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tions, move at a slow pace because of thc complexity of the instrumentalities employed.
"It may be argued that the common philosophical beliefs are similarly protected and rendered stable by their wide interpenetration with social interests, and by the authority of established religion. But the fact remains that a philosophical revolution is more easily accomplished than a political revolution. The reason for this lies in the fact that a philosophy, unlike a polity, is an individual matter. A man may reconstruct his Weltanschauung-establish his world of thought upon a new foundation, and rearrange his order of values — without encountering any greater resistance than the inertia of his own habits. And such a revolution is the more easily accomplished in an individualistic era like the present, in which the church has relaxed its hold upon the minds of men. If, then, there be any practical risk in the exposure of belief to the variability of theory, that risk will be peculiarly great in the case of philosophy. And there is also a peculiar liability to confusion here, because theoretical philosophy has never as yet succeeded in developing a technique of its own. The terms of philosophical research and speculation are largely the terms of religious belief; so that the layman too readily identifies the tentative hypotheses of the investigator with the venerable symbols of his faith.
82. Both theory and belief, the new word of critical speculation, and the old assumptions of life, are forms of knowlTheory and
edge. And although it is necessary that these Belief as Forms forms should be distinguished
and even of Knowledge, separately organized, that necessity should Having the Same Funda- not blind us to the fact that their value is funmental Value damentally the same.
That the control of nature through the advancement of knowledge is the instrument of progress and the chief ground of hope, is the axiom of modern civilization. This is more peculiarly a modern idea than is commonly supposed. The ancient world had its dogmatic and its critical idea of progress. The former was the idea of national or racial aggrandizement by the conquest of territory and the usurpation of political control. The latter, contributed by the genius of Greece, was the humanistic idea of the intensive cultivation and refinement of human nature. These ancient ideas were superseded by Christian supernaturalism, which referred man's hope of salvation to another world which might be won by the repudiation of this. As Christian Europe became secularized, there developed the theocratic idea of a fixed system in which all human activities should be limited and controlled by religious authority. Finally, as a reaction against the established order, there appeared the idea of the Renaissance-an enthusiasm for antiquity, and a desire to reverse the course of history.
The modern idea, though it borrows something from all of these ideas, is fundamentally different. It bespeaks a solidarity of mankind in the enterprise of life, and in this manifests its Christianity; and it derives from paganism a respect for human capacities, and a confidence in man's power to win the good for himself. But these motives are so united in the modern spirit as to produce something genuinely new. The good is to be won by the race and for the race; it lies in the future, and can result only from prolonged and collective endeavor; and the power to achieve it lies in the progressive knowledge and control of nature. This is the Baconian idea. The incentive to knowledge lies in its application to life. "For fruits and inventions are, as it were, sponsors and sureties for the truth of philosophies.” Therefore, Bacon would have men of learning begin and end their study with the facts of their present environment. “For our road does not lie on
“ a level, but ascends and descends, first ascending to axioms, then descending to works.” In the last part of the New Atlantis there is a remarkable description of the riches of Solomon's House, the great museum and laboratory, the treasure house and workshop, which was "the lantern of this kingdom.” The words with which the father of Solomon's House receives his visitors are a terse and eloquent summary of that which Francis Bacon prophesied, and which posterity has steadily achieved. “The end of our foundation is the knowledge of causes, and secret motions of things; and the enlarging of the bounds of human empire, to the effecting of all things possible.” 1
The value of theory and belief is in the end the same. Both are forms of knowledge, and knowledge furnishes the illumination and guidance of all conscious action. But, as we shall now see, each of these forms of knowledge has also a specific value, through which this more fundamental value is realized; and these more specific values require not only a difference of procedure, but even a certain incommensurability of terms.
$ 3. In an essay entitled “The Scepticism of Believers,” Leslie Stephen remarks a common confusion between The Difference
unbelief and contrary belief. The term “belief' and
is at any historical moment almost invariably Antagonism of Motive in
used to denote the established belief, that is, Theory and the belief supported by authority or by the Belief
consensus of opinion; while the term 'unbelief' is used to denote dissent from the established belief, even when, as is most often the case, this dissent is itself due to belief. The established belief resists change, and must be attacked, weakened, or destroyed, before it is possible for another belief to get a hearing; hence assenters come to regard dissenters as destructive in their primary intent, and are blinded to the fact that there is another belief at stake, which may be as affirmative and constructive in its own terms as that which at the time prevails. Thus modern religious orthodoxy has condemned as unbelief a certain secular tendency which really has arisen, not from a love of mischief-making, but from a most
1 Bacon : Philosophical Works, Edited by Ellis and Spedding, Vol. III, p. 156; cf. ibid, Vol. IV, pp. 73, 96. This reference to Bacon is in part reprinted from an article entitled: “The Prophecy of Francis Bacon,” Populor Science Monthly, Vol. LXXVII, May, 1910.
devoted confidence in the uniformity of nature, and in the power of man to save himself. It is not wholly unjust to assert, as Leslie Stephen does assert, that, in opposing the free advance of science and of individualism, defenders of “the Faith” have virtually sought to prevent or destroy that faith in the enterprise of civilization which has mainly inspired the progress of the last two centuries.
But for our present purposes the significance of this lies not in the issue between warring beliefs, both of which are positive and confident, but in the issue between belief, which puts heart into men, and that state of suspended animation, of hesitation, and general impotence, which is properly to be regarded as unbelief. “The man has most faith, in the sense in which faith represents a real force," says our author, "whose convictions are such as are most favorable to energetic action, and is freest from the doubts which paralyze the will in the great moments of life. He must have a clear vision of an end to be achieved, devotion to which may be the ruling passion of his life and the focus to which all his energies may converge.”? In the present discussion, I use the phrase 'established belief' to denote faith, in this sense of conviction favorable to action; and it is my purpose to show that the opposite state of mind, unbelief, or the lack of convictions favorable to action, may be induced by theory. Before theory can become belief it must be assimilated to a plan of life; it must be not only asserted, but also adopted. And when belief becomes theory, it means that an integral component of some man's plan of life is withdrawn; making it necessary that his hand should be stayed, and the plan suspended, if not permanently abandoned. Without a recognition of this radical difference between theory and belief, unless it be understood that as moods, states of mind, or moments of life, they are almost antithetical, one must remain blind to the real tragedy of heresy and doubt. The virtue of belief lies in the application. Knowledge
i Leslie Stephen, An Agnostic's Apology, p. 50.
does not become belief until it is presupposed for the purposes of action. This holds equally of the most elementary common sense, of technical skill, and of religious piety. Common sense consists of the manifold things that can be taken for granted for the purposes of everyday life. Common sense must be true to be useful; but it would still not be useful unless it were habitually and implicitly trusted. Technical skill is derived from science; but until scientific principles are sufficiently well established to be relied on, they cannot be applied. And piety, if it be not constant, if a life be not founded on it, is not that good thing which is called religion. He who makes plans for the morrow, or constructs a bridge, or prays to God, believes. There is, then, a specific value in belief, over and above the value of truth which it must have in common with knowledge. This value is that confidence and steadiness, without which no consecutive endeavor is possible. And since this is the case, it follows that there is a legitimate and powerful incentive to belief, which may be distinguished from the love of truth. So that they are not wholly unreasonable who resent being robbed of their belief; or, seeking to have it restored, pray God to help their unbelief.
Now it is clear that theory can no more take the place of belief than a stone can take the place of bread. Theory does not directly nourish and sustain life, as belief does; because, unlike belief, it does not suit the humor of action. To theorize is to doubt. The investigator must be both incredulous and credulous, believing nothing, and prepared to believe anything. While he remains theoretically minded, he remains open-minded, receptive to evidence, committing himself to assertions only tentatively or provisionally. He may be preparing foundations, but he cannot let them stand, and hence is not free to build on them. Furthermore, for the very reason that the theorist is not expected to put his theories into practice, he enjoys a certain irresponsibility. To him is allotted the task of examining a question on its merits, without reference to