According to Babbitt, we are all con-fronted with an unavoidable choice “be-tween a dualism that affirms a strugglebetween good and evil in the heart
theindividual and a dualism which,
thatof Rousseau, transfers the struggle tosociety.” Humanitarians
all types “arehopelessly superficial in their treatmentof the problem
evil. The social dualismthey have set up in its ultimate develop-ment tends
substitute the class warfor what Diderot termed in his denuncia-tion
the older dualism the ‘civil wars inthe cave.”’Against the false prophecy of Rous-seau and the fanatical extremes which ithas encouraged for several centuries,Babbitt arrays “the humanistic virtues-moderation, common sense, and com-mon decency-[which], though muchmore accessible than those
the saint,still go against the grain of the naturalman-terribly against the grain, one
forced to conclude from
cool survey ofthe facts
as everywherein his writings, most notably in
Democ-racy and Leadership
more potent antisepsis to the infec-tion of Rousseau, which spread from theFrench Revolution in the eighteenth cen-tury to the Russian and Chinese Revolu-tions in the twentieth and perhaps evento the unexampled homicidal reactionsthese inspired
Germany, Italy, andJapan, than the writing of Edmund Burke,whose summary judgment he cites withapproval: “Nothing
more certain thanthat our manners, our civilization, and
the good things that are connectedwith manners and with civilization, have,in this European world of ours, dependedfor ages upon two principles, and wereindeed the result
mean the spirit of a gentleman and thespirit
religion.”It was only appropriate and just, there-fore, that Babbitt’s compliments be re-turned eventually to himself by
The Brit-ish Weekly
observed that “foranything comparable to
Democracy and Lead-ership
for knowledge and passion andsocial gravity.
we have to go as farback
Babbitt manifestsitself not only in the choice
subjects towhich to address his attention but in hisstyle and manner of approach to thesesubjects. Thus he generally sets out inSocratic fashion with an attempt
limitand define an abstraction and to distin-guish
from another abstraction oftenconfused with it.
Literature and theAmerican College,
his first object was toseparate the notions of humanitarian-ism from humanism.
he pro-duces a passage which seems to me tobear an unmistakable resemblance to apassage in the Introductory chapter of
Rousseau and Romanticism.
The firstpassage hinges
the role which sympa-thy should play:
Aulus Gellius [a late Latin author], whowas
somewhat crabbed andpedantic temper, would apparently ex-clude sympathy almost entirely from hisconception
and confine themeaning to what he calls
and he cites the authority
Cicero. Ci-cero, however, seems
have avoidedany such one-sided view,
the admi-rable humanist that he was, he no doubtknew that what
not sympathyalone, nor again discipline and selectionalone, but
disciplined and selective sym-pathy. Sympathy without selection be-comes flabby, and
distinctive style of thinking thatproduces a parallel passage in the open-ing pages
Rousseau and Romanticism:
not give here an element ofoneness and there an element of change.It gives
oneness that is always changing.
The oneness and the change are insepa-rable.
Moreover man does not ob-serve the oneness that
always chang-ing from the outside; he is himself