This is the second volume of Professor Macmurray's Gifford Lectures on The Form of the Personal. The first volume, The Self as Agent, was concerned to shift the center of philosophy from thought to action. Persons in Relation, starting from this practical standpoint, sets out to show that the form of personal life is determined by the mutuality of personal relationship, so that the unit of human life is not the "I" alone, by the "You and I.".
At the heart of Macmurray's work is his attempt to reverse the proposition of philosophy of the modern period that posits the self as thinker withdrawn from action and essentially isolated from the world about which it reflects. Macmurray labored to recast the role of philosophy in the service of a more fulfilling and basic personal communion with others, with the world, and ultimately with God. Indeed, it can be said that Macmurray's philosophy is really a philosophy of community—a philosophy (...) that relates to many contemporary philosophical and religious concerns, as well as having a bearing on current historical/sociological, political, and feminist critiques of contemporary American society. (shrink)
In this book, Macmurray develops with exceptional clarity his views on reason and emotion as interdependent, rather than opposed aspects of human personality. Underlying the lectures collected in this volume and giving them their unity is Macmurray's conviction that the contrast we habitually draw between "reason" and "emotion" is false and leads to the erroneous conclusion that our emotional life is irrational and must remain so. The proper contrast, Macmurray stresses, lies between "intellect" and "emotion", while "reason", as that which (...) makes us human, expresses itself in both. (shrink)
Reason in the emotional life. I-III.--Education of the emotions.--The early discipline of personality.--The personal life.--The virtue of chastity.--Art and the future.--Science and religion.--Reason and religion.--Religious reality.--The maturity of religion. I-II.--The conservation of personality.
Represents a significant stage in the development of Macmurray's philosophy of the personal. His suggestions about the nature of freedom and the conditions under which we may hope to enjoy it should be of great interest to anyone who is concerned about the development of a social and political system within which personal values can still be safeguarded.
Macmurray lays the foundations for his exploration of community. His concern for community, or persons in relation, has become one of the major preoccupations of many cutting-edge debates in contemporary philosophy and religion and inspires new directions in moral theory.
In the historical process by which our knowledge develops, new ideas and new experiences tend very naturally to define themselves by reference to the old. It is not merely that an original thinker must express his originality in terms of old modes of language and thought, but that the new idea, the new experience, being vague and indistinctly grasped, is apt to coin for its expression and propagation phrases in which the emphasis falls upon the difference or variation from what (...) is familiar and concretely understood. In the history of practical developments like that of the theory of political organization this factor is both evident and momentous. In the transition to modern democracy, for example, the familiar distinction between the Sovereign and Subjects dictates the form in which the old order is challenged. (shrink)
One of the most deeply engrained habits of the modern world is the habit of thinking in terms of a contrast, and indeed of an opposition, between something we call Mind and something we call Matter. This habit is obviously not confined to philosophy. It is built into the structure of our languages and of our ways of behaviour. It conditions our religious and moral attitudes, as well as our reflective thought in science and philosophy. It is not surprising, therefore, (...) that much of modern European Philosophy has consisted in an effort to overcome the dualism to which this habit gives rise when we try to clarify and systematize our knowledge of Reality. This essay on the subject is an essay in scepticism. (shrink)
John Macmurray, one of the most brilliant of the younger English philosophers, sets forth his conception of a religion which he believes can save the world from chaos. He regards religion as having its springs in the relations between human individuals, and thinks that a religion that is not concerned with inherent social questions is no religion at all, or rather, it is a religion that has been falsified and that has lost the clue to its own meaning. According to (...) his view, every aspect of progress, every scientific advance, the achievement of every artist and every mystic is to be tested not against a supernatural world but in the practical world of human society. It is only in this way that the efficacy of religion and its high usefulness to mankind will be able to continue in its historical importance and perhaps even create a world of peace and well-being. (shrink)
In his first book, Macmurray calls for a more candid self-analysis as he offers a diagnosis of the philosophical problems presented by contemporary life. Based on two series of radio lectures from 1930–32, Macmurray addresses problems and reasoned solutions that are still relevant today.
Of all the sciences, philosophy is the most concrete and comprehensive. The sense of cold, remote spaces which it is apt to generate in us is the result of this very width and concreteness. The philosopher has to condense the many-sided variety of human life and express it through the symbols of a common language. The symbols are at best only semi-transparent.ness descends upon him the moment they become opaque. Philosophy, in fact, is useless to us unless we can see (...) through it. If we cannot, the fault may be ours. If it is the philosopher's, then his failure is a failure to be wide enough or concrete enough. He needs above all to be sympathetically sensitive to the wide range of human interests, because it is this as a whole that he is bidden to systematize. He must give a single answer, and for that he must formulate a single question. Therefore his first problem is to discover the unity of problems. (shrink)