All this before he is of an age to reason; so that when Reason at length comes to
him, then, bred as he has been, he will hold out his hands in welcome and
recognize her because of the affinity he bears to her.'
In early Hinduism that
conduct in men which can be called good consists in conformity to, or almost
participation in, the Rta—that great ritual or pattern of nature and supernature
which is revealed alike in the cosmic order, the moral virtues, and the ceremonial
of the temple. Righteousness, correctness, order, the Rta, is constantly identified
with satya or truth, correspondence to reality. As Plato said that the Good was
'beyond existence' and Wordsworth that through virtue the stars were strong, so
the Indian masters say that the gods themselves are born of the Rta and obey it.
The Chinese also speak of a great thing (the greatest thing) called the Tao. It is the
reality beyond all predicates, the abyss that was before the Creator Himself. It is
Nature, it is the Way, the Road. It is the Way in which the universe goes on, the
Way in which things everlastingly emerge, stilly and tranquilly, into space and
time. It is also the Way which every man should tread in imitation of that cosmic
and supercosmic progression, conforming all activities to that great exemplar.
ritual', say the Analects, 'it is harmony with Nature that is prized.'
Jews likewise praise the Law as being 'true'.
This conception in all its forms, Platonic, Aristotelian, Stoic, Christian, and
Oriental alike, I shall henceforth refer to for brevity simply as 'the Tao'. Some of
the accounts of it which I have quoted will seem, perhaps, to many of you merely
quaint or even magical. But what is common to them all is something we cannot
neglect. It is the doctrine of objective value, the belief that certain attitudes are
really true, and others really false, to the kind of thing the universe is and the kind
of things we are. Those who know the Tao can hold that to call children delightful
or old men venerable is not simply to record a psychological fact about our own
parental or filial emotions at the moment, but to recognize a quality which
demands a certain response from us whether we make it or not. I myself do not
enjoy the society of small children: because I speak from within the Tao I
recognize this as a defect in myself—just as a man may have to recognize that he is
tone deaf or colour blind. And because our approvals and disapprovals are thus
recognitions of objective value or responses to an objective order, therefore
emotional states can be in harmony with reason (when we feel liking for what
ought to be approved) or out of harmony with reason (when we perceive that
liking is due but cannot feel it). No emotion is, in itself, a judgement; in that sense
all emotions and sentiments are alogical. But they can be reasonable or
unreasonable as they conform to Reason or fail to conform. The heart never takes
the place of the head: but it can, and should, obey it.
Over against this stands the world of The Green Book. In it the very possibility of a
sentiment being reasonable—or even unreasonable—has been excluded from the
outset. It can be reasonable or unreasonable only if it conforms or fails to conform
to something else. To say that the cataract is sublime means saying that our
emotion of humility is appropriate or ordinate to the reality, and thus to speak of
something else besides the emotion; just as to say that a shoe fits is to speak not
only of shoes but of feet. But this reference to something beyond the emotion is
what Gaius and Titius exclude from every sentence containing a predicate of
value. Such statements, for them, refer solely to the emotion. Now the emotion,
thus considered by itself, cannot be either in agreement or disagreement with
Reason. It is irrational not as a paralogism is irrational, but as a physical event is
irrational: it does not rise even to the dignity of error. On this view, the world of
facts, without one trace of value, and the world of feelings, without one trace of
truth or falsehood, justice or injustice, confront one another, and no rapprochement
Hence the educational problem is wholly different according as you stand within
or without the Tao. For those within, the task is to train in the pupil those
responses which are in themselves appropriate, whether anyone is making them or
not, and in making which the very nature of man consists. Those without, if they
are logical, must regard all sentiments as equally non-rational, as mere mists
between us and the real objects. As a result, they must either decide to remove all
sentiments, as far as possible, from the pupil's mind; or else to encourage some
sentiments for reasons that have nothing to do with their intrinsic 'justness' or
'ordinacy'. The latter course involves them in the questionable process of creating
in others by 'suggestion' or incantation a mirage which their own reason has
Perhaps this will become clearer if we take a concrete instance. When a Roman
father told his son that it was a sweet and seemly thing to die for his country, he
believed what he said. He was communicating to the son an emotion which he
himself shared and which he believed to be in accord with the value which his
judgement discerned in noble death. He was giving the boy the best he had, giving
of his spirit to humanize him as he had given of his body to beget him. But Gaius
and Titius cannot believe that in calling such a death sweet and seemly they would
be saying 'something important about something'. Their own method of
debunking would cry out against them if they attempted to do so. For death is not
something to eat and therefore cannot be dulce in the literal sense, and it is unlikely
that the real sensations preceding it will be dulce even by analogy. And as for
decorum—that is only a word describing how some other people will feel about
your death when they happen to think of it, which won't be often, and will
certainly do you no good. There are only two courses open to Gaius and Titius.
Either they must go the whole way and debunk this sentiment like any other, or
must set themselves to work to produce, from outside, a sentiment which they
believe to be of no value to the pupil and which may cost him his life, because it is
useful to us (the survivors) that our young men should feel it. If they embark on
this course the difference between the old and the new education will be an
important one. Where the old initiated, the new merely 'conditions'. The old dealt
with its pupils as grown birds deal with young birds when they teach them to fly;
the new deals with them more as the poultry-keeper deals with young birds—
making them thus or thus for purposes of which the birds know nothing. In a
word, the old was a kind of propagation—men transmitting manhood to men; the
new is merely propaganda.
It is to their credit that Gaius and Titius embrace the first alternative. Propaganda
is their abomination: not because their own philosophy gives a ground for
condemning it (or anything else) but because they are better than their principles.
They probably have some vague notion (I will examine it in my next lecture) that
valour and good faith and justice could be sufficiently commended to the pupil on
what they would call 'rational' or 'biological' or 'modern' grounds, if it should ever
become necessary. In the meantime, they leave the matter alone and get on with
the business of debunking. But this course, though less inhuman, is not less
disastrous than the opposite alternative of cynical propaganda. Let us suppose for
a moment that the harder virtues could really be theoretically justified with no
appeal to objective value. It still remains true that no justification of virtue will
enable a man to be virtuous. Without the aid of trained emotions the intellect is
powerless against the animal organism. I had sooner play cards against a man who
was quite sceptical about ethics, but bred to believe that 'a gentleman does not
cheat', than against an irreproachable moral philosopher who had been brought up
among sharpers. In battle it is not syllogisms that will keep the reluctant nerves
and muscles to their post in the third hour of the bombardment. The crudest
sentimentalism (such as Gaius and Titius would wince at) about a flag or a
country or a regiment will be of more use. We were told it all long ago by Plato. As
the king governs by his executive, so Reason in man must rule the mere appetites
by means of the 'spirited element'.
The head rules the belly through the chest—
the seat, as Alanus tells us, of Magnanimity,
of emotions organized by trained
habit into stable sentiments. The Chest-Magnanimity-Sentiment—these are the
indispensable liaison officers between cerebral man and visceral man. It may even
be said that it is by this middle element that man is man: for by his intellect he is
mere spirit and by his appetite mere animal.
The operation of The Green Book and its kind is to produce what may be called
Men without Chests. It is an outrage that they should be commonly spoken of as
Intellectuals. This gives them the chance to say that he who attacks them attacks
Intelligence. It is not so. They are not distinguished from other men by any
unusual skill in finding truth nor any virginal ardour to pursue her. Indeed it
would be strange if they were: a persevering devotion to truth, a nice sense of
intellectual honour, cannot be long maintained without the aid of a sentiment
which Gaius and Titius could debunk as easily as any other. It is not excess of
thought but defect of fertile and generous emotion that marks them out. Their
heads are no bigger than the ordinary: it is the atrophy of the chest beneath that
makes them seem so.
And all the time—such is the tragi-comedy of our situation—we continue to
clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open
a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs
is more 'drive', or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or 'creativity'. In a sort of ghastly
simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without
chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are
shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.
1 The Green Book, pp. 19, 20.
2 Ibid., p 53.
3 Journey to the Western Islands (Samuel Johnson).
4 The Prelude, viii, 11. 549-59.
5 The Green Book, pp. 53-5.
6 Orbilius' book, p 5.
7 Orbilius is so far superior to Gaius and Titius that he does (pp. 19-22) contrast a piece of
good writing to animals with the piece condemned. Unfortunately, however, the only
superiority he really demonstrates in the second extract is its superiority in factual truth. The
specifically literary problem (the use and abuse of expressions which are false secundum
litteram) is not tackled. Orbilius indeed tells us (p. 97) that we must 'learn to distinguish
between legitimate and illegitimate figurative statement', but he gives us very little help in
doing so. At the same time it is fair to record my opinion that his work is on quite a different
level from The Green Book.
8 Ibid., p 9.
9 Defence of Poetry.
10 Centuries of Meditations, i, 12.
11 De Civ. Dei, xv. 22. Cf. ibid. ix. 5, xi. 28.
12 Eth. Nic. 1104 b.
13 Ibid. 1095 b.
14 Laws, 653.
15 Republic, 402 a.
16 A. B. Keith, s.v. 'Righteousness (Hindu)' Enc. Religion and Ethics, vol. x.
17 Ibid., vol. ii, p. 454 b; iv. 12 b; ix. 87 a.
18 The Analects of Confucius, trans. Arthur Waley, London, 1938, i. 12
19 Psalm 119:151. The word is emeth, 'truth'. Where the Satya of the Indian sources
emphasizes truth as 'correspondence', emeth (connected with a verb that means 'to be firm')
emphasizes rather the reliability or trustworthiness of truth. Faithfulness and permanence are
suggested by Hebraists as alternative renderings. Emeth is that which does not deceive, does
not 'give', does not change, that which holds water. (See T. K. Cheyne in Encyclopedia Biblica,
1914, s.v. 'Truth'.)
20 Republic, 442 b, c.
21 Alanus ab Insulis. De Planctu Naturae Prosa, iii.
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