A FREE MAN'S WORSHIP 9
Throughout, Russell confuses a feature of the subject — Interest, passion, or
excitement — with a feature of the object apprehended. The "goods" that we are to
worship are not of our own making and they are not, but accidentally, goods.
There is perhaps one final criticism which concerns the "moral" that Russell
seems to derive from a free man's worship. Somehow this form of worship is
supposed to unite us with our fellow man, by way of "the tie of a common doom" (ml
53). We are supposed to be moved not to "weigh in grudging scales their merits and
demerits, but to think only of their need" (ml 53). How we might enact this advice in a
world of limited resources and time is a point about which Russell is none too clear.
However, even more unclear is how such fellow feeling follows from what he has
described. Why might we not be indifferent to the temporal fate of our fellows, in light
of the story Russell tells? In short, how does any worldly wisdom spring from
Russell's vision? I thought that the moral of the story was that in the world of things
temporal all is temporary and that we must not store our treasure there. Surely the
petty pleasures of our fellows are just as temporary as our own and must be dismissed
for that reason; or if it be argued that they are by no means temporary once they "have
become eternal by the immortality of the past" (ml 53), the same can and must be said
for our own. In short there is no principle of decision here and as Santayana says we
are left "as much in the dark as before!" (jppsm 432).
The Bulletin and other Websites
The website for Overheard in Seville is:
Articles from 1993 to the present are posted there (in unpolished form). More recent
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