Henry Ford's Philosophy

MY PHILOSOPHY OF INDUSTRY. By Henry Ford. (Coward-McCann, Inc., New York.)

“IN reality,” says Mr. Ford in this authorized interview by Fay Faurote, “all problems may be resolved into one great one. The parts are all interrelated one with another. The solution of one helps in the solution of another.”

This statement coming from an abstract thinker would be no more than a philosophic commonplace. It comes from one who has been astonishingly successful in concrete thinking to immediate practical ends, and in the very next paragraph the important of this fact appears. “Machinery,” says Mr. Ford, “is accomplishing in the world what man has failed to do by preaching, propaganda or the written word.” The germ of a comprehensive philosophy of social evolution is in this statement — one designed to show that men’s professed beliefs and enunciations of truth are, in the main, the end-product rather than the cause of a way of living. How much, for instance, does the democratic idea owe to the invention of the steam engine, and what is the relation between flapperism and the Industrial Revolution?

Many in our day accept the philosophy implied in Mr. Ford’s statement, but not all are so optimistic as he. There are few and small clouds on his social horizon; and while he concedes that a social hurricane might develop out of one or all of them, he holds the better hope with firmness. Mr. Ford foresees that, if given time for peaceful development, the radio, the airplane and the movies will “soon bring the whole world to a complete understanding,” and “thus may we vision a United States of the World.”

As for political action in this connection, he grants it little weight. “Political boundaries and political opinions,” he says, “don’t really make much difference. It is the economic condition which really forces change and compels progress.” Only because he believes that there is “something rotten in economics” does he fear war at all.

“Some people think that everything will be rectified when war is abolished,” he says. “Well, let nothing interfere with the abolition of war. But sound thinking insists that war will not be abolished until the roots are cut; and one of its main roots is a false money system and the high priests thereof. What causes war is not patriotism, not that human beings are willing to die in defense of their dearest ones. It is the false doctrine fostered by the few, that war spells gain. It is this that makes war, and there are not enough pacifists who see it and attack it. The fact that pacifists are left in peace is proof that they are not attacking the real causes of war. If pacifists spoke the truth, they would not be petted as they are today; theirs would be the hard lot of the martyrs of Truth.”

However, Mr. Ford has little faith in talkers at best. It is, he believes, the thinking doers that really matter; and it is the practical deeds of such that result, according to his philosophy, in the humanizing of the world’s beliefs and attitudes.

Truth, in Mr. Ford’s view, is not complex, nor is it to be arrived at by meticulous hair-splitting. He believes that all truth is so simple in its nature that our discovery of it “will be one of the great surprises of human experience.” How shall we know the truth when we find it? “We are on the right road toward truth,” he answers, “when the things that we are doing make men a little freer than they were.”

Mr. Ford’s views on the subject of thought in general seem especially interesting, coming from a man of his intensely practical nature. “How do we think?” he asks. “What makes us think? Where do our thoughts come from? These are interesting questions to me, interesting problems that I sometimes ponder. As with a properly tuned antenna, thoughts seem to come to one tuned to receive them. That seems to be the way we get ideas, but it takes a conscious effort on our part to be ready to receive them. Call this universal source of ideas anything you wish, the fact remains that thoughts are all around us ready for acceptance. They come from outside of us, from a source that we may not know, but they are, nevertheless, available when we put ourselves into the right mental condition to receive them. But the job of thinking is a real one — probably the hardest work there is to do. Yet, I believe that all the world’s secrets are open to thinkers, and that whenever a problem comes to us, it can always be solved — otherwise it could not present itself. I believe that we have always lived, moved and had our being in this ocean of thought, and that we shall always continue to live in it, even though our form and the form of the universe and things in it may change as we do.”