All Commentary
Tuesday, December 1, 1964

The Flight From Reality: 3. The Nature of Reality


Dr. Carson is Professor of American History at Grove City College, Pennsylvania. Among his earlier writings in THE FREEMAN were his series on The Fateful Turn and The American Tradition, both of which are now available as books.

It is not difficult for most of us to understand the desire to re­form things. On the surface, at least, there is so much that is not the way it should be; or, if that formulation be not acceptable, there is so much that is not the way we would have it be. Many people do not behave in ways that are pleasing to us. They fritter away their time, occupy them­selves with amusements that are in reality anesthetics, prefer the dulling to the ennobling experi­ence, act irresponsibly, waste their talents, and fail to devote themselves to the improvement of themselves and others.

Nor does the world appear to be perfectly ordered. Notice how unequally the resources for human living are distributed on the earth. Here is a drought while there is a flood; here is abundance, even sur­plus, while there is scarcity, even hunger; here the land is fertile while there it is arid. It seems that there is much injustice on this planet. Children who are born of poor parents have not the ad­vantages of those born of rich ones. Men whose land is infertile eke out a bare existence by the sweat of their brow, while those more favorably situated live in the lap of luxury. Men die at an early age before their promise has been fulfilled. There is suffering, depri­vation, disease, hunger, malnutri­tion, disfiguration, malformation of bodies, and so on through all the variants of things to which flesh is heir.

Surely, many will say, things are not as they should be. Why not set them aright? Why not re­make man and society more in keeping with our vision of them? Why not introduce those reforms which will most likely lead to an improved world in which to live? More specifically, why not use the power of government to accom­plish these ends?

At its deepest, the reform impe­tus has been animated by such questions and visions as are form­ulated above. It is understandable, I say, for men to think in this manner, for them to want to pool their power and accomplish such apparently worth-while ends. Some would go so far as to say that it is natural for men to think this way. But this last statement should not be accepted. The his­torical record will not support the view that the urge to reform, in this all-embracing fashion, is nat­ural, unless we believe that most men at most times have been un­natural. The fact is that this re­formist view is almost entirely restricted to the last hundred years or so, and probably only be­came more generally accepted in the last twenty to forty years.

Most men have not believed that it was possible to alter, funda­mentally, man, society, or the uni­verse, or that it would be desira­ble to do so if it could be done. True, peoples have dabbled in magic, prayed for supernatural intervention in the course of things, and occasionally used gov­ernment for ameliorative pur­poses. But these have had some specific and very limited object, quite different from the objective of remaking everything to accord with human vision.

Whose Reality?

The major obstacle to unlimited reformism is reality itself. His­torically, the major obstacle to the rise and triumph of a reform­ist bent has been the conceptions which men had of reality. There is no need to mask the fact that the conceptions which men have had of reality may not have been valid. It should be noted, too, that the special competence of histor­ians of ideas extends only to an account of the ideas which men have held, not to the accuracy, validity, or truth of the ideas. How, then, can a historian do a work which has as its subject The Flight from Reality? Unless he means that many men no longer have any conception of reality, has he not entered the realm of philosophy for the validation of the thesis?

Actually, however, all work pro­ceeds upon some conception of reality, implicit or explicit, just as do all statements which purport to contain truth. The difference in this case is that the issue of what constitutes reality cannot be evaded or simply assumed; it must be articulated in order to validate the thesis.

In setting forth a conception of reality, however, I have no in­tention of giving one that I have constructed. In fact, I have not constructed one, nor have I felt it desirable to do so. The work has been done already, with many variations and in great detail. There is a great tradition of phi­losophy to which all those in West­ern civilization are heirs. A con­ception of reality is embedded in our language, informs our thought, is elaborated in our institutions, is implicit in our customs, and can be found in books in our libraries. The fact that a new conception of reality has been developed in the last century or so does pose problems of validating the older conception. Even so, I accept as valid some of the central insights of the West­ern tradition of philosophy and present them as an adequate con­ception of reality for my pur­poses.

Histories of philosophy usually devote much of their space to dif­ferences in philosophies. This is as it should be. The student needs to know how Plato differs from Aristotle, how Augustine differs from Thomas Aquinas, and how David Hume differs from Thomas Hobbes. These differences are sometimes great, and they are im­portant. The focus upon the dif­ferences, however, may result in losing sight of what these and other philosophers have in com­mon.

The Western Tradition

There is a central tradition of Western philosophy, a central in­sight, quest for, and belief about reality which transcends the dif­ferences of such diverse men as Thales, Pythagoras, Plato, Aris­totle, Cicero, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Duns Scotus, Descartes, Spinoza, Hobbes, and Kant. They all belong, to a greater or lesser extent, to the major tradition in Western philosophy. The tradi­tion may be called by a variety of names—Platonic-Aristotelian, ra­tionalism, essentialism, realism (in the Medieval sense)—but to be a philosopher in the West has usually meant to belong to it. There have from time to time been dissenters from it such as the Greek sophists and material­ists, but from the perspective of a long history these have been but rivulets meandering into deserts where they dried up. (Perhaps the figure is not quite right, for in the recent past there has been a re­vival of sophistry in relativism and of materialism in mechanistic and atomistic doctrines, but that is a story that can be deferred for later discussion.)

The central insight of the West­ern tradition of philosophy is that there is an enduring, even an eter­nal, reality. Indeed, “the real” came to be defined in philosophy as that which is fixed and un­changing. In the main, philoso­phers have been bent upon mak­ing systematic accounts of the universe, of matter, and of life, upon discovering from whence things came and where they were going, upon finding the common denominator which would bring unity out of diversity, upon locat­ing the primal stuff of the uni­verse, and upon describing the co­hesive principle that orders real­ity. The history of philosophy in the West is traced from the ap­pearance of efforts to do these things.

Enduring Values

Permanence is not obviously the most prominent feature of reality. On the contrary, it is quite likely that the untutored eye would discover not unity but di­versity, not order but disarray, not system but chaos, not purpose but randomness, not fixity but change. To the senses, each thing is different from every other thing. All things are changing, if not perceptibly, then, over any considerable period of time. De­cay sets in rather rapidly for all material things, that is, for all that comes to the senses.

One of the earliest philosophers, Heraclitus, perceived the fluctuat­ing character of all things and proceeded to erect a philosophy around the permanence of flux. A thoroughgoing philosophy of flux, however, tends to disintegrate the very world which men discoursed about long before there was for­mal philosophy. “If everything is in a state of change, the names which we give them become mis­leading, for as soon as we label something we seem to give it a `nature’ which is lasting. But if nothing endures, all such labels are a vain and childish attempt to arrest the passage of time, to grasp at fleeting shadows….”¹

An Ordered Universe

It should be clear, then, that long before the Greek philoso­phers men had perceived an order in the world, that they had incar­nated these conceptions in lan­guage which included class names and ways of referring to an or­dered reality. Philosophers did not simply create a vision of reality; they worked with one that was al­ready implied in the culture which they had received. Much of philos­ophy has been concerned with bringing to consciousness that which is implied in language. This is not to say, as some have, that philosophers have been simply playing with words. On the con­trary, they have been concerned to delve into a reality for which the received words of their cul­ture stand. The mainstream of Western philosophy has been deeply rooted in culture and tra­dition. It has been to a considera­ble extent the unraveling of such truth as was bound up in lan­guage. (Anyone who holds that his language does not embrace truth, is not descriptive for truth, must first construct a new lan­guage by which to convey any truths which he perceives.)

Quite possibly, the philosophi­cal quest arose out of the dispar­ity between the inherited cultural vision of reality and the world brought to men by their senses. What we do know is that the early philosophers focused their atten­tion upon the distinction between appearance and reality. As one writer says, “Whatever else may be said about early Greek philoso­phy, it is safe to maintain that from its very origins it made a distinction between the world as it appears to man and the world as it really is.”² The central view for Western philosophy is that of Plato, that there is an underlying reality which is eternal, that change, decay, disorder—the world of appearances—is an illu­sion insofar as it appears to be that which is real.

Ultimate Reality

The real, then, is that which en­dures, or is eternal. But what en­dures? There have been many ways of approaching the answer to this question. It may be noted, too, that an adequate answer ac­counts for both reality and ap­pearances. There is an answer which antedates philosophy but which has subsequently been em­bedded in most philosophies. In its monotheistic form, it is the view that God is the real, that he is the everlasting, the unchang­ing, the enduring, the eternal. He is the creator; all things come from him; that which does not have its end and culmination in him is illusory and unreal. This view was an article of faith long before it was the subject of ra­tional proofs. Efforts at proving it have not succeeded for very long or for very many in chang­ing the fact that it is Faith’s an­swer to the riddle of the universe. Philosophy proceeds discursively; the above view leaps from appear­ance to reality, not troubling to make the necessary steps.

From a rigorously theistic point of view, metaphysics has usually been concerned with an intermedi­ate realm between the physical world of appearances and the ulti­mate reality which is God. In short, metaphysics has been the study pursued by those seeking to discover and describe that which gives order, structure, and form to the universe. Metaphysicians have held that the universe is or­dered, that reality is structured, that there is a fixity beneath the appearance of flux.

Traditional Western philoso­phers have held that the underly­ing reality is made up of essences. These essences have been called by a variety of names, and these different names involve some dif­ferences of character. But they all refer to permanent features of reality. Essence has been con­ceived as idea, as form, as poten­tiality, as law, or as spirit. For some, the essence is that from which all things derive, to others that toward which all things move. Essences may usually be conceived of as absolutes, and they serve the role of principles.

To pursue metaphysical thought any further would involve us in particular systems. These are com­plicated and vary considerably from one thinker to another. Un­doubtedly, the most fertile sys­tems for Western thought were those set forth by Plato and Aris­totle. Some hold that virtually all directions taken by thinkers were at least implied by Plato. It is doubtful that philosophic thought is cumulative in a significant way. There are still thinkers who ac­cept Aristotle or Aquinas as their masters. But over the centuries there was an unfolding and elabo­ration (though not necessarily progressive) of the premises and assumptions of essentialism which was important.

Central Insights

The search for the permanent resulted in the discovery of an im­pressive body of laws, the setting forth of conditions within which human life is lived, and an under­standing of the structured nature of reality. There were gains and losses of knowledge over the cen­turies, depending upon the par­ticular focus upon reality, the ap­titude of the searchers, and the breadth of the approach. A few of these gains should be set forth as the central insights of Western thought.

Perhaps the central one of these, built upon the premise of an enduring reality, is that there is an order in the universe. At the physical level, much of this order is available to or can be confirmed by experience. There are predicta­ble regularities all around. The seasons of the year follow one an­other in predictable fashion, and, having completed their cycle, they recur. Seeds taken from a plant reproduce that plant, other things being equal. Animals go through a cycle of life: birth, growth, ma­turity, death. “Then there are also the regular changes in the posi­tions of the heavenly bodies, be­ginning with the sun and the moon and after them the planets. The regular sequence… of the tides…, of eclipses of the sun and moon, were observed at a very early date.”3

This same sort of regularity or order can be found in other realms, too. The order that has long enamored philosophers, since the time of the Pythagoreans, is that in mathematics. H. D. F. Kitto gives an experience of his which must parallel that of early mathematicians, and which awak­ens a sense of the marvelous char­acter of mathematics:

… It occurred to me to wonder what was the difference between the square of a number and the product of its next-door neighbours. 10 x 10 proved to be 100, and 11 x 9 = 99—one less. It was interesting to find that 6 x 6 and 7 x 5 was just the same, and with growing excitement I discovered, and algebraically proved, the law that this product must al­ways be one less than the square.

The next step was to consider the behavior of next-door neighbors but one, and it was with great delight that I disclosed to myself a whole system of numerical behavior…. With increasing wonder I worked out the series 10 x 10—100; 9 x 11 = 99; 8 x 12 = 96; 7 x 13 = 91… and found that the differences were, successively, 1, 3, 5, 7… the odd-number series.

He draws the conclusion:

Then I knew how the Pythagor­eans felt when they made these same discoveries…. Did Heraclitus de­clare that everything is always changing? Here are things that do not change, entities that are eternal, free from the flesh that corrupts, independent of the imperfect senses, perfectly apprehensible through the mind.4

The Physical Linked with Mathematical Order

When and as men discovered that these two kinds of orders—the physical and mathematical—were linked together in a reality that could be discovered and de­scribed, their sense of wonder and awe sometimes surpassed the bounds of language to capture. There have been many discoveries of this remarkable linkage, but none was more exuberant than Jo­hannes Kepler in reporting them:

… Having perceived the first glimmer of dawn eighteen months ago, the light of day three months ago, but only a few days ago the plain sun of a most wonderful vision—nothing shall now hold me back. Yes, I give myself up to holy raving. I mockingly defy all mortals with this open confession: I have robbed the golden vessels of the Egyptians to make out of them a tabernacle for my God, far from the frontiers of Egypt. If you forgive me, I shall rejoice. If you are angry, I shall bear it. Behold, I have cast the dice, and I am writing a book either for my contemporaries, or for posterity. It is all the same to me. It may wait a hundred years for a reader, since God has also waited six thousand years for a witness….5

One of the considerable joys of the study of history is to visit with those in the past who have lifted the veil to peer from time into eternity, who have experi­enced the enduring harmony be­hind the cacophony of passing events, who have renewed in them­selves an age-old vision of order.

This vision of order has not been restricted to the physical and mathematical, nor to a union of these, of course. It has been ex­tended to the ethical realm to em­brace the relations among men, to human nature, to laws, standards, and principles for living and life.

The Use of Reason

A second insight which went along with this vision of an order in the universe was the view that this order is rational. That is, we can come to a knowledge of this universe by the use of reason. (This does not rule out the possi­bility that knowledge may come by the more direct mystic experi­ence. But knowledge acquired by the mystic experience is private, not public.) Two methods, with many variations, were developed for using reason to acquire knowl­edge. One of these is associated with Plato. It is the dialectical method, personified for us by Soc­rates and called also the Socratic method. The dialectic is used to arrive at clear and consistent ideas. Ideas are opposed against ideas; each statement is examined minutely for inconsistencies; it is held up beside opposing views.

This method assumes that ideas are innate, that the truth is al­ready embedded in the mind and needs only to be called forth. In­volved in the calling forth is the clarification which results from the removal of contradictions. This is a priori reasoning, for the truth is there before the examina­tion of ideas takes place. A priori is also used to refer to deductive reasoning, but it should be noted that deduction is only a method for reasoning to particulars once the universal or principle is known. Since true knowledge to Plato is of ideas—universals, principles, standards—it cannot be arrived at by deduction but rather by the dialectic.

The other method for arriving at truth by reason may be called the Aristotelian. It is the induc­tive method; in its extended and elaborated form we know it as the scientific method. The procedure is to reason from the particular to the general or universal. Aristotle provided for this method in his metaphysics by maintaining that form is joined to matter in actu­ality. To put it another way, the particular articulation of matter, such as shape, is given to it by pre-existing form. The forms are eternal, or they derive from or partake of the enduring. It fol­lows, then, that one might gain a knowledge of the universal order by a study of particulars, by the classification of them according to common traits, by the codification of regularities, and by the descrip­tion of the laws which may be in­duced from many instances. Of course, the reduction of this method to a simply stated formula did not occur until the modern era.

The Objective Nature of Reality

A third insight is that this rational order in the universe is objective. To put it more deeply, there is a reality which exists in­dependently of human knowledge of it. Reality is something we come to know because it exists, not something which comes into existence when we take cogni­zance of it. The following, which Boas affirms of Plato, could be said with equal validity of virtu­ally every philosopher in the Western tradition: Plato believed “that the nature of things is whatever it is independently of our knowledge of it. He is far from being a subjectivist in his metaphysics. We discover natures; we do not produce them either by our powers of observation or by our methods of inquiry.”6

Now, rationalists have usually held that knowledge of objective reality is possible because there is a congruity between mind and re­ality. The relationship can be simply stated in this way: reality is ultimately rational; man is a rational being; therefore, man can know reality. But the important point here is objectivity. The ob­jectivity of the universe makes possible public truth about it, that is, truth which transcends any subjective view about it. Opinions may differ because men are prone to err, but one opinion is not as good as another, nor does the number of men who hold a particular view affect its validity, so long as there is an objective re­ality to which truth pertains.

Cause and Effect

A fourth insight of the West­ern tradition of philosophy is that cause and effect operate in the universe and are inseparably linked together. As this insight applies to human action it means this: a given act will have a given effect, other things being equal. That is, if one plants corn, corn stalks will come up, provided the conditions are right, of course. If the corn is not weeded, weeds will choke out the corn and reduce the harvest. In short, there are pre­dictable and even inevitable con­sequences which follow from any line of behavior.

Given the insights discussed above, the relationship between cause and effect can be rationally explained. There is an order in the universe; it is an order in which effect follows cause; that is the nature of things. Since the universe is objective, the effect of an action is not altered by the in­tent of the actor. It happened that I set out and cultivated some tomato plants. My intention was to have red or pink tomatoes, but the plants were the kind that pro­duced tomatoes that were yellow when ripe. Hence, the tomatoes were yellow ones. Of course, Ev­eryman acts upon the premise that effect follows cause in simple matters, else he is accounted a fool by his neighbors and will most certainly have to be taken care of by others. But cause and effect are more difficult to dis­cern in complex and subtle mat­ters, and, as we shall see, a great many people have been led away from this insight. The insight has it that effect follows cause regard­less of the complexity of the phe­nomena or the subtlety of the op­eration.

The Fixed Nature of Things and Social Implications Thereof

A fifth insight is that every­thing has a nature, that this na­ture is fixed and immutable. In­deed, as I have already suggested, this was the central premise up­on which the philosophical quest was based. The quest for the na­ture of things led to or made pos­sible many of the other insights. The point is repeated here so that the implications may be drawn from it in a particular direction. This work is primarily a social study. Truths about the physical and metaphysical universe are tangential to it and bear upon it only as they have been brought to bear upon it, or as the universe is one, and social relations are an integral part of it. At any rate, the social implications are of greatest concern here, and we will now focus upon them.

Virtually the whole of Western philosophy through the eighteenth century of our era has been es­sentialist. The quest for and elab­oration of the nature of things is writ large in the pages of its his­tory. From our vantage point, this search and quest culminated in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, though some of the im­plications have continued to be drawn out. There have always been social applications which could be and to some extent were made of the resultant knowledge. But never was it done on such a scale and with such effect as in the Ages of Reason and Enlight­enment. Thus, it will be appro­priate from every angle to focus upon this most recent time for drawing out the social applica­tions of the doctrines about the nature of things.

The Laws of Nature

In this last age of philosophy before ideology began its take­over of thought, social thought proceeded from a conception of the nature of the universe and of man. The fundamental character of the universe, to thinkers of the seventeenth and eighteenth cen­turies, was its lawfulness. The visible universe was sustained by underlying laws. This was no new insight, but it was given new con­clusive proofs by Galileo, Kepler, Leibniz, and Newton. Everywhere thinkers looked, they saw regu­larity and proportion—the bal­ance of the seasons, the plenitude of life, the variety of scenery, the predictability of the operation of the universe. The planets moved with predictability in their or­bits; the earth made its rotation each day, its revolution each year. All things had their seasons, cy­cles, and natures. Law pervaded reality, and extended outward to touch every relationship and thing.

Man has a nature, these think­ers saw, is participant in a law­ful order, has a predetermined place in the scheme of things. There are many ways to look at human nature. The distinguish­ing feature which has usually been focused upon is the rational­ity of man. He alone of all crea­tion is a thinker by nature, ca­pable of acting after having taken thought, rather than acting upon instinct; capable of knowing the universe of cause and effect, of law and order, and making calcu­lations in terms of this knowl­edge; capable of knowing himself and what is appropriate to him. Man also has a discernible physi­cal nature: he is bifurcated, bi­pedal, mammalian, has a certain form toward which he moves, and when he has arrived at it may be called mature. He is subject to the laws of the universe and of his own nature.

Voltaire put it this way: “It would be very singular that all nature and all the stars should obey eternal laws, and that there should be one little animal five feet tall which, despite these laws, could always act as suited its own caprice.”7 This may be taken to mean, in part, that man is a lim­ited being, limited in that he must act in conformity with physical laws in order to attain his ends, limited by the fact that he is mor­tal to a relatively short life, lim­ited by his residence in time and place, and so on.

The Nature of Man

Eighteenth century thinkers were more apt than not to be op­timists; therefore, they were more likely to put emphasis upon pos­sibilities suggested by human na­ture. The true nature of man was revealed in the mature and ful­filled individual, in the man who had fully developed his powers of reasoning, in the virtuous man who exemplified the virtues of Morality, Justice, and Piety. Above all, human nature was fulfilled and made manifest in a life of order, proportion, and harmony in imitation of the Divine order.8

Thinkers saw, too, that there is a natural order for human rela­tions, that there is in the nature of things an implicit social order. They found it by looking into the nature of things. Just as men and the universe have a nature, so do political relations, economic rela­tions, social relations, and so on. Some conceive of human institu­tions as infinitely variable, of con­stitutions as arbitrary creations, of laws as products of the imag­ination. Not so the thinkers of the eighteenth century. Indeed, theirs was no new insight. Aristotle had seen that every government must be either of the nature of a mon­archy, an aristocracy, or a democ­racy. These forms can be com­bined or mixed, as was done in the case of the American Republic, but no other forms can be made. That is just the way things are.

The Nature of Government

There are natural laws for the relations among men and nations. These laws are antecedent to and take precedence over all of man’s attempts to make laws. As Mon­tesquieu declared, “Laws in their broadest sense are the necessary relations which are derived from the nature of things…. Before there were any enacted laws, just relations were possible. To say that there is nothing just or un­just excepting that which positive laws command or forbid is like saying that before one has drawn a circle, all of its radii were not equal.”9

Locke’s doctrine of natural rights—the right to life, liberty, and property—was founded in the nature of man and the universe. As one writer describes Locke’s position: “There are natural rights of man which existed be­fore all foundations of social and political organizations; and in view of these the real function and purpose of the state consists in admitting such rights into its order and in preserving and guar­anteeing them thereby.”¹º

The marvel of all this, at least to social thinkers in the eight­eenth century, was that an ex­amination of the nature of gov­ernment tended to indicate that it was suited to perform just those functions, and only those func­tions, which would maintain life, liberty, and property. That is, if government used force to punish aggressors, a function to which its nature is suited, then liberty would prevail. Governments need not concern themselves with other interventions, for natural law will operate best and most effi­ciently in the absence of govern­ment action. Thus, the physiocrats and Adam Smith showed that eco­nomic behavior is governed by laws which derive from human nature and the nature of the uni­verse, that these laws do not need to be enforced by governments, and that great harm will result if governments act in contraven­tion of them. Just so, systems of natural morality were set forth, natural education, and so forth. As these ideas were implemented in Great Britain, the United States, and elsewhere, freedom re­placed compulsion in numerous activities and the area where vol­untary activity had free play was greatly extended.

Man Defies Nature at His Own Risk and Peril

A sixth, and final, insight of Western thinkers has to do with creativity. In the deepest sense, men do not create, according to this tradition. Men can only re­produce, discover, represent, imi­tate, copy, and report. Reality is not plastic, to be shaped as human beings will. It is absolute, fixed, immutable. Deep sanctions against presumptive efforts at human in­terference have been embodied in myths, preserved in scriptures, and set forth in treatises. Man is neither god nor demigod, and cre­ativity is in the province of the gods, as pagans would have it, or the province of God.

A jaded and presumptuous gen­eration of men have found this lim­itation intolerable. The study of history reveals that men who had no thought of creating out of the void, as it were, found great joy in what was possible for them to do. Who would surpass Kepler’s exhilaration at discovering laws in the universe? Who can write better music than Mozart’s imita­tion of the harmony and order that underlies nature? Has there been nobler sculpture than Michel­angelo’s representation of Moses? Thinkers were exuberant, not in­hibited, who discovered laws of human relations, and bade men to live in accord with them. The pessimism, malaise of spirit, and joylessness of contemporary would-be creators may be proof enough of the futility of such presump­tion. In the Western tradition of thought, reality exists; man learns to live in harmony with it or suf­fers the consequences of his fail­ure.

The next article in this series will concern “Cutting Loose from Reality.”

 

—FOOTNOTES—

1 George Boas, Rationalism in Greek Philosophy (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1961), p. 8.

2 Ibid., p. 1.

3 Ibid., p. 5.

4 H. D. F. Kitto, The Greeks (Bal­timore: Penguin Books, 1951), pp. 191­92.

5 Quoted in Arthur Koestler, The Sleepwalkers (New York: Macmillan, 1959), pp. 393-94.

6 Boas, op. cit., p. 141.

7 Quoted in Ernst Cassirer, The Phi­losophy of the Enlightenment (Boston: Beacon Press, copyright Princeton Uni­versity Press, 1951), p. 251.

8 See Basil Willey, The Eighteenth Century Background (New York: Co­lumbia University Press, 1950), pp. 71­73.

9 Quoted in Cassirer, op. cit., p. 243.

¹0 Ibid. p. 250.


  • Clarence Carson (1926-2003) was a historian who taught at Eaton College, Grove City College, and Hillsdale College. His primary publication venue was the Foundation for Economic Education. Among his many works is the six-volume A Basic History of the United States.