Problem and Solution

I am informed by philologists that the “rise to power” of these two words, “problem” and “solution” as the dominating terms of public debate, is an affair of the last two centuries, and especially of the nineteenth, having synchronised, so they say, with a parallel “rise to power” of the word “happiness” — for reasons which doubtless exist ad would be interesting to discover. Like “happiness,” our two terms “problem” and “solution” are not to be found in the Bible — a point which gives to that wonderful literature a singular charm and cogency. … On the whole, the influence of these words is malign, and becomes increasingly so. They have deluded poor men with Messianic expectations … which are fatal to steadfast persistence in good workmanship and to well-doing in general. … Let the valiant citizen never be ashamed to confess that he has no “solution of the social problem” to offer his fellow-men. Let him offer them rather the service of his skill, his vigilance, his fortitude and his probity. For the matter in question is not, primarily, a “problem,” nor the answer to it a “solution.” 

L. P. Jacks, Stevenson Lectures, 1926-7

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