World Knowledge is Humanistic in its Nature -- By: Charles H. Lerch

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 072:286 (Apr 1915)
Article: World Knowledge is Humanistic in its Nature
Author: Charles H. Lerch


World Knowledge is Humanistic in its Nature

Charles H. Lerch

The world exists for the education of each man,” says Emerson. Not a small, contracted, specialized sphere, this, which the New England Philosopher conceives, but a cosmos, projected from a mind, which, as Lowell tells us, “is equally at home with the potato-disease and original sin, with pegging shoes and the oversoul.” Omniscience, however, should not and can not well be now the prize of the high calling of modern scholarship. It may have been the foible of some students of the past and maybe of a limited few of the present. But if I had my choice between a large acquaintanceship with many subjects or a comprehensive view of wide-minded knowledge on the one hand, and a thorough mastery of all the subtile and confusing intricacies of so-called truth, of a specialty within a specialty, on the other hand, I would select the former, on the basis of sanity, practicability, and even accuracy. Extreme specialization is in grave danger, often, of dissipating itself into the thin ether of solipsism. The rarefied Ego vanishes, and should vanish, through the mist of its own illusiveness. The end is vanity and vexation of spirit.

I am aware that many-sided, broad-minded scholarship, such as the intellectual men of a generation or so ago possessed, is scouted now with suspicion. Versatility is syn-

onymous with shallowness and superficiality. But their inclusiveness more than compensated for our exclusiveness. Their culture in the humanities furnished them with insight into the meaning of terms and the power of lucid interpretation which are denied many of the specially-trained minds of to-day. The Field of Knowledge is now, as it always has been, the world, and the right of eminent domain cannot be granted to any part of its possession to one who does not know that it exists. Only he “who hath access to this universal mind is a party to all that is or can be done.” If one makes an excursion into any region of Truth, he must become aware that the line of demarcation by which it is bounded from some adjacent truth cannot clearly be ascertained. All truths are but parts of one stupendous whole, and it would seem as if the whole were in each part.

One of the distressing aspects of present-day education is either the inability to recognize or the deliberate determination not to do so, that every particle of truth however near, or however remote, is an integral part of the whole fabric and cannot be eliminated. A correct understanding of matter implies a knowledge of that which is spirit. A psychology without a soul in it is only the darkness visible of physiological envisagement. The metaphysics of old-fashioned psych...

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