The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

February 11, 2016

February 11, 1919

Paul Carus (July 18, 1852 to February 11, 1919) was a German scholar, receiving a doctorate at Tubingen University. He sought to illuminate the relation, unity, of science and religion. Carus emigrated to the US seeking a liberal environment. He became a managing editor at Open Court Publishing Company, whose founder, a rich industrialist, had ambitions similar to his own. He married one of the founder's daughters. Carus continued his own work while editing The Monist, a periodical which published, under his aegis,

scientists like Mach, Boltzmann, and Haeckel,  and scholars like "Veblen, Hilbert, Ostwald, Julian Huxley, Lombroso, and Piaget."  His wife continued his editorship after Carus died and the list of those published under their control is enormously impressive. I am quoting an Oxford University Press article on The Monist, and they list:

C. S. Peirce, John Dewey, Henri PoincarĂ©, Ernst Cassirer, Gottlob Frege, A. O.  Lovejoy, Bertrand Russell, T. S. Eliot, Charles Hartshorne,  and Otto Neurath; all published in The Monist.

Carus was certain that there could be no real conflict between science and religion, that both were evolving and part of that evolution was the vivacity of all parts of the world. Of course, this would include cats. In this example he notices:

If a cat sees a dog approach, it will nimbly climb the nearest tree. The cat knows the dog, the tree, and its own facility in climbing; and the cat's action is determined by the significance of the sense-impressions, which originated under past experiences. The total amount of these memory-structures which enable the cat to interpret present impressions and utilize them for adjusting itself towards the surrounding world is the cat's soul. That the cat jumps toward the tree and not in any other direction is a quality which is not measurable in the scales of the chemist or by the methods of the physicist. It is not a material thing nor is it a force. It is purely a matter of form. That which determines the directions of the cat's motion is the significance of the mental pictures in the cat's mind.


Our quotation is from God: An Enquiry Into the Nature of Man's Highest Ideal and a Solution of the Problem from the Standpoint of Science (1908).

Paul Carus saw any divisions that thinkers propose, like mind and body, phenomena and noumena, mind and matter, just complicated the unity of reality, the joyous oneness, unnecessarily.

In his book Fundamental Problems: The Method of Philosophy as a Systematic Arrangement (1889) Carus points out the unity he sees this way:

"Try all things, hold fast by that which is good;" it is the foundation of the Reformation, which simply illustrated the axiom that every man should be able to give a reason for the faith that is in him; it is the great principle of Descartes; it is the fundamental axiom of modern science.‎

Paul Carus is one of the more accurate of Spinoza's followers. Carus supported C. S. Pierce at a time when that philosopher was not appreciated. 


No comments: