[Read before the Wellington Philosophical Society, 21st August, 1895.]
With regard to all the great problems that in previous ages had occupied more than any others the intellect of mankind, we have become accustomed of late years in England to be told that what is golden is silence. Since the days of Berkley, for several generations speculation in regard to first principles was practically banned among us, as far as the systematic work of science and philosophy was concerned; and, looking back on that period, we are forced to inquire, Was the result from any point of view satisfactory? The outcome was that what was best in English thought took flight from the universities and found refuge in the poetry of Wordsworth, and subsequently in that of Tennyson, Browning, and Arnold; while speculation in regard to historical, political, and social questions was only saved from shallowness and triviality by the influence of German literature, reflected in the writings of Thomas Carlyle. Galileo is reported to have said that for one hour of his life that he had spent on mathematics he had spent seven on philosophy; and it seems to be the case that, somehow or other, the world is so constructed that inquiries into matters that seem at first sight wide enough from immediate practical requirements—investigations into the nature of identity and causality, of the human soul, and of the genesis of the world—are capable of putting thought on the right track even with regard to subjects of scientific detail. How otherwise can we account for the fact that Leibnitz deduced from first principles a doctrine that closely resembles the doctrine of the conservation of energy some two hundred years before its time, and the same great thinker, in his theory of the continuous gradation of created beings, arrived at conclusions that approximate to the modern doctrine of evolution?
A notable change, however, has taken place in the trend of English thought in reference to such matters during the last five-and-twenty years. Hegel, who, while the influence of his philosophy was at its zenith in Germany, was apparently, for the most part, regarded as a more or less fantastical mystic among ourselves, then began to number among his disciples and expositors many of the most competent of English philosophers, including such men as the late Mr. Green; Professor Edward Caird, the present master of Balliol; Mr. F. H. Bradley; Professors Wallace, of Oxford; Jones, of Glasgow; Wat
son, of Canada; and many others. So much so that, if any system of philosophy can be said to be dominant in England at present, it is the system of Hegel. Hegelianism, however, is with us a general name for the philosophy which at the beginning of the century sprang up in Germany, contemporaneously with the development of the poetic spirit that gave birth to Goethe and Schiller—and was, indeed, another aspect of the same movement—rather than for the special characters which distinguish the philosophy of Hegel from that of his contemporaries Schelling and Fichte. It has been remarked, indeed, with some truth, that Hegelianism, having lost its birthright in Germany, is sojourning now in the tents of England and America. What is true and valuable in Hegelianism, however, still survives in Germany in the systems of other thinkers, even of one so widely removed from his special standpoint as Lotze, and yet more notably in the system of Von Hartman.
It is not now my intention to-night to attempt to add to the number of his expositors, or to deal with any of the details of his system. What it seems to me is the imperishable truth it contains lies in its emphatic repudiation of the right of Kant or any one else to set bounds in advance to the subjects of human inquiry, and the confident assertion of the adequacy of the grounds that we possess for the belief that behind the developments of nature and history are visible the operations of a guiding intelligence, of which our own is the offshoot and the image.
For those who incline to the opinion that mind can be adequately accounted for as something that exists in the universe only as a product of cerebral organization, a class of phenomena which manifest themselves as the result of the operations of the collective and continuous thought of a race or a community are worthy of due consideration. Take such a phenomenon as the British Constitution: We have in it a well-defined, fully-organized system, capable of being adopted by other States besides the State which originally developed it, and, in essential matters, by no means easy to improve upon. The founders of the American Republic, sharing the fancy prevalent in those days that innovation could not be other than improvement, thought that they could alter it easily for the better by separating the legislative from the executive functions. How profound was their mistake has been very conclusively made out by Mr. Bagehot. We find according to that writer that European States which have since had to adopt Constitutions have adhered much more closely to the English model than the American Convention did. If we ask, however, to what English lawgiver, statesman, or philosopher the salient characteristics of the English
Constitution are due we find at once that we might as well ask to which of the primeval men were due the first germs of the moral faculty. The separation of the legislative and executive functions, subsequently carried out with such manifold disastrous results in America, was the favourite project of reform in England at the period of the revolution of 1688, and only escaped being carried into effect owing to circumstances that present the appearance of being accidental. We see only the impulse towards freedom and self-government pervading many generations of Englishmen, and the apparently chance survival of expedients that fell in with the aim of this impulse.
A phenomenon of the same sort is the growth of Gothic architecture. “No one,” as Emerson says, “can walk in a road cut through the pine-woods without being struck with the architectural appearance of the grove, especially in winter, when the barrenness of all other trees shows the low arch of the Saxons…. Nor can any lover of nature enter the old piles of Oxford and the English cathedrals without feeling that the forest overpowered the mind of the builder.” Yet, if we turn to the history of architecture, we find apparently no one architect who had the design consciously in view of reproducing in stone the image of the forest. We can trace, on the contrary, the various stages by which the basilica became transformed into the cathedral, and can only interpret the ideal that fully realised itself in the fourteenth century as one that more or less unconsciously dominated the mind of many generations. The collective continuous mind thus seems to have in it something that cannot be accounted for offhand as the mere sum of the conscious thoughts and wishes of various individual minds.
If we glance at a widely-different department of life from the politics and art of man, other illustrations, perhaps even more interesting and more marvellous, present themselves. When Mr. Darwin writes of sexual selection there are plainly two very distinct principles before his mind. One is the survival of the strongest or best-armed males in their struggle for the possession of the females: this involves no presupposition essentially different from that involved in natural selection. The other, that to which the continuous increase in the beauty of the bird-world is due, does involve a presupposition, the full purport of which Mr. Darwin himself does not appear to have clearly realised. He thinks it sufficient to assume that the hens appreciate beautiful forms and colours to account for the fact that the cocks of many species become from generation to generation more and more beautiful. This indefinite increase in some abstract characteristic called “beauty,” however, does not at all adequately represent the facts in individual instances. The “more and more” that
is spoken of can hardly be otherwise regarded than as an approximation towards something in the nature of an ideal existing in some mind that did not itself cease to exist with the passing-away of any single generation. How otherwise can we represent to ourselves the gradual evolution of the ocelli on the peacock's tail, or the still more wonderful ocelli which with such incredible accuracy reproduce the effect of light shining on a convex surface on the wing-feathers of the argus-pheasant? In the difference between the upper and lower ocellus in his illustration (“Descent of Man,” p. 149, vol. ii.) we seem to see the very last finishing-touch being given to the picture. We need hardly, however, resort to isolated and remarkable instances like this to discover the operations of a general mind underlying the operations of individual minds in the lower world. It seems to gleam through every instance of the exercise of an untaught instinct. The mere fact of the discrimination by birds of the pitch of musical notes and the varieties of colour, though so obvious and familiar, if rightly considered, brings us vividly in view of the supernatural in nature. We know that the relations between notes and between colours both rest on exact numerical relations between vibrations and undulations, and that when we discriminate notes and colours we may be said, in a fashion, to perceive these numerical relations; we know that the discovery of them is, at any rate, implicit in our immediate perception, and waits only for reasoning thought to make it explicit. If the birds have, in this respect, the same perceptions that we have, can we interpret the fact otherwise than by the hypothesis that we and they alike share in the operations of a vaster mind?
We are accustomed to view all the organized and systematized products of human intelligence under the category of “things made,” often with much inaccuracy. If a man builds a house or constructs a machine he has a plan, either on paper or in his mind, which he follows out in detail. The mental process as the result of which a poem is written is widely different. Burns tells us that he composed his songs often by humming an air to himself and waiting till the words came. If one could have viewed the process from the outside, without knowing anything of the mind behind it, it might have seemed to him as if there were a struggle for existence between the words, and the survival of those best fitted to meet the exigencies of the rhythm and at the same time to call up ideas that were interesting and inspiriting. The Herbartian psychology has familiarised us with the conception of a contest between ideas for a place in consciousness, and the survival of such only as fall in with the needs of a dominant apperceptive system. Survival of its constituent factors under the influence
of an ideal is indeed applicable to the genesis of all that is organized or constructed by us, even to those things that we ordinarily look upon as being made offhand in accordance with a copy. It is only the last stage that is thus accomplished. One can set himself nowadays to construct a triple-expansion engine, and need no other equipment for his task than care and patience and ordinary intelligence. But could any one have done it fifty years ago? The steps in engine-construction between that day and this have been achieved by a mental process analogous to that by which poems are written and Constitutions are developed. We are becoming daily more and more fully conscious of this fact. We can perceive that though Brunel could not build a “Great Eastern” that would work, the progress of naval construction since his time renders it probable that our descendants will build vessels of vastly greater magnitude than it. We do not set ourselves now to make wings and, having made them, leap into space, but we are still further from laying it down as beyond question that aerial navigation is for ever impossible. Rather we set ourselves to estimate what progress has been made over a period of ten or twenty years past in diminishing the proportion which the weight of engines must bear to the motor-power that they can develope, and on this basis to calculate what progress the next ten or twenty years are likely to see made in the direction of the solution of our problem. Similarly, in matters political, we have travelled far since the days when Locke or Rousseau saw in the relation between king and people the result of some conscious bargain deliberately “made” at the dawn of history; or since the days when the sages of the Directory had religions in their pigeon-holes, ready to be made actual by an edict from head-quarters. Even socialism—at any rate Fabian socialism—recognises now that it must reckon more or less with nature and its gradual processes. We are beginning to find out that there are many things in the world that are organized and systematized yet which cannot be said to be “made.” “Making” is a deductive process only: it gives effect in the real world to an abstract rule. The process by which the rule itself has been obtained belongs also to thought, but to the province of induction. It is induction that we find taking place whenever the evolution of anything is the result.
A theory of the reason that would adequately define the separate provinces of induction and deduction is still a desideratum in logic. Mr. Mill's theory is by no means consistent with itself. In the body of his work he treats the two as co-ordinate processes, which achieve the same end by different means. In the chapter on “Deduction,” on the contrary, we find him maintaining that every deduction has in it three stages
—an induction, a ratiocination, and a verification. That is the true account, I think, of every process of conscious reasoning. We can only draw a line that will afford the basis for consistent treatment between induction and deduction by regarding the former, substantially as Whewell does, as “the light that goes up”—the happy thought, the illuminating generalisation to which no methods are applicable; and the latter as the process by which such generalisations are in the end either confirmed or rejected. The so-called inductive methods can be applicable only to ratiocination and the verification. This view corresponds with Mr. Mill's own description, in the earlier part of his work, of reasoning from particulars to generals as the process of mother-wit of the shrewd, untaught intelligence. It may be possible thus to see some truth in the striking thought of Emerson: “Generalisation is always a new influx of divinity into the mind—hence the thrill that attends.” The deductive process of “making” could, then, very plainly be only the process of human minds, whose workings are based on abstraction; and it seems, moreover, that it only corresponds to one aspect even of their processes, and that not a universal one. It may thus, I think, yet become possible for us to comprehend that, though we must give up the conception of “making” as applicable to the genesis of the world, we may still hold to the belief that it is the work of mind, and even of that description of mind of which our own is an imperfect image.
The philosophy of Hegel has familiarised us with the thought of pairs of complementary conceptions, one of which is and must be implicit in the other—though those who are loudest in affirming either of the two are often farthest from recognising that they at the same time affirm its complement. “People have only to know what they say,” as he observes, “in order to find the infinite in the finite.” The category of complementary conceptions is applicable to many others besides those of the infinite and the finite. The conception, for example, of the possible illusoriness of vision, of which Hume made so much use, plainly postulated the possession by us of some trustworthy standard by comparison with which the information that vision gave us might be pronounced either illusory or valid; yet with the recognition of this fact his theory of subjective idealism must necessarily have vanished. In the history of the world, indeed, as we find it, it often takes many generations for a thought that is there already as implicit to become explicit. Hence it is the rule rather than the exception with intellectual movements that they stop short at a stage that seems to us, on looking back at them, to be very obviously only an intermediate one. One wonders how, in the sixteenth century, the assertion of
the right of private judgment stopped short at the precise point that it did; and how, in the eighteenth, the Eclaircissement, in the main hostile to Christianity, identified itself with what is, in truth, a Christian doctrine—the equal rights of all men.
Applying this point of view to theories of the nature and genesis of the world, it seems, on reflection, sufficiently manifest that the conception of it as a mechanical system is a complementary one to the belief in the existence of a mechanician outside it. Yet the philosophies which most vehemently assert the necessary invalidity of the belief in a God who made the world as a man makes a watch are those which, with equal assurance, assert the possibility of our remaining satisfied with the conception of the world as a watch, but without any maker. Such a standpoint, however, can be only a transitional one. If there is no mechanician, then the world, it is plain, is something very different from a mechanical system. “The brain secretes thought,” we are told, “as the liver secretes bile.” Let us suppose that it does: the question next arises, How does the liver secrete bile? It plainly will not do to conceive of it as secreting it in anything like the same way or manner as that in which the steam-engine converts heat into motion. It must be conceived of rather as secreting it in the manner in which the engine, plus the man endowed with conscious will and intelligence who attends it, effects this end. If there be nothing to take the place of the man alongside the organism, then the organism itself cannot be viewed except in one of two ways—either as something that has an independent life of its own, or as something that shares the life of some wider existence.
We speak freely of some things in the world as “living,” and of others as “dead” and “inert”; but if we force ourselves to consider what it is we really say when we use such expressions we will find that we can never combine the predicates of “deadness” and “inertia” with the predicates of motion and change as applicable to any subject without having in the background of our minds the thought of some cause outside such a subject that moves and changes it. Once convince us fully that no such cause exists, and its motion becomes at once for us sufficient evidence of its life. If there were nothing in the universe, we are told, but two drops of water, and they were millions of miles apart, they would not rest where they are, but would at once begin to move in a straight line towards each other. We can conceive of such a fact under the category of mechanism only, because in the semiconscious background of our minds there is the traditional thought of a God who moves them. Blot out that thought completely and the drops of water become at once
things endowed not only with some sort of life, but also with some sort of unconscious knowledge of each other's existence and position. We have been accustomed in the past to make use of the categories of the material world to express, as best we can, the facts of mind. A tendency, however, is noticeable in recent science to reverse the process. We speak naturally now of the refracted light-ray as seeking the least circuitous route to its goal that is in the circumstances possible to it. It comes naturally, too, to Mr. Darwin to ask, with reference to a reversion like the occasional appearance of the double uterus, how could it “know,” as it were, what course it had to follow, unless we assume its connection by descent with some form in which it was normal.
Hence, even if we are old-fashioned enough to be desirous of finding adequate reasons for believing intelligence to be the guiding principle of the universe, we can look on with equanimity at the Kantian criticism engaged in demolishing the ontological, cosmological, and physico-theological arguments for the being of a God. The very statement of such arguments involves the conception of two subjects—nature and God—the existence of the latter of which has to be proved from qualities perceivable in the former. Let us conceive the work to be thoroughly done, and the God of the old natural theology to be extinguished. We are left alone then with nature—with the totality of things, including ourselves, as the percipients of them all. This is, then, the one subject in the universe; and we are driven at once to ask, What are its predicates? That one of them is life is a self-evident conclusion; and that others are organic unity, and in some sense the manifestation of intelligence, are further conclusions which every fresh discovery in science emphasizes. By the time we have assimilated them, however, we find that the very fact of getting rid of the God of the old natural theology has brought us back many steps in the direction of a conception which, after all, closely approximates to the conception of God in the natural mind. So far, Hume would be with us. With the common-sense of English thought, which does not let its theories run away with it, he allows his doctrine of causation to go by the board, and does not hesitate to say that there can never be any doubt as to the being of a God—the only questions that can arise are questions in reference to his nature. It is here, indeed, that the true difficulty begins. If we can go no further in assigning predicates to the one great subject than to affirm of it life, unity, and some sort of intelligence, there is much truth in Hume's contention that our belief can never be the ground “either of any action or of any forbearance.” It is plain that we can find these predicates in no other manner than by casting our glance on the world
about us, and back over its history. In doing so it will be all in vain for us to attempt to shut our eyes to the manifold miseries and bitternesses of human life. Nor does it assist us to tell us, as Hegel does, that all this exists merely that the Absolute Spirit may become conscious of himself. Rather, the heart rebels at the suggestion that human misery should have been devised for the attainment of an end that cannot be represented as either noble or unselfish. There is nothing in self-consciousness that is, in itself, admirable or attractive: as Goethe profoundly remarks, humility, the sweetest of womanly virtues, can never know anything of its own existence. It is idle, too, to tell us, in any phraseology, that evil is negation—that it is something that does not really exist. He who uses such phraseology does not alter the facts, he merely confuses for himself the connotation of such words as “reality,” “existence,” and “evil.” Shutting our eyes to nothing, we may, however, still ask ourselves the question, Does it not, in spite of everything, seem clear that “the real tendency of things is good”? This much, at any rate, was the intense conviction of one who was even more alive than most of us are to the darker side of human things. Without prejudging the question whether it is a conclusion capable of being scientifically established, it may be said that, if it can, we cannot, I think, escape from the further conclusion that there is an ideal which the Universal Mind is endeavouring to realise in the world—that this ideal is nothing else but the amelioration of its condition.
The question, at any rate, of any belief in God which is more than a formal and unmeaning one appears to be bound up with that other question whether or not the real tendency of things is good—that is to say, whether or not there is, in spite of all fluctuations, a progress, steady on the whole, towards a higher and better state of things perceptible in mundane affairs, and whether such tendency is not the necessary outcome of the laws of life and development.
Though Hegel, in his abstract formalisation of his doctrine, places the goal of existence in the realisation of itself in consciousness by the Absolute Spirit—a conception which, whatever aspect of the truth it may present, does not in any way commend itself to human love and admiration—when he comes to show us his principle at work on the stage of the world's history, we find that what it seems to mean is that there is some intelligent principle behind human affairs, or immanent in them, which converts the fall of empires, the decadence of civilisations, the inroads of barbarism—everything, in short, that seems at first merely evil and disastrous—into the starting-point for the development of new eras, charac
terized by greater happiness and greater liberty than those which preceded them. He treads with firm and certain step—here and there, perhaps, riding his theory of triplicities to death, as when he divides even the continents and their physical features into triads—but, on the whole, arriving at a conception of historical development which largely anticipates the conclusions that the progress of science and research has since made inevitable. Schlegel's conception of a primitive universal civilisation, from which barbarism is a retrogression, is, for example, dismissed as hardly worth considering; yet its validity was maintained by very competent thinkers until quite recently in England. Altogether, his conclusions present a remarkable parallelism with those which Mr. Bagehot, in his “Physics and Politics,” bases on the established doctrine of evolution. If speculation in regard to first principles is, from a practical point of view, so valueless as many would have us believe, it is strange that metaphysics anticipated science by at least half a century with reference to a matter so fertile in practical bearings as national development. What is least formal and abstract in Hegel's line of thought is probably what will be found in the long-run to be of most permanent value. His doctrine that conceptions, as soon as they become explicit, go over into their opposites, appears to be transfixed by Lotze's criticism that conceptions never alter, though the things of the finite world pass from the sphere of one conception into that of another. If the process, too, had the absolute universality which he asserts for it, it is hard to understand how rational freedom itself could be an exception. If the alleged principle were universally valid, should we not be forced to conclude that, as soon as rational freedom itself became explicit in the world, it must pass over into irrational bondage? It is hard to see also how from the absolute equivalence of the elementary opposites—from the theory that “being” and “nothing” are the same—anything but a see-saw between these opposites could result. If the negative element is to be conquered in the end, must we not conclude that it was never from the beginning the full equivalent of the affirmative? The Eleatic doctrine, adopted by Spinoza, that evil is negation, though, if taken as it stands, it is little better than a barren paradox, is yet much nearer the truth than the doctrine of the identity or full equivalence of opposites. It is, indeed, an approximate statement of a truth that has played a great rφle in philosophy, and is destined, perhaps, yet to play a still greater one. If evil is not literally non-existent, it at any rate, as Spinoza very clearly recognised, carries within it a self-destructive element. If reason, as he says, even persuaded us to lie for our own advantage, or even in order to save ourselves from imminent danger, it would persuade all
men always to do the same, and then social existence would become impossible; and thus the principle of lying, if carried to its full length, destroys itself. Hence reason, he concludes, can never persuade us to lie. We have in this the germ and more than the germ of the Kantian doctrine, “Let the maxim of your conduct be that which can be made into law universal.” A further consequence naturally flows from it—viz., that, in as far as any nation, any theory, or any institution contains elements of moral baseness, in so far also does it contain elements of weakness; that whatever survives in the world survives in virtue of that in it which is true and valuable. This is the kernel of the doctrine that has been preached in our day with much energy of conviction by Thomas Carlyle, and has vividly impressed the English-speaking world. Referring to the rise of Mahometanism, for example, he says, “I will allow a thing to struggle for itself in this world, with any sword or tongue or implement it has, or can lay hold of. We will let it preach, and pamphleteer, and fight, and to the uttermost bestir itself, and do, beak and claws, whatsoever is in it, very sure that it will, in the longrun, conquer nothing which does not deserve to be conquered.” If the real tendency of things were not good this could not be so. As it is, “All that is right,” he contends, “includes itself in this, of co-operating with the real tendency of the world.” If, however, we can recognise the truth that this view of life contains, we must also recognise that the intelligence which guides the universe is working out by degrees the realisation of an ideal that is also our own.
Carlyle's doctrine is plainly a doctrine of the survival of the fittest among theories, religions, and institutions; and here again we find speculation on first principles anticipating the conclusions of science. It differs from Mr. Darwin's survival of the fittest, however, in this: that in it the “fittest” has the definite meaning of the best and the worthiest. With reference to Mr. Darwin's formula, it has frequently been pointed out that the survival of the fittest can mean only the survival of what is best adapted to survive. Like the Hegelian theory, however, it appears to more advantage in action than its formulas. When we see how it is applied we can perceive in it another meaning. Mr. Darwin himself finds in it a principle which must necessarily lead to the development of the social instincts, the unselfish side of our nature. It seems clear to him, too, both that the struggle for existence cannot fail to develope intellect in the race, and also that the development of intellect must secure the development of morality pari passu with it. We arrive thus by another à priori road at the same conclusion—that the real tendency of things cannot be otherwise than good.
Perhaps the greatest difficulty that presents itself to the acceptance of this conclusion is that which flows from the doctrine of the equivalence of opposites. It needs little reflection to discover that the biblical conception of the knowledge of good as having entered the world together with the knowledge of evil shadows forth a truth of wide-spreading significance. It is plain enough that the hero and the martyr could never have appeared in the world without the tyrant and the bigot. The delights of success for one man must, it always seems, bear a tolerably exact proportion to the agony of possible disappointment for himself, and of real disappointment for others similarly situated. If by what we fancy as the fiat of Omnipotence pain were at once completely done away with, we might find that the principle of consciousness, perhaps of vitality itself, had perished. We are thus sometimes driven to question the very possibility, in the nature of things, of any fuller realisation of happiness in the world than we find there now. It must be conceded, I think, that the negative principle must always be manifested there in some shape. Without the possibility of disappointment there could be no such thing as the serious pursuit of any purpose, and the possibility of disappointment itself involves pain, and pain often of the acutest sort. It may be that we are dreaming altogether idly in dreaming of a painless golden age ahead of us. This much, however, is observable: that the negative principle can assume very different forms in different stages of the world's development. In nature, the only remedy for failure or imperfection is the prompt destruction of the forms that manifest defects. When consciousness dawns, the place of destruction can be taken by the instinctive association of pain with what is injurious. With the civilised man, again, the mental representation of pain—say of starvation—some time in the future can take the place of the actual pangs of hunger in the present. A further stage sees the approval of our fellows largely substituted for every other motive of action. The worst of all pains for us, then, is to be found in the fact of being shunned and despised by our neighbours; and, at a still further stage, we can feel that even this is endurable so long as we are not forced to agree with our neighbours in detesting and despising ourselves, that being the one pain at all hazards to be avoided. If thus even we are forced to hold that pain can never be got rid of, there is ample room for the amelioration of the world in the substitution of the more refined for the grosser forms of it.
Out of such reflections on the nature of pain there dawns dimly on us the suspicion that we may be in error in the fancy that Omnipotence could make all men happy and
virtuous by its fiat if it pleased. Happiness and virtue may be things that are not “makeable.” If “making” is a category applicable only to a very limited aspect of the operations of the human mind it may not be applicable at all to the operations of the Universal Mind. What if, in the nature of things, nothing better is achievable than that which has been achieved and is being achieved? We have wars still: possibly without them civilisation might fall into rottenness and decadence. They are not followed, however, nowadays by the enslavement and slaughter of unarmed populations. As, moreover, the customary law in each nation, when it gained sufficient strength, in the end created a tribunal to enforce it, so it seems possible that international law, which now exists in the shape of custom only, may also similarly develope itself. We have thus, perhaps, in the very fact of the existence of international law, a prophecy of a federation of the nations strong enough to make public war as impossible between civilised States as private war is now within them.
Not many years ago we were in despair at the anticipation that the trend of our industrial civilisation was in the direction, no doubt, of making the rich richer, but at the same time of making the lot of the poor harder than ever it had been. Recent developments appear to indicate that this was only a transitional stage. It is coming to be widely believed now that the unfailing tendency of every new invention is to shorten the hours and to increase the remuneration of labour, as well as to increase the purchasing-power of its earnings. It seems on all grounds well within the bounds of possibility that the next century will see an enormous diminution in the physical miseries of the world, and it seems open to us, at any rate, to hail every achievement of science as something that is without fail hastening on that consummation. Impartial, unbiassed reasoning alone appears to be all that is requisite to warrant our faith in the beneficence of the Mind that is guiding our destinies.