A Philosopher’s Point of View

Do you ever wonder what modern-day philosophers are thinking about? What ideas they’re coming up with?

For some years, I’ve been receiving a terrific little magazine called SCIENCE OF MIND. In the January 1961 issue, there appeared a short but very good little piece written by a modern doctor of philosophy. He was formerly associated with the University of Chicago and University of California. He’s Doctor Stephen C. Tornay and he puts it this way:

“Confucius set up as the supreme rule in human relations the principle of “li” which means propriety. All members of society were expected to observe what is proper or fitting.

“To my mind,” writes Doctor Tornay, “there is a deeper principle which should mutually interlock every member of a good society.

“It is the spirit of service. And by service, I mean any act whereby we make our contribution toward the upbuilding of life around us and in us.”

But then Doctor Tornay asks, “Is such service the connecting link of our society? I’m afraid not. What we see so often is the using of other people for private benefit, treating them for the advantage of the doer, mostly for material profit. Exploitation rather than service pervades much of the world of commerce, finance, advertising, entertainment, politics, some of the professions and even marriage.”

Against this abuse, Kant once said, “Act so as to treat humanity, whether in your own person or in any other person, always as an end, never as merely a means.”

Not, ‘what can I get out of him?’, but ‘what can I do for him?’ should be the question.

“What a new era it would be if every businessman, every factory worker, every farmer, all people engaged in any occupation, would be led by the inspiring motive: I want to give the best service in all my dealings with men. I want to add my might toward the fuller development of any fellow human I meet.”

The Doctor goes on to say that, “To serve well, it is extremely important to choose the right vocation, corresponding to our deepest interest and inclinations. Service given along these lines will not only be cooperation with God, but constant joy also.”

But what about money? Money is an expression of appreciation for service. In an orderly society, it should accompany service as something additive. And, as a rule, real service does not fail to earn its renumeration.

The true reward of self-giving service, however, is higher. It is the attainment of our own best self.

“Help thy brother’s boat across and lo! Thine own boat too has reached the yonder shore.”

Well, that’s what at least one modern philosopher is thinking and writing about and I thought it was very good. It is impossible to render real service without being repaid in full and more. You’ll always find that those who have the least and complain the most about their lot in life, are those who are trying so hard to “get.” They have forgotten, or never learned, that first you have “to give.”

It is difficult to give fully of one’s self without thought of gain.

As Beecher put it, “Selfishness is that detestable vice which no one will forgive in others, and no one is without in himself.” But we can try.

Leave a Comment