The Path to Public Service at SEAS


Should Supreme Court Justices Have Term Limits? That ‘Would Be Fine,’ Breyer Says at Harvard IOP Forum


Harvard Right to Life Hosts Anti-Abortion Event With Students For Life President


Harvard Researchers Debunk Popular Sleep Myths in New Study


Journalists Discuss Trump’s Effect on the GOP at Harvard IOP Forum




I PROPOSE to discuss to-day, gentlemen, the subtle philosophy of that eminent metaphysician, Daniel Bratt; and you will first please note the fact that all other names, such as "Pratt" or "Spratt," which have been applied to him by eminent men of the present day, are totally incorrect. Bratt's philosophy is severe and often times difficult to comprehend, but here and there we find traces of a masterly conception of the greatest truths of Nature, a marked ability to conjoin the finite with the infinite, and a clear and penetrating insight into the mysteries of creation.

He begins one of his most remarkable essays in this wise: "Brattville, the place of my birth, will become famous in the history of the world for producing a man to harmonize the people and save the nation." Here, at the very outset, Bratt tramples underfoot all unnatural restraints resulting from mawkish feelings of modesty, and, with charming naivete, declares the vast extent of his undertaking. This confession of his own illustrious deeds should silence effectually the rantings of divers crack-brained enthusiasts, who obstinately insist that the savior of the American nation was an obscure negro named Birthingtons Washday.

Mr. Bratt next mysteriously remarks, "ne plus ultra." This quotation, taken from the ancient Druid philosopher, the Venerable Adam Bede, has puzzled not a few of Mr. Bratt's ardent admirers, mostly those, however, of finite and unphilosophical minds.

The meaning of the quotation is perfectly obvious, and is analogous to that of the proverb, "Time is no agent," by which Mr. Bratt shows clearly that the lapse of years, considered as so many months, days, and hours, will not make Brattville famous, but that its renown will be entirely owing to the fact that it was the place of his nativity.

The next observation of this acute philosopher is, "The whole vocabulary laboratory of our government is involved in economy and harmony of self-evident evidences with self-evident elements, of theory and practice, of faith and works."

Sublime thought! What a government must that of the Americans have been! Mr. Bratt has described its condition so lucidly that I recall at present no passage in any author, ancient or modern, which presents the existing state of things so vividly to our minds, with perhaps the exception of that famous declaration of the great Haggle* to the effect that the creation of the world was due to the relation of nothing to something.

He then goes on to make a bold and strikingly original statement: "Faith founded on evidence is the greatest fundamental principle of all principles with works."

Mr. Jenkins argues that faith founded on evidence is not faith at all, but belief in the existence of an hypostatized entity; for my part, I am here inclined to side with Mr. Bratt, although it is not altogether impossible that the "fundamental principle of all principles with works" may be itself an hypostatized entity.

We shall investigate this subject more at length when we come to discuss Dana Hill's "Theory of Hypostatization." There is still another assertion in regard to Faith, to wit: that it is "the primary origin of the literary, scientific, philosophical, mechanical, physical, and organic world." Rather a sweeping statement, I fear; that faith is the primary origin of the first five worlds which Bratt mentions is self-evident, - but is Faith, considered as Faith, and not as Hope or Charity, the primary origin of the organic world? I doubt it. To my mind, as well as to the minds of other eminent philosophers of to-day, Faith presents itself as a secondary and, in some extreme cases, even as a tertiary origin of the organic world (see my Essay on "Faith without Works").

Mr. Bratt, not content with making Faith the origin of so many worlds, adds that it is also the origin of so many worlds, adds that it is also the origin "of the social, civil, political, and religious world, from a needle to a navy and from a penny whistle to an organ."

Strangely enough, Mr. Jenkins concludes from this statement that the great philosopher was a man of needy circumstances, arguing that if he had been familiar with any musical instrument more costly than a "penny whistle," he would not have drawn this comparison.

Mr. Jenkins's argument, apart from being illogical, fallacious, and absurd, is wholly unsupported by the facts of the case; further on in this selfsame Essay now under discussion, we find: "I helped elect Messrs. Harrison, Taylor, Lincoln, and Grant, all without pay."

Who Harrison, Taylor, Lincoln, and Grant were, Mr. Bratt, with culpable negligence, does not tell; but we know that every election was a matter of very great expense, as it involved the purchase of thousands of votes, each of which cost fifteen cents in American money, and since, in the statement last quoted, Mr. Bratt intimates that he bore a portion of the election expenses himself, he could not have been a poor man.


Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.