WHO SHALL BE FIRST?

Much is being said today, in all the field of liberal thought, respecting the awakening to and assertion of selfhood. Descartes' fundamental proposition, "I think: therefore I am," is on many lips, and not only in religious writings, but in fiction and in the drama, a new emphasis is being laid upon the possibility and significance of a will to think and to be. This tendency of thought attaches great value to the study of psychology, an analysis of the human mentality which usually leads to the classification of a higher and a lower, an inner and an outer, a conscious and an unconscious self; and Stevenson simply gave striking embodiment to this trend in his familiar story of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."

So world-wide and so marked is this drift that human sense may be said to have undergone nothing less than a revolution. Many look upon the result as expressive of advance, and it has undoubtedly had to do with the present revolt against the dogmatism of scholastic theology. It may have thus brought to some a larger sense of freedom and thereby opened the way for an improved belief, an escape from listless conformity. Nevertheless, no thoughtful student of this mental movement can have failed to see that as a whole its exaltation of the power of the human mind, its exploitation of selfhood, has not conduced to an increase of reverence, of humility, or of spiritual aspiration. The new powers which are said to have been gained have not been identified as of God, either in their phrasing or their phenomena, but rather as of "gray matter." The dominating I is not divine, but distinctly human, hence not infrequently "puffed up."

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Editorial
WHEN?
March 23, 1912
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