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Intelligence, Character-training and Civilization

    Naturevolume 140page59 (1937) | Download Citation



    A LUDWIG MOND LECTURE entitled "Intelligence and Civilization", delivered at the University of Manchester last October by Prof. G. H. Thomson, of the University of Edinburgh, has been published in the first issue of the new Journal of the University of Manchester. After a preliminary discussion of some aspects of recent researches in the field of intelligence measurements, Prof. Thomson proclaims his belief (which was also H. T. Buckle's) that the history of the advance of civilization has been the history of the conquest of the world by intelligence. He preaches the salvaging of civilization "through the cultivation by an education proper to each of the intelligence of all". Of character-training he is profoundly distrustful. A clear vision of truth is, he assumes, to be attained solely through cultivation of the intelligence and "the schoolmaster's sole business is to lead his pupils to see truth clearly . . . and . . . that is the only character-training the school may lend itself to, if it is to refrain from serving party or class . . . but is to serve civilization". He does not think much of civilization's debt to the poets ("far more dangerous than scientists"), notwithstanding that he holds intelligence to be based on imagination, and he makes a point of registering disagreement with Earl Baldwin's hope, confided to the Congress of Universities of the Empire, that from those universities may presently come forth "poets who will inspire Europe and the world once more with a sense of unity and a sense of freedom".

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