BLTC Press Titles

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The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Baltasar Gracian

Esoteric Buddhism

A. P. Sinnett

Mortal Coils

Aldous Huxley

Paradoxes of the Highest Science

Eliphas Levi

Motive-force and motivation-tracks

by Edward John Boyd Barrett


We have seen, that by a natural evolution, the old H"5 Need Psychology has gradually made room for the new, psyC*^0'^ just as the classicism of Pope, gave way before the nascent romanticism of Thompson, and later on, of Blake.

This new movement towards a Will Psychology has come most opportunely. The present age, ashamed of its weak, flippant spirit, fully conscious of its triviality and effeminacy compared with the sterner ages that have gone by, has suddenly grown clamorous for some tonic to revive its decaying virility.

It has, first of all, called for a method wherewith to fortify and build up the Will. As a response, such works as L'Éducation de la Volonté by Payot and Le Gouvernement de Soi-même by Eymieu have been

(1) Psychologie, Préface.

published. Societies too, of a semi-spiritist, semi-psychical character are founded with a view to increase the « personal magnetism » and the « psychical force » of their members. Every means, wise or foolish, of winning back a shred of manliness and staunchness is tried. Wordsworth wrote for his fellow-countrymen:

« Milton ! thou shouldst be living at this hDur.

England hath need of thee : she is a fen

Of stagnant waters : » To-day, any little act of bravery or pluck is lauded to the skies, published, painted, sung, and decorated with medals. Every deed of heroism, true or imagined, that history can produce is brought forth, edited, written into novels and dramatised. Hero-worship and Will worship have become the mark and character of this mawkish age. Blondel has shown in his Philosophy that thought is for action; that, defacto, knowledge is used in all the acts of animal life to help on activity. He has shown that when thought is used for thought, inevitable contradictions ensue. He might indeed have gone further, and pointed out that to-day action is for action, that thought and action, together, are subordinated to the development of action, or volition.

To-day we need a Psychology which will explain how half a hundred anarchists could, within a few hours, stir up a revolution and possess themselves of a huge city like Barcelona. We need to know the psychology of the crowd, and to examine the laws of terrorisation, in virtue of which Ferrer and his handful of minions held sway for three days over half a million people, burning their churches, schools, museums, and all they held most precious.

Then again, we need a Will Psychology which is capable of forming, at least to some broad principles of morality, a youth for whom the name of Christ is unknown. Godless education is a jact; and, will, alas ! for years to come, be a fact in many countries. Religious instincts cannot help the French educators. They must make the most of Psychology. They ask for rules of Will training. We must try to satisfy, what, under the circumstances, is a legitimate demand. Indeed we may point out, that, curiously enough, modern psychology has become the defender of religion for the young.

Empecher un adolescent qui en ressent le besoin naturel, d'accotnplir normalement son evolution religieuse, sous pretexte que la religion n'est pas « vraie », c'est se conduire en dogmatiste qui decrete ce qui est vrai et ce qui est faux, ce qui doit etre cru, non en psychologue impartial, qui constate ce qui repond en fait a un besoin de croyance, ni en pedagogue qui doit favoriser revolution naturelle de l'esprit, en la guidant s'il le faut, mais sans la contrecarrer (1).

But apart from such particular demands, there are general demands which spring from the mentality, the psychology, of the present generation, which must be satisfied. Figures, definite laws, precise proportions, exact observations, clear and definite descriptions and explanations, of all our psychical activities are called for. Litterateurs, Orators, Criminologists, Statisticians, Economists, Clergymen, Lawyers and Educators call for them. Here again, the old Psychology is unable to satisfy the demand.

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