Outlooks from the New Standpoint

By E. Belfort Bax | Go to book overview

THE PRACTICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF
PHILOSOPHY.

The Philistine said all metaphysics is a snare and a delusion. Mathematics is the only abstract study worth pursuing. Metaphysics deals with subjects outside the range of human ken; it is simply baseless theorising on that which we can never know, etc., etc. All this sort of talk may be had at a very low rate, even without the asking, from any callow young man of the middle classes who has a little smattering of modern "culture." But let us for once "odi" this "profanum vulgus," let us clear our minds of the cant of metaphysicophobia for the nonce, and let us see if this thing, despised and rejected of practical men, can possibly have any practical significance or not.

Philosophy or metaphysics, it is said, deals with things outside the range of human experience. Does it? It is essential to rid ourselves of this popular superstition at the outset. The main problem of speculative philosophy, since Kant, has been to analyse experience or common-sense reality into its simplest element, to discover the ultimate condition which each plane of experience presupposes, and first of all the ultimate condition which all experience presupposes, since without this last we can have no clue to guide us in our ulterior investigations. Philosophy touches nothing outside experience. For philosophy is nothing more than the consideration and comprehension of experience or reality from a new point of view,

-179-

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Outlooks from the New Standpoint
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface. vii
  • I *
  • The Orator of the Human Race. 1
  • The Decay of Pagan Thought. 39
  • II 65
  • Liberalism V. Socialism. 67
  • The Curse of Law. 91
  • A Socialist's Notes on Practical Ethics. 109
  • The Economical Basis of History 125
  • Individual Rights Under Socialism. 143
  • Marriage. 151
  • III 161
  • Courage. 163
  • The Practical Significance of Philosophy. 179
  • Note on "Now." 199
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