CHAPTER II HAS THE PROBLEM BEEN SOLVED?
WHAT IS THE MEANING, the value, and purpose of life, and what is the highest and the eternal in life-the great reality? This is the question that Eucken would solve. Before attempting a solution of his own, he examines those that have already been offered. His discussion of these theories is remarkable for the fairness, breadth of view, sympathy, insight, and accurate knowledge that is shown. There is no superficial criticism, neither does he concern himself with the inessential details of the theories.
Jest-books tell us of a defendant against whom a claim for compensation was made by a complainant who alleged that the former's dog had bitten him. The defence was, first, that the dog was lame, blind, and toothless; second, that it had died a week before; and third, that the defendant never possessed a dog. A sensible judge would wish to be satisfied in regard to the third statement before wasting time discussing the others; if it proved to be true, then the case would be at an end. The defences of philosophical systems are often similar, and the critic is tempted to waste time discussing details when he should go to the root of the matter. Eucken does not fall into this error. His special method is to seek the idea or ideas which lie at the root of the proposed solution; if these are unsatisfactory, then he does not consider it necessary to discuss them further. Hence his work is free from the flippant and superficial argument so common to-day; he makes a fair and serious endeavour to find out the truth (if any) that is at the basis of the proposed solutions, and does not hesitate to give them their due meed of praise even though he considers them to be ultimately unsatisfactory.
Before a solution can be regarded as a satisfactory one, Eucken holds that it should satisfy certain conditions. It should offer an explanation for life which can be a firm basis for life, it must admit of the possibility of human freedom, and must release the human being from sordid motives-unless it satisfy these conditions, then it cannot be accepted as final.
The solutions of the problem of life that have been offered he considers to be five-Religion and Immanental Idealism, Naturalism, Socialism and Individualism, the first two regarding the invisible world as the reality in life, the others laying emphasis on man's life in the present world. The reader will perhaps wonder how his choice has fallen upon these systems of thought and these alone. The explanation is a simple one: he considers it necessary to deal only with those theories which can form, and have formed, bases for a whole system of life. Mere theoretical ideas of life, especially negative ideas such as those of agnosticism and scepticism, do not form such a basis, but the five chosen for discussion can, and have to some extent, posed as complete theories of life, upon which a system of life can be built.
Has Religion solved the question? If it has, then it must have done so in that which must be considered its highest form-in Christianity. Christianity has attempted the solution by placing stress upon a higher invisible world, a world in sharp contrast with the mere world of sense, and far superior to it. It unites life to a super natural world, and raises mankind above the level of the natural world. It has brought out with great clearness the contrast between the higher world and the world of sin, and has shown the need for a break with the evil in the world. It has given to man a belief in freedom, and in the necessity for a complete change of heart. It has proved a source of deliverance from the feeling, of guilt, and a comfort in suffering. Indeed, considering all the facts, there seems to be no doubt that, of all the solutions offered, religion has been the most powerful factor in the history of mankind.
Its influence would continue for