The lecture was upon the practical results of the previous discussions. The ideal of society is not the greatest happiness as a sum, but the greatest organization of society. But where do we find examples of our ideal? First, in the social organization that exist among the co-workers in natural science, where every man of them all is free, yet every man works as if the whole army of co-workers were under the orders of a single leader. A similarly ideal condition of organization is reached from time to time in the history of great movements, political or religious. Then individual interests are forgotten, individual self-consciousness is lost, and all the workers are for the one ideal of the movement, so that they all become one body. Such a condition Paul pictures in his ideal of a church organism, I. Cor. XII. But such a condition is apt to endure but for a short time.
So much for examples of approximations to the ideal. Now what can be done by individuals to help towards the attainment of the ideal? After a few suggestions about the training of personal character for the benefit of society, the lecturer went on to discuss the social tendencies that help and that hinder the realization of this organic ideal. Conservatism, the lecturer thought, is often a direct help to progress, because conservatism insists that progress shall be rationally comprehensible, and so organized. Conservatism represents the tendency to think new experiences in old forms, and so to continue definite habits of thought, thus avoiding confusion of thought. Conservatism therefore, where it is not mere laziness, aids society in preserving organic unity in the midst of progress. But supposing our ideal has many tendencies. First, philistinism insists upon lower forms of organization, which it tries to render stable at the expense of further progress. But this organization is distinguished by its power to grow. Equally, however, in the second place does the tendency of unwise idealists work against the ideal itself. That society ought to be as united an organism as possible, does not mean that a man ought to try to organize all society in his own way. It is the over-hasty idealism that has given the socialistic ideal a bad name. The business of the individual is to find a concrete case where he can increase the organization of some department of society, and to undertake the work offered to him just there. A third enemy to the ideal, is the indifference to all organization of society that is expressed by some men who see the difficulties of the work, and who make these difficulties in the way of organization a reason for being wholly careless of the ideal itself. Our proper work is to see the difficulties, and to work for their removal. The last enemy of the ideal that was mentioned is the besetting fault of philosophical students themselves, who, in the contemplation of their ideal are often disposed to neglect giving it a practical and concrete application. One serves the infinite only by being busy with something very finite and definite. Worship of the ideal without a concrete application of this ideal is simply a worship of nothing. Let us then serve the ideal, and study the concrete.