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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

Press Notices of the First and Second Editions — Thoughts on Ultimate Problems — Being a Synoptic Statement of Two Theodicies

page 45

Press Notices of the First and Second Editions

Thoughts on Ultimate Problems

Being a Synoptic Statement of Two Theodicies

There is packed within this pamphlet of twenty pages sufficient matter to fill almost as many volumes, if the ideas were amplified and explained after the manner of philosophers of the ordinary stamp. Mr. Frankland is not, however, a philosopher of the ordinary stamp. He thinks deeply, but he does not write diffusely. His actuarial experience has doubtless taught him the value of exact thinking, and has also impressed upon him the desirableness of precise and concise statement For the ordinary reader, a more diluted mixture than this would be better; but thinkers all the world over will hail the present work as a logical and stimulating contribution to the literature of idealistic philosophy. The author bases his reasoning on the theory that all existence is necessarily psychic. "What appear to us as the relations of 'before' and 'after' are really the logical relations in the constituents of an all-inclusive Personal Intellect which is behind Time." It is engrossing to follow the chain of argument and discover how by pure reason the author arrives at conclusions as to the origin of evil and the necessity for a Redeemer, which are, in the main, in accord with orthodox theology, including the ultimate triumph of good over evil. Mr. Frankland breaks away from the common view, however, in holding that evil came into the world by sheer force of necessity and "without foresight of any of its effects." We prefer the view that evil was introduced deliberately, as the result of the volition of the All-Mind, and with the object of working out beneficent results; but Mr. Frankland maintains his thesis with great ability. As illustrative of his bold and original thinking, we may quote his remark on how history proves the truth of the Hebrew story that the fruit of the tree of knowledge is fraught with disaster. "The ethical course," he says, "has not been continuously upward, but—aside from the saving influence of the Redeemer—largely downward, and precisely as a result of the page 46 almost continuously upward movement of human [unclear: intelligen] and civilisation," It has frequently been remarked that [unclear: slav] is more tolerable among savages than among civilised people and Mr, Frankland points out that the ant is the only [unclear: on] among the lower animals that has developed sufficient [unclear: intelli] genee to enslave its fellows. The work before us is the [unclear: out] come of a correspondence between Mr. Frankland and Mr. R. W. Weeks, and the theodicy of the latter gentleman [unclear: is] given in small type in the margin. We do not enter on [unclear: the] enticing task of comparing and contrasting the two theodicies, but can heartily commend the study to those who are interested in ultimate problems, and whose intellectual digestion is equal to the assimilation of "strong meat."

Extract from the "Manawatu Evening Standard," January 9, 1905.

The Evening Post, in referring to Mr, F. W. Frankland's pamphlet, "Thoughts on Ultimate Problems : Being a Synoptic Statement of Two Theodicies," says: "The name of Frank-land has long been associated in the minds of students with metaphysical enquiry and investigation into the theories of transcendental mathematics, and the present treatise, which the author describes as setting forth his 'speculations, tentative and provisional,' though too technical for the ordinary reader, will be full of interest and suggestive thought to those whose studies lie in these directions. Mr. Frankland has been for some time in communication with a fellow-student, Mr. R. W. Weeks, whose (tentative) theodicy is set out in the margin and discussed in the text. The author tells us at the outset that he holds the fundamental theorem of Berkeleyan Idealism—that all existence is necessarily psychic—'as an indubitably proven fact, being assured indeed that the bare statement of any alternative view involves a misuse of language.' But, he suggests, the distinguished idealist 'was not quite right in denying to the so-called primary qualities of matter an existence outside our minds, though, of course, he was quite right to deny the existence of these or any other qualities outside all minds.' Recent discoveries in physics lead him to suggest the possibility that 'both gross matter and also aether will be banished, in the name of the principle of parcimony . . . from the universe as having any existence distinct from electric page 47 charge. ... I venture the surmise . . . that the same principle . . . will yet banish matter, æther, and electricity, in favour of space, the varied and changing geometries of which will be found adequate to account for all the phenomena of the material world.' Here Mr. Frankland verges on mysticism, and elsewhere we find him quoting with respect mystics such as Harris and Noyes. The tract is the work of an original student who strives to reach foundation truths, and the author's application of his theories to theology and practical sociology will interest philosophic thinkers, however they may dissent from his views."

With regard to the pamphlet we may mention that it em-bodies mathematical results which Mr. Frankland submitted to the American Association for the Advancement of Science Borne years ago, and which were summarised in the Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society. Of course the applications of these mathematical results, made in this pamphlet to metaphysical and theological problems, are not to be understood as made in a rigorous, dogmatic spirit, but merely as tentative speculations.

Extract from the "Melbourne Argus," July 1, 1905.

There are, and must always be, many inquiring minds which are not content to leave undiscussed the fundamental questions underlying experience, knowledge, science, and theology. Neither agnosticism nor dogma satisfy their craving for a light understanding of reality—of themselves, and of the universe. To such metaphysical intellects a strong appeal will be made by a little pamphlet recently published in New Zealand. It is entitled "Thoughts on Ultimate Problems; Being a Synoptic Statement of Two Theodicies" (Wellington : W. J. Lankshear). The author, Mr. F. W. Frankland, has evidently devoted much time and thought to transcendental mathematics and transcendental philosophy. His pamphlet is the offspring of a long correspondence with a kindred spirit, Mr. R. W. Weeks. In the margin are given Mr, Weeks' tentative metaphysical conclusions, making up the first of the two theodicies. The text, which is in form a commentary on the views of Mr. Weeks, presents a concise statement of Mr. Frankland's own theories, His theodicy is, he admits, to a large extent provisional, and, to prevent any misconception of his attitude, he develops it page 48 under the heading of "Speculations." It is, however, ground upon the basic theorem of Berkeleyan Idealism, that all [unclear: ex] ence ia necessarily psychic, a theorem which Mr. [unclear: Franklan] holda as an "indubitably proven fact," being certain [unclear: th] "mentality is the summum genus of which all possible [unclear: existene] are the species." It is the mental experiences of God, [unclear: th] Universal Ego, which constitute the totality of [unclear: existenc]" What appear to us as the relations of 'before' and [unclear: 'after] are really the logical relations in the constituents of an all-[unclear: in] clusive Personal Intellect which is behind Time." Starting from this position—a position common to modern [unclear: person] idealists—Mr. Frankland works out a system to explain [unclear: in] origin of evil, the need of a Redeemer, the final triumph [unclear: o] good, and even the existence of a devil, Satan or [unclear: Ahrima] Generally speaking, his metaphysical reasoning brings [unclear: his] into agreement with orthodox theology, though it is a [unclear: litt] surprising to find him asserting that evil was introduced [unclear: in] the world "without foresight of any of its effects," simply [unclear: l] "dialectical necessity."

Printed by Ballantyne Hahson & Co. Edinburgh & London.