THE MICHIGAN ATTN
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who affirm a belief in immortality. It these terms adequately and thorough-
is unfair as well as unreasonable to ly describe and connote the sense of
demand of the enlightened religionist "I" within us with all its attributes of
that he adhere to a literal and tra- autonomy, memory, purpose. inner
ditional creed w1tiou any modifica- and outer awareness, etc. To liken
tion or reinterpretation whatsoever. man to a tree or a chemical com-
He has as much right to characterize pound and to equate his fate with
the imperishable imprint of his life that of those objects is to unduly
as a form of immortality as has simplify something that is not soC
the humanist to term his ethical phil- simple and to completely ignore the
osophy a type of religion. When one uniqueness which is man's. Such an
deprives the other of the right of explanation is postulated on the sup-
reinterpretation he manifests a fail- position of the primacy and ascend-
ure to realize that not only language, ancy of the physical. The question,
but even our highest concepts rep- however, is highly debatable whether
resent but picture thinking and not the human organism may be deemed
absol-photographic reproductions of the creator of the personality iden-
reality. They are at best symbolic of tified with it or only as the religion-
our deepest feelings of and ineffable ist conceives it, the carrier of that
insights into the inadequately known personality, or merely its tool. Is it
objective world. If therefore, the re- not possible that what we call the
ligionist perceives substantiations of spirit or soul may be something like
a modified form of immortality in electricity which requires a filament
the biologic phenomenon of the and a bulb in order to reveal itself.
transmission of parental traits to The body, then, may be but the me-
children or in the sociologic fact of dium through which the soul-qual-
the ineffaciability of the impress of ities become manifest. In subscribing
the individual's life and personality to this view one need not necessarily
upon his group, such testimony is not embrace a scholastic or Cartesian
entirely pointless and arbitrary and form of dualism. (Spinoza and later
should be thrown out of court. philosophers did it and still remained
I admit that thus far the religion- monists.)
ist has not squarely met the issue, Does not all this, I may be asked,
which is belief in the persistence of necessitate some form of body as the
the self or personality without any basis or medium for the soul? Can
physical accoutrement, as we have there be forms of disembodied life?
come to associate with it. The prob- While thereligionist cannot dogma-
lem, as I see it, resolves itself into tically answer yes to this question,
the question: is the human soul or he can, however, legitimately retort
personality to be reduced to an insub- that we do not know today what .the
stantial shadow or a mere pattern of real essence of a body is. There is
behavior or form of organization? Do much mystery about the potentialities
and complexity of the atom as there
:s about the living organism or even
the cosmos. An outstanding physi-
cist (Jeans) sees the nature of the
atom to be a spiritual essence, an
I said above that my belief in im-
mortality is not of the unwavering
type. This is due not only to the
neutral attitude of Judaism to meta-
physical ultimates, but also to the
realization that the evidence for that
hypothesis; plausible as it may seem,
is not conclusive or invulnerable. An
agnostic attitude therefore seems to
me to be the safest and sanest posi-
tion to assume.
My vacillation is also due to my'
realization that not only is the phil- the desire for a form of survival after
osophic validity of the doctrine de- death as a sort of reward for the de-
batable, but that its ethical value is votion of the ethical life and not the
also questionable. Here I am in entire appreciation of the intrinsic worth
agreement with the humanist. I do
not consider that the belief in im-
mortality is indispensable to the pur-
suit of what is good and true and
beautiful. (The humanist may come
back at me and demand that I as-
sign a similar role to the idea of God.
This concept, however, in my opinion,
merits a higher category because of
its greater degree of cogency and re-
levancy). The hope and desire for
immortality may tend to spur many
people to noble efforts and actions.
If the incentive, however, is merely
of that life, or the individual's
esteem and love of Him, from whose
very nature these principles and
values emanate, then the appeal and
motive for the ethical life is some-
thing that is extraneous and mere-
Because of the above reasons,
tholugh I occasionally veer to the be-
lief, I nevertheless deem it imprudent
and foolhardy on the part of any re-
ligion if it persists in making this
doctrine central and fundamental in
If the incentive, however, is merely its scheme,
THE HITLE R Dwo ECREES
Translated from the German by
JAMES K. POLLOCK and HARLOW J. HENEMAN
Department of Political Science
"Here's What the Hat Makers Say!"
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". , . This concern (Doran)
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4 These manufacturers refer to the regular Doran Hat finishing
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Every hat is, of course, Microcleaned first so that it is free
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All types of Ladies' felt and straw fabrics
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Ask about our WINTER GARMENT STORAGE.
CLEANERS & DYERS
-UNDER THE MIC 2-323
516 East Liberty
1119 South University Ave.
802 South State
Basement, Mack & Co.
ars a considerable amount of at- of the philosophy department.