Philosophy in the Mass Age

Philosophy in the Mass Age

Edited with an Introduction by William Christian
Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 128
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    Philosophy in the Mass Age
    Book Description:

    When George Grant delivered Philosophy in the Mass Age over the CBC radio network early in 1958, it was an immediate hit. He criticized the Western notion of progress and affirmed the role of philosophy in teaching and assisting people in understanding. Robert Fulford described it then as stunningly effective: 'Grant's talks, obviously the product of a supple and curious mind, were models of their type - learned but clear, original but persuasive, highly personal but intensely communicative.'

    Grant's analysis of lhe paradox of modernity is no less intriguing today. The need to reconcile freedom with the moral law 'of which we do not take the measure, but by which we are measured and defined' is still an issue in our times.

    William Christian has restored the text of the original 1959 edition. He has supplemented it with material from the broadcast version of the lectures, including a ninth lecture, not previously published, in which Grant responded to listeners' questions. The controversial introduction to the 1966 edition appears as an appendix.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7845-3
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-vi)
  3. Editor’s Introduction (pp. vii-xxiv)
    William Christian

    When the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation approached George Grant in 1957 to deliver a series of lectures on philosophy to a national radio audience, he had been teaching at Dalhousie University for a decade. Almost from his arrival in Halifax he established himself as a formidable intellectual presence, and he quickly charmed and fascinated both the large number of students who enrolled in his first year philosophy class, as well as a smaller group who idolized him and followed him to the senior level courses.

    Concern for education was a family legacy. Both his grandfathers were farm boys who became important...

  4. Note on the Text (pp. xxv-xxvi)
  5. Acknowledgments (pp. xxvii-xxviii)
  6. Preface to the First Edition (pp. xxix-2)
    G.P. Grant
  7. 1 Philosophy in the Mass Society [Philosophy in the Mass Age] (pp. 3-13)

    Whereas animals live by instinct and therefore do what they do directly, we can decide between alternatives, and this choice is possible because we can reflect on how we are going to act. We can formulate general rules or principles that serve as guides among the innumerable possibilities open to us and that give some degree of consistency to our lives as a whole. Thus men who make the pursuit of wealth the chief activity of their lives have, at least to some degree, formulated the principle that all their actions will be as much as possible subordinated to that...

  8. 2 The Mythic and Modern Consciousness [The Ancient and the Modem World] (pp. 14-25)

    How we act depends on what we consider life to be about, what we think is going on in human history in general, and in our own lives in particular. We do what we ultimately think is worth doing because of our vision of human existence. There is of course a great difference among people in the degree to which their vision is thought out explicitly, and the extent to which it merely lies in the root of their personality dominating their lives half-consciously. Emerson said, ‘What you do speaks so loud, I can’t hear what you say,’ meaning that...

  9. 3 Natural Law (pp. 26-37)

    The theory of natural law is the assertion that there is an order in the universe, and that right action for us human beings consists in attuning ourselves to that order. It is the most influential theory of morality in the history of the human race. We meet it in some form wherever we go among the pre-scientific civilizations: in Greece, in Rome, in India, in China, and among the European peoples up to the last two hundred years. It is still the cornerstone of the ethical theory of the Roman Catholic Church. In the present desegregation issue in the...

  10. 4 History as Progress [The Rebellion of Enlightenment] (pp. 38-48)

    It has been the destiny of the western European peoples to be the first to destroy their old religious society and to replace it with modern scientific culture, something radically different from anything that existed in the past. To repeat, the fundamental difference between our modem society and the old is not only, or even primarily, the external difference shown by our mastery over nature through science and technology, but a profound difference in man’s very view of himself. We no longer consider ourselves as part of a natural order and as subordinate to a divine law. We see ourselves...

  11. 5 Marxism [The Ethics of Marxism] (pp. 49-61)

    In the thought of Karl Marx the meaning of the change described in the last chapter is brilliantly illuminated. Through his thought more than anyone else’s, the Western spirit of progress has gone out into the countries of Asia and has become the dynamic religion of the East. Study of this thought is, therefore, pressed upon us in the West. Yet just as this understanding of marxism is most important to us, it has become most difficult, because in the last decades there has been a campaign of vilification against Marx and of suspicion of those who study his thought...

  12. 6 The Limits of Progress [A Criticism of the Progress Spirit. Middle-Class Morality] (pp. 62-74)

    Marxism has been described as a powerful statement of the modern progressive spirit, filled with the hope of a worldly existence freed from evil and laying down the practical steps to the achievement of that hope. It has been insisted that this is why marxism is now the dynamic religion of Asia, the chief directing force in making the progressive spirit more than European, indeed worldwide. Nevertheless, as soon as the guiding power of marxism in Asia has been stressed, another fact of modern history must also be emphasized. Official marxism has been defeated in the very civilization from which...

  13. 7 American Morality [The American Pragmatic Spirit] (pp. 75-89)

    [When planning this series, I hoped to speak about existentialism at this point. But in going along I have found there is just too much to discuss and if something has to be cut, existentialism seems the best. Nothing is, of course, a side issue to moral philosophy, but existentialism is not basic to my central discussion. My concern has been to assess the way that English-speaking North Americans generally think about moral questions. And existentialism has not yet penetrated the general consciousness. It is a French and German phenomenon. It is, indeed, true that the study of existentialism greatly...

  14. 8 Law, Freedom, and Progress [The Limits of Freedom] (pp. 90-104)

    In these essays the central question of modem moral philosophy has been posed: How can we think a conception of law that does not deny the truth of our freedom or the truth of progress? This dilemma may be illustrated again because it is a dilemma of intensity and depth. The hurtling by man of objects into orbit, and indeed of himself into space is the very apotheosis of the modem spirit. Von Braun, the American rocket scientist, summed up this Faustian desire when he said, ‘Man belongs to wherever he wants to go.’ And already a generation ago the...

  15. APPENDIX 1 Dr Grant Answers Questions Raised in Letters from Listeners (pp. 105-116)
  16. APPENDIX 2 Introduction to the 1966 Edition (pp. 117-122)
    George Grant
  17. Notes (pp. 123-128)

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