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To claim educational pre-eminence for the classics, or simply to present classicism as an important view of culture, would commonly in these times be met with ridicule or indifference, since neither the notion of culture nor the classical outlook is now accorded any great respect even in reputedly educated circles. At the outset of the intense struggles, which have occupied the past century or more, over the nature and organisation of education, the conception of it as “liberal” and hence classical was widespread and apparently well-entrenched. But the position has changed so radically that nowadays it is rare to find any greater concession made to liberal study, either in the narrower sense of concentration on the “classical tongues” or in the broader sense of attention to the major productions of humane letters, than that it is a harmless eccentricity which may still for a time occupy its small corner. What is of special educational importance, it is widely maintained, is study of the sciences; for, while liberal study had at no time an intrinsically greater capacity for developing the mind, it has under present conditions a very much slighter power of bringing us to a serious grappling with our vital problems. And this is in line with the view which prevails among professional educationists who, even though the main emphasis is not always on science, conceive education as the preparation of the pupil for the problems of the real world in which he is to live, and on that principle dismiss the upholder of tradition as a follower of phantasies.

It is open to the traditionalists to reply that preparation for grappling with what is contemporary does not necessarily involve concentration on the study of what is contemporary and that the setting aside of tradition, of “the best that has been thought and said” on major human problems, may well be the way to miss their solution. But first it may be pointed out that the classical and the utilitarian views of education are distinguished as employing intrinsic and extrinsic criteria, the one considering education in its own character, as the development of thinking or criticism, the other considering it in its contribution to something else, subordinating it in this way to the non-educational and running the greatest risk of distorting its character. For clearly there can be no subject or field of study which is utilitarian in itself, whose character resides in what it produces or helps to produce, and this applies as much to science as to any other study; its intrinsic character, taken as the search for laws, the study of the ways of working of actual things, has no reference to the turning of its findings to “practical” account. But there can be no doubt


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that science as currently understood is concerned with the production of results, with the making of physical translations and transformations, and that, in the view of many scientific practitioners, science even enjoins us to produce this result rather than that.

In so far as science is regarded in this way, it is assimilated to the theology which at one time it seemed destined to replace; it also is supplementing consideration of what is the case by injunctions to us to seek the means by which we may be saved. A topical example of such salvationist thinking is to be found in agitations for peace, in which, leaving aside any attempt to determine the objective conditions either of the occurrence of international conflicts themselves or of the discovery of the truth concerning them, it is assumed that anything that is “undesirable” can, by a sufficiency of protests or “appeals to reason”, be eliminated. The implication is that there are no natural laws in the social or political sphere — for, if there were, there would be certain things which, under given conditions, could not be eliminated, since they were necessary consequences of those conditions. But it is in no way scientific to suppose that there is any field of occurrences not marked by regularities, and it is scarcely less naive to represent the social field as one in which there are a few simple truths which can be grasped without intensive study and which are already sufficiently recognised. The maintaining of such views holds out no prospect of assistance to the settlement of matters of practical urgency; it operates merely as an obstacle to inquiry into social affairs in general and international affairs in particular. It is still important to note that the belief, increasingly popular since the days of Spencer and Huxley, that science can prescribe practical policies, rests on the assumption that society itself is not a subject of science. But this in turn carries the implication that science has nothing to contribute to society's development.

The connection between the trend to a more and more “scientific” education and the conception of education as having to be directed beyond itself to social usefulness, to “serving the community” in non-educational ways, falls within the same chapter of ideas. Such external direction, however weak its theoretical foundation, is an inescapable contemporary phenomenon, and it is responsible not only for the steady fall in educational standards, the slighter and slighter literacy of the supposedly educated, but for what may fairly be called the growing industrialisation of educational institutions. This is exhibited not merely in their directing students to industry and thus engaging in the provision of the techniques which industry requires, but in their becoming themselves more and more technological, applying techniques of teaching, overcoming “wastage”, learning how to turn out the maximum number of technicians — and losing scholarship in the process. This external view of the function of Universities in particular is one of the leading notes of the Murray report, however it may be blended with pious phrases in the older mode. Thus, to the Committee's contention (Report of the Committee on Australian Universities, 1957, p. 120 — “Summary and


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Conclusions”) that “the universities are or should be the guardians of intellectual standards and intellectual integrity in the community”, it can be retorted that they cannot be such guardians if their work is subordinated to other standards, if they are serving a postulated unity of interests (“the community”) of which the intellectual interest is only a part. Nothing short of a rejection of this imaginary “common good” (something that satisfies every interest and every person) can maintain at their proper intellectual level institutions whose work is criticism or the examination of all assumptions. The carrying out of this work requires them to recognise that they are one of a number of competing social forces and that what, for example, is industry's gain is quite commonly education's loss.

The conception of education as an industry, then, with its raw materials, machines, machine-minders and turned-out goods, is opposed to the conception of it as conversion, a turning round of the mind, or, as Arnold has it in his definition of culture (Culture and Anarchy, Preface), the turning of “a stream of fresh and free thought upon our stock notions and habits”. It is true that Arnold himself is still somewhat bemused by the stock notion of “the common good”, but, at least, in “The Function of Criticism at the present time” (Essays in Criticism, First Series, I) he allows that the “mass of mankind will never have any ardent zeal for seeing things as they are”, and that men will be content for the most part to rest their practice on very inadequate ideas. “For”, as he puts it even more forcibly on an earlier page, “what is at present the bane of criticism in this country? It is that practical considerations cling to it and stifle it. It subserves interests not its own. Our organs of criticism are organs of men and parties having practical ends to serve, and with them those practical ends are the first thing and the play of mind the second; so much play of mind as is compatible with the prosecution of those practical ends is all that is wanted.”

Concentration on what serves one's purposes, satisfaction with the “just as good” or the “good enough to get there”, exists even more strikingly and influentially in public life at present than it did in Arnold's time, and it has penetrated more and more deeply into education, promoting shoddy thinking and slipshod language in the name of social equality and amelioration and other “inadequate ideas” which have less and less critical intelligence applied to them. It is not surprising, in particular, that pupils should be turned out with a poor sense of the English language, when their teachers are concerned to propagate and benefit by the whole range of meliorist and utilitarian ideas and, in their satisfaction with what “gets across” in this way, feel no impulse towards the largeness of view and precision of thought which would require its remoulding and which would stimulate sensitive expression. The “practical end” of taking one's place in the community, of securing more or less useful and remunerative occupation, overshadows critical thinking; and, to draw more fully on Arnold's terminology, the function of education at the present time is substantially that of turning the populace into Philistines.

Incidentally, Arnold's notion of “practical ends” is a somewhat loose


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and uncritical one. To take anything as an end is presumably to regard it as capable of actually coming about — of coming about, as we say, “in practice”. It is not apparent, on this basis, how practical ends could be distinguished from any other ends. A distinction might be attempted in terms of the common antithesis of practice and theory, and practical outcomes of human activity might then be taken as those which were not theoretical — not, that is to say, as states which could not be objects of thought but as states which had no thinking embodied in them. Much of what is actually produced by contemporary education may well be of this unthinking character, but where thinking, as contrasted with conformity and intellectual vacuity, does emerge from the process, it can hardly be dismissed as unpractical — it may have distinctly more social force than much that passes as practical. Arnold would have been speaking more to the purpose if, instead of distinguishing types of ends, he had distinguished between concentration on ends, on definite objects to be secured, and the carrying on of certain activities (in particular, the activity of inquiry) without regard to any such programme; but this is a conception at which he does not arrive.

In fact, while Arnold's contribution to the understanding of these questions is considerable, he makes in a number of places undue concessions to practice and fails in critical elucidation of its character. This is notably so in his discussion of “Hellenism and Hebraism” (Culture and Anarchy, Ch. IV) when he contrasts the uppermost Hellenic idea, “to see things as they really are”, with the uppermost Hebraic idea of “conduct and obedience”, or, in his alternative formulation, “spontaneity of consciousness” with “strictness of conscience”, and treats the two not as antagonistic but as complementary sides of culture. Apart from the fairly obvious objection that conscience has an adverse effect on the free play of intellect (if, indeed, it does not spring from intellectual narrowness), Arnold does not explain why conduct is not just one of the things to be seen as they are, or how it can be regarded as raising any distinct type of problem. Certainly, in Literature and Dogma (Ch. I), he distinguishes speculative problems concerning human character or activity from “practical” problems, the merely theoretical difficulty of finding what happens from the difficulty of doing “what we very well know ought to be done”, i.e., in his view, the “difficulty of religion” which “extends to rightness in the whole range of what we call conduct; in three-fourths, therefore, at the very lowest computation, of human life”. But he definitely does not mean that such problems are solved ambulando, that it just so happens that we sometimes do what “ought” to be done, whatever we might know or think about it; the question is always of the solution of a speculative problem, of finding out that something is the case — e.g., that doing what is right is contingent on the acceptance of a certain kind of guidance — though it still might be argued, in this connection, that “right” and “ought” are stock notions we should have to dispense with if our speculation on conduct went any distance. Perhaps it is some sense of the weakness of his doctrine of conduct that leads


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Arnold into the bathos of his concluding observation in the section of his argument to which I am referring: “And so, when we are asked, what is the object of religion? — let us reply: Conduct. And when we are asked further, what is conduct? — let us answer: Three-fourths of life.”

But however strongly all this may point to the conclusion that no account can be given of culture as a conjunction of Hellenism and Hebraism, this would be nothing against the account of it as Hellenism itself, i.e., “seeing things as they are” — adopting the objective as against the subjective outlook — turning critical intelligence on all subjects, including (and perhaps especially) the subject of human activities. Such an account, of course, would not imply that Greek civilisation, even in its “classical” period (the period of the flourishing of objectivism, criticism, intellectual detachment), was objectivist through and through. It is, indeed, part of the classicist position to see that this cannot be the case, to see, as in the notable example of Socrates,note that culture exists in the struggle with superstition and backwardness. Socrates upheld the objective treatment of all subjects — and specifically of the subjects, such as religion, ethics, aesthetics, in which subjectivism still seeks a refuge; he combated subjectivism alike in the form of Sophistic conventionalism (“Man is the measure of all things”) and in that of Athenian democratism (“The people are the measure of all things”). Remarkably enough, it is largely from the force of his criticisms that his opponents retain a place in the history of civilisation. And what these criticisms bring out is the difference between the reality and the pretence of knowledge, whether the pretenders were reputedly learned men or, like his prosecutors, men who thought that knowledge — of morals in particular — came from immersion in civic life and did not require or admit of formal scrutiny and the raising of difficulties. Here for the first time in the history of thought we encounter the notion of “practical truth”, of knowledge without study, of assertions that cannot be challenged because they are backed by the process of living. The position is illustrated again in the case of the contemporary evangelical who, in saying “He's real to me”, imagines that he has provided a sanction for certain lines of action, though engaging in them has no demonstrable connection with the postulated sanctioning figure. It is this “practical” jumping over of problems that Socrates was especially concerned to expose. And, as he predicted, even the practical expedient of slaying him furnished no escape from the difficulties he had raised.

But neither the position nor the influence of Socrates can be described as exclusively objectivist. That there is in his doctrines a streak of romanticism or mysticism (even though this can often be treated as merely a trimming round a realist or empiricist core) is clear enough from his belief in “ultimates”, entities standing above the actual movement of things. This is in striking contrast with the thorough-going objectivism


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of his predecessor, Heraclitus, who was unremitting in his attack on subjectivist illusions, on the operation of desire or the imagining of things as we should like them to be, as opposed to the operation of understanding or the finding of things (including our own activities) as they positively are, with no granting of a privileged position in reality to gods, men or molecules, with conflict everywhere and nothing above the battle. His criticism was directed especially against the school of Pythagoreans (whence much of it could in turn have been directed against Socrates) — against their little absolutes or atomic realities; against their distortion of their material from a desire for simplicity, for the tidy and complete solution; against the division of the unhistorical from the historical, of the exact from the inexact. This last point recalls Arnold's distinction (again in Ch. I of Literature and Dogma) between “a term of science or exact knowledge” and “a term of poetry and eloquence” — and here the Heraclitean or objectivist position is that no line can be drawn between these, that there can be no defensible claim to knowledge of distinct things which have no common measures, which do not exist in the same situations and enter into joint transactions. And, in particular, there is the implication that we can no more have quantity without quality than we can have quality without quantity or otherwise than as spatio-temporal process.

But while Heraclitus had this sense of the interlocking of all materials and all problems, he had by no means worked out a critical apparatus (a doctrine of types of problem and forms of solution in any inquiry) in the way that Socrates, followed by Plato, did. And thus for a general conception of the objectivist outlook, of classicism on its basic philosophical side, of the “judgment” which applies to all subjects and the “literalism” which is always ruinous to inquiry, we have to go to both these sources; they together set up the model of philosophical Hellenism, and, even though the other contributors to the thought of the period did not reach the same level, these would suffice to make it a classical period — a period in which disinterestedness stands out from the wrangle of special interests as it does not do in culturally lower times.

It is in so far as it has followed the Greek model that modern philosophy has also had a classical character, though it has had to fight against an even more debilitating modernism (or “up-to-dateness”) than that of the Sophists. This modernism comes out strikingly in the work of the two thinkers who have been commonly regarded as the founders of modern philosophy — Bacon and Descartes. We need not perhaps take very seriously Descartes's reported remarks that he was proud of having forgotten the Greek which he had learned as a boy, and that Latin, lauded as “the language of Cicero”, was just as much the language of Cicero's serving-maid — though it might be observed in passing that an infusion of the Hellenic spirit may persist beyond the recalling of Greek words, and that it is not true that “the same language” is used by the learned and the vulgar, that, on the contrary, it is pre-eminently in letters


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that a language has its characteristic existence.note What is more to the purpose in both thinkers is their practicalism and progressivism, illustrated in Bacon's view that the “end of the sciences is their usefulness to the human race” and that to “increase knowledge is to extend the dominion of man over nature, and so to increase his comfort and happiness, so far as these depend on external circumstances” (Bury, The Idea of Progress, p. 58), and in the view of Descartes (Bury, p. 67) that the intellectual advance consequent on his own discoveries “would have far-reaching effects on the condition of mankind” and in his first proposed title for the Discourse on Method, “The Project of a Universal Science which can elevate our Nature to its highest degree of Perfection.”

Adamson (History of Logic, p. 85) says that to both Bacon and Descartes “the scholastic logic presented itself as the essence of a thoroughly false and futile method of knowledge.… Both thinkers were animated by the spirit of reformation in science, and both emphasise the practical end of all speculation. For both, therefore, logic, which to neither is of high value, appeared to be a species of practical science, a generalised statement of the mode in which intellect acquires new knowledge, in which the mind proceeds from known to unknown.” This degradation of the subject, logic, to the status of an instrument or set of devices is typical of the practicalist or instrumentalist outlook (though it still cannot show how deviser and devised can enter into common situations or, as the phrase goes, “exist in the same world”). and it may be compared to recent views of scientific method (which is actually logic, considered in terms of types of questions that can arise in inquiry) as simply the procedures of scientists. The matter is illustrated again in the contempt of the two thinkers for syllogism (in fact, the commonest as well as the most fruitful form of demonstrative reasoning) and its replacement by the Baconian “induction” and the Cartesian “intuition”. But “induction”, where it is not syllogism disguised, is at best fallacious reasoning and at worst mere guesswork — though it is interestingly related to that great region of modern science (reminiscent of Pythagorean doctrine) in which ignorance is treated as a kind of knowledge, uncertainty as a kind of certainty. And “intuition”, again where it is not disguised syllogism, is merely knowledge divorced from any possibility of its being acquired by a mind, i.e., knowing without learning.

The anti-classicism of Descartes comes out not merely in his antipathy to history and tradition, but in his proposing, as the ground of the distinction of men from animals, an abstract rationality in place of the concrete and many-sided culture (language and literature, law, investigation, etc.) which really does distinguish them. This lack of concreteness is characteristic of the whole modernist position; it is bound up with that opposition to quality or distinction which is a recurrent feature of modern


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thought (in the social as in other spheres), and one expression of which is proof by identities and not by concrete facts. It comes out in Descartes's epistemological approach to philosophy which proved so influential in later thought and which gives the question of our power of comprehending actualities priority to that of actualities themselves. This, however, can readily be seen to be a quite confused position; for knowledge of our cognitive powers does not set us on the way to detailed knowledge of the actual unless they also are actual, and, if they are, they have no higher standing as objects of cognition than other cognisable things. The difficulty is merely evaded by Descartes in his doctrine of self-knowledge (his cogito ergo sum), since, on the one hand, there is still no logical passage from self-knowledge to knowledge of other things, and, on the other hand, knowledge of a real self would have to be of its concrete characters and not of mere dispositions or capacities. The Cartesian cogito, then, is rooted in ambiguity; it derives such plausibility as it has from its assigning all the parts in a complex relationship to the same thing. But it does so at the cost of content; the certainty it can be taken to give us is not the certainty of any particular thing but, at most, the certainty of “certainty itself”. Its certainty, in other words, is indistinguishable from its emptiness.

This criticism of the cogito is moderately familiar; what is not so commonly recognised is that criticism of the same sort applies to those other prominent features of modernist doctrine, its utilitarianism and its progressivism — that their plausibility also is grounded in their lack of content. Ordinarily, to call anything useful is to say that it brings about something else — more specifically, perhaps, brings about something wanted — but since there is no limit to the range of things that people want, since anything might be wanted by someone, the effective meaning of useful is just having effects, and this covers anything whatever. On this interpretation, it would be idle for a person to say that he supports “utility”, for he would not be supporting any distinguishable thing. But the utilitarian does not want to say that he supports the indefinite going on of things; he wants to affirm the existence of definite stopping-places; he wants to recognise, beyond the mere relation of producing or bringing about, “absolute utilities” — things which have their usefulness in themselves or as part of their own character. And here again we have a quite empty conception — the conception of the attainment of “attainment” or the satisfaction in “satisfaction” and not in any concrete thing.

In the same way, “progress” can only mean the going on of what goes on, or the futurity of the future, unless the question is of the progress not of “things in general” but of a distinct class of things, things of some specific quality. And, even working with a rough-and-ready conception of the “flourishing” of such a class, we can never find more than risings and fallings (the strengthening of such things at certain times and places, matched by their weakening at other times and places) and thus can find no reason for belief in a law of their progress, let alone a law of universal progress. Such beliefs rest on belief in a “scheme of things”,


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but a scheme which is always fragmentarily conceived and gives no ground on which it may be demonstrated that one form of activity rather than another is bound to thrive. And an even more serious defect of progressivist doctrines is that they are doctrines of betterment, i.e., of higher and lower degrees of goodness; and this, if goodness is a quality, is unintelligible, and, if it is not, is a measurement of things on an unknown scale and brings us back to the verbiage of “evolutionary ethics”, according to which the later is, of its very nature, the better — in other words, to the peddling of identities in the guise of information. It may be added that doctrines like utilitarianism and progressivism whose special concern is the future are not merely anti-classical but are opposed to study, since the past is a field of study which can be constantly opened up, while the future is a field of conjecture or phantasy. It is in this way that pessimism or the sense of a steady cultural decline has greater affinity to learning than the optimistic belief in continual advance; it points to concrete models and to the great difficulty of maintaining standards, as against the facile belief that they will automatically rise. All these considerations bring out the emptiness of the modernist outlook, as contrasted with the fullness of the historical and classical.

The Cartesian doctrine of “matter” is likewise lacking in content; the doctrine that extension is the essence of the material affirms the sameness of all things and eliminates all quality and distinction (carrying egalitarianism right through the universe!); it is a doctrine that could be founded only on a fallacious working with identities, and yet it is still treated by most scientists not as absurd but as commonplace, the real distinguishing-marks of things being set aside as “secondary” or illusory. It is needless to dwell on the writhings of the intellect by which Descartes tries to straddle the gulf between mind and matter, and bring pure thought and pure extension into relation; it is enough to say that, while only historical actualities (alike material and moving) can be so related, it is the empty abstractions which have penetrated modern thought. Nevertheless, this penetration has emphasised the fundamental weaknesses of the Cartesian antithesis of thought and extension, active and passive, user and used — for it emerges in the writings of the eighteenth century, above all in the work of La Mettrie, that anything we concretely call man is as much subject to external influences (as capable of being used) as anything we call matter, and so would go over into the passive side of reality if there were such a side; yet this is combined, among these “old materialists”, with belief in a class of men who are users, a section of society, as Marx puts it, set above society in general, and concerned (however inexplicably and however, on the original premises, hopelessly) to raise the social level.

This theoretical instability comes out in a specially grotesque way in Owen's “A New View of Society”, where, for example, in the Third Essay, he passes directly from the doctrine of external determination (“the character of man is, without a single exception, always formed for him.… Man, therefore, never did, nor is it possible that he ever can, form


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his own character”) to a call to action, to the question whether the “substantial advantages” of the application of rational principles should be longer withheld from the mass of mankind and the assertion that it is “by the full and complete disclosure of these principles that the destruction of ignorance and misery is to be effected, and the reign of reason, intelligence, and happiness is to be firmly established”. It is against such confusions, and with particular regard to how they affect education, that Marx directs the third of his Theses on Feuerbach, arguing that it is impossible to divide society into active and passive sections (whether conceived, implausibly enough, as helpers and helped or in any other manner), that there is no-one who is merely a victim of circumstances and no-one who is completely a master of circumstances, that there is interaction at all points. Or at least this last is the natural conclusion of the Thesis, but it is somewhat obscured and confused through Marx's obsession with the revolutionary re-making of society and the conflictless Utopia which he expects to see emerging.

Leaving aside, however, Marx's own inconsistencies and admitting the full force of his attack on Owen, we have still to recognise that it is meliorist ideas of the Owenite type that now prevail in public life and especially in the educational field. It is education above all that is overwhelmed by the flood of devotees of “the fresh start”, by those eloquent advocates of reform, satirised by Arnold (once more in The Function of Criticism), who are prepared to remodel all institutions on “first principles”, to the accompaniment of declamations like: “Away with the notion of proceeding by any other course than the course dear to the Philistines; let us have a social movement, let us organise and combine a party to pursue truth and new thought, let us call it the liberal party, and let us all stick to each other and back each other up. Let us have no nonsense about independent criticism, and intellectual delicacy, and the few and the many. Don't let us trouble ourselves about foreign thought; we shall invent the whole thing for ourselves as we go along.” This, even though the names have changed,note is true to the character of current meliorism — improvisation, vague “principles” (like “development of personality”) instead of a knowledge of and immersion in traditions, the overcoming of any intellectual resistance by the sheer weight of ignorance.

But of course, there is less resistance than there was; the custodians of learning, shaken by the movement of the times, have to a quite considerable extent succumbed to modernism — or, at the best, are no longer masters of the case against it. One reason for this decline in critical power is that it is no longer expected of those who embark on a higher course of humane studies that they will give some serious attention to philosophy; accordingly, they are free to fall into as flagrant errors as Owen's and not even to have heard of the standard arguments against voluntarism or against utilitarianism and the whole sickly apparatus of welfare. Men


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with so narrowly specialised a training (even if it is called humane) do not understand that, if social conditions depend on the voluntary decisions which are made from time to time, there can be nothing properly called social or historical theory but merely annals, records of the various decisions made by various persons at various times — a source from which little in the way of critical thinking can spring. In the same way, they are ill-prepared for recognition of the serious intellectual decline, the loss of a sense of quality or distinction, involved in the reduction of ethics to a consideration of questions of distribution, of balanced shares in a single “welfare fund” — as opposed to questions of qualitatively different forms of activity or ways of life which, whatever adjustments they may on occasion come to, can never be brought to a common denominator and will always be involved in conflicts.

It will still be the case that classicism, where it survives, will not give way to the fears which have encroached more and more on the academic domain — fear of the prevailing ideas, fear of criticising democracy and reform, fear of giving offence to the multitude; for, as Socrates says in the Crito, though “the many can kill us”, that is no reason for setting their opinions on a level with the opinions of the wise, for believing, though they have a certain power over life and death, that they have any power over truth. There is no question here of putting forward classicism as a remedy for the ills of the time, of formulating slogans like “Clear your mind of the cant of welfare and betterment” or “Take arms against the sea of reforms”. The classicist recognises the natural opposition between disinterestedness and interestedness, between concern with the ways of working of things themselves and concern with what we can get out of them. He will certainly note the special weakness of the objective outlook at the present time; he may even decide that our modern intellectual age, dating from the Renaissance, is on the verge of collapse and that a new barbarism is imminent; he can hardly fail to note the resemblance between current conditions and the decline of classical Greece, with the replacement of the solid thinking of the preceding time by a woolly-minded cosmopolitanism and humanitarianism. Whatever his conclusion on this point, he will continue, as a classicist, to work “against the stream”, as culture in all ages has had to work or (using the Hegelian terminology) as “objective mind” has constantly had to struggle with the entanglements of “bourgeois society”, i.e., the economic system. He will indeed observe the more and more direct attacks on culture, the constant pressure, on the part of those who want to make society “go in the way it should”, towards making learned institutions follow the same path, however much learning may thus be sacrificed. But the observation of this and other trends of a subjectivist and superstitious kind will be made in the course of exposing them and thus, as far as can still be done, bringing out the contrasting character of objectivism, of “seeing things as they are”.

One important point here is the interrelatedness of the various departments of culture, and particularly the interlocking of cultural studies. I


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have spoken mainly of philosophy not just because it is my own subject of study but because I regard it as having a central place in any cultural system. If any other subject is to have a general apparatus of criticism, it can have it only by drawing upon philosophy — that is, on major contributions to the theory of objective reality and of the types of question that can be raised concerning any objective reality or actual subject. Thus the historian has to concern himself with questions of sequence and causality, the literary critic has to go into questions of form or structure, these being in either case primarily matters of logic. Each of them has his special lines of criticism; but, when we examine these, we find that they lead us in the same direction. The historian has his scrutiny of documents and weighing of testimony, but here not only is he confronted immediately with simple logical questions of the soundness or unsoundness of the inferences they present, or of the coherence of their materials, but he has to take account of types of human error and illusion, of obstacles to discovery, which can be elucidated only by reference to logic, to types of actual situations. The student of literature has, in turn, to have such knowledge of illusions as will enable him to understand the struggles of a character in their toils; he has, in addition, to see how such illusions import themselves into literary criticism itself, emerging in “interpretations” (commonly of a romanticist or expressionist kind) which stand in the way of an objective view of the work.

In fact, what is broadly called “judgment” (embracing knowledge of the basic types of objective issue and of the major types of human error) is operative in all criticism, and this is why all investigators in the cultural field are engaging in philosophy, even though they may not realise it — and why, again, the fact that it can no longer be taken for granted that a scholar in any field has undertaken some formal philosophical study, is indicative of cultural decline. The type of criticism, of exposure of error, most characteristic of classical or objectivist philosophy is that expressed by Plato in the phrase “removing hypotheses”, where the sort of supposition most injurious to thought and requiring most urgently to be got rid of is that which sets up distinct realms of being or of truth. The earliest object of critical attack here (though curiously it flourishes to this day) was on the scientific side, in such suppositions as that mathematical truth is of a different kind from physical truth — which would have the absurd consequence that no mathematical observation could be made on physical things. But the absurdity is no less when it is asserted (as it quite commonly is) that the figures and scenes of literature are the “stuff of fancy”, belonging to a different realm from that of ordinary things — which would mean that no critical comment whatever could be made on them, that literary theory would be contentless. The doctrine of “realms” or “worlds” is itself a phantasy (as Heraclitus was the first to point out); and the supposed hard-headedness of believers in an “external world” (as contrasted with an inner world of thought) is simply theoretical muddlement. And here special mention may be made of Hegel as a classical figure in the modern period, who, in spite of some contamination


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by modernist doctrines, steadily opposed the breaking up of reality into separate realms, for whom philosophy was intertwined not merely with the broad history of thought but with history in general, who greatly stimulated philosophical interest in the work of the Greeks and who gave a great impetus to the development of objective aesthetics, objective ethics and objective social theory — of an objective view of the whole of culture.

His influence was considerable in the period I have referred to, in which it could be assumed that any scholar had studied philosophy, but also that any philosopher had engaged in a range of “humane” studies and would retain these interests throughout his philosophical work, so that his philosophy would be in some measure both historical and literary, and its being so would be essential to his full development of critical judgment.note No-one could then have passed off as philosophy the technical exercises which now pre-empt the field, and which mark the latest stage in the twentieth century “surrender to science”. It should be understood that, in the cultivation of the fields of inquiry that have come to be known as “scientific”, there is no less need for the exercise of “judgment”, for the recognition of logical categories or the formal distinction among types of problem, for the removal of hypotheses of division in reality, than there is in the pursuit of any other inquiry; it is as speculative and critical, not as “technical”, that work in these fields would be truly scientific. But in fact what we find there is the multiplication of divisions and specialisations, the identification of “method” not with logic but with the use of technical devices, the substitution of a mechanical for a critical apparatus. And it is this narrow, specialising and instrumentalist attitude that has infected the most influential schools of philosophy at the moment, leading them largely to ignore the history of philosophy, the “classics” of the subject which could provide them with an outlook at once broader and more critical.

The classics of philosophy, as of any other cultural subject, are those works which so fully expound and illustrate objective principles or expose subjective illusions that they have critical application in any age and do not depend on passing fashions. And this can be said particularly of the Greek classics, without which it would be impossible to see the foundation of the main departments of Western thought (politics being an outstanding example), and which are still drawn upon, though in an eclectic manner, even by those who boast of “starting afresh”. But what, for our present predicament, classical studies in the narrower sense most strikingly bring out is the interdependence of the classical works in all departments of culture, so that the liberally educated man, whatever his leading interest, will range in his studies over the whole classical field.


  ― 202 ―
Indeed, the most insidious foe to classicism and the objective outlook is the specialism which cuts some departments of culture off from the rest and is therefore antagonistic to that solid core of philosophical criticism which is corrective of any attempt to have one set of critical principles for one subject and a separate set for another, with intellectual chaos where they come into collision. Classicism, in short, stands for the unity of culture against all forms of subjectivism and interestedness, and for the unity, the common principles, of criticism against specialism and ad hoc devices — and it is these unities that I take the very existence of this Councilnote to symbolise.

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