MONDAY, JANUARY 7
THE INTELLECTUAL POWERS
The intellectual powers may be roughly, but conveniently divided into three groups, the perceptive, the imaginative, and the reflective.
By perception I mean the direct vision of truth, whether by outward or by inward sense. By the five senses we have a direct perception of the presence of colors, sounds, odors, flavors, variations of temperature, and other tangible and visible things. By the internal powers of consciousness we have a direct perception of our own feelings, and know that we love, hate fear, are glad or sad; and by internal sense we also know the existence of space, time, power, thought.
By imagination I mean the reproduction, or imitation, in the mind, of the impressions previously made by direct perception. When imagination is confined to a simple reproduction of the impressions made in perception, it is usually called memory; and the term imagination is by most persons confined to the cases in which the remembered impression is variously modified, or merely imitated. The word fancy is by many writers applied to the cases in which the imagination is occupied with inventing imitations of external things, and the word imagination confined to inventions of character or of spiritual attributes.
By reflection I mean the act of comparing, by help of the imagination, the truths of perception, or the creations of the imagination. When this comparison of truths elicits new truths of relation, between the compared truths, it is called reasoning. Thus reasoning may be considered as an art of bringing truths into a position to be perceived by the internal sight.
— Thomas Hill (born January 7, 1818)
TUESDAY, JANUARY 8
THE SLOW ROAD TO PEACE
It is natural to try to understand one's own time and to seek to analyse the forces that move it. The future will be determined in part by happenings that it is impossible to foresee; it will also be influenced by trends that are now existent and observable. We speculate as to what is in store for us. But we not only undergo events, we in part cause them or at least influence their course. We have not only to study them but to act. Especially is this true as regards peace in the future. The question whether the long effort to put an end to war can succeed without another major convulsion challenges not only our minds but our sense of responsibility. …
As the world community develops in peace, it will open up great untapped reservoirs in human nature. Like a spring released from pressure would be the response of a generation of young men and women growing up in an atmosphere of friendliness and security, in a world demanding their service, offering them comradeship, calling to all adventurous and forward reaching natures.
We are not asked to subscribe to any utopia or to believe in a perfect world just around the comer. We are asked to be patient with necessarily slow and groping advance on the road forward, and to be ready for each step ahead as it becomes practicable. We are asked to equip ourselves with courage, hope, readiness for hard work, and to cherish large and generous ideals.
— Emily Greene Balch (born January 8, 1867)
THE AUTHORITY OF EXPERIENCE
Experience is, for me, the highest authority. The touchstone of validity is my own experience. No other person's ideas, and none of my own ideas, are as authoritative as my experience. It is to experience that I must return again and again, to discover a closer approximation to truth as it is in the process of becoming in me. Neither the Bible nor the prophets — neither Freud nor research — neither the revelations of God nor man -- can take precedence over my own direct experience. My experience is not authoritative because it is infallible. It is the basis of authority because it can always be checked in new primary ways. In this way its frequent error or fallibility is always open to correction.
— Carl Rogers (born January 8, 1902)
Source: On Becoming a Person (1961), pp. 23-24.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 9
NOTHING STANDS STILL
It has often been said by our opposers, and with a sneer as if it were a matter of great reproach, that we are in a state of transition. We are not, it is said, what we were. A change has already come over us, and a change is passing over us day by day. But instead of being a matter of reproach, this is in reality the highest compliment that could be paid to us or any denomination of Christians in the land. It is the unmistakable token of a true vitality, an inward and outflowing life. Petrifactions have no power of change. The elements may act upon them, and the tides may wear them away. Mosses may gather over their face, but within they remain, age after age, the same. Among human institutions and human opinions, there are petrifactions as well as in geology. They have ceased to live, and are turned into stone. A living thing, on the contrary, is perpetually changing. It does not remain altogether the same a single day or even an hour. It is constantly unfolding itself, and striving as it were to go out into a richer and higher life.
The truth is, — a truth which some are very slow to apprehend, — this world in which we live is moving. Day and night alternate, and the seasons change. The earth goes on its course and performs its revolutions. Our race is going forward too; nothing stands still. The history of the world is nothing but a moving diorama, whose interest and worth are found alone in the circumstance that it is moving. Let the world stop; let thought and opinion, let government and religion, become petrified, and what point of interest has the present, what promise has the future?
So far from being annoyed, then, by the senseless charge that we are in a transition state, I would accept it as the highest honor that our best friend could confer. It is something to be able to see our past errors and earnestly to go about reforming them. It is something to comprehend our real capabilities, and to call them into exercise and give them full scope. It is something to seize new means, and adopt new measures, when they will further our true interests, and promote the great objects we have in view.
— Thomas J. Sawyer (born January 9, 1804)
THURSDAY, JANUARY 10
Those who invalidate reason ought seriously to consider whether they argue against reason with or without reason; if with reason, then they establish the principle that they are laboring to dethrone; but if they argue without reason (which, in order to be consistent with themselves they must do), they are out of reach of rational conviction, nor do they deserve a rational argument.
— Ethan Allen (born January 10, 1737)
DIVERSITY OF RELIGIOUS OPINIONS
As to religion, I hold it to be the indispensable duty of government to protect all conscientious professors thereof, and I know of no other business which government hath to do therewith. Let a man throw aside that narrowness of soul, that selfishness of principle, which the niggards of all professions are so unwilling to part with, and he will be at once delivered of his fears on that head. Suspicion is thy companion of mean souls, and the bane of ell good society. For myself, I fully and conscientiously believe that it is the will of the Almighty that there should be a diversity of religious opinions among us. It affords a larger field for our Christian kindness; were we all of one way of thinking, our religious dispositions would want matter for probation; and on this liberal principle I look on the various denominations among us to be like children of the same family, differing only in what is called their Christian names.
— Thomas Paine (1737-1809)
Thomas Paine's Common Sense was first published on January 10, 1776.
HABIT AND SELF-DETERMINATION
Take the power of habit, for example—friend or foe, as the case may be. It can keep us fast-bound in a customary self-satisfaction; or it can keep us fast-locked to the bosom of duty, moving where she moves, finding rest only where she is. It can pass alike through ordinary trials, or through sudden, unanticipated dangers, with the same steady, onward, practised tread, and come out regular and true; and yet virtue may tarry with it too long, and forget that, though good habits are true ways of life, the habit of daily repeating the same good things may stop growth and lay the soul to sleep. Habit is a useful servant, but a dangerous master: a power of retention—keeping the feet to one path, whether the slopes are upwards or downwards—equally ready to register you as a dweller in the house of bondage, or to secure to you the glorious liberty of the children of God ... In the same way, our greatest spiritual distinction, that we are self-determined—that we must fan for ourselves the fire the Almighty Spirit kindles, that our own toil of thought must give us possession of some truth, our own co-operation with God possession of some goodness—originates the most serious difficulties in the way of the reform and recovery of a careless or stained spirit. No one, not even God, can do spiritual work for another; and the sin-clouded, rebellious, or debilitated soul is not in a state to do it for itself.
— John Hamilton Thom (born January 10, 1808)
POWER TENDS TO CORRUPT
I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority. There is no worse heresy than the fact that the office sanctifies the holder of it.
— Sir John Dalberg-Acton, Lord Acton (born January 10, 1834)
FRIDAY, JANUARY 11
THE FEAR OF POVERTY
We have grown literally afraid to be poor. We despise any one who elects to be poor in order to simplify and save his inner life. We have lost the power of even imagining what the ancient idealization of poverty could have meant; the liberation from material attachments, the unbribed soul, the manlier indifference, the paying our way by what we are or do, and not by what we have, the right to fling away our life at any moment irresponsibly the more athletic trim; in short, the moral fighting shape. It is certain that the prevalent fear of poverty among the educated classes is the worst moral disease from which our civilization suffers.
— William James (born January 11, 1842)
SPINNING OUR OWN FATES
We are spinning our own fates, good or evil, and never to be undone. Every smallest stroke of virtue or of vice leaves its ever so little scar. The drunken Rip Van Winkle, in Jefferson's play, excuses himself for every fresh dereliction by saying, "I won't count this time." Well, he may not count it, and a kind heaven may not count it; but it is being counted nonetheless. Down among his nerve cells and fibers the molecules are counting it, registering it and storing it up to be used against him when the next temptation comes. Nothing we ever do is, in strict scientific literalness, wiped out.
Of course this has its good side as well as its bad one. As we become permanent drunkards by so many separate drinks, so we become saints in the moral, and authorities and experts in the practical and scientific spheres, by so many separate acts and hours of work. Let no youth have any anxiety about the upshot of his education, whatever the line of it may be. If he keep faithfully busy each hour of the working day, he may safely leave the final result to itself. He can with perfect certainty count on waking up some fine morning to find himself one of the competent ones of his generation, in whatever pursuit he may have singled out. Silently, between all the details of his business, the power of judging in all that class of matter will have built itself up within him as a possession that will never pass away. Young people should know this truth in advance. The ignorance of it has probably engendered more discouragement and faint-heartedness in youths embarking on arduous careers than all other causes put together.
— William James (born January 11, 1842)
THE SPONTANEOUS RELIGIOUS SPIRIT
A genuine first-hand religious experience ... is bound to be a heterodoxy to its witnesses, the prophet appearing merely as a lonely madman. If his doctrine prove contagious enough to spread to any others, it becomes a definite and labeled heresy. But if it then prove contagious enough to triumph over persecution, it becomes itself an orthodoxy; and when religion has become an orthodoxy, its day of inwardness is over: the spring is dry; the faithful live at second hand exclusively, arid stone the prophets in their turn. The new church, in spite of whatever human goodness it may foster, can be henceforth counted on as a staunch ally in every attempt to stifle the spontaneous religious spirit, and stop all later bubblings of the fountain from which in purer days it drew its own supply of inspiration. ...
The plain fact is that men's minds are built, as has often been said, in water-tight compartments. Religious after a fashion, they yet have many other things in them beside their religion, and unholy entanglements and associations obtain. The basenesses so commonly charged to religion's account are thus, almost all of them, not chargeable at all to religion proper, but rather to religion's wicked practical partner, the spirit of corporate dominion. And the bigotries are most of them in their turn chargeable to religion's wicked intellectual partner, the spirit of dogmatic dominion, the passion for laying down the law in the form of an absolutely closed-in theoretic system. The ecclesiastical spirit in general is the sum of these two spirits of dominion; and I beseech you never to confound the phenomena of merely tribal or corporate psychology which it presents with the manifestations of the purely interior life.
— William James (born January 11, 1842)
THE SERVICE OF THE HIGHEST IS NEVER A YOKE
"I accept the universe" is reported to have been a favorite utterance of the American transcendentalist, Margaret Fuller; and when someone repeated this phrase to Thomas Carlyle, his sardonic comment is said to have been; "Gad, she'd better!" At bottom the whole concern of both morality and religion is with the manner of our acceptance of the universe. Do we accept it only in part and grudgingly, or heartily and altogether? Shall our protest against certain things in it be radical and unforgiving, or shall we think that, even with evil, there are ways of living that must lead to good. If we accept the whole, shall we do so as if stunned into submission — as Carlyle would have us —"Gad, she'd better!" or shall we do it with enthusiastic assent? Morality pure and simple accepts the law of the whole which it finds reigning, so far as to acknowledge and obey it, but it may obey it with the heaviest and coldest heart, and never cease to feel it as a yoke. But for religion, in its strong and fully developed manifestations, the service of the highest is never felt as a yoke. Dull submission is left far behind, and a mood of welcome which may fill any place on the scale between cheerful serenity and enthusiastic gladness, has taken its place.
— William James (born January 11, 1842)
WHO ARE THE BLASPHEMERS?
Atheists are often charged with blasphemy, but it is a crime they cannot commit. God is to them merely a word, expressing all sorts of ideas, and not a person. It is, properly speaking, a general term, which includes all that there is in common among the various deities of the world. The idea of the supernatural embodies itself in a thousand ways. Truth is always simple and the same, but error is infinitely diverse. Jupiter, Jehovah and Mumbo-Jumbo are alike creations of human fancy, the products of ignorance and wonder. Which is the God is not yet settled. When the sects have decided this point, the question may take a fresh turn; but until then god must be considered as a generic term, like tree or horse or men; with just this difference, however, that while the words tree, horse and man express the general qualities of visible objects, the word god expresses only the imagined qualities of something that nobody has ever seen.
When the Atheist examines, denounces, or satirises the gods, he is not dealing with persons but with ideas. He is incapable of insulting God, for he does not admit the existence of any such being.
Ideas of god may be good or bad, beautiful or ugly; and according as he finds them the Atheist treats them. …
The real blasphemers are those who believe in God and blacken his character; who credit him with less knowledge than a child, and less intelligence than an idiot; who make him quibble, deceive, and lie; who represent him as indecent, cruel, and revengeful; who give him the heart of a savage and the brain of a fool. These are the blasphemers.
— George W. Foote (born January 11, 1850)
SATURDAY, JANUARY 12
AS HARSH AS TRUTH
I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as Truth, and as uncompromising as Justice. On this subject I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! No! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest I will not equivocate I will not excuse I will not retreat a single inch and I will be heard. The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal and hasten the resurrection of the dead.
— William Lloyd Garrison (born January 12, 1805)
JUSTICE BEFORE CHARITY
I place justice before charity, — justice, which is the highest charity. And while we must, and do, recognize the need of charity under our present conditions, let us look for and labor for the time when industry will be so organized as to make sure that no man, woman or child, in our broad, bountiful land, shall be homeless and helpless; when each shall have the certainty of work and of the just reward which insures all the needed opportunities for the home, for education, and for development. Surely this much is the birthright of every child of God and of every individual of a free people. Never will our land be either a Christian, or a civilized, country until this is brought about by those who believe that the Golden Rule is the only just basis for business and for political activities.
You may call this socialism — as the world does, with a sneer, — and confound it with anarchy. But to know what socialism is, in its animus and in the briefest terms, we have only to consult our dictionaries, to be able to defend it against all objectors.
Follow your own clear and divine intuitions, dear friends, 'It is the heart and not the brain alone, but both combined, which, working to the highest outlook and uses, doth attain.' I sometimes think that the most serious defect in woman's development, in our time as in the past, is the lack of courage to
follow bravely the promptings of her higher nature. But when one has acquired this freedom from the slavery to thoughtless conventionalities, one cannot easily backslide from it and its delights.
— Caroline M. Seymour Severance (born January 12, 1820)
SUNDAY, JANUARY 13
WHO HAS HEARD OF THE PILGRIM MOTHERS?
We have heard a great deal of our Pilgrim Fathers ... but who has heard of the Pilgrim Mothers? Did they not endure as many perils, encounter as many hardships, and do as much to form and fashion the institutions of New England as the Pilgrim Fathers? And were not their trials, and is not their glory equally great? Yet they are hardly remembered.
— Ernestine L. Rose (born January 13, 1810)
MISTRESS OF HERSELF
For here lies the corner stone of all the injustices done woman, the wrong idea from which all other wrongs proceed. She is not acknowledged as mistress of herself. For her cradle to her grave she is another's. We do indeed need and demand the other rights of which I have spoken, but let us first obtain ourselves.
— Ernestine L. Rose (born January 13, 1810)
When the oaks and flowers wither
In the wasting, parching sun.
Then the people are but shadows,
And the land a grave for men;
When tyrannic power presses
Like a nightmare on the land,
Then no little bird can sing
His heartsome freedom-song;
When the streams are changed to marshes,
And when all the hills and fountains
Send forth only poisonous vapors,
And the merry fishes die,
And the toads and vermin fatten;
Then the lightnings must descend,
And the angry tempests roar,
That mankind may rise from shadows,
That the day may dawn from night!
— Charles Follen (1796-1840)
A PRAYER FOR STUDENTS
Awaken in them that divine ambition, which is satisfied with no degree of excellence short of perfection. Excite in them a thirst for knowledge, and grant that it may lead them to the waters of eternal life. Arouse in them the spirit of study, that spirit which rises above poverty and a mean education; which surmounts all obstacles in climbing the lofty path of science, and elicits sparks of truth from the hardest subjects.
Teach them, that the highest freedom consists in the most lasting and the most extensive usefulness; in self-denial, in devotion to our calling, in holy fortitude, and cheerful obedience to the best and highest will.
— Charles Follen (1796-1840)
Charles Follen was lost at sea on January 13, 1840.
|Caroline M. Seymour Severance|