The Faith of a Liberal: Selected Essays by Morris R. Cohen

By Morris R. Cohen | Go to book overview

empirical, after absolutely infallible guides to human conduct has proved to be a chasing after the wind leading only to the overcrowded graveyard of human hopes. This lesson of history means not despair but the wisdom of living and working with the imperfect, and above all the necessity of assuaging that fierce moral fanaticism which so often makes life needlessly intolerable. Now more than ever we need the Greek counsel Nothing in Excess, or its equivalent Live and Let Live.

My own intense and perhaps partisan interest in the questions raised by Professor Adler has probably led me to do injustice to a book that is not only a distinct intellectual achievement but a great human document, compacting the experience and reflection of a singularly unified life and mind. The last chapter especially is one of rare impressiveness. But whenever I finish reading it I am tempted to turn to Anatole France Les Dieux ont soif with the conviction that a complete ethics must include Epicurus as well as St. Augustine.


9
PHILOSOPHY IN WARTIME--AN APOLOGIA

DEAR FRIEND: Your letter gently but unmistakably intimates that I am a slacker, a slacker in peace as well as in war; that when the World War was raging bitterly I dawdled my time with subjects like symbolic logic, and that now when the issues of reconstructing a bleeding world demand the efforts of

____________________
Published in The New Republic, Vol. 21, p. 19 ( December 3, 1919), under the title, "A Slacker's Apology," by Philonous.

-84-

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