The Spike or Victoria University College Review June 1918
Club Reports — Free Discussion Club
Free Discussion Club
"Life is a chase,
And Man the hunter always following on,
With hounds of rushing thought and fiery sense
Some hidden truth or beauty."
Life is certainly very much of a chase at Victoria College. We chase time up the hill to lectures; we chase examinations by the method vulgarly known as "swat"; we chase balls round the football field, tennis court, or gynasium. So that we seem to have very little time for that supreme chase for which Universities are founded—the pursuit of Truth. Now, it is given to very few of us to arrive at truth by ourselves alone; it usually arises from conflict of opinion. Such is the ideal at which our Free Discussion Club strives, and, if we cannot claim to have discovered any great or hidden truth, the very keen interest which continues to be displayed in our meetings shows that the true spirit of the truth-seeker is being kept alive in our College.
There was a large attendance of students at the opening meeting, April 19th. Professor Hunter led the discussion on the question, "What is the chief end of man?" He considered it mainly from the point of view of de page 40 velopment. Man has always been from the beginning of time seeking to know his final purpose, i.e., his place in the Universe. His philosophy, or his view of life always determines his answer to this question. The answer of the Shorter Catechism, "To Glorify God and enjoy Him for ever," is capable of different interpretations. To-day its interpretation is usually humanistic. No one's chief end is to follow the highest ideals, of which the promotion of Truth, as he sees it, is all-important. The discussion which followed chiefly centred round the question of self-sacrifice, some speakers strongly upholding Nietzsche's doctrine "love thyself," and others supporting the Christian doctrine, "Love thy neighbour."
The second discussion took place on May 3rd, and was opened by Miss Crabb, who spoke on the "Prison System." She confined herself to a description of the conditions actually prevailing in one of our largest prisons (Mt. Eden Gaol), and maintained that the methods of discipline employed were arbitrary and unjust, and unnecessarily harsh. In the discussion following, two points of view were mainly stressed. On the one side it was urged that less harsh conditions would not serve as a deterrent to crime, while, on the other side, it was held that fear itself was no deterrent, and that more reformative treatment was necessary.
At the third meeting, May 17th, the replies from the other New Zealand University Colleges re "University Reform," were read, and it was decided to set up a sub-committee to consider the question of further action in the matter. Mr. Jenkins led the discussion on "The Religious Instinct," which he defined as an intuitive desire to do right, and a consciousness of influences external to and greater than ourselves. The way in which this religious instinct develops in the individual, he held, depends largely on environment. So that the reason for adherence to different sects is not so much doctrinal as psychological, and sectarian warfare is not, therefore, justifiable. In the discussion which followed, attempts were made to explicate the true meaning of the word "religion." Defining it from the point of view of development, some considered it originated in fear, others in awe and admiration, others in moral feelings, others in curiosity, and others in attempts to explain the causes of things. One view was expressed that religion implied a personal God, while other views were put forward widening its definition to include worship of any inspiring ideal.