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ulterior motives. He is permitted a certain play of con-
jecture, a certain oscillation of mind between hypothetical
alternatives, that is fatal to administrative competence.
Nor is the theoretical mind held to those standards of
proportionateness which obtain in life. The scientist is
not infrequently likened to James's “myopic ant,” who
tumbles into every microscopic crack and fissure, and
never suspects that a centre exists. But fatal as such
procedure would be to the proper conduct of life, it is neither
unworthy nor unfruitful as an incident of theoretical
analysis. Chesterton has remarked that “a man does not
go mad because he builds a statue a mile high, but he may
go mad by thinking it out in square inches.”ı In the
latter case, judged by the standards of social efficiency, the
man is mad; but his madness is explained, or adjudged not
madness after all, when it is recognized that his interest is
theoretical. And a similar allowance is made for a certain
difference of pace in life and in theory. There is a maxim
to the effect that "he that will believe only what he can
fully comprehend, must have a very long head or a very
short creed.” In other words, when theoretically-minded,
one proceeds as though life permitted of being invariably
guided by good and manifest reasons; whereas practically,
if one were to adopt such a principle, one would never reach
the first milestone. Intelligent living proceeds not by
doubting, examining, experimenting, and proving, but by
assuming. There is an urgency and brevity about life
that makes it impossible that one should give the rein to
one's critical powers or weigh every affirmation in the
delicate balance of logic.

I hope it is clear that I am not attempting to divide men
into believers and theorists. I am distinguishing not
between classes of men, but between characteristic moods
or states of mind. The difference, however, is not so much
psychological as it is moral. There is a different motive
in theory and in belief, a different human good. Hence it

"G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, p. 67.

follows that these moods may confront one another dramatically both in individual life and in the history of society. There is a party of theory and a party of belief, with a loyalty to each. It may be that in our own time, for example, there is more need of emphasizing the motive of belief. We live in a rationalistic age, many of us in a rationalistic fellowship or community, and incline to the party of theory. It is the mark of such partisanship to suppose that advocates of established belief are moved to suspect or resist innovation only by stubbornness or inertia. On the contrary, conservatism is not less passionate than radicalism, nor less moved by the love of good. For the advocate of established belief is the advocate of established life; of that present adjustment of interests which is daily tested and proved, and to which the great majority of men are wholly and irrevocably committed. It is less enlightened to despise him as the enemy of truth than to pay him some respect as the friend of peace and order.

$ 4. We shall not understand the strength of the motive of belief, or the part which it plays in the vital economy, The Solidarity until we recognize its corporate character. An of Belief established belief possesses a value proportional to the number of interest invested in it. And this solidarity of belief manifests itself on every scale, individual, social, and historical. It has been said that every man of action is a fatalist. This is due to the need of a permanence of belief, if the several acts of an individual life are to contribute to one end. A plan of action, in proportion to its scope, requires time and manifold agencies for its execution, and must be adhered to from moment to moment and from act to act. Every plan of action is based on innumerable assumptions concerning the natural and social environment; and if these assumptions be questioned, the plan is virtually suspended. Action is efficient in proportion to its range, and the greater its range the more necessary is it that its components should be rigid and stable. Assumptions must be trusted implicitly in order that one may be

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free to leave them behind one's back and face the work to
be done.

The larger the enterprise, the greater the need of a fixed
orientation, of a view that shall not dissolve until a thousand
tributary agencies have been assembled, coördinated, and
made jointly and cumulatively to achieve the designated
end. It follows that a steadiness of belief is more indispen-
sable to social than to individual action. Every variety of
coöperation requires that men shall occupy common ground.
The best partners, like the best friends, are those who can
take the most for granted. That which is true of every
lesser social enterprise is supremely true of politics and
religion. The arm of society is the institution, and this
owes its power to a wide-spread community of belief. The
institution is the most delicate and complicated mechanism
of life, constructed out of the purposes and convictions of
innumerable individuals. And this mechanism cannot
remain intact, and be the instrument that it is designed to
be, unless the parts be firm and durable. In short, society
could not act, for the maintenance of order or the promotion
of civilization, if men's ideas were fluent and transitory.
This does not mean merely that social action would be ham-
pered, but that any political or organized community what-
soever would be impossible. Unbelief is equally fatal to the
full benefit of religion. That benefit is realized only when
a firm conviction concerning the ultimate source of human
fortune, or the supreme object of devotion, dominates and
unifies all the varied activities of life. This benefit is never
fully attained; but so far as it has been attained, it has
given to civilization something of the sweetness and vigor
of health. When science and art, common sense and mysti-
cal ecstasy, the outer manner and the inner propensity, in all
men different and yet in all alike, do but embroider and enact
one theme, the circle is closed and the strength of man made
perfect. And such unanimity of imagination and enthusi-
asm, quickening and ennobling the concert of action, must
rest on unseen but deep-laid foundations of common belief.


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There remains one further proof of the solidarity of belief. If society is to act effectively, it must remain in agreement with itself not only breadthwise but also lengthwise. The temporal continuity of civilization is the indispensable condition of progress. When fundamental convictions are altered, it is much like moving to a new planet; the work must be begun all over again. Apparently the conquests of civilization are gained by swift and sudden victories. But revolution is only the beginning of reformation. It is the slow process of reorganization and education that saves the fruits of such victories, and constitutes that steady if almost imperceptible advance on which the hope of civilization must mainly rely. In order that this shall be possible, it is necessary that beliefs should be transmitted together with problems and opportunities. Unless the burden is to fall, the young must not only grasp what the old have let go, but they must obtain the same foothold.

There are, then, systems of belief which condition effective, concerted, and progressive living. Such systems, it may be further remarked, have their more and their less vital parts. There are some beliefs which, like the keystone of the arch or the base of the pyramid, cannot be dislodged without overthrowing the whole structure. If there be a good in all belief, that good will be greater in such beliefs; and if there be a motive which rallies men to the support of any belief, men will be moved most passionately when such beliefs are at stake. For these are the beliefs most built upon, to which men are most committed, and in which they have invested all their possessions. When they are shaken, it is like the trembling of the solid earth.

8 5. Unless, in spite of all prepossessions to the contrary, in spite of a justifiable impatience with every obstacle to Galileo and progress, we can see a certain rightness and the Inquisition sound loyalty in conservatism, we shall remain blind to the meaning of the great transitional eras. Thus we are swift to condemn the Inquisition of the seventeenth century, and the compromises of Galileo and Descartes.

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The catholic orthodoxy of the time has been proved wrong, cruelly and fatuously wrong; and Galileo and Descartes doubtless lost an opportunity of displaying the heroism of Bruno and Spinoza. But a powerful motive of the drama will have been reduced to a nullity, if it be supposed that the Holy Office was prompted only by malice, or Galileo and Descartes by cowardice.

Galileo, it will be remembered, was convicted of holding that the earth moved. This doctrine was declared to be “absurd, heretical, contrary to the text of Scripture”; and Galileo was compelled to repudiate it. He defended himself on the ground that Scripture was not science. “Hence it appears,” he said, "that when we have to do with natural effects brought under our eyes by the experience of our senses, or deduced fron absolute demonstrations, these can in no wise be called in question on the strength of Scripture texts that are susceptible of a thousand different interpretations, for the words of Scripture are not so strictly limited in their significance as the phenomena of nature."? But this defence left out of consideration what was referred to in the charge as the "absurdity” and “heretical" character of the new theory. It was not its contradiction of Scripture texts that made it dangerous, but its contradiction of the prevailing belief. This was definitely committed to the immobility of the earth; and in concluding that the Copernican theory, advocated by Galileo, was a menace to it, the Holy Office was not mistaken. But why should the immobility of the earth be a cherished

a belief, to be protected by the penalty of death? Men are not soberly burned at the stake or submitted to torment by due process of law, out of sheer bloodthirstiness, or on account of trivial offences. It must all appear childish and wanton, unless we can learn to recognize the immense human importance which once attached to what is now

1 1564-1641.

• Quoted by Mézières, “Trial of Galileo,Popular Science Monthly, vol. X, 1877, p. 389.

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