Philosophes of Fact - Final Destination

Some persons hold that there is a wisdom of the Head, and that there is a wisdom of the Heart. I have not supposed so; but, as I have said, I mistrust myself now. I have supposed the head to be all-sufficient. It may not be all-sufficient; how can I venture to say it is!... I have a misgiving that some change may have been slowly working about me in this house, by mere love and gratitude: that what the Head had left undone and could not do, the Heart may have been doing silently.

-Thomas Gradgrind from Charles Dickens's Hard Times, p. 217-218


Just as you finish preliminary preparations for your presentation for the Académie des Sciences, there is a sudden, frantic knock at your door. The noise startles you because it is well past midnight, and the last thing you were expecting was a visitor to your hotel room.

"Who is it?"

"A fellow conspirator. We must not waste any time. Please let me in as there is urgent business to attend to!"

The voice, undoubtedly an Englishman's, was short of breath; it was not someone you were immediately familiar with. Carefully, you inch the door open to see who was seeking your audience at such an odd hour. Beyond the crack in the doorway stood a man, about 5 1/2 feet tall, with a large, bushy goatee protruding from his middle aged face. You recognize his countenance but are unable to place exactly where you've seen him before. And then it hits you: standing before you is the man who started this whole thing - namely, Charles Dickens himself!

You begin by stating, "Most esteemed Sir, I was not expecting to meet you in these circumstances. I have so many questions-"

"And they will be answered soon, but there's no time to waste. My friend and I need your help." At that moment, a square-shouldered man steps forward from behind Mr. Dickens - a man you immediately recognize to be Mr. Thomas Gradgrind.

"Please excuse our intrusion at such an improprietous hour, but the esteemed writer and I have some urgent business, involving some of yours and my associates who belong to the Philosophes of Fact."

"To put it simply, the Philosophes are threatening to cause trouble and sorrow for all of us," added Dickens. "And by all of us I mean all of human society. Although the Philosophes often dismiss their Romantic counterparts as muddle-headed utopians whose passions risk endangering the very stability of human society, one could wage the same accusation against the Philosophes' most radical faction, the Brotherhood of Boole. Their idealistic hopes to make all things conform to the triumphant tribunal of reason, logic, and data risks destroying the very heart and soul of what it means to be human. As we speak, Dr. Boole, Mr. M'Choakumchild, and your 'missing' mentor, Professeur Comte, are completing a manuscript that will forever destroy the imagination and sense of wonder that is at the core of our collective human psyche. In the name of certainty and clarity, they plan to eliminate all fancy from the very languages we speak as a collective human culture, and after witnessing the experiences of Louisa and Tom Jr., Mr. Gradgrind and I harbor great fears about what kind of unforeseen consequence this could cause for humanity as a whole."

With a look of skepticism, you reply, "Well, what role can I play in all this?"

"You were born for this," Mr. Gradgrind erupted. "And I know that sounds, well, fanciful, but you'll see what we mean in due time." His words puzzle you but the conversation moves forward.

"Ever since the 2nd Congress of Conspirators," said Dickens. "Dr. Boole and your former mentor have become fond of your skills with language. They think you have something to add to the cause. They will listen to you, so you must try to convince them NOT to publish their aggressively dogmatic manuscript. The humanity of future generations depends upon it!"

"I wouldn't even know where to begin to find this 'Brotherhood'; I'm sorry, I just don't think-"

"I know exactly where they reside. They keep a room on the 2nd floor of the very schoolhouse I used to supervise. Mr. M'Choakumchild has provided the Brotherhood with lodging; you must not waste anymore time, for I believe they intend to depart for the publishing house in London first thing tomorrow!"

"Please," added Dickens. "Seek their company. Try to change their hearts and minds for the good of all of us."