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Monism as Connecting Religion and Science A Man of Science

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The following lecture on Monism is an informal address delivered extemporaneously on October 9, 1892, at Altenburg, on the seventy-fifth anniversary of the "Naturforschende Gesellschaft des Osterlandes." The immediate occasion of it was a previous address delivered by Professor Schlesinger of Vienna on "Scientific Articles of Faith." This philosophical discourse contained, with reference to the weightiest and most important problems of scientific investigation, much that was indisputable; but it also contained some assertions that challenged immediate rejoinder and a statement of the opposite view. As I had for thirty years been very closely occupied with these problems of the philosophy of nature, and had set forth my convictions with respect to them in a number of writings, a wish was expressed by several members of the Congress that on this occasion I should give a summary account of these. It was in compliance with this wish that the following "Scientific Confession of Faith" was uttered. The substance of it, as written from recollection on the day after its delivery, first appeared in the Altenburger Zeitung of 19th October 1892. This was reproduced, with one or two philosophical additions, in the November number of the Freie Bühne für den Entwickelungskampf der Zeit (Berlin). In its present form the Altenburg address is considerably enlarged, and some parts have been more fully worked out. In the notes (p. 9 I) several burning questions of the present day have been dealt with from the monistic point of view.

The purpose of this candid confession of monistic faith is twofold. First, it is my desire to give expression to that rational view of the world which is being forced upon us with such logical rigour by the modern advancements in our knowledge of nature as a unity, a view in reality held by almost all unprejudiced and thinking men of science, although but few have the courage (or the need) to declare it openly. Secondly, I would fain establish thereby a bond between religion and science, and thus contribute to the adjustment of the antithesis so needlessly maintained between these, the two highest spheres in which the mind of man can exercise itself; in monism the ethical demands of the soul are satisfied, as well as the logical necessities of the understanding.

The rising flood of pamphlets and books published on this subject, demonstrates that such a natural union of faith and knowledge, such a reasonable reconciliation of the feelings and the reason, are daily becoming a more pressing necessity for the educated classes. In North America (in Chicago), there has been published for several years a weekly journal devoted to this purpose: The Open Court: A Weekly Journal devoted to the Work of Conciliating Religion and Science. Its worthy editor, Dr. Paul Carus (author of The Soul of Man, 1891), devotes also to the same task a quarterly journal under the title The Monist. It is in the highest degree desirable that so worthy endeavours to draw together the empirical and speculative views of nature, realism and idealism, should have more attention and encouragement than they have hitherto received, for it is only through a natural union of the two that we can approach a realisation of the highest aim of mental activity-the blending of religion and science in monism....