reach less futile, both really imply a belief that it is not in fact futile at all: a belief that values are rooted in reality, outside ourselves. that the Reason in which the universe is saturated is also moral.
there remains, of course, the possibility that Its values are widely different from ours. and in some sense this must be so.  the particular interpretation of the universe which I accept certainly represents them as differing from ours in many acutely distressing ways. but there are strict limits to the extent which we can allow to this admission.
let us go back to the question of Logic. I have tried to show that you reach a self-contradiction id you say that logical inference is, in principle, invalid. on the other hand, nothing is more obvious that that we frequently make false inferences: from ignorance of some of the factors involved, from inattention, from inefficiencies in the system of symbols (linguistic or otherwise) which we

92 are using, from the secret influence of our unconscious wishes or fears. we are therefore driven to combine a steadfast faith in inference as such with a wholesome scepticism about each particular instance of inference in the mind of a human thinker. as I have said, there is no such thing (strictly speaking) as HUMAN reason: but there is emphatically such a thing as human thought  - in other words, the various specifically human conceptions of Reason, failures of complete rationality, which arise in a wishful and lazy human mind utilizing a tired human brain. the difference between acknowledging this and being sceptical about Reason itself, is enormous. for in the one case we should be saying that reality contradicts Reason, whereas now  we are only saying that total Reason - cosmic or super-cosmic reason - CORRECTS  human imperfections of Reason. now correction is not the same as mere contradiction.  when your false reasoning is corrected you 'see the mistakes' :  the true reasoning thus takes up into itself whatever was already rational in your original thought. you are not moved into a totally new world:  you are given MORE  and PURER of what you already had in a small quantity and badly mixed with foreign elements. to say that Reason is objective is to say that all our false reasonings could in principle be corrected by more Reason. I have to add 'in principle' because, of course, the reasoning necessary to give us absolute truth about the whole universe might be (indeed, certainly would be ) too complicated for any human mind to hold it all together or even to keep on attending. but that, again, would be a defect in the human instrument, not in Reason. a sum in simple arithmetic may be too long and complicated for a child's limited powers of concentration:  but it is not a radically different kind of thing from the short sums the child CAN do.

now it seems to me that the relation between our sense of values and the values acknowledged by the cosmic or super-cosmic Reason is likely to be the same as the relation between our attempts at logic and Logic itself. it is, I admit, conceivable that the ultimate Reason acknowledges no values at all: but that theory, as I have tried to show, is inconsistent with our continuing to attach any importance to our own values. and since everyone in fact intends to continue doing so, that theory is not really a live option. but if we attribute a sense of value to the ultimate Reason, I do not think we can suppose it to be totally different from our own sense of value. if it were, then our own sense of value would have to be merely human: and from that all the same consequences would flow as from an admission that the supreme mind acknowledged no values at all.indeed to say that a mind has a sense of values TOTALLY different from the only values we can conceive is to say that that mind has we know not what: which is precious near saying nothing particular about it. it would also be very odd, on the supposition that our sense of values is a mere illusion, that education, rationality and enlightenment show no tendency to remove it from human minds. and a this stage in the argument there is really no inducement to do any of these rather desperate things. the PRIMA FACIE  case for denying a sense of values to the cosmic or super -cosmic mind has really collapsed the moment we see that we have to attribute reason to it. when we are forced to admit that reason cannot be merely human, there is no longer any compulsive inducement to say that virtue is purely human. if wisdom turns out to be something objective and external, it is at least probable that goodness will turn out to be the same. but here also it is reasonable to combine a firm
 94  belief in the objective validity of goodness with a considerable scepticism about all our particular moral judgments. to say that they all require correction is indeed to say both that they are partially wrong and that they are not merely subjective facts about ourselves - for if that were so the process of enlightenment would consist not in correcting them but in abandoning them altogether.

there is, to be sure, one glaringly obvious ground for denying that any moral purpose at all is operative in the universe:  namely, the actual course of events in all its wasteful cruelty and apparent indifference, or hostility,  to life. but then, as I maintain, that is precisely the ground which we cannot use. unless we judge this waste and cruelty to be real evils we cannot of course condemn the universe for exhibiting them. unless we take our own standard of goodness to be valid in principle (however fallible  our particular application of it) we cannot mean anything by calling wast and cruelty evils. and unless we take our own standard to be something more than ours, to be in fact an objective principle to which we are responding, we cannot regard that standard as valid. in a word, unless we allow ultimate reality to be moral, we cannot morally condemn it. the more seriously we take our own charge of futility the more we are committed to the implication that reality in the last resort is not futile at all. the defiance of the good atheist hurled at an apparently ruthless and idiotic cosmos is really an unconscious homage to something in or behind that cosmos which he recognizes as infinitely valuable and authoritative: for if mercy and justice were really only private whims of his own with no objective and impersonal roots and if he realized this, he could not go on being indignant. the fact
95  that he arraigns heaven itself for disregarding them means that at some level of his mind he knows they are enthroned in a higher heaven still.
I cannot and never could persuade myself that such defiance is displeasing to the supreme mind. there is something holier about the atheism of a Shelley than about the theism of a paley. that is the lesson of the Book of Job. no explanation of the problem of unjust suffering is there given: that is not the point of the poem. the point is that the man who accepts our ordinary standard of good and by it hotly criticizes divine justice receive the divine approval: the orthodox , pious people who palter with that standard in the attempt to justify god are condemned. apparently the way to advance from our imperfect apprehension of justice to the absolute justice is NOT  to throw our imperfect apprehensions aside but boldly to go on applying them. just as the pupil advances to more perfect arithmetic not by throwing his multiplication table away but by working it for all it is worth.

of course no one will be content to leave the matter just where the Book of Job leaves it. but that is as far as I intend to go tonight.  having grasped the truth that our very condemnation of reality carries in its heart an unconscious act of allegiance to that same reality as the source of our moral standards, we then of course have to ask how this ultimate morality in the universe can be reconciled with the actual course of events. it is really the same sort of problem that meets us in science. the pel-mell of phenomena, as we first observe them, seems to be full of anomalies and irregularities; but being assured that reality is logical we go on framing and trying out hypotheses to  show that the apparent irregularities are not really irregular at all. the history of science is the history of that process.

96  the corresponding process whereby, having admitted that reality in the last resort must be moral, we attempt to explain evil, is the history of theology. into that theological inquiry i do not propose to go at present. if any of you thinks of pursuing it, I would risk giving one piece of advice. i think he can save himself time by confining his attention to 2 systems Hinduism and Christianity. I believe these are the 2 serious options for an adult mind. Materialism is a philosophy for boys. the purely moral systems like Stoicism and Confucianism are philosophies for aristocrats. Islam is only a christian heresy and Buddhism a Hindu heresy: both are simplifications inferior to the things simplified. as for the old pagan religions, i think we could say that whatever was of value in them survives either in Hinduism or in Christianity or in both and there only: they are the 2 systems which have come down, still alive, into the present without leaving the past behind them.

but all that is a matter for further consideration. i aim tonight only at reversing the popular belief that reality is totally alien to our minds.  my answer to that view consists  simply in restating it in the form:  'OUR MINDS ARE TOTALLY ALIEN TO REALITY'.  put that way, it reveals itself as a self-contradiction. for if our minds are totally alien to reality then ALL OUR THOUGHTS, INCLUDING THIS THOUGHT, ARE WORTHLESS.  we must, then, grant logic to the reality; we must, if we are to have any moral standards, grant it moral standards too. and there is really no reason why we should not do the same about standards of beauty. there is no reason why our reaction to a beautiful landscape should not be the response, however humanly blurred and partial, to a something that is really there. the idea of a wholly mindless
97  and valueless universe has to be abandoned at one point -ie. as regards logic: after that, there is no telling at how many other points it will be defeated nor how great the reversal of our 19th century philosophy must finally be.

No comments: