Sever 11 was crowded to its utmost capacity last evening by those who had assembled to hear Professor Royce's opening lecture on Modern Thinkers. The address was devoted to a general introduction of the subject.
Philosophy is a practical enquiry into the presuppositions of science. It is a subject which engrosses universal attention; nearly all, even the most uncritical, philosophize at times. Its confusing variety, elaborateness and obscurity causes amazement and even arouses the mockery of people who fail to understand why so many volumes have been written, apparently for nothing. Philosophers seem to be struggling with insoluble problems. The answer is that no one can attain a satisfactory conclusion until after repeated trials. Therefore since in Philosophy whole success seems unattainable, a partial one is well worth the task.
In human life we have Instinct, Enduring Courage and Contemplative Insight. With the help of this last reflective curiosity we study ourselves and our neighbors. So the historical office of philosophers has always been to reward the instincts of their own age. And his labor is not in vain because truth is so many sided that all these various thinkers, representing each so many different views may all see the truth alike, but from different sides.
The tendency of philosophy is destructive, but it only brings weakness to life when that weakness already exists in our personalities. The next lecture in the course will deal with the Period of Modern Philosophy and the Philosophy of the Seventeenth Century as expressed by Spinoza.