Is German Philosophy responsi-!, ble for German Militarism ? i t|1916-11-10|Y Drafod - Welsh Newspapers Online
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Is German Philosophy responsi- ble for German Militarism ? i Ax ADDRKSS DELIVERED TII CAMWY I FYDD SOCIETY, THELEW, OX OCT. 1 5, IQR6. lIL I I Liordot- to understand thecauseand scopeof this reaction against what is generally known as theCritical and Idealist Philosophywc must try toobtai n a near and appropriate idea, if pos- sible, of what is meant by the terms "critical" and "idealistic." The former would seem to indicate the spirit in which Kant conceived himself to be inspired vyheu hect b inlscJf to examine the materialistic and atheist philoso- phy of which Holbach's System ot Nature" was perhaps the chief exponent. Ilolbach was one of the thinkers of the French Re- volution School whose inctaphysie Kant had grown greatly to distrust. Yet he liked to claim that his own examination of fundamen- tal problems was fully as radical and criti- cal as that of the French scientific theorist. With regard to the use of the word Ideal- ism," in connection with German classical philosophy, the (?icstion is one of consider- able difLiculty, and we cannot hope to touch more than the surface of it in this brief and imperfect summary. However, in order to avoid any injustice to the critical idealists," I will quote the very words of Dr. Muirhead all the point:— ¡ As all theories," lie says, may be said to be materialistic in spiritWhich starts on the assumption that the parts are prior to the whole, so all may be said to be idealistic which starts from the assumption that the whole is prior to the part; not in the sense "that you can have any who J « withoin the parts, but in the sense that you can have no "whole which ts merely a mechanical nggre- gate, of independent units. Idealism therc- for maintains that, so far from being able to understand any concrete thing in experience by an inspection of the parts taken se- parately, we can only understand .the parts in relation to the whole which endows them with their particular form of individuality." The practical result of this recondite theory upon the English school of idealist philoso- phers appears to be that it enables them to re- concile the most shattering results of the Higher Biblical Criticisms, and of modern science with the maintenance of a correct, if somewhat external religious orthodoxy in the face ot a conventional world. It was a feeling of dissatisfaction with this attitude, as applied to the condition of schol- arship and science in Germany during the first quarter of the 19th Century, that caused Schopellhauer-who was born in 1788 and died in 186o-to raise the standard of revolt against the critico-idealistic scheme of thought. His chief work, published in [I) r R, was entitled, "The World as Will and Idea." In this he sought for a clue to the ultimate nature of the Universe in Will, by which he meant the blind impulse of which all Nature, including man himself, is the manifestation. And he declared: The Will alone is a Thing-in-itself." Here certainly we might seem to have discovered the origin of that famous phrase "The Will to Power," with which the translations of the historian Treitschke and the soldier Bernhardi have made us fam- iliar since the war began. But the philoso- phy of Schopenhauer was built as his ad- miraion for the passivity and pessimism of the brooding and Buddhistic East, while the World-polity principle of the soldier- like historian and the historian-soldier had for its basis the directly opposing Western doctrine of actual and optimitjc muscular Christianity. Schopenhauer admitted that Society, as wc know it in modern Europe, is the outcome of the Will-to-live. But with him—as with the Brahminieal or Buddhistic sage—it is this very Will which is the source of all illusion and unhappiness. And lie actually raged against Hegel's defence of the value of the State because, to him, the State was the un- holy incarnation of the Willrto-live which is the efficient cause of all our woe. In 1856 Schopenhauer was gratified and surprised to learn that his philosophy—he had by then written other formal treaties and many other popular essays—was acclaimed by officers stationed at various Prussian gar- risons. And we find the German psycholo- gist Wundt observing that in 1877 this phil- josophy, as interpreted by Hartnianu, was more popular in Germany than any other While it is quite possible that the intellect- ual interests shewn by Prussian officers in reading Schopenhaucr would also lead them to a systematic study of the science and ait of war, little appreciated-in the foreign arm- ies of their time, it is extremely difficult to believe that from this non-political, pleasure-loving pessimist they would gain any encouragement for a scheme of Prussian domination over Germany, and an eventual GennAn domination over Europe. Let us now pass on to Ilartmaun, the most philosophical of the Prussian officers who fell under Schopenhauer's influence. Born in 1842, left the Engineer's Corps of the army in 1865, in consequence of an accident; and so early as 1867 had published his Philosophy "of the Unconscious." In r877 he produced The Phenomenology of the Moral Conscious- tilICSS." Among his various treatises and essays, the best known is the Religion of the Future." Now, if the German metaphysical philoso- phy of the last 150 years be suspected of pro- viding a theoretical foundation for the over- mastering militarism from which all Europe is suffering to-day; then we might fairly suppose that the tokens of such influence would be easily detected in a scheme of thought elaborated by an ex-Prussian officer out of the idealistic systems of Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, and Schopenhauer, more espe- cially when fertilised, as in the present case, by the so-called" materialistic results of the newer philosophy of biological evolution I —yet, what do we find ? ELLIS TIIURTELL. ( To be continued.)

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