Harvard: The Future


IN the tercentenary celebrations of this summer, Harvard marks the accomplishment of its process of growth. About twenty-five years for a man and about three hundred years for a university are the periods required for the attainment of mature stature. The history of Harvard is no longer to be construed primarily in terms of growth, but in terms of effectiveness.

I am talking of effectiveness in the wide world, of impress on the course of events, without which civilized humanity would not be as in fact it is. In the Cambridge of England, the first college was founded in the year 1284, and Emmanuel College in the year 1584. The English university was then grown up. Within the next one hundred and fifty years there occurred a brilliant period — the brilliant period — of European civilization. It staged a decisive episode in the drama of human life. In this episode the English university played no mean part, from Edmund Spenser and Francis Bacon at the outset to Newton and Dryden at the close. Among other things, Cambridge helped to contribute Milton, Cromwell, and Harvard University.

The term ‘European civilization’ is now a misnomer, for the centre of gravity has shifted. Civilization haunts the borders of waterways. The shores of the Mediterranean and the western coasts of Europe are cases in point. But nowadays, relatively to our capacities, the dimensions of the world have shrunk, and the Atlantic Ocean plays the same rôle as the European seas in the former centuries. The total result is that the North American shores of the Atlantic are in the central position to influence the adventures of mankind, from East to West and from North to South. The static aspects of things are measured from the meridian of Greenwich; but the world will rotate around the long line of American shores.

What is the influence of Harvard to mean in the immediate future, originating thought and feeling during the next fifty years, or during the next one hundred and fifty years? Harvard is one of the outstanding universities in the very centre of human activity. At the present moment it is magnificently equipped. It has enjoyed nigh seventy years of splendid management. A new epoch is opening in the world. There are new potentialities, new hopes, new fears. The old scales of relative quantitative importance have been inverted. New qualitative experiences are developing. And yet, beneath all the excitement of novelty, with its discard and rejection, the basic motives for human action remain, the old facts of human nature clothed in a novelty of detail. What is the task before Harvard?

It will be evident that in this summary presentation of the cultural problem the word ‘Harvard’ is to be taken partly in its precise designation of a particular institution and partly as a symbolic reference to the university system throughout the Eastern states of this country. A closely intertwined group of institutions, the outcome of analogous impulses, has in the last three hundred years gradually developed, from Charlottesville to Baltimore, from Baltimore to Boston, and from Boston to Chicago. Of these institutions some are larger and some are smaller, some are in cities and some are in country places, some are older and some are younger. But each of them has the age of the group, as moulded by this cultural impulse. The fate of the intellectual civilization of the world is to-day in the hands of this group — for such time as it can effectively retain the sceptre. And today there is no rival. The Ægean coast line had its chance and made use of it; Italy had its chance and made use of it; France, England, Germany, had their chance and made use of it. To-day the Eastern American states have their chance. What use will they make of it? The question has two answers. Once Babylon had its chance, and produced the Tower of Babel. The University of Paris fashioned the intellect of the Middle Ages. Will Harvard fashion the intellect of the twentieth century?


We cannot usefully discuss the organization of universities, considered as educational institutions, apart from a preliminary survey of the general character of human knowledge, and of some special features of modern life. Such a survey elicits perplexities which have troubled learning from the earliest days of the Greeks to the present moment. By introducing implicit assumptions in respect to these problems, it is possible to arrive at almost any doctrine respecting university organization.

In the first place, there is the division into certainty and probability. Some items we are certain about, others are matters of opinion. There is an obvious common sense about this doctrine, and its enunciation goes back to Plato. The class of certainties falls into two subdivisions. In one subdivision are certain large general truths, — for example, the multiplication table, axioms as to quantitative ‘more or less,’ — and certain æsthetic and moral presuppositions. In the other subdivision are momentary discriminations of one’s own state of mind: for example, a state of feeling — happiness at this moment; and for another example, an item of sense perception — that colored shape experienced at this moment. But recollection and interpretation are both deceitful. Thus this latter subdivision just touches certainty and then loses it. There is mere imitation of certainty.

In the class of probabilities there are to be found all our judgments as to the goings on of this world of temporal succession, except so far as these happenings are qualified by the certainties whenever they are relevant.

I repeat my affirmation that, in some sense or other, this characterization of human knowledge is indubitable. No one doubts the multiplication table; also everyone admits that a witness on the witness stand can only produce fallible evidence, which the judicial authorities endeavor to assess, again only fallibly.

The bearing of these doctrines on the procedures of education cannot be missed. In the first place: Develop intellectual activities by a knowledge of the certain truths, so far as they are largely applicable to human life. In the second place: Train the understanding of each student to assess probable knowledge in respect to those types of occurrences which for any reason will be of major importance in the exercise of his activities. In the third place: Give him adequate knowledge of the possibilities of æsthetic and moral satisfaction which are open to a human being, under conditions relevant to his future life.

So far there is no disagreement. Unfortunately, exactly at this point our difficulties commence. This is the reason why the prefatory analysis was necessary. These difficulties are best explained by a slight reference to the history of thought, stretching from Greece to William James.

Plato was a voluminous writer, and apparently all his works have come down to us. They constitute a discussion of the various types of certain knowledge, of probable knowledge, and of æsthetic and moral ideals. This discussion, viewed as elucidating the above-mentioned classification of knowledge which is to be the basis of education, was a complete failure. He failed to make clear what was certain; and where he was certain, we disagree with him. He failed to make clear the relationship of things certain to things probable; and where he thought he was clear, we disagree with him. He failed to make clear the moral and æsthetic ends of life; and where he thought he was clear, we disagree with him. No two of his dialogues are completely consistent with each other. No two modern scholars agree as to what any one dialogue exactly means. This failure of Plato is the great fact dominating the history of European thought.

Also this failure was typical. It stretches through every topic of human interest. Every single generalization respecting mathematical physics, which I was taught at the University of Cambridge during my student period from the years 1880 to 1885, has now been abandoned in the sense in which it was then held. The words are retained, but with different meanings.

The truth is that this beautiful subdivision of human knowledge, whether you make it twofold or threefold, goes up in smoke as soon as you try to fasten upon it any exact meaning. As a vague preliminary guide, it is useful. But when you trust it without reserve, it violates the conditions of human experience. The history of thought is largely concerned with the records of clear-headed men insisting that they at last have discovered some clear, adequately expressed, indubitable truths. If clear-headed men throughout the ages would only agree with each other, we might cease to be puzzled. Alas, that is a comfort denied to us.


The outcome of this brief survey is so fundamental in its relevance to education that it must be elucidated further by considering it in reference to two topics — Mathematics, and the Abiding Importance of Plato.

The science of Mathematics is the very citadel of the doctrine of certainty. It is unnecessary to bring the large developments of the subject into this discussion. Let us consider the multiplication table. This table is concerned with simple interrelations of cardinal numbers, as for example, ‘Twice three’ is ‘six.’ Nothing can be more certain. But a little question arises: What are cardinal numbers? There is no universally accepted answer to this question. In fact, it is the battle ground of a controversy. The innocent suggestions which occur to us are traps which lead us into self-contradictions or into other puzzles. The notion of number is obviously concerned with the concept of a class, or a group, of many things. It expresses the special sort of many-ness in question. Unfortunately the notion of a class is beset with ambiguities leading to logical traps. We then have recourse to the fundamental notions of logic, and again encounter a contest of dissentient opinions. Logic is the chosen resort of clear-headed people, severally convinced of the complete adequacy of their doctrines. It is such a pity that they cannot agree with each other.

Analogous perplexities arise in respect to the fundamental notions of other mathematical topics: for example, the meaning of the notions of a point, of a line, and of a straight line. There is great confidence and no agreement.

Thus the palmary instances of human certainty, Logic and Mathematics, have given way under the scrutiny of two thousand years. To-day we have less apparent ground for certainty than had Plato and Aristotle. The natural rebound from this conclusion is skepticism. Trust your reflexes, says the skeptic, and do not seek to understand. Your reflexes are the outcome of routine. Your emotions are modes of reception of the process. There is no understanding, because there is nothing to understand.

Complete skepticism involves an aroma of self-destruction. It seems as the negation of experience. It craves for an elegy on the passing of rational knowledge — the beautiful youth drowned in the Sea of Vacuity.

The large practical effect of skepticism is gross acquiescence in what is immediate and obvious. Postponement, subtle interweaving, delicacies of adjustment, wide coördinations, moral restraint, the whole artistry of civilization, all presuppose understanding. And without understanding they are meaningless.

Thus, in practice, skepticism always means some knowledge, but not too much. It is indeed evident that our knowledge is limited. But the traditional skepticism is a reaction against an imperfect view of human knowledge.

It is in respect to this limitation of knowledge that the ancient division into certainties and probabilities is so misleading. It suggests that we have a perfectly clear indication of the items in question, and are either certain or uncertain as to the existence of some definite connection between them. For example, it presupposes that we have a perfectly clear indication of the numbers 2 and 3 and 6, and are either certain or uncertain as to whether twice three is six.

The fact is the other way round. We are very vague as to the meanings of 1, and 2, and 3, and 5, and 6. But we want to determine these meanings so as to preserve the relations, ‘six is one more than five’ and ‘twice three is six.’ In other words, we are more clear as to the interrelations of the numbers than as to their separate individual characters. We use the interrelations as a step toward the determinations of the things related.

This is an instance of the general truth, that our progress in clarity of knowledge is primarily from the composition to its ingredients. The very meaning of the notion of definition is the use of composition for the purpose of indication.

The important characterization of knowledge is in respect to clarity and vagueness.

The reason for this dominance of vagueness and clarity in respect to the problem of knowledge is that the world is not made up of independent things, each completely determinate in abstraction from all the rest. Contrast is of the essence of character. In its happy instances contrast is harmony; in its unhappy instances contrast is confusion. Our experience is dominated by composite wholes, more or less clear in the focus, and more or less vague in the penumbra, and with the whole shading off into umbral darkness which is ignorance. But throughout the whole, alike in the focal regions, the penumbral regions, and the umbral regions, there is baffling mixture of clarity and vagueness.

The primary weapon is analysis. And analysis is the evocation of insight by the hypothetical suggestions of thought, and the evocation of thought by the activities of direct insight. In this process the composite whole, the interrelations, and the things related, concurrently emerge into clarity.

One of the most interesting facts in the psychology of young students at the present time is the abiding interest of the platonic writings. From the point of view of displaying the sharp distinction between the certainties and the opinions involved in human knowledge, Plato failed. But he gave an unrivaled display of the human mind in action, with its ferment of vague obviousness, of hypothetical formulation, of renewed insight, of discovery of relevant detail, of partial understanding, of final conclusion, with its disclosure of deeper problems as yet unsolved. There we find exposed to our view the problem of education as it should dominate a university. Knowledge is a process, adding content and control to the flux of experience. It is the function of a university to initiate its students in the exercise of this process of knowledge.


The problem before Harvard is set by the termination of an epoch in European culture. For three centuries European learning has employed itself in a limited definite task. It was a necessary task and an important task. Scholars, in science and in literature, have been brilliantly successful. But they have finished that task — at least for the time, although every task is resumed after the lapse of some generations. However, for the moment, the trivialization of the traditional scholarship is the note of our civilization.

The fundamental presupposition behind learning has been that of the possession of clear ideas, as starting points for all expression and all theory. The problem has been to weave these ideas into compound structures, with the attributes either of truth, or of beauty, or of moral elevation. There was presumed to be no difficulty in framing sentences in which each word and each phrase had an exact meaning. The only topics for discussion were whether the sentence when framed was true or false, beautiful or ugly, moral or shocking. European learning was founded on the dictionary; and splendid dictionaries were produced. With the culmination of the dictionaries the epoch has ended. For this reason, all the dictionaries of all the languages have failed to provide for the expression of the full human experience.

The ultimate cause for this characteristic of European learning was that from the close of the dark ages civilization had been progressing with the gradual recovery of the subtle, manysided literature of the old classical civilization. Thought then had the character of a recovery of the wide variety of meanings embedded in Greek and Hellenistic written literature. The result was that everything that a modern scholar thought could have been immediately understood by Thucydides, or Democritus, or Plato, or Aristotle, or Archimedes. Any one of these men would have understood Newton’s Laws of Motion at a glance. These laws were a new structure of old ideas. Perhaps Aristotle would have shied at Newton’s first law. But he would have understood it. Any one of these men would have understood the American Declaration of Independence. There is nothing in the Constitution of the United States to puzzle them. Perhaps the addition of these five sages to an august tribunal might even facilitate the elucidation of its applications.

The conception of mind and matter, of motion in space, of individual rights, of the rights of social groups, — the world of tragedy, and of joy, and of heroism, — was thoroughly familiar to the ancients, and its obvious interrelations were expressed in language, and discussed, and rediscussed. Throughout the last three or four centuries the notion of learning was the discussion of the ways of the world with the linguistic tools derived from the past. This procedure of learning was the basis of progress from the simplicities of the dark ages to the modern civilization.

For this reason a narrow convention as to learning, and as to the procedures of institutions connected with it, has developed. Tidiness, simplicity, clarity, exactness, are conceived as characteristics of the nature of things, as in human experience. It is presupposed that a university is engaged in imparting exact, clear knowledge. Lawyers are apt to presuppose that legal documents have an exact meaning, even with the absence of commas.

Thus, to a really learned man, matter exists in test tubes, animals in cages, art in museums, religion in churches, knowledge in libraries.

It is easy to sneer. But there is a problem here — a very difficult problem; and the success of Harvard depends upon maintaining a proper interweaving of its intricacies. The development of learning, and the success of education, require selection. The human mind can only deal with limited topics, which exclude the vague immensity of nature. Thus the tradition of learning is the solid ground upon which the university must be founded, in respect to both sides of its activity — namely, the enlargement of knowledge and the training of youth.

The real problem is to adjust the activities of the learned institution so as to suffuse them with suggestiveness. Human nature loses its most precious quality when it is robbed of its sense of things beyond, unexplored and yet insistent. Mankind owes its progress beyond the iron limits of custom to the fact that, compared to the animals, men are amateurs. ‘You Greeks are always children ’ is the taunt from Learning to Suggestiveness.

Learning is sensible, straightforward, and clear, if only you keep at bay the suggestiveness of things. This clarity is delusive, and is shot through and through with controversy. The traditional attitude of scholars is to choose a side, and to keep the enemy at bay by exposing their errors. Of course, in the clash of doctrine we must base thoughts and actions on those modes of statement which seem to express the larger truth. But it is fatal to dismiss antagonistic doctrines, supported by any body of evidence, as simply wrong. Inconsistent truths — that is, truths in the sense of conformity to some evidence — are seed beds of suggestiveness. The progress which they suggest lies at the very root of knowledge. It is concerned with the recasting of the fundamental notions on which the structure is built. The suggestion does not primarily concern a new conclusion. Fundamental progress has to do with the reinterpretation of basic ideas.

At this point, the problem has only been half stated. Experience does not occur in the clothing of verbal phrases. It involves clashes of emotion, and unspoken revelations of the nature of things. Revelation is the primary characterization of the process of knowing. The traditional theory of education is to secure youth and its teachers from revelation. It is dangerous for youth, and confusing to teachers. It upsets the accepted coördinations of doctrine.

Revelation is the enlargement of clarity. It is not a deduction, though it may issue from a deduction. The dictionaries are very weak upon this point.


Without doubt, in its preliminary stages education is concerned with the introduction of order into the mind of the young child. Experience starts as a ‘blooming, buzzing confusion.’ Order introduces enlargement, significance, importance, delicacies of perception. For long years, the major aspect of education is the reduction of confusion to order, and the provision of weapons for this purpose.

And yet, even at the beginning of school life, it has been found necessary to interfuse the introduction of order with the enjoyment of enterprise. The balance is difficult to hold. But it is well known that education as mere imposed order of ‘things known’ is a failure. The initial stages of reading, writing, and arithmetic should be suffused with revelation.

At the other end of education, during the university period, there is undoubtedly the excitement of novel knowledge — volumes of words. But an inversion has entered upon the stage. The child has to be taught the words that correspond to the things; the senior at college has lost the things that correspond to the words. His mind is occupied by literary scenery; by doctrines derived from books; by experiments of a selected character, with selected materials, and such that irrelevancies are neglected. Even his games are organized. Novel impulse is frowned upon at the bridge table, on the football field, and on the river. No member of a crew is praised for the rugged individuality of his rowing.

The question is how to introduce the freedom of nature into the orderliness of knowledge. The ideal of universities, with staff and students shielded from the contemplation of the sporadic life around them, will produce a Byzantine civilization, surviving for a thousand years without producing any idea fundamentally new.

There is no one recipe. It is an obvious suggestion to collect an able, vigorous faculty and give it a free hand, with every encouragement. This principle of university management has been no news at Harvard since its foundation. Also the environment of New England facilitates its practice, by producing both the men and the requisite atmosphere. It is not as simple to follow this suggestion as it looks. For half a century, on both sides of the Atlantic, I have been concerned with appointments. Nothing is more difficult than to distinguish between a loud voice and vigor, or a flow of words and originality, or mental instability and genius; or a big book and fruitful learning. Also the work requires dependable men. But if you are swayed too heavily by this admirable excellence, you wall gather a faculty which can be depended upon for being commonplace.

Curiously enough, the achievements of the faculty do not depend on the exact judiciousness of each appointment. In a vigorous society, ability, in the sense of capacity for high achievement, is fairly widespread. Undoubtedly it can only be ascribed to a minority; but this minority is larger than it is conventional to estimate. The real question is to transmute the potency for achievement into the actuality of achievement. The instrument for this purpose is the stimulus of the atmosphere. In other words, we come back to suggestiveness.

Knowledge should never be familiar. It should always be contemplated either under the aspect of novel application, or under the aspect of skepticism as to the extent of its application, or under the aspect of development of its consequences, or under the aspect of eliciting the fundamental meanings which it presupposes, or under the aspect of a guide in the adventures of life, or under the aspect of the æsthetic of its interwoven relationships, or under the aspect of the miraculous history of its discovery. But no one should remain blankly content with the mere knowledge that ‘twice three is six’ — apart from all suggestion of relevant activity.

What the faculty have to cultivate is activity in the presence of knowledge. What the students have to learn is activity in the presence of knowledge.

This discussion rejects the doctrine that students should first learn passively, and then, having learned, should apply knowledge. It is a psychological error. In the process of learning there should be present, in some sense or other, a subordinate activity of application. In fact, the applications are part of the knowledge. For the very meaning of the things known is wrapped up in their relationships beyond themselves. Thus unapplied knowledge is knowledge shorn of its meaning.

The careful shielding of a university from the activities of the world around is the best way to chill interest and to defeat progress. Celibacy does not suit a university. It must mate itself with action.

There again a problem arises. The mere scattered happenings of daily affairs are veiled from our analysis. So far as we can see, they are chance issues. The real stimulation arises from the discovery of coördinated theory illustrated in coördinated fact; and the further discovery that the fact stretches so far beyond the theory, disclosing affiliations undreamed of by learning.


The picture of a university now forms itself before us. There is the central body of faculty and students, engaged in learning, elaborating, criticizing, and appreciating the varied structure of existing knowledge. This structure is supported by the orthodox literature, by orthodox expositions of theory, by orthodox speculation, and by orthodox experiments disclosing orthodox novelty.

This prevailing orthodoxy is as it should be. So far as this orthodox expression has been systematized for the successful evocation of types of æsthetic experience, and the successful indication of the structural interrelations of experience, and the successful demonstration of that structure —so far as this is accomplished, there is truth. We have argued that there is an inherent vagueness in the meanings employed and in the conformities reached. Thus the word ‘orthodoxy’ has been employed to denote the vague, imperfect rightness of our formularized knowledge at any moment. Our knowledge and our skills are limited, and in the nature of things there is infinitude ever pressing new details into some clarity of discrimination.

Because of this imperfection, learned orthodoxy does well to ally itself where reason is playing some part in determining the patterns of occurrence. Orthodoxy can provide the controlled experiment. But here we pass to that partial control where some relevance is secured, but no detail of happenings. Such contact is gained by the absorption into the university of those schools of vocational training for which systematized understanding has importance. These are the professional schools which should fuse closely with the more theoretical side of university work. At present, their chief examples are the schools of Law, Religion, Medicine, Business, Art, Education, Governmental Activities, Engineering. The essential character of these schools is that they study the control of the practice of life by the doctrines of orthodoxy.

The main advantage to a university of this fusion of vocational schools with the central core of theoretical consideration is the increase of suggestiveness. The orthodoxy of reigning theories is a constant menace. By fusion with the schools the area of useful suggestiveness is doubled. It now has two sources. There is the suggestiveness of the vagrant intellect as it contemplates the orthodox expositions and the orthodox types of experiment. This is the suggestiveness of learning. But there is another suggestiveness derived from brute fact. Lawyers are faced with brute fact fitting into no existing legal classification. Religious experiences retain an insistent individuality. Each patient is a unique fact for a doctor. Business requires for its understanding the whole complexity of human motives, and as yet has only been studied from the narrow ledge of economics. Also Art, Education, and Governmental Activities are gold mines of suggestion. It is midsummer madness on the part of universities to withdraw themselves from the closest contact with vocational practices.

Curiously, the withdrawal of universities from close association with the practice of life is modern. It culminated in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and heralds the decay of a cultural epoch.

I am not talking of the theories that men may have held at any time as to university functions. The point is as to the closeness of the relationship of the universities to the life around them — a closeness so natural as hardly to enter consciousness. In the first place, the universities arose out of nature, and were not exotic constructions imposed from above. The Papacy found universities; it did not devise them. Second, in studying the past we must distinguish between social barriers, trade secrets, and cultural doctrines.

In ancient Greece, whatever occupied a free citizen was worth study. That is why Socrates made himself a nuisance by cross-questioning people in the market place. He discovered the vagueness on which we have been insisting. Many things were done by slaves according to traditional methods. Nobody thought of lightening their labor; first, because it did not matter, and second, because there was no foreknowledge of the penetrating possibilities of modern science. Thus slave labor was a matter of course, without interest. But this is a social barrier, and not a doctrine of cultural activity. In the same way for the serfs of the Middle Ages. But here we must never forget the Benedictine monasteries and the variety of activities housed therein. Also the divine Plato was interested in drinking parties, and in the dances suitable for old gentlemen.

In a modern university the natural place for Aristotle would be somewhere between the Medical School, the Biological Departments, and the School of Education. But as life went on he would have looked in elsewhere. As to Plato, his two longest discourses are on political theory, the longer of the two being intensely practical. Also he made two long and dangerous journeys to give practical advice to governing people. His immediate pupils imitated his example. The Washington ‘brain trust’ is not an American invention.

In the many centuries between Greece and our own times, the direct interplay between universities and practical affairs has been continuous. Salerno, Bologna, Paris, Edinburgh, and the Oxford of Jowett at once come to mind. In fact, almost any university with any length of history before the eighteenth century tells the same tale. And as to men, it suffices to mention Erasmus, Locke, and Newton, among a thousand others.

The gross misunderstanding on this point arises from obliviousness of the part played by the great religious institutions, especially in the Middle Ages. They were concerned with action, emotion, and thought. They coördinated intimacies of human feeling. The men directing their activities permeated universities and active life, the same men passing from one to the other of the two spheres. The rapid penetration by the mendicant orders into universities illustrates this point. The survival power of the great religious confederations demonstrates some large conformity of their procedures to the structure of human experience.

For a thousand years the Catholic Church was the deepest influence in the seats of learning and in the social relations of mankind. The mediæval universities were in touch with the life around them with a direct intimacy denied to their modern descendants. Of course, a large recasting of thought and doctrine was required. The first result was the brilliance of the seventeenth century. But household renovations are dangerous. For universities, the final result has been their seclusion from the variety of human feeling. To-day the activities of the mediæval churchmen are best represented by the whole bundle of vocational activities, including those of the various churches. In modern life, men of science are the nearest analogues to the mediæval clergy.

The mediæval clergy and the cultural humanism of the Hellenic world survive. Science (the search for order realized in nature), Hellenism (the search for value realized in human nature), Religion (the search for value basic for all things), express three factors belonging to the perfection of human nature. They can be studied apart. But they must be lived together in the one life of the individual. Thus there is a tidal law in the emphasis of epochs. At low tide factors are studied primarily in isolation. There is progress with manageable problems. The issue is trivialization; for meaning evaporates.

Importance belongs to the one life of the one individual. This is the doctrine of the platonic soul. At the high tide, combinations of factors dawn on consciousness with the importance of vivid shadows of this full unity of experience. And the knowledge in the low tide has required the high tide to provide compositions as material for thought.


A university should be, at one and the same time, local, national, and world-wide. It is of the essence of learning that it be world-wide, and effectiveness requires local and national adaptations. It is not easy to hold the balance. But unless this difficult balance be held with some genius, the university is to that extent defective.

New England provides the near environment for Harvard, and from that local environment the institution derives its marked individuality, which is its strength. Also the most direct mission for Harvard is to serve the whole of these United States. The maintenance of a great civilization on this continent, from ocean to ocean, is the first purpose of American university life.

But the ideal of the good life, which is civilization, — the ideal of a university, — is the discovery, the understanding, and the exposition, of the possible harmony of diverse things, involving and exciting every mode of human experience. Thus it is the peculiar function of a university to be an agent of unification. This does not mean the suppression of all but one. With this ideal before it, the notion of bare suppression sends a shiver through the academic framework. It savors of treason. Even local limitations are but means to the highest of all ends. Even methods are limitations. The difficulty is to find a method for the transcendence of methods. The living spirit of a university should exhibit some approach to this transcendence of limits.

The pursuit of harmony has its difficulties, alike in the realm of action and in the realm of understanding and in the realm of æsthetic enjoyment. The ideal of final harmony lies beyond the reach of human beings. Thus any civilized culture exhibits a mixture of harmony and discord. The university is struggling with discord in its journey toward harmony. It is spreading the enjoyment of such harmonies as the human tradition at that moment conveys, and it is pioneering in the prairies of disordered experience.

When all has been said, the universe is without bounds, learning is worldwide, and the springs of emotion lie below conventionalities. You cannot limit the sources of a great civilization; nor can you assign the stretch of its influence.

To-day Harvard is the greatest of existing cultural institutions. The opportunity is analogous to that of Greece after Marathon, to that of Rome in the reign of Augustus, to that of Christian institutions amid the decay of civilization. Each of these examples recalls tragic failure. But in each there is success which has secured enrichment of human life. If Greece had never been, if Augustan Rome had never been, if Institutional Christianity had never been, if the University of Paris had never been, human life would now be functioning on a lower level, nearer to its animal origins. Will Harvard rise to its opportunity, and in the modern world repeat the brilliant leadership of mediæval Paris?