Walter Edward Weyl to Jane Addams, August 2, 1918


Aug. 2, 1918.

My dear Miss Addams,

I am very grateful for your note concerning my recent book and for your criticism of my paragraphs on pacifists. I find it rather hard in a letter to meet this criticism because all the words we use are capable of different meanings and it would require extended explanations to make our exact differences in opinion manifest. I wonder, for example, if you have not interpreted my probably ambiguous phrase "tribal instinct" in a sense somewhat different from that intended. I did not for a moment [page 2] mean to imply that the pacifist was lacking in a sincere and reasoned patriotism, in a desire to advance his nation while promoting the general welfare of the world. What I had in mind was something more instinctive, the immediate response to an overpowering herd-impulse, the tendency always to think your tribe right even if it is, in reality, brutal, greedy and predacious. Perhaps we still disagree on this point. However, while I do not claim to share your deep convictions concerning [nonresistance] I hope that you will believe that I respect them sincerely and I am sure that you will acquit me of the wish to take an easy fling at a [page 3] doctrine while in this moment of national crisis is so widely unpopular.

Your "World's Food and World Politics" seems to me exactly right. I like the matter and the tone of it. For some time I have been groping toward this idea which you express so luminously -- the necessity for a positive content for international ethics and aspiration. I hope that you will some day [rework] this idea and put the results in a permanent form.

A few weeks ago I [reread] your "Spirit of Youth." Is it too late to congratulate you upon this beautiful book?

With cordial greetings from Mrs. Weyl, I am, as ever,

Faithfully yours,

Walter E. Weyl

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