Skip to main content

Full text of "[untitled] The Harvard Theological Review, (1917-01-01), pages 93-96"

See other formats


Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World 

This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in 
the world byJSTOR. 

Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other 
writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the 
mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. 

We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this 
resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial 

Read more about Early Journal Content at 
journal-content . 

JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people 
discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching 
platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit 
organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please 


but from man's conviction that he is in touch and connection with 
ultimate spiritual reality. It is from such an experience that religion 
takes its rise and religious ideals are created. In the drama of the 
spiritual hfe the Divine Reality plays the leading r61e. 

To careless reading or transcription such errors as these are due: 
the quotation from St. Paul on page 19, where "spirit of God," 
should be "spirit of Christ"; the verse, "If ye love not your breth- 
ren," etc., is quoted on page 347 as if it were spoken by Jesus. Ereig- 
niss is misspelled on page 222. In the quotation from Shelly, " pane ' ' 
takes place of "dome"; Professor Starbuck's book on "The Psychol- 
ogy of Religion" is twice given a wrong title; the Hindu prayer is 
not foimd on page 261, as stated on page 298, nor Augustine's prayer, 
as stated on page 318; there are also several sentences where the 
meaning is not in accord with the context, and the word "aesthetic" 
is sometimes used in the ordinary sense and at other times as meaning 

Daniel Evans. 
Andoveb Theological Seminary. 

The Feetoian Wish, and its Place in Ethics. Edwin B. Holt. 
Henry Holt & Co. 1915. Pp. 208. $1.25. 

The author of this interesting volume is well known as an able 
advocate of the empirical, "realistic," objective method of studying 
the world and life, and as a consistent opponent of the subjective, 
introspective, a priori method; which he thinks open to the serious 
criticism of encouraging vague and misleading speculation and to 
have contributed little of real value for ethics or for human conduct. 
There will be many persons who, hke the reviewer, will fail to recog- 
nize the stamp of permanence and all-sufficiency, of freedom from bias 
or from "wish," in the mode of looking at the truth advocated by 
Dr. Holt, any more than in that which he repudiates, and yet will 
find in this stimulating book, as in The Concept of Consciousness 
by the same author, a number of theses that should command 
admiration and attention. That the author's attitude is frankly 
materialistic will be accepted as an asset of value by some readers, 
and must be forgotten for the moment by the rest, if they would 
leam the lessons that the essay has to teach. 

As in his former book Dr. Holt set himself the task of describing 
the emergence of consciousness among the progressive integrations 
of the unfolding series of "natural" phenomena, and of emphasizing, 
let us say, the more obviously objective aspect of the man — nature 


(not man + nature) situation, so here he studies, in analogous fashion, 
the problem of "behavior," in its relation to morals, ethics, and reli- 
gion on the one hand, and to the motor reflex on the other. Through- 
out the argument the string that ties the body and the acts of man 
to the body and the acts of "nature" is kept ever taut, so that the 
reader's thought shall never be allowed to wander very far away 
from the physical mechanisms that are taken as the earUest prototype 
of those organic processes which eventually figure as mental in the 
highest sense. As in all such demonstrations, a somewhat painful 
jolt is felt as one passes from nature (as here conceived) to even 
the simpler living organisms with their relatively complex processes 
of reaction and of choice. But this gap is bridgeable perhaps by 
the life of the organisms known as "tropisms," and its existence 
affords in any event no stronger case against the materialistic 
argument than is furnished by the difficulty of conceiving of a imi- 
verse built on the plan of strict relativity, which natural science 
finds amply sufificient for its special needs and would gladly regard 
as sufficient for all purposes. 

One is then led rapidly through the ascending series of organic 
reactions, in such a skilful fashion as to be almost persuaded that 
the principle of "integration," growing ever more elaborate though 
still mechanistic in its nature, is really able to account for all that 
man most prizes in the form of love, intelligence, imagination, and 
will. Indeed, no one can doubt that the transition from man to 
nature is of such a sort as to show the essential identity of the two; 
the only question is. Of what nature is the motive influence of both? 
Is it non-creative and one of a series of mutually convertible forces? 
Or is it — although so slender, shadowy, and invisible — an indis- 
pensable, irresistible, all-pervading, and really creative energy, of 
which the mind is the best example? 

It is easy for any one who knows the sincere objectivity of Freud's 
work and is familiar with its keenness, honesty, and fearlessness, to 
see why the evidence he adduces appeals so strongly to the author 
of this volume; and those who, like the reviewer, are in warm sym- 
pathy with the psychoanalytic movement, have good reason to be 
grateful for the brilliant exposition here given of the "wish" and 
wish-conflicts, as constituting the essential element in human life. 
It is, on the other hand, a matter of doubtful justification to identify 
wishing with striving; that is, to interpret the wish only in terms of 
its outcome in accomplishment or as an attitude looking toward 
accomplishment. In doing this Dr. Holt seems to deprive life's 
conflicts of a great portion of their warmth and richness, and throws 


aside the Freudian conception of the wish, in the interest of a scheme 
that seems to the reviewer needlessly narrow and artificial. 

"Matter" subject to "law" can only "do"; it cannot "feel." 
And so, as the imiverse must be monistic, and as the most obvious 
features of it — so the author thinks — are "law" and "matter," 
therefore all feelings and emotions, and preeminently all wishes, must, 
in the last analysis, be classified as "motor attitudes," an assign- 
ment which to the ardent wisher seems anything but natural. But 
if the wish is thus limited in scope on the one side, it is accorded the 
widest possible scope upon the other. Construe its nature as one may. 
Dr. Holt is doubtless right in asserting that the wish, as described 
by Freud, is the proper unit of psychology, and that "the problem of 
good conduct . . . ought to receive some clarification . . . from a 
science that studies the mind and the will in their actual operation." 
He is certainly right also in asserting that the "wish," whatever else 
it may be, is closely related to the will. "Wishes conflict when 
they would lead the body into opposed lines of conduct. . . . And of 
two opposed attitudes only one can be carried into effect; the other 
is suppressed." 

It would be difficult to make more clear than Dr. Holt has done 
the relation of these two sorts of wishes and the significance for 
education, and eventually for ethics, of learning how to come to 
terms with one's repressed motives. The literature of psychoan- 
alysis has grown to be a large one, but the outUne which is given in 
this book, while not in all respects such as Freud would probably 
endorse as adequate, is eminently illuminating and instructive. 
It is true also that to gain a dynamic conception of the wish, 
rather than to leave it as simply identical with sensation, is a 
real advantage. 

Under the heading of "The Wish in Ethics," reasons are brought 
forward for preferring an ethics based on experience and having 
roots that extend back as far as one cares to go into biologic life, to 
systems of ethics "which posit an abstract sanction for right conduct" 
but "never discover wliat 'right' is." The ethics of this latter sort 
Dr. Holt refers to, somewhat sardonically, as ethics "von oben 
herab"; whereas the kind that he prefers, and considers to be the 
only system which stands in real touch with experience, and so the 
only one which is genuine and trustworthy, is that "von unten 
hinauf." But this judgment, although it has a real meaning, can 
claim no more soUd basis of comprehensiveness than can the philo- 
sophic argument of the book itself. 

It would be easy to write a volume in discussing, both adversely 


and in praise, the many points, a few of which have been here al- 
luded to, that are brought forward in this brilliant essay. But it 
must suffice to say that every student of human nature should read 
it for himself. The writers who have endeavored to construct a 
systematic theory of life and conduct based on the introspective 
method have often laid themselves open to very stringent criticism; 
and the world owes a great deal to the empiricists and the "be- 
haviorists" for contributions of a lasting value. The representa- 
tives of both parties have still, however, much to learn, each from the 

James J. Putnam. 

Theism and Humanism. The Giffobd Lbcttjkeb for 1914. A. J. Bal- 
four. Hodder & Stoughton. 1915. Pp. 274. $1.75. 

Mr. Balfour's purpose and method are well stated in two sentences 
of the concluding chapter: "My desire has been to show that all 
we think best in human culture, whether associated with beauty, 
goodness, or knowledge, requires God for its support, that Human- 
ism without Theism loses more than half its value" (p. 248) : "The 
root principle which, by its constant recurrence in slightly different 
forms, binds together like an operatic leit-motif the most diverse 
material, is that if we would maintain the value of our highest be- 
liefs and emotions, we must find for them a congruous origin. Beauty 
must be more than an accident. The source of morality must be 
moral. The source of knowledge must be rational" (pp. 249-50). 

Fundamental to the whole discussion is the distinction drawn 
between the causal and the cognitive series of beliefs, that is, be- 
tween beliefs which are more or less deeply rooted in the very being 
of man as part of the nature of things, and hence have intuitive 
probability rising towards inevitableness, and others which are the 
outcome of an intellectual process and have only logical validity. 
It is not to be deemed the mere cynicism of a man versed in pubUc 
affairs to hold that in the last analysis all our beliefs are reducible 
to the causal series — "Scratch an argument, and you find a cause" 
(p. 61) — for science itself inclines to a similar deterministic decla- 
ration and thus gives rise to the central question of the book: If 
our beUefs are grounded in the nature of things and are therefore 
presumably coherent with it, how must that nature be conceived — 
in terms of Theism or Naturalism? 

This radical inquiry, however, is not at the front in the earlier 
chapters which deal with ethics and aesthetics, and becomes insist- 
ent only in the discussion of knowledge. It is shown that the sense