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and there are some books that should THE SECRET OF KNOWLEDGE not be treated in that way at all,
The man who should read through the illustration just given does give an encyclopaedia from beginning to us a hint how to tackle the moun
end—if such a thing were humanly tain of two thousand books. Where
possible would not necessarily nor we are dealing with an immense num
probably emerge a wise or educated ber of facts, and there are unhap
man. He would be far more likely pily more facts in the problems of
to emerge a muddle-headed one. Wisthe war even than you will find in
dom does not depend upon the numyour encyclopaedic dictionary — we ber of fact
ber of facts a man knows, but upon can only find our way amongst them
how he applies those facts to the and see the bearing that they have
problems of life or the conclusions upon our difficulty by having the
that he draws from them. A man problem in our mind before we go
might have memorized, for instance, to the books. We must know what
the names and length of reign of it is we want to know.
every sovereign of whom written recWe must either have a "working ords have any trace, and yet obvihypothesis," of what the true solu- ously this mass of historical “knowltion of a difficulty is, and then go edge” would not of itself be of the to the definite facts bearing on it faintest use in helping to solve the to see whether those facts confirm problems arising out of the war. A our own notions (as when we go smaller number of historical facts unto the dictionary to see whether we derstood in such a way as to make were right or wrong as to our idea us realize how human society works, of the meaning of a word which we as to emphasize the underlying genused), or we must go to a source of eral laws, are of more value as a knowledge to fill a gap (as when we guide to political conduct than an go to the dictionary to find out the accumulation of undigested facts meaning of a word which is new to
which, because of their incoherence, us). This latter plan, which is per
are often meaningless. haps the better educational method, might be described as keeping a num
The same is true, of course, in all ber of questions in suspense in the departments of knowledge, but esp mind.
cially so of wisdom in such things as
relations with one's fellows, of social With these leading questions definitely in his mind, the student
conduct to which sphere international should keep an eye open for all
relationships ultimately belong. It is knowledge bearing on these ques
a commonplace of observation that tions. Without some such methods,
relatively unlettered people are often we shall get hopelessly lost in a maze
more sensible in their conduct and of puzzling facts, we shall never see in the management of their lives the truths that matter, "never see than many whose knowledge of facts the forest for the trees.”
greatly exceeds theirs.
to an absurdity, but is equivalent to No. 1, hoping in years perhaps to saying that the mass of men hade have got through a few hundred! no moral responsibility for their Well, the thing is not quite so gravest acts.
hopeless as it looks at first glance. WHAT IS OUR OPINION TO BE WORTH? It is certain that to read the
So the responsibility is ours and whole two thousand books we have we cannot shed it. Our opinion de referred to is a physical impossibilcides. What is that opinion to be ity, and also that if one only reads worth?
a small proportion, and a very thin Is it to be, speaking quite frankly, proportion is all that one can read blind and ignorant, guided by the
-facts very essential to the right temper of the moment, hypnotized by
understanding of the subject may some passing feature which may mo
escape you. mentarily have caught its attention
Well, you only read a very tiny to the exclusion of deeper and more
proportion of the very excellent and permanent factors ?
interesting encyclopaedic dictionary Or will it have grasped such a
that you have upon your shelves. general understanding of the broad
Yet you attach great value to its
completeness, and it would be all but outstanding issues as to disentangle
useless to you if those hundreds of essentials from non-essentials, to know what it wants and why it
pages which you are never likely to
read were not included. Anyone who wants it, able at least to avoid a fundamentally vicious settlement
attempted so to read it through containing the seeds of further trou
would find, like the Scotchman that, ble in the future, and able instead
though interesting, it was discon
nected in its argument. You get to lay at least the sound founda
your encyclopaedic dictionary only tions of a better society?
when you know what it is you want So we cannot just run away from
to know, have a definite question the difficulty of having to know some
that needs answer, a definite probthing of these very complex prob
lem to solve, as when, a man having lems. Yet how can the average busy
average busy sued you for libel because you have man—who after all makes up pub
applied a certain word to him, you lic opinion—in the often very press
desire to know what the authorities ing and harassing cares of business
have to say concerning its meaning. and the necessity of providing for With such a stimulus to research it his family, able to devote a scanty is astonishing how rapidly you will leisure to his public responsibilities,
ties: extract from a thousand pages just tackle a subject, the bibliography of
the twenty lines of information that which embraces two thousand books,
you need. which, if he had nothing else to do, years of study would not enable him HOW TO TACKLE A SUBJECT to master? How is he even to set Now although no real book should about it? Does he start with book be treated quite like a dictionar
Usec. T F 7:55 E IL
LTOber of action is FREE the mind.
With these desde questions de finitely in his ad the student should keep an eye open for all knowledge bearing on these goestions. Without some such methods
to We shall get hopelessly lost in a maze me ne of puzzling facts, we shall never see the truths that matter, "never the forest for the trees."
TRAME THE PROBLEMS FIRST “What do we understand by soliNow there is no trouble in know- darity?” ing "what it is we want to know" The handbook in question gives a in the present war; no lack of ques- · list of books likely to aid in the antions demanding answers, no lack of swering of those questions and serves working hypotheses as to how the as a guide generally to this method thing has come about, or of plans of study in the problems indicated in as to how it can be prevented in its title. the future. And if we are to make
A SAMPLE PROBLEM real use of those two thousand books, instead of attacking them in such a
Or, to take a problem of less genway that we come from the reading
eral nature: We may be uneasy in of a few more confused and con
our minds concerning the position of founded than we were before we be
Russia after this war. Is it likely gan on them, we must do what I to constitute a danger? We may have suggested. We must frame the
have heard of the possibility of a question first, then find out which of
Cossack Europe and wonder whether the books or which part of a given
a powerful Germany may not be necbook is most pertinent to it; and
essary to offset it. Is the Russian then read not “at large” but with peril a real peril? the one idea of throwing light on Well, a glance at the contents of the particular problem we desire to a book like “The War and Democelucidate.
racy”* would show us that it conThe method of keeping a number tains a chapter occupying only forty of questions in suspense in the mind pages on the subject of Russia and is that which with certain modifica- dealing briefly with that particular tions forms the basis of the outlines question; and at the end of that of study embraced in the hand- chapter we shall find a very full list books “ The Foundations of Na- of books on Russia and its problems, tional Greatness”* and “Force and with a summary of each from which Faith.”+ The first study in the we could gather whether it dealt former book raises a fundamental is- with the particular problem we had sue by the very provocative question: in hand. We should emerge from “Are we worth fighting for?” render a course of reading on that subject ing that question more definite by the with perhaps a slightly modified nosubsidiary questions: "For what end tion, a new working hypothesis of does a nation exist?” “Towards our relation to the rest of the world. whom has the nation duties to dis- But if you should get into discuscharge?” “What is the difference sion with an anti-Russian he might between unity and uniformity?" tell you that Russia had always been
# W. C. Braithwaite: "Foundations of National Greatness." Natl. Adult School Union, Central Bldgs., Westminister, 3d.
+ G. Currie Martin, “Force and Faith."
R. W. Seton-Watson, J. Dover Wilson, Alfred E. Zimmern, Arthur Greenwood, "The War and Democracy," Macmillan, 1916.
aggressive, “crafty,” unreliable, and that on such and such an occasion she betrayed us. What is the historical truth? Again you will find that you can with a little practice rapidly make even a big book of history deliver up its information on that one subject, if you read it for that one purpose; later you may have to go to the same book to find the answer to an entirely different question.
HOW TO USE THE BOOKS Now, if this process is repeated as and when definite questions present themselves, if a book or group of books is read first for the light thrown on one definite problem or difficulty and all that it says on other points disregarded; and then the same book or books for the next question, and so on, you may not have read every page of the two thousand books, but you will have won from them most of what they
have to tell you on just those things which, since you have to settle them, you most desire light and guidance.
In no other way can so vast a mass of facts and learning be laid under tribute by the average busy man.
It should of course be remembered that in order thoroughly to deal w any one issue you must to some extent include all other issues. Thus, present Balkan politics go back to the Crimean War and that was concerned with England's hold on India and so on, but the very fact of discovering that it is not possible to deal fully with one issue without bringing in others, helps us to realize “how it works,” to see the relation of one fact in history to another, to understand the real nature of international relations, and of human society generally. And this understanding of the underlying general law, so essential if we are to apply our knowledge to the solution of actual problems of politics, could never have been obtained by trying to swallow whole an incoherent hodge-podge La of disconnected facts.
Now, as already hinted, the problems of this war are only too plain. We started out with the hope that it was to be the war that would end war! Is that possible? It is surely the fundamental question that we all have in our minds. Is this really to be the last war? In other words, (1) Is a Society of Nations possible!
From that major question arises the secondary one whose answer alone can give us an opinion. Is conflict between nations inevitable owing to
NOTE.—In view of the fact that American students might not find it easy to procure some of the hand-books mentioned in this article, especially those written by Mr. Braithwaite and Mr. G. Currie Martin, the Editors of The World Court venture to suggest that the methods of study recommended by Mr. Angell might be advantageously employed with other text-books, published in America and therefore more accessible.
Books that would be particularly useful are:
1. Nationalism, War and Society, by Edward Krehbiel, Ph.D., with an introduction by Norman Angell. Pages XXXV, 276. Published by Macmillan, 1916.
2. Christianity and International Peaco, by Charles Edward Jefferson. Pages 287. Published by Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1915.
Of course the book "The War and Democracy," by Seton-Watson and others, can be readily obtained in the United States; Mr. Angell's hand-book and others specified can doubtless be imported without much delay.