Human expression is always shaped by the mentality which is responsible for it. The definiteness and amplitude of the individual grasp of the ideal, of the nature of that which is thought of as a model and inspiration, determines the quality and value of one's output. Thus the builder is limited in his building to the proportions of his architectural vision. He cannot exceed it any more than a mathematician can exceed in his deductions the content of his sense of numbers.

All this serves to explain the fact that the one thing which has most to do with our living, its freedom, satisfaction, improvement, and usefulness, is our concept of the nature and compass of Life. By the many life is thought of as animated matter, and that there are as many lives as there are creatures or growing things. In the nature of the case this immerses both the thought and the thinker in materiality, and with the result that, in so far, his life becomes subject to material modes and environment. No one can thus relate his life to matter without practically consenting to the rule over him of the so-called material law that life is legitimately subject to decay and death. Life thus comes to be regarded as a relatively inconsequential passing, a feeble flame which has beginning and end, which is measured by a brief space and is gone forever. This view would render truly pathetic the fact that we can hope and aspire, that we are capable of apprehending, and are persistently impelled to reach up for that to which we can never attain. This is the irony of materialism, that its highest sense has outgrown itself.

April 20, 1912

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