Term Paper written in 1955 on Universal Love

John Tschinkel
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Term Paper written in 1955 on Universal Love

Beitrag von John Tschinkel »

von John Tschinkel » So 28. Jun 2015, 02:18

I wrote this term paper as a College Sophomore. After 60 years I am still proud of it.

The following pages represent an attempt to show how some of the human values found in classical literature might have universal validity. We may define human values as certain properties of man which enable him to lead a better and happier life. Values of universal validity will guide him in the making of valuable contributions to humanity. In giving considerable thought and treatment to the latter we may clarify our understanding of man and at the same time increase our ability to enrich our lives. The data represented is limited to a selection of values alleged to be of worth by the authors of the Odyssey, a variety of Greek dramatic plays, an anthology of Greek science, the Dialogues of Plato, the Nature of Things and selections from the Bible. Treatment of the data will be of general nature.

In organizing the paper I will first describe the procedure to be used and will then apply this procedure in analyzing what I regard to be the key values alleged to be of worth by the above mentioned authors, and will finally summarize my findings.

For the values to be discussed, I have selected free will as a basic value which I believe leads to the mean value, goodness. The end and universal value is love. The authors of the above named works allege these values to be of worth through characterizations, incidents, direct comment and through total effect of work. In presenting the data I will illustrate how the named values have influenced my way of thinking and the effect the works have made upon me.

The analysis and digestion of the values will enable me to apply proper criteria and prevent me from being unduly influenced by the prejudices which our society might have inherited from the Greeks, Romans and Hebrews. It will possibly show me the kind of social, economic and political conditions we would need in order to foster values which really are of universal validity.

The order in which values will be treated is as follows: I will first consider the value which among others I believe is the basic value and will then move on to the mean values. Finally I will consider what I regard to be the end value.

The most noticeable thing about the human being is that he thinks. And he is the only being in the visible world who does think. Likewise he talks. Also a man plans what he wants to do and prefers certain ways of doing it. This is why a man can perform an experiment. Experiment is impossible unless my will is free to arrange the conditions of my experiment. If I am compelled to accept conditions imposed upon my and upon the world by some antecedent necessity over which I have no control I may be an observer but I am certainly not performing an experiment. If I have no free will I cannot experiment at all. The most I can do is passively to observe what goes on in myself and in the world without being able in the least to interfere.

Let us be clear about what freedom means. There are three kinds of freedom: freedom from physical restraint, freedom from legal restriction and freedom of will. The first is what the man in prison lacks; he is not physically free to move about as he pleases. And all of us are hindered by certain forces of nature; I am constrained by the force of gravity from walking on the clouds. The second freedom is that of independence and is what the United States celebrates on the Fourth of July. It means that there is no human sovereignty over us dictating what we shall do. Not only independent nations enjoy such freedom, but all the better governments permit as much of it is as is consonant with the public good. Thus, though the citizen is not free to disregard traffic laws, he is otherwise free to use the highways, and he may order what he pleases for lunch. Both these freedoms are external and man has a right to do as much of them as public welfare will permit. But extreme freedom is not what we mean by freedom of the will.

Freedom of the will is internal. Free will means that man is not in everything he does predetermined by his circumstances and antecedents. Everything else in the world is predetermined that way, but not man. A man can choose his own objectives, he can make up his own mind; his mind is not already made up for him by his ancestors or by the world about him. In many things he can and does decide for himself what he intends to do.

This unfortunately complicates the task of the social and individual betterment of man. If man were un-free, all we would have to do is set him like a clock and he would go straight thereafter. But any system of social betterment which does not take into account that the individual is possessed of a free will leaves out the biggest factor in the situation, it is ignoring the master of the revels, it is reckoning without a host and will sooner or later find itself out in the cold. Man is not merely a shuttle in the “loom” of progress, he wants to weave his own pattern of life and is not content to be hurled about by some machine. Many of us could name governments that precede on the principle that man has no free will, and so logically enough deny him the other two freedoms as well. But such governments are inhuman because they are based on inhuman philosophy. Furthermore if man has no free will, then all schemes for his individual and social betterment are idle dreams, for in that case neither the ordinary citizen nor the man at the top can do anything except what he is foredoomed to do. To deny free will is to make mankind nothing but driftwood. We can only watch and see what happens.

The basic facts about man are that he is possessed of intellect and free will and is aware of a Higher Power. But that is not all. He has an insatiable craving for something better than material comfort. He desires honor, he delights in the good will of his fellow man, he yearns for the grandeur and beauty of the intangible. Man’s heart is set on a good, a worth, a fulfillment of his life apart from the material goods about him. Reasoning on these capabilities and aspirations of his nature, man concludes that God made the world for some purpose. He must have made man for that fuller life which is natural for man to crave. But experience teaches that man cannot in this life get all that he craves, or what he craves most, so that he is forced to conclude that he must be intended to attain it in another life. Man knows that he is intended for more of life than that which is confined within the space of this earthly existence.

Many philosophers and sociologists are terrified at man having free will, because they imagine that would render it impossible to do anything in his uplift. If, they say, no matter what conditions you provide for man, he can still do as he pleases, your work is all in vain. But free will does not mean that at all. Freewill does not mean active without your motives, it means active from motives that you make your own by embracing them of your own free choice. Uplift comes from two things: proper motives, and the training in good habits. The first is required because you must treat man according to the nature he has. The second consists of giving him a “second nature”, for habits are truly said to be that, but this second nature is in harmony with the first.

I think that there is nothing wrong in man’s working for his own personal good so long as he does not hinder others from doing likewise or take away from them anything to which they have an equal right. But it does go deeper still. And it is this: by the very fact of doing a morally good act man attains the highest purpose for which both he and the whole world were created. There is nothing greater that even God can do than what is right and good, and that, whether done by man or God, is what is meant by the Glory of God. Every man who does a morally good act, attains by such an act the highest of all good and value. It is to be noted that his own final happiness, however, is not to be identified with those acts, but results from them.

And love shall be the cement that will hold them together. In Plato’s Symposium there is a discussion about the meaning of love. Aristophanes relates an amusing account of love’s origin. At first, says Aristophanes, the Gods made man bi-sexual, that is, male and female in one. The two halves composed a happy and harmonious sphere. But man sinned against the gods and hey punished him by cutting him in two. From that day on, he is an unhappy creature of separate halves who are forever yearning to be reunited into one. But all too frequently, when a couple of halves get together, they are found to be misfits. They did not belong to the same sphere in the first place. And thus discomfort arises, and friction and discontent. In many cases divorce. But when two halves are lucky enough to fit, they recognize instinctively. And they are suffused with the glow and the harmony and the sweetness of love.

All this, Aristophanes admits, is but a jester theorizing on love. But jesters are often the most serious of philosophers. Love, as Aristophanes guesses, is our human sense of reunion with our fellow being. When Aristophanes thought he was theorizing he was subconsciously groping toward a scientific law. All life is a process of separation and copulation. The cell is divided into two parts, the animal into two sexes; that is, the two halves of the old life, are united to produce new life.

And this passion for unity is but another name for love. It not only creates life, it is life. It is the cohesion of separate elements into a spirit of vitality, a will to live. It transcends sex, the family, the tribe, the race, the nation. It is the bond that is meant to unite all men into one mankind. Saint Paul was eternally right when he said that “Just as there are many parts united in our human bodies, so, many as we are, we form one universal body. And we are individual parts of one another”.

Love, observes Plato, is the human passion for harmony. This is but another way of expressing the idea of Saint Paul. For harmony is the melting of the many into one. It is true that all the world loves a lover; but it is equally true that a lover loves the world. He beholds beauty in everything, because his love imagines the missing parts that would complete unsightly fragments into graceful forms.

There is in this world but one thing holy and sublime, the union of “the two imperfect individuals” to work together towards the perfection of mankind. Every instance of love is a link in the golden chain that binds humanity together. In this unselfish world of ours, the only thing utterly unselfish is love. Listen again to Saint Paul: “Love suffers long, and is kind; love envies not; love swaggers not, is not puffed up, is not provoked, seeks not its own advantage; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails”.

The purpose of our daily life is to develop ourselves as completely as possible and to pursue this development as intelligently as is compatible with our instinct for association. For we are gregarious animals; we do not lives in caves but in communities, and, as civilization advances and the facilities for communication bring us more closely together, we find ourselves the members of larger and larger communities. Our desire for personal advancement is thus being constantly modified by our changing relationship toward more and more members of the human race. The world is becoming smaller, and by the same token the conception of human neighborliness is becoming larger. It is the business of the individual nowadays to fit himself into this larger conception, to establish a peaceful partnership not only between himself and his own community but between his own community and the rest of the world. We must work together for our individual and common good.

In our present-day society, a man’s duty prescribes not only his personal action but his social legislation It is our duty to re-examine, and if necessary to revise current convictions, even if that course entails the effort to challenge existing institutions. It is only through such group legislature that we can transform individual virtue into social wisdom.

The goal of all human conduct, motion and emotion finds an adequate expression in the philosophy of Plato. “The Highest Good” he states, “is the harmonization of the Whole Man with the Whole Universe”. When every man has learned this truth, then heaven will have become established on earth.

How can we achieve this Universal Harmony so beautifully expressed? It could be done in a form of universal government, which far from hampering the individual will help him to expand his fullest mental, moral, political and spiritual growth, For a healthy society, a healthy world, is based up-on the friendly interactions of the people – the vital interplay of their private interests to produce a common storehouse of well-being. In such a government based upon the mutual regard of all for one and one for all, there will be no need for lost individuals. On the hand, the richest individual – and riches need not be counted in savings and stocks – will be the one with the deepest responsibility for social integration, such a man will be the best citizen, and a model for all other citizens, in the world of freedom, social intelligence, financial cooperation, equal justice and lasting peace.

John Tschinkel