William Douw Lighthall , K.C. FRSC (December 27, 1857 - August 3, 1954) (often referred to as W.D. Lighthall) was a Canadian poet who can be, and has been, described as a "lawyer, historian, novelist, poet, philosopher, anthologist, and editor."
In 1890 he married Cybel Charlotte Wilkes, and they had three children: Alice Margaret Schuyler Lighthall (born 1891), Cybel Katharine Schuyler Lighthall, (born 1893), and William Wilkes Schuyler Lighthall, born 1896.
In 1893 Lighthall did the legal work pro bono to incorporate the Montreal Women's Club.
He served as mayor of Westmount (a Montreal suburb) from 1900 to 1903. During that time he originated, and in 1901 co-founded, the Union of Canadian Municipalities (now the Federation of Canadian Municipalities). He also served as vice president of the National Municipal League of America.
In 1915 he founded Canada's first veterans' group, the Canadian Association of Returned Soldiers.
He took a long-time interest in Canadian history, originating the ChÃ¢teau Ramezay Historical Museum, and serving on the Royal Historical Monuments Commission and as chairman of the McCord Historical Museum. He wrote historical books, such as Montreal After 250 Years, and monographs, like The Manor House of Lacolle.
Lighthall also wrote historical romances, initially under the pen name of Wilfrid ChÃ¢teauclair, beginning with The Young Seigneur, or Nation Making in 1888. He wrote poetry as well, publishing his first book, Thoughts, Moods and Ideals, in 1887. He was an early supporter of the Canadian Authors Association, becoming its president in 1930.
In literary circles, though, Lighthall "is remembered mainly for his anthology, Songs of the Great Dominion ... which included a large number of poets whose names are still familiar, for example, Wilfred Campbell, Carman, Crawford, Johnson, Lampman, and Charles G.D. Roberts."
Lighthall was among a number of the post-Darwinian thinkers of the 19th century who struggled with the concept of a Supreme Cause. Some of them not only struggled to redefine "God"; they also struggled to rename this entity. For his part Lighthall defined the cause as a "force of will"and called that force "The Outer Consciousness", "The Outer Knowledge", "The Directive Power", and "The Person of Evolution". However unlike the philosopher Schopenhauer or the novelist Hardy, Lighthall, who considered himself to be both a philosopher and a novelist was optimistic in his view of the nature of "the will". That optimism was based on Lighthall's unbending faith in the positive nature of evolutionary progress. His views are present in his ovels particularly in The Master of Life as well as in his hope for Canada as a nation.
A reader of Lighthall's philosophical works may encounter some difficulty with the style. The main problem lies in the fact that Lighthall seldom completely reworked the lecture notes, pamphlets, and texts that he used to create the works as he published them. Furthermore, he preferred to number his paragraphs, as he considered these paragraphs to be "capsular" ideas. Perhaps due to his training in law he preferred to protect the integrity of these modules rather than sacrifice any of their meaning for the integrated flow of ideas in a particular chapter as a whole. Because of this practice the author's style appears jarringly disjointed at times. Ironically, the logical progression of deductive reasoning, so important to Lighthall's system, is often under stress because of this style.
The Lighthall system was an attempt to remarry science and religion in a single philosophical understanding of reality. Within the structure of that system Lighthall claimed to have avoided what he called the "metaphysical" problem. He insisted that all that was proposed in the hypothesis was derived from his observation of scientific fact. To be precise Lighthall considered the principles of his theory to be "proven" scientific facts and the proof to be founded upon deductive reasoning.
The system equated Instinct with Will. Further it viewed Will as the manifest cause of both the conscious and unconscious act. Lighthall stated: 'All living action is willing, and all is by nature purposive.'
Lighthall informed his readers that it was the phenomenon of the altruistic act that had been the initial "middle" ground that had led him to the formulation of the theory:
- The utilitarian school, with its intellectual solutions on the basis of joy and pains, reflected by sympathy, appeared to me to give a reasonable account of most other moral acts, - but that an individual could deliberately annihilate himself for another evidently imported some element extraneous to the individual's own ordinary machinery of willing. Determined to accept no superficial 'explanation' of the problem such as glib use of words like 'volition' and 'conation,' I reduced acts of will to their simplest forms, noting their gradual shadings into, and intimate connections with habits, instincts, functions, reflexes, etc., and observing that these led to a world outside the consciousness of the individual. Thence I was brought to conclude, like Schopenhauer, that there is a unitary directive cause behind all these processes, and I included Evolution itself, regarded as one long act of willing. The characteristics that struck me most forcibly were the independence of this outer will, and its apparently highly conscious nature.'
- Thoughts, Moods and Ideals: Crimes of leisure. Montreal: "Witness" Printing House, 1887.
- The Land of Manitou. Montreal: privately printed by Desbarats, 1916.
- Old Measures (collected verse). Montreal: A.T. Chapman, 1922. Montreal: A.T. Chapman, 1922; Toronto: Musson, 1922.
- The Young Seigneur; or, Nation making. Montreal: William Drysdale, 1888.
- The False Chevalier; or, The lifeguard of Marie Antionette. Montreal: F.E. Grafton, 1898.
- The Master of Life: A romance of the Five Nations and of prehistoric Montreal. Toronto: Musson, 1908; London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1911.
- The Conditions of a Colonial Literature. London: Transactions of the Royal Society of Literature of the United Kingdom. 22 cm. 2d ser., vol. XIX, p. -91, 1898.
- French-Canadian Literature. Montreal: Transactions of the Royal Society of Literature of the United Kingdom. 23 cm. 2d ser., vol. XXVI, p. -248, 1905.
- Canadian poets of the Great War: Presidential address. Montreal: Royal Society of Canada, 1918.
- An account of the Battle of Chateauguay: Being a lecture delivered at Ormstown, March, 8th, 1889. Montreal: William Drysdale for the Chateauguay Literary and Historical Society, 1889.
- Montreal After 250 years. Montreal: F.E. Grafton, 1892
- also printed as Sights and Shrines of Montreal: A guide book for strangers and a hand book for all lovers of historic spots and incidents. Montreal: F.E. Grafton, 1903.
- A New Hochelagan Burying-Ground: Discovered at Westmount on the western spur of Mount Royal, Montreal, July-September 1898. Montreal: privately printed by A. Pelletier, 1898.
- Hochelagans and Mohawks: A link in Iroquois history. London, Ottawa, & Toronto: Bernard Quaritch, 1899.
- The "Glorious Enterprise": The plan of campaign for the conquest of New France, its origin, history and connections with the invasions of Canada. Montreal : C.A. Marchand, Printer to the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society, [1902?]
- Canada, A Modern Nation. Montreal: "Witness" Printing House, 1904.
- Thomas Pownall: His part in the conquest of Canada. Ottawa: J. Hope, 1904.
- La Corne St-Luc: The "general of the Indians". Montreal: 1908.
- The Governance of Empire: Being suggestions for the adaptation of the British constitution to the conditions of union among the overseas states : with a note on the name "Imperial conference", and a proposal for a permanent "Americanadian conference". Montreal: privately printed, 1910.
- The Manor House of Lacolle: A description and historical sketch of the manoir of the seigniory of de Beaujeu of Lacolle. Montreal: privately printed by C.A. Marchand, 1914.
- Signposts of Prehistoric Time. Ottawa: Royal Society of Canada, 1917.
- Sketch of a New Utilitarianism: Including a criticism of the ordinary argument from design and other matter. Montreal: "Witness" Printing House, 1877.
- An Essay on Pure Ethics: With a theory of the motive. Montreal: 1882.
- Spiritualized Happiness-Yheory; or, New utilitarianism: A lecture before Farmington School of Philosophy, June, 1890. Montreal: "Witness" Printing House, 1890.
- A Philosophy of Purpose. Montreal: 1920.
- Superpersonalism, the outer consciousness: A biological entity: Reflections on the independence of instinct and its characteristics in evolution. Montreal: Witness Press, 1926.
- "An Organic Superpersonality? — A Rejoinder". Philosophical Review 36 (4):372-373. (1927).
- "The Directive Power". Philosophical Review 37 (6):600-606. (1928).
- "The Knowledge That is in Instinct." Philosophical Review 39 (5):491-501 (1930).
- The Person of Evolution: The outer consciousness, the outer knowledge, the directive power, studies of instinct as contribution to a philosophy of evolution. Toronto: Macmillan, 1930; Toronto & New York: Macmillan, 1933.
- The Law of Cosmic Evolutionary Adaptation: An interpretation of recent thought. Ottawa: Royal Society of Canada, 1940.
- Songs of the Great Dominion: Voices from the forests and waters, the settlements and cities of Canada.London: Walter Scott (publishing)|Walter Scott]] [Windsor Series], 1889; (facsimmile edition), Toronto: Coles, 1971.
- also printed as Canadian Songs and Poems:: Voices from the forests and waters, the settlements and cities of Canada. London: Walter Scott / Toronto: W.J. Gage, 1892.
- also printed as Canadian Poems and Lays: Selections of native verse, reflecting the seasons, legends, and life of the Dominion. London & New York: Walter Scott, 1893; Toronto: Musson, 1893.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 "Lighthall, W. D., 1857-1954," The William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections, McMaster University, McMaster.ca, Web, Apr. 29, 2011.
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 "William Douw Lighthall," RootsWeb, Ancestry.com, Web, Apr.29, 2011.
- ↑ "Works by W.D. Lighthall," PhilPapers.org, Web, Apr. 29, 2011.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 William H. New, "Lighthall, William Douw," Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada, 666, Google Books, Web, Apr. 29, 2011.
- ↑ 1983 "The Lighthall Theory: Defining the directive cause" in Studies in Religion, Vol. 12, No. 2, Winter '83, pages 191-97.
- ↑ William Lighthall, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Sep. 20, 2013.
- Lighthall in A Victorian Anthology, 1837-1895: "The Confused Dawn," "Praeterita ex Instantibus," "The Battle of La Prairie," "Montreal"
- Works by William Douw Lighthall at Project Gutenberg
- W.D. Lighthall at the Online Books Page.
- W.D. Lighthall at Amazon.com
- Works by or about William Douw Lighthall in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- W.D. Lighthall at McGill University.
- Jeremiah By Default: A Study of the Teleological Theory of William Douw Lighthall by Norman James Williamson on Amazon.com
- " Defining the Directive Cause" by Norman James Williamson
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