Philosophical Sessions Reach No Agreements
Ask Role of Metaphysics
Although the desirability of democracy and a free world was endorsed by all the philosophers participating in this week's summer school conference, it appeared that they could not agree on the philosophical premises of this conviction.
As the final session closed in the Lamont Forum Room yesterday afternoon, the quarrels which separate various schools were etched in sharper relief than any efforts to arrive at unity and understanding in defense of a free society.
Opening the first session in Sanders Theatre Monday night, Professor Jacques Maritain of Princeton maintained that empiricism in philosophy had led to "the complete relativization of moral values, the high-powered narrowing of the human mind, and the disarming of freedom."
Commenting on his paper, Professor L. J. van Holk of the University of Leyden, Holland, pointed out that the growth of empiricism coincided with the eighteenth century enlightenment and the rise of liberalism.
Summer session director William Y. Elliott and Professor Sidney Hook of New York University provided the most active discussion of the evening. "The West should understand its faith is based on an idea of human personality which is indemonstrable by scientific means and towards which science is neutral," Elliott maintained.
Professor Hook found no logical connection between metaphysical beliefs and conduct. He defended "empiricism and science" against "dogma and superstition."
The session Tuesday night featured a historical paper on Chinese thought by Dr. Hu Shih of Princeton and a discussion of ethical judgment by Professor Charles L. Stevenson of Michigan.
In a closed meeting in the Lamont Forum Room Tuesday afternoon, Dean William R. Dennes of California discussed the resolution of conflicts, maintaining that differences in interpretation cannot change matters of fact. A second session in Lamont yesterday was enlivened by the main speaker, Professor James K. Feibleman of Tulane, and Dr. Phillip Frank of Harvard referring to each other's statements as "nonsense."