Believing in LifeJune 28, 2021
William Du Bois wrote his last message to the world towards the end of his long life in 1957, knowing that he did not have much time left, he wrote the short paragraph to be read at his funeral.
In this message, Du Bois expresses his hope that the good things he did to justify his life will last for a long time, and that what he did not do or did badly will be improved or completed by others, and adds: “Mankind will always live and move towards a larger, wider, fuller life. ”
It is an expression of belief rather than a statement of fact. It’s as if Du Bois were saying that in order to move forward, we either have to believe in the possibility of a fuller life or in the possibility of progress. With this idea, Du Bois shows the effects of the American philosophical movement known as Pragmatism, which argues that the main issue is not just our thoughts and beliefs, but the practical implications of these thoughts and beliefs. Du Bois goes on to say that “the only possible death” is to lose expectations of human progress. However, there are also philosophical roots that go deeper into the concept of eudaimonia or “human development” in ancient Greece, which for the philosopher Aristotle meant to live a perfect life based on virtue and reason.
Du Bois points to racism and social inequality as two major apologies that prevent a perfect life. He rejects the scientific racism that prevailed throughout his lifetime—the idea that black people are genetically inferior to whites. Since racial inequality has no basis in the biological sciences, it looks at it as a purely social problem that can only be approached with political and social activism. Du Bois relentlessly seeks solutions to all forms of social inequality. He argues that social inequality is one of the most important causes of crime, and that high crime rates are associated with lack of education and unemployment.
Du Bois reminds us that our task of building a just society is not yet complete. It states that future generations must believe in life, and that only in this way can we continue to contribute to the realization of human development.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook