Dora Marsden – Some Critics Answered


1845-1945, Dora Marsden, Historical Work, The Egoist 1914, Trevor Blake / Wednesday, February 6th, 2019
From “Some Critics Answered” by Dora Marsden in The Egoist Volume 2 Number 2 (February 1st, 1915). – Trevor Blake

We are not an advice-bureau and give no recipes for conduct, though we do not deny ourselves the pleasure of expressing opinions upon other people’s conduct or even of saying what we would have done, or would do, in a given case. On the other hand, if anyone can cull useful advice from these pages the credit is theirs, and our attitude thereto could only be the deprecating one of the amiable cow to whom the small girl tendered grateful thanks for being so good as to give them milk. To be able gracefully to preach morals one must keep oneself blind to the fact that men ordinarily, and of their own accord, branch out into such adventures as they feel they have power for. To advise a man to be this and that, pioneer or follower, employer or employed, bold or discreet, master or servant, is to usurp the seat of judgment and take on a responsibility which only he who is to be actor in the drama is competent to occupy and undertake. Ethical propagandas are best left to people whose axes are to be ground in that way, whose interest lies along the line of “soul-saving”; ours, happily, is not, and we can afford to admit and speculate upon the varied range of human competency—to realize that for different powers daring, responsibility, morals, the immoral pleasures and satisfactions will generally take on an individually different expression. One can afford to recognize that there exist simple as well as astute, and that the first will form the opportunity of the second. And because they provide the astute ones’ opportunity and are exploited by them, their very usefulness forges a chain which binds the latter to them as securely as their own simplicity puts them under the control of the astute.