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Aiden Jones
Aiden Jones

Irreducible Mind Ebook UPD Free 40

WHETHER William James was compressing his correspondence into briefmessages, or allowing it to expand into copious letters, he could notwrite a page that was not free, animated, and characteristic. Many ofhis correspondents preserved his letters, and examination of them soonshowed that it would be possible to make a selection which should notonly contain certain letters that clearly deserved to be publishedbecause of their readable quality alone, but should also include lettersthat were biographical in the best sense. For in the case of a man likeJames the biographical question to be answered is not, as with a man ofaffairs: How can his actions be explained? but rather: What manner ofbeing was he? What were his background and education? and, above all,What were his temperament and the bias of his mind? What nativeinstincts, preferences, and limitations of view did he bring with him tohis business of reading the riddle of the Universe? His own informalutterances throw the strongest light on such questions.

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I see no reason to regret my determination to stay. "On contrary," asAgassiz says, as I begin to use my eyes a little every day, I feel likean entirely new being. Everything revives within and without, and I nowfeel sure that I shall learn. I have profited a great deal by hearingAgassiz talk, not so much by what he says, for never did a man utter agreater amount of humbug, but by learning the way of feeling of such avast practical engine as he is. No one sees farther into ageneralization than his own knowledge of details extends, and you have agreater feeling of weight and solidity about the movement of Agassiz'smind, owing to the continual presence of this great background ofspecial facts, than about the mind of any other man I know. He has agreat personal tact too, and I see that in all his talks with me he ispitching into my loose and superficial way of thinking.... Now that I ambecome more intimate with him, and can talk more freely to him, Idelight to be with him. I only saw his defects at first, but now hiswonderful qualities throw them quite in the background. I am convincedthat he is the man to do me good. He will certainly have earned aholiday when he gets home. I never saw a man work so hard. Physically,intellectually and socially he has done the work of ten different mensince he has been in Brazil; the only danger is of his overdoing it....

In this he was hardly fair to himself or to the conditions. It is truethat he had no remunerative occupation, and that he could look forwardto no well-defined professional career for which he could be preparingand training himself. He was, also, handicapped by the fact thatsometimes he could not use his eyes for more than two hours a day. Onthe other hand, he would probably not have been happy in anyprofessional harness into which he could then have fitted, and wasreally more fortunate in having leisure to read and discuss and fillnote-books forced upon him between his twenty-seventh and thirty-firstyears. Such leisure has been the unattained goal of many another manwith a mind not one tenth so curious and speculative as his; and few menwho have attained it have made as good use of their free time as Jamesmade of the years 1869 to 1872.

He had a great effusion. I was afraid of interfering with it, orpossibly checking it, but I ventured to ask what especially in hisopinion had produced the change. He said several things: the reading ofRenouvier (particularly his vindication of the freedom of the will) andof Wordsworth, whom he has been feeding on now for a good while; butmore than anything else, his having given up the notion that all mentaldisorder requires to have a physical basis. This had become perfectlyuntrue to him. He saw that the mind does act irrespectively of materialcoercion, and could be dealt with therefore at first hand, and this washealth to his bones. It was a splendid declaration, and though I hadknown from unerring signs of the fact of the change, I never had beenmore delighted than by hearing of it so unreservedly from his own lips.He has been shaking off his respect for men of mere science as such, andis even more universal and impartial in his mental judgments than I haveknown him before....

33 The human person: with his openness to truth and beauty, his sense of moral goodness, his freedom and the voice of his conscience, with his longings for the infinite and for happiness, man questions himself about God's existence. In all this he discerns signs of his spiritual soul. The soul, the "seed of eternity we bear in ourselves, irreducible to the merely material", 9 can have its origin only in God.

These two abnormalities were the only ones that were irresistiblyprepotent in Joan; and they brought her to the stake. Neither of themwas peculiar to her. There was nothing peculiar about her except thevigor and scope of her mind and character, and the intensity of hervital energy. She was accused of a suicidal tendency; and it is afact that when she attempted to escape from Beaurevoir Castle byjumping from a tower said to be sixty feet high, she took a riskbeyond reason, though she recovered from the crash after a few daysfasting. Her death was deliberately chosen as an alternative to lifewithout liberty. In battle she challenged death as Wellington did atWaterloo, and as Nelson habitually did when he walked his quarterdeck during his battles with all his decorations in full blaze. Asneither Nelson nor Wellington nor any of those who have performeddesperate feats, and preferred death to captivity, has been accusedof suicidal mania, Joan need not be suspected of it. In theBeaurevoir affair there was more at stake than her freedom. She wasdistracted by the news that Compiègne was about to fall; andshe was convinced that she could save it if only she could get free.Still, the leap was so perilous that her conscience was not quiteeasy about it; and she expressed this, as usual, by saying that SaintCatherine had forbidden her to do it, but forgave her afterwards forher disobedience.

The more closely we grapple with it the more difficult it becomes.At first sight we are disposed to repeat that Joan should have beenexcommunicated and then left to go her own way, though she would haveprotested vehemently against so cruel a deprivation of her spiritualfood: for confession, absolution, and the body of her Lord were firstnecessaries of life to her. Such a spirit as Joan's might have gotover that difficulty as the Church of England got over the Bulls ofPope Leo, by making a Church of her own, and affirming it to be thetemple of the true and original faith from which her persecutors hadstrayed. But as such a proceeding was, in the eyes of both Church andState at that time, a spreading of damnation and anarchy, itstoleration involved a greater strain on faith in freedom thanpolitical and ecclesiastical human nature could bear. It is easy tosay that the Church should have waited for the alleged evil resultsinstead of assuming that they would occur, and what they would be.That sounds simple enough; but if a modern Public Health Authoritywere to leave people entirely to their own devices in the matter ofsanitation, saying, 'We have nothing to do with drainage or yourviews about drainage; but if you catch smallpox or typhus we willprosecute you and have you punished very severely like theauthorities in Butler's Erewhon,' it would either be removed to theCounty Asylum or reminded that A's neglect of sanitation may kill thechild of B two miles off, or start an epidemic in which the mostconscientious sanitarians may perish. We must face the fact thatsociety is founded on intolerance. There are glaring cases of theabuse of intolerance; but they are quite as characteristic of our ownage as of the Middle Ages. The typical modern example and contrast iscompulsory inoculation replacing what was virtually compulsorybaptism. But compulsion to inoculate is objected to as a crudelyunscientific and mischievous anti-sanitary quackery, not in the leastbecause we think it wrong to compel people to protect their childrenfrom disease. Its opponents would make it a crime, and will probablysucceed in doing so; and that will be just as intolerant as making itcompulsory. Neither the Pasteurians nor their opponents theSanitarians would leave parents free to bring up their childrennaked, though that course also has some plausible advocates. We mayprate of toleration as we will; but society must always draw a linesomewhere between allowable conduct and insanity or crime, in spiteof the risk of mistaking sages for lunatics and saviors forblasphemers. We must persecute, even to the death; and all we can doto mitigate the danger of persecution is, first, to be very carefulwhat we persecute, and second, to bear in mind that unless there is alarge liberty to shock conventional people, and a well informed senseof the value of originality, individuality, and eccentricity, theresult will be apparent stagnation covering a repression ofevolutionary forces which will eventually explode with extravagantand probably destructive violence.

For the story of Joan I refer the reader to the play whichfollows. It contains all that need be known about her; but as it isfor stage use I have had to condense into three and a half hours aseries of events which in their historical happening were spread overfour times as many months; for the theatre imposes unities of timeand place from which Nature in her boundless wastefulness is free.Therefore the reader must not suppose that Joan really put Robert deBaudricourt in her pocket in fifteen minutes, nor that herexcommunication, recantation, relapse, and death at the stake were amatter of half an hour or so. Neither do I claim more for mydramatizations of Joan's contemporaries than that some of them areprobably slightly more like the originals than those imaginaryportraits of all the Popes from Saint Peter onward through the DarkAges which are still gravely exhibited in the Uffizi in Florence (orwere when I was there last). My Dunois would do equally well for theDuc d'Alençon. Both left descriptions of Joan so similar that,as a man always describes himself unconsciously whenever he describesanyone else, I have inferred that these goodnatured young men werevery like one another in mind; so I have lumped the twain into asingle figure, thereby saving the theatre manager a salary and a suitof armor. Dunois' face, still on record at Château-dun, is asuggestive help. But I really know no more about these men and theircircle than Shakespear knew about Falconbridge and the Duke ofAustria, or about Macbeth and Macduff. In view of things they did inhistory, and have to do again in the play, I can only inventappropriate characters for them in Shakespear's manner.


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