38 Chapters
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Democracy and America from Freedom and Culture (1939) (on Thomas Jefferson)

LARRY A HICKMAN Indiana University Press ePub

I make no apology for linking what is said in this chapter with the name of Thomas Jefferson. For he was the first modern to state in human terms the principles of democracy. Were I to make an apology, it would be that in the past I have concerned myself unduly, if a comparison has to be made, with the English writers who have attempted to state the ideals of self-governing communities and the methods appropriate to their realization. If I now prefer to refer to Jefferson it is not, I hope, because of American provincialism, even though I believe that only one who was attached to American soil and who took a consciously alert part in the struggles of the country to attain its independence, could possibly have stated as thoroughly and intimately as did Jefferson the aims embodied in the American tradition: “the definitions and axioms of a free government,” as Lincoln called them. Nor is the chief reason for going to him, rather than to Locke or Bentham or Mill, his greater sobriety of judgment due to that constant tempering of theory with practical experience which also kept his democratic doctrine within human bounds.

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Voluntarism and the Roycean Philosophy (1916) (on Josiah Royce)

LARRY A HICKMAN Indiana University Press ePub

I am not about to inflict upon you a belated discovery that voluntarism is an integral factor in the Roycean theory of knowledge. Were it not obvious of itself, we have the emphatic utterances of Professor Royce himself in his address to this Association twelve years ago. Following a clue in that paper, it is my purpose to present some considerations relative to the relationship of voluntarism and intellectual-ism1 in the earliest phase of Mr. Royce’s published philosophy, thinking that the matter has historic interest and that it involves points relevant to forming a critical judgment of his later developments. Let me begin by quoting Mr. Royce upon his own early attitude. In 1881 he wrote a paper in which he “expressed a sincere desire to state the theory of truth wholly in terms of an interpretation of our judgments as present acknowledgments, since it made these judgments the embodiments of conscious attitudes that I then conceived to be essentially ethical and to be capable of no restatement in terms of any absolute warrant whatever.” And, referring to his change of views in the last respect, he says: “I am still of the opinion that judging is an activity guided by essentially ethical motives. I still hold that, for any truth seeker, the object of his belief is also the object of his will to believe.… I still maintain that every intelligent soul, however weak or confused, recognizes no truth except that which intelligently embodies its own present purpose.”2 The statement is explicit. Taken in connection with the earlier position, it arouses curiosity as to the reasons for the transition from subordination of intellect to will to the reversed position.

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Evolution and Ethics (1898)

LARRY A HICKMAN Indiana University Press ePub

To a strictly logical mind the method of the development of thought must be a perplexing, even irritating matter. Its course is not so much like the simple curve described by a bullet as it speeds its way to a mark, as it is like the devious tacking of a sail boat upon a heavy sea with changeable winds. It would be difficult to find a single problem during the whole record of reflective thought which has been pursued consistently until some definite result was reached. It generally happens that just as the problem becomes defined, and the order of battle is drawn, with contestants determined on each side, the whole scene changes; interest is transferred to another phase of the question, and the old problem is left apparently suspended in mid-air. It is left, not because any satisfactory solution has been reached; but interest is exhausted. Another question which seems more important has claimed attention. If one, after a generation or a century, reviews the controversy and finds that some consensus of judgment has finally been reached, he discovers that this has come about, not so much through exhaustive logical discussion, as through a change in men’s points of view. The solution is psychologically, rather than logically, justified.

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Philosophies of Freedom (1928)

LARRY A HICKMAN Indiana University Press ePub

A recent book on Sovereignty concludes a survey of various theories on that subject with the following words: “The career of the notion of sovereignty illustrates the general characteristics of political thinking. The various forms of the notion have been apologies for causes rather than expressions of the disinterested love of knowledge. The notion has meant many things at different times; and the attacks upon it have sprung from widely different sources and been directed toward a multiplicity of goals. The genesis of all political ideas is to be understood in terms of their utility rather than of their truth and falsity.”1 Perhaps the same thing may be said of moral notions; I do not think there is any doubt that freedom is a word applied to many things of varied plumage and that it owes much of its magic to association with a variety of different causes. It has assumed various forms as needs have varied; its “utility” has been its service in helping men deal with many predicaments.

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The Existential Matrix of Inquiry: Cultural from Logic: The Theory of Inquiry (1938)

LARRY A HICKMAN Indiana University Press ePub

The environment in which human beings live, act and inquire, is not simply physical. It is cultural as well. Problems which induce inquiry grow out of the relations of fellow beings to one another, and the organs for dealing with these relations are not only the eye and ear, but the meanings which have developed in the course of living, together with the ways of forming and transmitting culture with all its constituents of tools, arts, institutions, traditions and customary beliefs.

I

To a very large extent the ways in which human beings respond even to physical conditions are influenced by their cultural environment. Light and fire are physical facts. But the occasions in which a human being responds to things as merely physical in purely physical ways are comparatively rare. Such occasions are the act of jumping when a sudden noise is heard, withdrawing the hand when something hot is touched, blinking in the presence of a sudden increase of light, animal-like basking in sunshine, etc. Such reactions are on the biological plane. But the typical cases of human behavior are not represented by such examples. The use of sound in speech and listening to speech, making and enjoying music; the kindling and tending of fire to cook and to keep warm; the production of light to carry on and regulate occupations and social enjoyments:—these things are representative of distinctively human activity

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