The Coming American Philosophy -- By: Nathan E. Wood

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 047:185 (Jan 1890)
Article: The Coming American Philosophy
Author: Nathan E. Wood


The Coming American Philosophy

Rev. Nathan E. Wood

For some time past there has been an earnest cry in certain quarters for a new and distinctively American philosophy. This voice is indeed that of a John the Baptist in the wilderness, but nevertheless it is the voice of a herald who has power to discern the signs of the times. The chief crier may not perchance live to see the kingdom of this new philosophy ushered in, but unquestionably his soul is prophetic, and foresees truly that such a new American philosophy will be established. It cannot be much longer delayed. The signs point to an early arrival. Some of us believe that we are already in the twilight of its dawn, and that we shall live to see the full day break.

But patience is needed. The inquisitive intellectual eagerness of our time is bringing to light many new factors in these problems. New, perplexing, and uncatalogued facts are almost daily set in array before us. In truth, the fact-diggers are immensely industrious at the present time and are heaping up unclassified material in -endless profusion. Physiological psychology has added a wealth of facts of which our fathers knew nothing. The

department of psychological logic has been explored again, and some new facts have been added to the general store. Evolution as a method has shown how to reach some valuable results and from a new direction. Some powerfully synthetic mind will yet arise to declare the place and significance of all this unorganized material, and set in order what is as yet undistributed chaos.

Many considerations unite to verify the conviction that we are to have such an American philosophy. It will be our task to indicate some of these considerations and then to point out some of the main lines along which this philosophy will, in all probability, be constructed, together with a brief statement of its bearings upon the questions of ethics, theism, and of revelation. It is an exceedingly significant fact that no system of philosophy, either ancient or modern, which has been matured and has held sway in Europe, has ever become so naturalized in America as to seem indigenous. Nearly all systems have been transplanted to this continent, at one time or another, but they have always remained exotic. They have never become acclimated. No one of them has received any general acceptance.

New England seemed at one time about to bow at the shrine of sensationalism, but good Bishop Berkeley arrived just in time to prevent her from quite getting on her knees; yet even he with all the charms of idealism about him could not keep her from starting something of a flirtation with transcendentalism. But still she did not really surrender her heart. She ...

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