Essays Towards a Theory of Knowledge

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Two years ago, in the preface to another essay, the present writer ventured to affirm that "Civilisation moves rather towards a chaos than towards a cosmos." But he could not foretell that the descensus Averni would be so alarmingly rapid.

            When we find Science, which has done so much and promised so much for the happiness of mankind, devoting so large a proportion of its resources to the destruction of human life, we are prone to ask despairingly—Is this the end? If not; how are we to discover and assure for stricken Humanity the vision and the possession of a Better Land?

            Not certainly by the ostentatious building of peace-palaces nor even by the actual accomplishment of successful war. Only by the discovery of true first principles of Thought and Action can Humanity be redeemed. Undeterred by the confused tumult of to-day we must still seek a true understanding of what knowledge is—what are its powers and what also are its limitations. Nor may we forget that other principle of life—with which it is so quaintly contrasted in Lord Bacon's translation of the Pauline aphorism—Knowledge bloweth up, Charity buildeth up.

            January 1915

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