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Copyright 1912 by Yale University Proas. 
Fourteenth printing, June 1963. 
Printed in the United StatoH of America by 
The Colonial Press Inc., Clinton, Maw. 
All rights reserved. This book may not, ho 
reproduced, m whole or in part, m any form 
(except hy reviewers for the public prow), 
without written permission from tho publishers. 
Library of Congress catalog number: 12 -141)46 

A. B. OIL H. 


by John E. Smith 

The Meaning of God in Human Experience stands as one 
of the serious philosophical treatments of religion in the 
twentieth century. It is also Hocking's most representa- 
tive work. The book exhibits not only that original 
synthesis of idealism and pragmatism which marks Hock- 
ing's thought, but it gives evidence as well of an im- 
portant but lesser-known strain in his philosophy a 
reliance on experience of a radical sort. The Meaning oj 
God is a subtle book; the persistent tendency of its au- 
thor to understate the case puts the reader on his mettle. 
The sense one has of participating directly in the prob- 
lems it treats is due to the experiential standpoint from 
which it was written. Religious questions are posed in 
the form in which they actually confront us. The fact, 
moreover, that Hocking, like James, appears to be wres- 
tling with the issues as he writes about them engages the 
reader and forces him to take a silent part in the discus- 

It was, of course, William James who set the pattern 
in American thought of treating religion from the stand- 
point of direct experience. There have been others, the 
so-called "empirical theologians" among them, who laid 
claim to the heritage of James. But their conception of 
experience was often too narrow in an effort to emulate 
science, they thought only in terms of sensible data and 


facts thus losing experience in that larger sense which 
religion requires. Hocking is the true heir of James; he 
inherited the legacy and developed it further. Not only 
did he continue the line of radical empiricism, but he was 
in possession of a metaphysical outlook which James 
lacked. Hocking saw the metaphysical importance of 
experience; he knew how to go beyond description to the 
discovery of what experience can tell us about the gen- 
eral nature of things. 

If Hocking has been the true heir of Jaracs, he has also 
been the genuine successor of Royce. Throughout The 
Meaning of God we are constantly reminded of Roycc's 
speculative drive as we follow Hocking'ti persistent at- 
tempt to understand religion, to clarify the ideas central 
to it and to argue for its necessity in the cosmic scheme. 
It would be an error, however, to think of Hocking as 
primarily a rearranger of ideas or doctrines passed on by 
others. The marks of his predecessors arc there, but his 
work has its own originality. Not only did he treat novel 
issues such as the problem of a world religion in a fresh 
way, but he was able to place religion within the frame- 
work of a more rigorous ontology than James, and his 
analyses show a greater sensitivity to experience than 
those of Royce. 

Though written exactly half a centxiry ago, The Mean- 
ing of God has a peculiar relevance for the current situ- 
ation. Themes in the center of contemporary discussion 
are precisely those at the heart of I locking's argument; 
merely to mention them is to move at once into the im- 
mediate present. As a counterpart to recent questions 
about the meaningfulness of the concept of God, Hock- 
ing sought for its "original sources" in experience. He 


refused to abandon experiential foundations and, like 
Peirce, his conception of experience is broad enough to 
enable us to say that having an idea is also having an 
experience. The Ontological Argument for God's exist- 
ence, so often killed and resurrected, once again shows 
signs of coming to life; Hocking presents a novel recast- 
ing of that argument and at the same time shows the 
proper meaning of proof or demonstration in religion. In 
dealing with the perennial difficulty of showing the re- 
lation between religion as a generic feature of human ex- 
perience and "positive" religion as represented by a 
specific Church or Communion, Hocking develops the 
"principle of alternation," the insight that, while religion 
has essentially to do with the Whole, the man of faith is 
always a concrete individual who lives in the world and 
who, when he comes to worship, finds it necessary to 
view religion as one more part or aspect of life beside 

There is a growing sense at present that we must find 
ways of understanding the presence of God in Nature 
the exclusively anthropological approach shows certain 
deficiencies. Hocking saw the point years ago and he 
argues that Nature is the universal mediator of the 
Divine. Our experience of Nature as shot through with 
mystery furnishes a starting point; as we come to judge 
the quality of the Whole we gradually discern in the 
workings of Nature a Power which takes on personal 
character. In seeking knowledge of Nature we discover 
our own limitation; in the sense that we are not alone in 
knowing Nature, we come to understand that what re- 
mains unknown to us is yet knowable. The original ex- 
perience of God through Nature is best described as the 


sense that "I know not, but He knows/ 7 Science then 
becomes the quest for what God knows. 

The strength of Hockiiig's thought is in its richness, 
its suggestiveness, and its profundity. His logic is a 
massive one; it is necessary to work through the whole 
in order to apprehend it. Having grasped the main 
thrust of his argument, one can go back to tho details 
and carry the critical discussion from there. Tt is to be 
hoped that the return of The Meaning of God to the 
current scene will have its own powerful effect in leading 
on to a renewal of discussion about religion which com- 
bines metaphysical depth with experiential bearings. 

New Haven, Connecticut 
September 1962 


4 T the time of this book's appearance, just a half- 
jL\. century ago, its title carried a challenge to pre- 
vailing ideas about human experience. "Religious ex- 
perience" was a common phrase; but God as a being 
beyond the world whom "no man hath seen at any time" 
was not presumed to be a direct factor in experience. 
There were "proofs of the existence of God" ; and we do 
not attempt nor require proofs of an existence we can 
directly verify. 

Our Western world was at that time under the spell 
of a notion of experience stemming as much from Locke 
as from Descartes, in which the stuff of sense-data to- 
gether with the awareness of our own mental life were 
the basic ingredients. This pattern on all empirical 
knowledge was wholly successful in developing the 
methods of an expanding science of Nature, from which 
the notion of purpose was in principle excluded. The 
Modern Period, as we commonly term it, could almost 
be defined as the period of human self-reliance, aided 
by the techniques proposed by the sciences a period of 
getting on without God, for all practical purposes. 

The great technical failure of this notion of experience 
was its inability to account for one's knowledge of other 
selves. Ourselves we can experience, and nature; but 
minds other than our own were considered conjectures 
aided by language, whose meanings we can never directly 
compare or verify. On this basis, the social sciences, 


growing by leaps and bounds, have no direct data] and 
even psychology, hesitating to depend on introspection, 
must present itself as a science of "behavior." The term 
"behavioral sciences" is a flag of defeat. 

Modernity completely failed to resolve the dilemma 
of "solipsism"; and with its inability to find an experi- 
ence of other selves would follow its deeper inability to 
find an experience of God. I had for some time been of 
the belief that these barriers could be surmounted and 
that they would fall together. In my own experience 
they did; this book is to that extent autobiographical. 

But it marks also a notable general turning away from 
the sense-data-mental-data pattern of admitted experi- 
ence. The very vitality of the twentieth century is due 
to its rejection of that pattern, its appeal to experience 
neither physical nor ego-centered. Beside the, vast fields 
of social enquiry, the experience of values aesthetic and 
ethical, there is a new recognition of tho immense im- 
portance of our central and inarticulate awaroness of 
existence which I have ventured to call "nuclear experi- 
ence/' rich in structure and meaning. 

In this nuclear experience there are always three 
factors, an I, a Thou, and a common subject matter, let 
us say an It. Taken in its totality, this It is simply tho 
world in which the I must work out its life. But the 
Thou, here discerned as always present, lends to tho 
world, the It, a character which completely efTaeos tho 
privacy-limit of Descartes' "1 think, therefore I am"; 
the It is no longer merely My world, tho It is Our world. 
What I find true of it is true for everyone; my experi- 
ence has a touch of universality: science is possible*! 
The triumphant march of modernity is now understood. 


And understanding it, we pass beyond it: we enter a 
postmodern era. 

Nuclear experience calls for a wealth of interpretation. 
Under the names phenomenology and existentialism 
this task has occupied much of the present century. The 
nuclear Thou-art (whose encounter is the theme of the 
mystics of all ages, and whose dialogue with the self 
has been described with such discerning power by 
Martin Buber) is never experienced merely as a co- 
subject, but rather as a creative will sustaining my own 
being (hence caring for my existence), an activity in- 
viting a response, a launch as of "animal faith," a 
summons to find in experience directives that indicate 
"this way lies your fulfillment, your task, your destiny." 

The factual world confronting this "We are" presents 
no open path. As particular, it is necessarily "irrational," 
never deducible from a Platonic order of ideas nor from 
a Whiteheadian system of "eternal objects." There is 
in the situation an inescapable factor of adventure and 
risk in which life and death stand adjacent, with pos- 
sibilities of tragedy and despair. Yet Angst is inadequate 
to the situation. 

For with the certitudes of truth there are also certi- 
tudes of action, possibilities of rising beyond futility to 
control of the opening issues. In the inquiry into the 
conditions of the "prophetic consciousness" we have an 
answer to Angst and to despair, perhaps the most 
pertinent contribution of the book to the disturbed 
morale of an age of conflict and bent-to-death. 

Madison, New Hampshire 
February 1963 


THE services of thought to religion have been sub- 
ject to a justified distrust. Of uncertain worth, 
especially of uncertain recoil, are the labors of reason in 
behalf of any of our weightier human interests. By right 
instinct has religion from the beginning looked elsewhere 
for the brunt of support and defense say to revela- 
tion, to faith, to feeling. A bad defense is a betrayal ; 
and what human philosophy of religion can be better 
than a bad defense ? 

Present-day philosophy seems notably inclined to take 
this view of itself. Is it not Bradley, elder metaphysician 
to our time, wno jots down that metaphysics is the 
finding of bad reasons for what we believe on instinct? 
Keason is not incapable of recognizing and confessing 
its own limits : it may even take pride in expounding 
them, an attitude which since Hume and Kant has be- 
come more or less fashionable. Our current science of 
religion may now assume without too much discussion 
that the grounds of religion are super-rational, or sub- 
rational : and we find philosophy undertaking to define 
what these othei>-than-rational grounds are grounds 
moral perhaps, or psychological, or social, or historical; 
grounds pragmatic, or even mystic. Various and vari- 
ously combined as are these several philosophic trends, 
they agree in accepting the judgment that religion lies 
close to the primitive moving-forces of life : deeper, then, 
than reason or any work of reason. 


But a vague territory still is this Beyond-reason or 
Deeper-than-reason. Once singly-named Faith, now it 
has many names instinct, the subconscious, the co- 
conscious, feeling, will, value-judgment, social sense, in- 
tuition, mystic reason, perhaps V&lan vital as its bor- 
der is touched in various scientific excursions. Some 
unclearness has come with the abundance of our learning, 
some confusion of categories, no doubt ; we can hardly 
yet say that we know better than our forefathers what 
religion is, though perhaps we know better what it is 
not. The one impression which does distinctly emerge 
from the multitude of contemporary suggestions is a 
negative one: a general disaffection from the religion 
of reason, and from its philosophical framework, abso- 
lute idealism. 

Some doubt the fundamental proposition of this ideal- 
ism, namely, that all reality is of the same stuff that 
ideas are made of, that " whatever is is rational." Some 
doubt its doctrine that everything is known to one abso- 
lute Knower, whose being is thought, or Idea. And 
some there are who do not doubt thee propositions ; 
who will not deny logical force, even finality, to ideal- 
istic arguments if one must argxie : but who add the 
comment that whatever is vital in religion i missed in 
all logic-work, is necessarily and forever missed, thought 
and religion being once for all incommensurate. They 
do not find the Absolute of idealism identical with the 
God of religion : they cannot worship the Absolute* And 
they do not find that religion consists in our human 
knowledge of this absolute Knower: >Denken, they 
think, ist nicht Gottesdienst. 

In this general dissatisfaction with idealism, and in our 


unclear efforts to win elsewhere a positive groundwork 
for religion, I find the sufficient warrant for such a study 
as this book undertakes. It enquires what, in terms of 
experience, its God means and has meant to mankind (for 
surely religion rises out of experience and pays back 
into it again) : and it proposes, by aid of the labors of 
all co-workers, critics and criticised alike, to find the 
foundations of this religion, whether within reason or 

This purpose is not over-bold; though no serious treat- 
ment of religion dare be over-modest. It is not over- 
bold, first, because it is a human necessity. We must 
reach some working clarity in these matters, every indi- 
vidual soul of us : the problem is there ; we shall work 
it through well or ill, get our solution honorably or by 
default. Is there not in all positive living a similar ne- 
cessity for what we may call presumption ? The world 
too is there, with work to be done, votes to be cast, a 
new generation to be trained and harnessed, and other 
like requirements all equally impossible. All such un- 
dertakings might well be postponed by any man under 
the true plea of unfitness : nevertheless all this is to be 
done, and all will get itself done in some fashion, cred- 
itable or discreditable. It is, in fact, an old ruse of na- 
ture's, this of clothing the necessary in the guise of the 
impossible, making a dignified way of escape for him 
who prefers to escape from complete living, calling for 
something like presumption on the part of him who will 
not escape. Let us rather say, calling for performance 
simply, categorical performance. Nature creates the re- 
quirement : let nature supply ways and means. 


Our purpose is not over-bold, secondly, because, after 
all, the truth about religion cannot be in itself obscure 
or intricate. Subtle religion is false religion. Our diffi- 
culties are indeed made by our laboring philosophies 
themselves. The quaint words of Berkeley still hold 
good : " We havejfirft raifed a duftand then complain 
we cannot fee." The truth about religion is to be had; 
but not by surpassing others in more mighty Hounder- 
ingand dust-raising: this truth is traditionally for "him 
that hath eyos to see and ears to hear" in a certain 
quietude of mind. 

Only be it at once said the dust-raising in the 
present case is a much more important process than the 
words of Berkeley imply. In the new philosophies is new 
truth, and much of it no mere now misunderstanding. 
Whatever murkiness there is marks, I believe, a genuine 
deepening of spiritual consciousness in our Western 
world : a new appreciation of faith, a new love of life 
and its variety, a new ability to be both bond and free 
speculatively, spiritually, free, whilu not less scientifically 
bond, historically bond, even traditionally bond. It is 
a symptom of any such valid deepening of thought that 
men know less clearly what they want than what they 
do not want. The older philosophy has failed to satisfy; 
the newer philosophies have not yet Bucwodml in satisfy- 
ing : the work of proposing and rejecting must continue 
until conscionce at its profomuler level can again rest. 

It is just Ixwanfto of this veritablo growth that clover- 
ness and erudition poured out in abundance do nowa- 
days visibly pail and fail of their usual effect : for clever- 
ness and erudition operate within the already acquired 
conceptions of mankind they stand ineffective before 


what is new-born. For this reason, in part, the weighty 
scholarship of Germany loses some little ground in these 
fields. If we know the kind of thing that a given type 
of scholarship has to offer, then even great virtuosity, 
though it be prolific of the Very True, must sweat to 
provoke an interest, still more to arouse our faith. The 
thing now required is a simple thing, a common word, 
a slight increment of ultimate sincerity somewhere that 
can reunite our roots with mother earth. We are as 
well off above ground as we can be until we are better 
off below ground. What boots it though a man can pro- 
duce out of his inner consciousness a veritable banyan 
forest if there is, in all, no growth downward ? There is, 
I say, a quiet and canny maturity of conscience abroad 
which knows surely what it does not want, a new-born 
thing in the world, the source of our new philosophies, 
in particular of our pragmatisms, our realisms, our 
mysticisms, the doom of the old, the doom also of the 
new that fail to arrive at reality : the lash at the back 
of the thinker, and the hope in his soul. 

Meanwhile, the general deepening of consciousness, 
and of conscience, is a deepening of religion itself. The 
formulae that were once potent here too begin to fail : 
ideas and phrases, gritty a generation ago, a decade ago, 
are already worn smooth and lend no more friction to 
any human work. A new calling has sprung up : that 
of creed-making, or of creed phrase-making ; and many 
of our wise men take part in it. These too have their 
new Reality to face, merciless as a child. If the spirit 
of the age is but feebly responsive to new phrase or old, 
hasten not to judge that the spirit of the age is becom- 
ing irreligious : may not the opposite theory as well ea> 


plain its indifference to us (though with less salve for 
our vanity) ? Potentially, at least, men are becoming 
more religious. This development of religion is still a 
latent fact, mightier than any yet-visible shape or move- 
ment, discernible at times only as a cloud dim and vast, 
strained and full of repressed lightning. The release of 
these forces is no small human object. 

In what respect, then, is idealism inadequate to these 
new demands ? And what is the truth which the critics 
of idealism have to offer ? It may be well to state at 
once (especially for the satisfaction of fellow-students in 
these fields) the substance of our belief on these points, 
outlining in rough summary the position in which the 
work of this book results. 

The weakness in the armor of classical idealism has 
been made apparent, I believe, by pragmatism or 
rather, by the pragmatic principle of judgment. Ideal- 
ism does not do the work of religious truth ; ergo, it 
is not the truth of religion. This judgment may be ac- 
cepted without further commitment to the philosophy 
that pronounces it (for is it not also Hegel's principle 
that the true idea is known by its work in this concrete 
world ? ) 

Idealism fails to work, I believe, chiefly because it is 
unfinished. Unfinishedness is not in itself a blemish ; 
is professed even as a special excellence by that remark- 
able antisystemist, Henri Bergson. 1 But there are tol- 
erable and intolerable kinds of unfiniflhednosft. A thing 
is properly unfinished when it is finishable ; when it has 
an identity that finishing will not change. Let an artist 

1 Involution cr&itrlce, p. 209. 


sketch a face with all conceivable haste and roughness: 
the unfinishedness of the thing is wholly justified if 
only it is a thing ; if only it has a character and a sig- 
nificance which all later finishing does but develop with- 
out displacem en t or substitution. Our philosophies must 
meet the same test. Idealism can entertain much of 
what pragmatism, realism, and the rest have brought 
forward, and still remain idealism ; whether it can en- 
tertain all, is doubtful. It is not incapable of admitting 
into its world-picture variety, change, growth, person- 
ality, freedom, also objectivity of a sort. The question 
is, of what sort? whether the variety is a real variety, 
the risk a real risk, the objectivity a real objectivity, 
individuality and freedom real or only shows of re- 
ality, infected by that illusoriness and approximateness 
which idealism tends to impose upon realistic experi- 
ence generally. Can idealism entertain the Real, and 
still remain idealism ? What pragmatism has specifically 
required of idealism in religion is more genuinely real 
opportunity, real freedom, real individual creativity. 
What realism desires is more valid objectivity, substan- 
tiality in the world beyond self. It is the latter want, 
I venture to say, which chiefly limits the effectiveness 
of idealism in religion : to satisfy the pragmatic test, 
idealism must become more realistic : for idealism in reli- 
gion does not give sufficient credence to the authoritative 
Object, shows, so far, no adequate comprehension of 
the attitude of worship. 

Idealism is unfinished, then, not having found its 
way to worship : it has not found its way to the par- 
ticular and the historical in religion ; to the authorita- 
tive and fhi* wholly super-personal. The salvation it 


offers men seems still to be, in effect, a salvation from 
the particular in the general, the ideal: even though 
it names the concrete as its goal, it has not yet been 
able in this matter of religion to accomplish union with 
the concrete. It might seem that the idealist more than 
any other should appreciate the function of the positive 
and authoritative in religion ; should know (as Hegel 
knew) that only the concrete can breed the concrete; 
should know (as Boyce knows) that only the individual 
can breed the individual ; should know, then, that only 
the historic can bear fruit in history, so that when the 
pragmatic test comes, a religion which is but a religion- 
in-general, a religion universal but not particular, a reli- 
gion of idea, not organically rooted in passion, fact, and 
institutional life, must fail. 

Idealism means, in name and in truth, the freedom in 
this universe of the thinker, the unlimited right of Idea 
in a world where nothing that is is ultimately irrational. 
But it is the exercise of freedom which alone discovers 
ihe rightful place of authority. Only he who has tried (or 
tried to imagine) a pure adventure knows that there is no 
such tiling as a pure adventure ; for when you have can- 
celled path, peak, sky, star, all distinguishable* points in 
space, the adventure itself is abolished. The idealist 
who by right and intention is the pure adventurer in 
the regions of the spirit has not yet experimented his 
freedom if he remains unappreciative of authority, in 
religion as in knowledge. It is ho who in the owl must 
be called upon to expound the worth and use of church, 
dogma, creed, priest, mediator, the whole apparatus of 
God-worship which religious evolution has produce 
God-worship itself* 


If idealism declines this responsibility, as being be- 
yond its province, beyond reason in fact, belonging to 
the practical, or psychological, or anthropological, or 
historical aspect of the matter only, it does thereby ac- 
knowledge the foundations of religion to be beyond 
reason ; implies that to comprehend the truth of religion, 
idealism must at last abandon itself. 

The pragmatic test has meant much in our time as a 
principle of criticism, in awakening the philosophic con- 
science to the simple need of fruitfulness and moral ef- 
fect as a voucher of truth. It is this critical pragmatism 
which first and widely appeals to the intellectual con- 
science at large. Negative pragmatism, I shall call it : 
whose principle is, " That which does not work is not 
true" The corresponding positive principle, tc What- 
ever works is true," I regard as neither valid nor use- 
ful. But invaluable as a guide do I find this negative 
test: if a theory has no consequences, or bad ones; if it 
makes no difference to men, or else undesirable differ- 
ences ; if it lowers the capacity of men to meet the stress 
of existence, or diminishes the worth to them of what 
existence they have ; such a theory is somehow false, and we 
have no pfcace until it is remedied. I will even go farther, 
and say that a theory is false if it is not interesting : a 
proposition that falls on the mind so dully as to excite 
no enthusiasm has not attained the level of truth ; though 
the words be accurate the import has leaked away from 
them, and the meaning is not conveyed. Any such cri- 
terion of truth is based upon a conviction or thesis other- 
wise founded, that the real world is infinitely charged 
with interest and value, whereby any commonplaceness 


on our part is evidence of a lack of grasp. Upon this 
basis (not apart from it), a negative pragmatism must be 
an effective instrument of knowledge. 

This instrument is nowhere so significant as in the 
field of religious knowledge. What difference is made 
to you (and necessarily made to you) by your equipment 
of religious ideas and beliefs? If they are powerless, 
they are false. Whatever doctrine tends to draw the 
fangs of reality, and to leave men uastuug, content, 
complacent, and at ease, that doctrine is a treachery 
and a deceit. Note well that it is not pleasantness but 
force that sets the mark for truth : we have to require 
of our faith not what is agreeable to the indolent spirit 
but what is at once a spur and a promise. What do you 
think of hell? The doctrine of hell made religion at 
one time a matter of first-rate importance : getting your 
soul saved made a difference iu your empirical destiny. 
If your idealism wipes out your fear of hell, and with it 
all sense of infinite risk in the conduct of life, your 
idealism has played you false. Trath must be transformed ; 
but the transformation of truth must be marked by a 
conservation of power ; herewith we have a more defi- 
nite expression for the positive basis of our negative 
pragmatism. No religion, then, is a true religion which 
is not able to make men tingle, yes, even to their phys- 
ical nerve tips, with the sense of an infinite hazard, a 
wrath to come, a heavenly city to be gained or lost in 
the process of time and by the use of our freedom. The 
flesh and blood of historical contingencies cannot be 
sapped up in the timeless issues of a certain type of 
idealism without loss of power, hence loss of truth. 

What, again, do you think of God? The God of 


orthodoxy is thought of as being so far like man as to 
have loves, interests, and powers which make themselves 
temporally felt: this God does things in the world 
which, if we like, we may call miracles or, if we like bet- 
ter, deeds of Providence. Upon this differential work 
of God, as contrasted with his total work, was based 
much of the urgency of former religious observance, 
prayer, and piety. Pragmatism rightly enquires what 
becomes of this differential work when God becomes 
the All-One of idealism; and what, if the historical will 
of God and the acts of Providence disappear from our 
creed, is to replace the immediacy and pervasiveness of 
the religious interest which those theories encouraged, 
and which in themselves (though not in all bearings) 
were good. In such wise, the pragmatic principle tends 
to confront idealism, as it has never before been con- 
fronted, with the substantial values of orthodoxy ; com- 
pelling idealism to complete itself by the standard of 
these values (I do not say, of these propositions), even 
if at the cost of its philosophic identity. 

This is the type of service which pragmatism can well 
render. As a positive builder it has little to recommend 
it* Founding truth ultimately on our human value is 
but another attempt, more radical than that of ideal- 
ism, at the " pure adventure" : it is an idealism become 
more subjective, freedom less bound by authority- It is 
the function of the pragmatic test (as of pain and dis- 
comfort generally) to point out something wrong ; the 
work of discovering what is right must be done by other 
means. Knowledge may be obliged to wait long in a 
notch well known to be tentative and unsatisfactory 


because the satisfactory thing cannot be found as truth 
requires. I do not say that action must wait. Decision 
has its hour; and if knowledge is absent, the will-to- 
believe must come into play : but the will-to-bolieve is 
precisely a principle for action, not for knowledge. It 
has no place in the age-long work of speculation. The 
adoption of an hypothesis as a working-theory or postu- 
late does not conceal from the adopter its true nature ; 
does not obliterate for him the difference between postu- 
late and knowledge. 

But is there, then, no inaccessible truth ? no perma* 
nent gap in knowledge (such as religious truth might 
hold), to be filled up by choice? There is no inaccessible 
truth. If any object has possible bearing on human in- 
terests, such as to make it matter of choice, it has a 
bearing on human fact also there is some cognitive 
way to it. Truth is indeed variously accessible : there 
are regions of the world unsounded, long to be unsound- 
able, ample playground for imagination ; but in truth- 
getting these very regions are to be approached (and are 
approached) with a more delicate chivalry just because 
of their comparative helplessness with more care, not 
less, to restrain the impulses of subjectivity. 

But, at last, is there no unfinished truth f No reality 
yet unmade, or in the making ; no chance to co-operate 
with God in the work of creation, in determining what 
truth shall be? Have we not here the real meaning of 
positive pragmatism, and its true significance in religion ? 
The world is infinitely unfinished; here lies the oppor- 
tunity of freedom, the only excuse, indeed, for timer 
existence at all. But of the world, too, we can define a 
tolerable and an intolerable uutimshedness : the world 

PREFACE xxvii 

must have an identity which the work of finishing does 
not destroy or from moment to moment displace. Un- 
limited co-operation with God in world-making we have ; 
not, however, in ultimate God-making. The religious 
object offers that identity without which creative free- 
dom itself would lack, for us, all meaning. Does it seem 
that super-nature is the plastic part of reality, nature 
relatively unplastic ? toward nature must we he 
relatively empirical, passive ; toward super-nature rel- 
atively self-assertive, creative? I venture to point out 
that our creativity in any field follows faithfully the 
character of our passivity in that same field, varies with 
it not inversely but directly. Here, where our subserv- 
ience to objective fact is most massive, here in the 
world of sense and nature, our practical creations are 
most massive also. And there, in the world of the reli- 
gious objects, where myth-making, and world-picturing, 
even God-character-building, are most exuberant, 
there the firm steadfastness of objective reality is at its 
summit also. An ultimate empiricism, a deference to 
what is given, not makable, just in these regions of 
the supersensible and the supernatural, is an attitude 
wholly necessary to human dignity, and to true religion. 
Far less than absolute idealism is positive pragmatism 
(radically taken) capable of worship. 

If we are right in this, it may appear that pragma- 
tism, taken in a constructive sense, is a self -refuting the- 
ory. The only kind of truth which in the end can com- 
ply with the pragmatic requirement that power shall be 
conserved is a non-pragmatic truth, a truth which has 
an absolute aspect ; which proposition we shall try to 
make good in the course of this treatise. Pragmatism 

xxviii PREFACE 

is a philosophy which cannot be finished without des- 
troying its identity. 

Whatever may be the deficiencies of idealism, prag- 
matism, if we are right, cannot supply them. How may 
it be with mysticism ? Mysticism may have its absolute : 
but mysticism finds its metaphysics in experience ; and 
mysticism is no stranger to worship. I believe, in fact, 
that the requirements both of reason and of beyond- 
reason may be met in what mysticism, rightly understood, 
may contribute to idealism. Not every mysticism will do. 
It is not the " speculative mysticism" of the text-books 
that we want ; it is mysticism as a practice of union with 
God, together with the theory of that practice. Mys- 
ticism may introduce idealism to the religious deed, 
ultimately thereby to the particular and authoritative 
in religion. 

There are mysticisms in which none of us believe. 
There is the mysticism of mantic and theurgy mysti- 
cism of supernatural exploit, seeking short-cut to personal 
goods. There is another mysticism equally remote from 
our affections: world-avoiding, illusion-casting, zero- 
worshipping mysticism; living (in self-contradiction) 
upon the fruits of a rejected life. This mysticism has 
given the name its current color : making it necessary, 
perhaps, to ask that we be understood and agreed to- 
gether in rejecting it. Prom the standpoint of just this 
sound disparagement of these types of mysticism, I have 
become persuaded that there is another, even a neces- 
sary mysticism. A mysticism as important as dangerous j 
whose historical aberrations are but tokens of its power. 
It is this mysticism which lends to life that value which 


is beyond reach of fact, and that creativity which is be- 
yond the docility of reason ; which neither denies nor is 
denied by the results of idealism or the practical works 
of life, but supplements both, and constitutes the essen- 
tial standpoint of religion. 

The mystic finds the absolute in immediate experience. 
Whatever is mediated is for him not yet the real which 
he seeks. This means to some that the mystic rejects all 
mediators : the implication is mistaken. To say that a 
mediator is not the finality is not to say that a mediator 
is nothing. The self-knowing mystic, so far from reject- 
ing mediators, makes all things mediators in their own 
measure. To all particulars he denies the name God, 
to endow them with the title of mediator between himself 
and God. Thus it is that the mystic, representing the 
truth of religious practice, may teach idealism the way 
to worship, and give it connection with particular and 
historic religion. 

I have thus sketched, in highly crude and unmodified 
manner, the general philosophic attitude of this book. 
The philosophies of the present time, when they attain 
their own free conclusion, complete themselves in the 
same point. Pure thought, and pure voluntarism, share 
the fate of the "pure adventure " : they must find rest 
in something other, limiting their freedom, yet required 
by it. It is the finished pragmatist who best knows the 
need of the absolute. It is the finished mystic who best 
knows the need of active life and its mediation. It is the 
finished idealist who best knows the need of the real- 
istic elements of experience; the mystical and author- 
itative elements of faith. I know not what name to 


give to this point of convergence, nor does name much 
matter: it is realism, it is mysticism, it is idealism also, 
its identity, I believe, not broken. For in so far as ideal- 
ism announces the liberty of thought, the spirituality of 
the world, idealism is but another name for philosophy 
all philosophy is idealism. It is only the radical ideal- 
ist who is able to give full credit to the realistic, the 
naturalistic, even the materialistic aspects of the world 
he lives in. 

So much it has seemed right to say, by way of gen- 
eral philosophic orientation and confession. But in the 
work of the book itself no interest is taken in the criti- 
cism of thought-systems for their own sakes; our inter- 
est there is in the substance and worth of religion, to 
be found by whatever instruments of thought may be 
at hand. 

As to the plan to be followed, T shall accept the prag- 
matic question, What does religion do? as a way of 
leading into the study of what religion is. In any case, 
religion must be understood and judged largely by what 
it accomplishes, by the difference it makea in human af- 
fairs. If we can at the beginning catali a glimpso of the 
sort of result which religion naturally achieves in history 
and in personal life, though only by way of a working 
hypothesis, we shall have a valuable guide for further 
enquiry into the nature of religion. 

In taking up this enquiry, the second part of the book 
considers with some thoroughness the motives which 
have led to the retirement of reanori in religion, and at 
the same time to a growing confidence in the worth of 
feeling. By deepening our conception of foaling we fiud 


that our anti-intellectual tendencies can be funded for 
the most part in the "religion of feeling"; and in com- 
ing to terms with that view of religion we solve many 
of our problems at once. The issue of this enquiry turns 
largely upon reaching a new understanding (chapter xi) 
of the actual working-connection in consciousness be- 
tween ideas and feelings. It will appear in what way the 
value of religion depends upon the religious idea and 
its truth. 

Hereupon it would be in order to pass at once to the 
question of the truth of religious ideas, and especially 
of the idea of God as the central idea of religion. But 
here, too, it seems permissible first to build up our idea 
of God pragmatically, by considering in a series of free 
meditations (part three) what interest we may have, hu- 
manly speaking, in the unity of our world, in the pres- 
ence there of anything changeless and absolute, and in 
the existence of a personal deity. 

It is the work of the following part to deal directly 
with the question, how men know God; to show how 
God is found in human experience at large, and how this 
knowledge develops in the specifically religious experi- 
ence of mankind. It is maintained (in chapters xix to 
xxi) that our knowledge of fellow-men depends upon 
an original knowledge of God ; not our knowledge of 
God upon a prior knowledge of our social world. But 
these two aspects of our spiritual experience do develop 
each one the other, according to a principle of alterna- 
tion which is expounded in the ensuing part (part five), 
dealing with mysticism and worship. 

It now becomes possible (part six) to set down in more 
adequate form what was taken as the beginning of our 

xxxii PREFACE 

study, namely, the work of God in the world, the way 
in which religion becomes fruitful in history, in morals, 
in the arts, and in the conquest of pain and evil. There 
is no creativity in human life without the Absolute as 
one party thereto. 

If I have taken frequent occasion in this book to 
express dissent from the views both of Professor Royce 
and of William James, it is but a sign of the extent to 
which I owe to them, my honored masters in these mat- 
ters, the groundwork of my thinking. I have differed 
freely from both, in the spirit of their own instruction, 
but not without the result of finding myself at one with 
both in greater measure than I would once have thought 
possible or logically proper! 

Most of the work of criticizing the original drafts of 
this book, and many an idea for their improvement, I 
owe to my wife: in so far as the path of the reader has 
been made plain, this is due chiefly to her. The manu- 
script was read by Professor George Herbert Palmer, 
whose criticism and gonerous interest have been alike 
invaluable; by my colleague, Mr. Chariot* A. Bennett, 
who has given substantial aid both in the thought nnd 
in the work of indexing ; also, in large part, by Mr, 
Clarence Day, Junior, of New York, for whose careful, 
untechaical comments I am especially grateful. 


HAVEN, April 7, 

Acknowledgment. The editor of Mind has kindly allowed 
me to make use (in part five and in the last appendix) of 
parts of an article on " The meaning of mysticism " published 
in January, 1912. Two other appendices are due to courtesy 
of the editors of The Psychological Bulletin and of The Philo- 
sophical Review. These are acknowledged in place. I wish 
also here to express thanks to the publishers, who in many 
ways and without stint have aided my plans and contributed 
to the result. 





Two questions, what religion is and what it is worth, 3. The 
* pragmatic approach ' : judging what religion is by what it 
does, 4. Can we assume to know what the effects of religion 
are? 5. How the hearing of religion on another world is 
to be dealt with, 6. 



Religion rather fertile than useful ; ' mother of the arts,' 12. 
Emancipation of the arts from religion, 13* And their substi- 
tution for religion, 15. Whether any separate place for reli- 
gion is left, 20. The perpetual parentage of religion, 23. 
Corrective of liberty and of culture : the world of * owns/ 24. 
Source of creativity in instinct and in the arts, 25. 



Every man a connoisseur in judging religion, 27. Traits of 
the religious soul, 28. Religion tentatively defined as 'antici- 
pated attainment,' 31. Paradox of this definition, and pro- 
blem that emerges, 32. 





The general tendency to put reason into the background, 
37. Special interest of religion in this change, 38. Various 


reasons for it : comparison of religions, 40 ; new views of reli- 
gious history, 41. More general reasons : our acquired scientific 
instinct, 42. The psychological, biological, and pragmatic cur- 
rents, 43 ; the critical current, * Dr.' Locke's view of ideas, 48. 
Resulting conception of a religion of feeling, 49. What satis- 
faction can tmch religion offer? 51. Altered view of revela- 
tion, 53. 


Disadvantages of the religion of feeling, 5(> Religion has 
never regarded itself as an affair of feeling, 57, The genuine 
dilemma, the 'dialectical illusion/ 59. The dilemma as it 
appears in history, scholastic versus mystic, 60. Proposed 
solutions, by splitting the mind, by uniting the mind, 62. 



Feeling as conscious instability, 65. Ending in present 
knowledge of an object, 66. Equivalence between feeling and 
idea in doing work, 69. Friendship as fooling and as creed, 70. 
Religious feeling and its cognitive intention, 72. Need reli- 
gious ideas be true ? 73 ; or literal ? 75. 



Re'sume' ; the ethics of communicating feeling, 77. Problem 
of religious knowledge put an a question of the adequacy of ideas, 
78. What an idea i, 79. The circle as symbol of tho idea, 80. 
Can the idea comprehend change? M. Borgmm*H potation, 
82. The difference between knowing and reasoning, 87. 


The infinite an an impossible task for knowledge, 90. 
Hiding's view of roligiona knowledge, 91. The* infinite as 
an object of all ideas, 9& Tho knowledge of totality, 94. 
How knowledge grows, beginning with tho whole, 95. Why 
knowledge about the whole is procarioun, 97* Advantage of 
the child, 98. Religion and science, 99. 

CONTENTS xxxvii 



Denial of predicates does not make an idea negative, 101. 
Nor reduce it to a feeling, 102. The growth of Arts making 
literal truth in religion possible, 103. Necessary simplic- 
ity of whole-knowledge, 104. Mystical methods of religious 
insight, appeals to subconsciousness and instinct, involve no 
retreat into subjectivity, 105. 




Tendency of idea to lose vital connection with feeling, 109. 
The ideal of independence, 110. The permanent idea^-world, 
111. The theoretical attitude, 112. Attempt to explain 
away the theoretical attitude as a practical development, 
115. Failure of the action-theory in this attempt, 117. 
Ideas lodge their meanings in a ' region of indifference,' 118 ; 
Nature or substance, 119. Our interest in substance is orig- 
inal, 120 ; not derived from other interest, 122. 



Interests and values seem ultimate facts, 125. Yet require 
to be explained, 126. They depend in part upon the ' apper- 
ceptive mass,' 127 ; the idea-resource, 129. Theory of the 
dependence of values upon the whole-idea, 130. Illustrated 
in the growth of values, 132 ; in the value of personality, 134 ; 
in love, 135 ; and altruism, 136. How theory, and especially 
religious theory, determines the value-level of consciousness, 
and thereby all feeling, 136. 



The idea that religious truth may belong to the unfinished 
parts of reality, 140 ; and so be a function of the will, 144. 
The poetry of the Orient versus the literality of the West in 
religion, 149. Loyalty implies necessity, 152. Our creativ- 
ity is derivative, 154. Religious truth must be founded on 
experience, therefore on reason also, 154. 


xxxviii CONTENTS 




No optimism without some unity, 167 ; beneath the surface 
of experience, 168. Unities too feeble for optimism, 169. 
Unities of world powers and problems, 172. The view that 
evil is less real than good, 174. The scientific reaction to 
evil; justice versus a moral monism, 17ft. Monism and re- 
sponsibility, 177. Residual pluralism in the materials of his- 
tory, 179. 




Indictment of the Absolute, 184. Not an object of worship, 
185. Use of the changeless, 187. The two premisses of action, 
190. Does the Absolute answer the questions that lead to it ? 
the epistemologist's question, 191 ; the moralist's question, 
193 ; the metaphysician's question, 194 ; the question of reli- 
gion, 195. How form may matter, 197 ; the irrelevant uni- 
versal may do work, 199. Consciousness as something which 
makes differences, 201. Its absolute object a necessary con- 
dition of this work, 203. 



McTaggart's critical estimate of the probable worth of 
what God does, 208 ; of what God is, 214. The futility of 
probabilities here, 214. The worth of God must also be found 
in experience, 215. Our happiness depends on openness to 
experience, 217; and this, in turn, on the possibility of trans- 
muting evil, 218. Experiences of this transmutation, 220. 
The logic of a supreme power, 221 ; applied to th^ idea of a 
supreme power over evil, 222. How religious experience 
seems to meet these conditions, 224. But a finite God is of no 
worth, 225. 





Experience and tradition, 229. Nature and social experi- 
ence as mediators of God, 230. Not ultimate sources, 233. 
The knowledge of ignorance, 235 ; of mystery, 236 ; of the 
presence of another knower, 237. Religion the source of alien- 
ation from the world, as well as its remedy, 238. 



Three classes of objects, and the organs for knowing 
them, 241. Elusiveness of social knowledge, 243. Various 
ways of accounting for our knowledge of other minds : by 
criteria, 246 ; by response, 248 ; by acknowledgment, 250. 
Assumptions common to all these ways, 250. The trilemma 
of knowledge, 251. 



We have no desire to know other mind except as engaged 
in nature, 255. The ideal of communicating without physi- 
cal media, telepathy, 256. Why this ideal is plausible, 257. 
Knowledge of other mind in its objects, 260 ; in its body, 262. 
How would the immediate presence of another mind differ 
from experience as it is? 265. 



Theory that experience of nature and social experience are 
inseparable, 269. Implying that social experience is continu- 
ous, 270. And without independent beginning, 271. The 
actuality of social experience, 274. Might it be a mere 
ideal ? 275. Three difficulties in recognizing the experience, 
279. The difficulty of social verification, 279. 




Natural realism excludes social experience, 282. Nature 
is objective, but objectivity requires and admits explanation, 
284. Our dependence upon nature interpreted in terms of 
creation, not causation, 286 , and creation in terms of com- 
munication, 288. Realism and idealism, 290. 



Problem of identifying the fundamental social object, 291. 
Is it a collective object ? 292. It must be a single self, self- 
conscious and wholly active, 293-5. Proximate shapes taken 
by this experience in consciousness, 295. The experience of 
God making human social experience possible, 297. The re- 
gion of community of consciousness, 298 ; solitary selfhood 
an acquisition, 299. 



Resume* of results ; the literalness of religious experience, 
301. What is a proof, in case of an object of experience ? 
303. Ways of proving God ; their starting-point, the reality 
of nature, 305. Valid proof must interpret the history of 
experience, 307. The dialectic of experience which leads to 
the God-idea, 308. The reality of this idea, 310. Valid and 
invalid forms of the ontological argument, 313* 



Merits and defects of animism, 317. Advance from spirits 
to gods, 318. Qualities of a god, 319. How the knowledge 
of God grows, 321. God as one and as many, 324. Prema- 
ture monotheisms, 325. God as near and as remote, 326. 
God as moral and as amoral, 330. God aa personal and as 
impersonal, 332. 





Worship as the sphere of the will, 341 ; how different from 
philosophic contemplation, 342. As seen in history, 344. 
What is the essential part of rite ? 347. Mystics true and false, 




Prejudices against the worth of special acts of worship, 356. 
Presumptions in favor of the worth of prayer, 358. The na- 
ture of spiritual ambition, 359. A quest of self knowledge, 
360 ; of knowledge of reality, 362 ; of the new and untried, 
363. Worship as an essay in detachment, 365. The love of 
God explained by what it is not, 366. 



Prayer as exercise of a special faculty, 370. Physical pre- 
paration, 372. 'Purgation,' 373; the casuistry of self-sup- 
pression, 374. 'Meditation/ 376; its passing objects, 379. 
Passivity, 382; its paradoxical character, 383. Summary 
view of preparation, 387 



Does mystic experience come within the scope of psychology, 
390. The significance of its transiency, 391. Characteris- 
tics of mystic psychology : (1) Rhythm, 392. Not identical 
with oscillation of vital tone, 393 ; nor an abnormal alternation, 
395. Organic analogies, 396. (2) Disconnection, 397. A 
practical principle which suspends rationality, 399 ; and pre- 
cedes conventionality, 401. (3) Solitude, 402. Its danger and 
its importance, 403. Mysticism the redemption of solitude, 404. 



NATION .... 405 

The principle of alternation versus the pursuit of concreted 
good, 406. Alternation between whole and part in the tem- 
poral work of thought and will, 407. The necessity for al- 
ternation found in the nature of voluntary attention, 412. 
Symptoms of spiritual fatigue, 415. Reversal from work to 
pleasure and worship, 418. Relation of worship to pleasure, 
etc., 419. The mystic's motive, 422. The failure of perma- 
nent worship, 425. Major rhythm of life, 427. 



Mystic experience as answer to prayer, 428. The com- 
moner forms of mystic experience, 428. The realization of 
the uniqueness of time, 429. The discovery of oneself as 
individual, 430. The discovery of another self as individ- 
ual, 431. Nature of love, 433. Perception of the whole as 
individual, the love of God, 433. The permanent meaning 
of prayer, 436. The religious right, 437. The sanctions of 
worship, 439. 






DOGMA 44? 

The mystic is first an original knower of old truth, 448. 
Why he regards this truth as of general interest, 449. The 
'that' as prior to the 'what,' 453. Infallihility versus its 
content, 455. The incidental fruitfulness of his revelation, 
457. Origin of special dogmas, 458. The errors of dogma, 



Creativity has its logic, 462. The resistance to innovation, 
the group-form of conscious systems, 463. Examples of the 
creative event, 466. Creation dependent upon reflexion, 470. 
How is reflexion possible ? 472. Partial reflexion depend- 
ent upon total reflexion, which is contained in worship, 4/4. 
Induction akin to reflexion, 475. Observation, genius, 476. 
Novelty and continuity of consciousness, 478. Limitation 
overcoming itself, 481. 



The problem of particular fortune, 485. Happiness de- 
taching itself from particular things, 486. Doctrine of the 
inner control of happiness, 488. Psychological nature of un- 
happiness, 491. Conditions of happiness, 492. Paradoxical 
attitudes towards pain and defeat, 493. Stoicism ancient 
and modern, 495- Altruism, 497. Altruism not sufficient, 
500. Need of prophetic consciousness, 503. Anticipations 
of prophecy in common experience, 505. The cost of pro- 
phetic power, 509. Prophecy and mystic experience, 512. 
Religion and the historic virtues, 512. 




The external conditions for religious confidence, 516. The 
prophetic will tends to create the conditions for its own suc- 
cess, 517. Bringing into history a structure like that of nature, 
518. The meaning of the religious institution, 519. The 
problem of positive religion, 520. Positive religion and the 
State, 520. The need for positive religion ; the actual founda- 
tions of faith, 523. 








INDEX . ... , ...... 679 




WE are proposing to reach some definite conclusion 
about the nature and worth of religion what 
it consists of in the way of experience, belief, and action; 
what comes of it in the way of support, outlook, and actual 
productiveness. As to the nature of religion, we are pro- 
posing especially to enquire how much it is concerned 
with theoretical propositions to be believed, metaphysical 
assertions, doctrines about unseen things and things past 
and to come in short, how far the intellect is involved ; 
how far, on the other hand, religion appeals to some- 
thing in us deeper than intellect, to faith, to feeling, 
to the subconscious, to the instinctive, to the essential 
will. Certainly, in our own time, the worth of intellect 
in religion is much discredited ; various ways are sug- 
gested as to how we may take our creeds without taking 
them literally as figurative or symbolic expressions of 
truths that cannot be exactly formulated, as postulates 
whose significance is primarily moral, as declarations of 
value, as determinations of the will. And yet one seems 
to require literality at some point in his creed ; we wish 
to bring our religion at least into the same universe 
with our science (whose propositions are all ' literal ') 
and to have them speak with the same voice when they 
verge, as at their limits they do verge, upon the same 


great questions of human destiny. Further, we do not 
believe that either science or religion is irrelevant to con- 
duct, and when they bear upon the same fundamental 
issues of practice we wish to see a fair understanding 
between them. We are open to the opinion that reli- 
gion does in some way take us beyond reason, and that 
religious truth must in some measure be clothed in sym- 
bols ; but we are not open to believe that reason and 
our beyond-reason are separate and independent func- 
tions. As surely as any one person rides one consecu- 
tive route of experience through time, so surely must 
all the truth that belongs to one person come to the 
same court and enter into the same total system of his 
world. We are proposing, therefore, to interest our* 
selves especially in the parts that reason aud beyond- 
reason play in the so-called truths of religion. 

And we think that we shall be helped in determining 
what religion is by first fixing our attention upon what 
religion does, as if religion could best bo seen not by 
direct inspection, but in its effects. Not only is it true 
that religion is itself an invisible and intangible object, 
best discovered as wind and the spirit generally are 
discovered, in what they move; but also, our interest in 
religion is due to an opinion of its value, or at any rate 
of its actual influence in the world, so that our identifi- 
cation of it and understanding of it are guided by these 
supposed consequences. This, we may say, is a pragmatic 
approach to our subject; and it will have the advantage 
of leaving open the question what importance theoret- 
ical propositions may have in religion ; it is possible, 
for instance, that the feelings may prove to be the work- 
ing part of religion and the ideas a matter of derivative 


importance. But there are serious objections to this 
way of learning the nature of religion. 

The first is that we shall be moving in a circle. The 
value of religion is half of our problem, perhaps the 
larger half ; can we assume that we already know the 
value and works of religion as a guide to the knowledge 
of its nature, and then treat its nature as a source of the 
knowledge of its works? I only answer this objection 
by accepting it. In any living subject we have to assume 
that we already know something as a capital whereby 
to win a wider and more exact knowledge. And it is the 
usual procedure of science to use the phenomena as a 
means of winning a formula for the ' things', and the for- 
mula in turn as a means of discovering further phenom- 
ena. This circle, or as I prefer to put it, this alterna- 
tion between inner and outer, is our own way of life, 
and the way of all knowledge. 

The second objection is more specific. It is that the 
chief works of religion are as invisible and conjectural 
as religion itself, since they belong to another world 
than this. No historic religion has pretended to recom- 
mend itself to men solely on the ground of its value for 
the present life and social order. Most developed reli- 
gions, on the contrary, insist on the comparative worth- 
lessness of these goods, make it a point to draw away 
our attention and affections from them, and assert that 
the treasures to which they would introduce us are else- 
where. If such religions render distinct service to human 
society, it is an incidental service. The most widely in- 
fluential of religions, Buddhism, must by its own logic 
regard itself a failure in so far as it tends in any way 
to make this present existence, whether personal, social, 


or political, more attractive. And B uddhism is not alone 
in this deprecation of things present. 1 Any attempt, 
therefore, to judge religion pragmatically, that is, by its 
effects in human experience, would seem to promise little 
to the point : at best, its estimate is threatened by 
defective proportion. 

Nevertheless, it is true that religion has, for the most 
part, regarded itself as ministering to the welfare of two 
worlds, and not of one only. It seems to have gained a 
foothold on this planet originally by combining its in- 
visible interests (so immensely real to the imaginative 
animal) with other interests of a practical and immedi- 
ate nature. The gods were Powers, perceptible in field, 
water-course, and fruit ; in cloud, in battle, and in bodily 
health or disease though their great historical exploits 
may have belonged to regions behind the sun. Penal- 
ties visited upon the profane were physical as well as 
metaphysical; to be "cut off from fire and water" 
meant pain, probably death, to the body as well as to 
the social nature and the souL And with the growing 
belief that the other world, whatever it bo, is not a 
jealous rival of this present, but at least in relations of 

1 Neither Schopenhauer's nor Rousseau's interpretation of Chris-* 
tianity will be acceptable to everybody. But these words from The Social 
Contract are not all false; and may remind us how recently it has be- 
come absurd to take their view as full truth. " Christianity is an entirely 
spiritual religion, concerned solely with heavenly things ; tho Christian's 
country is not of this world. He does his duty, it is true ; but he does it 
with a profound indifference as to the good or ill success of his endeavors. 
Provided that he has nothing to reproach himfielf with, it matters little 
to him whether all goes well or ill here below. If the State flourishes, he 
scarcely dares to enjoy the public felicity. If the State declines, he 
blesses the hand of God which lies heavy on his people." Book iv, 
ch. viii. 


friendliness and perhaps of organic union with it, the 
impression deepens in our common consciousness that 
the fruits by which true religion is to be known are 
such as ripen in part before our eyes. By virtue of 
some harmony of nature in the two worlds, nothing 
which is profitable in the one can, we believe, be wholly 
noxious in the other. And by virtue of some actual 
intercourse between heaven and earth, the effects of 
salvation may echo back and be noted in moral advance- 
ment, economic welfare, and the success of armies. Our 
increasing confidence that what we bind on earth is 
likewise bound in heaven, and that what we regard as 
good here is esteemed there in the same sense, makes 
it necessary for religion to submit to a type of measure- 
ment that must once have seemed unspeakably worldly 
and irrelevant. In proportion as any form of religion 
hinders, or fails to promote, what we regard as c welfare' 
that form is judged false : in no religion is authority 
now so far prior to social judgment that it could again 
impose upon Europe the human sacrifice or the sacred 
prostitution. When we now say that God loves men, 
we mean in part that God loves what we love; and 
when we refer to the will of God, we think we know 
that will chiefly through our knowledge of the condi- 
tions of social soundness and progress. We have all but 
lost our power to believe in the great reversal with which 
religious enthusiasm would once unhesitatingly confront 
any confessed ambition. 

To be more definite, a certain large part of that 
primitive Other-world has been reclaimed as an integral 
part of this sphere of things. I do not mean simply 
that human ambitions have become capable of more 


idealism ; so that the old contrast between the present 
and the beyond is largely reproduced in the contrast 
between the narrower and the wider interest, the self- 
seeking desires and the love of mankind. I mean that 
we have learned something of the sources of the older 
ideas about the Other-world ; and that we can identify 
at least some of that Other- world with the human mind 
itself. For the human mind stands in direct contrast 
with nature ; is somehow superior to nature, including 
it as in some god-realm remote yet intimate, a world 
of another sort. To the ancient beginner in self-know- 
ledge, unfurnished with psychological ideas and unac- 
quainted with the mysteries of introspection, his own 
mind appears to him can only appear to him as 
a part of supernature. He has no way to express what 
goes on within him save in objective terms, imaginatively 
chosen and projected. The gods who in ordeal choked 
the liar, showed themselves to the youth at initiation, 
who inspired the dance, swung-up the rage of fighting 
to omnipotence point, answered many a prayer, were in 
some part functions of his own soul or of his sub- 
soul. Commands of the deity revealed to shaman and 
priest, we may fairly call them instinctive forebod- 
ings of social good and evil, and say that supernature 
here is but remoter nature, impressing itself upon the 
sense of the keener-strung members of the race. It is 
simply the higher mental process that is read as a voice 
from another world. 

So also with every new idea, with every product of 
" inspiration " : those to whom at first, and rarely, such 
inbursts of reflexive insight came with definiteness and 
power could not have done otherwise than refer them 


to a supernatural source. Moments of deeper thought 
and intenser fancy distinguished ahove the common- 
place of existence, moments of imagination and inven- 
tion, these moments have in all ages struck upon the 
mind as from a world beyond that of the visible career. 
No one upon whom reflection, the awareness of his own 
solitary self, has broken as an epoch in experience with 
the effect at once of revelation and command, can fail 
to understand how those early spokesmen of the spirit 
believed themselves both passive and at the same time 
more than human in the hours of their elevation ; and 
how in declaring themselves media for the utterance of 
sacred oracles they were but recognizing that impera- 
tive impulse which an intense conviction always imposes 
upon the soul. The primitive prophet must have re- 
garded the mystery of his insight with as much wonder 
and reverence as its expression would excite in those 
around him. Yet here also we are now able to recog- 
nize in large measure the natural operations of our own 
minds, conscious and subconscious. 

In such ways as this much of the language of classic 
religion can be interpreted, and so much of the su- 
pernatural thereby naturalized, that we may question 
whether any significant part of the Other-world is left: 
to be considered in a theory of religion. 

For my part, I do not accept the notion that the 
Other-world can be wholly transferred to the present 
by these interpretations. There remains to me some- 
thing literal in the supernature of the most material 
and credulous savage. I stand with him in the belief 
that religion would vanish if the whole tale of its value 
were shifted to the sphere of human affairs, however 


psychically or spiritually understood. But I accept the 
interpretations, as far as they can go. They prove 
enough to justify our method. They show an inter* 
mixture, anastomosis, and analogy between the Other- 
world and this, so thorough that if we begin our study 
of religion by a rough survey of its working in our social 
structure and history we shall not go wide of the mark. 
Whatever other knowledge we might gain of religion, 
there could be no complete understanding unless it were 
also known in its bearing upon those interests we call 



IF we undertake to judge what religion is by what 
religion has done in history, some data are conspicu- 
ous, others obscure, little is of sure purport. Students 
of Kulturgeschichte are more ready than they were to 
credit religion with certain definite achievements and 
services, especially at the beginning, in the rude busi- 
ness of nation-making, law-making, mind-making. 1 But 
as religion ceases to be the one salient social force its re- 
sults mingle with the effects of other factors ; clear trac- 
ing of the causal nerve is difficult. Prom the record, vast 
and igneous as it is, there appears also a certain con- 
tradictoriness in the effects of religion. It is credited 
with works of government, charged with works of war, 
it sheds blood as generously as it promotes brother- 
hood. Religion has fostered everything valuable to man 
and has obstructed everything: it has welded states 
and disintegrated them ; it has rescued races and it has 
oppressed them, destroyed them, condemned them to 
perpetual wandering and outlawry. It has raised the 
value of human life, and it has depressed the esteem of 
that life almost to the point of vanishing ; it has hon- 
ored womanhood, it has slandered marriage. Here is 
an energy of huge potency but of ambiguous character. 
Prom such a survey but one uncontradicted impression 
1 See Lippert, Bagehot, Fustel de Coulanges, Kidd, Hobhouse, etc. 


emerges : the thing has been radical ; it has had some 
grip upon the original instincts of human nature ; it has 
known how to rule and to swirl into its own vortex all the 
currents of love, of hunger, and of self-defense; and it 
has been able to put these severally and together under 
its feet. It is this dynamic aspect of religion, an in- 
finite resource, which has appealed to capable political 
intelligence since the days of Roman, perhaps of Per- 
sian, imperial policy ; and it is this same aspect which 
appeals now to the scientist of society, whose eye is 
quick for usable elements of public power. 

But religion, though a social force of unknown mag- 
nitude, has never been tamed to harness by statesman, 
diplomat, or sociologue : the word ' useful * hardly ap- 
plies to it. Unlike the forces of nature, it is not now 
better known and more manageable for having been 
long dealt with. Statecraft has learned to fear it rather 
than to tamper with it ; and having once hotly sought 
alliance now everywhere seeks separation. A thing so 
root-mighty cannot fail to excite the lust for power ; 
but the exploiter has been at every point of contact 
stunned back by a touch of the uncontrollable. It is as 
if man's reason were trying to make bargains with man's 
insanity. As a social force, the laios of religious caus- 
ality have not been discovered. 

And in fact, from the side of its deeds in history 
religion remains a mystery. Its career is the swath of 
an agency immense, invisible, paradoxical. If its works 
are patent, they no more reveal its character than they 
becloud it. But the surface of historic fact which yields 
so little to an external inspection and use may respond 
more quickly to a simple hypothesis* What I have to 


propose is indeed something less than a theory at first, 
a rather unpromising tool, a figure of speech both com- 
monplace and faulty. It is this. The effect of religion 
in history appears most comprehensible to me when I 
regard it not primarily as an actor but as a parent, 
a parent whose deeds are far less important than her 
progeny, and whose most notable activity is put forth 
only in course of her dealings with them. The distinc- 
tion between utility and fertility runs throughout na- 
ture. It is a distinction which amounts to an incompat- 
ibility at some points in vital economy: it seems necessary 
that at these points life must choose between the useful 
and the fertile, so that the secret of the survival of many 
an apparently idle organ or social member is caught 
only in the rare moments of its creative action. It is 
vaguely, the distinction between worker and queen, 
leaf and blossom, male and female, science and fine art. 
Utility belongs to the middle things in creation, fertility 
to the extremes the ugly, the rejected, the consum- 
mate, the perfect to those things whereunto creation 
runs as to hopeless failure or to final achievement; and 
both the apparent failure and the apparent finality are 
denied in the moment when they become fertile. If 
the function of religion in the world should prove to 
be of the fertile rather than of the useful sort, the 
curiously paradoxical character of its overt deeds is in 
some measure accounted for. 

Allow me to assert without detailed evidence that all 
the arts of common life owe their present status and 
vitality to some sojourn within the historic body of reli- 
gion ; that there is little in what we call culture which has 
not at some time been a purely religious function, such as 


dancing, legislation, ceremony, science, music, philos- 
ophy, moral control. I shall not enquire whether some of 
these human interests which for the sake of simplicity 
I shall hereafter refer to in sum as "the Arts" have 
not had independent beginnings, as for example ethical 
and legislative ideas may have had; for whenever this 
has been the case, the art in question has later found 
its way to amalgamation with religion, and has from 
this absorption emerged with a new character and an- 
imus. Religion, I shall say, according to this vague fig- 
ure, is the mother of the Arts : this is its pragmatic 
place in the history of mankind and of culture. 

If this figure is substantially right, the inference from 
the fruits of religion to the nature of religion itself will 
be more substantial and intimate than the inference 
from various effects to their cause, or from scattered 
deeds to the agent of them. For something of religion 
itself would have been communicated to its offspring, 
and might in all likelihood be recognized there. In at- 
taining their majority, the children have not forgone 
the quality of the parent : they are still of her stock and 

It is true that in their successive struggles for eman- 
cipation, as in all adolescence, they were less conscious 
of their likeness to their parent than of their differ- 
ence, and of the smothering necessity for independent 
fare and fortune. They have filled the air of Greek 
and modern times with cries to which we have become 
accustomed : " Art for art's sake," " Science for science's 
sake," Right for right's sake," "Humanity for hu- 
manity's sake," and the rest all of them heartily po- 


lemic against the notion that they exist for any god's 
sake. But note the stages of their growth to maturity. 
Originally, an Art, no matter which one architecture, 
mensuration, law-giving, music is regarded as a di- 
rect manifestation of the divine, subject to divine pur- 
poses only ; then it is shown to be amenable to human 
control, and makes good its claim, as we have said, to 
serve as an independent human interest $ later on, the 
question of its divinity or humanity loses venom, and it 
is acknowledged a free art, having a province in either 
sacred or secular subjects ; finally, when all the causes 
for warfare have been won, the old spirit of kinship re- 
sumes sway, and someone sets up the cry that the art in 
question is really the essence of religion! No recent 
century has lacked men of weight who are prepared to 
discard the old progenetrix, and to assert with vigor 
that their religion, and quite possibly all religion, is 
now and hereafter identified with the cult of beauty, or 
of truth, or of righteousness, or of human good, or of 
all together. 

Perhaps it is not too much to say that these several 
ingredients of our spiritual life constitute now for the 
world the bulk of what religion it lives by. At the be- 
ginning of history, religion is the whole of culture ; at 
its end, it may seem, culture is the whole of religion. 
This relationship must be looked at somewhat closely. 


Progressive historical subtraction, such as religion 
has been subject to in the maturing of the arts, looks 
like progressive analysis; and as this analysis continues 
the presumption grows that it approaches completion. 
Knowing as we do that all life moves toward the ex- 
plicit from the hidden, it is more than a plausible hy- 
pothesis that religion has been simply the crude integral 
and germ of all these clearer essences ; that her life 
has been prophetic and preparatory, her fertility is 
exhausted, her separate role is now outplayed. This im- 
pression is enforced by the observation that each of 
these arts fulfills in a substantial way the traditional 
functions of the older cult. Each one poetry, or 
thought, or social service has its type of inspira- 
tion upon which its devotee depends; each has its 
way of saving men from sensuality and selfishness ; in 
each of them, this salvation is by way of self-sacrifice 
and devotion ; and each of them is an imperishable cause, 
greater than individual aims, invisible and calling for a 
launch offaith y yet for the same reasons more per- 
manent than personal and visible things, a genuine 
supernatural order, capable of conferring a valid im- 
mortality upon the good and faithful servant. If there 
is anything in an identity of predicates, the identi- 
fication of subjects seems irresistible. Religion is one 
with the Arts; it is her immortality to continue her 
life in them. 

If we ask which of these causes contains the most of 
religion, the trend of the times furnishes an answer, as 
it were by instinct. It has frequently been observed that 
these several ideals or ' causes* have a remarkable power 
(due no doubt to their family likeness) to include and 


involve each other: the worship o beauty, for instance, 
carries with it normally a regard for the requirements 
of truth and sympathy, and conversely. We can see how 
any one of these, thoroughly worked out, might be suf- 
ficient for all : while still any one of them taken alone, 
as men are, would be likely to give life a skewed pro- 
portion in some places, since the supposed working-out 
is never finished the artist may never arrive at a com- 
plete amalgamation of the moral with the beautiful, the 
moralist never fully unite grace and harmony with his 
ideal of right. It is the cult of social service that seems 
to be the most naturally comprehensive, and to engage 
most fully the whole religious nature of man. It tends 
at the present moment somewhat to displace the rest, 
and to suck up the enthusiasm of the new youth. It 
gives a better proportion : it can unite with beauty, but 
at a rate which does not part men from the actual dirt 
and disarray of social factsj it can unite with truth, but 
if it is a matter of the social good, or the religious edu- 
cation of children, or the like, well, truth also can stand 
in its due order and degree, it may seem. But no matter 
which one of the offspring of religion is most appealing 
at any time ; religion is exhausted into no one, into 
nothing less than the totality of her children . The point 
is, that this totality, however found, seems an equivalent 
for passing religion. 

A corroboration of this view may be found in the dis* 
tribution of religion in the world, as compared with the 
distribution of the Arts. Where the Arts thrive as sep- 
arate interests, religion is feeble. The zealous religion 
of to-day is at home in the life of the peasantry, of the 
bourgeoisie, wherever life is still simple and unified. 


For here it is still the whole of men's art, the whole of 
their literature, their philosophy, their poetry and their 
music : it is still the crude integral of their higher life, 
and should they lose it they would lose all that distin- 
guishes their existence. 1 In so far and fast as they grow 
into possession of more individual forms of these same 
values they incline to let the separate practice of reli- 
gion lapse. 1 Is it not fair to say that there are few of 
the developed individuals of our time who with either 
a powerful enthusiasm for a single branch of art, or a 
well-balanced appreciation of what we call our culture, 
retain in addition a vigorous religious life as a special 
direction of attention? 

If we accept this theory of the function of religion 
in history and of its destiny to merge itself with the 
Arts, we can read with greater understanding the curious 
tale of religion's antagonism to progress, its inertia, ob- 
struction, conservatism. We can readily put ourselves 
into the psychological position of the religious partisan, 
in whose consciousness the spirits of the several Arts 
dwell undistinguished, and all of whose inspiration has 
been indeed inseparable from his piety. We shall see it 
as inevitable that when the natural processes of growth 
and division have threatened to take away one by one 
architecture and sculpture, science and political control, 
from the sacred auspices under which they took their 
shape, it has seemed from the standpoint of the priest 

1 Hdffding remarks, though with a different theory for the case, 
''The more men are absorbed in the business of self-maintenance, or the 
more they are given up to intellectual, aesthetic, and ethical interests, the 
more the strictly religious interest falls into the background if indeed 
it does not entirely disappear." Philosophy of Religion, p. 111. 


that these Arts were being cut loose from the source not 
only of their inspiration but of their life ; and as though 
violence were being done not more to the priesthood or 
to the god than to the wayward Art itself and to the 
world beyond which fostered it. However much of 
6 priestcraft/ class-interest, and the like has mingled with 
these motives in the history of religious obstruction, 
there is a residuum of the genuine tragedy of all growth, 
so that the story of culture must henceforth be told not 
as a story of "warfare between science and religion," 
but as an infinitely human tale of growing asunder, with 
all the rending of veritable bonds and loyalties on both 
sides that such events have always involved. 

While, then, we understand the historic attitude of 
religion to these changes, as dispassionate observers we 
must regard the process of taking human possession of 
any art as an advance; and hence as the necessary des- 
tiny of whatever religion contains, until all is free. The 
change is precisely analogous to the well-known psy- 
chological process of getting a clear concept or expres- 
sion for what has been lurking in the mind as a feeling, 
unsatisfactory, haunting, mysterious, tantalizing. Once 
the adequate expression is hit upon, the cloudy fringes 
of the experience are lifted; the hovering sense of the 
infinite and ineffable disappear together with the hu- 
miliating consciousness of impotence: an ' idea ' is born, 
and the human self is in possession. Such must be the 
career of all influxes to the spirit. And once the various 
possible directions of mental groping have been differ- 
entiated and established in our common life, the sepa- 
rate mission of religion is at an end. 


Religion clothes itself to-day, indeed, in all the Arts, 
and in philosophy ; but beneath these garments, what 
is there left to worship unless, perchance, history it- 
self ? Instituted religion appears among us as a survival, 
decked out in relics of Arts that have won their freedom. 
Or, let us rather say, it is the spirit of the sacred past 
which organizes and sanctifies these relics, providing a 
place where the Zeitgeist may worship at the shrine of 
its own emancipation. Keligion, as a separate object of 
attention, is an exhausted parent, cherished in her de- 
cay through some sentiment of recognizance by the Arts 
she has nourished, the receiver, but no longer the 
giver of life. 

The view of religion above sketched is a view more 
often felt than professed. It represents an argument 
more often found in men's lives than on their lips : sug- 
gested more by the tendencies of social movement than 
by any theories that are acknowledged among us. It is 
well to become expressly conscious of these facts of the 
progressive substitution of Art for religion, and of the 
view of religion which they imply. We have now to say 
what we think of this view. 

So much must be admitted : that at every point of 
progress religion is a sort of remainder, the residual 
inspiration of human life. And at each stage of sub- 
traction, it becomes harder to see that there is any fur* 
ther residuum. What remains, if anything remains, is 
relatively formless, as compared with what has emerged. 
It is at a disadvantage for recognition. Especially when 
we have eliminated morality and philosophy from the 
special ^province of religion, does that province appear 


empty, mystical, barren ; and the position of those who 
ignore it may be made correspondingly solid, spiritually 
solid. To-day one need be no materialist, no mammonist, 
no foe of morality and order, no selfish or unspiritual 
mind, to dispense with the separate practice of religion ; 
it is precisely the humane and the ideal of temper, men 
of character and good- will, who by common consent and 
their own are likely to excuse themselves from the form, 
assuming that they have the substance this is the most 
ominous fact that religion, as a distinctive thing in the 
world, has now to face. And rather than face it, many 
of her supporters hasten to save a weakening cause by 
accepting the identification or near-identification 
of religion with some Art especially with morality or 
with human service. It is necessary at the outset of our 
work, in the interest of simple clearness, to recognize 
this tendency for what it is a confusion and a breach 
of faith. Let religion vanish, if it is to vanish : but 
know that it is impossible in any sense sanctioned 
by history, or faith, or clear reason that religion should 
be merged with any Art, or with all Arts. The position 
of religion in the world is, and has been, unique ; and 
with the preservation of this distinction its very nature 
is bound up. The very work done by religion in the 
course of history has depended despite her union 
with the Arts on the clear eminence, above all her 
contact with affairs, of a summit which is No-art and 
touched by no Art. 

What the inner nature of the unique element in religion 
maybe, our present view of religion does not and need not 
show. Since it is No-art (and Art as we mean it includes 
everything that at any time is wholly naturalized and 


humanly possessed) it will be for any time somehow un- 

J S. I v 

possessed and problematical, and may for the present be 
so to us. What our view of the effectiveness of religion 
in history does at once make evident as to its nature is 
first, its necessary distinction; second, its necessary su- 
premacy. These characters though external have been 
so essential to its fruitf ulness, as to justify the statement 
that without them religion is not religion. A merged 
religion and a negligible or subordinate religion are no re- 
ligion. If the importance of religion diminishes as Art 
progresses, religion must disappear. If there is any other 
way of life, if any other cause can act as a passable substi- 
tute, the case of special religion is lost. It is lost from the 
side of Art, because every Art is better off free, on its 
own ground, unencumbered by the peculiar apparatus 
and terminology of religion. It is lost from the side of 
life, because religion as a separate thing is the most diffi- 
cult and expensive of all means to an end. But chiefly, it 
is lost from the ground of its own character, and the qual- 
ities which alone have given it its hold upon the human 
mind. Keligion is already gone when it is weighed with 
or subordinated to some other and surer value. It can 
only be held to on the supposition that it is necessary. 
Shorn of its pride, its intolerance of rivals, its scorn of 
comparison, it is shorn of its honor also, and there* 
with of all that defines its value. Only that religion can 
hold attention which is always younger than the youngest 
of her children, more fruitf ulf or what she has spent, more 
needful for the continued life of the Arts than for their 


It is here chiefly that our figure is defective. For the 
work o religion is a perpetual parentage ; the status of 
the Arts is a perpetual dependence. All independence 
is conceptual, approximate, and relative. The inspira- 
tion, or breathing, of all the Arts, is, in the final trac- 
ing of their " compartments," a breathing of the outer 
and unlimited air : communication of this sort with the 
Whole, is religion. Or let us say, religion is the func- 
tion of in-letting, or osmosis, between the human spirit 
and the living tissue of the universe wherein it is eter- 
nally carried. If many imagine that their Art is their 
religion, it is doubtless so far true, that their religion is 
continuous with their Art, and would be truncated and 
deformed without it. But their Art, in so far as it is 
still capable of creation, is continuous with their reli- 
gion a vital union which depends strangely enough 
on the consciously-held distinction between them. 

Is our present age an age of originality, or is it rather 
an age in which Art gnaws its nails for sustenance ? 
this age in which every Interest has its own head 
and its own way as never before ! Freedom to us means 
reasonableness ; and reasonableness means that every- 
thing is referred to sources of its own kind. Thus, we 
refer public effects to public forces, not to royal 
fiat, and this is political freedom. We refer material 
effects to material causes, not to divine or human will, 
and this is scientific freedom. We respect the family 
privacy of the different parts or groups of the cosmos, 
thereby each such group is given its freedom. None 
but fine-art-considerations shall have an entree to fine- 
art-work-shops. The rights of individuals to their own 
spheres and provinces, the right to be tried by one's owr 


kind, even to be punished by nothing but the logic of 
one's own crime, we care for these rights, but they 
are not by any means the only rights we care for : we 
treasure the private rights of Ideas, of Abstractions. 
Every Principle has its own belongings, every Concep- 
tion has its own circle of Relations which must not be 
intruded upon by the unfit and extraneous. It is the 
technique of living to learn and feel all these personal 
and abstract Owns, all the proprieties and freedoms, 
not to mingle Business with Personalities, not to lug in 
Politics when one is in Society, not to test Humor by 
canons of Science, still less bring Humor into the con- 
templation of Religion. One word is equivalent to our 
culture ' Discrimination/ Yes, there was never so 
much freedom in the world as now, i.e., there were 
never so many Owns to be learned and respected. But 
this world of Owns is a noble mesh of surfaces that 
would be closed, but cannot be. It is in some sense 
a failure, a necessary and mysterious failure, likely 
to die of its tight-held freedoms and independences, its 
clear-cut-nesses and non-intrusions. Religion it is that 
knows the point of this failure. Religion holds self- 
sufficiency in derision ; religion is the comprehensive 
irony of the world toward all Owns. In opening every 
Art toward itself, it opens each toward every other : 
through No-art all Arts become one, and one life 
courses through all of them. 

Our arts are parcelled out much as we sometimes 
parcel out and enumerate human instincts. Every in- 
stinct naturally has an art i.e., a way of finding sat- 
isfaction ; on the other hand, every primary art, broadly 
speaking, corresponds to, and helps to define ' an in- 


stinct/ But no one can make a satisfactory list of the 
instincts, or of the primitive impulses, of man : for in 
the human being they have so far mixed and braided 
and fused, as their objects have developed, that listing 
becomes arbitrary. The truth is, they belong together ; 
and in our modes of living find their way together : 
love and hunger meet iii the family, hunger and defense 
in the civic community, love and defense in the war* 
gang. (This absurd list of instincts will serve as well 
as another to show the point.) Now in religion all in- 
stincts meet. Destined as they are to come to terms 
with each other in human society, religion engages 
them all, keeps them in yoke together until they make 
friends. Just as we found in all Arts the outlines of 
religious action, so every instinct, in what it deeply 
drives toward, shows the traits of religious aspiration. 
The life of an instinct and the continuous inspiration 
of the corresponding art are the same thing : creativity 
in some sort is what satisfies and alone satisfies every 
instinct, and creativity is precisely what religion calls out 
in them, in the process of holding them to their own 

Bergson has told us that all originality is derived 
from sensation : this is but part of the truth. Origi- 
nality is derived from the primitive. Keligion, " the 
crude integral of the Arts," is primitive as sensation is 
primitive, fundamental to knowledge as sensation is 
fundamental to knowledge at the opposite pole : and 
creativity comes not from sensation alone (though not 
without sensation), but from sensation warmed and wet 
by the sky of religion. And back to mother-earth, 
to the cruder mind which knows its own integrity, shall 


we g 0> unless in holding to the severalty and freedom 
of our Arts and Owns, we are able to hold with equal 
strength to that which is other than all of them, the 
source of their creativity and the channel of their union. 

Herewith, then, I have expressed quite dogmatically 
a conviction regarding the function of religion in his- 
tory and society, a function which throws some light 
upon its nature. Only the completion of our whole task 
can bring adequate substance into these wide outlines. 
What the process of religion in the mind of man may 
be through which these creative results take place, we 
have not begun to enquire. We shall come nearer to 
religion itself in our next study the effects of religion 
in individual life. 


WE know religion when we meet it in persons. We 
are in no need of definition to guide our eyes, or 
to help in identifying it. We are perpetually seeing its 
fruits, or missing them, in our neighbors. We are sen- 
sitive even to its shades and degrees ; aware of its more 
or less, its depth, its texture, its resistance. Indeed, we 
are instinctive connoisseurs on this subject, every son of 
Adam, because religion is a human property, not a 
property of culture. An errand-boy can detect as well 
as any psychologist the falsetto in an assumed devout- 
ness; is as keen to mark the fatal note of economy in an 
accent pious from habit ; is cut as quickly by the leap 
of the true flame, no matter from what covering. 

And this holds good in spite of the fact that a man's 
religion is the hiddenest thing in him. Hidden in large 
part from himself. Let him try with might and main to 
give a true estimate of his own, his word for it is no 
better than mine : the thing is too close to himself to be 
well seen by him. But for that very reason our percep- 
tion of it in him is conveyed immediately with our sense 
of the fiber of the person. It is as if a man's religion 
and his personal quality were in large measure inter- 
changeable terms. We take our impression of it in- 
voluntarily, and this impression becomes one of the 
most stubborn of human opinions : if the alternative is 


pressed upon us of doubting a man in whom we have 
met this absolute worth, or of doubting an institution 
or tradition which damns him on its technicalities, we 
may find ourselves loosing our feet from the institution. 
In such and such an atheist or doubter of the Trinity 
or happy-go-lucky liver we may have caught some deep 
flash of the trait we call religious, and we sit strangely 
secure in the prospect of his future destiny. The power 
of religious dogmas is limited, and their edge slowly 
turned, by the unwaivable weight of this court which sits 
in permanent judgment upon their judgments. 

Our perception of religion, like any other instinctive 
perception, can doubtless be sophisticated and work false. 
It holds its truth with difficulty in the presence of pre- 
judice, theological interest, and passion. Even so, it is 
possible to describe in the large the kind of thing 
which in persons we pronounce the traits of religion. 
The world has not been poor in characters in whom the 
quality is present in such abundance as to carry our af- 
firmative beyond a doubt ; with these in mind we shall 
be able to characterize at least its outward appearance. 

That which chiefly marks the religious soul is a fear- 
less and original valuation of things. Its judgments 
emerge somehow from solitude, as if it had resources 
and data of its own sufficient to determine its attitudes 
without appeal to the bystander, as if by fresh contact 
with truth itself, it were sure of its own justice. It may 
treat objects which we pass as ordinary as if they were 
not ordinary ; distinguished matters may seem reduced 
in its eyes to the commonplace. It lives as if seeing 
reality where neither physical eye nor practical judg- 


ment see anything; and it makes material sacrifices for 
this faith. Its original valuation is seen also in what 
it fails to do, equally with what it does. It seems not 
to display the common need to escape from some of the 
unpleasant facts of experience to edge away from cer- 
tain passages, to hurry through with certain inevitable 
others. It behaves as if no present experience could 
utterly oppress it, as if indeed all circumstance brought 
by history to its share might be received with respect, 
almost with deference, as significant and right, not ac- 
cidental. It is not as one immune from suffering that 
the religious spirit moves in the severer passes of its 
career, but as one willing to accept and able to entertain 
suffering in the solemn adequacy of its own peculiar 

But this originality and this freedom are strangely 
united with an opposite quality, necessity. The certi- 
tude of the religious spirit is so poised by an inward bond 
that it conveys no impression of personal self-assertion. 
Its wisdom does not emanate from itself alone, is in some 
paradoxical fashion both original and derivative : it has 
the air of being less a product of individual force than 
a result of profound partnership with some invisible 
source of wisdom. The anxiety and burden of a self- 
maintained position are by this fact removed ; the spirit 
is freed from itself by mooring in some objective reality 
constantly present to its consciousness. 

And so also there is no sign of the strain which we 
associate with moral or courageous effort. The motive 
of religion is unlike that of an idea or principle which 
evokes a dominant sense of exertion and sacrifice: it is 
rather like that of a deep passion which possesses and 


supports the soul, and cancels with a margin of its own 
strength any opposing motion. In brief, this person has 
meat to eat which we who look on know not of; and here 
lies the mystery and the fascination of religion as it 
moves about in the world. It is the fascination not 
only of assurance, but of the sufficiency, the simplicity, 
the natural necessity, with which it utters its novelties, 
moves its mountains, and ushers in its revolutions. 

If its relations to its invisible Object, held inviolate 
with anxious care, are such as to unbind it in some wise 
from men, they are also such as to bind powerfully to it- 
self whoever enters the sphere of its action. It may seem 
that this Object is such only as men must serve if they 
will best serve each other. It endows the judgments of 
the religious soul, original as they are, not with a lower 
but with a higher human currency, as if that Object 
were but reality itself. The burden of eccentricity is 
thrown upon our common behavior, not on that of re- 
ligion. The words and actions of the religious man be- 
come authoritative for the world of men. In becoming 
free, he has also become obedient to some necessity; 
and in becoming obedient he has become universal. 

Surely the religious spirit is living as if immortality 
were its share. What its source of judgment and power 
may be we have yet to discover, but in its valid origi- 
nality, and in its emancipation from the stress and haste 
of the temporal current, we may see a present possession 
of that to which the secular spirit presses forward. That 
worth-of-lif e which is commonly held as imaginary, pro- 
spective, hypothetical, has become to it a matter as it were 
of sensation, immediate and inescapable. That which 


to men otherwise is but the word has to its knowledge 
become flesh. Such present possession of the distant 
sources of worth and certainty has been called "faith"; 
it is the characteristic of religion in all ages. 

Here lies the essential distinction between religion 
and the Arts on the ground of personal experience. 
Art is long; religion is immediate. The attainment in 
every Art is future, infinitely distant ; the attainment of 
religion is present. Religion indeed involves a present 
possession in some sort of the very objects which the 
Arts infinitely seek. Knowledge, for example, is an in- 
finite quest in the order of nature, and in it there is 
no absolute certainty but only a growing probability 
and approximation : but the religious soul knows now 
and that without losing interest in the slow movement 
of science. Human brotherhood also is an infinite 
problem men have to be made brothers, and the 
whole of history is requisite to tell the tale of achieving 
that end : but in religion men are already brothers and 
experience their brotherhood in the moment of common 
worship. So with morality : in time my moral task will 
never be finished, for my imperfection is infinite and 
my progress by small degrees ; but religion calls upon 
me to be perfect at once even as God is perfect, and in 
religion somehow I am perfect. By this contrast we are 
helped to describe, still problematically, but with much 
greater nearness than before, the nature of religion. 

Religion, we may now say, is the present attainment 
in a single experience of those objects which in the 
course of nature are reached only at the end of infinite 
progression. Religion is anticipated attainment. 


This precursory definition of religion serves the pur- 
pose of such definitions not to solve problems, but 
rather to open them. In religion, we say, men live as if 
in presence of attainment, of knowledge, of immortality : 
but in what respect is the attainment present when in 
the order of nature it must still remain at an infinite dis- 
tance? What sort of present satisfaction is that which 
can still leave the individual involved in the unending 
struggle ? We have indeed ceased to respect as reli- 
gious any state of mind which withdraws the subject from 
sympathy or alliance with the age-long human labor. 
Whatever may be the nature of that anticipation of all 
attainment, genuine religion is not inclined as far as 
hard work goes to take advantage of its advantage. 
If being in the world it is not of the world, it is none 
the less with the world and for it in brief, in for it, 
and with no loss of power. That is an extraordinary 
attainment which one must still labor forever to possess : 
but just this paradox is inherent in the religious con- 
sciousness, and opens the way to a fundamental question 
as to its nature. 

For something of this same paradoxical character we 
find in certain kinds of knowledge : there are insights 
which come in a moment, and yet have to be kept by 
endless vigilance - as men keep their liberty. The 
peculiar possession of religion is often spoken of in 
terms of knowledge, as wisdom, vision, revelation, 
truth. But there are reasons for doubting whether 
religion is, literally speaking, a kind of knowledge. 
Whatever it is, it cannot readily be translated into 
valid ideas and language. Its secret is one which the 
religious spirit tries not to keep but to give away and 


cannot. But what is a knowledge that cannot be 
expressed, communicated, or thought? And further, 
thought is but one of those same Arts which (as science 
or philosophy) is a product of religion, together with 
politics, poetry, and all other forms of human expres- 
sion. How then can religion itself be a matter of know- 

When we speak of religion in terms of thought, is it 
not according to that loose and general usage which ap- 
plies the word thought to all that is inward and free in 
men? ' As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he* 
that is to say, as a man orients himself, as he ' makes 
up his mind/ as he feels his way in the practical anti- 
theses of existence. Is it not more probable, in terms 
of psychological fact, that religion consists in a practical 
attitude of mind, or a mode of feeling say in practi- 
cal confidence, optimism, good-will, enthusiasm for what 
is real, the power to penetrate shams that goes with 
these things ? A disposition of this sort, an inward cer- 
titude or faith, is indeed an anticipated attainment, * the 
substance of things hoped for ' but in more primi- 
tive form than knowledge, in the form, briefly speaking, 
of. feeling. 

We have now to deal with this view that religion is 
a matter of feeling. We may agree to use the word 
feeling for the present in a very wide sense as a 
name for whatever in consciousness, deeper than ex- 
plicit thought, is able to give a bent to conduct. Feel- 
ing is not, as we sometimes think it, a wholly vague and 
uncertain principle : it is capable of bearing much re- 
sponsibility in the direction of practical living. In the 
form of moral disposition, it may be the highest, as well 


as the most individual, determinant of conduct and bear- 
ing. The question whether religion belongs to this 
realm of practical and responsible feeling rather than 
to the realm of thought is an issue of greater practi- 
cal interest than may appear in this formal statement j 
it will engage us for some time. 





rilHE intellect has evidently been assuming too much 
JL importance, not only in religion but in life at large. 
Hardly otherwise would so much satisfaction be taken 
in showing this quite human organ to its subordinate 
place, so much eagerness in putting our valuables into 
some other custody. Wherever our likes and dislikes 
are concerned, as in appreciations of beauty, moral 
Tightness, and other values, logic is persona non grata 
at least in its own name. Since the impressive effort 
of Kant to mark out a strictly limited province for the 
valid use of the theoretical reason a province which 
all our major human interests lie safely outside of 
thinkers of the first rank (with exceptions, but with 
singular accord) have added some stroke to the picture 
of reason's retirement, representing it as servant of the 
will, or as tool and creature of some darker and more 
primal reality blind impulse, immediate feeling, the 
unconscious. In religion more than elsewhere the intel- 
lectual disaffection is sweeping. One who now ventures 
to discuss religion from the side of cosmology as a " the- 
ory of original causation " seems to be strangely remote 
from the point ; the inoffensive words, creed, dogma, 
theology, are almost words of reproach. The whole ap- 
paratus of reason in religion has retreated in impor- 


tance, in favor of a more substantial basis which we 
have agreed to call feeling. 1 

This retirement of the intellect is not altogether a re- 
sult of free research. So far as religion is concerned, it 
strongly resembles a forced conclusion. It comes from 
holding tenaciously to the immense importance of re- 
ligion, while despairing of finding for it any intellectual 
content having equal importance, or equal stability or 
accessibility. The ideas of religion, whether in the 
form of metaphysics or of revealed truth, have not been 
able to command that respect and loyalty which is readily 
given to religion itself. We are driven to confess that 
we actually care more for religion than we do for reli- 

1 The following may be taken as typical expressions of the tendency 
to give feeling the primacy in religion : 

Es ist seit Schleiermacher ein anerkanuter Grundsatz, dass der 
innerste und eigentliche Kern der Religion im Gefuhl zu suchen sei. 
E. Ton Hartmann. Religion des Geistes, p. 28. 

Not only can religious knowledge never cast off its subjective char- 
acter ; it is in reality nothing but that very subjectivity of piety con- 
sidered in its action and in its legitimate development. A. Sabatier. 
Outlines of a Philosophy of Religion, p. 310. 

I believe that the logical reason of man operates in this field of divin- 
ity exactly as it has always operated in love, or in patriotism, or in any 
other of the wider affairs of life in which our passions or our mystical in- 
tuitions fix our beliefs beforehand. It finds arguments for our convictions, 
for indeed it has to find them. It amplifies and defines our faith, and 
dignifies it, and lends it words and plausibility. It hardly ever engenders 
it ; it cannot now secure it. William James. Varieties of Religious 
Experience, p. 436. 

Religious experience is essentially religious feeling. H. HtSffding. 
The Philosophy of Religion (tr. Meyer), p. 100. 

What the future of religion is to be no one can tell. Of this, how- 
ever, I think we may be sure : religious belief will stand or fall with what 
I have called the Religion of Feeling. J. B. Pratt. Psychology of Re- 
ligions Belief, p. 302. 


gious theories and ideas : and in merely making that dis- 
tinction between religion and its doctrine-elements, have 
we not already relegated the latter to an external and 
subordinate position ? Have we not asserted that " re- 
ligion itself" has some other essence or constitution 
than mere idea or thought ? We are in need of some 
other foundation for our faith. 

The proposal, then, that religion may be sufficiently 
founded on feeling comes with too great promise of re- 
lief to be lightly dismissed. Grant it, and all dogmatic 
authority loses its pressure at once. We are set free to 
be religious beings without the infinite argument and 
haggling over unreachable and untestable propositions. 
Creeds we wave aside ; or else, we carry them lightly, 
knowing that they are at one stroke dehorned, put out of 
conflict with truth as otherwise established. We need 
not any longer take their clauses to task seriatim and 
verbatim ; we are free to utter the whole, if we will, as 
a single expression of the feeling we call faith, as the 
historic voice of a total confidence in destiny. Who can 
deny that we do thereby come nearer to the intimate 
sense of our creeds ? Further, if the essence of religion 
is feeling, it is to be judged by feeling and not by ar- 
gument, it is to be judged as beauty and right are 
judged : we are not only at liberty to bring our instincts 
to bear, we are compelled to bring them to bear, a 
responsibility from which we too easily escape when re- 
ligion is gained by accepting a creed. Who will say 
that this requirement is not more adapted than the old 
one to keep alive the spirit of genuine religion ? That 
forced conclusion which has driven religion from intel- 
lect toward feeling may thus prove a literal god-send to 


religion. But there are other grounds for this change ; 
it is, in fact, the outcome of converging tendencies so 
various that they can only be called the labor of an age. 
Some of these we shall pass in review. 

The comparison of religions, whenever historical 
movements (whether crusades, or conquests, or missions) 
have made comparison inevitable, has always led to some 
doubting of the face-value of creeds : for the alien re- 
ligion has always made some appeal to that instinctive 
knowledge of religion which we have said is a possession 
of human nature. Especially is this true of that deliber- 
ate scientific comparison of religions which in our own 
time has yielded so great wealth of historical knowledge. 
For this wealth has required of us a penetrating effort to 
conceive the essence of religion in its world-wide iden- 
tity : in which effort we have been steadily drawn back 
of religious ideas to something more fundamental. 
Men's religions, we cannot help seeing, are much more 
alike than the explanations and expressions they give 
for them. Diverse as are myths, prophecies, eschatolo- 
gies, angelologies, and the rest, religious feeling is much 
the same the world over. When identical values thus 
attach themselves to quite different ideas, it cannot re- 
main in doubt where the substance of the matter lies. 
Theories which have varied so much might vary further 
ad libitum, and religion still do its common human 
work. The thing is indispensable ; the ideas that have 
been connected with it are, with all their mystery and 
ambiguity, perennial causes of discord, misunderstand- 
ing, division without compensating benefit. It is a 
pious wish to be rid of them all, if it were possible, and 


let mankind flow to its proper unity in the substance 
of religion, in the feelings which all men share. 

A similar impression is made by the life-histories of 
religious movements, as we are now able to understand 
them. Religion renews its life in great bursts of impulse 
which emanate not from new thoughts, but from rarely 
impressive personalities, capable of inspiring exalted 
and passionate devotion in their friends and followers. 
Their utterances are poetic, oracular, couched in figure 
and parable, not in theses. While their power and 
meaning seems to be propagating itself by the medium* 
ship of words and thoughts, it is in reality propagating 
itself immediately, by infection, by contact, by the laying 
on of hands, by the leaping-across of an overmastering 
fire. In the presence of such men, leaders and carriers, 
others are lifted, not to high knowledge, but indeed to a 
high degree of moral potency which is capable of exe- 
cuting great deeds, sometimes upon the most visionary 
basis. With the rise of the critical business of thinking 
and philosophizing the decline of religious vitality keeps 
even step. As passion cools, theology spreads; and as 
theology spreads, passion cools still more. Remoteness 
from religious leadership can infallibly be read in the 
conditions of religious life in a given place or age. 
The stream which at its source is impetuous, fierce, 
channel-plowing, here at its mouth lies lazy, divided, 
straggling off to the dead-level of religious homogeneity, 
through the arms of shallow, reasoning sects, where (by 
the very multitude of distinctions between the believers) 
there is hardly any more distinction between river and 
bank, saint and sinner. 

The making of creeds, it is true, has never been a 


purely theoretical interest ; creeds have had important 
social functions : but these functions, we think, do not 
lead us to love them more. For creed-making belongs 
to the eras of political-religious propagandism stage 
through which especially the religions of Buddha, Jesus, 
and Mohammed have passed lingering. Creeds have 
served as weapons of warfare and persecution and inner 
partisan rivalries. Disfavor towards the polemic method 
of religious promotion thus adds itself to the distrust 
of intellect, in the rise of the religion of feeling. 

But these comparative and historical judgments upon 
religion are themselves results, and hard-won results, of 
longer circuits of human labor ; circuits which flow wide 
of any special religious interest, impinging upon reli- 
gion only after coursing through the whole range of 
scientific experience. It is not our religious instinct 
alone, but something much like an acquired scientific 
instinct which sends us looking to-day among the feel- 
ing-roots of religion for its ultimate essence. 1 Into the 
building of that scientific instinct have entered many 
strands, of which it will be sufficient for us to consider 
four the psychological, the biological, the pragmatic, 
the critical. 

1 Is there not much eloquence, for example, in the high value which 
accorded to simple and emotional religious experience in the psycho- 
logical workshop ? What is it but an instinctive expression of the defer- 
ence which intellect pays to religion as to a foreign power, that the investi- 
gator looks so eagerly into the humblest corners to bring to light its 
pearls or seeks to lure it into his presence by means of the wily ques- 
tionnaire? Surely, if the material of religious life must be thus sought, 
it is something other, in essence, than the thought which seeks it. This 
humble, empirical attitude of the scholar toward religion is indeed the 
most convincing acknowledgment that thought finds here something other 
than itself. 


I must speak broadly in all these matters ; dealing 
with general tendencies, not with the work of individual 
men : dealing also for the most part with older tendencies, 
such as have had time to pass into our mental habits, 
not with views now rising. 

First, then, of the psychological current of thought : 
our world is thoroughly leavened by the conviction that 
nothing is real unless it belongs to conscious experience* 
Philosophers wonderfully agree in accepting the term 
" experience " as a comprehensive name for whatever is 
either real or significant. Pacts and events may have 
their independent external existence ; but they gain liv- 
ing certainty and importance only as they impinge upon 
consciousness. Unless a fact is caught in the circuit 
of a self ; unless somewhere it reports to the sensitive, 
irritable, responsive thing we call a mind, it is nothing- 
It is the inner event that is solid : the status of matter, 
of energy, of all external objects, is doubtful; the ' outer 
world' is best understood by relation to the inner 
world, as a stimulus, or as even less than a stimulus. 

The result of this conviction is that we incline to 
unravel every science from its inner end, from its 
psychological insertion. Where have we to look for 
the sources of public events, the making of states, the 
development of crafts, the making and managing of 
political movements, the shaping of ideals? To human 
instincts, to " human nature." There is no theory of 
politics, of economics, of law, of morals, nor of religion 
either, that can now dispense with its psychological 
groundwork. Skill in self-knowledge, in tracing the 
psychical factors of all institutions and of all history *: 
this is the predominant habit and technique of our 


scientific age. No such surefooted exploring of the inner 
man has ever before been known. 

But all this psychological habit (lineal descendent of a 
subjective sort of idealism) brings with it the depreciation 
of idea in favor of feeling. For ideas and thoughts are 
the tools of our intercourse with external objects. They 
are attempts at externality : they are at the same time 
the medium of outgo from the mind to the outer world, 
and the medium through which that outer world main- 
tains the posture of externality to the mind. If it is only 
the subject that is important, an end-in-itself, and also a 
beginning in itself, then the objects of thought and theory 
together with thought and theory themselves are 
there only as means, factitious, troublesome, and circuit- 
ous, through which the subject must win its satisfaction. 
The real substance of that subject is something else than 
intellect a natural self with spontaneous affections 
and repulsions, needs and desires, beliefs and illusions, 
consistencies and contradictions. That which in human 
mature is fundamental, intimate, genuine, private, and 
wholly owned, is feeling: in feeling we substantially 

Then there is the biological current, which easily 
abets and coalesces with the psychological trend of 
thought. There is something in the logic of biology 
(though certainly it is no part of biology itself) which 
has helped along the conviction that nothing is real un- 
less it is aboriginal and germinal. Biology must find 
the explanation of the characters of living things in some 
interaction between these things and their environments : 
but what is the " thing " which takes part in this inter- 


action ? Naturally, it must be something which is identi- 
cal throughout all the transformations of the organism, 
the same in the germ and in the mature individual : but 
that which is identical in the greater and in the less must 
be the less, one might fairly suppose, or even less than the 
less. Hence in identifying the living thing, we naturally 
look toward nucleus and germ, behind the differentiated 
and explicit. 

Now if it is true, as it seems to be true, that conscious 
life is a shape which has been taken on by some more 
primitive reality; and that intellect is a more or less 
advanced instrument assumed by conscious life in its later 
stages : it would follow that this conscious life itself is 
something else than intellect, something presumably 
of the nature of feeling. 

It is true that inferences of this sort are hazardous: 
the same logic would lead us to seek the explanation of 
consciousness in something less than consciousness. Psy- 
chology is always attracted by biology, in the search 
for its own unit, into a twilight region where physi* 
cal and psychical incline to blend, and can no longer 
for lack of light be distinguished. Mistaking its own 
ground, it is in danger of lingering and groping about 
in a sort of half -world, where the mind never knows how 
far to admit itself a group of tropisms, nor the brain how 
far to allow its chemistry to dally with the influences of 
the mind. B u t as to the position of the intellect and its 
ideas there is no confusion. They are, as it were, feelers, 
sparks, signals, thrown out by the deeper reality, and 
subject forever to its own ultimate ends. Ideas crop out 
like leaves; if they are cropped off, the root lives on 
and produces more leaves. A psychological sociology 


accepts this instruction from biology, and forms its the- 
ories upon these principles. What is the substance of 
the family, for instance, if not in certain heavy-loaded 
human instincts which survive many a dynasty of cus- 
toms and custom-supporting theories. The independent 
variable, in its slow march through the ages, lies far 
deeper than the idea. The real is the permanent and the 
ancient, as well as the germinal and creative. But only 
in the form of feeling can consciousness accompany the 
organism, as it is traced back to its simplest forms or to 
its beginnings. 

The pragmatic current, the third of these scientific 
tendencies, is much older than present-day pragmatism, 
which is but " a new name for some old ways of thinking." 
Its conviction is that nothing is real which does not do 
work. And in proportion as it appears that the work- 
ing element of human nature is value-consciousness, 
not fact-consciousness, pragmatic tendencies assign 
feeling a higher degree of reality than idea. This is 
but to make into a universal principle the repeated 
observation that tf essences/ when we get close to them > 
are energies and nothing else. If we look for mental 
substance, what do we find except the energy-charge of 
action, which is feeling. Ideas can apparently float idle 
in the mind ; facts and truths can deserve the epithet 
' mere ' ; and if they do not deserve it, if they have any 
grit, it is no inherent quality of their own, but added by 
some gift from our own will. Especially are our ideas 
about metaphysical things liable to become thus 'mere* 
and dead. All available information about heaven and 
hell, and more, one may receive unmoved. In a certain 


military establishment, the pious are called " hell dodgers/' 
implying that a soldier should be ready to take hell like 
a man. If any stirring of concern or plan of action 
comes out of the idea, that is an additional fact, not 
bound to it by any definition ; and religion lies in the 
stirring, not in the view. Enlightened religion has per- 
ceived this from afar, and has called on men not to 
acknowledge certain truths, but to love certain realities. 
In this judgment biology strengthens the pragmatic 
tendency, just as it abets the psychological tendency. 
For an idea is (biologically) a product of friction and 
hesitation in conduct : a token of failure in spontaneous 
reaction. Creatures become conceptually conscious, it 
appears, in proportion as they have need to extract an 
identical value from an ambiguous or non-committal 
environment. Hence, an idea stands for a pause 
between perception and action. It is an eddy into 
which the mind enters, a product of doubt and a means 
of parley. But religious impulse has no need thus to 
learn its line of outflow. It has no mission to special 
plans of action, but rather a set and spirit to infuse into 
the whole active being. Religion is one with its appli- 
cation ; it exists applied. Hence, it does not pause to 
hang up in the exhibit room of our ideas the program or 
scheme of its meaning, as if it were something to be 
deliberated definite, defensible, and so debatable. It 
is more like the breath of life, its existence its own 
defense. Such immediacy and centrality belong only to 

All of these currents so far described are founded 
upon a common insight, namely: that ideas have at all 


points to be tested by a higher authority. This insight 
is itself the burden of yet another current of thought, 
much older and broader than the others, which it sustains 
and makes possible : it is the critical current, coexten- 
sive almost with modern times. To John Locke we owe 
our prompt confidence that it is possible to set up limits 
and standards for thought ; it was he who first deliber- 
ately made bold to examine our ideas from the outside 
in the attitude of a physician ; it is " Dr." Locke who 
first accomplishes an idea of an idea a more or less 
physical idea of an idea and sets the fashion of as- 
signing reasonable limits to the use of reason, in view 
of the humble origin and restricted function of our ideas. 
That we may and must look thus physicianly upon our 
ideas from the outside is no longer an open question ; 
it is only to be questioned what that greater thing is 
which surrounds and subordinates the ideas to itself. 
That higher authority, the three currents above considered 
have agreed to find in the region of feeling. And so far 
at least we must follow them : in every human interest 
the rationale, the exposition, is weaker than the vital 
meaning of the thing as retained in feeling or instinct. 
And all observations of this sort are more conspicuously 
true of religion than of anything else, because in reli- 
gion the status of ideas is less certain than elsewhere, 
and the tap root of human instinct more deeply involved. 

It seems to me a weighty consensus, this group of 
tendencies which we have thus hastily reviewed. It is, 
of course, no new discovery that religion is an affair of 
the heart rather than of the head. Among the axioms 
of that instinctive human knowledge about religion is 


this one: that religion must be accessible to all sorts and 
conditions of men, to the unlearned as well as to the 
learned. If scripture and all appearances do not deceive, 
babes have even a certain advantage in this matter over 
the wise and prudent ; which could hardly be the case 
if religion depends upon the results of thinking. Reli- 
gion does not as a rule show itself strongest in the most 
thoughtful; nor can the reasoner develop it in himself 
by his reasoning. All these are observations of long 
standing in the history of the spirit. What distinguishes 
our present age is that this old truth now appears as a 
philosophical conclusion, as a result hard-won and inde- 
pendently won . Our sketch of some of the factors in this 
conclusion, imperfect as it is, may make more definite to 
us the meaning of the claim that feeling is the essence 
of religion. A general conception or picture of religion 
emerges, something as follows : 

Religion is to be understood as a product and mani- 
festo of human desire ; and that of no secondary and 
acquired desire, such as curiosity, but of deep-going 
desire, deep as the will-to-live itself. Its non-rational 
character may be seen in the fact that in satisfying the 
religious craving, an individual serves the race more than 
he serves himself: as in the desires of sex and hunger, 
nature uses a well-centered impulse to produce a far- 
reaching effect. The religious motives of men have con- 
tained the secret of political loyalty as of other costly, 
death-involving loyalties. If we should venture to name 
this deep-set desire which we call religious it might be 
represented as an ultimate demand for conscious self- 
preservation: 1 it is man's leap, as individual and as spe- 

1 Lippert unites many strands of theory in deriving religion from the 
fundamental need of "Lebensfiirsorg*" Kulturgesohichte, chapter x. 


cies, for eternal life in some form, in presence of an 
awakened fear of fate. Eeligion is a reaction to " our 
finite situation," a natural reflex of small and highly 
aspiring beings in a huge perhaps infinite arena. 
This reaction seems to be, at its heart, as instinctive as 
a. start or a shudder. It is (in its first shock) an imme- 
diate and penetrating, even appalling, recognition of 
what and where I am in the universe ; it may issue in 
some sense of footing, and of the direction in which 
safety lies : in any case it is, in itself, a great emotional 
response to the felt perils and glories of the weird situa- 
tion. The unlighted vagueness of outline in this vast 
setting, the necessity of moving by the most elemental 
of instincts rather than by vision, the almost animal 
panics and animal assurances of the adventure (as we 
see them in religious history), make the language of 
reason inept even false. H we resist the impulse to 
refer the whole experience to a special faculty, different 
alike from thought, from feeling, and from will, in short 
to a " supernatural sense," we must certainly choose the 
realm of feeling as fittest to contain so unique and inti- 
mate a transaction. The history of religious agony and 
despair, of hope, attainment, exultation, the whole gamut 
of the intense inner drama, shows beyond doubt the 
locus and the eternal spring of the vitality of religion. 

Such feeling is peculiarly able to retain the position 
which religion must hold in our living, the position 
which reason is always exposed to losing. There is some- 
thing unspoiled and original about human feeling : it 
lies beyond the reach of dispute, refutation, and change. 
Eeligious feeling is the adequate counterpart of those 
metaphysical first principles upon which so much used 


to be hung, in everything that made those principles 
attractive. It has the same primordial and original char- 
acter, the same cosmic scope and dignity; and it has in 
addition what these principles had not, the energetic 
property which fits it not alone to guide but also to 
instigate and to sustain what it has produced. Men have 
always been more or less clear that the essence of reli- 
gion cannot be far from the brewing-place of action, and 
that the most sensitive test of genuine religion is in 
its ethical consequences. Prophets have always been 
obliged to recall idle mankind keen to evade a hard 
requirement from the extraneous to the central ele- 
ments in their religion. Of such extraneous elements, 
rite and ceremony were prominent in the earlier ages of 
prophetic rebuke; but in these latter days it is the 
seduction of the religious idea, with the same illusory 
promise of security formerly offered by the rite, that is 
the chief antithesis to genuine religion. Practical and 
responsible feeling bids fair to give a clear and suf- 
ficient answer to the various demands which are made 
upon religion. But perhaps one point should be further 
dwelt upon. 

For surely he is bold who asserts that religion, which 
we may grant to arise out of feeling, has its satisfaction 
in feeling also? In a former chapter we defined religion, 
not by its origin, but by its successful completion, as 
a form of attainment: and can it be said that feeling 
satisfies feeling? It has been assumed from ancient 
times that these cosmic hopes and fears contain within 
themselves as necessary ingredients certain theoretical 
questions, which guestions can only be satisfied with 


theoretical answers. It was supposed that men wanted 
to know whether there he, in very fact, a god; and 
whether, in historic literalness, men's souls endure after 
the death of the body. These and other questions are 
categorical enough, it might seem j and the plain-speak- 
ing man will not be put off with other than categorical 

But we are pointedly reminded by advocates of the 
religion of feeling that if we have indeed such wishes as 
these for express knowledge, these wishes have never 
been fulfilled : and the various good reasons for suppos- 
ing such questions unanswerable are so many good rea- 
sons for doubting whether we have any such theoretical 
needs and wishes. These alleged wishes for knowledge 
have in all times been quieted by answers that can be 
easily shown empty ; which would imply that the wish 
itself is something other than it takes itself to be, is only 
one more case of a common thing in human nature 
a misunderstanding of our own wants. 

For example : we have at times set great store on the 
doctrine that God exists letting pass as relatively 
unimportant the further question about the nature of 
God: but clearly unless we have some tangible inkling 
as to what God is like, it profits us little to know that 
he is. May it not be that the real meaning of that 
desire to be assured of a God is absorbed in settling our 
own good-will toward our own destiny, satisfying our- 
selves that in acting morally we are not playing the fool ? 
Similar things have to be said of the interest in a future 
life, often so zealously insisted on apart from any enquiry 
into the possible nature and endurableness of a permanent 
existence. Perhaps into these questions themselves we 


have imported more of the earth, with its own person- 
alities and its own time-order than we could support. 

There is such a thing as greed of the spirit so 
we are told by those who find religion in feeling 
which not only claims more than it can use, but heaps 
up for itself trouble by overreaching its powers. We 
learn in time to be content with the " revelation " we 
have; and to read that revelation more modestly than 
we used, accepting the fact that in all questions of 
supernatural physics and psychology the same obscurity 
is the lot of man in all ages. For revelation, as we come 
to see, is reticent, and slow to clarify in these matters. 
If there are any coherent messages to be read, we must 
gaze long into the glass to make them out. We are more 
diffident about lump-communications from behind the 
veil than our forefathers were. To say that our satisfac- 
tion comes in the form of feeling rather than in that of 
categorical propositions seems more simply conformable 
to the facts. It is in harmony also with what many men 
of exalted piety have reported of their own attainments : 
namely, that the contents of religious insight are inde- 
scribable; that as we specify them, we falsify them; that 
feeling alone is right. According to these persons, as 
religion becomes more true and self-knowing, it becomes 
more silent ; as it becomes perfect, it becomes dumb. 
It is our practical and responsible feeling which alone 
can give body and substance to that which in terms of 
idea is nothing. 

Let us not disguise the fact that only a much altered 
conception of revelation can comport with this religion 
of feeling, a conception somewhat as follows : If it 
may be said that God in religious attainment touches 


and satisfies the spirit, his dealings are not overt and 
visional, nor verbally expressible without transformation 
and risk of error. In admitting the soul to new certain- 
ties, revelation leads by the path of premonition, not by 
that of inserted information. The transaction of God 
with the soul (if there be any such transaction) is not in 
the form of conversation, in which could be imparted 
(though only by whisper) statements, and inside advice, 
direction to the way of life, and true descriptions of 
destiny to come. No : any such dealings must occur 
in the unlighted chambers of consciousness, whose only 
report to the vocal self is in the raw-material of feeling. 
And when the attempt is made to interpret the impres- 
sion thus received, it must first be projected from us, 
and read as at the remote end of an unsteady beam. 
We cannot but find in this projection a flickering, 
uncertain record, corrupt with imagery taken from the 
mind's external store, or tricked out in dress accepted 
from an older custom and tradition. If such is, and has 
been, the nature of revelation, we may understand the 
sources of the inveterate variety and dissonance of 
religious ideas. We see that it is well when men are 
beaten back from the idea, as from a vain quest, to 
return to the genuine import of revelation in terms of 
feeling with its definite bearing upon action. 

With this understanding of revelation, it may reason- 
ably be held that religion, which has its origin in feeling 
(of one kind), has in feeling (of another kind) its 
satisfaction also. 

Thus, I have stated in a very summary fashion, but 
I hope with rough justice the more general grounds 


for the retirement o the intellect in religion. I am not 
wholly in accord with the conclusion to which these 
tendencies have led; I have been the more desirous of 
presenting them in their cumulative force. 


/CONSIDERATIONS of the sort we have reviewed 
V^ flock to the support of him who asserts that religion 
is a way of feeling. The intangible nature of religious 
objects; the obscurity of revelation ; the lack of propor- 
tion between religious power and religious theory ; the 
direct and personal conditions of religious growth ; the 
identity of religions beneath diversity of ideas; and 
finally, the large consensus of scientific judgment in 
subordinating thought to some more ultimate reality 
as its authority. If anything could add to the weight 
of all this, it might be an immediate consciousness of 
what we mean by religion in ourselves ; hardly a com- 
pendium of theology, but rather a governing disposition 
of some sort, which may do its work as a state of feeling 
whether or not we are fluent with the theory that could 
justify it. 

But I doubt if we find substance enough in a religion 
of feeling. It has advantages of a positive sort ; it makes 
religion a matter of experience, present and concrete. 
But it also has advantages of a negative sort which are 
highly questionable; it solves too many problems by 
avoiding them ; it escapes too completely the labor and 
hazard of thinking. There seems to be some natural 
necessity whereby religion must try to put itself into 
terms of thought and to put its thought foremost. Reli- 


gion seems to begin in feeling ; and it seems everywhere 
to surrender by an inner requirement the advantage of 
this simple and strong position, to risk itself in the 
field of ideas with all its instability and wreckage. If 
only as students of history we must come to terms with 
this conspicuous fact: that religion has never as yet been 
able to take itself as a matter of feeling. 

Especially in its prophets and originators has the reli- 
gious consciousness been stubbornly objective: it has con- 
cerned itself with metaphysical objects, with God and 
the other world and the laws thereof, with our remot- 
est and most external objects : and it has intended to 
propagate itself by fixing the eye of the mind on these 
things, not on its own inner states. Doubtless the 
prophet is mistaken if he thinks that he moves men only 
by the truth he offers them : it may be that the actual 
forces of religious propagation are much nearer his own 
personality than he imagines, much nearer, certainly, 
than these remote objects. Yes; but would not the 
prophet lose at once in power if he should deliberately 
abandon his objects and begin to exploit his own per- 
sonality? Is it not true that the prophet has personal 
power, in part at least, because personal power is not 
his direct concern? The strength of religion in the 
world (so we thought in an earlier chapter) depends upon 
the fact that the religious man is free from himself. 
And are we to believe that the work of religion in the 
world depends on a self-deception, a permanent dis- 
crepancy between what such men suppose themselves to 
be doing, and what in fact they are doing? 

I cannot believe that this is the case. The thread of 
history is, to some extent, a thread continuous within 


the intentions of the actors in history. However rich we 
may become in knowledge of the deeper causes of his- 
torical results, we forgo all understanding of history if 
we forget this inner continuity, i.e., the conscious 
intentions of the participants in history-making and their 
consciously known successes. And more than any other 
element of history, religion demands to be understood 
from the inside. Granted that the more exalted the 
prophet, the more his work will be mixed with passion and 
the more his success will be due to his intensity of feeling: 
yet just because of this passion, we shall be less at 
liberty rather than more at liberty to translate his fervid 
assertions about God, man, and destiny into terms of 
feeling. We shall be impelled, in spite of ourselves, to 
attach importance to his metaphysics, if only because 
he himself attaches primary importance thereto. 

I will go so far as to say this : That he who sees in 
the output of theory and doctrine in religion only a 
natural blunder, the prophet's misunderstanding of his 
own psychology, does quite as completely renounce all 
insight into history as if he held to that older explana- 
tion of religion by intentional priestly deception and 
priestly craft. Unless the idea in religion has some 
necessary and central function, we are wholly without 
explanation for this lavish and persistent yield of 
"revealed truth." And still more perverse and inex- 
plicable must seem the universal insistence on these 
intellectual by-products j the persecution and slaughter 
uttered in maintaining them. Slaughter and intoler- 
ance are aberrations, sometimes ; but they are aberra- 
tions founded at least on convictions. They may 
belong to the Dark Ages, but they do not belong to 


the Dead Ages, of religion. Some right sense there 
must be beneath all this over-violent emphasis on doc- 
trine. There is no possible psychology of history 
which can escape the judgment that these intellectual 
ingredients of religion are in some way vital. 

And when we say that it is a declining religion which 
prizes the subtleties of theology, we must make a dis- 
tinction between one kind of thinking and another. 
There is such a thing as a congestion of cleverness 
consistent with a great dearth of profound thought. 
Clever and intricate theology does usually mean trivial 
religion; but mighty religion and mighty strokes of 
speculation have always gone together. Something like 
a religious impulse is needed to sustain the flight of pow- 
erful and far-reaching thought : and presumably the 
converse is also true, that a religious impulse must 
exhibit its force in some fundamental cognitive achieve- 
ment, some Sultan's turret caught in a noose of light, 
even though this achievement may have little in com- 
mon with the noisier conquests made by the logical 
weapons of the forum. Deficit of mind must always, I 
venture to think, be a weakness in religion, and must 
rob that religion at last of all mordant power. A great 
religion will produce, and demand of its adherents that 
they reproduce, some great idea or system of ideas. 
Such, I say, is the evident purport of history. 

The intellectual elements of religion must be vital ; 
yet the embarrassments which religion suffers on account 
of them have hardly been overstated. Is it not probable 
that in this matter of theory religion is in a genuine 
predicament, unable to maintain its ideas in face of scien- 


tific criticism, yet unable to dispense with them? Reli- 
gion seems to labor under a double necessity : the neces- 
sity of making much use of thought, and the necessity 
of discounting all thought. Kant's theory regarding 
our knowledge of God, immortality, and other reli- 
gious objects, does fairly describe our apparent situation. 
Our human mind, thought Kant, is forever obliged to 
attempt the impossible in these matters : it must attempt 
to express its religion in theoretical terms, and it must 
deny the resulting ideas all scientific validity. Human- 
ity must give conceptual form to its religious ideals and 
governing principles, because these must hold their own 
with all other experience and theory : but since our only 
resources for framing ideas are such as pertain to this 
world of natural experience, they can never truly repre- 
sent to us any object which is beyond such experience. 
Religious speculation is inevitable ; yet it always falsi- 
fies the religious object, turns it into something human- 
istic and material, something which interferes with the 
clear sweep of scientific thought and at the same time 
brings the religious object into the world with which 
it should stand in contrast. We are thus caught in what 
Kant calls the " dialectical illusion " ; and religion is un- 
able to evade either of the two opposing requirements. 
If there is any such dilemma as this in the nature of 
the case, religious history will show it : for every such 
difficulty within the mind is bound to appear in history 
as a division between parties. Now just such a division 
seems to break out in mediaeval Europe when scholastics 
and mystics fall apart. On one side, the scholastics hold 
to the theoretical validity of religious doctrines. On the 
other side, the mystics are more impressed by the hope- 


less defects of the idea in religion and call for its renuncia- 
tion. And each of these two parties has a characteris- 
tic way of recognizing the grain of truth in the position 
of the other. The scholastics are unahle to ignore the 
profound difficulties in religious truth; they incline 
(with their genius for slippery distinctions) to invent 
a third status between truth and falsehood wherein cer- 
tain parts of religious dogma must consent to dwell. 
Eeligious truth has standards of its own, somewhat dif- 
ferent from those of other truth : a statement which is 
scientifically false (as a story of creation or of virgin 
birth) may yet be religiously true and binding. The 
mystics, for their part, are equally unable to ignore the 
necessity for using ideas, even while the ideas are de- 
fective : but as an upright and downright lot, they are 
unable to reckon with shades in the status of truth. 
They therefore take refuge in paradox, which is but 
another way of confessing the same dilemma. Grod is 
real, they assert, yet he is nothing, infinite emptiness ; 
he is at once all-being and no-being. The other world 
is real and objective ; yet at the same time it is within 
myself I myself amheaven and hell. 1 Thepredicament 
in question is thus fairly attested in religious history : 
the scholastic and the mystic are facing a genuine 

1 As in the lines of Silesius : 

Gott ist ein lauter Nichts, ihn riihrt bein Nun noch Hier. 

Je mehr du nach ihn greif st je mehr entwind er dir. 

(God is a perfect Naught ; no Now nor Here attain him. 

The more them striv'st to seize, the more thon f ail'st to gain him.) 

Cheruhinischer Wandersmann, I. 25. 

Ich selhst bin Ewigkeit, wann ich die Zeit verlasse, 
Und mich in Gott nnd Gott in mich znsammenf asse. 
(I am Eternity when I have Time forsaken, 
And self comprised in God, and God in self have taken.) 

Same, 1. 13. 


dilemma. And a problem set thus deep in religious 
consciousness cannot be met, as in the religion of feel- 
ing, by a simple retreat from the cause of the trouble, 
the necessity of the idea. 

We must find a solution which will give the idea in 
religion positive and unambiguous standing. The sug- 
gestions of the mystic and of the scholastic are all val- 
uable, but so far as we have noticed them they still leave 
us groping. Is there perhaps some hope in a point of 
view which is both older and newer than this mediaeval 
discussion and which pervades it all : namely, in holding 
to the simple validity of religious knowledge while mak- 
ing a distinction among our faculties of knowledge ? 
The ancient distinction was made between reason and 
faith. In Kantian and post-Kantian times, this same 
distinction often takes the form of a contrast between 
intellect and insight, thought and intuition, Verstand 
and Vernunft. May it be, perhaps, that religious truth 
is to be known by faith or Vernunft) a higher sort of 
intelligence than common understanding ? 

To my mind, all such distinctions as these leave us 
precisely as we are left by the scholastics with their two- 
fold truth and the mystics with their paradoxes. A dis- 
tinction in the faculties of knowledge only substitutes 
one problem for another. We cannot permanently re- 
lieve a split in our world of idea by making a split in 
the soul to account for it. All of these devices are but 
various ways of stating and perpetuating the problem ; 
and though this is itself no small service, it is but a 
tentative one. 

The best hope lies in a different direction : namely, 


in attacking the division already set up between feeling 
and idea. The advocates of the religion of feeling are 
not mistaken in referring our various religious ideas to 
a higher authority, which they call feeling : the mistake 
is, as I think, in not observing that the higher authority 
is itself still idea. Idea can only be judged and cor- 
rected by idea ; but these most authoritative ideas are 
so much more intimately related to experience and to 
feeling than other ideas as to justify nearly all that the 
religion of feeling asserts. It seems probable that in 
religion idea and feeling are inseparable ; and that what- 
ever valid ideas religion may have are to be found in 
that region of human nature where the cleavage between 
idea and feeling, never more than a tendency to diverge, 
no longer exists. 

The religion of feeling depends on an artificial con- 
ception of this cleavage. It depends in fact on three 
assumptions (to summarize its various motives some- 
what violently) : first, that feeling may be happily inde- 
pendent of theory ; second, that theory may be drearily 
independent of feeling ; and third, that valid theory in 
religion is not obtainable. A study of the inner nature 
of those states of mind which we call feeling and idea 
should rectify these assumptions, and indicate the direc- 
tion in which we may look for valid religious knowledge. 
It should leave us not so much with a refutation as with 
a better interpretation of those motives which have led 
to the retirement of the intellect. This study we shall 
now undertake, beginning with the first of the three 
assumptions mentioned, and then (in chapters vii to xi) 
dealing with the third and the second assumptions in 
the order named. 


IF these ensuing enquiries into human nature are 
often occupied with feeling and idea as if for their 
own sakes, while the special interests of religion fall 
momentarily into the background, it is because we are 
obliged here to some extent to work out our own way 
in independence of the usual paths of psychological 
theory. I must bespeak the patience of the reader to 
that end. 

Of this present chapter, the thesis is a simple one, 
namely this : that there is no such thing as feeling apart 
from idea ; that idea is an integral part of all feeling ; and 
that it is the whole meaning and destiny of feeling to 
terminate in knowledge of an object. If these things are 
true, they will help us to understand why a religion of 
feeling always and rightly tends to transform itself into 
a religion of idea. 

We have already noticed how closely feeling is con- 
nected with action. This is one of the great advantages 
of interpreting religion in terms of feeling. Some of our 
feelings are indeed less obviously active than others. 
The feelings of absolute dependence, of awe, and of 
reverence, which Schleiermacher regarded as the essence 
of all religion, are of a relatively quiescent and contem- 
plative sort. Yet these feelings also (though they are 


not the whole of religious feeling) do powerfully regu- 
late action, even if they do not seem at once to excite 
action. In all feeling, if we look closely, we shall find 
activity and the guidance of action. 

But to say that feeling is the immediate cause of ac- 
tivity is still to put it too far away from action. In feel- 
ing, action is already begun : feeling is itself activity. 
Feeling is always in transformation as if it had need 
to escape from itself. Its very existence seems to con- 
sist in a kind of instability in consciousness, a nascency 
and unfinishedness of mind which requires continuous 
change. Emotion is a name usually reserved for certain 
of our more complex feelings ; but speaking literally, 
all feeling is e-motion, a flight from what is to some- 
thing beyond. And thus all feelings, I venture to say, 
are forms of desire not forgetting those feelings which 
seem to terminate desire, as joy, triumph, and relief 
and all have at their center a sting of restlessness. 

It follows that that which can satisfy feeling is some- 
thing which will destroy it as feeling. As much feeling as 
is present at any time just so much unrest and pushing 
onward elsewhere for satisfaction. In the movement of 
life feeling is always present, for the destruction of one 
feeling is as a rule the inception of another : one feeling 
debouches in another, or the appeasement of one hunger 
sets in motion the springs of another. Thus emotion 
maintains a perpetual circle while life lasts. But it re- 
mains true that to satisfy any given feeling is to bring 
that feeling to an end. And if the attainment which 
religion offers is indeed a satisfaction of all desire, and 
not of some fragment of our nature, it must intend a 
living escape from this t perpetual circle : we should 


expect to find in religion the destruction of all feeling 
as such. 

What is that other-than-f eeling in which feeling may 
end ? I answer, consciousness of an object. Feeling 
is instability of an entire conscious self : and that which 
will restore the stability of this self lies not within its 
own border but beyond it. Feeling is outward-pushing, 
as idea is outward-reporting : and no feeling is so blind 
as to have no idea of its own object. As a feeling 
possesses the mind, there also possesses the mind as an 
integral part of that feeling, some idea of the kind of 
thing which will bring it to rest. A feeling without a 
direction is as impossible as an activity without a direc- 
tion : and a direction implies some objective. There are 
vague states of consciousness in which we seem to be 
wholly without direction ; but in such cases it is remark- 
able that feeling is likewise in abeyance. For example, 
I may be dazed by a blow, neither realizing what has 
happened nor suffering any pain, and yet quite con- 
scious that something has occurred : the experience waits 
an instant in the vestibule of consciousness, not as feel- 
ing but purely as fact, until idea has touched it and 
defined a course of response. At that same moment 
it is felt as painful. If we are right, feeling is quite as 
much an objective consciousness as is idea : it refers 
always to something beyond the present self and has 
no existence save in directing the self toward that 
object in whose presence its own career must end. 

These statements are most obviously true of the feel- 
ings to which we usually apply the name of desire : for 
desire is clearly desire of some object or condition not 
now present, and in obtaining the presence of that 


object desire ceases. But how can these statements be 
applied, as we said, to the feelings of satisfaction 
themselves? Are joy and triumph also unsatisfied 
states ? Is pleasure, dwelling hard on its present object, 
such a seeking-process as we have here pictured ? 

As to pleasure, it wants more of the same more 
than it now has : that is what defines it as a state of 
feeling. It is an old and well-worn analysis of pleasure 
which identifies it with a tendency to approach more 
nearly the object which gives the pleasure. When pleas- 
ure ceases to require further approach, it becomes sim- 
ply a vehement cognizance of its object : its character 
as feeling is dissolved into a state of knowledge* As to 
the feeling of triumph triumph, " unable to contain 
itself/' has certainly much to do. It may wear itself out 
in shout and song. More probably it becomes aware of 
a destination which is common to most of our positive 
feelings namely, a social aim of some sort. The rest- 
lessness of triumph will usher the subject along toward 
his friends or his populace, until in physical contact with 
their responses (a flood height within balanced by an 
answering flood height without), the internal tumult is 
appeased and feeling disappears into what? Into 
clear, animated cognizance: cognizance genially dis- 
tributed over the new situation created by the event of 
triumph, and the common knowledge of it. All the 
"feelings of satisfaction" so far as there is feeling left 
in them, in the same way move on to cognizance. 
Heightened feeling hastens to fund itself in heightened 
consciousness, that is, in a keener sensitiveness, a more 
unshrinking objectivity. 

All positive feeling, I dare now say, reaches its ter* 


minus in knowledge. All feeling means to instate some 
experience which is essentially cognitive : it is idea-apart- 
from-its-object tending to become idea-in-presence-of 
its-object, which is " cognizance/' or experiential know- 

And thus knowledge, which of old has had the dreary 
character of feeling-quencher, must also be accepted as 
feeling-goal, the natural absorbent and destiny of feel- 
ing. All positive feeling is at heart some marriage quest 
which ends in knowing. And such knowledge, so far 
from being less a * value-consciousness ' than the feeling 
which has led up to it, is but the more excellent condi- 
tion of that very value-consciousness embodied in the 
feeling. Such feeling so far from being less a " fact- 
consciousness " is, in its guiding idea, throughout a 
prophecy of the fact ; as if the object itself were press- 
ing to be known in presence. In the satisfaction of 
feeling, the guiding idea coalesces immediately with the 
object then known as present : to the including mind 
there is perfect continuity between prophecy and fulfil- 
ment the feeling is unaware of death. In truth, it is 
not dead, but risen (aufgehoben) : cognizance and feel- 
ing are but different stages of the same thing. 

These observations (superficial as they still are and 
over-general) 1 must modify somewhat our impressions 

1 I have made no distinctions between the several meanings of the 
,/ord * feeling/ though few terms in the language are so highly ambiguous. 
Nor do I think that I have fallen into obscurity on that account. The 
mind (we as psychologists should admit) is as intricate as we choose to 
take it and as simple. The truth about our inner states does not wait 
until we have found the "psychical atom." Some truth about feeling 
may be conveyed, even without definition. 


of the pragmatic contrast between feeling and idea. It 
is true that ideas apart from feelings do no work : but 
it is also true that a feeling does no work apart from 
its guiding idea. Though feeling is close to action, is 
incipient action, it is not without incipient idea: and as 
this idea becomes adequate, the working effectiveness 
of the feeling is not diminished, but enhanced. If the 
idea is vague the feeling may waste itself in spluttering 
activity with little satisfaction ; there is economy of con- 
duct in proportion as feeling (so to speak) learns its own 
mind. Thus, whether feai leads to wild flight or to sim- 
ply climbing a tree may depend on the "presence of 
mind " in the feeling. We cannot properly draw a con- 
trast in regard to working-power between idea in general 
and feeling iu general; because the working-forces of 
consciousness are neither ideas nor feelings, but always 
idea-feeling couples. 

Instead of contrast, there is a very obvious equivalence 

It may be asked whether any such account as this does not omit what- 
ever makes feeling distinctive. What becomes of the color and quality of 
our psychical states the nuances of joy, grief, gaiety, ease, kindly ex- 
pansiveness, and infinite others, which temper the mind's atmosphere from 
moment to moment ? Whatever ideas and transitions toward knowledge 
may be involved in these, is it not the quality and flavor which we lose, 
just as the qualities of nature are lost in the language of matter and mo- 
tion? It is true that such quality, in itself, is precisely what no description 
or explanation can capture or need to. For these colors of the mind are 
to be predicated always of the whole mental state, never of any elements of 
it. Feeling-tones of this sort do not float about in the mind-current like 
fish in a stream, nor take part as strands in a total movement : they are 
best placed, I believe, as the interest which the mind at any time is taking 
in its own existence. They are the total impression which living, from mo- 
ment to moment, is making upon the ultimate liver. Our own discussion 
IB concerned with what goes on within the actual mental movement : feel- 
ings as we are concerned with them are distinguishable working-elements 
in that movement. 


between feeling and idea in this respect, such that idea 
may gradually substitute itself for feeling while doing 
the same work. The guiding idea of any repeated feel- 
ing becomes by degrees more adequate : as this occurs, 
the feeling itself seems to diminish, as if it had been, in 
part, absorbed or transformed into the idea. Thus, the 
emotional side of love inclines to transform itself into 
an "understanding," in which the meaning of the feel- 
ing is carried out in the system of ideas and actions 
which constitute permanent friendship. This system of 
active understanding is precisely what the original emo- 
tion meant and prophesied ; the feeling which seems lost 
has its living equivalent in what we may call the creed 
of that relationship. And it will reassert itself as feeling 
if those habits of friendly action are interrupted. 

Or again, a feeling of distrust toward some person, 
at first without tangible grounds, succeeds we will 
suppose in defining its basis. Thereafter, conduct 
toward the distrusted person need be no wholesale re- 
jection or avoidance : I may make definite negations on 
definite grounds ; and on the other hand, I may accept 
with confidence other relations in which the defined trait 
plays no part. Such definition is a relief ; a degree of 
mental friction disappears ; feeling is less intense : the 
new working-couple (lowered feeling, heightened idea) 
does the same kind of work as the older working-couple, 
but with more efficiency. Knowledge of human nature 
tends to place men instead of hating them or blaming 
them : and the traditional impassivity of this kind of 
wisdom is no absence of feeling, but only a relatively 
complete translation of emotion into a working creed. 

In practice, we reckon a feeling of aversion toward 


any project as equivalent to some reason against it: and 
a feeling of attraction counts as some reason in its favor. 
In any public arena, feelings and thoughts thus mingle 
upon the same footing ; they are added and subtracted 
as coin of the same mint in all the actual transactions 
of persuasion. But in any such arena, to become explicit 
is a gain. One often yields his feeling to the pressure 
of tangible considerations with the impression that the 
feeling must have been victor if it could have met the 
tangible on its own ground. The prejudice which can 
get itself formulated in language has an immense ad- 
vantage in the struggle for existence. Or, it is known 
for what it is, and done away with. However great one's 
faith in the un-idead regions of existence, that faith is 
newly-born when through some stroke of conception, 
outlines of a felt foundation loom for the first time out 
of obscurity into relief. The feeling has been an antici- 
patory thought, a fact throughout of the same nature. 

A large part of what we call thinking is nothing 
other than the effort to gain this kind of possession of 
ourmore helpless meanings. Poetry (playground of ideas) 
is the form in which the feeling or spirit of an age wins 
its first breath ; and philosophy (idea hard-labor-ground) 
attempts the complete transformation of the feeling into 
literality, which means connection with earth. In all 
this, we have continuity and equivalence between idea 
and feeling, quite as significant as in any physical 
equivalence and transformation of forces.* To make an 
aspiration or a motive visible in idea is not to render it 
more abstract, is not to alter its identity or its character 
or its pragmatic bearing ; it is simply to give it status 
among other expressed tendencies. This pragmatic equiv- 


alence is a confirmation of the substantial sameness of 
idea and feeling; of the destiny of feeling to fund 
itself in idea. 

These general characteristics of feeling hold good of 
religious feeling. Feeling is known as religious, rather 
than as some other sort, by the peculiarity of its objects 
and ideas. Fear is a fundamental element in religious 
feeling ; but what distinguishes a given type of fear as 
religious ? Why is it that such fear appears only in the 
human being, not in the animal ? Because it is roused 
by a situation which it requires human imagination to 
grasp. Some conception of the Whole of things, some 
super-stition is necessary before that fear can take hold 
of the mind, even though it be excited by purely natu- 
ral happenings. The same of religious hope and wor- 
ship. The same of religious attainment, and the feeling 
of assurance which comes of it. In a human being, to 
" feel sure " and to know one's ground are one and 
the same thing perhaps in different stages of distinct- 
ness. If religious enthusiasm comes to rest in a state of 
6 peace/ this state is a state of feeling only in that 
same metamorphosis by which all feeling in its satisfac- 
tion vanishes in cognizance, the sting of restlessness 
having been drawn. The Stoic's summit was apathy 
non-feeling : religion also wins a non-feeling but a 
positive sort let us say, metapathy, a state beyond 
feeling, not beneath it. What feeling was has not 
ceased to be; but it exists as a heightened value 
diffused over all experience. The measure of life is 
increased; and that measure is perhaps well enough 
described at present as a measure of cognitive pene- 


tration. Religious success becomes, I think, precisely 
this : an unshrinking objectivity. 

The strains of religious feeling belong especially to 
that period of life in which one is working out his 
Weltanschauung. Conversion is in part at least the 
grasping of an idea ; such an idea as can thereafter in- 
fuse itself with peaceful dominance through the system 
of conduct and belief. Starbuck calls attention to the 
value of intellectual points of fixation in tiding over the 
storms and stresses of adolescence : without some ideas 
through which feeling can win an interpretation, " one 
is torn by he knows not what." And the storm and 
stress itself may be regarded as a process of deep think- 
ing, carried on by the whole organism. 

Religious feeling, then, like other feeling, is all idea- 
material, idea-activity. Dissolve out the idea-tissue of 
religion, and no feeling, and so no religion, is left. 
Holding our pragmatic test to religion, requiring of it 
that it do its work, we will have no religion without a 
theory ; we will have no religion without a creed. 

Religion as feeling must aspire to complete self-under- 
standing and ultimately to a complete transformation 
of all its emotion into a present knowledge of its de- 
sired object, whatever that may be. This truth pre- 
vents us from resting satisfied with feeling: but it is fair 
to observe that it does not provide us, as yet, with any 
substitute. We have not yet enquired what the essen- 
tial meaning of religious feeling is ; nor have we at all 
shown that such sure self-understanding and ultimate 
satisfaction can be obtained. It remains possible, so far 
as we have yet shown, that our religious impulses must 


continue, so long as we are human, to grope for their 
own meaning: and it may still be held that the ideas 
which religious feeling makes use of must always be 
partly mistaken, tentative, and mythical. 

The supposition that religion must put up with im- 
perfect equipment of theory does no violence to human 
nature as we otherwise know it. It is a notorious fact 
that feelings may frequently find their satisfactions 
through misfit ideas. My ill-temper, in search for its 
own theory, is more than likely to adopt a false one and 
expend itself on some innocent head. If a nation is 
lusting for war, no one can foresee on what pretext the- 
ories of offended national honor or of manifest destiny 
may make fatal alliance with the belligerent impulse. 
Such mistaken self-interpretation is not always the fault 
of feeling, but often its fate : for it can only press into 
service such ideas as are at hand. The deeper and 
obscurer cravings and discomforts of body and soul 
must frequently be diagnosed by the sufferer almost in 
the dark, with a slender gamut of hypotheses ; it is not 
surprising if many a self-made invalid results from a 
faulty theory of one's own feeling, fit to be cured by a 
course of bread-pills or other placebos. And who will 
say that the various religious doctrines of mankind, min- 
istering as they do to the obscure spiritual cravings of 
the race, have not acted rather as placebos than as lit- 
eral interpretations and satisfactions of these feelings? 
Harmless remedies for the most part, because very likely 
there is no such explicit truth here to be had none, 
therefore, to be conflicted with : they serve their func- 
tion in setting the mind at peace, and harmonizing the 
active impulses of the empirical self. 


Let us be at one with our saints, as in reality we are 
one with them, in the drama of their moral will. And 
let us be free of the allegory in which they depict to 
themselves that drama, free to take other allegories as 
well, or to put forth our own. I read Augustine with 
wonder : but with the greater nearness when I see (as 
who can fail to see) that his spiritual crises hang upon, 
and swing about, intellectual snags irrelevant to the 
real issue whether G-od is extended in space, whether 
evil is a substance, whether Paul contradicts Moses and 
himself : why dost thou halt upon these matters, friend 
Augustine, if not to delay the course of that dreaded 
moral requirement so great in thee ? The settlement 
of thy problem, which looks so much like a theoretical 
result, is it not in truth an inevitable moral deci- 
sion, governed from afar by thy deep religious feeling, 
playing itself out in terms of speculative issues which 
only symbolize the inner meaning of the process ? 

This well-known point of view is quite compatible 
with what we have said about the destiny of feeling: 
and it can only be dealt with by a direct enquiry into 
religious knowledge. But one or two remarks may be 
made before beginning that enquiry. 

It is obvious, I think, that no one would adopt such 
a position as this if he believed that a more satisfactory 
status of idea were possible. And further, no one can in 
reality make use of religious ideas which he believes to 
be thus mythical. It is quite possible to adopt a mistaken 
theory, believing it to be true ; but it is not possible to 
adopt a mistaken theory believing it to be mistaken, or 
even allegorical. Our real theory is the meaning of that 
allegory as we understand it, and not the allegory itself. 


Feeling is a thing which cannot, in its own nature, re- 
main in the dark. Whatever our Most Enlightened 
View about the nature of religious truth may be, that 
Most Enlightened View becomes, willy nilly, the rule for 
our feeling. The more vehement the feeling, the more 
it resents darkness (and certainly all deliberate parasol- 
protection) and pushes for clarity. In their demand for 
idea, our major feelings rather possess us than we them. 
More especially the race-old feelings we call religious will 
hold to their service all of our new and best insights, all 
our detections-of-general-religious-mistake, all our suspi- 
cions of subjective-intention-in-objective-myth: they will 
identify themselves with these insights, partial and unsat- 
isfactory as they are, until we provide an idea-system 
which is fit, necessary, and adequate to our present 
stage of self-conscious attainment. 

NOTE. In the four following chapters (chapters vii-x), 
dealing chiefly with the competence of the idea, it will be 
necessary to consider certain adverse positions, as of Bergson 
and Hoffding. These chapters though as little technical as 
possible may have for the general reader a difficulty which I 
cannot wholly avoid. If any such reader finds that these prob- 
lems are not his own problems, I may advise him to omit these 
chapters, passing at once to chapter xi, which resumes the 
argument as we now leave it, stating a proposition regarding 
the organic relation of idea and feeling which is fundamental 
to our whole view of religion. Then in chapter xii, the theory 
that religious truth depends on the will is discussed in detail, 
both in the form in which James states it the well-known 
will-to-believe and in the form in which Eoyce holds it 
namely, that reality is the fulfilment of an absolute purpose. 
This chapter, again somewhat refractory, concludes the labo- 
rious controversial part of our work. 



WE have said that feeling has need of idea; that it 
can get no pragmatic hold on us without idea ; that 
it has no existence except as it were a suicidal one to 
disappear in knowledge. We might further have said 
that except through idea feeling cannot consciously com- 
municate itself. Our feelings we do, for the most part, 
instinctively seek to share : few feelings are not improved 
hy social reflection. But if we have a pleasure or a grief 
to express to another, we do so (if we can) by telling 
the tale, or by pointing out the object, on which the 
feeling depends; not by simply showing the feeling, or 
explaining it. If we must give the clue to the fun, or to 
the sorrow, or to the admiration, by our own prior grimace 
or gesture (not to say word), we know there is loss in 
passage : if we are so far overcome that we have nothing 
but emotion to give, we are pitiable or ridiculous. 

It is seldom, indeed, with our limited control of idea, 
that an emotion passes from mind to mind by idea alone, 
or can so pass : but the communicator is bound in good 
faith to bring forward what idea he can, with all prompt- 
ness, and to rest his case on that. There is an ethics in 
the communication of whatever feeling, binding the com- 
municator to the limit of his powers to be objective, to 
make no conscious exploit of his own affectedness. This 
rule of first intentions must hold, I fancy, with extreme 


rigor in the case of religious feeling. It would be no 
crime in an actor if he should try to make me weep by 
himself weeping (though he would do better to show a 
great effort at repressing his tears) : but what outrage 
when the like occurs in religion! The spirit of the 
prophet who has communicated his religion, and his 
feeling therewith, by the circuitous way of idea and 
doctrine is right is alone right. Passion in history 
retains its soundness and force just so long as it forgets 
itself and holds to its objects. All else puffs out, or 
putrefies. The taint of emotional exploitation on the 
part of the more sophisticated trustees of religion must 
long since have killed the church had it not been for the 
sound objectivity of the people. Their exploitableness 
is their moral superiority. 

Attempts on the part of * the enlightened ' to take with 
the same objective good-faith the words of the prophets 
must meet with many defeats; to find the tenable ideas 
of religion is indeed no easy matter: but it is the temper 
of defeat to cry too early, All is lost ! The mutual 
cancellations of our divergent religious thoughts and 
theories leave no idea in the whole field unquestioned : 
but it has yet to be shown that all idea is thereby 
eliminated and impossible. Idea has many lives, is 
of tougher substance than we think ; and has perhaps 
greater resources for grasping the remote and super- 
sensible parts of reality. 

We need to enquire into the capacity of our instru- 
ments of knowledge. Most of our prevalent doubts 
regarding our ability to reach knowledge in religion are 
based on false conceptions of what an idea is. These 
false conceptions are natural enough; it is hard to make 


an idea of an idea that will not misrepresent it. For it 
is natural to think of ideas as we think of things men, 
bricks, magnitudes, events. We cannot think of any 
idea that is not an idea of something: and in thinking 
of the idea, that something shines through the transpar- 
ent substance of the idea itself, and our thought of the 
idea becomes mixed with our thought of the idea's 
object. We need constantly to remind ourselves that 
our ideas are what we think with, not what we think of, 
in the order of nature. When we try to think of an 
idea, we are proceeding in some way against nature, 
taking nature backward : it is not surprising if in our 
attempts to do this the resulting conception of the idea 
is denatured to some extent, and so misjudged. 

The first objects which are taken up in great numbers 
into our knowledge are objects of the physical world, 
fixed in outline, mechanical for the most part, and finite : 
it seems to us, then, that our ideas of these objects par- 
ticipate in these qualities, and the consequences of this 
impression are far-reaching. For if ideas have about 
them some inherent rigidity and finitude, if intellect is 
indeed a mechanical affair, they can do no justice to 
reality in its infinitude and its incessant flux and 
change. The kind of knowledge of ultimate things 
which religion has supposed itself to need nay, the 
very conceptions of those objects, the familiar terms 
of religious doctrines are scientifically impossible. I 
wish, then, to examine our ideas of ideas; and to con- 
sider in the first place the supposed rigidity of ideas. 

An idea, it seems, is a piece of one's mind : a piece so 
delimited, outlined (dcoupe), that it can be individu- 


ally used, handled, referred to. One cannot handle the 
ocean : but water-buckets-full, casks-full, tanks-full, taken 
out of the ocean can be handled well enough. Such 
water-bucket, or other vessel, has known contents : it is 
a bit of the ocean, bound, measured, put under control, 
lifted into relief from out of the general wash of waters, 
and set to work. Such is " an idea" in the general flux 
of consciousness : a vessel of known contents, manipu- 
lable, destined to some work. And to what work ? In 
part, at least, to such work as is performed by coins, 
vessels of value : namely, to possess me of my valuables 
in convenient, storable form ; to measure and assess the 
worth of new facts, recognizing them in their bearing 
upon my actions; also to serve as unit of exchange, 
whereby such pieces of my mind may be passed on to 
others. What better simplest image or symbol of idea 
could be devised than the circle an enclosed bit of 
space of known contents precisely such symbol as is 
in common use among logicians ? 

This, I think, fairly describes our usual conception of 
an idea. And such images as these of the water-bucket, 
the coin, the circle, contain all that is true in our usual 
conception, together with all that is false. They contain 
enough truth to be exceedingly useful, enough also to be 
exceedingly seductive. So far does the correspondence 
between ideas and the logician's circle-diagrams hold 
good, that logic itself may appear to be nothing more 
than a sort of space-play or topology, our thinking pro- 
cesses a sort of " geometrizing." l Our conception of the 

1 Bergson's epithet. It is indeed sufficiently remarkable that our 
thought-relations can be represented at all in terms of space-relations not 
to say BO completely represented. It has often excited speculation that 


idea begins to partake of the rigidity, the lifelessness, 
the finitude of these inevitable images. And we can 
hardly better win a true idea of idea than by enquiring 
how far these spatial symbols, circles and the rest, are 
appropriate and valid; and where they begin to work 

In the first place, our spatial symbols represent truly 
the definite inclusions and exclusions of our ideas. One 
is said to have an idea of an object when he can recog- 
nize it, and tell it from every other thing in the world. 
Ideas do not always accomplish this infallible identifica- 
tion of their object. Most ideas of actual things have 
doubtful boundaries as of animal from plant, or of 
river from brook their lines are less sharp than the 
circle ; but the ideal idea knows its own, and excludes 
even more sharply than any actual circle-outline ; more 
sharply, in fact, than any except the boundary of the 
idea-circle. The power of perfect definition is con- 
ferred on the circle 6y the idea, not on the idea by the 
circle. In this matter of definite inclusion and exclu- 
sion, then, the circle does not misrepresent the idea. 

In the second place, each idea has its own changeless 

some deep-going vital unity must obtain between tbe structure of space and 
the structure of intellect. It has been a great point with idealism ; support- 
ing the notion that space is but the mind itself, externalized, and readable 
by tbe mind as a foreign object. F. A. Lange, in particular, was much im- 
pressed by this correspondence- And most recently M. Bergson has thrown 
a biological light on the matter by reminding us that intellect and phys- 
ical world have grown up together in the course of evolution ; that they 
have been modeled for each other, to some extent also, ly each other; that 
the intellect inevitably "geometrizes" because it is its primary nature, 
not to know self or reality, but to guide our physical conduct to its phys- 
ically practical ends. The correspondence, then, has attained a certain 
philosophical celebrity. 


identity, a character fitly represented by the circle, or by 
any other fixable object. To suppose an idea to change 
is to suppose it to become another idea. We could never 
recognize an object as being the same object unless we 
infallibly meant the same : nay, we could never know 
a thing as not the same unless we were sure of a same- 
ness of meaning. Permanence of meaning, taken in 
total, is but our own mental integrity, our personal iden- 
tity itself. The permanence and sameness, then, of any 
poor chalk-circle, or world-orbit for that matter, is 
infinitely unfit to symbolize the unwavering sameness of 
idea, save for a short span, and by leave of the idea 
itself. It is the idea again that confers identity on the 
circle, not the circle that confers identity upon the idea. 
In this matter of changelessness, then, the circle cannot 
misrepresent the idea, for it has no other changelessness 
than that of the idea itself. 

If, then, we admit these characters of the idea found 
in the symbol its changeless identity, and its aim to 
be perfectly defined and exclusive do we not also ad- 
mit that the idea is rigid, even as the symbol is ; and 
therefore equally unable to deal with this living world 
as it is ? 

M. Bergson is at this hour most impressively insisting 
upon the fatal discrepancy between a reality which is 
fluent, passing, ever-growing, and an idea-world which 
is static, rigid, conservative, mechanizing what it touches. 
There is something about change, especially about life- 
change, which never gets caught in our ideas : this fact 
the history of thought has repeatedly been compelled 
to notice. The idea seems not only to fail, but somehow 


to falsify, when it intends to grasp a living thing : as 
if in fixing it, it had also transfixed it, and could carry 
about but a dead image. 

Now, I must confess that in all such criticisms of the 
idea I seem to see pointed out rather defects in our hu- 
man industry and loyalty than any inherent defect of 
the idea itself: for if an unchanging idea is sufficiently 
true to its object, it must entertain every change and 
development in that object. It must change just "because 
it is constant; it must change in content because it is 
changeless in meaning. I can see that there is much 
human idleness to be overcome in keeping our ideas fresh 
while their objects are developing ; I can also see that 
a satisfactory life-theory, mind-theory, world-theory, will 
require of us infinite racial labor. But I know not how 
to describe this labor except as the labor of idea-making. 
The " inherent discrepancy " eludes me ; seems, to speak 
plainly, a demonstrable confusion. For that with which 
the " rigid idea" is contrasted is the "fluent reality" 
held up to contemplation of which "fluent reality" 
then we have some idea : and can it be that this idea of 
the " fluent reality" is itself also rigid? Is this fixed- 
ness, or unbending idea-quality, idea-starch, such that no 
valid meaning is contained or containable in those con- 
ceptions we name ' change/ ' growth/ or even ' wilting/ 
' deliquescing/ * melting/ ' dissolving/ and the like ? On 
the contrary, no ideas are more useful and more used 
than these ideas of change by M. Bergson and the other 
authors in question. To know these things, it is said, 
we must revert to immediate experience. But whatever 
can interest in experience is already caught in idea : there 
is nothing in experience which cannot become content 


of idea, for what else is the (empirical) idea but selected 
experience, in shape for memory and communication? 
Idea is a universal tool, making no demands upon its 
subject-matter. It takes the contour with perfect faith- 
fulness, perfect transparency, perfect non-interference, 
of whatever can hold (through whatever movement or 
metamorphosis) the same interest. Give me an interest 
in a cloud, or in a revolution : at no point do I find my 
pursuit of that shifting object barred by some stiff-joint 
of my idea. Give me an interest in the thing you call 
reality, and if it is to be met with in experience at all, 
nothing can prevent idea from holding it, in all its flux 
or creativity. Whatever character you give this reality, 
in mentioning that character you have already confessed 
an idea of it. Indeed, it is futile to define any region of 
the world as the exclusive or favorite region of idea : 
for the only force which can confine idea to such 
domain is the force of idea itself. 

I do not suppose that these considerations are unfelt 
by such a thinker as M. Bergson. Not only is he aware 
of them ; he anticipates them. It is not impossible to 
think change, he says, but only almost impossible. It 
is counter to our mental habit (habitude statique de 
notre intelligence); it is like climbing backward the slope 
of our confirmed intellectual direction (remonter la pente, 
etc.). While ideas of qualities (adjectives) and ideas of 
forms (nouns) clearly choose to mean only states, still- 
states, of our world, ideas of action and change (verbs) 
have a tinge of the non-static in them ; yet they too are 
interested not in the process per se, but in the terminals 
thereof; they present chiefly a picture of the ends of 
the movement, and a still-chart of its course. " L'ide6 


du changement est la, je le veux bien, mais elle se cache 
dans la penombre. En pleine lumiere il y a le dessin 
immobile de Pacte suppose accompli . . . Adjectifs et 
substantifs symbolisent done des etats. Mais le verbe 
lui-meme, si Ton s'en tient a la partie eclairee de la re- 
presentation qu'il evoque, n'exprime guere autre chose." 1 
Significant "guere." Significant " penombre." Bring- 
ing into some question that striking definition of the 
idea (though only of the Greek eTSos) as a flash-view, 
or instant (la vue stable prise sur 1'instabilite des choses). 
Bringing into some question also that famous figure of 
the intellect as a moving-picture apparatus, dealing es- 
sentially only in such instantaneous views, mechanically 
fused together (mecanisme cinematographique de la pen- 
se). For what is it that rejoins these separate flashes 
of the actual moving-pictures into a continuum of move- 
ment? Not, for us, the mechanical apparatus; for that 
emits nothing but discontinuous flashes (with due inter- 
val, to be sure, and regularity.) What rejoins them 
if not our own way of interpreting, perhaps of sensing, 
the succession ? But hardly of sensing, nor yet of per- 
ceiving, if M. Bergson is right : for perception, accord- 
ing to him, rather turns motions into states, than states 
into motions (notre perception ne doit guere retenir du 
monde materiel, & tout instant, qu'un 6tat ou provisoire- 
ment elle sepose.) 2 One knows not where to look, if this 
is so, except to our own ideas. At all events, the con- 
tinuous-change character is something not here found in 
the data of immediate experience, is something added 
by us to those data out of our own meanings. Some 
idealistic path seems to open out here " idea-creator- 

i Evolution crdatrice, p. 328, 3me ed. 2 Ibid, p 326. 


of-its-own-world," or the like : into this path we shall 
not enter. But must we not perforce admit change 
and rest, static and non-static, to full coordinacy, so far 
as our idea-power is concerned? 

Idea does no doubt enable us to store change in mem- 
ory, as hardly it is storable in fact. Thus stored, we 
are able to dwell upon it, retrace it, in such retracing 
to alter its rate as we will, pass from beginning to end 
with indefinite speed (change intense), or from end to 
beginning, or pause to take the time of its passage 
through this point and through that but in all these 
liberties taken, we are under no deceit. Unless time 
could be remembered as it is, there could be no mind; 
if keeping the past in present view denatured time, and 
turned it into a sort of space time itself would drop 
out of meaning, and out of reality, for us. A present 
idea, and an idea of a present, are not necessarily the 
same; a changeless idea and an idea of only-the-change- 
less are not equivalent phrases. Has not M. Bergson 
fallen into the error from which he himself would warn 
us, that of applying to the idea the characters of its 
(physical) objects? 

And if we wish to know the real source of such diffi- 
culties as the mind falls into in gaining an explication 
of reality, shall we not find it rather in the exigencies 
of finishing our idea-systems than in the incompetence 
of the individual idea ? The paradoxes of Zeno are due, 
not to the difficulty of grasping motion in idea, but to 
the difficulty of putting the idea of motion into terms of 
the idea of rest. The incommensurables are both in the 


region of ideas; the dilemmas arise from the necessity 
of clarifying our ideas by relating them to other ideas; 
eventually, of explaining a thing in terms of what it is 
not. Thus may it not be with reality also? If it 
appears in experience, then also in idea: but whether 
the idea can make connections with other ideas is not 
thereby decided. These other ideas try to gain rela- 
tions to the idea of reality, that is, to set up predicates 
for our idea : but the predicates may not fit. 

It is chiefly our idea-connections and systems that 
threaten to stiffen and falsify the living thing. To be 
forewarned that any such idea-connection is liable to 
need revision is to escape the consequences of rational- 
istic rigidity, without abandoning the needful work of 
system-making. We cannot cease to observe that S is 
P ; but we can enter the caveat " with reservations and 
conditions, not yet wholly known." System-making 
cannot cease, because in part it is the life of the mind 
itself expressible as an automatic process in part. 
Every idea, we might say (again with justified psychical 
mechanics), attracts every other idea tempts it into 
-some union or other, for which it may or may not be fit. 
The number of mechanical ideas we possess is hereby a 
perpetual menace to the integrity and virtue of the non- 
mechanical. Ideas of life and of living things are thus 
constantly exposed to m&salliance, need continually to 
be guarded from mechanization. This, as it seems to 
me, is the real meaning of the complaint that our ideas 
are rigid and cannot do justice to reality. We have 
a greater population of mechanical ideas than of others 
they are " the masses " in our mental State whence 
a certain instability of the others in their rightful 


place. The remedy is first, in simply knowing the dan- 
ger; second, in holding the non-mechanical ideas to 
their own character ; third, in producing more of the 
non-mechanical sort. This is in every way the result of 
such work as Bergson's, except for his too physical idea 
of idea. 

The general name for this process of making connec- 
tions among ideas is reasoning. We would therefore 
agree with Bergson and others that it is not by reason- 
ing, in this sense, that reality is first known. Reason- 
ing, or thinking, is a process which insists first on con- 
nectedness of ideas ; is willing to reach new territory 
only from old, and by approved truss-work, in cantilever 
fashion : " intuition," or immediate knowledge, is capa- 
ble (relatively speaking) o ignoring connections, of 
seizing a bridge span in mid air and holding to it while 
truss and abutments grow. But in the one case as in 
the other it is idea-work that we witness, nothing 
different. So of "instinct " which is often appealed to 
as a more adequate organ than idea for knowing reality. 
What is there about reality which instinct can divine 
while idea must remain confined to its clear-cut and 
barren circles ? If any real What, significant of any- 
thing, then ipso facto idea, though the work of wooing 
that idea into our systems and reasonings may well be 
the work of ages and of races of men. 

It is only in very recent years that religion has di- 
rectly suffered from this particular aspect of the distrust 
of ideas : for religion has, in the main, been content to 
conceive its God, its world, its various objects of dogma, 
as unchanging in view of which, idea may be as rigid 
as we please, without detriment. It is only as the ne- 


cessity has arisen in the speculative mind to recognize 
flux and growth in everything, even in God himself, that 
loyalty of idea to its meaning becomes felt, in religious 
discussion also, as the idea's rigidity and incompetence. 
Modernism feels it ; such writers as William James, and 
in popular vein as Mr. H. G. Wells, complain of it in 
religious context. But a deeper and older ground of 
distrust perhaps at the bottom of this very prejudice 
regarding rigidity is the sense that the idea is finite, 
fitted to cope only with the simpler, poorer, exhaustible 
phases of reality. To this more fundamental difficulty 
we must now turn. 


ALL pictures of the idea which we are likely to frame 
to ourselves circles, coins, counters, ocean water* 
buckets would agree in at least this one point : the 
finitude of the idea. The essence of the idea is known 
contents, marked off from the infinite unknown. An 
idea is a mental achievement, a success of some sort, un 
fait accompli, a usable possession : whence that which 
is unconquerable and unpossessible, the infinite, must 
be left outside the idea. Efforts, indeed, the mind is 
continually making to encompass gulfs, seas, the ocean 
itself; or let us say, to decoy limitless genii into stop- 
pered bottles : and in these enterprises certain partial 
successes seem always on the eve of happening some 
robe corner or perchance a toe of the genius approach- 
ing the bottle, actually in the bottle ; just enough en- 
couragement to prevent sanguine mortals from forgoing 
the quest of the infinite altogether, and yet no authen- 
tic triumph. These are, to speak most hopefully, pro- 
spective ideas ; and do but serve to show what finitude is 
implied in the achieved idea. It is clear enough what 
bearing this finitude of idea may have upon religious 
thought, which must needs try to think the Infinite : 
this bearing has been sufficiently exhibited by all those 
philosophers whose point of pride is their humility and 
candor, since Herbert Spencer, and also before him. 


How the religion of feeling is concerned in this issue 
none has shown so well as Professor Hoffding. 1 Reli- 
gion cannot reach its goal in the form of thought, he 
reasons, because religion must aspire to be conclusive ; 
whereas thought, in these matters, is necessarily incon- 
clusive. The religious object, in order to fulfil the re- 
quirements of the religious life, must possess finality 
(no complaint here of the * rigidity' of ideas), must 
furnish "an absolute and objective conclusion for our 
knowledge " : but no ideas in the field of religion can 
claim these qualities. However comprehensive they 
may be, reality in its infinitude breaks away from them* 
What satisfaction in idea can there be for religion un- 
less, for example, we can frame valid ideas of " God," 
and of " the world " ? But this we cannot do. What 
is to be meant by " the world " but a symbol for a com- 
pleted work of fact-finding and law-finding brought to 
perfect unity? which work shows no sign of being 
finished till Doomsday, and can by no right be treated 
as done before that time. Indeed, the finding of a prin- 
ciple which could unify the physical world-laws alone 
seems to be inherently impossible, involving endless re- 
treat of the object, endless regress, endless rainbow 
pursuit. As for the idea of God, there is no need to 
question completion when so much question besets our 
poor beginnings. And were we able to think both God 
and the world, this would not satisfy the requirement 
of religion, which (if it depends on ideas) must have 
some idea of the relation between its God and its world : 
whereas, any supposition we make, or perhaps that can 
be made, only plunges us into further infinities. Not 
1 Philosophy of Religion, chapter n. 


accidental unfinishedness, but inherent unfinishableness 
of this God-and-world-problem, is what we face. By 
whatever concept we try to compass finality, reality 
opens through its wall an alley of " infinite regress," 
and escapes mocking. " All limiting concepts contain 
a certain element of raillery." Thus instructed by the 
self-invited discomfiture of the idea, does religion pass 
(through analogy and symbol) to its secure seat in feel- 
ing, with its postulate of faith, " the conservation of 

We cannot but endorse this conception of religion's 
demand for finality in its objects. Have we not already 
described religion as "anticipated attainment"; reach- 
ing ends (of which the world-knowing end is one) for 
which men must otherwise infinitely wait. But because 
we accept that demand, we cannot despair of it ; nor 
resort to feeling for a finality denied to the idea. I 
shall not by any means attempt here to do justice to 
Hoff ding's thought in its deeper bearings; I can deal 
only with the one difficulty, the finitude of the idea, 
the infinitude of the task of knowledge. 

Consider first, that all ideas contain an infinity, 
though an uncounted infinity. Within the contour of 
the blank circle-face alone is there not an infinitude of 
points? which infinitude does not render less serene 
our finished possession of the circle's meaning. In a tree, 
there are leaves which could be counted, also cells, atoms, 
infinite infinitesimals ; but my idea of that tree does not 
await the result of the counting and studying. Every 
idea, at that instant in which it is distinguished from 
other meanings of the mind, is finished at once, from 
its inner end, its intention : at that instant the universe 


is dichotomized, even to its borders (as a bill may be- 
come law throughout a nation at the stroke of the clock) 
though the work of its application be never finished, 
or so much as entered upon. No consideration of the 
immensity of the object, nor of the long labor or im- 
possible labor of finished acquaintance, can balk the ease 
and timeless facility of the idea. No one shall tell me 
that my ideas of Russia, or of physics, or of walrus, or 
of my friend, are but feelings because my ignorance of 
them is measured only by eternal time : if at the name 
I know to what object that name refers, I have a valid 
idea of that infinite object. In international affairs, a 
State may be recognized and dealt with if it has but a 
determinate place and foreign office : all else may be 
problematic population, extent, resource, even gov- 
ernment. An idea likewise has existence and standing 
when it has a determinate place in the mind, determin- 
ate external relations (distinctions from other ideas) : 
internal exploration, development, spinning out of 
treaty web-work, may pursue its own slow course. 

One sort of completion, and one only, an idea must 
have the complete distinction and identification of 
its interest (or of its problem) : it must be an individ- 
ual interest in a mind-full of interests. One sort of fini- 
tude it must have and one only: the finitude of not 
being the only idea in the mind, of having a genuine 
exterior, a wholly mental exterior, of other interests. 
So far as the idea's object is concerned, it seems to me 
doubtful whether there are any finite ideas at alL 
Choose your idea of the minutest possible object, an 
object defined as being without internal detail, atom- 
atom : this poorest idea in the mind must, like other 


ideas, be on duty forever, ready for infinite recurrences 
of its object which possible infinitude is already part 
of the sense of the idea. So with our ocean water-bucket, 
which, though it would, cannot close to itself the prospect 
of endless other buckets-full ; a vista involved in its own 
limited cubic contents. So with all other ideas ; they 
must contemplate an infinitude of application having 
a rough inverse proportion to their own internal poverty. 
Indeed, I am prepared to say that the chief function 
of an idea is to serve as a vessel, or as a center of 
attachment, for infinite growth of knowledge: that 
any idea not infinitely capacious, infinitely ambitious, is 
already a dead idea. To the question, Can we think 
the Infinite? let me propose the answer, We think 
nothing else. 

Religious ideas, then, have nothing to fear from the 
general charge of infinite ambition. But perhaps the 
real occasion for the diffidence of the candid-humble 
philosopher is not so much infinite contents per se as it 
is the special case of infinity involved in totality : for 
the religious idea (of God, or of world, or of eternity) 
must be in its own way all-comprehensive. Ideas may 
have an internal infinitude, and beside this an infinite 
swath of application ; but all this is as nothing to the 
infinitude beyond their interest: the dark stretching 
expanses of reality left out by all ideas not-x to aU 
of them. 

In meeting this objection, it is fair to notice that in 
describing this unlighted region, not-x to every idea, 
one has made it or confessed it a definable interest, al- 
ready an object of idea. Some marginal interest always 


goes to the not-x o whatever idea, which marginal 
interest, heaping up from all ideas on any region which 
is not-x to all of them, must acquire much positive weight 
in time. But this observation hardly satisfies the objector, 
and ought not to satisfy him, nor the defendant either : 
for the religious interest in the Whole is no marginal 
interest ; and the supposed religious attainment of whole- 
knowledge no dim reflected luminosity. The religious 
idea will be as positive and primordial as any ; will in- 
sist that it is possible for idea to begin with the Whole, 
as readily as with any fragment. The real source of 
doubt lies in some unclearness about the way in which 
knowledge grows. We must give some attention to that. 

It is not a true account of knowledge to say that it 
proceeds (always) from the part to the whole. The pro- 
gress of knowledge has rather more in common with the 
development of a germ-cell than with the building of a 
brick wall; something of the whole present and active 
in that cell from the beginning. But we must always re- 
ject helpful metaphors, inimical metaphors unless we bun- 
dle them off in time, and refer to the idea itself : we may 
draw a line about a germ-cell none about a germ- 
thought; an idea of the universe can never have been 
wrapped up in small compass for gradual unfolding; we 
do not learn to see space little by little. The child's space 
is as great as the man's, namely, whole-space. He who 
comes into the world at all comes at once into the pres- 
ence of the whole world. I am introduced to a person, 
not by piecemeal, but all at once, with a positive im- 
pression and judgment contained in my idea : not deny- 
ing that there is much to learn and correct through 


long-growing acquaintance. So of my introduction to 
reality : in its full infinity and wholeness it is now be- 
fore me and lias been so from my conscious beginning, 
the same from birth to death the same space, the same 
time, the same natural order and particularity, the same 
history and social context, the same God, too, if there be 
a god, the same world-laws or law, the same conditions 
of life and death, success and failure. 

What grows in knowledge is the under-standing of 
all this, the internal complexity and detail, middle-world 
experience and thereby middle-world ideas, and espe- 
cially the power to put ideas together. That fundamental 
difference already noticed between having an idea and 
having it in terms of other ideas, between knowing your 
object and reasoning about it, is here again in evidence : 
for the great volume and business of what we call the 
growth of knowledge is growth of connection, growth 
of treaty-making between ideas. (Each such new treaty- 
connection is doubtless itself a new idea as we count 
ideas and brings with it internal development of the 
ideas thus newly related, but without altering their 
place in the mind, which place is their identity). The 
connecting of ideas goes on apace : for our loquacious, 
marketable knowledge is in proportion, not immediately 
to our ideas, but to the couplings we can make among 
them, unions as of subject and predicate. Every new 
bit of experience, taken in idea, makes chance and 
demand for new couplings, couplings, in fact, with 
all previously present ideas : such a process has no end 
of all possible couplings only a relative few can be 
effected. Meanwhile, knowledge keeps getting smaller 
and finer, more tangled, more systematic all the time : 


there are more threads and pins in the loom, more shut- 
tles in the air. Such is the general aspect o the growth 
of knowledge a mid-world growth as we have said. 
But with what does all the growth and weaving begin? 
In the beginning was at least the Loom ; and always 
remains, the simple-total frame of things. Huge, inevit- 
able, abiding Loom, loom-motion and loom-law : these, 
we may say, are given ; stuff also to weave with, and 
withal the command to weave. Such total world-fact, 
always present in idea, contains the growth of know- 
ledge is not in its wholeness any mere final achieve- 
ment thereof. 

The whole, then, is knowable : is the one thing per- 
manently known. Any first idea of any dawning con- 
sciousness, whatever its stimulus-object, must be at the 
same time idea-of-the-whole, never to forsake that con- 
sciousness while it remains such. But there is no lack 
of growth and change in this idea. Once given a whole- 
idea as a positive possession, every addition to know- 
ledge must add to it also ; every change in the intricate 
structure of mid-world knowledge must have some 
answering effect upon it. Suggestions about the char- 
acter of the world as a whole are continually steaming 
up from the general intellectual workshop ; since every 
idea that man gains casts some reflection or other upon 
that world. Every other idea, let me say, is a possible 
predicate for that permanent subject ; that is to say, a 
possible commentary upon its nature and character. 

And men have always been eager to bring their new 
knowledges in all fields into connection with their whole- 
idea, framing new judgments about it. Thus the repu- 


tation of the whole is always in the making : there is no 
absolute stability in the qualities or predicates which 
have been attached to it as whether it is just or 
unjust; caring about men or not-caring; unconscious 
perhaps or super-conscious ; unitary, or struggling for 
unity, or a mere scene of struggle. In so far as our 
knowledge of the whole comes through such judgments 
from the progress of our day's-work, bringing explicit 
predicates to that whole-idea, that knowledge of the 
whole might well be subject to greater contingency than 
any other. And this consideration, I think, may help 
us to understand the historical instability of religious 
thought. As the growth of other knowledge falls into 
tangle, it suggests discordant predicates for the whole ; 
and judgments once secure fall into doubt, to be set 
up again later with greater assurance and added mean- 
ing, or to make room for some truer judgment. Intel- 
lectual business is, as we have seen, an eminently dust- 
raising pursuit : it seems at times as if our whole-idea, 
which like all permanences is non-intrusive, were pas- 
sively obliterated in the general murk; as though we 
might lose not only the predicates, but the subject 
as well. 

Herein, no doubt, lies the advantage of the child in 
religion : not greater power, but a freer atmosphere. 
To some extent, intellectual advance must always involve 
loss to religion: readjustments within the whole-idea 
are required ; the simplicity and firmness of our former 
predicates are disturbed ; the solid proportions of the 
whole-idea of childhood can with difficulty, or never, 
be recovered. One sees in part why religion and ' in- 
tellect ' are prone to fall into contrast. For the reli* 


gious idea suffers whatever genuine losses are involved 
in all progress ; and furthermore cannot be clearly dis- 
cerned amid the bustle of scientific labor : it needs in a 
measure to be looked-away-to ; it is best found in the 
pauses of the weaving process, a matter for the most 
part of holiday survey. 

The whole-idea, then, while ever present, has its 
vicissitudes, its fortune to make and ever re-make, its 
frequent seeming life and death struggles. It is no 
idle spectator of mental progress, but partaker of all 
mind-growth, mind-revolution. And all this is consis- 
tent with, nay implies, the truth that this same infinite 
whole-idea is that with which every rational existence 


IT needs still to be explained what positive character 
this whole-idea can have, if no predicate can perma- 
nently adhere to it. The instability of any given predi- 
cate must often appear as evidence that the idea in ques- 
tion is impossible: on this account our whole-idea has 
often been put down as a no-idea : everything, so far as 
idea can grasp it, being equivalent to nothing. The 
mystic has often been charged with this conclusion, 
even while he maintains as the true mystic must that his 
whole-idea is the most positive of all. 

In spite of the difficulty of fixing predicates for the 
whole, circumstantial evidence does strongly discoun- 
tenance the notion that the idea is a negation, or a pure 
problem : for hardly would such persistent ferment and 
vicissitude center about it, if there were no positive 
individual interest and content at stake. The most 
striking circumstance in the history of this idea is not, I 
think, that all predicates have been beaten back ; but 
that in spite of all difficulties the assault continues, 
unremitting, through all mental eras. And if it were 
true ( as it is not) that in this persistent attempt to cap- 
ture the whole in predicate-idea no single predicate had 
gained permanent hold all of them struck down by 
Something we should still judge this fact the poorest 
possible evidence of Nothing There ! When we reject 


a predicate, it is because we know, better than this pred- 
icate can say, what the character of our world is. 

The principle here chiefly concerned is this : that the 
denial of any predicate does not leave 'behind no-predi- 
cate; a simple enough principle, but much hindered by 
mechanical ideas of ideas for the erasure of a circle 
does certainly leave behind precisely no-circle in its 
place. If however I deny an idea, I leave behind end- 
less possibilities, or even responsibilities, some of which 
are very near to the negated idea itself. For instance, 
I deny that potatoes are red or that the Earth is a 
sphere : yet these denials leave possible much redness in 
potatoes and much roundness in the Earth's shape. So 
when discordant opinions cancel each other, what is left 
is no mere feeling, but some very real idea, if we can but 
name it. Neither the whole-idea nor any other is at 
first quality-less, getting its character by the attach- 
ment of predicate after predicate from without : a new 
predicate does no more than express what was and has 
been true of the subject, not hitherto say-able, but 
needing and requiring to be said. The retreat into 
subjectivity (for that is what the feeling-resort is) 
means an abandonment of the effort and responsibility 
of naming the idea that is tenable, letting subject as 
well as predicate sink beneath the threshold waters of 
conscious existence. 

A rough parallel may show this : religious opinions dif- 
fer from age to age and from people to people hardly 
more than do the foods of these same ages and peoples. 
Have we then any positive, objective, food-idea since 
scarcely anything used in one place would not be re- 
jected in some other? shall we not say that the real 


meaning of food is a feeling of some sort, say of 
hunger and the relief thereof ? Doubtless this feeling- 
sequence is a constant amid all the variations of menu, 
and enters into the meaning of the term ; but there is 
another constant, amid all the varieties of foods, and 
thatis/ood physical, eatable, digestible object-matter, 
as well as subject-matter. Behind every such diversity 
of idea, there is an identity of feeling (which it is well 
to note) ; but also an identity of Idea. Men may 
lose their gods, and have God left. Behind Indra and 
his drivers is Prajapati ; and behind Prajapati, there 
is Brahm. 

It is fair to observe, also, that the displacement of old 
predicates by new (admittedly an infinite process, in the 
case of our whole-idea, or of our God-idea) does not im- 
ply the essential falsity of the old. There are among 
predicates no precise fittings of any subject, nor yet 
precise mis-fittings (if a predicate wholly coincides 
with its subject, it ceases to be a garment therefor): 
what is fit depends upon what is required. My predi- 
cates hurled at Deity and the World are like broad mis- 
siles that hit the mark and more : as my marksman- 
ship becomes finer I may adopt finer weapons, substitute 
arrows for clubs and stones, but still hit only the same 
mark. I cannot accuse my stone-and-club-throwing 
successes of substantial error, but only of rudeness, of 
anachronism if persisted in. Arrows too must be dis- 
placed in time perhaps by light-rays: yet each, in 
its own way, may strike true. Nothing in all this diffi- 
culty of predicates then (even if it were, which it is 
not, a pure chaos), need justify the abandonment of the 
whole-idea as a no-idea, at most a feeling. 


It is not our present purpose to say what we know 
about the World or about God ; we are enquiring only 
whether such knowledge is possible, and how it is possi- 
ble. So far as explicit predicates of the whole are con- 
cerned, our answer may now be put in this way : If 
there are any permanent achievements of knowledge in 
any direction, in the progress of science and the Arts, 
every such achievement may be the basis of an equally 
stable judgment about the whole. At one time, we were 
questioning whether the emergence of the Arts were 
not the silencing of religion : we may now see that it is 
the emergence of the Arts that chiefly aids, and even 
compels, religion to become vocal. When the Arts had 
no language, religion herself was necessarily helpless, 
un-literal, speaking the speech of myth and figure, lack- 
ing fixed objective moorings. The question of truth 
in religion did not arise, and could not consciously arise, 
until there had come into the world an independent 
science, philosophy, art, and artisanry . Now that these 
have made good their independent faculties, they lend 
to religion their new-made powers: religion becomes 
articulate in the same measure in which she gives artic- 
ulateness to the world. 

We have, then, a growing body of positive know- 
ledge about the whole, as well as a permanent whole- 
idea as subject of these judgments. But it remains true 
that all knowledge of the whole is of the simplest order. 
In the presence of the ultimate we shall always remain 
primitive : we can never become civilized in respect to 
God. All our accounts of the larger realities fall back 
in language to the elements of speech, the rudiments of 


numbers, the conceptions of infantile mechanics. 1 Child- 
hood lies always within our reach, as we pass outward 
from the world in which we move with skill (because 
we have set up in it the stage and reaction-board suited 
to meet our powers) into the field of the larger interests 
of the cosmos. It is because of this necessary simplicity, 
and not because the type of hold we have on these larger 
interests is not a grip of idea, that we bow our minds 
in well-considered humility as we approach the infinite, 
that religion belies itself when it expands in verbiage. 
For speech, at its best, is only partial wisdom ; whereas 
the wisdom of religion is entire. 

But as for this other humility that of the candid, 
humble philosopher, who will have no idea of the infi- 
nite, especially of the Total-infinite that is, in truth, 
the poorest virtue in the catalogue. A labor-saving vir- 
tue, I fear: also at times, sadly enough, a guilty virtue, 
parting too readily with its birthright. Such a thing 
there is as impatience in knowledge, also presumption ; 
not to be cured however by renouncing courage, effort, 
and withal the capital-possession of humanity the idea 
which with simplicity embraces and knows the infinite. 
Every living infinite-total, and not the world only, has 
for knowledge this same unitary-simplicity ; the Person, 
Nature, Society, History, the State: the knowledge of 
these, open to the "poor in spirit," is the justification 
of democracy, of modern life at large. We are not 
human until we claim and use these ideas-infinite, the 
essential organs of a genuine personal life. 

1 We may notice a similar thing in all the maxima of life say in 
world-politics, whose " depths and intricacies " are chiefly the mysteries of 
closed doors, whose " complex principles " chiefly the abstruse policies of 
boys and savages. 


It remains true also and what we have been saying 
will help to explain the fact that religious knowledge, 
of the kind with which revelation and prophecy are con- 
cerned, is not commonly found in the course of theoret- 
ical reflection. That which so profoundly stirs feeling 
has been in its psychological origin a product of some- 
thing very like feeling, and very different from common 
thought. Abeyance of ingenuity, a fostered passivity, 
reliance upon the primitive in the mind, the coopera- 
tion of what psychology prefers to call the subconscious 
and instinctive : all such non-thinking has been requisite 
for winning truth about super-nature. To retire into 
the wilderness for forty days, to make yourself pure and 
empty, to throw off your skill and your shrewdness, to 
forget the proportions of men and of men's outlooks : 
these have been found fit preparations for the reception 
of prophecy. But let us be clear that this negation of 
common thought-activity, the intense passion and sub- 
jectivity of religion thus shown, is but a measure of the 
immense scope of its intention. The most inner is called 
on only to reach the most outer. The bow-string is 
pulled in to its limit only that the shaft may also reach 
its limit. 

Religious wisdom impresses us as an affair for the 
subconscious subject because it stirs subconscious 
depths : an impression which the psychological attitude 
can hardly shake off; yet the inference is exactly 

Nothing can stir the " depths " of mind, but total out- 
of-doors. We call " depth," last dregs, etc., that in man 
which only ultimate facts and happenings can interest; 
that which the near and usual can neither rouse nor 


ruffle. Somewhere in each man, we imagine, there lies 
an ultimatum, to be backed by all his energies from all 
reservoirs, ordinary and extraordinary, what can elicit 
from any man such ultimatum and ultimatum-backing ? 
nothing that has not somewhere in it the word 
All! There are such things, we think, as ruling pas- 
sions, " deepest desires," in any man some nameable or 
unnameable last ambition what can set such a depth 
on fire? nothing but some total opportunity (real 
or believed real), discovered in the wide world 
beyond the self. 

Drama, dreaming likewise, can detach itself at once 
from reality and power of excitement : but objectivity is 
the very food of passion. Passion necessarily realizes ; 
apart from some experience of passion one hardly knows 
what/ac is. 

Eeligious passion, at length, is the best illustration 
of all this: for this is the mark of religious passion, 
that a specific view of the whole makes conscious con- 
nection with one's practical ultimata. The "deepest 
of all inborn impulses," says Professor Pratt, 1 " is the 
' instinct for self-preservation ' " : and what is to set that 
impulse trembling? " a belief in the impossibility of 
real annihilation." Belief founded on what ? founded 
back on the instinct itself ? doomed then to death 
and silence. Founded on vision perhaps ? If ever upon 
the stupid day-length time-span of any self, or saint 
either, some vision breaks to roll his life and ours into 
new channels, it can only be because that vision admits 
into his soul some trooping invasion of the concrete 
fulness of eternity. Such vision doubtless means sub- 

1 Psychology of Religious Belief, p. 292. 


conscious readiness, and subconscious resonance too, 
but the expansion of unused air-cells does not argue 
that we have ceased now to breathe the outer air: 
the very opposite ! 

No. The so-called wisdom of feeling is of the same 
stuff and substance with other wisdom, positive, objective, 
belonging to our world of ideas. The religious vista is 
large and open : in integral continuity with the field-lines 
of our overt existence (not narrowly caught by peering 
up back-chimney-flues of consciousness). Whatever is 
thus continuous with the real known in idea is itself 
known in idea, not otherwise. There are vague ideas, 
and unfinished ideas, uncertain predicates, qualities only 
dimly divined known most certainly by their differ- 
ence from others, their negative bearing but none of 
this haze and floating outline affects the intent and cate- 
gory of the scene-contents. Whatever is, or can be, 
predicate of idea is itself idea-stuff, whether or not yet 
successfully defined and connected. 

We have dwelt long on the question of the idea's de- 
fects, the most persuasive of the supports of the religion 
of feeling. For some touch of finitude must cleave to 
all things human : and none of our ideas, religious or 
other, can be more than the idea of some poor mortal. 
Yet, we do here claim that the ideas of mortals may en- 
tertain the infinite and the total as their valid objects, and 
do always entertain them, though unawares. Whoever 
says that the foundations of religion lie deeper than idea 
speaks true : deeper, indeed, they lie than the current 
idea-level; deeper than most of our predicates, taken as 
these are chiefly from the sphere of the day's work. 


The result we have reached is simply that deeper than 
idea is Idea. There is nothing of reality, whether the 
infinitude of its livingness and change, or the infinitude 
of its extent, to which we must be related through feel- 
ing because of the incapacity of idea. Eetreat to the 
inner man (retreat for which idealism has itself set the 
example) is not imposed upon us by any yet-mentioned 
defects of our organs of knowledge or, let me say, is not 
permitted to us : driven back from any stated idea, we 
must still remain in the idea-world. 



ASSUME, then, that we have overcome the most seri- 
ous and actual of the obstacles to our confidence 
in the possibility of knowledge in religion. Let us agree 
that religious feeling, in its necessary effort to win a 
theory of its own meaning, is not inevitably balked by the 
incompetence of our organs of knowledge, the ideas. If 
we can accept this as a definite result, though wholly gen- 
eral and preliminary, we have dealt with one half of the 
problem which the religion of feeling puts before us. An- 
other half remains : for while we must try to work out a 
religious theory and have good hope of success, it may 
still be true that the vitality of religion lies in the feel- 
ing and not in the idea. As long as our ideas retain 
their living connection with the feelings which they are 
naturally meant to guide, they are sound : but idea has 
a way of severing that connection and setting up as a 
thing separate and sufficient in itself. We have ourselves 
asserted that feeling tends to vanish as idea becomes 
more adequate: and yet it is certain that religion with- 
out feeling is nothing. All feeling needs idea; but it 
does not follow that all idea needs feeling or can win it : 
in fixing attention upon the idea, we are in danger of 
detaching ourselves from the sources of life. 

It is idle to deny that he impoverishes himself who 


tries to live by idea alone. What we have to do is to 
study this evident tendency of idea to separate from 
feeling and become external. We cannot doubt the 
tendency, though we may doubt whether it is the last 
word in regard to their relations. The union between 
idea and feeling seems to me to be organic, not acci- 
dental or external, so that idea in the last resort can no 
more free itself from feeling than feeling can free itself 
from idea. But whatever may be the nature of this 
union, it is not to be found by minimizing the fact that 
the world of ideas does aspire to be independent of the 
current flux of feelings. We must rather give full scope 
and credit to this aim, and think it through to its con- 
clusions. What, then, we first ask, seems to be the 
nature of that ideal of independence? 

In the first place an idea must be permanent, whereas 
feeling is essentially transient. An idea may guide a 
feeling to its goal and its cessation ; but as the experi- 
ence passes, the idea does not cease to exist, as for 
example the idea of food when I am not hungry. On 
the contrary, it seems now to begin its most character- 
istic existence as idea. 

For the more common uses of the idea, in memory, 
in reflection, in communication, are best fulfilled when 
the idea can be referred to without unnecessary stirring 
of subjective interests and emotions. We want our ideas 
fco be so held in the mind that any vital connection with 
feeling must come as an additional fact. We want them 
so far insulated from ourselves that whatever their mo- 
mentary importance may be or become, we must first 
make an application to our own case by a separate act 


of inference. Picture me a destroyed San Francisco : 
this is a fact distantly regrettable, but still a mere fact : 
but remind me now that I have friends there, or invest- 
ments, and immediately the bond with feeling is accom- 
plished. Apart from such separate act of application the 
idea exists in its normal freedom, fit to be dealt with in 
what we call the purely theoretical manner, the charac- 
teristic life of the idea. 

In this theoretical condition any idea of mine finds 
itself in a permanent and fairly complete world of ideas. 
This idea- world at any moment must contain the idea- 
concerns for all possible feelings, past and future not 
merely for those accidentally present ; and even to some 
extent for all mankind, not for myself alone, in so far 
as I undertake to understand the feelings of all man- 
kind through my own magazine of ideas. Only a few of 
these ideas can be in use at any time; for feeling is 
nothing unless present feeling ; hence for the most part 
one's idea-world stands undisturbed by feeling, a liberal 
and adequate field for free conscious existence. Were 
it not possible to lift the eyes from the movement of 
affairs in course to other idea-regions without at once 
experiencing the full feeling-effect of these ideas, human 
life could scarcely move in any such roomy spiritual 
place as it now possesses. The permanent and instant 
command of our whole-view is perhaps the distinguish- 
ing mark of our species. Whatever independence of 
feeling is implied in this undisturbed access to every 
idea-meaning is the clear tendency and purpose of the 
idea-world, and to a great extent an already accom- 
plished fact. 

And further, whatever we can call a spiritual posses- 


sion has its place here. For surely we should give reli- 
gion, or any other human interest, both ampler and 
firmer terrain by establishing it in this permanent idea- 
world than if we could find for it, so to speak, only a 
sea-faring life on the incessantly shifting surface of 
feeling. Whatever is to be established in this world 
must be established in idea, for only the idea admits 
of establishment. 

And now, in the second place, this free theoretical 
status of the idea in memory and reflection becomes an 
ideal even for the use of the idea in concrete cognitive 
experience, in so far as this too has a theoretical aim. 
We are sufficiently familiar with the way in which feel- 
ing interferes with this work, mars the equanimity of its 
operation, and warps its results. This work must be 
done in a certain equilibrium of mind, an equilibrium 
whose difficulty is itself a testimony to the strong natu- 
ral bond between idea and feeling. But this equilibrium 
is possible, at least as an ideal, and it is this ideal that 
now concerns us. Through the need to be anti-emotional, 
the attitude which we call the empirical attitude takes 
on a definite moral aspect. What we will to know is 
reality, and reality is a word having the force of feel- 
ing-rebuke "stern reality" is its name. 

Thus, in sum, our ideas have many other uses than 
those of the immediate guidance of present feelings ; 
and for all these other uses a freedom from feeling- 
entanglements is as desirable as in its own place a ready 
union with feeling is desirable. There is a liberality 
about idea which does not comport with its being always 
in harness to feeling ; and the idea cannot be identified 
with a relation which now appears to be but a special 


and occasional relation. The idea is normally independ- 
ent of the flux of feelings. But has not this independ- 
ence some further and more general relation to feeling? 

There is no doubt that it has a further account to 
give. This power to hold our ideas in theoretical equi- 
librium is no mechanical matter; it is a hard-won 
accomplishment, and it becomes marked only in the 
higher stages of evolution and of culture. It is an ac- 
quisition of much importance, having a decided biologi- 
cal value as well as the general spiritual interest which 
we have suggested. This status of the idea is thus itself 
a matter in which our feelings must be in some way 
deeply involved. Very likely the apparently independent 
idea is but a pseudo-independent idea ; a highly explic- 
able, and even copiously explained, product of evolution. 

There is certainly little agreement at present as to 
the exact sequence and description of the stages of men- 
tal evolution ; but there is some approach to agreement 
in the opinion that the theoretical use of idea is a com- 
paratively late invention of nature's and a thoroughly 
practical and instrumental affair. Primitive idea-making 
is seemingly most un-theoretical; and developed idea- 
making is at bottom the same, though under high dis- 
guise. There is a well-known theory to the effect that 
all ideas, in the last resort, mean some action or plan 
of action; so that in their very meanings they are bound 
up with the feelings which normally announce and ac- 
company those actions. Through whatever remote and 
devious paths the idea in question finds its way into 
practice, its whole significance can be reduced to the 
difference in conduct which belief in its object tends to 


provoke. Idea means action or purpose. This we may 
call the action-theory of idea. In this theory I do not 
find any complete satisfaction ; yet it moves so far in the 
right direction, in bringing the theoretical idea into 
relation with feeling, that it will be well to follow its path 
and define our own belief with reference to it. Let me 
then bring to mind a typical sketch of the evolution of 
the apparently feeling-free idea, as interpreted by this 

When the world may be simply classified for any or- 
ganism into the eatable and the non-eatable, the terri- 
ble and the non-terrible, idea directly means action, and 
idea-difference means action-difference. Development, 
which means at each stage dealing with a bigger world, 
must bring into view objects whose bearing on action 
is more and more indirect and distant, as f oUows : 

First, we must acquire ideas of ways and means, not 
of ends only. Before we can eat we must chase, and 
long series of signs and way-marks must be added to 
our idea-stock all practical enough, but without orig* 
inal interest in themselves. 

Then it appears that some things are means to more 
than one end. The same path leads home, and also leads 
to water; the same water may be source of food supply 
and drink supply. In such ideas the various suggestions 
of action tend to cancel or inhibit each other. Many- 
purposes may seem to the mind much the same as no- 
purpose: here begins the apparently action-free idea. 
Of this sort are most of our present stock of substan- 
tive ideas, because nothing concrete has its value all in 
one direction. And further, in all real objects, as in all 
real men, there is a mixture of benefit and injury. The 


action-value of any concrete object taken by itself is 
nearly neutral, a grey in which all colors mix. 

My world extends in time and not in space only : and 
as memory and prudence accompany the widening of 
my world in its time-extent, I interest myself in possi- 
ble values, and not alone in actual values. Every con- 
crete thing, under such a broadened area of purpose, 
has a speculative importance. Thus arises the idea of a 
thing, the most finished achievement of our assumed 
attitude of indifference. The thing has no defined sug- 
gestions of action ; its reputation is all to be made ; our 
value-judgment is perfectly reserved; we have become, 
to all appearances, purely theoretical. 

Two new emotions, caution and curiosity, mark the 
upper reaches of this development; indeed, they are 
probably provided by nature fairly early, but come to 
flower late in that feeling which is sometimes called the 
love of knowledge, which interests itself in things osten- 
sibly for no other reason than that they exist. But this 
love of knowledge, like all preceding stages of recession 
from the immediately useful, is still practical ; it is best 
regarded, perhaps, as a form of the love of power, which 
in acquiring new data feels a diffused delight hailing 
remotely from the sense of possible action. 

" Dispassionate investigation " is an office created by 
this practical curiosity. It is the best value-policy to 
treat our world as if we were interested in it for its own 
sake. But dramatic self-sacrifice like this does not con- 
ceal the fundamental relation of all meanings to feel- 
ings. Is it not a commonplace of experimental psychol- 
ogy that action-shadows and fringes attend all ideas at 
all times; are there not incipient, tell-tale muscular 


movements always to be discovered accompanying all 
thinking-movements, inhibited, but none the less verifi- 
able? Supporting the proposal that some motor-outray- 
ing is the essential meaning of every idea. 

Theoretic use of idea, then, is a use in which we say 
to the idea, in effect, "Action-meaning yes, but not 
now" And in this power of restraint or inhibition we 
are mightily aided by a growing social experience, which 
lends much practical significance to the attitude, "Ac- 
tion-meaning yes, but not mine." Society imposes 
upon me the habit of regarding actions through the eyes 
and muscles of others : I learn to regard objects irre- 
sponsibly, as one reads the newspaper. There is much 
that excites action-impulse, but it is not my affair, and 
I check myself. The unmoving idea, the idea regarded 
theoretically, is simply in a socialized condition : it is set 
over into the world of an actor who is, in thought, some 
one else, any one else than myself. 

Thus we understand how, on purely practical consid- 
erations, it comes about that we have a pseudo-independ- 
ent world of ideas. Feeling does not markedly accom- 
pany a thought except in so far as that thought touches 
the springs of my own musculature : feeling is the idea 
doing work in me. By whatever policy I can prevent 
this motor-connection from being made, I add to my 
power over the theoretic idea. But in all such theoretic 
status, we have to recognize at bottom the fundamental 
action-meaning held in abeyance, and for a limited dura- 
tion. All theory is sustained throughout by a powerful 
current of feeling, the interest in possible action: and any 
one active impulse is prevented from displaying itself 
only by other impulses which for the time rule my assent. 


This is a crude and over-simple account of the action- 
theory of idea-meaning, such as I will attribute to no 
one thinker. For our purposes it sufficiently represents 
the view in question. 

Suggestive of much truth is this evolutionary pic- 
ture ; showing the existence of some close bond between 
all idea and all action : yet not on the whole a just picture. 
It seems to reduce the idea everywhere to the service 
of action : but in all justice it only shows the idea in 
its struggle for independence hampered at the edges 
by the persistent fringes of action. The rightful infer- 
ence, I venture to say, from such evolution-tracing must 
show idea connected with feeling universally indeed 
but still externally, as to something intrinsically differ- 
ent. Idea, we find, is always accompanied by feeling: 
will have various feeling-promptings, hints of valuable 
action, associated with it by way of annex ; but still 
always as additional and extraneous fact. Every idea- 
object must indeed have some appeal to the imagina- 
tion, its vividness depending largely on these communi- 
cating rills of value-fancy, more or less overt. But the 
idea-meaning remains that-upon-wliioli these value-fan- 
cies turn, that-from-which these action-vistas open out: 
is itself something else than these fringe-leadings ; can- 
not by any evidence so far brought forward be identi- 
fied with them, as value-meaning or action-meaning. 

From the beginning, our ideas give cues to action, but 
they give, it seems, always somewhat more than the cue : 
and in this somewhat-more they seek to lodge their 
meaning not in the accompanying cue to action. Thus 
the idea of wine carries with it very definite suggestion 


of action wine is something to be drunk : yet wine 
cannot be so defined and identified. Wine must be de- 
fined, officially and otherwise, by its relation to the grape, 
ultimately by its root in nature: apart from this particu- 
lar source in nature wine is not wine, though perfectly 
imitating all possible wine-feelings and wine-reactions. 
To lodge meanings somewhere in Nature seems to guar- 
antee their genuineness ; as if all meanings must be 
made to touch base in a region of indifference before 
they may spin lawful alliances with feeling and action. 

Nature is the typical region for the feeling-free 
anchorage of the meanings of ideas. But this region of 
indifference can be more generally described. If we 
have to make a distinction between ideas (as of wine from 
vinegar, friend from foe) we can do this only by mak- 
ing, or having, an idea of the common ground which 
these objects occupy: which common basis (common 
man-shape of friend and foe, common white granule mass 
of salt and sugar), precisely not to be acted upon, 
becomes the refuge of hesitation. Refuge of hesitation, 
however, just because common ground, will constitute 
the stem from which the divergent idea-meanings must 
spring. Whatever the impulsive foreground of idea, 
there will thus necessarily be a non-impulsive back* 
ground, and in this our idea-meanings will rest. 1 

This non-impulsive background gives its character 
to the foreground also : our action-cues are but features 
belonging to it, only fortunately and accidentally avail- 

1 In symbol : we distinguish between z-conduct and y-conduct, not by 
means simply of #-idea and y-idea ; but by means first of a non-motor idea, 
A, capable of the varieties Ax and Ay. The -4-idea is, in practice, only 
relatively non-motor ; but since the formula is entirely general, it indicates 
an ultimate purely non-motor basis of meanings. 


able for our discriminations. Through serving all idea- 
differenees, this background looms large ; background 
and all foregrounds merge into one vast non-impulsive 
World-object, infinite complex magazine of object-fields 
and field-contents : space-field, cosmic force-field, spec- 
trum-series, tone-scale, effort-scale; human-desire-gamut, 
too, taken as objective fact; social scale, moral-value 
field, and many others, together with all their contents 
and the motions thereof; all motions and changes of 
contents against one ultimate background-field of 
infinite time ; all contents rooted in one ultimate back- 
ground-stuff, which we may call problematically 
Substance. Infinite complex magazine, capable of serv- 
ing all action-differences actual and possible, yet with 
infinite unused resource, superior to and apart from all 
such use, essentially unused by it. Such World- 
object, in its complexity, is partially summarized in our 
idea of Nature ; more completely, as objective Keality, 
whose problematic Substance sets the last goal for all 

In such external World-fact do our idea-meanings seek 
lodgment ; as if, I repeat, it were necessary to touch the 
passionless ground of things, before affiliating with any 
particular actions and feelings. The structure of the 
whole system of ideas and actions becomes indirect, 
triangular: there may be no direct passage from per- 
ception to action, but perception must first be related 
to substance, and from substance pass on to action 
with freedom of will. 

Now this idea of a non-impulsive background, which 
at last gets the mysterious name of Substance, the 


external goal of all idea-meanings, is in no zoise a re- 
sult of development. It is rather the aboriginal fact of 
consciousness. Environment, and environment complex- 
ity, have extended immeasurably ; but externality has 
become no whit more external. From the beginning, 
our idea-making must have held itself in independence 
of impulse. For without such prior independence, action 
development could not so much as begin. We are able 
to find cues for divergent lines of action, because loe 
have already been interested in something else than 
the actively important features of our world. * 

Nature has early separated the organs of perception 
from the organs of action ; and in the freedom of per- 
ception, with its liberality of interest, care-free play and 
exploration, idea-making has freedom also. Idea-outlin^ 
ing follows shapes, perceptive unities and uses, not the 
unities and uses of our own action. Perception shows 
us, we think, the immediate clothing of Substance ; and 
shares in that externality which idea-meaning requires. 
Perception is no doubt to be regarded biologically as a 
means of adaptation : but as such alone it must be judged 
immeasurably wasteful, supplying us with entire fields, 
infinite manifolds of objects, in order that a few dis- 
criminations may be made (supplying also that whole 
super-useful region of perceptive beauty, whose extraor- 

1 Especially is the idea, of the thing-with-various-uses visibly depend- 
ent on such liberality of interest. For if idea meant to us just so much ac- 
tion-plan and nothing more, action routes might cross ad libitum without 
ever exciting any knowledge of the fact of their crossing. The notion of an 
intersection presupposes an interest in the lines for their own sake, in some 
independence of the ends reached by those lines. Thus we know water as 
the same thing in this use and in that only because in any use of it char- 
acters other than those used have freely engaged our attention ; qualities 
appealing to eye, touch, and the like. 


dinary art-development escapes so far from biological 

In spite of all important evidence showing to what 
extent perception-interest is governed by active-interest, 
it remains true that in idea-outlining perception has a 
prior and independent head. So much so, that when we 
make to ourselves ideas of activities themselves, we in- 
cline to make them in terms of "external" perceptions, 
rather than in their own proper coin (for instance, our 
idea of walking, which represents to us commonly walk' 
ing-as-seen, attribute of outer Substance, rather than 
walking-as-inwardly-known in terms of feeling and 
impulsiveness, attribute of Self). Feeling and action 
find in the perception-substance-world some requisite 
mise-en-scene ; varieties of feeling and action find here 
a unity, coherence, relatedness, intelligibility, which on 
their own ground they lack ; especially, they find here 
unlimited room to grow in, the dome of perception never 
narrowed down to the scope, or even the prospective 
scope, of conduct. 

It is not surprising, therefore, that the ideas we make 
as ideas of single objects should show no close corres* 
pondence to action-need; should share in the super- 
abundance of the perceptive fields themselves. From a 
given desire can never be inferred the idea of the 
object which does, in concrete fact, satisfy that desire 
(from thirst alone, what actual beverage can be deduced). 
Ideas, we say, do by aboriginal instinct fix their mean- 
ing in the ultimate non-impulsive Substance of the world ; 
and idea-outlining tends to follow the hints which per- 
ception gives of the unities belonging to that reality-not- 


But here we encounter a type of demurrer, leading 
direct to the heart of the matter. Idea-outlining accord- 
ing to perception-unities is not, we are told, so independ- 
ent of action-reference as we suppose. Ideas are made 
not indeed in the interest of specific actions, but still 
in the interest of types of action of very general sort. 
Spatially closed figures are regarded as single things, 
because solid outlines form, in general, the limiting lines 
of our own physical movements (consideration finely 
employed by Bergson). Detachable and movable ob- 
jects, especially moving objects, have evident biological 
importance ; are indefinitely liable to concern one's own 
vital status : must naturally become practical idea-units. 

Significant here is not so much the interest alleged 
(which is real enough, but still demonstrably after the 
fact, still external) as the immense generality of the 
interest Why may I not say, on the same basis, that 
objects interest me, because forsooth objectivity-in-gen- 
eral is practically portentous ? What is to give into the 
hands of biological induction terms of just such high 
generality ("spatially detachable objects," "moving 
objects," " physical bodies," " forces," etc.) as expressive 
of that in which momentous issues reside ; what if not 
some prior idea? May we not say just this : that per- 
ception generalizes the conditions of conduct; provides 
generalization in advance ; and is able to do this because 
of its relation to our original idea of Substance ? What 
fundamentally interests men is, in truth, just reality 
nothing more special, nothing less. Around this orig- 
inal meaning gather all practical concerns ; in this all 
importances are funded. Interest in reality is the idea- 
making, idea-outlining function of the human mind. 


Interest in What Exists, not more because it is mine 
than because it is nofr-mine. Doubtless all practical 
motives lend their weight to this peculiar limiting inter- 
est ; but it is not constituted by them. Some passion for 
objectivity, for reality, for Substance, quite prior to 
other passions, there is at the bottom of all idea ; a 
passion not wholly of an unreligious nature, not wholly 
un-akin to the love of God. 

The nature of that passion, if we could know it, would 
afford the answer to our question regarding the organic 
union between idea and feeling. It is an inability to 
believe in the possibility of such a passion, a passion 
for what is merely because it is, that closes the way to 
that solution. It is by accepting the apparent paradox 
that we shall now come to our understanding of that 



ideas we have that do not freely mix and 
entangle themselves with feeling, and lend them- 
selves variously to the service of action. But all ideas, 
so we have now concluded, have a natural and original 
independence of those stirrings of emotion which 
accompany our current activities. The child, the savage, 
and no doubt also the crayfish, the sponge, the polyp, 
if they are idea-builders at all, have an interest in their 
world which we must call f purely theoretical/ No 
creature can construct ideas except through a genuine 
non-practical interest in what is around him simply 
* because it is there/ Every idea, however rich in prac- 
tical association, is attached in its ultimate ' external 
meaning ' to the idea of reality, the center of all this 
free, dispassionate interest. 1 

1 Whatever release any mind can win from its own present interests 
and passions, for memory or reflection or scientific effort, is accomplished 
through holding instinctively or consciously to its own idea of reality, or 
of substance, in whatever form this idea presents itself to him. It is in 
its religions form that the idea of reality has been the chief culprit in all 
abstraction of the mind from the current of feeling and action. From 
the beginning, religions ideas have exhibited a certain aloofness. The 
seers have had their practical and moral recommendations to make ; but 
in their cosmologies and theologies, in their myth-spinning generally, 
they have been curiously free from relation to human values. All such 
ideas have appealed to no other visible interest than this ancient interest 
in reality, interest of a purely theoretical nature. I cannot defend the 
religious idea against this charge, nor the metaphysical idea either. I 


And now, it is here if at all, in this center of the 
idea's independence, that we shall find the essential 
union between idea and feeling. For that same idea of 
reality which has so little to do with the beginnings of 
our actions, and the stirrings of feeling that accompany 
those beginnings, has as I believe everything to do with 
the building of their ends. The values which our ac- 
tions aim at seem to me to be the direct and continuous 
creation of that idea. How this is the case is a simple 
matter if we can win the right view of it j but the win- 
ning of that view has its own difficulty. 

Our actions drive on incessantly to their ends, and 
these ends we call values. We take these values, our 
various human interests and concerns, for the most part 
as self-justifying and self-explanatory: that this thing is 
a source of pleasure, and that a source of pain, we 
accept as ultimate facts, our practical first premises. 
We understand, in general, that in the pursuit of these 
various satisfactions, nature is luring us on to live, and to 
increase life. But we seldom enquire why our living 
itself is of interest to nature ; as apart from these same 
values we think it would hardly be of interest to our- 
selves. Our values, then, remain essentially unexplained. 
They remain too without clear relation to each other. 
We like beauty, and we like company ; we enjoy music, 
and care for children, and appreciate a courtesy. These 
are facts of instinct and human nature, and we adopt 
them as our several ends. It was for the sake of winning 

see and acknowledge the futility of much, perhaps most, of this curiosity- 
work. But I see also in that power of detachment the worst in close 
conjunction with the best. 


these scattered values that we were supposed, hy the 
action-theory, to be concerned in making ideas. 

But if we can so readily accept these ends as final facts, 
there is no need of explaining the interest in reality. 
We may simply say that this also is a value, and is its own 
justification ; and this is often said, as if it were enough 
to say. If in our theories of human nature we no longer 
think it necessary to reduce altruism to a transformed 
egoism ; if we have long since learned that care for an- 
other is quite as native and original as care for oneself, 
that love is one of the instincts ; it can do no violence to 
our scientific principles to accept the love of reality as 
another instinct, an ultimate fact of value like the rest. 
But it ought to do violence to our scientific principles 
to fall so readily into finalities. Our values need to 
be explained ; our interest in reality not more than our 
interest in food or in society or in imitation. And 
it is probable that if any value could be explained, they 
would all fall into some sort of system. The key to that 
system may well be furnished by this same interest in 
reality. For in separating that interest from all others, 
we have by a sort of distillation separated out as it were 
an instance of pure value. We cannot explain this 
interest by any other ; but we may be able to explain all 
other interests by this one. 

For there can be no doubt that the interest we have 
in reality is somehow substantially bound up with the 
interest we have in all other ends : there is a discernible 
relation between the quantity of these two types of 
interest. The passion poured into the construction of an 
independent idea-world is in some close connection with 
the sum of passion poured into the practical pursuit of all 


other things. The more interest there is in life generally, 
the more devotion is spent upon knowing reality for 
itself and vice versa. Let the Renaissance serve as an 
illustration. If, then, the interest in reality is not derived 
from the interest in other things, there is a strong sug- 
gestion that the interest in other things may be derived 
from the interest in reality. I have no doubt that in 
actual working order dependence is mutual j that passion 
spent in either pursuit becomes a cause of the zeal- 
level of the other : but interest in reality has the priority. 
Whatever energy is spent in understanding experience, 
in attaching its meanings to the reality-idea, is so much 
recoverable energy for all other valuing. If this is the 
case, then work done by us on the idea is no work on 
action-cues perhaps; but it is work done on the worth 
of living itself, it is the creation of the very fabric of 
value. Now let us consider how this may be. 

It will be generally admitted that the value of any 
object depends as well upon the thinker as upon the 
thing. Values vary with the man ; and within the man's 
life, they vary with his powers of attention, and what 
he can bring to the subject. They vary with what psy- 
chology has called his f apperceptive mass '; if you enjoy 
Widor's music and I do not, it has something to do 
with your greater knowledge and experience in the 
world of music. A state of keen enjoyment is a state 
of high mental activity: the resources of memory and 
invention are loosened, the mind becomes a free field 
for quick and accurate connections powerfully f ocussed. 1 

1 The same may be said of anger and of certain other negative emo- 
tions. In so far as these are states of enthusiasm they are also percep- 


Pleasure is evidently a mode of being aware of the 
world; a way of taking and attending to things, trans- 
ferable from one object to another, tending to propa- 
gate itself and continue itself. Delight develops atten- 
tion ; and attention develops more delight. That same 
object which under a cold gaze reveals no interest may 
under an eye already kindled with pleasure develop 
unlimited value. Hence wit and fun once started can 
sustain themselves with little fuel from outside ; any trifle 
becomes a matter of extraordinary feeling. Any object 
or task strenuously attended to begins to glow with 
some heat of value after a while ; there is something 
like spontaneous generation of values under the focus 
of attention. And everything we enjoy for a moment 
prepares us to like something different in the next ; 
because it brings under way in us that mode of regard- 
ing things wherein the secret of value lies. 

In some way, then, value is conferred upon the object 
by that with which we can meet it. But what is it that 
a man brings with him which can determine the feeling- 
worth of his world? His ' apperceptive mass/ indeed ; 
and this consists of what ? Of instincts in part, organic 
capacities for enjoyment? Experiences also, and all 
sorts of associated fancies and memories and ideas ? 
But all of this is nothing other than idea; idea being 
but experience itself in all its life and infinitude pre- 
pared for this very work of meeting new experience 
with justice. What any conscious organism can bring 
to a new experience is but its prior experience referred 

tions of value and need not here be separately analyzed. The problem 
of pain, and negative feeling in general, is considered in chapter 


to reality, held, that is, in idea; whether ancestral 
experience, embodied in structure (instinct-idea) to be 
made the individual's own by re-thinking; or his own 
experience taken up into his own thought: in one case 
as in the other idea. It is this thought-over experi- 
ence, experience already organized into idea, which 
measures the power of any mind to appreciate new 
experience, to find in the world objects of value. 
Value varies with idea-resource. 1 

These considerations all but compel the simple hy- 
pothesis which I have here to offer. It is that all valuing 
(and so all feeling) is a way of knowing objects with 
one's whole-idea. In some way, in valuing, appreciat- 
ing, enjoying, we are using this idea-mass ; yet not in 
the effortful way of deliberate thinking : an object of 
value is an object in which my whole-idea finds some 
peculiar ease and sufficiency of application. The worth 
which any object or end can have for me depends on 
mutual fitness between my idea-mass and that object 
the fitness of my idea to comprehend the object; the 
fitness of the object to engage the idea. 2 Let me state 
this theory more fully, and then illustrate it at length. 

Let us summon up such true conception of idea as we 

1 To put the matter roughly : to he more alive is both to see more 
and to feel more and these are not two separate things, hat at bottom 

2 In a former chapter (chapter vi) we suggested that feeling might he 
explained as a transition from one state of knowledge to another. Now 
we have to complete this view by explaining the original instability in 
our knowledge-field at any time. This instability, I think, is due in part 
to the varying capacity of objects for the total idea-mass, and partly to 
the varying potential of this idea-mass itself, due to work done upon it. 
See for more detail than this chapter can give the explanatory essay on 
Idea and Value in Biological Context. 


can now muster; idea, as the living and infinite thing 
with which we meet and know our experience. Note 
what can be easily noted : that any successful working 
of the idea in knowing its object is a pleasure espe- 
cially the finding of an idea, and the use of a new-found 
idea (as a child repeats the new-learned word with 
recurrent satisfaction). Note that of all ideas, the idea 
of reality is most of all thought with ; as all ideas seek 
their meaning-terminus in reality, so all idea-use is at 
the same time use of the idea of reality. With our 
reality-idea we think, not only reality itself, but also, so 
far as we are able, every particular object of experience. 
Spontaneously, not deliberately, we endeavor to see in 
each object of attention a case, more or less complete, of 
what reality means to us. Now suppose that the value 
of any object of attention is nothing other than the 
entering of that reality-idea into the thought of the 
object. Suppose that the degree and sign (positive or 
negative) of that value is a measure of the success or 
unsuccess of this idea-use ; the fulness with which that 
object-vessel can contain that wealth of background 
meaning, always pressing to know not to be known. 
Would it not at once become clear that our reality- 
idea, our whole-idea, must determine the level 1 at which 
all our values will stand, must be, in a definite sense, 
the reservoir of all value for us? 

All idea at work upon its object is a source of feel- 
ing. As for the idea not at work upon its object let 
us here once for all note that there is no such thing. 
The unused idea, lying latent and un-feeling in the 

1 Strictly speaking, must constitute one determinant of that level. 
What the objective determinants may be, we need not here consider. 


mind, is the most obstructive, yet emptiest of all psy- 
chological superstitions. The life of the idea is in its 
use, not as being thought of (one must repeat) but as 
thinking; and not alone in thinking its own-named 
object; but also in thinking every other object upon 
which it may even remotely bear in the end, every 
other object ; in the process of thinking any object before 
consciousness no idea can be wholly inactive. With 
what idea, pray, do I think hat ? With the hat-idea, to 
be sure. Yes, but is the clothing-idea unconcerned? 
or the city-streefr-idea ? or the civilized-society-extraor- 
dinary-requirements-ideas? or the man -and- woman - 
ideas? or the whole mass of aesthetic notions, and 
political, historical, even religious opinions ? With, all 
these, and with all other ideas summing themselves up 
currently in my whole-idea, hat is thought. If hat has 
a practical meaning as something to-be-put-on, or to-be- 
taken-off, or to be otherwise dealt with, it is because 
hat through these other ideas has already acquired a 
more intimate significance and value than these extrane- 
ous action-hints can suggest. A value measured by the 
degree, proportion, and facility with which my whole 
idea-equipment can find itself in hat. Probably this 
direct feeling-value of hat is not large ; probably a prim- 
rose, a bit of music, a single human being, would involve 
my idea-world more adequately and immediately : if so, 
the feeling-value of these objects is higher. But in one 
case as in the other, whatever may occupy attention, 
occupies the man; it is he as a total self, mind-total, 
who for the moment gives himself to that object, dis- 
covering in it what value it may have for him. 

The meaning of these proposals may best be seen 


where value varies visibly with idea* As where ghost- 
terror is created by idea-anticipation; or where with 
the growth of knowledge an interest seems to develop 
out of no-interest, value created from nothing by the 
rise of idea and idea-application. 1 To become a connois- 
seur, an amateur, in any field is a self-furthering process 
after the first few conceptions have been won, the first 
elements of a collection made, and the idea, now fairly 
alive, becomes hungry for its own food. Acquiring 
some bit of skill, and delighting in the use of it, is a 
value creation of the same type, though the units here 
are idea-action couples, not ideas alone ; the delight is in 
the meeting of situations, the union of confidence with 
challenge and novelty, the instantaneous judgment that 
my idea is meeting the various phases of the new case 
as they arise, even while my hand is carrying out the 
part assigned by the idea. What one does well, one 
likes ; what one does not like, dancing, speaking French, 
public ceremony, is in all likelihood something one does 
less than well, feeling therein an inadequacy, shall we 
not say of "habit," modestly suggesting "lack of prac- 
tice" ? shall we not rather say (tracing our feeling to 
its lair) primarily an infacility of idea, a felt inferiority 
not of the animal but of the spirit. In all such matters 

1 The whole history of value we cannot here follow. In the more 
momentary spot-values of pleasure and pain, or of direct satisfaction of 
instinct, the work of idea is not quickly seen. Such values seem fixed by 
Kature in the physical frame ; a certain value-capital, one might think, 
sufficiently free from idea. Yet not meaning-less; rather, spots of instan- 
taneous meaning, whose idea-elements are separated with difficulty, 
becoming slowly interpretable as the idea-world thickens about them, as 
poetry in time, then philosophy begin to voice the meaning of sex-love. 
In greater detail this theory of value is presented in the final essay on 
Idea and Value." 


rapid subsumption is the inner kernel of delight. The 
pleasure found in a generalization, even in mildly lifting 
the conception of ordinary things into a wider sphere 
of relation (flowers as modified leaves, or neuron-idea 
embracing all nerve-forms) ; the discovery of genial re- 
semblances wherein so much of the pleasure of litera- 
ture consists; that noting of more hidden likenesses 
which has been said to mark genius all this value- 
making is but the idea-making process in its own natural 

Note also how values change as life matures. The 
ends which men pursue are less tangible than those 
spot-splashes of pleasure-color hypnotic to the eye of 
childhood, though not excluding them. Family, and 
status, and power, and the doing of human work, and 
whatever else, are ends whose appeal can be seen to 
vary visibly from man to man, not so much with instinct 
as with experience, and not so much with experience 
alone as with digested experience, Weltanschauung, 
whole-idea. The significance of any given event will 
be estimated variously, a given circumstance will give 
pleasure or pain, chiefly according to the ' way of think- 
ing, 9 the ' point of view' of the subject. The critical 
question put to me by any happening is, "Can my con- 
ception of reality accept and place that happening, or 
can it not ? " That alone will please me in the end 
which is according to Nature as I conceive Nature; 
that alone can hold me prisoner wherein Nature itself, 
or reality, or Deity, becomes visible or vocal. Experi- 
ence is a course of perpetual conflict between my Idea 
and my circumstance, each modifying the other until my 
idea of reality can cope with circumstance and all its 


issues. No man can be content to accept evil as finality : 
each must have his theory of evil, as a means of bring* 
ing that evil under the conception of the whole, and so 
of disposing of it. To win such idea, and to use it 
effectively, constitutes certainly not the whole, but a 
large part of the achievable satisfaction of any mature 
human life. 

Consciousness is essentially cumulative; experience 
becomes memory, becomes idea, whereby as Bergson 
justly insists, no new event can have the same meaning 
with any previous event for none can be received 
into the same soul. All such cumulation, however, builds 
itself into the fabric of the permanent whole-idea, there- 
by contributing, in any person, to a quality of character, 
a general value-tone, or flavor, which becomes relatively 
stable. That which we first sense in any person is the 
operation of this whole-idea ; that which we value is 
some excellence in its operation. Burke elevates what- 
ever subject he touches; his place is secure among the 
minds of earth because the vigor of that whole-presence 
casts a nobility over all valuation, makes human exist- 
ence another and better thing than at our common ease 
it inclines to be. To see the significance of things triv- 
ial is the prerogative of greatness, to see everything as 
bearing upon the whole is both genius and happiness, 
bo see all things sub specie ceternitatis is the joy of 
religion itself. To conceive a thing largely, to throw 
over it a generous dome this is the very physiology of 
human worth. It is not necessarily the express logical 
reflection upon things that endows a life richly with 
this human quality. It is not even the clear-held mem- 
ory of special circumstances* It is rather the spontane* 


ous after-working of experience once well-met which 
is Idea, holding idea and event together until they 
answer " Done " : this experience-well-met it is, which 
entering into the bone and blood of the Idea (for the 
most part unreachable in speech) builds human quality 
and human worth. 

Love itself, then, if we are right, is not a thing apart 
from knowledge. That which we love is not indeed 
learning, or logic-skill, but some reality-thought at 
work upon an actual experience, creating there the very 
material of beauty and value. No one will be loved 
blindly ; no one will be loved as other than an intel- 
ligence, human and universal, sharing in that same 
reality which all men share. Love and sympathy we often 
think of as feeling, in direct contrast to idea. It is clear 
however that they both are cognizances of another, do 
in some way make the leap between my own soul and 
the soul of some one not-myself, intend to put me in 
veritable rapport with what thought is passing there, 
the very tour deforce of objectivity. "We note further 
that that sympathy which is not exact knowledge of 
the other, is of feeble and ineffective quality; that we 
incline to measure the worth of sympathy by the extent 
of its gratuitous and extraordinary perception of the 
other's situation. Sympathy notes what the casual eye 
ignores : for sympathy is objectivity of mind, and objec- 
tivity of mind is knowing. Interest in objectivity, which 
we have found at the root of all idea-making, is love 
itself directed to reality; and conversely, the interest in 
reality is the measure of all possible love and apprecia- 
tion, toward humanity, or in the Arts. 

Love and sympathy are the activity of the idea. And 


in their exercise, the idea is enlarged. The lover widen 
his experience as the non-lover cannot. He adds to th 
mass of his idea-world, and acquires thereby enhanced 
power to appreciate all things. Is not this the suffi- 
cient solution of that long-standing difficulty between 
* egoism and altruism ? ' The altruist alone can accu- 
mulate that treasure of idea through which all things 
must be enjoyed that are enjoyed. No one has, or can 
have, any ' egoistic' satisfaction except as a conse- 
quence of so much effective love of reality as there is 
in him by birth or acquisition. 

If what is here said does truly represent the organic 
bond between idea and feeling, we may now confirm 
but with better understanding the extraordinary inti- 
macy between the ideas of religion and human feeling at 
large. It is not alone the specifically religious feeling 
with which the religious idea is bound up : it is as an 
interpretation of our whole-idea a factor in all human 
feeling and value. And that, immediately not by way 
of any external arrangements in which the work of God 
may meet and supplement the work of men : not exclud- 
ing these not waiting for them. The use of the God- 
idea (which if one have cannot but be the most-used of 
all ideas not as thought-of but as thinking), the use 
of this idea will be the chief determinant of the value- 
level in any consciousness. Whether or not the termi- 
nal-object of one's faith be called God, whatever object 
comes before the mind of any man must inevitably be 
judged at last by that man's sense of the nature of the 
reality with which he has, in the end, to do ; and thereby 
must the current-worth of his experience be continuously 


determined. And very probably the religious feelings 
themselves, religious f ear, religious hope, religious wor- 
ship, are in part instinctive recognitions of the imme- 
diate vital bearing of such idea-possession upon every 
conceivable human value : not only as conserving those 
values (from internal decay) but also as presiding over 
their perpetual increase. The meaning of the religious 
idea is so far inseparable from this fateful value-bearing 
as almost to justify the statement that religion is the 
region where fact and value coincide : where there is 
no idea apart from feeling, as there is no feeling apart 
from idea. 

We have then no cause to fear that labor and inter- 
est spent on religious truth will be lost from the side of 
feeling. It is only by a recovery of " theoretical " con- 
viction that religion can either maintain its own vitality 
or contribute anything specific to human happiness. In 
the attainment of knowledge, feeling in so far as it 
is connected with agitation and active-impulse is silent : 
but the end of feeling is at the same time the beginning 
of a new world of value, wherein all feelings are reborn 
through renewal of their source. Through losing its 
life, and only thus, can feeling save its life. 1 

1 This is true whether religious knowledge is won in the course of 
metaphysical reflection, or as the mystics have often won their insight 
through a process which looks very different, through worship. In worship 
also, feeling as a spur to particular action comes momentarily to rest. 
Schleiermacher's interpretation of religious experience in terms of depend- 
ence, awe, reverence relatively quiescent and contemplative feelings 
we called them is not far from the truth; hut ahove these feelings and 
including them stands the impulse of worship, in which all these other 
feelings unite and finally vanish into a present sense of reality and worth. 
Worship conducts religions feeling to its terminus hi cognizance: and thus 
worship stands at the node of a rhythm or alternation through which the 


We may now perceive, in bare outline, the more lit- 
eral sense of our former figure which represented reli- 
gion as a parent rather than an agent in history. For the 
religious idea bears upon the Arts, not so much through 
particular instigations of thought and action as through 
a more internal f ruitf ulness, watering and sustaining all 
those perceptions of value, in which the work of the 
Arts must terminate. It is through devotion to the Idea, 
to the reality of the world a devotion which, what- 
ever else it may be, is also a theoretical devotion that 
religious feeling and all human feeling must be kept alive. 

values of our lives pass disappearing and reappearing. The principle of 
this alternation is further developed in Part V. 




HATEVER value religion has for man -will be 
funded, we now judge, in the religious ideas, 
especially in the religious world-idea or reality-idea or 
substance-idea the idea of God. Judging religion 
solely by its effectiveness in human affairs we will have 
no religion without metaphysics, which is but a knowl- 
edge of reality. Religion does its work by way of its 
truth. Creed and theology become again important to 
us ; become the essential treasures of religion : for in 
them the race preserves from age to age the determin- 
ing factors of all human worth. 

Such is, in fact, my own belief. But there is one for- 
midable question to be met before we can either rest in 
this conclusion, or wholly understand its meaning. We 
have been assuming that reality is a finished total which 
it is our place to recognize and adjust ourselves to, with- 
out presuming to alter its general aspect. We have been 
assuming that if there is a God at all, God is a fixity in 
the universe ; a being whom we must accept and not un- 
dertake to change. We have been assuming that the ob- 
jects of our religious interestare all made up in advance, 
and that our own wills have no part to play in deter- 
mining what is ; in short that as knowers of reality we 
must be passive, receptive toward the truth as it is, tak- 
ing it as we find it, in experience and in idea. But 
this general assumption of ours, that reality such as 


religion deals with is what it is in independence of our 
own wills, not to be created or destroyed by anything 
we may resolve or do about it, this general assump- 
tion is open to doubt. 

There are certainly some regions of reality which are 
unfinished. We are endowed with wills only because 
there are such regions, to which it is our whole occupa- 
tion to give shape and character. In such regions the 
will-to-believe is justified, because it is no will-to-make- 
believe, but a veritable will to create the truth in which 
we believe. What I believe of my fellow men goes far 
to determine what my fellow men actually are. Believe 
men liars they show themselves such; determine your- 
self upon their essential goodness, and they do not disap- 
point your resolve : your belief is not one which can ever 
be refuted, for the characters of men are not finished 
parts of reality ; they are still being built, and your will 
is a factor in the building. Where truth is thus waiting 
to be finished or determined, the will may hold the 
deciding play. 

Every social need, such as the need for friendship, 
must be a party to its own satisfaction : I cannot pas- 
sively find my friend as a ready-made friend ; a ready- 
made human being he may be, but his friendship for 
me I must help to create by my own active resolve. 
So of the great political reality, the State. This also is 
nothing which man has found ready-made. The State 
is a reality which is what it is by dint of the combined 
resolves of many human wills, through time : we individ- 
uals find the State as something apparently finished, 
standing there as something to be empirically accepted ; 
but at no time does the existence of this object become 


so independent that it can continue to hold its reality 
apart from the good -will which from moment to mo- 
ment recreates it. May it be that the objects in which 
religion is concerned are in some ways like these, belong- 
ing to the unfinished regions of reality? 

We find our religion much as we find our State, an 
inherited possession fixed in its main outlines by no 
will of our own; yet an expression, perhaps, of the 
racial good-will of men, depending like the State on the 
continued good-will of all individuals for its validity, 
even for its truth. Eeligion throws over human life 
a unity like that of the State, but vaster : it provides 
a canopy under which all men may recognize their 
brotherhood : in the good-will of religion a totality of 
spirit is brought about which apart from that good- 
will has no independent existence. In holding to this 
qualification of my whole-idea by the idea of a 
spiritual totality which I must cooperate with othei 
men to make real I find an immeasurable and sub- 
stantial enlargement of my field of vision and so of 
my whole level of values. Is not this spiritual unity, 
though a function of the will of man, a large part of 
what I mean by the name God ? Through religion, too, 
a still greater totality is accomplished : a world beyond 
is brought into conjunction with our present interest, 
and our mortal lives are endowed with prospects of 
immortality. Yet I strongly doubt whether immortality 
is any such predetermined reality that it exists for any 
person apart from that person's will to make it real. The 
future life may well be such an object as my decision 
can make real or unreal, so far as my own experience is 


concerned. And in general, when we consider closely 
the kind of object which religion presents for our faith 
we find it such as might well be plastic to the determi- 
nations of the will, more plastic even than friendship or 
the State. For these objects are not to be found on 
earth like the friend ; nor are they to be set up in visi- 
ble form like the State : they exist wholly in that region 
of the spirit, whose coming and going is immediately 
sensitive to every variation of loyalty and disloyalty on 
the part of the souls in which alone it has its life. 

Further, the difference between a religious view of 
the world and a non-religious view lies chiefly in the 
quality or character which is attributed to the world 
as a whole. It does not lie in the circumstance that the 
religious mind has a whole-idea, while the non-religious 
mind has none : every man must have his whole-idea, and 
such as it is, it will determine what value existence may 
have for him. But the critical difference appears in the 
judgments about the whole ; whether this reality of ours 
is divine, or infernal, or an indifferent universal grave- 
pit. These differences, we may say, are differences in 
predicates, rather than in the subject j. and it is precisely 
in the matter of the predicates which can be applied to 
the world as a whole that we found the primary diffi- 
culty of religious knowledge to lie. 1 Every one begins 
with his whole-idea ; but it is the function of religion to 
interpret this whole as divine; in brief, to make the 
transition from the whole-idea to the idea of God. These 
other words of ours, non-committal in regard to quality 
the whole," "substance," "reality" do they 
fairly name that with which religion has to do ? Is not 
*Fp. 100 ft above. 


the problem of religious knowledge a problem of the 
attributes of reality; 1 and are not these attributes 
indeterminate, apart from the will ? 

For it is not simply the case that these attributes 
which religion ascribes to reality (divinity, beneficence, 
soul-preserving or value-conserving properties) are 
invisible, spiritual, inaccessible to observation: it is the 
case that these ideas, so far as reasons go, are in apparent 
equilibrium neither provable nor disprovable. The 
world would be consistent without God; it would also 
be consistent with God : whichever hypothesis a man 
adopts will fit experience equally well ; neither one, so 
far as accounting for visible facts is concerned, works 
better than the other. I have often wondered whether 
in these supermundane matters the universe may not be 
so nicely adjusted (and withal so justly) that each man 
finds true the things he believes in and wills for ; why 
should not every man find his religion true, in so far 
as he has indeed set his heart upon it and made sacri- 
fices for it ? However this may be, the religious objects 
(the predicates given by religion to reality) stand at a 
pass of intellectual equipoise: it may well seem that 
some other faculty must enter in to give determination 
to reason at the point where reason halts, without decid- 
ing voice of its own. The birth of the idea of God in 
the mind the judgment " Eeality is living, divine, a 
God exists" is so subtle, like the faintest breath of 
the spirit upon the face of the waters, that no look 

1 The earliest ideas and names for the Deity seem to have been rather 
adjectives than nouns. Among the Aryans, the divine was expressed as 
"the shining," "the illustrious" ; among Malays and Indians and very 
generally elsewhere, * the wonderful," " the powerful," " the immense.** 


within can tell whether God is here revealing himself to 
man, or man creating God. 

It is because of this position of subtle equilibrium 
that the religious consciousness is evanescent ; faith is 
unstable as empirical knowledge is not. Though at any 
time I find my world sacred, it only needs a touch of 
passivity on my part and it will again become secular : 
I cannot recover nor understand its former worth. My 
faith in God is subject to fluctuation as my faith in 
other objects is not, even though these other objects are 
equally inaccessible (as my faith in China or in the con- 
servation of energy). And noteworthy about this fluc- 
tuation is that it passes from extreme to extreme, not 
pausing in the intermediate stages of probability : the 
existence of God is to me either wholly certain or wholly 
absurd. Likewise of immortality: it seems to me at 
times that a man is a fool to believe it, at other times 
that a man is a fool not to believe it. I have no power 
of weighing shades of probability in these matters. It 
must be so, it can't be so : these are the only degrees of 
which my own religious faith is capable. But alterna- 
tives like these belong rather to the will or disposition 
of the spirit than to the estimating mind. And further, 
the one thing which is most sure to dispel faith and 
substitute the secular world-picture is precisely intellec- 
tual scrutiny. Faith is not only difficult for reason ; it is 
distinctly diffident toward reason. Its origin, then, and 
its firmness must be due to some other power, presum- 
ably to will. 

It would help our thought on this point if we could 
trace the mental processes in which the idea of God first 


arises in human consciousness. It is more than doubt- 
ful whether any such tracing is possible; and largely 
because of the circumstances which we have pointed out : 
the thought of God comes and goes ; is often lost and often 
recovered, both in racial and in individual experience ; it 
appears also in various ways to various minds. No 
historical nor typical origin of the belief in God can be 
shown. Nevertheless, taking as a beginning a mood of 
secularity which often recurs in human experience, there 
may be some measure of typical psychological truth in 
such a picture as this which follows : 

There is a grim and menacing aspect of reality which 
remains commonly unemphatic as our lives go but which 
events may at any time uncover. We are obliged to 
witness this vast Whole, of which we speak so easily, 
threatening existence or destroying the things that make 
our existence valuable. Against such threats our usual 
methods of protection avail exactly nothing. The mer- 
ciless processes of nature, of disease and death, of fate 
generally, are not impressed by entreaty or by effort, 
are not to be beaten off with clubs nor frightened away 
by shrieks and gestures of defiance. All these weapons 
will be tried; and trial best convinces of futility. Fear 
and hope normally inspire action ; fear and hope show 
themselves alike empty in this situation . That with which 
one has to do is reality itself ; and toward this only some 
less external attitude can be significant. But in the 
human creature at bay there are other depths ; the recog- 
nition of futility is the beginning of human adequacy. 
For despair ends by calling out a certain touch of resent- 
ment, resentment having a tinge of self-assertion in 
it, even of moral requirement directed against reality. 


Such a being as I, by virtue of this very power of real- 
izing my situation, by virtue of my whole-idea and 
my self-consciousness, has some claim to urge upon the 
reality that surrounds me, threatening; the reality which, 
after all, has brought me forth. Though by the slight- 
est movement of this deep-lying sense of right, one does, 
in effect, demand justice of his creator : and thereby, with- 
out premeditation, finds himself with the idea of Deity 
already constituted and possessed. For toward what can 
moral resentment and demand be addressed but to a liv- 
ing and moral Being ? In that deep impulse of self- 
assertion there was involved, though I knew it not, the 
will that my reality should be a living and responsible 
reality. And in time I shall find that in imputing this 
quality to my world, I have already lifted the burden of 
those anxieties, so helpless upon their own plane. The 
God-idea thus appears as a postulate of our moral con- 
sciousness : an original object of resolve which tends to 
make itself good in experience. 

For the proof of this new-found or new-made relation 
to reality, expressed in my God-idea, is this : that in meet- 
ing my world divinely it shows itself divine. It supports 
my postulate. And without such act of will, no discov- 
ery of divinity could take place. Men cannot be worthy 
of reverence, until I meet them with reverence : for my 
reverence is the dome under which alone their possible 
greatness can stand and live. Of the world likewise, 
it can have no divinity but only materiality or menac- 
ing insensibility, unless I throw over it the category 
under whose dome its holiness can rise visible and 
actual. God cannot live, as divine and beneficent, ex- 
cept in the opportunity created by our good-will : but 


given the good-will, reality is such as will become 
indeed divine. 

In accord with this conjecture as to the position of 
religious truth, namely that it is determined by the 
movement of will-to-believe, is an old observation of reli- 
gious experience. It is written that he who seeks finds: 
the connection between seeking and finding is infallible. 
Such infallible connection may be many-wise under- 
stood, but it may be thus understood, that the seeking 
brings the finding with it. " Thou wouldst not seek me 
hadst thou not already found me," said Pascal: and to 
Sabatier this thought came " like a flash of light . . . 
the solution of a problem that had long appeared insol- 
uble." l The religiousness of man's nature is the whole 
substance of his revelation. Whatever we impute to 
the world comes back to us as a quality pre-resident 
there is not this the whole illusion of reality ? 
Impute then to the world a living beneficence : the world 
will not reject this imputation, will be even as you have 
willed it. 2 Your belief becomes (as Pichte held) an 
evidence of your character not of your learning. He 
who waits his assent till God is proved to him, will 
never find Him. But he who seeks finds has already 

In all these respects there is the strongest resemblance 
between the religious idea and human value. The world 

1 Outlines of a Philosophy of Religion, p. 32. 

2 The Chinese have long had a saying " If you believe in the gods, the 
gods exist : if you do not believe in them they do not exist." Whence prag- 
matism as a theory of metaphysics may be said to be of Chinese origin. 
See A. H. Smith, Chinese Characteristics, p. 301. 


is consistent without Deity (so it is said) ; the world is 
consistent also without beauty, or other charm. Before 
reason, religious assurance is evanescent : so also with 
any pleasure or other worth when by introspection, or 
analysis, we determine to seize its secret. The world- 
body to the eye of Fact is grey, even dead with all its 
working ; if it is to be reanimated with worth, it must 
be by that miracle which continually repeats itself in 
our experience the Spirit breathes upon it from its 
own resources the breath of life. Thus the birth of 
value and the birth of God-faith are alike ; as indeed 
we have every reason to believe, if the conclusions of 
the last chapter are valid: is it not possible that they 
are the same thing, in both cases the work of an 
ultimate good-will toward our world? If the union 
which we have proposed between idea and feeling 
is indeed so intimate and equal that "without feel- 
ing the ideas are false ; even as without the idea the 
feelings are meaningless," it is at least possible that 
some deeper faculty fundamental to both idea and 
feeling is here giving laws to reality itself: deciding 
what the truth, and therewith the value, of my world 
shall be. 

A new conception of faith appears here : faith is more 
than passive feeling, more also than the sight which 
seizes upon the reality of the world as it is faith is 
the loyal determination and resolve which sees the world 
as it is capable of becoming, and commits its fortunes to 
the effort to make real what it thus sees. The religious 
creed or world-view becomes a postulate rather than 
either an empirical discovery or a revelation to be 
obediently received. 


I know not whether this presentation of a voluntaristic 
foundation for religious truth has been able to provoke 
any acceptance on the part of the reader : it is a para- 
doxical doctrine, yet it has in it great power, and 
especially great relief for the difficult situation of the 
religious idea. To my mind, I must admit, nothing 
more illuminating has ever been put forward than 
just such interpretation of many a religious doctrine ; 
nothing truer to the way in which religious picturing 
and myth-building does actually take place in the 
human consciousness. 

Taking religious ideas literally and fixedly is, in fact, 
a modern and Western peculiarity. The Oriental mind 
realizes that the spiritual atmosphere in which either 
men or gods may breathe, must be created ; it knows 
nothing of empirical truth in matters of religion, truth 
passively taken ; and postulate joins hands with poetry 
in constituting the medium in which all spirituality may 
live. (The freedom of the religious poem or myth or 
parable may be regarded as the will-to-believe at play.) 
The Oriental mind speaks understandingly of miracles 
and virgin births, because it sees in them poetic means 
of lifting what it will pronounce divine above the com- 
monplace of profane event and indolent human charac- 
ter. We also, of the West, have our own style of poetry 
and imagination ; of which we see well enough that it 
must be understood with imagination and humor also 
after its kind. But we approach, in religious matters, 
the poetry of the Orient often with a literal-minded 
savagery, which must accuse us of some deeper defect 
than simple lack of humor a lack, namely, of spir- 
ituality itself, which knows that the language of the 


spirit must be read by the spirit also, and is not to be 
rudely transferred into empirical text-books of physics 
and of medicine. I do not doubt that in religion as in 
human experience generally, each will sets the level of 
its own life, determines in large measure its own destiny, 
and helps to create spiritual reality for all other human 
life, A faith without a large ingredient of will, is no 
faith at all. 

Nevertheless, I must believe that the great heave of 
the West to get a literal and objective grip upon its 
major religious objects is an advance, and not a retro- 
gression. We only drive men to make their religion all 
prose, when we threaten to make it all poetry and postu- 
late. Tor poetry and postulate are pioneer stages of 
truth, and live by the ounce of literality and truth* 
independent that is at their heart. The large scope for 
our own will and creation is not denied : the world is 
such as to make this creativity possible. But then our 
religion attaches itself to the literal truth that the 
world is such, already such, as to alloio these develop- 
ments and to respond thus sensitively to our acts of 
will. This prior element becomes our religious creed ; 
the region of our wills to create becomes the province 
of art and of morals. 

The destiny of religious truth to become universal 
and imperative must detach it at last from all salient 
subjectivity; must state and define the scope of our 
creative possibilities within the frame of that which 
independently Is. Literality is an accomplishment of 
deepening self-consciousness ; it marks an achievement 
of personal equilibrium and stability, which is able to 
recognize corresponding stability and identity in the 


world with which it deals, not as limiting its own 
freedom, but as upholding it. It has required a Western 
integrity and self-respect to submit in obedience to the 
observation of Nature ; it is this same integrity which 
requires in its religious objects that to which it must 
be obedient, as the basis of whatever creativity and 
command it will claim. 

Early religious objects are like play-objects of chil- 
dren, whose character is partly real, and partly conferred 
by the player. This, says the child, shall be a soldier, 
this a good soldier, and this a bad one and behold 
they are such. To hold interest, playthings must become 
more autonomous as the child grows, more locomotive, 
more realistic and difficult to manage. In time they are 
,all to be displaced by objects of the same name, but 
real. As for these real objects, they are more danger- 
ous, more refractory ; they have independent inner pur- 
poses of their own ; our success in dealing with them is 
uncertain, whereas with the play-objects, whose inner 
thoughts were such only as we imputed to them, our 
success was a forgone conclusion. Play is the necessary 
prologue to life, because, chiefly, it is necessary to meet 
life with the habit of success. Not wholly different may 
it have been with the maturation of the religious life in 
human history. Let the religious instinct have its full 
swing and success in its traffic with divinities and world- 
auspices which are in large part the work of its own 
will, if not of its own hand. Thereby may it be prepared 
to meet with the temper of success the ear of a Deity 
wholly himself, wholly identical in his own counsel. 
Christianity marks the first great inburst of the Orient 
into consciousness of the literal world, with its literal 


human problem and world sorrow, the first worship of 
the literal God of that world. The work of literalizing 
our creed is never to be finished ; for imagination and 
postulate move more rapidly than the leaven of objec- 
tivity can spread ; but they move under the protection 
of the major literalities. Upon these major literalities 
religion must henceforth and forever be built. For ma- 
turity is marked by the preference to be defeated rather 
than have a subjective success. We as mature persons 
can worship only that which we are compelled to wor- 
ship. If we are offered a man-made God and a self- 
answering prayer, we will rather have no God and no 
prayer. There can be no valid worship except that in 
which man is involuntarily bent by the presence of the 
Most Real, beyond his will. 

The problem of loyalty in religion is not different 
from the problem of loyalty elsewhere. It is true that 
we cannot be loyal to any tie that has been imposed 
upon us without our own consent this is the first prem- 
ise alike of love and of government. On the other 
hand, we cannot be loyal to any tie that has been fabri- 
cated by a needless stroke of our own will. Any object 
which can hold our allegiance must therefore be at the 
same time an object of free choice, and an object of 
necessary choice. In the expressions of romantic love 
it is hard to tell which is uppermost : that this bond 
between the lovers is wholly their own, their exclusive 
knowledge and will, the highest work of their own free- 
dom ; or that this bond is the work of Fate, such as the 
stars of heaven from all time have destined to effect. 
Unless God is that being for whom the soul is likewise 
inescapably destined by the eternal nature of things, 


the worship of God will get no sufficient hold on the 
human heart. Religion is indeed a manifestation of the 
generous and creative side of human nature; but its 
generosity is not that of creation out of whole cloth, 
it is the generosity of the spirit ready to acknowledge 
the full otherness of its objects, and to live divinely in 
a world which is divine. 

It is still possible that reality in its whole constitution 
is a matter of choice, though not of our choice. The 
results of your choice become data to me; your will is 
my fact: it may be similarly that everything which is 
fact to our human consciousness is the creative choice 
of a supreme Will. On such a supposition, voluntaristic 
views of reality would be true for God, but for no other. 
It is true that creativity is the essential quality of the 
will; and in the constitution of reality, man's will is to 
cooperate with whatever other creative will there may 
be in the universe. But man has religion because he is 
not wholly identical with God; and his religion will be 
founded upon that relation to reality in which he is less 
creative than dependent, or more exactly, in which 
his creatorship is a result of his dependence. 1 

For in truth, our human life is only an apprenticeship 
in creativity. The small launches of postulation which 
we make depend on being quickly caught up and floated 
by a tide of corroboration hailing from beyond ourselves. 

1 There are two uses of the word independent which need to be dis- 
tinguished. One kind of independence is mutual, a symmetrical relation: 
A is independent of B, B is independent of A. The other kind is not 
symmetrical: A is independent of B, B is dependent upon A. It is in this 
latter sense that we refer to 'the independent variable/ in mathematical 
and physical systems. Reality has an element of the latter kind of inde- 
pendence of finite purposes, not of the former. 


We leap ; but unless we are soon borne up from beyond 
we make but a sorry flight. And however far my crea- 
tivity extends, my own creations never become truth for 
me, until seen through the eye of another than myself 
they are recognized by him as fact, and so made valid 
for me also. My best creativity must win the consent 
of the independent before it can take the status of truth, 
even in my own eyes. The word truth has in it some 
reference not to be suppressed to a wholly other than 
myself, to a will wholly other than mine, as a condition 
of the reality of anything created. Thus, all finite crea- 
tivity contemplates this other, which by implication is 
not a product of its will ; it is this radically independent 
reality which religion seeks to know, and which alone it 
can worship. 

How, then, is religious truth to be known ? Are the 
realities of which religion speaks to be discovered in 
experience? Or are they matters of hypothesis, or of 
inference, that is to say, of reason? Our answer has been 
implied in what has gone before: religious truth is 
founded upon experience. In that imaginary picture of 
ours of the psychological birth of the idea of God 
in which it seemed to us as if our resentment, a stroke 
of moral will, had spontaneously made or recognized 
our world a living and responsible being we may dis- 
cern beside the stroke of will an experience of discovery. 1 
If there is any knowledge of God, it must be in some 

1 Of some such subtle but veritable experience I believe tbat all 
"revelation" is built. Revelation is knowledge real and empirical (i.e., 
received in relative passivity), which is more certain in itself than in its 
assignable connections with the main body of experience. The logic of 
the matter is worked out in Parts IV and VI. 


such way a matter of experience. This implies that our 
experience of reality is not confined to sensation. Sen- 
sation itself also brings us into contact with a reality 
which is independent of our will ; sensation is a meta- 
physical experience. And religious faith must be built 
upon an experience not wholly different from sensation ; 
but a super-sensible experience, like our experience of 
our human fellows ; an experience which recognizes the 
reality given in sensation for what, in its true nature, 
it is* 

And whatever is matter of experience must also 
become, in time, matter of reason ; for reason is but the 
process of finding, by some secure path of connection, 
a given experience from the standpoint of other expe- 
rience assumed as better known. The proof of God's 
existence is (as Hegel put it) but the lifting of the mind 
to God from out of the affairs of secular business. Such 
proof, or mental direction, is called for, not because 
the religious objects are inaccessible to experience, but 
rather because they are accessible ; and being found in 
experience, it is necessary to establish their systematic 
relations with the rest. It is through reason that the 
original and evanescent experience of God becomes 
established as veritable truth. 

This, then, is the result to which our labors so far 
have led. We cannot find a footing for religion in feel- 
ing: we must look for valid religious ideas. And these 
ideas are not to be taken at liberty, nor deduced from 
the conception of any necessary purpose : we are to seek 
the truth of religion obediently in experience as some- 
thing which is established in independence of our finite 
wills. So far we have done no more than orient our 


search. The task itself we shall take up in a later part 
of this hook. 

In the meantime, while voluntarism cannot define truth 
for us, religious truth least of all, it remains the most im- 
portant and valuable of all tests of truth and ballasts of 
judgment about truth. The question, " What kind of 
world would best satisfy the requirements of our wills ?" 
can never finally determine what kind of world we, in 
reality, have. But such questions may go far toward 
clearing our mind about those requirements themselves ; 
they may give some not-unimportant hints of what we 
have to expect of reality. To this pragmatic type of 
inference we shall devote the next few studies. 


Ethe foregoing chapter we have appealed from that which 
re can voluntarily determine to that which independently 
Is, as the necessary basis of religious truth. And this appeal 
is on the whole valid and intelligible. But voluntarism may 
recur to its most searching and general question a question 
which we have already dealt with by implication 1 but which 
may now with advantage be considered by itself. It may 
require of us an account of that independence which we expect 
to discover, doubting whether anything in this universe can 
be essentially independent of any other, doubting whether any 
real object of ours is independent of ourselves, doubting 
whether in the last resort those most real objects of our best 
maturity are not also there, in all their inner freedom and 
autonomy, by dint of some deeper will of ours, some necessary 
or absolute will. Have we not even now said that we must 
desire that our religious objects have such independence, that 
we need it as a support for our loyalty ? and in confessing 
these needs have we not admitted that this independence may 
still be regarded as the free deed of our own deepest will, 
and so no absolute independence ? 

It is in experience that we meet with the supposedly inde- 
pendent realities of nature and society with that total volume 
of Fact which is there whether we will or not. But experience 
has long been known to be no such passive affair as it seems. 
Idealism has made clear to us how much the mind must con- 
tribute to make its experience what it is : how little is actually 
given, how much is made on the basis of this little or noth- 
ing from outside* We think we find our fellow men, for 
example, as independent metaphysical entities ; we treat them 

1 Both in the above chapter and in chapter x, in discussing the 
meaning of ideas. 


as if they were such. But even as we observed how far the 
qualities and characters of men are determined by our own 
resolve, so we may now see, striking deeper, that their very 
metaphysical selfhood, their individuality, is real by consent 
rather than by given fact. Neither they nor we find given 
any substantial soul or individual in this world, whether theirs 
or our own ; but our purpose is to live in a world of real 
persons, and so far as possible to be real persons ourselves. 
According to this necessary aspiration we act, and cannot help 
acting. But in its nature our whole environment of " meta- 
physical reality " is no independent fact, passively received, 
but a determination of our own absolute will. 

Such, in brief, are the considerations pressed upon us by 
volitional idealism, especially in the form in which that ideal- 
ism is presented by Fichte, and in our own time by Royce, 
by Miinsterberg, by Rickert, and others. l There is nothing 
true for any subject in which it is not possible to trace the sign 
of the subject and of the deepest will of the subject. Reality 
itself can have no other independence of the thinker than that 
which he wills it to have. 

But valuable and morally important as all this is, to know 
how much of what we passingly regard as independent Fact 
is in the making of our own wills, the case of the (pragmatic) 
idealist is not I must think complete ; nor can it be com- 
pleted. There may be no assignable feature of my world in 
which I cannot trace the work of my own will : it still remains 
possible that there may be no assignable feature of my world 
in which I cannot trace also the work of something not-my- 
will. Let me illustrate this situation : 

Independence may be symbolized by discontinuity in geom- 
etry, let us say, by a point that stands off by itself. There 
1 For our present argument the differences between these thinkers, 
important as they are, need not be discussed. A summary statement of 
the position in question may be found in Royce, The World and the Individ- 
ual, vol. i, pp. 320-342. The position itself maybe labelled voluntaristic 
idealism, or pragmatic idealism, or, as Royce calls it in his last book, 
absolute pragmatism. (William James and Other Essays, p. 254. J 


are no independent points in a circle : every one is perfectly 
bound and held by the central rule. In ellipses, there is a 
struggle apart of centers, so to speak, a certain mutual 
independence in the two focal points, which loosens the attach- 
ment of the curve to either. The central government of other 
curves as defined by their 'equations, 1 is variously strong: 
in some of them, single points become detached ; in others, 
whole regions break out in double boundaries. Wherever a 
hump or projection or departure from the perfect round is 
visible, there is the sign of rebellion, of incipient independence. 
In the angle, we have a complete rupture of central control ; 
two independent equations describe the two independent lines. 
With this picture of dependence and independence in mind, 
we might undertake with idealistic eyes to examine the 
shapes of natural objects. In nature, our supposed ideal- 

ist might report, we find no straight lines and no angles: 
everywhere, if you examine closely enough you find the round, 
the mark of subjection to some center. In any given organism 
you find repeated everywhere the same curve in eye, in 
nostril, in spinal and muscular wave the same reference of 
every element to the type-cell and its central forces. This is 
the report of the idealistic eye, which is always on the lookout 
for signs of centrality ; and which may truly say that there 
is nothing real and concrete which does not betray these signs 
in every nameable feature. But now, look at the 

same shapes with other eyes, with those of an imagined real- 
ist, believer in the independent reality. Perhaps there are no 
straight lines in nature, he might report, but on the other 
hand there are no circles ; and the higher the effort of nature, 
the less is the circle apparent. Nature, in fact, progresses out 
of roundness toward angularity. Primitive animals, and sim- 
ple orbits, may be nearly round ; but no developed animal is 
round. In elliptical and elongated shapes we see signs of 
rebellion, anew center struggling apart from the original one. 
Humps, horns, heads, tails, autonomous internal organs, are 
so many evidences of promising home-rule. In animals which 


we regard as highly developed we find actual corners and 
discontinuities of line : see the square-blocked blooded bull; 
compare the man with the infant ; note the loose play of limb 
in quadrupeds as compared with the tighter bound organs of 
bird and fish. So in the works of art that follow nature ; con- 
trast the moon-faced people drawn by a school-boy with the 
cross-hatched sketches of any master hand. Or observe the 
line of progress from the round huts of the ancient Saxon, 
the igloos of the Eskimo, the charcoal-burner's huts of Scot- 
land, the Indian wigwam, and the like, from these to the 
square walls of the romanized English dwelling and our 
modern house. Roundness is, in fact, the hopeless thing in 
nature. So far as the organism is round and continuous 
within itself, in so far it must live upon its own resources and 
inertia, and has the promise of death. But wherever it crosses 
reality, even the most primitive of organisms, wherever it 
touches the sources of its continued life in eating, in know- 
ing, in giving birth there is a breach in its body- wall ; there 
it confesses discontinuity and dependence upon the independ- 
ent. So the report of the realistic eye, on the lookout for 
marks of independence, might answer and supplement the 
report of idealism. To every sign of dependence which the 
idealist can show, the realist can show a corresponding sign of 
independence. We can decide, on such showing, neither for 
one nor for the other. 

To come now from our illustration to the matter itself : It 
is not enough for the idealist to show that the mark of the 
ego and its purposes is on every object of knowledge, and on 
every phase of the object ; he must also consider whether the 
mark of the non-ego is not equally pervasive. In so far as he 
fails to do this, he leaves us dissatisfied. His argument savors 
much of the logic by which Thomas Hobbes proved that by 
virtue of the social contract, all acts of the Leviathan are in 
reality my own acts, expressions of my own will no matter 
what the Leviathan may do, short of threatening my own safety 
or existence. There is a Leviathan of our living universe also, 


to whom we are bound perhaps by some cosmic * contract,' 
i.e., by some necessary consent of our absolute wills pre- 
sumably further a wholly benevolent Leviathan : still his en- 
actments strike upon my consciousness with the novelty of 
independence fruits of a purpose which may include mine, 
but is not included in mine. 

It is in vain also that pragmatic idealism shows that the 
universe is everywhere what I would will it to be if my will 
were wholly self-knowing ; or that when the scientific mind 
submits itself empirically to the independent fact, it expresses 
not alone its own purpose but its harmony with a great spiritual 
fabric of conspiring purposes : these things may be true, but 
they do not answer our question. There is nothing in reality 
but that my will helps to make it what in my experience it 
becomes : but is there anything in reality that I could wholly 
have created ? is there anything that my purposes can wholly 
define ? The universe fulfills my will ; but it is not definable 
as the fulfilment of my will : it is That Which fulfills my will 
and much more besides ; first fulfilling its own independent 
will. The universe has its own soul, and its own counsel which 
is not mine. This is its independence. 1 

We admit the positive side of the idealistic argument ; what- 
ever is real for us is real with our consent and cooperation. 
As for its negative part, that nothing in reality is independent 
of our will, we would turn tables on the idealistic argument. 
In denying the reality of this independence, does the idealist 
not implicitly acknowledge that very independence ? For he 
means to make a statement to which we must assent, consult- 
ing not first our wills and purposes, but solely the truth as it 
is. By reality, idealist and realist alike mean that which first 
is, and afterward is in accord with our purposes. 

He who says that individuality is a postulate, not a fact ; 

1 This point is further discussed and illustrated in the explanatory 
essay "The knowledge of independent reality" The geometrical 
illustration above used was originally a part of the article from which 
this essay was taken. 


lie who declares that metaphysical being is an aspiration or 
purpose, not a matter of experience ; is bound to account to us 
for the source of these ideals and purposes. Ideals do not come 
out of the void : postulates and moral principles are not whis- 
pered to us in the form of " innate ideas " : it is on the spur 
of experience that our wills adopt their aims and their deep- 
est meanings. Whatever is present in ideal, is first present 
in independent reality. In the order of existence we are first 
passive and then active : though no analysis can separate our 
passivity from our activity. 



PAET in 


WE do not know, in detail, what kind o world we 
would desire to live in. Wisdom to devise such 
a world we slowly acquire, and in infinite time may 
possess y meantime we tend to assume that our per- 
fectly enlightened wish would correspond not too re- 
motely with the general description of the world as 
we find it at least that it would more nearly ap- 
proach these curious and mysterious arrangements than 
we now fathom. Further, there are certain major fea- 
tures of our world whose value, or part of whose value, 
can be made out. In adorning the figure of God the 
wishes of men have certainly had large play: it is not 
unimportant to enquire how much of this wish and will 
is permanently valid, how much is the passing work of 
a fancy too little self-conscious. "We have been told in 
these latter days that a pluralistic world would be better 
than a world of One Being ; that a world without an 
Absolute would be wholly as good as with one; and 
we have often been assured that God is no certain addi- 
tion to human happiness, most lately by Mr. McTaggart. 
Emboldened by these representations we may make a 
few tentative excursions into this pleasant field of 
world-willing before girding ourselves to the more stren- 
uous labor of truth-finding not forgetting, however, 
that the question what we need is also a question having 
a true answer. 



MONISM may be optimistic or pessimistic, as we 
conceive the One Being to be good, bad, or indif- 
ferent. Schopenhauer's One was blind, and its products 
fit only to be swallowed up again. But monism at least 
permits optimism, since a world that is One has a chance 
of being safe. It may even be too safe. To the minds 
of pluralistic writers monism offers too little scope for 
freedom and adventure; there is not enough leeway 
for risk and radical disaster ; not opportunity enough for 
ultimate enterprise and knightly peril ; not enough sum- 
mons to courage, to world-winning or world-losing wa- 
gers and commitments. Because of all the surplus pro- 
tection of monism, men are made flabby ; their skins are 
safe, but their morals are in danger ; hence, the world 
of monism proves no such safe world after all, when 
you consider the whole man. A true optimism must take 
the side of pluralism. This seems to me a fair and fruit- 
promising issue ; for surely we will have no world in 
which it is not possible to be optimistic, and without 
danger to our moral fiber. Let us then attack our sub- 
ject in this way : considering different brands of mon- 
ism (for there are different brands), and enquiring what 
brand of optimism (for there are different brands of this 
also) is compatible with each brand of monism. 



A few elementary observations may be made at the 
outset, and got out of the way. 

First, no optimism is possible without some kind of 
monism. For in order to think well of your world, and 
expect good from it, your world must at least have a 
character. It must afford a basis for expectations or 
probabilities. If the world were simply random, there 
would be no such thing as probability in it, nothing 
to build a reasonable hope or prospect on. There is no 
pluralist who does not limit, and very profoundly limit, 
the sort of chance and accident which he admits into 
his world-picture. Change occurs, new things are born, 
forces of many kinds drive at large, free individuals 
assert themselves freely : but all this variety and novelty 
takes place in digestible quantities. New creations are 
to be noted; but they begin small, in a more or less 
considerate manner, appearing in homes and other 
places where they can be taken care of. The pluralistic 
universe does not blurt and burst out in erratic and 
immeasurable Facts, of unheard-of Kinds. The most 
revolutionary things that happen there are revolutions: 
each quietly contained for a time, in the form of a new 
idea, within the compass of some man's head. The Mind 
is in fact the hearth and brooding^place of such wild 
Force and Novelty and Freedom as the pluralist most 
wishes to make way for. And the fortunate circumstance 
that these things have any brooding^-place at all shows 
how important it is, even in pluralistic eyes, that the 
new should come with some reference to the old; the 
Many be not too fatally disruptive of the One. The 


world that any of us want to live in has, then, some 
character of its own, innate or acquired, and hence 
some unity upon which any man must build his 

Second, no optimism is possible without some kind of 
doubt whether things are what they seem ; without look- 
ing behind appearances. If the character of the world is 
Good, or has good possibilities, this does not appear upon 
the surface of experience. No justification for either 
optimism or monism can be found there. The surface 
of experience is pluralistic enough, tossing, various, dis- 
tracted, challenging sanity if one lets himself go. And 
this surface, if it has any general character, is not more 
good than bad. The idea of evil did not arise in the 
mind without illustration in experience : it is from this 
surface that good and bad get their flavor and burden 
of contrast. No man can be an optimist, then, without 
going behind the superficial returns. The character 
of the world upon which he bases his judgment must 
be a real character, as opposed to apparent character : 
your optimist must be something of a metaphysician, 
something of a seer. He is an optimist only because he 
has caught or achieved some glimpse of the Whole, and 
some Idea therewith, which permits him a confident judg- 
ment about the ultimate forces and grounds of sensible 
experience: the facts he has about world-character 
must be bottom facts, or they are worthless as a basis 
for expectations. 

Every optimism, then, involves a judgment about a 
Reality, which has a character, and is therefore One. It 
may appear to the judger that the unity of the world 
is only achievable, not an accomplished fact : but if 


the world is even achievably One, then it is already One 
in a real, though more attenuated sense ; it has a char- 
acter which makes it capable of being pulled together. 


Optimism, we have said, must come from getting our 
world into so much of a real unity that we can pass 
judgment upon it as a whole. We may now observe that 
this unity must be of a fairly substantial sort. There 
are types of monism too attenuated to justify any gen- 
uine optimism. Let us describe one or two such. 

Our world has, for example, a certain formal unity. 
This unity is to be seen in the fact that all objects of 
experience, however various, are all alike objects of ex- 
perience : must have so much in common as is implied 
in their being thinkable by the same subject, all contain- 
able within his comprehensive background of objectivity 
and time. No one can mention any possible degree of 
frantic chaos, but that in mentioning it as an idea of his, 
he has made a unity of it ; has even presented it to us 
in a frame. Beat the bush of self-contradiction with 
sufficient skill and persistency ; always some such unity 
can be corralled in the liveliest pluralism statable. But 
any pluralism may grant you these bonds, without sub- 
stantial menace to liberty : all fish of the sea are also 
already caught in the fisherman's idea, and if not fur- 
ther caught need not resent their captivity. But our 
world must be further caught, if we are to be optimistic 
pluralists; this degree of unity if it goes no farther can 
support no concrete expectations. For anything, how- 
ever disastrous, that could be fancied, would by the same 
reasoning fit into the same frame of unity. Our opti- 


mism must affect the contents of our picture ; the unity 
must obtain in the designs of the object, as well as in its 
external relations to the subject. 1 

But there are also objective and concrete unities 
which are still too attenuated. Idealism knows of such 
unities, discoverable by applying this same method 
of self-contradiction but more thoroughly. It may be 
shown that this world of ours has a one-ness of Life, 
or even of Purpose. If the real world has a conscious 
selfhood, there is very substantial basis here for expec- 
tations. But hardly enough for expectations of any 
definite human color. For would we not have to 
enquire what reference such world-purpose might have 
to our own special situation; further, what fixes the 
course of such purpose, spreading its career out in time 
as if by some resistance; whether, then, in any finite 
time the purpose reaches fulfilment ; and whether any 
segment of history, such as may concern humanity, is to 
move toward or away from the goal of our Good, in the 
immeasurable rhythms of cosmic history? The fact of 
the simple existence of a sympathetic purpose at the 
bottom of Eeality may have some positive value, quite 
apart from any practical expectations ; a question which 
we may later on enquire into. 2 But considered from 
our present standpoint of expectation, any such unity 
might consistently admit into its outline a retrogression, 
damnation, or even extinction of human experience, if 
there is nothing more known of it. Has not the good 
God existed for long ages in the same world with hell 

1 And such like external relations between its own parts as are 
involved in that common relation to the subject, external to all of them. 

2 Chapter XV. 


and all devils, hell getting steadily fuller? and may not 
your One-purpose do as much, or even more? There 
would seem to be still plenty of risk in such a world 
for the most reckless pluralist. The Great Hunter 
crashes through the World-forest in pursuit of His 
quarry not spoiling nor heeding our small chase, add- 
ing if anything one more and chief excitement thereto, 
that He do not tread on us ! 

In fact, must it not be said of any purely meta-phy sical 
monism that it leaves our human situation and prob- 
lems much the same as before ? It is astonishing, when 
we stop to consider, how much monism we can define 
without affording any substantial footing for optimism 
hence without cancelling any of the undesirable risks 
of existence, to say nothing of encroaching on those de- 
sirable risks which pluralism wishes to preserve. We 
see how it is that pragmatic objections to monism have 
been of two opposite tenors : one, that the world of 
monism is a " block-universe " closing up all avenues 
of chance; the other, that Unity is a wholly ineffective 
and meaningless bond, making no difference whatever 
in our outlook upon experience. It is worth while, as 
against the first objection, to bring forward the second: 
a single organism certainly does not ohne weiteres im- 
ply a petrified organism. It is open to doubt whether 
the fact of unity, by itself, implies anything significant 
about the worldng-character of the thing unified. Let 
us put the matter thus: if our monism is such as to pinch 
the universe together only at that point from which it 
emanates whether in one cosmical and temporal point 
of beginning, or in one permanent basis and pre-svppo- 
sition such monism gets no control over .the wild 


horses of Becoming, whether in our favor or against us. 
Enough of this kind of monism. 


If monism is to be of service to our expectations, it 
must affect the apparent as well as the Real ; we must 
indeed go beneath the surface of experience, where 
good and bad meet on equal terms, but only for the 
sake of prophetic control over that same surface in its 
farther developments. Monism begins to offer signifi- 
cant basis for our prospects when it seizes upon the 
actual processes of the world, and declares that they are 
all cases of One Process. In the nature of that One 
Process can be read something of the presumable 

All the processes that we know are operations carried 
out against resistance ; the unification of the processes 
may well begin by a unification of the resistances, bring- 
ing all practical problems together into one practical 
world-problem. Unifications which thus begin with 
unifying the resistances seem to set up dualisms instead 
of monisms as of light against darkness, Persian God 
against Persian Devil, spirit against matter, and the like. 
But such dualisms are not far from monism. For clearly 
there can be no well-founded hope for good unless there 
is some estimate of the resistance thereto ; and there can 
be no estimate of the resistance unless such resistance 
has its own unity. 

Any theory of the world which represents all the 
forces of the world as cases of one Force ; all laws as 
cases of one Law; is thus unifying our problem, and 
helping man to see his task as the task of spirit every- 


where in a world of Nature. Such is the monism of 
natural science : and indeed might not science be fairly 
described as the effort to reduce the practical problems 
of man to one problem ? O ur apparently hundred-headed 
problem is One, and this one problem is the only prob- 
lem there is in the cosmos. Whatever the ' trend of 
evolution/ whatever impulse there is in the life of the 
world, all becomes merged in, and subordinated to, the 
human undertaking: the world-problem is our prob- 
lem. Whence it appears that human preferences and 
aversions as they become self-knowing are absolutely 
valid there being no Great Hunter with object other 
than our own. 

Such monism as this of effort and resistance is the 
necessary beginning of any concretely significant mon- 
ism. So long as resistances are plural, we are slaves to 
each one severally ; the mastery of one gives no aid in 
the mastery of another. There can be valid hope only in 
a world in which the conquest of one difficulty is already 
a partial conquest of another. Monism of this sort does 
actually wipe out certain conceivable chances for hero- 
ism, if heroism consists in infinite willingness to begin 
again at Zero. But it does not eliminate the freedom and 
variety of life it alone makes such freedom and variety 
possible. For the Many, in such case, are more tyran- 
nous than the One ; in winning subjection to one master 
we gain foot-looseness from indefinite tyranny of the 
mob. In cosmic as in political affairs, man has many 
powers over him ; and unless he find some one power 
in which the powers of capital, of custom, of church, of 
the mandarinate, of social pretence have their match 
and solvent hfc is slave indeed, though he live under a 


" free " constitution. Freedom from the powers is found 
in subjection to Power; as freedom from the ten com- 
mandments is found in subjection to the one and great 
commandment. Hence monism is at once fixity and free- 
dom from fixity ; the only possible condition under which 
freedom in the world of concrete enterprise can be won. 

It is necessary, then, to any optimism, that there 
should be unity in the conscious processes of the world; 
and especially a unity of the resistances or evils, which 
such processes have to meet. But this is not a sufficient 
foundation for optimism. Optimism requires a further 
judgment, namely, that the Real is the good, and not 
the evil: i.e., that evil is an essentially conquerable 
thing, not a reality co-ordinate with the purpose that is 
against it. And herewith, as monism begins to be sig- 
nificant, it begins also to justify the pluralistic criticism: 
by reading the outcome into the prior constitution or 
nature of the case, the world is made too safe, and 
the nerve of our responsibility, as well as the zest of 
our personal importance is relaxed. 

It is obvious that this judgment, that the Real is the 
good and not the evil, stands at a critical pass in this 
problem of monism. It is a judgment of many shades, 
and some conclusion as to its worth may be gained by 
considering how it is actually used in human affairs. 


The implicit assumption of the scientific view of things 
is that every evil is to be remedied in time by our own 
efforts. Conversely, there is a type of reaction to every 
definable ill of our human condition which we might 
well describe as the scientific reaction; that is, the effort 


to refer the ill in question to causes, to conceive it as 
a form assumed under definite conditions by the one 
world-energy, and by mastering the conditions to mas 
ter the ill. The evil, in short, must be thoroughly 
examined and known; to overcome it, we must first 
become fully conscious of it. 

But our world seems to be so constituted that many 
a bad condition is not best cured that way. It happens 
at times that an invalid may make a better bid for health 
by ignoring his disease than by enquiring into it. As 
for our moral faults, it is quite impossible to reach a 
cure by the scientific reaction alone. If we tend to 
ignore our own sins and win our moral salvation in large 
part through determined self-respect there is in this 
instinctive attitude much moral lethargy, no doubt, but 
some modicum of natural health of spirit. Willingness 
to confront every evil, in ourselves and outside ourselves, 
with the blunt, factual conscience of science; willing- 
ness to pay the full causal price for the removal of the 
blemish ; this kind of integrity can never be dispensed 
with in any optimistic program. And yet we cannot 
radically cure evil that way : the method of justice works 
perfectly only in the world of scientific objects them- 
selves, world of unconscious things. Wherever conscious- 
ness enters we have to combine the scientific reaction 
with another, one which involves turning away from the 
defect and asserting in effect that the evil is less-than- 
real, that the real is the good. There is a self-righting 
tendency in conscious beings which has only analogies 
more or less distant in nature* The system of movements 
in such a group as the solar system has a certain self- 
righting tendency ; a gyroscope will resume its own plane 


after disturbance not too great; any living organism has 
still more remarkable self -restoring properties: but when 
we are dealing with consciousness on its own ground, 
or with any product of consciousness, with systems per- 
sonal or social or political, self-righting becomes the 
essential thing in all righting. This is the grain of truth 
in the former laissez faire theories. This is the impor- 
tant truth in the instinctive dislike of attacking the 
social evil and its affiliations with the hammer and tongs 
of scientific procedure and publicity. In these regions, 
our world upholds a policy of working out the good by 
over-attention to it and under-attention to its opposite. 
The world behaves as if the good were the real. 

I venture to say that there can be no real optimism 
on the scientific basis with its type of monism. For not 
alone are evils too numerous to be disposed of in this way. 
It is also true that progress, with its income of new 
pains and troubles, would involve continually greater 
and not lesser suffering. If it were the destiny of 
human life to pursue all evil by proportionate attention, 
becoming first fully conscious of it and of its conditions, 
a just consideration of the way in which life deepens 
both in sensitivity and in demand must open the pros- 
pect of our knowing pain and evil not less intensely, 
but more intensely forever. Men differ much in their 
disposition to yield the scientific method to the more 
monistic method of ignoring evil. Some are unable to 
enjoy a good until they think they have earned it, which 
earning is another name for knowing the conditions and 
complying with them, conditions fixed in the unity of 
nature. Others demand without earning, and receive 
much of what they demand. But even the most earn- 


ing natures earn less than they think. For on the level 
of experience-surface there is an overcrowding of possi- 
bilities, too many features of the world to be attended 
to; every man must choose which aspects of his world 
he will look upon, forgetting the overwhelming major- 
ity; and every man is led (even though he like to be 
a pessimist) to select those aspects which best suit his 
habit of thought and make a world-harmony for him. 
Every one must fall back at last on vis medicatrix 
naturce when working out his destiny, making mute 
appeal to the proposition that the real is the good, and 
the good the realgar excellence. 

Optimism, I say, requires this degree of monism; 
belief in an individual Eeality not-ourselves which makes 
for Tightness, and which actually accomplishes right- 
ness when left to its own working. Does this, then,, 
eliminate moral courage from the universe? making 
things, on the whole, too secure? It must be answered 
that there are right and wrong ways of taking this prin- 
ciple, which in itself permits moral laxity and also 
admits moral enterprise, as in a world of free men we 
should desire for what moral worth can there be in a 
strenuosity which is a necessary condition of existence 
itself, as in a pluralistic universe it must be ? 

If ignoring evil becomes a conscious principle for 
saving personal effort, it is bad and also defeats itself. 
Evil self -savingly ignored is not cured : the monism in 
question is not mechanical in its operation. When seek- 
ing forgiveness and getting it becomes routine, it ceases 
to minister to moral progress. The ship of state has 


large inherent tendencies to go right, even if the helms- 
man is tipsy and negligent else what state conld last: 
but when the helmsman begins to exploit this qual- 
ity, adopting laissez faire policies for his own holiday, 
the way to shipwreck is not long. Selective emphasis 
becomes insolence when the goodness of Reality is made 
a personal perquisite. 

The true use of the principle seems to lie in this 
direction: that the evil is not merely forgotten, but gen- 
uinely disposed of by that to which the attention is 
turned. If I assume of my neighbor that the reality of 
him is good, and that his faults are relatively non-real, 
this assumption is justified only as I actually grasp his 
faults as the seamy sides of his virtues, having their 
reality and their ultimate relief in the heightened life 
of those same positive qualities, his wrath as part of his 
spirit, his hesitation as a phase of his self-consciousness 
to be relieved by more self-consciousness, his shiftlessness 
an incident of his ideality to be remedied by a more 
vigorous ideality, not by mere battle against shiftless- 
ness. Of ourselves, we know that when life is at low tide 
our very strength stands against us and becomes our 
fault and our viciousness ; whereas, when life is full, our 
sin becomes our character, and fights for the good we 
seek. Ignoring, then, is justified when the ill is known; 
known as an alterable aspect of a reality which is good. 
The whole necessary policy of efficient living, that of 
concentrating upon a few positive aims, to the neglect 
of much detail, is morally and practically justified (where 
it is justified) only by a conscious monism of the sort 
we have been describing. In fine, any and every radical 
commitment to a single aim, heroic adoption of a cause 


as one's own fate, ultimate risk and wager against des- 
tiny, can be justified whether before morals or even good 
sense, only if the meaning of the commitment in ques- 
tion is this : that this thing to which I give myself is a 
character of the One which is real and good, destined 
to endure, held in place when established by all the self- 
righting forces of the universe. The moral good which 
pluralism demands can only be had, I say, on the basis 
of the kind of monism here defined. 

Justice and science pit wrong against wrong to make 
right; thereby making good commensurate and homo- 
geneous with evil. Justice and science must smell full 
deep of every ill-odor in order to discard it. If we doubt 
the universal worth of this method, it is because we 
judge evil to be a shade less real than the good, some- 
thing that can be displaced to some extent by simply 
finding its place in a positive view of things reduc- 
ing its evil-ness to an error of position. This gives us 
our responsible right to discontinuity. Such a view, we 
may note, also involves a judgment that Reality is akin 
to consciousness; for in terms of the causal network, 
there is no other than the scientific method possible. 


It remains to be noticed that the monism here 
described leaves a degree of pluralism in the universe. 
Any principle of selection, which admits certain ele- 
ments of experience into the Real and excludes others, is 
incompletely monistic. The mind is a unity in process 
of being made up ; in which process much that presents 
itself is bundled out, discarded, as not to be knitted in 
with the unity here being constituted : and whatever is 


true of the single mind, if the mind is an integral pa*t 
of the universe, is true also of the universe. If any 
materials of consciousness appear to the mind as loosely 
attached, detachable, actually detached and excluded 
then in Eeality they are thus detached and excluded. 
Any experience dropped by us is dropped absolutely. 
Even though the One may attend to what we let go, 
our letting go is one of the absolute facts; a stitch 
dropped by ourselves is dropped by the World, irrevo- 
cably dropped. The scientific method of disposing of 
evil is more completely preservative of the outcast ele- 
ments, hence in this respect more monistic: science 
regards well what it will exclude, whereby the thing to 
be excluded gains a kind of immortality in memory, at 
least in the records and working of the mind sci- 
entific exclusion is thus no wholesale exclusion. But 
otherwise the mind deals more ruthlessly with its con- 
tents. Forgetting drops much experience-stuff out of 
sight that has not been refused in the movements of 
attention. Discontinuities abound in our inner history, 
snapping off of thought-threads, wanderings, unfinished 
business never to be finished; moral discontinuities 
also, in forgiveness and self-forgivenesses. Sleepings 
and wakings, the fresh starts without which every 
finite will would speedily be brought to despair, 
through all such our mental and moral world, so far 
as its contents are concerned, takes on the aspect of 
a series of geologic faults departs from a scrupu- 
lous monism in which every item is an equally valid 
member of the Whole, by quite unmeasurable amount. 
There is no monism on the level of events. History 
falls by quantities into the abyss, and this is the 


unstinted opportunity for our sifting even yet all 
too un-radical. 

The only hope of finding the Keal to be one and 
good is in such sif ting-right, in the circumstance that 
the universe is not utterly organic, and that we are not 
compelled to absorb into our structure all the false 
scaffolding we have raised. Unless our monism were thus 
saturated with pluralism and absolute death, we should 
have no power to move under the burden of our past. 
As old men, dying, free the race from their f ormulse, 
so our deeds and memories die, and leave us new from 
point to point; links drop out of sight in evolution and 
in history; whole vistas of character evaporate into the 
night, unpreserved, unpresentable by diary and mem- 
oir. Whatever the ultimate goal of Reality there is 
leisure for working it out; the creator has been gen- 
erous with time, with the material of existence, the 
cloth of history, and most of it is wasted. It looks at 
times as if he had been equally prodigal of men. Only 
the Nature of things is One and Good; all the "empiri- 
cal stuff " is as yet unmeasured and unjudged. 

There is, if this view be valid, no fixed quantity of 
evil fortune mapped out in advance for every one ; no 
fated "peck of dirt" for each one to eat: there is room 
for just such hastening or retarding the One process as 
there seems, in our consciousness of freedom, to be. The 
One stands there, as our opportunity, not as mechanical 
necessity. The monism of the world is such only as to 
give meaning to its pluralism; our belonging to God 
such only as gives us greater hold upon ourselves. True, 
the heights of monism and of necessity we have not 
scaled j nor shall we here attempt them. Suffice it to 


have shown that for the good of men, for their good- 
hope as also for their rightful darings and commit- 
ments, some concrete conscious monism is a necessary 



HAS the Absolute, or the thought of an Absolute, 
any human value of practical sort ? What interest 
has that which is changeless to a world of movement and 
change? what function in a world which deals every- 
where with contingent realities could be performed by 
a reality (if there were such) which is subject to no con- 
tingencies, final, resting in itself having no outside, 
nor beyond, and so nothing to fear or to expect from 
any external possibilities? 

We know of no absolute stability in our physical uni- 
verse, and yet we get on very well with our relative 
stabilities ; build on the spinning surface of the earth, 
walk on ship's decks, having mastered the art of treat- 
ing any relative foothold as if it were, for the time being, 
absolute, and yet without being deceived. Even the fall- 
ing aviator feels that the earth is moving upward to 
him. It is not otherwise with our truths in every depart- 
ment of practice; we learn to use them within their 
range of validity, treating them as if they were abso- 
lute, but not misled by the practical worth of that assump- 
tion, always ready (or almost always) to subordinate them 
to another truth when their limit is reached. We can 
treat our atomic weights as permanent, without needing 
to deny conditions under which the dogma fails to hold 


good. May it not be the same with Eeality also, 
that a floating reality, a slowly changing and growing 
world, a developing God, even with finite and revis- 
ahle thoughts and purposes, may it not be that such 
a universe would serve as well as one that is based on 
an Ultimatum, an Eternal and Necessary Fact ? Nay 
rather, may not such conditional reality be the only sort 
we ever do or can make reference to ? 

No better summary of the failure of the alleged 
Absolute to make connections with human needs can be 
given than these words of William James : " The abso- 
lute is useless for deductive purposes. It gives us ab- 
solute safety if you will, but it is compatible with every 
relative danger. Whatever the details of experience 
may prove to be, after the fact of them the absolute 
will adopt them. It is an hypothesis which functions 
retrospectively only, not prospectively." * 

Like those too formal unities which we were recently 
considering, the Absolute seems to be tolerant of any 
kind of world-contents and experience-contents what- 
ever : and therefore the idea of the Absolute seems to 
throw no light on the kind of destiny one may expect, 
suggests not one course of action rather than another, 
in short " is useless for deductive purposes." " I have 
noticed," once said an artist to me, "that perfection is 
nearly always barren : a touch of ugliness is needed to 
give life, action, instability." When one speaks of the 

1 A Pluralistic Universe, page 111. This is not William James' only 
word on the worth of an Absolute. I quote these words as the best state- 
ment I can find of a typical opinion, not as a complete statement of his 
opinion. In Pragmatism and later books, James became, consistently or 
not, more or less tolerant of the Absolute, finding it useful as providing 
* moral holidays/ etc. 


Absolute, we are reminded of some such well-closed per- 
fection, all too successfully placed beyond the exigen- 
cies of all living and striving; we doubt whether it 
corresponds with any significant reality ; whether it is 
not a name for some sort of logical problem, a name 
handed back to us as an answer. 

I cannot imagine any issue more vital to us than this. 
Under various names we have been dealing with Abso- 
lute Reality. Under the name of Substance, it appeared 
as the anchorage which all idea-meanings seek ; it was 
credited with internal relations to value of utmost import- 
ance. Whether it had any bearing upon action (such 
as "deductive purposes" imply) we did not expressly 
enquire, though the name "non-impulsive background " 
so far corroborates the comments of William James. I 
am inclined to agree with the requirement that our First 
Principle must be useful /or practice also, that it must 
mean something in particular to the exclusion of some- 
thing-else-in-particular, that it must be a principle from 
which deductions can be made. I wish therefore to 
enquire whether the Absolute is an object or concept 
that we could do without. Let me put down certain 
scattered reflections on this subject. 

Something like the Absolute appears from time to 
time in the history of religion; but it is noteworthy 
that it is not worshipped. There is no temple to 
Brahman. The Algonquins did not pray to Manitou. 
Unkulunkulu, as most primitive near-Absolutes, is too 
far off and has no interest in the affairs of men; 
whence petitions must be addressed to the nearer and 


more finite spirits. The same judgment occurs a hun- 
dred times in the various religions of the world. In 
all religions have mediators of some kind corrected 
the tendency of the great God-father to fall in with the 
Absolute, giving the Deity effective human sympathies 
and fighting interests. Ahura Mazda must have his 
group of nature-gods and his retinue of Amesha Spentas. 
Even Jahweh as he tends to be thought of as Abso- 
lute ceases to deal with men in person and works only 
through messengers or through the Logos. What we 
need to worship is the seminal, disturbing, creating, 
and destroying principle of Eeality : for which purpose 
would not Siva be a better Deity than Brahm, the 
ineffable and indifferent ? 

Must not Eeality be a Eeal Force, a Eeal Mover, and 
no Eternal Fact of changeless order? Whether for 
worship, or for theory, or for common practice, we 
need to reach an Ultimate which is no ultimate indif- 
ference: something, rather, like an ultimate grit, a 
principle that lends friction between wheel and belt, 
which gives bite to the tool, plunge to the earth-dive 
of the plow. 

Still, we cannot dispense with a Changeless Ultimate 
in our world. For practical life is not interested solely 
in making differences. Indeed, action is never interested 
in simply producing something different : it is always 
interested in making improvement, which is to say, 
change in a situation which itself is permanent. The 
permanence of the frame of change has a value of its 
own, if only this that we find ourselves at home in it. 


In the altered place we recognize ourselves because we 
recognize our environment : these two things, self-iden- 
tity and world-identity, go inseparably together. And 
the degree of alteration which we can endure, even for 
the better or best, is not indefinitely great. Any perma- 
nent feature of the world will always have at least this 


value for action : it is a part of that which we are for- 
ever moving toward there will be something at the 
last day which was also there at the first. 

It may be well for us that the only changeless Being 
in the universe is the Absolute, if there be an Absolute. 
For no more definite shape could be so attractive but 
that in time we should lose zest in moving toward it. 
The Absolute binds us to no particular conservatism ; 
impedes no possible rate of progress in terms of con* 
crete experience. Here the unlimited hospitality and 
indifference of the Absolute to contents of experience is 
an advantage : " compatible with every relative danger" 
compatible, then, with every relative improvement* 
Offering all the advantages of changelessness, with none 
of the disadvantages of conserving the undesirable. 

It is the presence of a Changeless Absolute that alone 
could set us wholly free to grow. For otherwise we would 
fix upon some concrete thing as a Changeless, something 
which ought to be forever revisable, and then we must 
either stagnate, or break. 

Not only my own identity, but the identity of the 
human mind as a species, is bound up with that changeless 
identity of the ultimate object. We pass judgment upoa 
the intellects, and estimate the world-guesses, of Newton,, 
and Paracelsus, and Thales, and Lao Tze, and Moses: 
we are able to do this only in so far as they, and we all. 


have been aiming at the same mark, thinking the same 
world (not even, at bottom, a slowly changing world), 
testing character upon the same nature. I a man's 
philosophy is to be a faithful expression of his (e tem- 
perament," he must in that philosophy single-mindedly 
seek the Absolute : for individual differences can be 
individually significant, or even measurable, only as 
tJiey accept the same aim and standard. 

Identity of mind in the species is a consideration of 
the same moment with sanity in general. We cannot 
dispense with a Changeless Ultimate. 

As a First Principle, the Changeless is of course 
insufficient. Our Ultimate Eeality must have qualities 
of both changelessness and change. Or, may it be that 
the principle of change is furnished by ourselves ? Let 
us consider this. 

No Eternal Fact can of itself foster any practical 
conclusions or deductions ; what one will do about it 
depends on how one is disposed to take it. There is no 
conclusion from one premise alone ; and in these prac- 
tical affairs conclusions are drawn by concentrating the 
changeless Facts in one major premise, while we carry 
with us the minor premises which determine how we 
shall respond to them. Let me illustrate : 

Among the relatively stable features of our existence, 
there is this one, that " Life is short." Well, what is 
to be done about it ? That depends upon the imagina- 
tion of the individual; but in every case something is done 
about it. One man pulls a long face ; becomes a pious 
miser, begrudging every minute not spent in profitable 


meditation and when he says to a neighbor that life 
is short, he expects to see the same practical consequences. 
But hear old Omar announce to us this same eternal 
truth, and notice his conclusion: parsimonious also, 
toward the finite number of moments, but for fear he may 
not live to drink his fill. His originality lies in his minor 
premise. But indeed the shortness of life need mean 
neither one conclusion nor the other; need mean no time- 
parsimony of any kind. Why, for example, might it not 
suggest leisureliness since all fever-haste makes time 
run the faster : only the typical Oriental knows how to 
prize time namely by taking time about everything. 
If we rebel against the announcement of eternal facts, 
it may be in part because those who have brandished 
them have not allowed enough for these differences of 
imagination, for the need of a minor premise : our proper 
retort being that the eternal fact, by itself, has no con- 
sequences at all. Not, indeed, unless there are some 
necessary minor premises. 

The Absolute, whatever else it may be, is the quint- 
essence of Eternal Fact. May it be that the minor prem- 
ise which makes that object significant for action is 
the Self? We must develop this consideration further. 

Every circumstance, however trivial, which becomes 
a spur to action, has something of the Absolute in it. 
Is my corn ripe? then I move, because my Real 
World is unchangeably a world which presents to me 
on this date ripe corn, an absolute and relentless fact of 
history, never to be undone while reality is itself. But 
beside the Absolute, my Self is necessary to account 


for my motion all namely, that imagination presents 
to me on the advent of ripe corn. The minor premise 
lies in my Self. The world has its nature; the Self 
has its character : when nature and character come 
together, action results. 

But nature and character are not two separable facts. 
There is no such thing as character in men apart from 
nature in objects. For character forms itself on the 
reliabilities of the world ; is nothing else than my way 
of response to the world's way of approach. My char- 
acter is only seen and known in my actual dealings with 
the habitual straits evolved by the nature of my world. 
Since every deed is an exhibition both of nature and of 
character, all behavior is symbolic, if we know how to 
read the symbol. As one handles his bat, or his fork, 
so will he treat his friends, his pecuniary obligations, 
his holidays. Among other things, character is well 
shown, perhaps chiefly shown, in one's grasp of nature 
itself: given a congeries of facts, how much nature 
(that is, absolute objective character) can you extract 
from it is not this a test of the man? Hence it may 
be said that there is for us no such thing as nature in 
things apart from character in men ; and my descriptions 
of nature betray its reference to my approaches. Things 
are described as hard, heavy, stubborn, yielding, impos- 
ing, difficult, and the like : which of these qualities of 
things (not to mention the primary and secondary qual- 
ities of the classics) would have existed apart from the 
conscious character that has to do with them? Nature 
and character are fitted to each other, evoked by each 
other, relative to each other throughout; and this by 
virtue of the steadfast identity and absolute relation 


between them. Given the Self and the Changeless, is it 
somehow conceivable that all the rest should spin itself 
out between? Is it not at least possible that in this 
situation, character confronting nature, some principle 
of differentiation may be found which will take away 
the reproach of the Absolute ? 
We shall come to this point again. 

The Absolute ought not to be barren, for it is sup- 
posed to be reached in answer to significant questions ; 
as a last reply to enquiry. To say that it is useless for 
deductive purposes is to say that it does not answer the 
questions put. It will be enlightening to compare a 
number of lines of enquiry which end in an Absolute^ to 
observe, if we can, why the questions are not answered ; 
or why they are thought not to be answered. 

Consider, first, the epistemologist's enquiry: What 
can I surely know ? 

The meaning of the question is practical : nothing is 
more costly than error, and who can understand his 
errors? only he who knows what he may be sure of. 
But error seems to be incident to all judgments made 
about external things, things physical, things social, 
even things scientific and rational. The world waits for 
a Descartes, who pursues these uncertainties to the end 
and exhausts them : who finds his absolute assurance 
at last. In doubting all things, I cannot doubt that 
I doubt; and doubting, (that is, thinking), leodst. 
Surely here is an Absolute. But is it useful for deduc- 


tive purposes? Descartes does not find it sufficient : it 
is a great truth, but he uses it not at all. 

What is the trouble with Descartes' Absolute ? Is it 
not this : that thisexistence-of-self is certain, whether my 
knowledge of external objects succeeds or fails ? But the 
task set before me, the task that stimulates my original 
question, is that of knowing objects. It does not 
answer my question to know that I can be sure of the 
Subject. Hence it is that Descartes has to appeal to 
the knowledge of God, through the "ontological proof " 
a way of leaping from the subject to the object, from 
the idea to the objective fact. 

What we want is absolute objective certainty ; and 
this, Descartes' I-am fails to give us. 

Descartes' mode of argument reappears in manifold 
interesting forms in modern thought. As in reply to 
the skeptic or agnostic, who asserts in despair that 
there is no absolute truth. The dialectician retorts: 
Then at least your own assertion must be absolutely true. 
There must be some absolute truth, for you cannot 
assert that there is none without self-contradiction. As 
in Descartes' case, the doubter is reminded of himself. 
There, in his own assertion, is a certainty from which 
he cannot escape. 

This turn of thought which reminds the enquirer of 
himself y we shall call the reflexive turn. It reappears 
in all discoveries of the Absolute. It is clinching but 
is likely to disappoint, even as Descartes' result disap- 
points. For the skeptic finds that he also was in search 
of objective truth : and that the absolute truth of his 


statement is irrelevant to his quest. Whence his skep- 
ticism toward objective truth remains unanswered. 

Consider the question of the moralist, who likewise 
has an Absolute to seek an absolute rule of conduct. 

Rules against killing, appropriating property, and the 
like, have their exceptions. Moral principles vary with 
social conditions and times. Everything is relative: 
is there not some underlying principle that will stand- 
ardize all this relativity, and give a substance to moral 
certainty ? The world waits for its Kant ; who provides 
the reflexive turn in morals. No empirical rule is abso- 
lute ; but one fixed rule there is, observe Ride. It 
is, as Professor Palmer puts it, the "law that there 
shall be law." Let your conduct be law-abiding, law- 
recognizing, law-constituting; if you have exceptions 
to make from any rule, let them be made "on prin- 
ciple," principle in general. For the absolute tightness 
lies not out there among deeds, but in the self, in its 
fixed principle of duty. 

Shall we not herald Kant as the savior of an absolute 
morality? Yes; but what exception to rule is not 
made on some principle or other? Kantian morality is 
regarded as rigoristic, but does its rigor come from its 
first principles, or from its second principles, alleged 
deductions from the first, but of doubtful parentage? 
Kant, like Descartes, must emerge into the world of 
objective situations, must appear with a principle that 
has somewhat to say about dealing with objects, with 
beings beyond oneself. Treat persons as ends in them- 
selves, says Kant; and herewith, in setting up an objec- 


tive principle, tie confesses that his reflexive turn does 
not afford sufficient answer to our ethical enquiry. 

Consider the metaphysician's question : what is the 
absolutely real? That, namely, which exists by itself, 
not depending on any other being for existence ; but 
conferring being on every other. 

Here again, trial of various would-be realities, like 
matter, or force, or energy, shows that they cannot be 
what we seek. Matter disappears, on analysis, into ac- 
tivity of energies ; and energy seems to disappear into 
a definition, or formula, regarding what we may expect 
from experience. No nameable thing can answer the 
demand for an objective Substance. The world waits 
for its Berkeley: who hits upon the reflexive turn 
everything is dependent on consciousness except conr 
sdousness itself. To be, says Berkeley triumphantly, 
means to be perceived, or to be a perceiver; reality is 
consciousness and its world. 

Such discovery, following much despair about finding 
Substance, cannot fail to excite much joy. The reflexive 
turn is wonderful, unanswerable : yet strangely paradox- 
ical, is it not? as if for bread one were given a stone, 
one can hardly say how. At last it appears that what 
one sought was an absolute reality beyond oneself; for 
one's ontological interests come from questions about 
Pate, questions about what I may expect from the action 
upon me of that which extraneous to me is real. I start 
from the fact that I do not determine the contents of my 
own experience; and no matter how much you assure 
me that the Absolute is Self, it must still be beyond 


this self which knows its own ignorance and so its 
dependence. What you have offered me for reality is 
but another Cartesian I-think, which must indeed (as 
Kant puts it) accompany all experience (or be able to) : 
but just because it is a coefficient of all experience, it is 
a determinant of none " compatible with every relative 
danger." Useless for deductive purposes. No genuine 
answer to our question. 

There are not a few other such enquiries and absolute 
solutions that do not solve. There is the quest for an 
absolute good, or happiness, which brought out perhaps 
the first pure case of the reflexive turn in history the 
Stoic answer, namely, that I myself am my own absolute 
good. Then there is the religious quest itself, the quest 
for " salvation," which is a search for an absolute secu- 
rity against death : and which at times, especially in 
these latter times, has received the answer " I myself 
am heaven and hell " : or in more adequate Spinozistic 
reflexion, my knowledge of the Eternal is my own eter- 
nity. Compatible, all such answers, with too much. 

The same principle is involved in all of them. It is 
the reflexive turn that makes the trouble and creates 
the disappointing illusion of finality. We have reached 
in each case a universally valid answer but it is not 
an answer to our question: it is an irrelevant universal. 
It has the fault of retreat into the subject; a well- 
exposed fault in the case of Stoicism, and of Berkeleian 
idealism, and of Kantian morality (as criticised, some- 
what unfairly, by Hegel), a fault still mightily influential, 
however, wherever dialectic and idealism flourish. It is 


this reflexive turn and its products which rouses the 
pragmatic ire. If I forsake matter for form, one may 
say, I surrender my right to regain any touch with 
matter. If I slip from the object into the subject, let 
me candidly forgo any power over the object. If I 
leave the world of physics to consort with pure spirit, 
let me not claim any other than a Platonic relation to 
empirical reality relation without fruit or progeny. 
That too safe thing which in denying I affirm is, after 
all, something that I have not denied nor ever doubted. 
I sought an Absolute in the field of man's work. 

Of all these irrelevant universals, found by the 
reflexive turn, one surmises that they have a certain 
significance, if not that which is claimed for them. It 
cannot be worthless to have pointed out that while our 
world of ohjects is refractory, baffling, and offering no 
point of fixity or perfect assurance, there is a world 
within where abiding satisfaction obtains: we object 
only to the substitution of this latter world for the 
former, as a co-ordinate and difference-making affair. 
Eeflexive turns are backward glances; and all these 
considerations have a worth looking backward which 
they do not possess looking forward. They " function 
retrospectively only, not prospectively." In the same 
way, the pious soul thanks God, looking backward, for 
everything that has happened: everything that has hap- 
pened is goody not so everything that may happen. 
When next I have to thank God, let it be for something 
different; and in the meantime the guide to my conduct 
will not be that God-idea which has proved "compatible 


with every relative danger." Some principle we must 
have which charges those forward-looking paths with 
contrast, which acts like the physiologist's stain, distin- 
guishing tissue from tissue. That which is thus to func- 
tion prospectively cannot be this Absolute. 

Yet there are situations in experience in which form 
becomes matter, and the reflexive turn does acquire prac- 
tical significance. 

In the work of science, for example, a formal arrange- 
ment of the materials of a problem is the beginning of 
an explanation. To classify data, to establish external 
connections among them, is the beginning of mastery; 
is a very substantial practical mastery* The assemblage 
and comparison of unknowns generates known-ness, as 
friction of cold and dark objects may produce heat and 
light. Science has begun to question whether any other 
conquest of Nature is either possible, or desirable, than 
just this of establishing order and law among phenom- 
ena not trying to penetrate their objective interiors, 
doubting at last whether there be any such interiors, 
external to ourselves ; doubting whether we are not the 
interior of Nature. Here the product of the reflexive 
turn is accepted by nearly everybody as the only prac- 
tical thing in sight. 

In moral affairs, also, we recognize the substantiality 
of the form in certain limiting cases. A person who 
wills to have a good will, already has a good will in 
its rudiments. There is solid satisfaction in knowing 
that the mere desire to get out of an old habit is a 
material advance upon the condition of submergence in 


that habit. The longest step toward cleanliness is made 
when one gains nothing but dissatisfaction with dirt. 
Surely the work is not finished but the obstacles that 
remain are material only ; the fateful question was whether 
one could get the idea of cleanliness, or of truthfulness, 
or of the good-will generally. In that idea is the reality 
of the condition ; the practical questions are all resolv- 
able into this one, the maintenance and development 
of that idea. 

There is, then, in these matters some absolute find- 
ing in the seeking : salvation is, to seek salvation, for 
in seeking it one has already abandoned his mortal- 
ity and his sin. In religion or in morals the question 
can never be, How much is empirically finished ? but 
rather, What beginning is made? for any beginning is 
the birth of an idea, and the anticipation of attainment. 
To cast off an old type of conception and forge a new 
one is the greatest of all practical moral achievements. 
Compatible with every relative vice, is this Absolute ? 
Compatible with everything it rises upon, and there is 
presumably nothing so vicious that the absolute cannot 
rise upon it in the form of idea : yet not compatible 
with remaining therein. This merely formal conceiving 
of the facts of one's own wretchedness is at the same 
time a departure from them placing them in the 
object. It is not idle, therefore, to observe reflexively 
that in that very Thought, one has separated himself 
from them, and is no longer that which empirically he 
still sees himself to be. 

In many other connections do we find " mere " forms 
making practical differences. Nothing is more indiffer- 
ent to all its contents than time; yet time is one of 


the greatest agents in the social world. Long-standing, 
whether of customs, of offices, of friends, of peoples, is 
no merit, one might say : yet it is everywhere operative 
as such to some degree (not preventing French revolu- 
tions but delaying them). Age of service, quite apart 
from brilliancy of service, claims gratitude and honor- 
able discharge : old age, of itself, apart from its contents 
receives respect ; and antiquity is all but equivalent to 
sanctity. The mere mechanical and empty infinity of 
space and time may introduce the spirit into the pres- 
ence of Deity ; and to survey the Whole, in any capac- 
ity, will work differences in the judgment of details. 

In all such cases, that which is found in reflexion, 
retrospectively, functions prospectively also. 

In truth, the reflexive thing is the easiest in the world 
to ignore j because it does require this almost un-natural 
reversive glance of thought to discover : and ignoring 
it leaves out an essential in all ultimate solutions. I do 
not say that it is a sufficient solution of any problem ; 
I point out that it is a necessary ingredient of the solu- 

Offered as a sufficient answer, the reflexive turn is 
indeed the essence of sentimentality : hunger is not 
relieved by Stoical reflexion on the inward conditions of 
happiness (mentally inward). But to offer the hungry 
a meal without any of that spaciousness of idea which 
the sentimental soul too f ulsomely invokes ; to omit, I 
sa y? your reference to the Absolute, somehow spoils 
the value of your practical charity. I agree that it is 
well to be meager of sentiment : but I merely indicate 


a fact of human nature when I say that the thing done 
" in the name of Christ/' or by one who wears the cowl, 
or in the simple presence of humanity to Idea, leaves a 
tinge of worth behind it which no amount of practi- 
cal Aid, apart from the " irrelevant universal " could 

It is no sufficient solution of grief to say that grief 
must have a solution j but the only hopeless grief is that 
which abandons the postulate that grief has any mean- 
ing. Point out that in holding to that postulate there 
is already a superiority to the condition that depresses 
one j and you reveal a situation which caught in idea 
does materially lighten the grief. To know that suffer- 
ing is a common human lot may not empirically change 
the contents of pain ; yet there is no reflexion which 
more substantially relieves the pressure of actual dis- 
tress. Let me take my bereavement, said Epictetus, as 
I take the bereavement of my neighbor: yes, but not 
because you look coldly on his trouble rather, because 
you are free to reflect in his case what must enter as 
idea into your own, that this is the lot of man, 
through which irrelevant universal fact, see mankind 
actually held in closer unity. To see in the man before 
me my brother does not help me to deal with him; does 
not substitute for judgment, discretion, antagonism in 
its place ; does the idea then do no work ? Let him 
answer who is able to hold the fact of brotherhood 
before his mind, in the midst of his antagonism. 


So long as the mind is admitted a part of reality at 
all, it must be a material part. Differences which are 
made to mind must tend to become differences to mat- 
ter. The presence of reason, though it does no more 
than throw its noose of idea over the contents of experi- 
ence, makes different every experience. Reason has the 
function of leading to pleasure and avoiding pain ; but 
the default of reason which exposes to pain adds still 
another pain the pain of the defect of reason. Self- 
consciousness, like other psychoses, leaves tracks in the 
brain ; our physical groundwork takes notes of our 
reflexive doings as of other doings, and transmits the 
habits of our ideal attitudes. The irrelevant universal 
to all our experiences is collectively named, the Self ; 
the Subject, present to all experience, inclusive of all, 
compatible with all ; yet if this self were indeed indiffer- 
ent to all, useless for deductive purposes, Self could 
never have become its own object, self-consciousness 
would be impossible. In being thought of, the self 
is made a member of the world of experience, and 
acknowledged as active there. It is thought of, be- 
cause in being thought with, it has had differences 
to make. 

And here may we not observe how the internal rela- 
tion of idea to value becomes also an external relation, 
determining differences of conduct? The maintenance 
of the idea of the Absolute in any subject-matter is a 
matter of effort and of will ; the degree of value which 
any situation or prospect may have is dependent upon 
the actual operation of an irrelevant universal which a 
reflexive turn of thought might discover. But an altera- 
tion of value is an alteration of conduct. This is the 


substance of our answer to the question regarding the 
worth of the Absolute. 1 

The absolutes which are found in the reflexive turn of 
thought are not useless, even prospectively. But their 
functioning has seldom or never been understood, even 
by those who have hit upon them : and this is, in part, 
because they have often failed to observe that the reflex- 
ive turn reveals never alone the Absolute within, but 
always the Absolute within in conjunction with the 
Absolute without. 

The whole tale of Descartes* discovery is not told in the 
proposition, I exist, knowing. It is rather told in the 
proposition, I exist, knowing the Absolute; or, I exist, 
knowing God. The self, taken alone, or in presence of 
contents of experience as they come, is a fairly irrele- 
vant universal. But set before that self in its dealings 
with experience an Absolute Object ; and its own exist- 
ence becomes fruitful of differences. For note : 

The self might conceivably be a passive spectator of 
the contents of experience, accepting " the colours of 
good and evil " as unalterable fact. That which starts 
the search for the Absolute is an unwillingness to take 
things in this way. Beside the love for the satisfactory 
contents of life, there is a most remarkable love of life 
itself in distinction from its contents, even if the con- 
tents are generally badj some in whom this love of 
existence is strong have said that they would prefer to 
endure hell rather than to be extinguished a most 
inexplicable attachment, this, to the bare fact of exist- 

1 See farther, Fart VI, The Emits of Religion, chs. mi and *** 


ing, being conscious, without reference to the contents 
of consciousness. Surely, if ever there were a blind 
valuation o an empty husk of irrelevant universal, 
it is here. Yet, with our interpretation of value, 1 is not 
this same celebrated and mysterious "instinct of self- 
preservation," the most fundamentally rational of all 
practicalities ? For life is but a certain consciousness of 
the Absolute, in process of application ; and the applica- 
tion of this Idea is the substance of all positive worth, 
conferring upon "contents" what quality they have* 
Attachment to life is simply attachment to the source 
of value; and that which appears evil does so appear 
because the Real cannot be recognized in it, creates a 
problem of which the living thing already holds the key. 
Evil becomes a problem, only because the consciousness 
of the Absolute is there : apart from this fact, the "col- 
our of evil " would be mere contents of experience. 

It is true, then, that What Is makes no difference ; 
that which produces difference is Consciousness of What 

This pair of Absolutes, or Absolute-pair, which we 
above described as Character in presence of Nature, is 
well capable of producing practical difference ; might 
well be described as the original source of all difference, 
perhaps. For if we begin with simply a consciousness, 
and its object-absolute (not Sein and Nicht-sein, but 
Sein and Bewusstsein) we have all that is necessary to 
develop change (Werden). It is notorious that what 
endures before consciousness does not endure the same; 

1 Chapter xi, above. 


this fact has its psycho-physical explanation, its Weber's 
law, and the like : its essential explanation may be this, 
that any object of consciousness, simply as object, i.e., 
as case of Reality, is so far good, and therefore to be 
approached, or increased in vividness. Whereas what 
simply stays as blind datum is in its mere persistence bad, 
to be withdrawn from, diminished in vividness to zero. 
Briefly, Sein and Bewusstsein together give Werden. 

The Absolute, after all, is not an escapable practical 
problem; and no showing that wrong solutions have 
been forthcoming will destroy the practical worth of 
the right solution. Knowledge of the Absolute re- 
mains as practically significant as the question which 
perennially gives rise to the search for it. 

And this question always calls for just such an indif- 
ferent object as the absolutes, in each of our various 
cases, turned out to be. If we could accept the differ- 
ences of experience as they stand, there would be no 
problem of unity ; but if we cannot accept them, there 
is nothing to look for but an in-different. Either we 
are content with conditional certainties, or we seek a 
certainty that holds everywhere, and is thus com- 
patible with everything. If the absolute good were not 
compatible with every relative evil, it would not be the 
absolute good. If the Absolute were not compatible 
with every relative danger, it would not be the Abso- 
lute* That which holds good, no matter what occurs, 
that is precisely the object of our search. 


Such an object is no modern discovery. From the 
beginning of religious thought, in the very conception 
of a creator, there has been present to the mind of man 
a Being who is present alike in good and evil. In 
quite ancient times, as times go, we may find a wholly 
explicit definition of such a Being as the desire of all 
mankind. The founder of a popular religion held up 
to the minds of a spell-bound multitude, as his own 
original revelation, a God who " maketh his sun to rise 
on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just 
and the unjust." Upon this basis he defined the "per- 
fection " of God, and summoned men to the same per- 
fection, the same absolute bearing. Thereby he defined 
an attitude of mind which was indeed new in that 
world, an attitude of equal treatment toward friend 
and enemy, toward good and bad, an attitude much 
garbled and misunderstood, but an attitude wholly intel- 
ligible in the light of that unmistakable description of 
the Absolute God. For how could the new attitude be 
better defined than as an attitude of absolute justice, 
a thing quite alien to the proportionate justice of the 
Greeks, wonderfully similar to absolute in-difference and 
in-justice ? Is this attitude then actually in-different, 
and useless for deductive purposes ? On the contrary, 
it is the only radically creative attitude yet known to 
humanity. Its operation was dimly announced some 
six hundred years earlier by a solitary Chinese sage, 
who said : " I meet good with good, that good may be 
maintained ; I meet evil with good that good may be 
created." Do we not here discover the Absolute func- 
tioning prospectively? 

The secret of this creativeness we shall in time pursue 


in some detail, 1 at present it is sufficient to refer to our 
own doctrine of the substance of Value. There is we 
may presume, something in the mere fact of divine at- 
tention to ohjects which confers value upon them ; or to 
put it in the language of Professor Royce, it may be 
that divine attention is the same thing as divine love, 
and that love of this sort is the one thing in the world 
that is creative. 

We could not live without the Absolute, nor without 
our idea of the Absolute. I do not say that the Abso- 
lute is equivalent to God ; I say that God, whatever else 
he may be, must needs also be the Absolute. Thus, 
accepting fully the pragmatic guide to truth, we con- 
clude that the only satisfying truth must be absolute, 
that is, non-pragmatic. Wherewith, pragmatism ends 
in consuming itself ; appears as a self-refuting theory. 

1 See especially chapter : 



TN our usual conceptions of God, the One and Abso- 
J- lute is raised to the level of personality and moral 
quality. These latter characters are indeed more con* 
spicuous, both in current meaning and in history, than 
either unity or absoluteness. They may well be regarded 
as the most humanly valuable attributes of the divine 
nature. Yet they are the oftenest subject to criticism 
and doubt. More in their case, perhaps, than in that 
of the others will it be important to enquire whether 
they are needful features of our Whole-idea. 

In a recent book by Mr. McTaggart, called " Some 
Dogmas of Religion " this question is discussed 2 in so 
clear, frank, and radical fashion that we shall gain much 
by stating our view in relation to his. 

If the thought of God is of any worth to us, says 
McTaggart, it must be either because of what God is, 
or because of what God does. It is conceivable that to 
believe in the simple existence of a being having such 
character and powers as we suppose God to have would 
make life better worth living for us. It is also con- 

1 In somewhat different form, this chapter was read as a critical paper 
before the Philosophical Union of the University of California in 1907. 
a In the concluding chapter, entitled " Theism and Happiness." 


ceivable that apart from his character and attributes, 
we should set store on the thought of what God does 
or can do for us and for the world at large. Let us 
estimate each of these two conceivable values of the 
God-idea, beginning with the supposed works of God. 

God's presence in the universe means to most believers 
the presence of a very powerful champion of certain 
righteous causes of immense historic range. We think 
of God as a vindicator, working out that deeper jus- 
tice which shall bring together at last the innermost 
merit and its external recognition. We think of him 
perhaps as causing happiness and brotherhood to pre- 
vail among men at some future time. Or we think of 
him simply as security to our souls that in some hidden 
way all is well, or will be well, with the world. 

But every legitimate hope or confidence must have 
some foundation in experience or reason: the sort of 
thing we are pleased to believe must be at least not- 
inconsistent with what the world as it is shows us. If 
God exists, there are certain conditions existing in the 
same world with him which throw light on his char- 
acter and powers. Unmerited, random, and general 
suffering are conditions, not theories. Iniquity and 
degradation are conditions. Nowhere do we have to 
search for evil amid the good : we have to search for 
the good amid the evil. Further, what good we have 
is unstable in its whole fabric, as if it were upheld 
against the nature of things : life is a constant fight 
against decay ; civilization a perpetual struggle against 
dissolution; and virtue itself incessant strain against 
the clamor of flesh and the devil. Now God if he 
exists has either permitted this, or else it exists in 


spite of him: in either case what can we reasonably 
depend upon for the futnre? 

It is the same dilemma on which McTaggart has 
often insisted. If there were an all-powerful God, the 
defects in his world would show defects in his charac- 
ter. Whereas, if God is wholly good, and therefore 
not all-powerful, it is at least possible that the mass of 
evil in the world may prove greater that he can cope 
with. In either case, the works of God are of no very 
tangible value. 

In truth, these supposable works of God would be of 
no value at all for human happiness until we had some 
further knowledge about them. We should have to 
enquire, as best we can, how this world is constituted ; 
and what are the actual forces at work; we should 
have to estimate from the basis of our own experience 
what the likelihood is of any conquest of evil whatever. 
We must carry our science to the point of metaphysics 
by our own unaided efforts before we are warranted in 
taking any satisfaction in the contemplation of what 
God may do for us. And in the progress of this meta- 
physical work, we are likely to discover so McTag- 
gart intimates that good can gain the upper hand of 
evil without the assistance of a God. Idealism, which 
resolves matter into spirit, and shows that against spirit 
matter must be ultimately powerless ; especially per- 
sonal idealism, which puts the power of spirit into the 
joint possession of a co-operating society of persons 
such as this world of ours in some measure already is, 
and may in larger measure become, without limit, 
especially personal idealism may give us all that God 
has been supposed to offer, and without the moral 


detriments iDVolved in relying upon a supernatural 
ally for doing the work of men. Happiness depends 
(so far as events are concerned) on grasping that total 
law and tendency of things, wherein we can read the 
ultimate doom of all existing defects in our condition ; 
and it is more than possible that this law may be found 
in our own personal and social nature, if we but pene- 
trate to its foundations. 

So much for the appearance of God in the sweep of 
human history. But how about that part of individual 
destiny that lies beyond human sight? It has been 
believed that men cannot be wholly happy without the 
expectation of immortality, and the supernatural com- 
pensations that have become associated with that belief. 
In reply, McTaggart points out two things. First, that 
immortality is no more an unquestionable benefit than 
are the visible works of God. Certain great religions 
of the East, as well as certain philosophies of the West, 
have led men to find their highest good in personal 
extinction. And secondly, hope of immortality does 
not depend on belief in God. It is possible that the 
soul is intrinsically superior to the crises of material 
bodies, even if it were a solitary being in the cosmos. 
The prospect of individual immortality must be gained 
if at all by the same painstaking scientific and metaphys- 
ical enquiries as justify our confidence in human wel- 
fare : we must learn of what stuff we are made, and what 
sort of contingency that stuff is intrinsically subject to. 
An immortality thus established would be much more 
satisfactory to our thought than one dependent upon 
lie good will of a finite God: for it would be founded 
upon the nature of things. God and immortality are 


wholly separable articles of faith, and no interest which 
we may have in the one can lend any interest to the 

The works of God, then, do not at once recommend 
him to our needs. But we may still have an interest 
in his existence, for the sake of the guidance, or the 
encouragement, or the love and worship which his 
presence in the universe would provide. Let us again 
look closely and consider what these things are worth. 

As far as guidance is concerned, the moral ideal is 
one which we can never discover unless we already bear 
it in ourselves. Given a God, we should first needs 
pass judgment upon him, on the basis of our own knowl- 
edge of good and evil, before adopting him as our 
standard. It is true that we need the suggestion of a 
quality, oftentimes, in something beyond us, before that 
germ which is in us can awaken to life. But this type 
of suggestion is much more available in our fellow men 
than in the mere thought of a God whom we do not 
see, and whose acts we can only infer. Guidance must 
stand very close to us to be of any value. The circum- 
stance that God is god and not man makes any applica- 
tion of his character to our own case difficult, even if 
we perfectly knew his character. Hence men have been 
fascinated by the conception of the God-incarnate, vis- 
ible in the flesh, in all points tempted like as we are. 
But just in so far as even the divine man fights evil 
with the weapons of God, and not with those of men, 
his case fails to be applicable to mine ; and the guidance 
fails. What is done by man we can call upon men to 
reach ; what is done by the god-man stands just beyond 


the region of my responsibility. What goodness, in 
the end, can effectively guide and inspire us but the 
goodness which we observe and recognize in those whom 
we must judge to be in all essentials such as we our- 
selves are? 

But there are still other interests than this one of 
moral guidance to which the existence of a God might 
minister. There is the encouragement which some 
minds find in considering that there is in the world one 
morally sublime person. There is the comfort which 
others find in the thought of a moral leader whose sur- 
vey is great enough to include the whole field : if I am 
too weak to fathom the total meaning and drift of 
things, it is good to think that there is one who does. 
Loss of such value as this encouragement and comfort 
might bring would not be wholly made good by human 
substitutes : yet the gap that would appear in the world 
would, in all probability, not be irreparable. Remem- 
ber that God, if he exists, is at best an imperfect Being. 
God cannot escape his share of the imperfection which, 
in this universal society of imperfect spirits, is a run- 
ning stain. What men can lose in the loss of a God 
like this, is only such value as they may regain, in some 
degree if not in full, in their fellows. When men 
believed in the divine right of kings, they could not but 
apprehend that the spirit of loyalty must vanish in the 
spread of democracy. But loyalty lives, not less but 
possibly more, in the government of society &y itself 
than in the alleged divine kingdoms. So with the loss 
of the conceived God, something of spiritual shelter and 
canopy is removed, without which the soul may well for 
a time feel naked and alone : " There will be no one 


to -worship, and there will be one person less to love." 
But reverence and love are not left without objects: 
and who knows but that the necessity of confining 
the range of these highest of human sentiments to the 
members and causes of visible society will in time 
exalt human relations, and accelerate the attainment 
of perfection ? 

" Whether the friends whom all men may find could 
compensate for the friend whom some men thought they 
had found is a question for each man to answer. It is 
a question which can never be answered permanently 
in the negative while there is still a future before us." 
Thus McTaggart closes his argument. 


This argument makes remarkably vivid to what 
degree the values commonly centered in God are repro- 
duced in kind in other relationships, to nature, to friend, 
and to society. Mr. McTaggart has mentioned no value 
of God unique in kind except the value of worship, and 
even this seems to him fairly well recovered in human 
reverence. One might question whether all possible 
values of a personal God had been considered j whether 
the primary worth of such a being is not unique in 
kind, such as the worth of these other relationships 
would not substitute for. But without pressing this 
point, I wish first to caD attention to certain logical 
peculiarities of the argument. 

One is struck by the fact that the argument is highly 
tentative and hypothetical, calling for further meta- 
physical investigation, and depending for its proposed 
substitutes for the worth of God on what metaphysical 


investigation might probably show, if we once vigor- 
ously put ourselves to it. 

I cannot but assent to this call for metaphysical 
enquiry. I believe with McTaggart that men have no 
right to the satisfactions which their religion affords 
them except as they earn that right by successful meta- 
physical thought. We cannot pass at once from our 
needs to the satisfaction thereof, without considering 
what that reality is from which we must obtain satisfac- 
tion. "What people want," says McTaggart, "is a re- 
ligion they can believe to be true"; than which nothing 
could be better said. Yet right as McTaggart is in 
referring us to metaphysical thought to find the objects 
on which we shall hang our major values, just so wrong 
is he in basing conclusions on what such enquiry may 
probably show. For in advance of the actual enquiry, 
there can be no probabilities in the case: metaphysical 
thought will show one thing, or it will show another; 
but forecastings of what it may show signify simply 
nothing. In order that there may be any probability 
in a given field of enquiry, something in that field 
must be certain. Probabilities support themselves inva- 
riably on known laws. Hence any enquiry which 
attempts to find the basis of all certainty, the ultimate 
thing, is in advance of all possible use of probabilities; 
it is trying to pave the way for them they cannot pave 
the way for it. Hence no metaphysical hypothesis is 
antecedently more probable than any other. 

It follows that as long as we have only probabilities 
and hypotheses to refer to in these matters we have 
nothing at all. If the belief in God is simply an hypoth- 
esis, as for McTaggart it seems to be, we should be more 


Tadical than he; we should say outright that it is worth 
nothing at all. Ideas have certain sustaining powers, 
even though they are wholly our own fabrications ; but 
no idea that is such a pure launch of our own imagina- 
tion into the unknown and nothing more has any 
permanent sustaining power. We must take McTaggart 
strictly, therefore, at his own word, and demand that 
all attempts at circumstantial evidence on questions of 
dogma be excluded as irrelevant; that religion shall 
at all points be built on metaphysical knowledge and 
nothing else. God can be of any worth to man only 
in so far as he is a known God. 

Happily, metaphysical knowledge is the most univer- 
sal kind of knowledge; the infant's first thoughts are 
metaphysical, that is to say, thoughts of Reality though 
not by name and title. The chance for finding God of 
general human value is built on the prospect that God 
may be found in experience, f experience' being the 
region of our continuous contact with metaphysical 

Now God can appear in experience only through some 
working of his. If no effect of God were visible in the 
world, his existence must be always a matter of conjec- 
ture. Or if God works in the world, but in such man- 
ner that we can never identify any work as his, his 
existence must be a matter of conjecture. If God's 
whole office in our behalf is that of touching only the 
august and inaccessible points of destiny, to decide 
our birth, to sit in remote judgment upon our deeds, to 
record the secret fact of our salvation, or otherwise to 
<earry into effect our fortunes in the other world his 


existence must be a matter of conjecture. It is because 
McTaggart thinks of the " works of God" in some such 
way as this that it seems to him necessary to reason 
around and away to them ; that he can balance so spec- 
ulatively the chances that such a Being exists. It does 
not occur to him that the metaphysical knowledge of 
God might be empirical, i.e., based on his manifestation 
in human concerns. Yet I venture to say that unless 
God does operate within experience in an identifiable 
manner, speculation will not find him, and may be aban- 
doned. The need for metaphysical thought arises 
(I venture the paradox) just because God is matter of 
experience, because he works there and is known there 
in his works. I must enlarge upon this assertion to 
some extent. 

If we consider the first out-croppings of the God-idea 
in history, we do not find that men begin by connect- 
ing God with unseen effects. He is the invisible cause 
of very evident effects. Were it not for these effects, it 
is difficult to think that the idea of an invisible cause 
would have arisen. Men do not first imagine a God in 
abstracto^ then speculate about his possible powers, and 
then at last enquire whether such a Being exists. They 
begin at the other end. They find their God (as James 
puts it) in rebus. They are impressed by powers 
which actually operate in Nature and society j they attrib- 
ute to these powers substantial, that is metaphysical, 
being. They learn in time that various powers can be 
manifestations of a single power. They come to see that 
in the struggle of powers among themselves, one power 
must be supreme, and only one can be supreme. If they 


have called the several powers gods, they call the supreme 
power God; and God is thereby defined in terms of the 
interest which the human mind cannot but have in what- 
ever power is supreme in man's own world. In such 
a development of thought, there can be no place for an 
enquiry whether God exists, or whether belief in him 
has any importance : for the existence and importance 
are the fixed points in the problem, the uncertain ele- 
ments being the fancies as to the nature of God's inner 
being, his private life. Doubts must attach themselves 
not to the question whether God is and works ; but to 
the question what his works in reality are; what we shall 
think of their tendency and quality ; what we can know 
about the inner nature of that Being which we have iden- 
tified simply as The Supreme Power. 

Am I willing to accept the full consequences of the 
position here taken, namely, that if the personal and 
moral aspect of supreme power has any worth, that as- 
pect will be found in experience also ? I am willing. 
But we shall have to search well in order to identify 
such an experience. 


The essential value of the personal attributes of the 
Supreme Power is not to be found by those who simply 
look forward. It is important to know what we may 
expect ; it is important, as we were saying, to be able to 
be hopeful. But for human nature much more than 
good prospects are necessary to happiness. One must 
be able to approve the world as it is ; one must even 
be able to look backward without a shudder. "We 
must provide for the safe-conduct of the excursions of 


the human mind, not alone for those of the actual 
human being such is the universality, or shall I say 
generosity, of that side of our nature to which religion 
appeals. We must find some worth in God that we 
cannot find in the forward look of evolution. 

Let me put the matter thus : we must be free to open 
ourselves, wholly, in imagination and in fact if need be, 
to the whole of human experience. If there is anything 
which destiny may thrust upon us, or has thrust upon 
others, and which we have to hide from or banish from 
thought, we are not happy. If beasts must suffer to 
supply my table, and I cannot open my mind to the 
fact of their suffering, I cannot be unqualifiedly happy 
at my table. If men have been tortured to establish 
the civilization I enjoy, and I cannot face the reality of 
their torture, I am not happy in my historical position. 
If I can reconcile myself to the certainty of death only 
by forgetting it, I am not happy. And if I can dis- 
pose of the fact of human misery about me only by 
shutting my thoughts as well as myself within my com- 
fortable garden, I may assure myself that I am happy, 
but I am not. There is a skeleton in the closet of the 
universe ; and I may at any moment be in face of it. 
Happiness is inseparable from confidence in action ; and 
confidence of action is inseparable from what the school- 
men called peace that is, poise of mind with reference 
to everything I may possibly encounter in the chances 
of fortune. 

Now this perfect openness to experience is not possi- 
ble if pain is the last word of pain. Unless there is 
something behind the fact of pain, some kind of mys- 
tery or problem in it whose solution shows the pain to 


be other than it pretends, there is no happiness for man 
in this world or the next ; for no matter how fair the 
world might in time become, the fact that it had been 
as bad as it is would remain an unbanishable misery, 
unbanishable by God or any other power. If we are 
bound to be as fixedly final in our valuation of evil in 
general as Mr. McTaggart is, taking it at its face value, 
as pure bad and nothing more, then we must not only 
accept his conclusion that the supreme power in this 
world is of very mixed worth, such as only the continued 
perpetration of mixed products can be expected from : 
we must also accept such an imprisonment of thought 
in its contemplation of the world and of destiny as must 
ruin the peace of any out-living soul. The fact is, that 
men have never taken their troubles that way: they 
have always assumed that pain is to be explained. And 
if this attitude is in any degree justified, important con- 
sequences follow namely, that no degree of evil what- 
ever can constitute an absolute condemnation of life ; 
for it would be always possible that further application 
of the same solvent would transmute that evil also. 
Whether a given evil can be understood "is a question 
(to borrow McTaggart's language) which can never be 
answered permanently in the negative while there is 
still a future before us/' If this attitude is in any 
degree justified, the whole groundwork of McTaggart's 
argument is undone ; built as it is upon the dogma that 
pain is incurably the last word of pain. 

Now it can hardly be denied that the attitude in 
question is in some degree justified. For it does not 
occur to us that pain is not the last word of pain, apart 
from experiences in which we actually discover pain 


changing its character. Do we not find simple past- 
ness or remembrance changing the quality of ill for the 
better? do we not find excitement doing it, love doing 
it, wrath doing it? Early man probably knew these 
strange transmuting experiences better than we do. He 
knew how wounds in battle are scarcely felt. He knew 
how rage could carry him gladly into certain injury. 
He knew how pride could stop the sting of very torture. 
And he knew how the frenzy of religious ecstasy made 
mutilation not only endurable, but even necessary, 
to give grist to the great exhilaration that stormed 
within him. James notes "the remarkable fact that 
sufferings and hardships do not as a rule abate the love 
of life ; they seem on the contrary to give it a keener 
zest." Inhabitants of Greenland and Labrador do not 
leave their difficult countries, though they might ; and 
seamen return to the hardships of the sea with an 
unbreakable attachment which is no mere habit. There 
exists then even widespread in human experience a justi- 
fication for the assumption that pain has in some degree 
a further account to meet; and if in some degree, then 
possibly in all degrees. That complete openness to 
experience, necessary for happiness, cannot be shown 


Consider, now, by what means this occasional trans- 
mutation of evil could become a certain command of all 
possible evil whereby an openness to all experience 
might be possible. " All possible evil" is a large, unde- 
fined, even growing and rapidly metamorphosing object. 
What we should much like to find is a power which is, 


not simply as a fact but in the nature of the case, neces- 
sarily efficacious in this work of pain-transmuting, which 
anticipates the nature of possible obstacles without 
knowing them in detail. Where can such a principle 
be looked for? 

If a given power stays in the same field with other 
powers and competes with them, its chances of subor- 
dinating them are precarious ; its supremacy at any time 
is a simple matter of fact, which may give place to another 
matter of fact. But one power can obtain certain 
supremacy in a field of power if it can in some way 
get outside that field and survey it from above. Thus 
man, as a physical force among forces animal and nat- 
ural, has little chance with them; but as intelligence 
he has some possibility of coping with the best that 
nature canbring against him. There is competition also 
among intelligences, among ideas; is there any possible 
supreme power here? No intelligence can be sure of 
success so long as it remains in the existing field, striving 
simply for a more effective arrangement of old ideas; 
but if it is able to reflect upon the whole idea-situation, 
and from that reflection derive a new idea, all other 
intelligences must become its dependents. It is the 
same with competing passions. Anger pitted against 
anger can never be sure of conquest: but a "soft an- 
swer" enters the situation as a new idea. If it conquers, 
it is because, refusing to compete, it includes and itself 
stands outside the arena. Without further illustration, 
may I suggest the principle that the supreme power in 
every case is a non-competing power, one which may 
seem at first glance even irrelevant to the point at 
issue. Not otherwise will it be with any principle which 


can give us assured mastery of those obstacles collect- 
ively named "evil." 

In the cases above mentioned, in which we can see a 
transmuting principle at work, let me call to mind the 
prominence of association. That pain which is taken 
in common, like effort which is carried on in common, is 
found through the association to lose its harshness. 1 
One does not quite see why misery loves company, per- 
haps; but no doubt the fact of association does some* 
thing to change the color of the experience. There is 
only one situation in savage life when pain seems wholly 
unendurable: namely, when vanquished, dishonored, and 
abandoned, the wretch must gasp out his life in utter sol- 
itude. Hardship gives zest, but under what conditions 
in particular? Chiefly, under conditions of significant 
association. The general condition for the transmut- 
ing of hardship seems to be this: that the sense of union 
with something not-myself, which I judge worthy of 
this very hardship, and which somehow demands it for 
adequate expression, shall be dense and compacted in the 
moments of suffering. This is naturally the case in the 
moments of war and excitement, and it must have gone 
far to make history less painful than the reading of its 
literal pages in cold blood makes manifest. The laws 
of the multiplication of human power by association 
have never been worked out; but no one has failed to 
measure in frequent experiences what incredible enhance* 
ment of the value of any experience may occur in a 
single touch of endorsement from without. Worth of all 
sorts begins to acquire another dimension as it enters a 

1 Even remembrance is a kind of social relation between my present 
and my former self. 


career of actual universality, such as the merest nod of 
assent from an Other may convey. Association is a prin- 
ciple which stands outside of and includes whatever may 
become content of individual experience; there is some 
possibility that in association a sufficient mastery of evil 
may be found. 

But unfortunately, association has its own evils* 
Human companionship can, in the way we have noted, do 
much to transmute every other kind of pain into some- 
thing else; it cannot transmute its own kind of pain, 
that which comes from its own defects. As imperfect 
knowers of themselves and of each other, fellow-men are 
the source of the severest evils we men have to endure; 
and by virtue of our precarious hold on human existence 
the closest association may cause the bitterest pang, 
because its loss removes also that by which any loss is 
made less grievous. Far, indeed, must we be from per- 
fect openness to experience if there is not some power 
over these evils also. 

From what we have judged of supreme power, it 
would follow that only something outside the field of 
human association, not competing there, could afford 
sufficient armoring against these greatest evils. It 
must be another than any finite self, something which 
reflects upon and in its reflection includes all finite 
selves and their circumstances, something, nevertheless, 
with which any finite self may become associated in 
some infallible manner. This seems to me the point 
in which a God becomes necessary. In God we have 
the notion of an Other-than-all-men., and an Other 


whose relation to me is not subject to evil through its 
own defect; one from whom therefore I can anticipate 
no pain that must refer me to still another for its trans- 
muting. It is not the power of God, as mighty in 
comparison with other forces in their own fields, that 
is of value to us; it is not God as miracle-worker, 
tumbling Nature-masses about through Herculean or 
Jovian command of energy ; it is not even God as vin- 
dicator, doer of particular justice, meeting and over- 
coming the inequities of men's judgments by a more 
penetrating judgment; it is rather God as intimate, 
infallible associate, present in all experience as That 
by Which I too may firmly conceive that experience 
from the outside. It is God in this personal relation 
(not exclusive of the others) that alone is capable of 
establishing human peace of mind, and thereby human 
happiness. Something paradoxical about the Supreme 
Power there is ; something in this non-competitive char- 
acter which thinkers early seized upon: as Lao Tze 
glorifies the Tao that never asserts itself, as Christianity 
presents for adoration its God in the guise of an in- 
fant, and infant of the humblest. The authentic voice 
of God, if it is to come to man with a wholly irresist- 
ible might of meaning, must be a still, small voice. 

It is scarcely open to question that the deepest asser- 
tion of the religious consciousness is of its experience 
of precisely such relation to its supreme Other. Just 
such companionship we seemed to see the human will 
spontaneously creating for itself, in its early resentful 
outcry against destiny; to find later, perhaps, that 
here was rather a discovery than a creation, strangely 
relieving the pressure of its initial burden. Just such 


companionsliip we find the developed religious con- 
sciousness celebrating as the source of its "victory 
over the world." Further than this it is not my func- 
tion here to demonstrate the validity of these alleged 
experiences. The problem of God's reality, in its 
metaphysical setting, will occupy us in the pages imme- 
diately following. We have shown that such God as 
theism presents to men is necessary to their happiness^ 
and we have shown that such a God must be found in 
experience, if at all. 

It will not be amiss to emphasize in conclusion the 
entire justice of MeTaggart's contention that the finite 
God is of no worth. When we talk of experience of 
God and companionship with God, we run a danger 
hardly less seductive than the danger from atheism. 
Indeed, atheism may be said to live on the perils and 
failures of theism. The experience and companionship 
of God are not a substitute for relations with humanity. 
The guidance and encouragement of God, devotion 
and love toward him, are false when they appear as 
competitors in the field of human alliances. If we 
have been near the truth in our description of the 
immediate work of God, it can only be to render the 
individual more perfectly open to experience, human 
and other. If the experience of God does not, on the 
whole, enhance the attachments of human life, one 
must judge on these principles that the experience is 
not of God. What these terms of human association 
can mean when applied to God is the most difficult of 
practical as well as of theoretical problems ; tending, pre- 
sumably, to a mystical interpretation of worship. The 


personality of God must be, we think, personality whose 
bonds are broken in " passing through infinity " ; deny- 
ing this infinity, McTaggart finds rightly that he must 
reject the rest as comparatively useless ; finds that his 
finite God becomes an intruder, and an obstacle to the 
loyalties of the spirit. The balance between the denial 
of God and the right perception of God is most deli- 
cate, and difficult to maintain. We shall not find it 
until we have realized what Kant meant by the " regu- 
lative idea." But the positive appreciation of what God 
means to men is the first step toward finding that bal- 
ance ; and further, " all things good are as difficult as 
they are rare." 




GOD is to be known in experience if at all : to this 
result both of the preceding parts of our study 
have led. And now we have to interrogate experience, 
in the hope of a categorical answer whether the reality 
which here we encounter in experience is in any literal 
sense a living and divine reality, directly knowable as 

The habit of receiving our ideas about God through 
tradition is likely to grow at the expense of any original 
sources of this knowledge which we may possess. We 
more readily believe that " God spake in times past unto 
the fathers by the prophets " than that we have any 
natural human organ for recognizing that presence. 
But it must be a postulate of our own study that in 
whatever way God has been known and heard by any 
of the prophets, or by seers of more ancient date, or by 
the first remote God-discerning mind in this planet's 
unrecorded history, in fundamentally that same manner 
is God known by all God-knowing men at all times. 
The habit of looking backward to older origins, for 
revelation authoritatively transmitted, is just and right: 
because the knowledge of God is capable of develop- 
ment, and no man could wish to begin again at zero. 
But that by which he is able to recognize and accept 


his authorities is his own knowledge of God, especially 
tliat more elementary sense of his that a God exists, and 
has left his word in the world. It is of this universal 
and primordial knowledge that we wish to take posses- 
sion ; far simpler and less wealthy than the contents of 
" revelation," but for that reason the more apt to be 
neglected, and thereby the means lost by which alone 
revelation and tradition can be either appreciated or 
criticised. We shall be satisfied at present if we can 
find and verify those original sources of the knowledge 
of God which we have in common with all men at all 
times, the universal revelation. And it is fair to sur- 
mise that these original sources, advanced in God-knowl- 
edge as we may be, remain sources of new knowledge 
also, inexhaustible, neglected at peril. 

To judge from the history of religions, God has been 
known for the most part in connection with other 
objects ; not so much separately, if ever separately, as in 
relation to things and events which have served as media 
or as mediators for the divine presence. We find the 
early knowers of God worshipping him under the guise 
of sun, moon, and stars ; of earth and heaven ; of spirits 
and ancestors; of totems, of heroes, of priest-kings; and 
of the prophets themselves. Speaking broadly, there 
are two distinct phases of experience wherein God is 
apt to appear: in the experience of Nature and in social 
experience. Not everywhere in Nature, but at special 
points, well-known and numerous enough, the aware- 
ness of God seems, as it were, to have broken through, 
or to have supervened upon our ordinary physical 
experience of those objects. When man has acquired so 
much imagination that he is capable of being stirred 


by Nature, he seems capable at the same time of some- 
thing more than imaginative stirring namely, of 
superstition, of religion. If that element of the man 
is present which we call the sense of mystery, then the 
apparitions of heaven begin to work upon it, and to 
co-operate with it ; the infinitudes of space and time 
are teeming with presentiment and omen ; and man's 
nature-world is on its way to be judged divine. 

So of social experience : it is not everywhere, but at 
special junctures and crises, that the awareness of God 
has come to men ; at the events of death and birth, of 
war and wedlock, of dream and disease and apparition. 
Given the imagination, the sense of mystery, and withal 
so much self-consciousness as is required to make the 
idea of soul, or double, or shadowy spiritual counter- 
part; and these crises of social experience become clothed 
with a significance not limited to this visible context : 
the unseen world becomes peopled with spirits, and in 
time, with gods. Spirit-worship and ancestors-worship 
develop side by side with the greater and lesser nature- 
worship, as if here also man had found access to a 
knowledge of God. 

But although we have here two different regions of 
religious suggestion, destined to great historic careers 
in relative independence, it is evident that in looking 
for original sources we cannot keep them apart nor 
assign to either a priority over the other. For the reli- 
gious experience of Nature means nothing if not finding 
Nature living, even personal, thereby socializing that 
experience. Whereas the religious meaning of social 
experience arises in the first place only as birth, death, 
and the like are regarded as the work of that same 


inexorable power displayed in Nature; and survival 
theories become religious only in so far as the surviving 
spirit becomes a power in Nature. What is the Fung 
Shui of Chinese family religion but the collective ances- 
tral Force, bearing on family fortune through the nature- 
powers of wind and rain in effect a family Yang 
and Yin, even Tien and Tao. What would the Hindu 
Sraddha be without its nature myth ? In all early reli- 
gions the dead are thought to pass into Nature, and 
in that passage to change their character, taking on the 
menacing aspect of nature-powers, requiring therefore 
to be propitiated no matter how nearly allied in life. 
Further the unity that belongs in kind to the religious 
objects, and must become theirs in form also, is chiefly 
conferred upon them by the god of Nature. Spirits 
are essentially pluralistic and swarming: at death, losing 
much in individuality, souls were thought to mix with 
nature and the winds in floating multitudes, or to hud- 
dle in dismal nether-world societies, without hierarchy 
of form or purpose. But heaven and earth and sun 
have a natural universality and unity ; are fitted to give 
shape and character to the plastic spirit-mass; and at 
last to lift that mass into their own singleness of order 
and power. 1 Social experience, then, becomes religious 
experience only when it is at the same time an experi- 
ence of Nature power. And nature experience like- 

1 Thus the conquest of Egypt under the banner of Horns, god of the 
rising sun, prepared the way for such monotheism as Egypt approached, 
and even for a moment attained. The focussing and defining influence 
of nature in the religions of Persia, Greece, India needs hardly be pointed 
out. In the Hebrew religion, indeed, the progress to monotheism was 
of another sort ; but in this religion the imaginative elements are little in 
evidence, whether on the side of nature or of social experience. 


wise is religious only when Nature becomes an object 
of social apprehension. Spiritism and Animism are at 
bottom the same. 

Such experience of Nature as arouses a fear with 
supersensible reverberations, suggestions of unseen pres- 
ences; 1 such social experience of human crises as 
arouses an awe, likewise reaching into the supersensible, 
an awe having close kinship with that Nature-fear: it is 
such experience as this (not wholly unknown to any age 
or to any man) that is called religious, and that brings 
us close to the original source of religious knowledge. 
But it is clear to us that this experience is not the 
original source itself. In these distinctive religious 
feelings of fear and awe we have already recognized the 
operation of idea-masses prepared beforehand in some 
more elemental experience j some vast and intangible 
idea-mass probably, which man tries to give shape to, but 
most miserably fails to express, in his language about the 
" spirits." As small sounds in the night convey mighty 
meanings, and feelings therewith, to minds well-stocked 
with images of the weird and sinister; so if the phe- 
nomena of experience, trifling as well as majestic, call 
forth startled reactions, it is because man has already 
begun to consider and judge the Whole. Neither men 
nor children are able to fear the dark until they have 
made much progress in intelligence and imagination. 
In that " sense of mystery," which we thought must 
first be present, we may see the idea of God already at 

1 For a most skilful differentiation of this peculiar fear from other 
types of fear, see F. B. Jevons, Introduction to the History of Religion, 
ch. "viiL 


work. The original source is here, if we can discern it. 
God has come upon man's world-scene in quiet ; and 
man's terror results when in some use of his whole-idea 
he suddenly notes God standing there. Through no 
historical re-tracings shall we discover the silent entrance 
into Nature of that presence. But what external evi- 
dence may refuse, some analysis may yet afford us a 
glimpse of. 

In all experience of the type considered, we have 
found man vividly conscious of his own limitations. 
And all man's limitations, whether of knowledge or of 
power or of worth, are brought home to him by his con- 
tact with Nature in some form or other. Nature con- 
centrates within itself all that is menacing and hostile 
to man ; and also all that reminds him of his pettiness 
and weakness. Primary religious experience is so bur- 
dened with this consciousness of limitation that we may 
almost say : What man fears, that he worships. 

But we may notice that what he both fears and wor- 
ships is always something more than the World which 
limits him. His religion has added to the natural ter- 
rors of existence new terrors of its own. Whatever his 
fundamental religious experience is, it has brought him 
little consolation. He goes about in a subjection to his 
world which he had not before known ; a breach has 
opened between him and his reality, as if now it 
belongs to a stranger, whereas before it was, if brute 
fact, still his fact. The redskin, says Brinton, is 
oppressed by the sense of something invisible at work 
everywhere about him ; a sense which leaves him anx- 
ious, full of alarms. And further, every touch of super- 
nature is at the same time in some degree a sudden 


stroke of accusing self-consciousness. Among the 
Bechuana people, when it thunders they exclaim, " i 
have not stolen, I have not stolen ; who among us has 
devoured the goods of another?" In first judging his 
world, man seems to find his world judging him ; and 
every experience of the divine is a day of judgment, 
a moment summoning to instant, summary review of 
self which review seems from the first to have yielded 
little of reassuring nature* 

Now the epitome of all man's limitations is his igno- 
rance \ and it is fair to presume that man's speculative 
troubles are the secret of all these more practical troubles. 
For the idea is (biologically) the scout of experience, 
and doubtless a knowledge of dependence has touched 
the soul in advance of any full appreciation of what 
that dependence implies. The knowledge of ignorance 
may well be the first warning note, sending its premoni- 
tory shudder through the frame of human values. The 
sense of a limitation of knowledge, even in Paradise, 
might tempt man to explore his boundaries ; might make 
him desire "to be as the gods, knowing good and 
evil." He realizes that his knowledge is his great 
weapon and defence, standing between him and fate? 
he soon chafes at the persistence of any region of igno- 
rance ; early proceeds to fill any such void of knowledge 
with creatures of assumed-knowledge even long before 
he sees definitely how his ignorance is to hurt him. 
Nothing could have been better timed than the appeal 
of the serpent in the Garden. 

But the knowledge of ignorance is of itself no reli- 
gious experience. Beligion is bound up in the differ- 
ence between the sense of ignorance and the sense of 


mystery : the former means, " I know not " ; the latter 
means "I know not; but it is Taiown" And I dare 
say that man first realizes his ignorance only in so far 
as he becomes conscious of mystery ; the negative side 
of his experience is made possible by some prior recog- 
nition of a positive being, on the other side of his 

It seems to me then, that the original source of 
the knowledge of God is an experience which might 
be described as an experience of not being alone 
in knowing the world, and especially the world of 
Nature. In such an experience, if there be such, would 
be contained all the possibilities for harm and for good 
which religion has exhibited. 

So long as the unknown of the world is simple mys- 
tery, a mere "It is known," man is made more a 
servant than before by his religious experience. His 
worship will take on depressing and violent aspects; 
his consciousness will become a perpetual celebration 
of his own inferiority. He will become a devotee of 
the fearful and the immense, which have always for 
their own sake an inherent fascination for man ; a fas- 
cination which we understand when we consider how 
the operation of any whole-idea is a creation of value. 
It is psychologically impossible for man to face the 
infinite in any shape without exultation. Any posi- 
tive view of the universe beyond my ignorance has 
power to excite infinite devotion ; not failing to tempt 
the spirit to an infinite disloyalty to itself. Hence in 
all ages of the world, the mere sense of mystery, as the 
discerning of something beyond the bounds of ignorance, 


has claimed its victims ; there are always those who 
are capable of throwing themselves beneath the wheels 
of a cosmic Juggernaut, finding in pure abandonment 
to the infinite if not a cure for human trouble, at 
least an anaesthesia for all ills. And indeed, no man 
has found his religion until he has found that for 
which he must sell his goods and his life; the enthu- 
siasm for martyrdom, for radical self-sacrifice, is the 
work of the idea in all of us : and a universe of mys- 
tery, though it can afford no more, can at least afford 
opportunity for this. 

But if that original experience of the presence of 
God in the world can reach to some permanent hold on 
its object, so that it might be expressed, " / know not ; 
"but He knows" the entire aspect of religion is altered. 
The reconciliation of men with such a world is no 
longer degrading nor disloyal; for the breach which is 
opened up between man and his world by the entrance 
of the unseen Claimant, may be through that same 
presence completely closed. 

From the knowledge that "He knows" will be in- 
ferred the thesis that the unknown of Nature is 
knowable: and the endless task of science will receive 
its necessary and sufficient warrant and encouragement. 
Religion offers science the power and the stimulus to 
proceed ad infinitum without fear of ultimate obstacle. 
That this proud liberty has been no meaningless gift, 
the beginnings of science may clearly show. For man's 
first science is magic his first systematic assertion 
that nature is subordinate to the spirit; man's first 
inductions are the magical inductions of the Name, the 
Symbol, the Imitation. By his knowledge of God he 


knows that there is nothing in the world that will 
prove wholly refractory to the work of idea-making; 
his knowledge of the absolute Knower is an attain- 
ment, though a vicarious attainment, of the end of 
scientific effort. 

And so with whatever other and more concrete 
consciousness of limitation may be incident to natural 
or social experience: if that by which one knows 
his limit is a positive knowledge of the Spirit, then 
it is a success of incalculable importance. "I can- 
not, but He can" lifts man over his first formidable 
obstacles, and sets him on his feet as man, endowed as 
a race with infinite faith and with infinite patience, 
because already tasting the cup of ultimate achievement. 
Such knowledge of ignorance, and the fear of the Lord 
therewith, is the beginning of wisdom ; such knowledge 
of impotence, the beginning of concrete mastery; such 
knowledge of unholiness is already a touch of the 
untouchable and a beginning of holiness. 

Religion is often described as the healing of an 
alienation which has opened between man and his 
world: this is true; but we may not forget that it 
is religion which has brought about that alienation. 
Religion is the healing of a breach which religion 
itself has made: and if we would reach the original 
sources, we must find them in man's awareness of an 
Other than himself, an Other who may be a companion, 
but also an enemy more deadly than death, more dread- 
ful than Nature in herself has any image of. It is 
religion that reveals to man the disparity between him- 
self and his world, sets him at odds with that from 


which he came, brings him to that pass to which the 
animal cannot come an unwillingness to take his 
world as he finds it, a consciousness of the everlasting 
No, and a defiance of it or perhaps a subservience to it, 
as if this were his god. And what man has to learn 
by difficult degrees is, that it is his original knowledge 
of God that has made this alienation possible. " Thou 
couldst not seek me (nor fear me, nor be resentful 
toward me) hadst thou not already found me": this 
is what religion always knows, yet has forever to re- 
learn. 1 

This primordial knowledge of God has never been 
wholly obscured; some sign of that known compan- 
ionship has never been absent from religion. Man 
records this consciousness not only in tradition, but 
also in act and token ; he sets up his holy places and 
their strange appurtenances as memorials that the Spirit 
has here been met on friendly footing, and may prob- 
ably be met again. He carries with him, inseparable 
from his person, his fetich, material medium for his 
spiritual attendant and confidante, loss of which may be 
loss of all that makes life worth living. 

At the source of all religion, so far as our analysis 
can discover, we find an experience of God as an Other 
Knower of our World, already in close relation to self, 

1 It is reserved for fully developed religion to read truly the para- 
doxical history of man's religious experience, both in the race and in the 
individual. Are not these lines of George Herbert true of these early 
racial gropings also ? 

Lord, Thou didst make me, yet Thou roundest me ; 
Lord, Thou dost wound me, yet Thou dost relieve me ; 
Lord, Thou relievest, yet I die by Thee ; 
Lord, Thou dost Mil me, yet Thou dost reprieve me* 
I cannot skill of these Thy wayw. 


and also in some natural bond with our social and phys- 
ical experience. Such is the report of the elementary 
religious consciousness; it is this report that we have 
now to pass judgment upon. 




OUR enquiry into the knowledge o God has led to 
this as the central issue : whether in the midst of 
experiences o Nature and of human extremity, using 
these in some way as mediators, there can be a veritable 
experience of infinite Spirit other than myself. We do 
not mitigate the difficulty of this question by pointing 
out that the knowledge of any other minds than our 
own, even in plain human intercourse, has its difficulties 
also. But in so far as the difficulties are similar, it will 
be an advantage to bring them together, the more so 
since, in spite of any difficulties of theory, we believe 
our experiences of our fellow's minds to be real, 
neither illusory nor simply workings-hypotheses. 

All the (substantive) objects of human attention and 
experience may be put into three fundamental classes : 
the physical objects, which with their relations we sum 
up as Nature ; the psychical objects, which with their 
relations we sum up as Self ; and the social objects, or 
other minds, which with their relations we sum up as 
Society, or still more comprehensively, as our Spiritual 
World, ourselves being included. These classes of 
objects seem clearly distinguishable; not mixing nor 
blending at their borders when I mean another mind 


I distinctly do not mean either my own mind or a phys- 
ical thing. Each has its own science physics, etc., 
psychology, sociology. And each has its own organ of 

But no. We have an outer sense, says Locke, for 
things of nature ; we have an inner sense for things of 
our own minds, our thoughts and feelings; but Locke 
mentions no sense by which we can discern another 
mind. And neither, be it said, does any later philos- 
opher. Sociologists speak of " the social sense/ 7 social 
instincts, " consciousness of kind," and the like ; but 
these practical designations are not intended to name 
an actual organ of knowledge differentiated for percep- 
tion of other minds. We have no such organ. Soci- 
ology is an extended psychology, made possible by the 
fact that Society, as we noted, includes Self, is built 
up really of psychical objects, and from the center out- 
ward, by help of ideas which work well in practice: 
other theory than this of social experience we shall not 
find in the Books. This third class of objects is, by 
some strange device, made knowable without a special 
perceptive organ: or, perhaps we are mistaken in 
assuming it literally knowable. 

This absence of a perceptive organ makes it probable 
that we are mistaken : it suggests that our social knowl- 
edge is built on hypothesis, and not at all on experi- 
ence. It compels us to examine our so-called social 
experience directly, to see whether we can find any point 
of actually present and certain knowledge of another 
mind. Such an examination yields little that is satisfy- 
ing. What I do directly experience is the physical 
presence of the other person ; and his expressive signs 


and language, which are also physical. From these I 
infer his reality, and nothing in experience tends to 
shake that hypothesis; everything confirms it. What I 
have, then, is a perfect hypothesis. For all practical 
purposes, I am as certain of my social environment as I 
am of my physical environment : indeed, the reality of 
this social world of mine is the last thing I should 
doubt. The practical certainties here are unshakable. 
But if you ask for more than practical certainty ; if you 
require a genuine social experience, in the literal sense 
of the word experience, I am at a loss to discover it. I 
am inclined to think there is no such thing. 

And I must acknowledge that even this sense of 
practical certainty does sometimes desert me. My social 
consciousness is subject to extraordinary fluctuations; 
my sense of the presence of other souls comes and goes 
in an unaccountable way; it flits in its substantiality 
from one extreme to the other, much as does my belief 
in G-od. When I seek to grasp it, it eludes me. 

There are times when my consciousness is burden- 
somely public, and not my own ; when the social world 
is all too real and immediate ; when I can find no 
seclusion in my thoughts, no privacy even behind 
barred doors. At such times, I can get no hold on 
myself, because of the incessant pressure of the other 
men in me, voices, postures, beliefs that pursue me and 
harry away all risings of individuality on the part of 
my self. I escape into the wilderness, and Nature 
becomes a chorus there is no shape which may not 
take on animation even the stones may sermonize. 
And yet at other times, if I deliberately seek contact 
with that world of other mind, an oppressive solitude 


cloaks me in. I bury myself in the rush of men ; but 
am no better able to bridge chasms, or reach vitality of 
give-and-take with them. I make designs against my 
neighbor, I hunt him to his secret castle, I hold him at 
the point of my sword, I seize him bodily he vanishes, 
and I have nothing. I cannot make him open himself 
to me ; I cannot so much as open myself to him : I am a 
prisoner, and without ability to find where I am bound. 
I see that the doctrine of monads is no futile myth. 

Such is my current social experience so-called, and 
it seems clear to me that if there were any absolute 
certainty in it, these variations would not occur. That 
which at times may so escape me can hardly be an 
empirically given presence. 

Then I reflect that in the nature of the case it could 
hardly be otherwise : the other mind must be beyond 
my powers of direct experience. It can be no object of 
sensation, because it is not a physical thing. It must 
be such as I am, a thinker of its objects, not an object 
among objects ; and as such thinker, or subject, it can 
only be thought, not sensed. That which makes him 
himself, and other-than-me, is (by definition) the fact 
that his thoughts are not my thoughts ; so long as he 
remains other-than-me, his thoughts can never become 
identically mine, though I may conjecture them and 
approximately think them after him. Of myself, I 
find, and desire, an infinite thought-fund inaccessible 
to others, and inaccessible through all finite times to 
myself ; it cannot be otherwise with him he has in 
him an infinitude of character, only gradually devel- 
oped and made general infinitude at which I may 


only guess. Souls, by their own nature, cannot touch 
each other ; cannot experience each other : their rela- 
tions do not rise to the point of knowledge, they 
remain excursions, adventures, hypotheses, wonderfully 
sustained by their results, but none the less, launches 
from solitude in the direction of an assumed reality j 
which reality, if it exists, is no less solitary. 

I look down from a cliff upon a beach below; the 
black fleck wandering there excites in me the con- 
sciousness of fellow-being: I turn away with the 
impression that there has been in my life a social event, 
an experience of another mind. But I have verified 
nothing. And if I climb down and discover that 
object to be in fact a human shape, what have I now 
verified ? A physical object, nothing more. What 
made that glance from above more than physically sig- 
nificant was clearly a contribution from within. In 
Kantian phrase, I had imposed this concept upon the 
appearance ; I had begriffen it that way, and my own 
Begriff gave me the only sociality I experienced, all 
that in fact I ever can experience. 

There are more intimate relations, and less intimate 
relations : more work, or less, for my Begriff-social to 
do but what my Begriff is given to work upon, as 
actual stuff of experience, is the body. Body of man 
and Nature nothing more. When that body disap- 
pears, even though the other spirit persists, all that / 
have of him is gone. I have no organ for the experi- 
ence of other mind; by the nature of other-mind, I 
could have none. 

I would press the logic of this situation, if I were 
able, until we should cry out that it is a lie, whether or 


not we see how it is false; and that any philosophy 
which ends in such a situation is impossible. Human 
communications must be at bottom as real as we think 
them to be no intricate, successful, solitary panto- 
mime of each with himself and Body. 

And then I would urge that we are not quit of this 
logic by crying out against it ; and resolving for our 
part to treat our world as if we were in direct conscious 
relations with our fellows. For that attitude of common- 
sense-resolve is precisely the subjective, solipsistic sort of 
philosophy which we have just denounced. Logic here 
is the sole remaining bond of genuine mutuality among 
men ; and if we will not patiently earn our conscious 
right to our fellows, we must likewise forgo our con- 
scious right to God. We cannot dispense with either. 

The problem of our social consciousness is as old as 
Berkeley's idealism (old in fact as Leibniz or Descartes, 
but not felt before Berkeley as a primary demand on 
thinking) ; and since his time thinkers have not been 
allowed to forget it. It has become a stock spectre, 
especially for idealistic theories, to show that their logic 
must end in solipsism. Several ways to escape the logic 
of separate personality have been devised. We shall 
examine the most important of them* 

One may seek to discover and formulate infallible 
criteria or signs, by which we may certainly know that 
we have before us another conscious being. This way 
out has its plausibility ; for is it not the sight of other 
bodies and expressive movements like or analogous to 
our own which actually compels our judgment that 
another mind is here ? Or, if we learn (as from Boyce 


and Baldwin) that we rather interpret our own bodies 
by those of others, than the reverse ; and if we find (by 
first steps in comparative psychology) that analogies 
soon fail as we try to test the consciousness of animals 
and plants ; if we abandon, as we must, the whole argu- 
ment from analogy as hopeless, certainly the psychology 
of our impulsive social reactions will reveal some reliable 
stimuli, whose presence infallibly indicates other mind. 
Are there not as Wundt suggests "manifestations of 
animal life which cannot be explained without the intro- 
duction of the mental factor? " Unfortunately there 
are none such; every physical change must and may 
be referred to a physical cause. There is no reason 
why "educability" itself may not be a property of 
matter. 1 Are there not in certain groupings of actions 
unmistakable " signs of choice " ; or as James better 
states it, can we not recognize " the pursuit of ends 
with the choice of means ? " Certainly all such signs 
as these do guide our social judgments. Even more 
than by strict planfulness (" pursuit of ends with 
choice of means ") are we guided by a certain playful- 
ness or superabundance in the apparent government of 
movements: signs of fluidity, eagerness, emotionality 
are more immediately compelling than signs of intelli- 
gent end-seeking. But after all, these are nothing but 
signs, physical signs ; and explicit language which rises 
out of this aboriginal expressiveness is but a further 
set of physical signs, which nowhere rests on a verit- 
able experience of other mind. If somewhere we could 
begin with an actual consciousness of the social object, 

1 And herewith we exclude Binet, Bunge, Moebios, etc., as well as 
Schneider who appeals to "irregular muscular action." 


all these criteria would help us amazingly to continue 
and subdivide our intercourse: it is always easier to 
determine what state of mind belongs with what set of 
actions than to determine whether there be any state of 
mind there or no. (Writhings of earthworm on fish- 
hook express discomfort, if they express any conscious- 
ness at all, which may be doubted.) Even if infallible 
criteria could be got which is impossible they 
would still do nothing to bring us nearer the other mind 
itself : for all such criteria are themselves physical. 

A much more adequate way is that proposed by 
Professor Eoyce ; his criteria are not physical, and do 
undoubtedly bring us near to an original experience of 
the other mind. " Our fellows are known to be real " 
says Royce, " because they are for each of us the end- 
less treasury of more ideas. . . . (They) furnish us with 
the constantly needed supplement to our own fragment- 
ary meanings." l To anything that appears in our life 
with the character of a response, we instinctively attrib- 
ute outer personality. Not thunder in general, but 
thunder at a critical moment in our thinking, means 
that Jove has spoken. If a distant signal moves in 
direct answer to our own signalings, we need see no 
human form to infer the presence of an outer conscious- 
ness. What infallibly convinces us is the experience 
that our own thought is carried on to further develop- 
ment (and without our own equivalent effort). The 
more completely and deeply the answering and supple- 
menting idea caps and enters into our own train of 
development, the more inevitable the acknowledgment* 
And so we may build a series all the way from the 

1 The World and the Individual, ii, 168-174. 


opportune clap of thunder to the continuous successful 
intercourse with our fellow men, a series of increasing 
conviction of the reality of our social experience. Whei N 
we have reached the stage of voluntarily putting ques 
tions to our environment, and expecting and receiv 
ing conceptual answers, our faith is complete. God is 
doubtless most real to that person who finds his prayers 
somehow responded to; for, to paraphrase Royee's cri- 
terion, response is our best ground for believing the 
social object real. 

Upon this way of reaching the Other Mind, we must 
make the following comment. That we are still left 
with only an inference of that Other; a faith and not a 
knowledge in experience. Even though we say, with 
Royce, that reality is nothing else than response (or ful- 
filling of meaning), we have not so far as this criterion 
goes, found that reality personal save by probability of 
high order. We can still speak only of u the source 
of our belief in the reality of our fellow men," 1 not of 
an experience of that reality itself. The relative pas- 
sivity of our reception of idea from without is no invin- 
cible proof that it does come from another mind : men 
have been known to dream conversations which add to 
their knowledge ; thinking itself often takes conversa- 
tional shape, ourself being recipient ; in all thinking the 
new comes to one as if from another. We shall have 
a difficult distinction to make between such inner 
development of our own meanings, and that development 
which we shall regard as hailing from a veritable Other 
Mind. But no type of inference, however direct and 
simple, can quite meet our requirement ; for that which 

1 P. 169 of work cited ; italics mine. 


we must first infer is one step away from immediate 

Are we not driven, then, to a view whicli closely 
resembles that first supposition of ours that social expe- 
rience is a, practical certainty : that view namely which 
interprets the social experience as a moral affirmation, an 
acknowledgment which we ought to make, something of 
which no scientific or empirical knowledge is either pos- 
sible or conceivable. As Professor Miinsterberg puts 
it in his powerful chapter on "Die reine Erf ahrung," 1 
we do experience our fellow men, but even so as we 
immediately experience all reality, by acknowledging 
them real. I cannot doubt that the last mystery of 
mutual contact is contained in the will, rather than in 
the intellect ; a thesis which we shall have later to con- 
sider. 2 But all will makes use of knowledge, prior or 
simultaneous. There is no human will that does not 
contain a nucleus of knowledge which is not our own 
act ; and it is this that we wish to separate out. 

All of these ways by physical criterion, by response, 
and by acknowledgment have a common presup- 
position. They all suppose the mind to be furnished 
in advance with an idea of an Other Mind. We are 
able to read our signs as we do, because we already ex- 
pect them to mean something, we have already framed 
somehow the conception of another mind. Our world 
responds only in so far as we have our net hung out, 
confident that Other Mind will fill it with usable fur- 
therings of our own thought: apart from this Other- 
Mind-meaning of ours, no event could take on the 

1 Grandziige der Psychologie, pp. 44-55. 

* Under the general topic of Mysticism," Part V. 


character of response. So also, if we are to will, or 
postulate, or acknowledge, the fellow-man, it is to be 
asked how, apart from previous idea, we know what 
to acknowledge. The conception of the fellow-man, 
somehow obtained, is necessary before my duty of 
acknowledging him can be performed, or understood. 
Beside which, there remains an ulterior question, to 
Whom or to What do I owe this duty ? I am inclined 
to think that obligation implies a known Other : and 
that while duty and social experience are doubtless in- 
separable, it is duty that depends on social experience, 
not social experience on duty. 

It is because all of these theories really accept the 
doubt of an immediate experience of Other Mind, that 
they must thus assume the idea of Other Mind to be 
there, innate or unaccounted-for. It is for this rea- 
son that we cannot adopt any of them as final ; though 
none of them fails to throw much important light on 
the actual working of our social consciousness. 

The ultimate difficulty in this matter is due, as I have 
come to think, to our over-dogmatic ideals of knowl- 
edge, and to the explanations we adopt of the knowing 
process. We take our knowledge of physical things as 
the type and ideal of all satisfactory knowledge, and 
we find naturally enough that we have no such physical 
knowledge of fellow minds. We explain our knowing 
of any object by a relation between object and subject, 
in which the object presumably produces some effect on 
the subject, and we find naturally enough that any- 
thing which is intrinsically subject cannot become such 
an object. 


But if such were the true ideal and explanation of 
knowledge, we could not, of course, know ourselves 
any more than we could know others. For we can have 
no physical knowledge of our own mind, nor can our 
own mind cease to be subject in order to become an 
object. And conversely, by whatever understanding of 
the matter we can account for self-knowledge, by that 
same understanding we may probably account for knowl- 
edge of other subjects. 1 When Locke suggested his 
inner sense, after the analogy of outer sense, he prob- 
ably used a misleading figure; intending doubtless only 
to outline the fact of self-knowledge as a thing distinct 
from knowledge of physical sense : of special organ 
there seems to be none for self-knowledge, any more 
than for knowledge of other minds. In truth, all 
three classes of objects of experience stand on the same 
precarious footing: and of these three classes, the knowl- 
edge of other mind is the latest to be declared impos- 
sible. Each of the other types of knowledge, knowl- 
edge of nature or of self, had been shown impossible, 
by one theory of knowledge or another, before social 
knowledge had been drawn into technical question. 
We have only to adopt the proper axiom, and any group 
of objects we please becomes subject to skepticism, thus: 

I. Knowledge of self is impossible. Because the 
thing known is always other than the self that knows it. 

1 More technically stated : we err in assuming to explain knowing 
by a dyadic relation between subject and object (say S : O), This explan- 
ation bears its own condemnation on its face ; for if knowing were of the 
form S : 0, S (in every act of knowing) would remain unknown, and the 
relation S : O must be unknown likewise. If knowledge is to be explained, 
that is, put in terms of something else than knowledge, our dyad must 
broaden out, as I think and shall try to show, into a triad. 


On this axiom it might be possible to know Nature, or to 
know Other Selves, only not the Self. The epistemo- 
logical subject is unknown (Rickert). Psychological 
introspection is understood to reveal, not the self, but 
quasi-physical objects ; we find never the genuine self. 

II. Knowledge of physical objects is impossible. 
Because consciousness can contain nothing but experi- 
ence-stuff. When I say of any object "I know it"; I 
have already made it a part of my experience : when I 
think of it, I think of it always as contained in experi- 
ence, if not my own, then another's. On this axiom, it 
might be possible to know Self, or even Other Selves, 
only not physical things as independent substances . A 
quasi-physical world of orderly experience we of course 
have; we never find the genuine physical world. 

UL Knowledge of social objects is impossible. This 
is proved by sharpening either axiom above. We may 
say that the object of knowledge is always other than 
any subject. Or we may say that the object of knowl- 
edge is always my object, belonging to my experience, 
known as such, thought of as such. In either case 
social experience is impossible. Quasi-social experience 
one does not question ; it is only the genuine Other that 
we fail to find. 

I am inclined to think that the three cases are alike. 
We have a trilemma, each horn of which is as valid as 
the rest. We could set up another triad, if we chose, 
beginning thus : Self is the one object perfectly know- 
able ; Nature is the one object perfectly knowable ; the 
Other Mind is the one object perfectly and ideally know- 
able. The last of these propositions would be as ten- 
able as the first, and as little tenable. 


It is not useless, I think, thus to point out that all 
types of knowledge are liable to the same type of predica- 
ment; and that all such predicaments may be traced to 
axioms expressing some ideal of knowledge too hastily 
assumed as exclusive. There is a sense in which we can 
know ourselves better than we can know any other thing, 
whether of nature or of mind beyond ourselves. There 
is a sense in which the physical world is more thor- 
oughly knowable and satisfactorily holdable in knowl- 
edge than any other type of object. There is also a 
sense in which the primary object of acquaintance for 
any finite knower is his environment of Other Mind* 

The alienness and inaccessibility which we are com- 
pelled to ascertain from time to time, not more in the 
Other Mind than in Nature or in Self, may well be only 
such alienness as we must intend them to have, meaning 
what they do, if we were to picture to ourselves their 
most ideal knowableness. May it not be, for example, 
that if we should become clear what kind of knowledge 
of Other Mind we should desire, as the most perfect pos- 
sible knowledge of Other Mind, this ideal knowledge 
would not differ in principle from the knowledge which 
we actually have. I propose to try this as the next stage 
in our search for the actual social experience ; enquiring 
particularly whether we could desire to know Other Mind 
apart from just such physical mesh as has in this present 
chapter seemed the chief barrier to that knowledge. 



WHAT is the object which we desire to know? 
An other mind : but certainly in no case an 
empty mind. It is a mind which has its own objects, 
and is at work upon them. There is no principle of 
attraction between empty minds, i.e., between minds, 
pure and simple : there is no gravitation between minds 
as between bodies. 

Regarded as pure spirits, minds are very much alike j 
individuality begins to appear, and our interest there- 
with, only in so far as the mind engages in struggle 
with its experience. In truth, minds must be occupied 
with matter in order to be of interest to one another ; 
whence it may appear that matter supplies the principle 
of attraction between spirits, as well as between bodies 
the principle at once of attraction and separation. 
Character comes out chiefly in dealing with Nature 1 
and what engages us in any person is an individual 
quality which must be described in terms of his 
encounter with physical conditions, and the encounter of 
the race with those same conditions. Every character 
is some epitome of the economic and artisan labors of 
the race. Power over nature, clearly seen or dimly 
divined in another, is what compels us to him. This 
power is first seen in the body itself, wherein wayward 

* See above, p. Ida 


materials and energies are subdued under an immediate 
capital command, prophetical of much further mastery j 
and beauty of body signifies to us an ease of mastery, 
which finishing its task returns with abundance to con- 
trol itself. Apart, then, from a world of things which 
resists desire and so forms the text and context of a 
temporal career, there is nothing in mind personal and 
distinctive, exciting to knowledge. These elementary 
strains and stresses make up our simplest thought of 
the man. It is the other mind as knowing and master* 
ing Nature that we first care about. 

The mind to be known is, we say, a concrete being ; 
worthless even to itself apart from the material in 
which it operates. It is the Mind-in-union-with-Nature 
that we want to know. But the mind is still that 
which deals with this material; and we concern our- 
selves with the material only for the sake of that which 
it manifests. I make boots ; but still, it is no part of 
my self that I make just boots I could have found 
my character as well in making books or laws or music. 
Would it not be possible, if knowing were ideal, to 
take the burden of nature-stuff for granted and see 
that character in itself, becoming conscious of its think- 
ing apart from the irrelevant stimuli of its thought ? 

The notion of telepathic communication seems to 
propose some such ideal ; that of reading thoughts 
without taking cognizance of sensations. Since we are 
speaking of ideals not of facts, and telepathy has 
usually been regarded, whether by believers or by non- 
believers, as an ideal improvement in mutual knowl- 
edge, we must look into the meaning of its proposal. 


Telepathy would save, presumably, the trouble of expres- 
sion ; it would save the detour of thought, by which 
it must journey down into language and back into 
thought again. It would connect the two termini 
directly, without the complex series of irrelevant means. 

Examine this proposal of telepathy. Consider our- 
selves in the act of knowing the thought of another 
mind in the direct manner suggested. This must mean 
one of two things. Either we find ourselves imagin- 
ing the other person, and in imagination hearing him 
speak, or seeing him make well-known signs, or other- 
wise reinvesting himself in fancy with his usual physi- 
cal media of communication. Or else, we find our own 
thoughts moving under some " strong impression " that 
this development hails from a given absent person. In 
either case, the value of the experience would lie in the 
possibility of verifying it, by communicating with the 
person " face to face." If such possibility of verifying 
were cut off, we should speedily be disabused of our 
preference for this sort of relation with our friends; 
what more unsatisfactory intercourse could be imagined 
than a series of "strong impressions" which had no 
prior nor further history? Even to the telepathic 
fancy, the physical presence and vocal evidence of the 
other's thought remains the standard experience, to 
which all other points as its ideal, however useful 
(telephone-wise or wireless-wise) in exceptional circum- 
stances. Telepathy, I think, has little to offer toward 
defining a better way of knowing Other Mind. 

The plausibility of the thought-reading ideal comes 
in part from the very perfection of our ordinary modes 
of intercourse ; through their silent efficiency the phys- 


ical bearers of our meaning drop out of sight, and it 
is to us as if we were dealing with meanings purely, 
without any need of sights and sounds. Our social 
experience is the pre-eminently developable side of 
human experience: as we have perfected it, it is of 
peculiar richness, elasticity, and depth. It is with some 
effort of abstraction that we look away from those 
regions where, with amazing technique, the play of our 
passing thought-exchange takes place, to the simple 
physical groundwork of it all. We think we might 
dispense with that, only because it serves us so 

There is another reason for the appeal of the pro- 
posal that thoughts may be known without reference 
to Nature. It is the assumption that men first have 
thoughts and then later express them. This is less 
than a half-truth ; for the expression of a thought is 
an integral part of taking possession of that thought. 
The one quickest way to put stupidity on a par with 
genius would be to make stupidity owner of all these 
ideas which it has, but is not yet able to express. In 
truth, it is no hardship that friends must " descend 
to meet" as Emerson has it: for such descent into 
physical expression is a progress into valid and active 

An idea shares the history of the body ; it needs to 
ripen and mature; it must find its way by gradual pro- 
cesses to the surface, where it will show itself in lan- 
guage and in action. Hastening this birth involves 
loss of stamina and quality in the product. The 
resistance of Nature to the expression of a thought is 
not the resistance of a wholly hostile medium; deten- 


tion is a spiritual condition for health and viability, not 
a physical condition solely. It seems fair to say that 
the more significant the idea, the more it needs to be 
lived with before it is uttered. Idea as well as Matter 
must be "mixed with labor" before it can become 
property. And perhaps also there are no ideas which 
are mature at birth ; but they, like the young of higher 
species, must pass a certain time in the open under 
friendly protection, before they can pass current among 
other ideas, the tools and properties of all men. 

It thus requires time and Nature in order that a mind 
shall exist ; must it not also require time and Nature in 
order that a mind shall be known? "We do not wish to 
know the mind other than as it is; we cannot wish to 
know it, then, except in terms of its own traffic with 
Nature, both in acting and in thinking ; in possessing 
its own character, and in possessing its own ideas. 

It is no accident, therefore, that we begin our 
acquaintances with fellow-men at their periphery at 
the point of their visible encounter with Nature, with 
weather and the common physical conditions of exist- 
ence. It is indeed an accident (relatively speaking) 
whether a man work out his special career in shoe^ 
leather or in medicine or in ink: it is no accident 
whether he meet the four elements and make up 
accounts with them. And however far acquaintance 
progresses, we cannot omit from our concept of the man 
those items, even trivial, of physical behavior into which 
we learn to condense the significance of large vistas 
of his spiritual quality, the shrug, the still glance, 
the nervous step, the grasp of the hand. And there is 


some ground for thinking that we know no man com- 
pletely until we have been with him in the wild, and 
have shared with him some first hand measurement of 
idea against the old elemental human obstacles. 

But Nature has other properties beside obstinacy 
that belong inseparably to the knowledge of souls. 
"What we wish to know of a man is doubtless his Idea 
(or, as Chesterton says, his philosophy), and therewith 
himself: but we can know an idea only by knowing 
whatever that idea contains and aims at. Contents, 
we have considered : an idea is always an idea of some- 
thing, and the all-available first something is physical 
stuff, whatever else it may be. As for the aim of ideas, 
we thought that all ideas aim at a lodgment in Sub- 
stance, 1 doubtless first seen behind Nature ; if so, no 
man can be known without knowing that object. The 
identity of personality, we thought, was bound up with 
some changelessness in its ultimate object; and the 
unity of personality in some unity to be found there in 
the world beyond : 2 but I venture to say that unless 
changelessness and unity were discoverable in some 
character of physical experience, any other object would 
work against great odds to maintain them. For reality 
cannot detach itself from the experience of Nature: 
sensation has some of the characters and dimensions of 
reality not elsewhere found. Sensation lends to expe- 
rience its pungency, its vividness, its particularity. 
The definite separation of parts in Nature, the clear 
difference between position and position in space no 
point confused with any other make the world of 
sense the place where all definiteness is set up, where 

1 See above, p. 119. * See above, pp. 187. 


all desire for clarity and differentiation seeks its home. 
If it is true, then, that we cannot know a definite idea 
or being save as that being has a definite object ; that 
we cannot know a vivid being, save as having a vivid 
object; that we cannot individualize that being, save as 
that being has objects with definite differences; that 
we cannot measure or estimate any being, save as that 
being has objects themselves measurable, quantitative : 
if this is true, we see that in ways affecting the very 
foundations of personality, the knowledge of Nature, 
of Nature pungent and intense with sensation, is an 
integral part of the knowledge of another mind. These 
values (vividness, etc.) of physical experience are not 
like the corresponding values of social experience, 
they are, so far as they go, identical with social 
values : they are properties of mind and matter at the 
same time. 

I do not say that knowing thus the objects of another 
mind is equivalent to knowing that mind ; I say that 
such knowledge of the objects is a necessary, an inte- 
gral part of social consciousness, even of ideal social 

It is not indeed sufficient to know the objects ; we 
should have further to know those objects as being 
known by the Other Mind ; we must find the idea at 
work ; we must verify in experience our simplest defini- 
tion of the Other Mind an Other-knower-of-physical- 
Nature. We want the center as well as the periphery ; 
and Nature certainly cannot give the center of person- 
ality, the idea itself. But Nature can give a symbol 
of the center. 


We have so far had little to say of the body with 
which we so closely identify the Other Mind ; for this 
identification is all-too-absorbing we forget that our 
knowledge of men comes as much from observing their 
environment as from observing their bodies. But the 
body is after all that with which Nature is handled ; as 
the idea is that with which Nature is thought. The 
body is a symbol of the idea : it stands as subject to 
the environment as object. In its relation to its physi- 
cal surroundings, it presents a physical picture of the 
knowing-process. 1 But the body is more than a symbol. 

The body is an incredibly intricate and exact meta- 
phor of every inner movement of that Other Mind. To 
every shade of thought and motive, there corresponds 
some change in the body, reflecting in its own different 
sphere each type of variation to which the inner state 
is subject. Man still " looketh on the outward appear- 
ance " only, even though he were able to examine the 
living brain ; but remarkable it is that there is nothing 
in " the heart " not faithfully displayed in this appear- 
ance, and at the moment of its occurrence. 

With all our inability to gain the exact key to the 
cipher; 3 and with all our inadequacy in observing these 

1 And this picture is so significant that in our theories of knowledge, 
we can hardly escape it. It is the inveterate source of that dualistic theory 
of knowledge which we have condemned. We forget that We who thus 
see the Other's knowing, in picture, from the outside, should be included 
in the picture to give the whole truth, even in symbol. 

a It is not inconceivable that the key might be accurately defined, 
to some degree. Such a reading of the metaphor as that proposed by 
Mnnsterberg, may offer a conception of a solution. Quality of sensation, 
says Munsterberg, is represented in the brain by the place of excitation ; 
intensity by energy of excitation; vividness by energy of discharge ; value-tone 
by place of discharge. A somewhat different suggestion, differing espe- 


subtle physical changes; it remains true that the body, 
i we will take it so, is little else than the soul made 
visible. If we should say that the body has no inde- 
pendent reality, but only exists as a bulletin of an inner 
process; being but that process itself, reporting itself to 
us in such terms as we can physically apprehend : if 
we should conceive of the body in this way, we should 
hardly over-state the immediacy with which it presents 
externally what the mind internally is, and not in its 
passing phases alone, but in its most rooted habits, its 
oldest memories, its most permanent wills and purposes. 
The body is a complete metaphor of the idea. 1 

But, further, the body is more than a metaphor. In 
some phases, it shows what that Other's experience liter- 
ally is. Thus time is the same for both body and 
mind; the time of the brain process is identical with the 
time of the psychosis it represents. For us who look 
on, the date of those processes if we know what they 
are may be said to be a matter of direct experience, 
through the body. Also, from the position which the 
body occupies in space, a particular and exclusive per- 
spective view of the visible world is determined; and we 

cially with regard to value-tone, will be found in an appended essay, page 
546- but it will be seen from either that the work of key-finding is the main 
concern of psycho-physics, a science of definite standing, with legitimate 
and infinite problem. 

1 The body is the manifestation In spatial metaphor of the will-to-live 
as inborn and as modified by experience and choice. I do not mean that this 
metaphor can be read by simple inspection ; for in the body other records 
are composed with the record of the will : the will of the world beyond, 
as it attacks the inner will and impinges on it, leaves its trace here also. 
The surface of the body is the shore-line where outgoing and incoming 
purposes meet, conflict and cross ; and one tale confuses the clarity of the 
other, yet adds the data without which the other were less than true. 


who look on, can through our own physical experience 
know something of the spatial experience of that Other. 
Moreover, as the place of that body alters from point 
to point continuously, a like continuous change takes 
place in the physical experience of that other; the two 
continuities are identical, and we observe that con- 
imtity. And this continuous history, which cannot be 
iuplicated by any other mind, is taken together with its 
view of the Changeless, to form the ground-work of 
its individual identity, of which, thus, through our 
experience of that body, we get some literal glimpse. 

It is for this reason that our conceptions of dis- 
embodied spirit, or of an Other whose body we can- 
not locate or imagine, tend to lose just these qualities 
of individuality and particularity (as early survival theo- 
ries and spiritism sufficiently show) ; we find ourselves 
impelled to assign them deliberately a place or seat in 
Nature, or else in some other nature accessible to us in 
imagination, in order to save their personality from 
obliteration before our minds. How little, then, from 
our ideal of social experience can we dismiss the expe- 
rience of body. 

I trust I may be pardoned for dwelling thus long on 
considerations that are familiar. I confess that this 
extraordinary device by which the Other Mind presents 
itself in the guise of a body in the midst of Nature 
seems to me each time I think of it more wonderful 
than before. The inseparable union of two things so 
disparate as social experience and experience of Nature 
seem to be: is there not a perpetual amazement in 
this? It would be less amazing, perhaps, if it were all 


pure metaphor, or symbol, or the mere outside of what 
is within; but we have noted points at which the mate- 
rial world, as we call it, ceases to be a metaphor and 
shows us, as it were, a literal edge of the Other Spirit 
shimmering through its physical encasements. Surely 
there can be no accident, or superfluous illusion, or 
arbitrary unnecessary sundering of mind from mind 
in such a union. Nature and the natural body must 
'belong with the experience of Other Mind, even in its 
ideal condition. Of myself, I seem to have only mind; 
of the Other, only body: and yet, as I think it through, 
there seems to be nothing about that body which con- 
ceals the spirit body seems to do no more in separating 
than to fix and define the simple other-ness of that Other 
from myself; in all other respects it does but give me 
that Other Mind in more tangible form than by expe- 
rience of its inner life on its own grounds alone, I 
could have it. 

Let me pursue my reflection a step further. I have 
sometimes sat looking at a comrade, speculating on 
this mysterious isolation of self from self. Why are 
we so made that I gaze and see of thee only thy Wall, 
and never Thee? This Wall of thee is but a movable 
part of the Wall of my world ; and I also am a Wall to 
thee : we look out at one another from behind masks. 
How would it seem if my mind could but once be within 
thine; and we could meet and without barrier be with 
each other? And then it has fallen upon me like a 
shock as when one thinking himself alone has felt a 
presence But I am in thy soul. These things around 
me are in thy experience. They are thy own; when I 
touch them and move them I change thee. When 


I look on them I see what thou seest; when I listen, I 
hear what thou hearest. I am in the great Room of 
thy soul; and I experience thy very experience. For 
where art thou? Not there, behind those eyes, within 
that head, in darkness, fraternizing with chemical pro- 
cesses. Of these, in my own case, I know nothing, 
ind will know nothing; for my existence is spent not 
behind my Wall, but in front of it. I am there, where 
I have treasures. And there art thou, also. This 
world in which I live, is the world of thy soul: and 
being within that, I am within thee. I can imagine 
no contact more real and thrilling than this; that we 
should meet and share identity, not through ineffable 
inner depths (alone), but here through the foregrounds 
of common experience; and that thou shouldst be not 
behind that mask but here, pressing with all thy con- 
sciousness upon me, containing me, and these things o 
mine. This is reality: and having seen it thus, I can 
never again be frightened into monadism by reflections 
which have strayed from their guiding insight. 

Any connecting medium is apt to appear as an obstacle 
to direct relationship ; on the other hand any obstacle 
may discover itself to be a mediator, sign of unbroken 
continuity. The sea separates, or the sea connects; 
it cannot do one without doing the other also. So 
Nature may be interpreted in its relation to social con- 
sciousness, as the visible pledge and immediate evidence 
of our living contact. If there be any social conscious- 
ness, it most include within itself just such physical 
appearances as we have been reviewing, even in its ideal 


We have pictured such ideal knowledge of the Other; 
we have faith in it hut we have not verified it. We 
have still to seek experience of the center, the knowledge 
of that which knows 



A NY experience of an Other Mind which I could 
-JL- either wish or fancy must contain in it, we have 
thought, a World, full of sense and variety, full of 
obstinacy, and with substance at the back of it like 
this present world. In a truly social experience, such 
a world would be known as being the world of the 
Other Mind. That world would be known by me; but 
as it were through the eyes of the Other Mind. It 
would be in some sense a world common to both of us; 
known by both at once. 

And though it would be perhaps conceivable that we 
might carry on mutual relations, each of us having his 
own separate world (as, for example, I might imagine 
myself in dream conversing with some resident of 
heaven or hell, having at the same time a vision of that 
spirit's world and reaching some understanding of him 
thereby) : yet all real understanding and mutual meas- 
urement, mutual judgment, appreciation of character and 
so even of self-knowledge, must come through having 
the same world with him throughout. A perfect social 
experience would require that this present world of 
Nature should be known as being the World of the Other, 
precisely as it is my World. 

And here begins our final enquiry. For as it seems 
to me, this present World of Nature is known by me as 


being, in just this sense, a common World: it seems 
to me, indeed, that it is not otherwise known that is, 
that a knowledge of Other Knower is an integral part 
of the simplest knowledge of Nature itself. 

It is more readily granted that social consciousness 
involves nature-consciousness, than that nature-con- 
sciousness involves social consciousness. If for no 
other reason, at least for this : that our experience of 
Nature is constant; whereas our social experience is, at 
hest, intermittent we can and often do experience 
Nature by itself. It is enough if we can find a genuine 
social experience now and then we have not yet done 
so much as this but to make such experience an 
organic part of nature-experience would be to make it 

Yet I confess that I cannot find a genuine social 
experience at all, except as a continuous experience. It 
appears to me that all three types of object are inter- 
mittent in the same sense, and continuous in the same 
sense. Intermittent enough is self-consciousness; yet 
self-consciousness is always with us. Intermittent is 
also the consciousness of Nature, as an object of direct 
attention; yet the undertone of Nature's presence never 
deserts me, even in deep sleep. In a way closely simi- 
lar to that persistent awareness of my Self, which is 
compatible with the most fitful movements of attention 
to Self, is the awareness of Other Mind persistently 
present in experience, though doubtless less readily dis- 
coverable than any other. Inseparably bound up as I 
think with the continuous experience of Nature. And 
such continuous experience is the foundation of all the 


rest. I shall attempt, first of all, to make clear that 
there must be such continuity p , if there, is to be any 
social experience at all* 

The chief elements of intennittency in social experi- 
ence are removed when we look away from the body of 
the Other and regard his environing world of objects. 
It is in these, we have said, that we know him, quite 
as much as in his body. His body appears and disap- 
pears to our sight; but his environment does not dis- 
appear. It is true that these immediate objects of mine 
do cease, when he is gone, to occupy his consciousness, 
and can no longer be counted in his environment. But 
his experience of Nature was not limited to immediate 
objects, and never is so limited. Any idea of a thing, 
is an idea of that thing placed in a world of space and 
energy which remains a constant object. Our Space 
does not move as we move about in it, nor does our 
idea of it alter ; our placings are successful, coherent, 
unconf used, and for any moment absolute, only because 
our ideas reach an unvarying field for these varying 
locations. If, therefore, at any time I have known an 
Other ; and in knowing him have known Nature as his 
object; then this same Nature, with its Space-field, 
Force-field, and the like does not cease to be his 
Object when he disappears. 

As my own physical world is not bounded, at any 
time, by the partition or forest or hill that happens 
to limit my vision, but extends with my Space in all 
directions indefinitely, sodoes his physical world indef- 
initely extend, wherever he may be reaches through- 
out my Space, reaches me and my place, reaches Sub- 
stance that same Substance which I also reach as my 


ultimate object. If I have once got into his world, I 
cannot get out of it while he endures, any more than 
he can get out of my world, so long as I can mean him; 
and these fundamental objects of mine, which I sum up 
in the word Nature, if they have ever been common 
objects, common to him and me, can never thereafter 
cease to be common objects. If my own continuous 
experience of Nature has ever been a social experience 
it can never thereafter lose its social reference. 

But I seem to imply that there can be a beginning 
of social experience, and so a time when it was not 
a time when my experience of Nature was mine alone. 
What I am required to show is that social experience 
has no beginning, except with physical experience 
itself: that my knowledge of Nature and of Other 
Mind are in their whole history interlocked, and 
inseparable. If Nature is ever common object, it has 
always been common object. 

Let us consider how a social experience might be 
supposed to begin, as at times it does appear to begin, 
even abruptly. I think myself alone, for example, and 
with uncomfortable surprise find myself observed. It 
seems to me that I experience a jarring change of 
scene : my various objects have now to be connected 
up, in swift series, with the intruder's eyes. They 
have been exclusive objects ; they have suddenly and 
perforce become common. They are all seared with 
this new relationship, as with a running breath of 
flame, and delivered over to joint ownership. Such 
readjustments often take perceptible time to effect. 
Have we not here a sufficient contrast between solitude 


and society, showing that social experience may 'begin 
being imposed as an addition upon an experience 
not social ? 

What such a transition does unmistakably show is 
that exclusive property in the contents of experience is 
possible and may have distinct value attached to it. 
Such exclusive property is made possible by sensible 
barriers, such as opaqueness and distance. When I 
say, "I am entirely alone and unobserved," I am put- 
ting my trust in these barriers. But when I resort to 
a barrier, I confess that the objects which I thereby seek 
to monopolize or conceal are in some danger of being 
known by Others. They are already thought of by 
me as being sharable. And if they are sharable, it 
is because they are already in the World of an Other 
Mind ; there are continuous lines through space 
between him and me ; our world of Nature is already 
common. Is it not clear that when I suppose myself 
alone, and regard my solitude as an achievement, I am 
in that very thought acknowledging my world of Space 
and Nature to be a world common to me and Others ? 
My negative sociability has a very positive social con- 
sciousness at its basis. 

What such experiences imply and illustrate may be 
more compactly stated in terms of the logic of com- 
munication, as follows : In order that any two beings 
should establish communication, they must already 
have something in common. For when I consider the 
two beings, prior to their communication, as apart 
from one another, I must consider at the same time the 
field through which they must pass to approach each 
other: and this field is already a common field. Two 


beings wholly independent, having no common region 
to measure their distance from one another, having 
between them no continuity through which to travel 
toward each other, are lacking in any " toward " 
are unable therefore to approach each other, cannot 
come together. All actual approach implies a deeper- 
going presence as an accomplished fact. 

Given a minimal core of communication, and further 
communication may spin itself out upon that core, may 
grow intense and varied, develop its ups and downs, its 
relative presences and absences. But given nothing at 
all nothing at all can happen. If then, experience 
ever becomes actually social, it has, in more rarefied 
condition, always been so; and hence is, in the same 
fundamental sense, continuously so. 1 

There is some satisfaction in reducing our ques- 
tion to this alternative : that social experience is either 
always present or never present. If now we can show 
that we have at any time a veritable experience of 

1 There is indeed no sufficient reason for supposing that the sociality 
of my nature-experience continues to exist after my fellow has gone in 
any different sense than before he appeared. The episode of his coming 
and going does not change the physical aspect of my world ; those objects 
of Nature seem intrinsically ready to be observed by an Other Mind, to be 
essentially public in their constitution. If I were actually alone in this 
same cosmos, it is difficult to think that I should be without the idea of 
possible Others, conceived of as sharing it with me ; it is difficult to believe 
that Nature could be experienced a* simply meine Vorstdlung for the 
physical object itself, the common thing, seems to present itself as numer- 
ously knowable, having many unused knowable aspects or valencies which 
I with my single point of view can never exhaust. Nature seems strue- 
twrally common, or let us say commune ; made up with reference to many 
co-experiencing minds. My thought of Nature suffers no jar as men 
come and go, for soci-ability is its element. In experiencing it, I am 
potentially experiencing the Other, and continuously. 


Other Mind, we show that we have such experience 
continually. I believe that this can be shown. 

For suppose that experience is never social. In 
making this supposition, we mean to contrast the sup- 
posed non-social experience with a supposed social 
experience. In imagining my experience to be con- 
fined to myself and my objects, I admit or assume that 
I have an Idea of my experience not-so-confined ; that 
I know what a social experience would be like. Now I 
submit that this Idea of a social experience would 
not ~be possible, unless such an experience were actual. 
Otherwise stated, In any sense in which I can imagine, 
or think, or conceive an experience of Other mind, in 
that same sense I have an experience of Other Mind, 
apart from which I should have no such Idea. 

Por every supposition we may make to the effect 
that our idea of Other Mind is a " mere idea " to which 
no real experience corresponds, that our supposed 
social experience is, in reality, subjective, implies 
that we have in mind a type of experience in com- 
parison with which we can condemn our supposed 
social experience as merely subjective. But the only 
type of experience in comparison with which any ex- 
perience can be judged as merely subjective, is a non- 
subjective experience. The only point of view from 
which our supposed social experience can ~be criticized 
as incomplete is the point of mew of social experience 
itself. The only ground upon which this idea can be 
judged a u mere idea " is the ground of this same idea 
as not mere, namely, as actually bringing me into pres- 
ence of Mind which is not my own. 

Leibniz, for example, judges that all experience is 


monadic, and that monads do not in actuality experi- 
ence each other, though to themselves they seem to do 
so. In making this hypothesis, Leibniz presents to 
himself the world of monads, and he knows their rela- 
tions to be other than they seem : he at any rate occupies 
a non-monadic position, is for the time being an inter- 
monadic Mind. And any one who judges that he 
and God know the actual reach o ideas to fall short 
of their apparent reach, does thereby assert that his 
idea has not thus fallen short. There is no degree of 
outwardness of which we can think ; no degree of real- 
ity which we incline to deny to idea j but in that thought 
we have claimed it for our idea. Let me represent to 
myself the Other Subject, his living center, as inac- 
cessible to my experience ; then either I deny myself 
nothing conceivable, or else I have that which I deny. 

An objection (or, let me say, 2Ae objection): may not 
this idea of a genuine social experience, which you say 
guarantees the experience, be an ideal, i.e., a conception 
of something we may desire and think of, which we may 
well use to criticize what we have, admitting that we 
have it not ? Surely, not every ideal implies the expe- 
rience, but rather the contrary. 

Answer : An ideal is either an extension of experience 
as given, or an innate standard. 

The idea of a genuine experience of Other Mind is 
not an extension of other types of experience. Imag- 
ination has its ways of building improvements on 
experience by combining, enlarging, extending what is 
given, according to known types of relation. But if 
the idea of Other Mind were not already given, it could 


not be built up in this way. Certainly not by any 
arrangement of physical ideas in physical relations; nor 
yet by any arrangement of psychical ideas in psychical 
relations; nor by any union of physical and psychical. 
To reach the idea from these, we must use the special 
relation of Other-self-hood, which is the idea itself. 
Since my idea of social experience is uniquely different 
from all such constructions within the physical and 
psychical worlds, it is not an ideal based on them. It 
is not an ideal by construction at all; what we seek is 
simply the thing, social experience, in its unique differ- 
ence from all immanent variations of other fields of expe^ 
rience. If this unique difference is an ideal merely, it 
is not an ideal by imaginative construction, it must 
be innate. 

To say that an idea is innate, in Cartesian fashion, 
may mean simply that it is once for all there, and there 
is nothing more to be said about it. Or it may mean 
that the idea is due ultimately to some outer source 
(ancestral or divine) ; whereby we only reinvest in that 
Outer Source the difficulty of the idea in question 
namely, how my ideas can reach that which is not-myself . 
Or, it may mean, in Kantian fashion, that the idea is a 
native and necessary form by which the Self orders the 
material of its experience, as otherwise given. Of these, 
the Kantian form is doubtless the strongest: and our 
social experience does most closely resemble, as we have 
noticed, a form of interpretation, a successful hypoth- 
esis clothing our manifold experience-stuff ultimately 
sensation with social meaning. 

As an hypothesis our Idea of Other Mind has certain 
interesting peculiarities* That it is not framed imagina- 


tively of materials taken elsewhere from experience, we 
have observed. But further, there is no way in which 
it could be proved false, or even brought to other test 
than its use. There are various ways in which my 
social judgments may err, and suffer correction in expe- 
rience. Thus I may impute to a friend a false motive, 
accepting his statement that I am in error. This judg- 
ment clearly relies on the more authentic social expe- 
rience for correction. So with other errors, as by mis- 
taking the identity of a person, or by mistaking a post 
for a man ; these are corrected with reference to a bet- 
ter social experience. There is no type of error to which 
social experience is subject which can refer me away 
from social experience for correction, none which can 
send me back into myself for final court of appeal. As 
an hypothesis, the idea of Other Mind cannot be tested, 
nor can it be withdrawn. 

But now, when we suppose that this idea of ours is 
an hypothesis only, what more than hypothesis do we 
think it might be ? We think, do we not, that it might 
be a genuine social experience, and no mere hypothe- 
sis ? But " genuine social experience " is the hypothe- 
sis itself, if it is such. And the contrast between real 
and apparent in social experience is only such contrast 
as social experience has already furnished us with. My 
idea of social experience is then, of social experience as 
it is : my ideal and my idea are the same, they refer 
me to what I have. 

But let me make clear that in referring our idea of 
Other Mind to experience, I do not mean that it is 
derived, in Humian fashion, as a copy from a previous 
impression. It would be as little to the point to suggest 


that my idea of myself is derived from a previous 
impression of myself. My idea of myself is at the same 
time an experience of myself (unless my idea flies wild). 
So, unless as frequently happens I use some paper ciuv 
rency in referring to Other Mind, my idea of Other 
Mind is at the same time an experience of Other Mind. 
Let me hut think what I mean hy the Other Mind, and 
there, as I find my Self, I find the Other also. As an 
idea of a fundamental and constant experience, bound 
up with my equally permanent experiences of Self and 
Nature, this idea is not prior to experience; but is indeed 
prior to all further social experience, to all such as is 
intermittent and subject to error. This fundamental 
experience, and its idea, deserve, from their position in 
knowledge, to be called a concrete a priori knowledge. 

Of the logic of this proof that we have actual expe- 
rience of Other Mind I shall have more to say in a later 
chapter. It stands before us now somewhat barely. 
Unconvincingly, too, unless we can clothe with some liv- 
ing sense that strange assertion that Nature is always 
present to experience as known by an Other. That we 
cannot genuinely conceive ourselves as mentally alone in 
this cosmos, though we can well imagine ourselves bod- 
ily alone. That the inherent publicity of Nature, the 
fitness of all its objects to be communally experienced, is 
no empty potentiality, but a potentiality, founded (like 
other potentialities) on some actuality. We must now 
try to bring that experience more vividly before us j for 
we can hardly believe in an experience which we are yet 
unable to disentangle, or verify in ourselves. But let 
this conviction stand as a firm ground in our further 


search : that we should have no idea of an Other Mind 
or of a social experience unless we had the experience 
itself. That in whatever sense we can think, or imagine, 
or even deny, the reality of that experience, in that 
same sense it must be and is real to us. 

There are, I think, three natural difficulties in the 
way of distinguishing the undertone of social experience 
amid the general rumble of the ground-levels of expe- 
rience. First, that we cannot identify that constant 
Other with any particular individual, yet an Other 
must be an individual. Second, we cannot help regard- 
ing the experience of Nature as sufficient in itself, the 
presence of Others in the world being additional and 
wholly separable fact that the experience of Nature 
may be at the same time a social experience we can 
more readily believe than that it must be. Third, that 
we cannot verify the social experience socially, in the 
same way that we verify the facts of Nature. I shall 
consider these three, beginning with the last named, 
reserving the others to the following chapter. 

An object of knowledge or experience is, for the most 
part, a thing which you and I can verify together. I 
assert that something is true, in history, in physics, in 
mathematics ; and when I make such statements to you, 
I mean that you also can go to the same facts and 
experiences and find the same thing that I have found. 
The truth of my assertion means that it is valid for you 
and other real persons in the same way that it is valid 
for me. This association of minds which we call " we," 
accustomed as it is to sit in united judgment upon facts 
external to itself, cannot in like fashion sit in judgment 


upon itself. If we doubt " we/ 5 we know not to whom 
to appeal. We can hardly find our fundamental social- 
ity, because we can hardly get so far away from it as 
to doubt it. 

Nature is pre-eminently the world of socially verifiable 
things, the world of scientific research which is gen- 
eral human collaboration on a common object. We 
look at Nature through the eyes of a social world. As 
we look at physical things through two eyes at once, 
and our prospect thereby acquires something in solidity 
and depth ; so in quite similar fashion we see objects 
and truths in general through two pairs of eyes, through 
indefinite multitudes of eyes, and thereby acquire that 
deepest solidity of judgment which we call " universal- 
ity." Universality is a social habit ; the necessary habit 
of looking at any truth as if not I alone but the whole 
conscious universe were looking at it with me. The 
simplest judgment of physical things is universal in this 
sense ; the most particular matter of fact, as I place it 
in my world of Nature, is so placed by help of this deep 
sense of the "cloud of witnesses" to whom this fact 
belongs, as well as to myself. Without this habitual 
democracy of judgment, this habitual loss of my life in 
the universal judgment, I can have no life at all in Nature 
or in the world of truth. 

And just because my social consciousness is that with 
which I am thinking my world, I am not at the same 
time and in the same way thinking of it, as one does 
not see his own eyes in the usual processes of seeing 
things. When we speak of experience, what is called 
to mind is usually experience with the experiences left 
out ; experience just so far as it can easily be common 


object and no farther. Hume, in his examination of 
experience, found no Self ; he had gone out of his house, 
as one noted rejoinder had it, and looking in at the 
window was unable to find himself at home. In truth 
it is not I alone, but we who go out, and cannot be dis- 
covered by ourselves in that house. And that same 
reflexive turn of consciousness which takes notice of 
Self, as of something always present, must, if we are 
right, discover the Other also, my other I, perpetual 
sustainer of universality in my judgments of experience. 
When, then, we think of "experience" as something 
solitary and subjective, we are cutting it off from our- 
selves, and calling upon the Other Mind to view it so, 
together with us. Holding it thus, at arm's length, we 
criticize it, and as we thought, by means of an idea of 
something better : we criticize our solitary experience 
by the standard of a conceived social experience which 
would be more comprehensive. And this idea of a 
better, we thought, confessed the reality of that better. 
In truth, we should read the situation the other way. 
That experience, thus held off at arm's length and crit- 
icized, is not the Eeal Experience, judged by standard 
of an Idea of a better. That criticized experience is 
but a conceptual part of reality, abstracted from its con- 
text, and criticized not by idea (alone) but by the reality 
itself. The real and the conceptual have changed places. 
It is through my present inseparable community with 
The Other that I know that abstracted "experience* 5 ' 
to be incomplete. 


OUR second difficulty in finding social experience is 
that the experience of Nature, though admitting 
social experience as an appendage, still seems to be 
something else than social experience, separable from 
it, sufficient in itself. Any particular person may come 
and go, making no difference to my experience of 
Nature. Come and go, not only from my eye-sight, but 
from this World of Time itself. Any particular per- 
son, Nature is independent of; and if of any, then, we 
reason, of all. The soci-ability of Nature is an extra- 
neous circumstance. Nature first is, and then is expe- 
rienced by us ; Nature first is, and then is mine and 
yours and theirs. This is our besetting natural 
Realism ; and it is the most persistent difficulty in the 
way of finding social experience. 

It is fair to recall, at first, that if this natural Real- 
ism is right, there is no such thing as social experience. 
If every mind may come and take its own view of 
Nature without making any difference to Nature, hence 
without weaving into the nature-experience of an Other 
any necessary reference to itself, then a solitary experi- 
ence of Nature is possible. But if a pure solitude is 
possible, it is perpetual. Experience is always and nec- 
essarily social, or never, these are our alternatives. 

But we wish, if passible, to meet our natural Realism 


on its own ground, rather than on our own> and satisfy 
it. Its own ground is, that Nature becomes a medium 
for social intercourse as it were accidentally and exter- 
nally, as one picks up a stone which chance has shaped 
to the hand. Nature-experience becomes associated with 
social consciousness; but is itself to be defined independ- 
ently, or as That Which serves social consciousness. 
In knowing Nature I am indeed always dimly conscious 
of its fortunate publicity. I know myself as merging, on 
this side of my experience, with whatever Other Minds 
may happen to be extant. But all this social reference 
is indeterminate, and adventitious ; it rides on the out- 
side of Nature. Nature is hospitable ; offers infinite and 
permanent possibilities of sociality; caring not, how- 
ever, whether many points of view are occupied, or all, 
or none. Nature-drama goes on, careless of the seat- 
ing of the house, or of the gossip there. This is our 
natural Realism, so far as it has bearing on social 

Now all this is report of truth. I find Nature ready 
made, and so do you. This world, in its constitution, is 
not my doing ; nor is it the doing of any one else situ- 
ated as I am, nor of any assemblage of such. Nature is 
object of our knowledge; and knowledge is co-extensive 
with empiricism, that is, with the attitude of tak- 
ing what is given, in obedience (not, of course, without 
activity, nor without hope). Have we not contended, 
at some length, that the ultimate object of knowl- 
edge has its independence of us; its perfect priority, to 
which we who wish to live submit? It is true that any 
Mind depends on Nature as Nature does not depend on 
tiiat Mind. I would not seek to minimize this independ- 


ent priority, even obstinacy, of Nature. For it is just 
in this character of ultimate opposition to me and my 
wishes, of high superiority to any doings or thinkings 
of mine, that Nature begins to assume for me the 
unmistakable aspect of Other Mind. We must dwell 
for a time on this point. 

So long as our attention is given to a physical object 
for its own sake, or for the sake of further physical ends, 
the independence of the object seems exhausted in that 
mysterious obstinacy which demands our submissive 
attention, our empirical attitude. But that obstinacy 
does not fail to call forth enquiry ; it does appear as a 
"mystery." We cannot accept the simple There-ness 
of Nature as final truth (any more than we could accept 
pain as the last word of pain). We require to know 
why it is there, and by what principle we are made 
dependent upon it. 

The " objectivity " of Nature requires to be explained : 
it admits explanation. This is the critical feature of 
the case. For in so far as we are able to conceive the 
obstinacy of Nature as explained by, or dependent upon, 
some further source of strength, we approach the dis- 
covery of a more fundamental object. We shall find, 
I think, that physical experience, taken as a solitary 
experience, has no very perfect independence of my Self; 
is not so external but that it can at any moment be 
conceived internal to me and does actually roll away 
from sensation into memory (which exists only in me) 
instantaneously (as in a rolling wheel the point of con- 
tact instantly leaves the ground) and without substan- 
tial change : on all these things idealism has suffi- 
ciently enlarged (and the force of this idealistic motive 


comes from conceiving Nature-experience as solitary). 
We shall find that that which is most completely inde- 
pendent of me, external to me, is not physical experi- 
ence per se, but Other Self. The independence of Na- 
ture hangs from this more fundamental independence, 
and not vice versa. The objectivity of the physical 
object is derivative : it shines by reflected light, not by 
its own. 

Let us present experience to ourselves in simple terms, 
as an interplay between an active Self and an active 
External Reality. Grant, tentatively, a degree of inde- 
pendent activity to each. My own independent activ- 
ity in making experience what it is may be fairly esti- 
mated by that force of expectant imagination with 
which I meet and place the materials that sensation 
offers me. The mass of idea which I call my Self, 
my "apperceptive mass," carries on a spontaneous self- 
projection, running-ahead in anticipation of experience : 
and no experience can come to me which is not an 
answer to certain organic questionings set out to receive 
events. Though I do not determine what the detail 
and particularity of experience may be, yet I do expect 
detail and particularity. This scouting-wave of my 
idea-system thus defines a complete physical world, 
in all but the last touch of answer-to-question. My 
present moment expects the next, in all but the last 
touch of change which sensation must give. Large 
world-making powers must, on such showing, be cred- 
ited to the Self. Cut off suddenly that relation to 
External Reality in sensation ; and this world-expecting, 
world-forecasting, world-spinning activity does not cease 


physical worlds still exist for me in imagination, or 
in dream. Here is a complete dream-Space, dream- 
Nature and nature-processes, dream-social-conditions too, 
and all filled in with sufficient dream-detail and partic- 
ularity, on whose development I expectantly wait with 
all appearance of passive, empirical attitude though 
it is my own world. 

There is large creative power here ; yet such, we think, 
as a touch of sensation would shatter like a house of 
cards. That same own-made-world is doubtless per- 
manently present to me ; but as the stars in daylight, 
quantitatively annihilated. What vividness and defi 
niteness I now seem to possess comes, we must still think, 
chiefly through this flood of sense which irrupts upon 
my anticipative out-goings. Cut me off in earnest from 
my experience of Nature, and I tend to become vague, 
indefinite, uncertain of myself. Let me lose a little in 
sight or hearing ; and I find how much not only self 
but sense has been concerned in that influx. However 
vigorous the impetus of advance-weaving on the part 
of my ideas vigorous enough at times to falsify 
experience, displacing feebler sensation my own activ- 
ity always accepts the irruptive material as its own 
authority and completion. Toward that Outer Reality 
I hold myself as toward that which sustains me from 
moment to moment in my present being. 

Is not that outer activity then essentially creative in its 
constant action (as probably also in its original action) 
creative of me? My dependence upon Nature, my 
momentary submission to its independent, obstinate, 
objective decision of what Fact and Truth shall be, both 
in principle and in detail : is not this a finding of my 


own mind? It is here, in this momentary (as well as 
permanent) creation of my Self that I begin, I say, to 
find Nature taking on the aspect of an Other Mind. 

For if the full-fledged otherness of that which is 
thus over against me cannot be doubted, neither can 
it be doubted that this which so immediately becomes 
Self, makes Self, is already a Self even in its other- 
ness, namely, an Other Self. We find the weakness 
of natural Kealism when we consider whether a physi- 
cal experience so organically and actively concerned in 
mind-existence and mind-process could exist also, and 
fully itself, apart from such active relations. If only 
I were independent of Nature, I might think Nature 
independent of Self. But since Nature obstinate is 
Nature creative, and creative of mind ; since my deep- 
est roots and those of all co-experiencing mind are in 
her deepest objectivity, I cannot clear Nature of self- 
hood, though I can well clear her of my own self or of 
any other particular self. 

Space, here, is my space, also everybody's space ; 
and is known as such. Energy is everybody's energy: 
Nature as a whole is everybody's Nature. Even now, 
space, and the rest, are integral parts of everybody's 
mind are idea and experience at the same time; are 
the activity of each finite thinker, but an activity 
held empirically in place by the active decisiveness of 
Outer Reality. You and I vanish, and leave spacfc 
behind leave thereby so much of our mind behind, 
and more. Leave behind necessary elements in our con- 
tinuity,individuality, unity, even character. Leave them 
behind in what condition ? In the same condition in 
which we have always known them: as something com- 


munieated by an Other Mind, and meant by an Other 
Mind. For in immediately experiencing my Self as 
limited and determined (in the ways described) by an 
Absolute Other, I am experiencing that Other as Other 
Mind. As space is found limited by no other than 
more space, so Self is found limited and individualized 
by no other than Other Selfhood. 

This is our fundamental social experience. And I 
wish to make it clear that this experience is not an 
inference, but an immediate experience. As simply as 
Nature presents itself as objective, just so simply and 
directly is the Other Mind present to me in that objec- 
tivity, as its actual meaning. I do not first know my 
physical world as a world of objects and then as a world 
of shared objects : it is through a prior recognition of 
the presence of Other Mind that my physical experience 
acquires objectivity at all. 1 The objectivity of Nature 

1 Nothing is gained in differentiating physical objects from psychical 
objects by pointing out (as is commonly attempted) that the psychical objects 
are for one only, whereas the physical objects are also objects for another. 
This simply doubles the mystery. I have now to understand how these 
physical things can be objects for both of us at once, obstinate to both of 
us, and not to one only: the nature of objectivity itself with its capacity 
of being equally objective to two souls, or even to an infinite number, is 
not in the least illumined. There is rather the additional mystery how I 
know (as it seems I do immediately know by considering the physical 
object alone) that it can be objective to others as well as to myself. Are 
these objects, then, labelled "common," while the others are without such 
labels? have they about them some physical mark which points the mind 
to an other knower? Hardly this. The only way in which I can know an 
object to be common is by catching it in the act of being common, that 
is, by knowing it as known by other mind. The social experience must 
have a prior and original recognizableness. And this recognition of other 
mind than my own is a simultaneous recognition of those aspects of expe- 
rience which such mind needs for the maintenance of its intercourse with 
me, without loss of its own separateness of career. 


is its community, not two facts but one : but the whole 
truth of this one fact (which whole I do not see unless 
I note what I am thinking with] the whole of this 
fact is community. 

Here then is the point in which natural Realism is both 
right and wrong. That which limits and opposes the 
Self, setting bounds to our expectations, offering instead 
of our desire its / am, is indeed Not-self. That outer 
individuality is first our own follows. That outer 
world asserts itself upon me, and creates nie; even my 
"forms of apperception," my space, my time, I accept 
from it and reissue even here I am empirical first and 
creative afterward. In so far natural Realism is right. 
But it is just because the empirical factors of expe- 
rience extend thus through my whole selfhood that this 
Not-myself is known in positive terms as Other-self. 

In failing to penetrate through the blank otherness 
of Nature to the spirit that is its support, natural Real- 
ism falls short of the truth. 1 Idealism corrects this 

1 In the physical experience of outer reality Kant descried the point at 
which subjective idealism is broken : in Wahrnehmung (physical percep- 
tion) he found the active effect of the unknown Thing-in-itself. At this 
point he thought that experience reaches an unusual pitch of outwardness 
reaching, indeed, beyond the Self, achieving the impossible. What is 
the evidence of this feat ? It is that the self here discovers itself in 
process of being made ; finds the source of those individual characters of 
itself, which since they define itself cannot be from itself. But Kant did 
not note that in thus viewing itself as a particular Self, the Ego is accom- 
plishing the standpoint of another (and universal) Self ; and that this 
standpoint is a permanent part of its own being. Hence he misread the 
relation between the active non-ego and the ego in the process of physical 
experience. For causality (on his own showing) it is not ; but communication 
it may well be, and self-communication, which is creation. 

For more explicit discussion of this matter, see the explanatory essay, 
"The Knowledge of Independent Reality." 


error ; and in correcting this error, falls as a rule into 
another it refers the experience of nature to a spiritj 
which turns out to be only the solitary finite self. The 
logic even of ' absolute idealism ' usually fails here, as 
Professor Howison has well shown. 1 The corrective of 
both this natural realism and this solitary idealism must 
be found, not by changing the venue of the question to 
the moral consciousness, but by an appeal from natural 
realism to a realism of social experience. 

If, then, I wish in simplest fashion to find my funda- 
mental social experience, let me consider that feature 
of experience which I call the independence, or objec- 
tivity, of the physical world about me. Let me consider 
that until it is disabused of its finality, and seen to be 
open to challenge; let me consider it until I see that in 
this knowledge (that the objectivity there has a further 
account to give) I am already in present experience of 
that Other Mind which in Nature communicates itself 
to me. The only way to a realism of social experience 
is through a Non-realism in regard to the surface of 
Nature. What we reach is a super-natural Realism, or 
a Social Realism, or more truly a Realism of the Abso- 
lute not far removed from Absolute Idealism. 

1 The Conception of God, Royce, Le Conte, Howison, Mezes, page 
104, etc. 




BUT finally, who and what is this Subject, to which 
we have been referring in such vague terms as the 
Other, the fundamental social object ? 

It cannot be identified with any particular other per- 
sonality such as these with whom I enter into conver- 
sation and reach various stages of acquaintance and 
concrete intercourse. For I recognize them as being 
co-dependent with me upon this same Other Mind 
revealed in Nature. In this intercourse with them there 
are beginnings and endings ; and the entrance of any 
one of them into my life is relatively speaking an acci- 
dent, making unquestionable historical difference in 
that general fund of idea with which I regard Nature, 
but not determining the character of any fact of Nature 
such as he and I might be called upon to give common 
witness to. 

Further, my knowledge of any such individual per- 
son is uncertain, with varying grades of uncertainty. 
I am liable to mistake at many points in interpreting 
his thoughts and experiences; I may be mistaken in his 
identity ; I may even be mistaken in judgment whether 
a conscious subject is there whether any given phys- 
ical object is a body to an Other Mind. I never know 
how much of my physical world is at any time offickt- 


ing as body, and how much is only environment. 1 
have no absolute assurance of these minds severally. 
It is true that on occasion I may be surer of the reality 
of a given fellow man than I am of my own : I may 
call upon my friend to assure me of my own sanity, by 
acknowledging as real for him also an object of mine 
which I fear may be an hallucination. But I am more 
likely to judge his sanity by his assent to the reality of 
objects which apart from him I regard as unquestionably 
real. I am not sure of these fellow minds severally. 

But the doubts to which my experience of individual 
persons is liable must diminish when I consider them not 
separately but together. The reality which I can ques- 
tion in the detached person becomes substantial in groups 
of persons, in my total historical context, in collective 
humanity. The uncertainty which holds against any 
one, can hardly hold against the whole. May not this 
fundamental Other Mind of which we are in search be 
simply my total world of Others in its collective bearing 
upon me? 

Such a world of other spirits does not come and go ; 
it was before me, and shall be after me. Out of such 
fellow beings and the world which they have built up, 
I come; my creation is theirs; and to such, having 
myself shared in creation, I hand on the same world to 
be perpetuated as humanity's world. Might not Nature 
itself be conceived as an expression of the common 
will of such an oveiyindividual or composite entity? 
Through this physical community our developing inter- 
course is built up ; through it, humanity persists in its 
own being, and communicates being, from generation to 
generation. Is it not this common will of mankind, or 


of collective spirit generally, of which in Nature I 
become aware ? 

There are not wanting observable facts of our social 
consciousness which support such a conjecture. Fre- 
quent intercourse with fellow men does much to deter- 
mine the stability of physical experience in comparison 
with the world of imagination. The hermit, the lonely 
sheep-driver, is likely to succumb to his illusions, living 
with them in preference to the world which we of the 
majority call real. 

The explorer, the polar traveller, the man in solitary 
confinement, find the feeling of unreality a more com- 
mon visitor than we do and threatening to become a 
permanent companion. The "established character " 
of Nature is sharpest where men are thickest, is clearly 
some function of the volume of our empirical conver- 
sation : it gives the impression of being a consensus 

But there are several reasons why we cannot accept 
this theory of the Other. One is that any such consen- 
sus implies a prior unity ; we communicate because we 
are already one, a proposition which is as valid for an 
indefinite number of communicators as it is for any two, 
and as valid for present humanity and past humanity 
as for any two contemporaries. The entire individual- 
ity and permanence of Nature implies a corresponding 
individual permanence in the Subject whose commun- 
icated being this Nature is. Upon such ultimate unity 
of substance the unity of each finite self is based. 

Further, that is no genuine social experience which 
is not known as such by the participants. Two beings, 


we have said, can come into communication only if they 
already have some point in common : but if the beings 
are conscious beings, and their communication is to be 
conscious communication, we may specify our proposi- 
tion thus, That two conscious beings can communicate 
only if they already have some known point in common, 
some object known by each as object to both. If I 
have any genuine social experience at all, then at some 
point I do actually know the Other Mind in its know- 
ing beyond any doubt or shifting of identity ; beyond 
any possibility of error in the intentional character of 
the experience that is, in the address of the communi- 
cation to me. This seems a great deal to claim of the 
experience of Other Mind in Nature; but I cannot 
escape these conclusions. And I see clearly that there 
is in no assembly of fellow minds any conscious reference 
of Nature to me; as I see that I have no conscious part 
in presenting my world of objects to them. It is use- 
less to appeal to subconscious activity, for an activity 
that is unintended is not my own. 

In short, we are all, whether singly or collectively, 
empirical knowers of Nature. But if there are none 
but empirical knowers in the world there is no social 
experience. I am only in presence of an Other Mind 
when I have pressed through the region of my passiv- 
ity, and turning its corner, have come upon that which 
is there actively and intentionally creating me. 

Even were there, in addition to all visible passive 
knowers in the world, one all-comprehensive passive 
knower, we should be no nearer a conscious unity. For 
unless he too could pierce the obstinacy and self-asser- 
tiveness of the world confronting him, he would still be, 


so far as his consciousness is concerned, a self-enclosed 
being, and would be obliged as we are to work through 
the problem of that dependence to a knowledge of that 
Other on which he depends. There is no sociality for 
any knower, so we now discover, until the objectivity of 
Nature wins its further meaning, and is found as an 
intentional communication of a Self wholly active. 

It may be that the more we press the conclusions of 
our position, the less we shall be able to recognize in 
any concrete characters of our own experience, the ex- 
perience here described. We have made all social experi- 
ence depend upon a conscious knowledge in experience 
of a being, who in scope and power might well be identi- 
fied with God. We have been led by the successive re- 
quirements of our logic to the position that our first and 
fundamental social experience is an experience of God. 
Where in our continuous current consciousness do we 
recognize any such element as this ? 

Conspicuous in experience such knowledge certainly 
is not ; and as permanent knowledge, with which we 
forever begin, and with which we forever think our 
world, we shall not expect it to be conspicuous. It will 
be present for the most part in no other form than as 
the abiding sense of what stability and certainty we 
have, as we move about among men and things ; it will 
be present for the most part just as our own force of 
self-assertion and self-confidence is present, that force 
by which we individually will " to maintain ourselves 
in being " in a world known, by what assurance we do 
not ordinarily enquire, to be no hostile, nor ultimately 
alien, thing. It will be present chiefly in my persistent 


sense of reality in that with which I am dealing, and 
in those fellow minds with whom I converse. It will 
be present in that sense of reality also in its active 
aspect ; in my own degree of what we have called 
" objectivity of mind/' my disposition to take experi- 
ence with full empirical openness, breast-f orwardly, ori- 
ented by the universal or common eye which the fun- 
damental God-consciousness gives me. In whatever rigid 
scientific acceptance of fact I may accomplish, I detect 
the degree of this experience. And whatever conscious- 
ness I may have of responsibility and dependence are 
workings of the same thing : if I am conscious of obliga- 
tion closely conjoined with the simple fact of my exist- 
ence ; if I know that what creativity I have and must 
have is built upon a continuous docility; in thus know- 
ing I am conscious though but indistinctly of my 
Absolute Other. 

Inseparable from self-consciousness is this experience, 
and discernible in all the dimensions and assertions of 
self-consciousness. God is known as that of which I 
am primarily certain ; and being certain, am certain of 
self and of my world of men and men's objects. I 
shall always be more certain that God is, than what 
he is : it is the age-long problem of religion to bring to 
light the deeper characters of this fundamental expe- 
rience. But the starting point of this development 
(which we shall have occasion to trace in some rough 
way) is no mere That Which, without predicates. Sub- 
stance is known as Subject : reality from the beginning 
is known as God. The idea of God is not an attribute 
which in the course of experience I come to attach to 
my original whole-idea : the unity of my world which 


makes it from the beginning a whole, knowable in sim- 
plicity, is the unity oi! other Selfhood. 

God then is immediately known, and permanently 
known, as the Other Mind which in creating Nature 
is also creating me. Of this knowledge nothing can 
despoil us ; this knowledge has never been wanting to 
the self-knowing mind of man. 

Given this original certainty in social experience, the 
uncertainty and experimentation in the knowledge of 
Other Minds generally can be faced with some confi- 
dence ; no failures here can require a " retreat into the 
subject " ; I can never whether by the logic of my own 
defective social practice or reflection be shut in to myself 
alone, a monad without windows. Bat how do I find 
my fellow men at all ? I have God ; them I have not. 

I answer that here those criteria of the presence of 
other minds which at first we thought could not give 
us what we required, because they presupposed the idea 
of an Other Mind, now have conferred on them the 
breath of life. The idea is in our possession ; with this 
key all metaphors of mind and mind-relations in 
Nature become a living language. I am in possession of 
the net which being hung out in experience will gather 
in what "supplementation of my own fragmentary 
meanings," what response to my questions, may be dis- 
coverable there. I have what Fichte calls the concept 
of a concept in its outward appearance. My current 
social experience, the finding of any fellow finite mind, 
is an application of my prior idea of an Other; in a 
sense, an application of my idea of God. It is through 
the knowledge of God that lam able to Mow men; 


not first through the knowledge of men that I am able 
to know or imagine God. 

And further, in them I find something which I 
require in order to make that consciousness of companion- 
ship wholly actual to me. I have some need to repro- 
duce the relation to God in a visible relationship within 
God's world. Why I must try to make that central 
companionship more tangible and physical I do not here 
enquire ; but in that need, whatever it is, I may find an 
inkling of God's own motive in creating just such a 
sphere of things as this visible Nature-field, in which 
spirits wander as shapes embedded. 

Nor is this applying of the God-idea to these shapes 
wholly unliteral. For God is not apart from what he 
has created. We have found God only in the relation 
of otherness and objectivity. God is other-than-me ; 
also other-than-my-f ellow-Others. We have deliberately 
dwelt upon the absolute objectivity of God ; or rather, 
have chosen to come to the recognition of God in the 
absolute object of knowledge. But we have not been 
unmindful of the truth that Self includes, and is with, 
its objects, in so far as it comprehends them, or is cre- 
ating them. God, then, does actually include me, in so 
far as I am dependent upon him; does likewise include 
those fellow Others, in so far as they also are his 
created work. 

Nature is not, as I experience it, a consensus effect, 
due to the wills of my fellow finite spirits, conscious or 
sub-conscious: but I dare not say that their presence 
has no part in making Nature what it is, even to my 
experience. For Nature, we may say, is the region 
where this system of minds does actually coalesce* 


Space does not reside in me, nor in any mind ; but in 
all minds at once. In space and time and their contents 
we have not merely common objects, we have a region 
of literal common Mind. It is not that we are each 
so constructed after a common pattern called Human 
Nature, with certain a priori ideas or forms of arrang- 
ing experience, that given certain stimuli at our nerve 
ends we all do, as a fact, turn out the same world, each 
in his own private copy. I do not in my growth make 
up a new space and a new causal system for myself. 
I adopt them. Space and Nature are numerically one, 
and I by my community with Other Mind, am born 
inheritor of that one identical object. In my experience 
of Space and Nature I am experiencing identically all 
that Other Mind which is contemplating that same 
object ; in so far, I have an infallible element in my 
knowledge of my finite comrades, as well as in my 
knowledge of God. 

Existence of conscious beings begins, then, if we are 
right, with intimate sociality and dependence ; growth 
gives to each conscious being powers of independent 
world-building and creativity generally. This present 
existence, we say, is an apprenticeship in creativity. 
At the same time (and as part of the same fact) we 
acquire the power of solitude, jutting out into the alone 
alone perhaps even with reference to God. Such a 
monism as this of ours is rather more favorable to per- 
sonal freedom and enterprise than such pluralisms as 
have usually been defined. For we do not begin as sol- 
itary beings and then acquire community : we begin 
as social products, and acquire the arts of solitude 


a direction o progress more hopeful for variety and 
origination than a progress in the reverse direction. 

In applying the name of God to the Other Mind which 
in sustaining physical experience does continually create 
and communicate itself to us, we have gone indeed 
heyond our warrant. We have not here the concep- 
tion of God in its fulness. But we have its ground- 
work. We have what must justify the animism of our 
ancestors, the inevitable animism of all mankind; 
for the finding of spirit in Nature is but the finding 
of the truth as continuously experienced. 

If the difficult problem, what parts of Nature are to 
be regarded as body of Spirit, and what only as envi- 
ronment, is not early solved ; if the idea of Other Mind 
at first is applied too indiscriminately ; that is all such 
work as experience may well take time to perfect. 
Nature, we find, is the mediator of God, par excellence. 
As for our fellow beings, they are first vessels, recipi- 
ent of the meaning already established ; and then sec- 
ondarily mediators, as through them the idea of God 
receives further definition and content. Meager as the 
glimpse of Deity may be which is opened through the 
humble channel of the experience of physical Nature, 
even through sensation, it is sufficient to initiate that 
long course of the knowledge of God in which mankind 
has found its highest ambition. But before glancing at 
the outline of that growing knowledge I shall ask in 
the next chapter to dwell still longer among these severe 
questions of truth and experience, enquiring by what 
other ways men have tried to secure conscious certainty 
of the existence (if not of the presence) of their God. 



TN our search for other Mind we came upon the 
-L experience of God, as by surprise. We were looking 
for man, and we found God. We discovered that our 
fellow Mind can not be touched, except through first 
touching God ; that the one point in which we do break 
through to unmistakable knowledge of spirit not our- 
self is here, in the presence to experience of the Abso- 
lute as Other Mind. Which one point being given, 
all the rest of social experience with its endless experi- 
mentation, trial, error, and infinite acquired skill, can 

We have first found God as a God of physical Nature, 
a God through Nature creating ourselves. And herein 
lies that literalness of the God-idea which we have 
thought necessary for religion. For Nature is the 
home of literalness. To be literal means to be real 
in the same definite and particular fashion that we sur- 
mise in sensation, and realize in the precise work of 
physical science. Sensation embodies for us much of 
what we conceive all reality ought to be in definiteness 
and vivid individuality. Nature has its decisive yea 
or nay for every question that can be put to it. We 
would not lose these qualities from our religious con- 
sciousness. And we do not lose them if we can inter- 


pret the whole individuality of Nature as one with the 
individuality of God in its communicated form. 

Doubtless we feel in this conception at once the de- 
fects of literalness also, a certain obnoxious and hum- 
drum levelling of religion to the status of fact. This 
is a fault of emphasis : it is the literal that has been 
by necessity uppermost in our discussion, but literalness, 
of course, does not tell the whole story of any spirit's 
existence. It is merely an attribute which, among the 
rest, we should sorely miss if it were absent. It is not 
customary, I know, to seek for God at the level of sen- 
sation : that is one reason why it has seemed to me 
important to have found him there. Sensation may 
supply, as it were, a missing dimension to our thought 
of God. God must now be to us not less real and 
present than Nature, not less definitively here and 
now than these impressive objective Facts. 

We have no reason to think slightingly of sensation, 
or to refer to it as the lowest level of our being. It 
marks, in many ways, the line of our limitation; 
line of our passivity and dependence; line oftentimes 
of intellectual and moral defeat; a region which self 
and idea fail to penetrate; but by that same sign 
containing the soil and air of the future. The line 
of our limitation may be, if we will, the line where 
we meet God. Where should we more expect to meet 

We have not been expressly undertaking a proof of 
the existence of God. But in finding God as a neces- 
sary object of experience, have we not, in a way suffi- 
cient and decisive, proved his existence? What other 


final proof can we have that any being exists than to 
find, or demonstrate, that Being in experience? For 
my power of recognizing existence is summed up in 
the word experience. 

Still, this again has not been the usual procedure of 
those who have tried to reach conscious assurance that 
there is a God. Proving God has usually meant rea- 
soning away to God, by making speculative connections 
between the world that now is and its unseen author or 
destiny. And if we believe with Kant, and with many 
another, that God is not to be found in experience, there 
are none but such speculative connections to be made. 
We have thought, however, that experience is essen- 
tially metaphysical, the place in which we meet Real- 
ity; in experience we are "taught/ 5 our errors are 
corrected, our true ideas confirmed, by what else than 
by Keality ? In common action we are dealing with the 
passing, and with the Absolute: and it is for us 
to recognize that Absolute as Spirit. The course of 
discovery which leads to that recognition this will be 
our interpretation of the process of "proof " of God's 

Such proof is but a clearing of the mind, so that 
experience may be recognized for what it is: it is a 
banishing of illusions, a consideration of what we may 
expect to find, and could wish to find ; and a noting 
that this wish of ours corresponds to experience as we 
have it. Proof, in this sense, does but follow the route 
of prayer, which also is a u lifting of the mind to 
God"; not in any sense equivalent to prayer, but mak- 
ing evident that filament of wholly objective rektedness 
between man and God which (as a minimal core of com- 


munity) must lie at the center of all ventures toward 
further and moral relationship. 

What such, proof assumes is simply that God and 
the world do stand in permanent organic relationship, 
and that the traces of this relationship cannot be lack- 
ing in experience. Proof, in this sense, is a necessary 
concern of religion ; whose function is to make the way 
to God plain to all men, to escape from the accidental 
and the fortuitous, to establish universal and conscious 
intercourse between the human and the divine. Proof 
in set terms has never been the work of religion ; for 
religion knows how to convey proof, or demonstration, in 
the form of deeds. Religion practically and personally 
points men to God ; let philosophy give men the con- 
scious possession and certainty of this which religion 
has in deed established. The proof of God, we may 
say, is the good faith of man with regard to religion. 
It is not a thing with which religion can dispense ; nor 
has religion ever been willing to forgo it. 

If proof, then, is the finding of the way to God from 
where one at any time consciously stands, the proofs 
may be as many as the standpoints are many. But in 
so far as we can describe in general terms the conscious 
situation of all men, there is but one way to God, and 
one proof. We shall attempt to make clear in this 
chapter the nature of that proof in the barest possible 
sketch, and after all is there not some keen and pro- 
per satisfaction in the utmost bareness of statement, 
when a truth has once been grasped as truth ? 

Nature appears to men as their most general bond 
of community. Nature also appears as existence par 


excellence. When we lose sight of God, Nature becomes 
our standard of reality. If we have a God we should 
like to make his existence as sure as that ! Hence it is 
that most attempts at proof of God have begun with 
Nature, and have tried to make his existence secure by 
showing him in some valid connection with this world, 
such as that of cause to the world as effect. God as 
cause of the world would be real even as the world is 
real. The so-called cosmological argument follows this 
line of connection, and finds that the world has a single 
conscious cause, itself uncaused, who is God. 

If we wish to be assured that this cause is not only a 
voluntary cause but a benevolent one as well, we make 
a premise of the good which as experienced in the 
world is our natural type of goodness; and we find that 
the intender of this is good even as the result is good. 

But by these means we do not find God. If we 
could prove a first and conscious cause, still we could 
prove only such cause as is equivalent to his effect; we 
could prove only such goodness as is equivalent to this 
mixture of goodness and evil that we here find. A very 
limited Being would this be, a God who is only as great 
as his world, only as good, and finally only as real. 

By such ways we can only reach a being in whom the 
qualities of experience are refunded, without change or 
heightening. But in such case, we may as well believe 
in the world as we find it ; and proceed with our work 
of mastering it, without reference to God. 

Such proofs are not wholly true to the spirit of reli- 
gion ; for historically men have lifted their minds to God 
rather because the world is unsatisfactory, than because 
it satisfies. We wish a God who is greater than the 


world, also better than the world as found, and also 
more real. 

And such more perfect being is what these proofs have 
in spirit sought : for in referring the world to a conscious 
Will, they have meant to imply that Will is greater than 
Nature ; and in making the world dependent upon a di- 
vine Purpose they have intended to show that the Good 
is more real than the evil, and will vindicate itself. But 
clearly no such results can be gained by taking Nature 
as a standard and moving toward God by relations of 
causality or purpose : these relations can rise no higher 
than their source. It is the denial of that assumed 
starting-point that is the intellectual heart of religion. 

On the other hand, we cannot dispense with the world 
as a point of beginning for the reasons given. What 
other way, then, can be found of relating this world to 
God ? Follow the history of religion. Observe the 
Mind dissatisfied with its world. Note the criticism 
which it makes of Nature, as less than self-sufficient, 
less than all-good, less than real. And note that of 
a sudden it has claimed to possess the self-sufficient, 
the good, the real. What has occurred to the mind 
of man ? 

It may seem as though that with which man had been 
criticizing his experience, namely, his idea of a better 
and more real, had in a moment taken on objective shape 
to him. His dissatisfaction with his world has implied 
a conception of a world not thus defective, and this con- 
ception has been set up as substantial fact, in his idea of 
God. He has turned his idea into a reality ; or he has 
instinctively assigned a reality to his idea, yet without 
blurring the features of his actual world. It is some 


leap from idea to reality that constitutes the essential 
historic movement of the mind to God. 

Now it is just this leap from idea to reality that dis- 
tinguishes an ancient proof of God's existence; a proof 
which has become known as the ** ontological argument," 
the argument which assigns a real or ontological value to 
an idea. I have an idea of God : therefore God exists. 

In general, the circumstance that I have an idea of an 
object is the emptiest of reasons for supposing that object 
to exist. Whatever force such reasoning can have must 
depend on some peculiarities of the idea of God, not found 
in ideas or ideals generally. It must be shown, as 
we tried to show of the idea of Other Mind, that this 
idea has something unique about it which forbids the 
supposition that it is a " mere idea." This, with various 
degrees of success, have the thinkers who resort to the 
ontological argument from Augustine and Anselm 
to Hegel and Royce tried to do. It is always with 
some incredulity that we meet the assertion that any 
idea of ours carries with it its own guarantee of reality* 
Yet this same ontological argument is the only one which 
is wholly faithful to the history, the anthropology, of 
religion. It is the only proof of God* 

Although an idea which should carry on its face an 
assurance of reality must have something unique about 
it, we are not without analogies which may help to 
interpret this extraordinary type of argument. The idea 
of God is not the only one of our ideas which seems to 
convey an assurance of objectivity. My idea of space, 
for example, I incline to regard as real. Of my idea of 
causality, I can hardly think that it is an idea only, a 


form of relating events without an objective counterpart. 
So also with the heauty of things, or their goodness ; 
I know that these are ideas of mine, and yet as I regard 
these qualities valid for other viewers of the same objects, 
I attribute these qualities to the objects. Instinctively 
also we project beyond ourselves, or repudiate in some 
way as not our own, whatever in idea is new, whatever 
is sublime and holy, whatever is obligatory, whatever 
strikes me with a consciousness of my self as a lesser 
thing. Even self-consciousness seems to come, at times, 
as a revelation from beyond myself. It is not without 
precedent, then, that an idea should convey with itself 
some apparent title to reality : it is not impossible that 
some idea, as perchance the idea of God, should be able 
to make this title good. 

Let us examine this movement of thought more 
nearly. Nature must early have appeared to man as 
somewhat less than real else those early speculations 
with regard to a creator or maker would hardly have 
occurred to him. At the root of all these awkward 
conceptions regarding clay-shaping or egg-laying or 
spewing or magic-word-pronouncing deities lies an 
uneasy persuasion that the things of physical existence 
are subject to something; and to something of the 
quality of human spirit. If Nature ever wore to early 
man that aspect which seems primary to us the 
aspect of self-sufficiency, it must have gone hand in hand 
with a quite contrary aspect that of being illusory, 
also possible to us, though with some effort. 

We may find that illusory aspect by such consid- 
erations as these: The appearance of self-sufficiency 
belongs not more to Nature as a whole than to each thing 


in Nature. By that same view which shows us Naturt 
as there in its own right, is also each thing there in 
its own right. But with regard to the several things 
in Nature we know that this appearance is not true* 
The apparent self-sufficiency of single things if real 
would make the World an aggregate in which every 
thing went its own way without regard to another : self* 
sufficiency of the parts is equivalent to acddentality. 
Each thing is in reality infinitely dependent on all 
the rest. But with the banishment of self-sufficiency 
in the parts, there is no retaining of it in the Whole : 
there is nothing in which this infinite dependence of 
part on part comes to rest, unless I conceive the whole 
thing as dependent on my Self, dream-fashion, deriv- 
ing its reality, so to speak, from the center outward^ 
rather than from inaccessible infinitely distant world- 
borders and beginnings inward. The world is real I 
now say simply as my experience a not-unheard-of 
point of view. The self-sufficient world of Nature 
has suddenly become an illusion. 

Yet I cannot rest here ; because I know that I am 
not the source of the reality of Nature. True, if I am 
not real, nothing is real: something in my conception 
of reality starts from me; and all my objects become 
real, as by infection from that. But true it is, likewise, 
that unless Nature is real, nothing is real: something 
in my conception of reality is borne in upon me from 
beyond. I am real, in part, by virtue of what is not- 
myself. The real must partake of the qualities of 
myself and of Nature; and must be other than either. 

Through this experience of cognitive restlessness (or 
a dialectic ") early man, to whom the illusory side of 


Nature was more f amiliar probably than to us, may have 
passed in his own readier way ; he finds as his resting 
place the real as Creative Spirit. Nature settles into 
its third stage of regard : it is neither self -sufficient nor 
illusory ; it has derivative reality. As over against me, 
it is real; as over against the Creative Spirit, it is not 
real. But how is this conception hit upon ? May it 
be that this thought of Nature as dependent on Spirit 
is some quick embodiment of an elusive but genuine 
experience ? This idea of a creator does indeed quickly 
float away from any experience it may have sprung from; 
becoming promptly materialized and set in the sky as 
part of the world-created removed from that World, 
yet all too much involved in it. Yet may it be that this 
idea is one which must have reality? 

Must it not be so ? For one thing I cannot by any 
means escape : namely, that reality itself is present to 
me in experience ; and all of this process of judging 
this and that thing to be unreal or less than real is made 
possible simply by the grasp of that reality which at 
any moment I have. My negations are made possible 
by my one secure position; and as my hold on reality 
is variable, so my ability to see through the various 
pretenders-to-reality to reality itself will vary. Nature 
can only appear to me as illusory in some moment of 
unusual clearness of perception ; for ordinarily the pre- 
tence of nature to be self-sufficient is a harmless and 
even useful simplification of my view. So if my own 
existence is recognized by me in some moment as a 
partial and dependent existence, that recognition is a 
moment of "illumination," in which the relation of my 
self to what is beyond my self becomes presently dis- 


tinct: and in grasping this relation, I am catching some 
fleeting glimpse of the terms between which the rela- 
tion exists. I am experiencing that which is beyond 
myself in no wise differently than in that moment I am 
experiencing myself: and my judgment of dependence 
is made possible by a positive and present knowledge of 
that upon which I depend. 

If, then, I discover that my world of nature and self, 
taken severally or together, falls short of reality, this dis- 
covery is due to what I know of reality not abstractly, 
but in experience. If I judge this system of nature-and- 
self to be non-self-sufficient, it is by a knowledge of the 
self-sufficient ; if I condemn, it is by virtue of something 
in my possession not subject to condemnation; if I crit- 
icize and correct, it is by comparison with or reference 
to some present object not subject to criticism and cor- 
rection. When I perceive myself in this curious rela- 
tion to the world of physical facts superior and not 
superior, creative and unable to create that play of 
unrest is due to, and is defining, a simultaneous percep- 
tion of the object to which this unrest does not apply. 
The positive content which I give to that absolute object 
is a report of experience ; whatever idea I make of it is 
an idea derived nowhere but from that experience. If 
I am able to frame a tenable conception of nature in 
dependence upon a creative spirit not myself, that con- 
ception is true ; for my idea can set me outside of nature 
only as in experience I have already broken away from 
the spell of the natural world. In whatever sense, then, 
I am able to conceive nature as dependent upon spirit, 
in that sense nature is dependent upon spirit. This idea 
carries its reality with it. 


It is impossible that my idea should be a "mere" 
idea, for it is only possible for me to take this stand- 
point, external to nature and myself, in idea in so far as 
I do at the same time take it in experience also* And 
that this experience of a more valid reality than that of 
nature is truly described as an experience of other mind, 
we have in our previous chapter sufficiently dwelt upon. 
The ontological argument may be regarded as a logi- 
cal epitome of what we there, in our own independent 
research, came upon. 1 The ontological argument, in its 
true form, is a report of experience. 


1 If we wished, in briefest compass, to state the antith- 
esis between the ontological argument and other argu- 
ments for the existence of a God, we might put the 
situation thus : 

These other arguments reason that because the worlce 
is- God is. The ontological argument reasons thai 
because the world is not, God is. It is not from ths 
world as a stable premise that we can proceed to God 
as a conclusion : it is rather when the world ceases to 
satisfy us as a premise, and appears as a conclusion from 
something more substantial, that we find God pro- 
ceeding then from the world as a conclusion to God as 
a premise. We have no other premise to begin with : no 
proof of God can be deductive. It is because neither my 
world nor myself can serve as a foundation for thought 
and action that I must grope for a deeper foundation. 

1 Here the abstract argument of a former part of the book (ch. xii) 
maintaining the need of religion for basis in an independent reality, begins 
to receive its concrete filling. I may again refer the reader for further 
illustration of this logical situation to the appended essay on " The Knowl- 
edge of Independent Reality." 


And what I learn in this groping is, that my conscious- 
ness of those defects will reveal, though in faintest de- 
gree, the positive object which is free therefrom. It is 
because we cannot infer from nature to God along causal 
or other natural lines, and only because of this, that the 
idea of God implies existence. 

It is not every historical form of theontological argu- 
ment that has expressed this experience : and not 
every form of it appears to me valid. It does not seem 
to me that any abstract idea of an " all-perfect being " 
must necessarily be real. Nor does it seem to me that 
we are justified in inferring from any idea to its reality 
unless that reality can be present to the idea in experi- 
ence. No form of the argument can be valid which finds 
God at the level of thought only, and not at the level of 
sensation. We are only justified in attributing reality 
to an idea if reality is already present in the discovery of 
the idea. When in our search for reality we fix atten- 
tion upon Nature, it is because we already know that 
whatever reality is, it cannot be out of connection with 
that world of Nature-experience : and when we judge 
Nature unreal, it is only as we discover at the same time 
in concrete way how Nature is related to the Real. I 
can infer from that idea by which I criticize Nature to 
the reality of that idea only because I know Nature (and 
Self) to contain some characters of reality that cannot 
be omitted, or left behind. My real must already be 
given, in order that my idea may be found real. The 
true idea of God is not one which can leave out either 
Nature or myself ; if my idea of God is real, it is real 
in experience. Hence I have preferred to state the 


argument not thus : I have an idea of God, therefore 
God exists. But rather thus : I have an idea of God, 
therefore I have an experience of God. 

Eeality can only be proved by the ontological argu- 
ment; and conversely, the ontological argument can only 
be applied to reality. But in so far as reality dwells in 
Self, or Other Mind, or Nature, an ontological argu- 
ment may be stated in proof of their existence. Thus, 
the Cartesian certitude may with greater validity be put 
into this form : 

I think myself, therefore I exist; or 

I have an idea of Self, Self exists. 
For in thinking myself I find myself in experience and 
thus in living relation to that reality which experience 
presents. So may it be with Nature : 

I have an idea of physical Nature, Nature exists. 
That is, in whatever sense I conceive Nature, in that 
sense physical nature is real. Idealism has wavered 
much in its judgment regarding the reality of Nature, 
and of u material substance." It has said that we have 
no idea of matter ; and again it has said that matter 
does not exist, which implies that we have an idea of it. 
Some meaning, however, we do attribute to the word 
matter; and without enquiring what that definable mean- 
ing may be, we may say in advance that whatever idea 
is framable corresponds to reality as experienced. We 
need not fear that this realism of Nature will detach 
Nature from God; though if we could think it so 
detached it would doubtless so exist. For of independ- 
ence also, in whatever sense I can think the independ- 
ence of beings, in that sense independence obtains 
between them. That which is most independent of me, 


namely the Other Mind, has been the first object of our 
ontological findings. The object of certain knowledge 
has this threefold structure, Self, Nature, and Other 
Mind; and God, the appropriate object of ontological 
proof, includes these three. 

And is not, after all, this same ancient ontological 
argument the great and timely necessity for man in 
all his thinking? That which permanently threatens 
all our thinking is the damning commentary, "mere 
thought" our own commentary on our own work, 
especially upon our own religion. Escape from illu- 
sion is what we require, whether in dealing with God or 
man or nature ; escape from phantasmal intercourse, from 
subjective prisons from whose walls words and prayers 
rebound without outer effect. Idea we must have if we 
think; but an adequate realism for our idea we must 
also have. We shall never be too fully assured that 
our idea has reached beyond ourself , and has its ground 
in that which is not ourself. 

Any reflection that can infallibly break the walls of 
the Self, opens up at once an infinite World-field. Set 
a second to my One, and I have given all the numbers. 
A single point outside the circle of " Bewusstseins- 
immanenz" and I am free to open myself to all reality 
and to all men. It is this point that the ontological 
argument aims to put into our possession ; the reflection 
which this argument embodies is the only, and wholly 
simple, defence against our besetting subjectivity. " Be- 
think thyself of the ground whereon thon standest. By 
what idea hast thou judged thy thought to be illusion, 
and mere subjectivity ? Is it not by an idea of some- 


thing wholly actual and immediate ? Is not that Real- 
ity thy own present possession?" 

This present actuality of experience, " pure experi- 
ence," finds me in living relation with that which is 
most utterly not-myself . Here, in the immediate, is my 
absolute escape from immediacy. Here in the given 
present is my escape from myself, my window opening 
upon infinity, my exit into God. Religion thus becomes 
the concrete bond between men ; for he who has con- 
sciously found his way to God, has found his way to 
man also. 

Thus it is that idea may give back the reality of 
which idea is forever robbing us ; for while idea is the 
greatest enemy of the actual, it is only through idea 
that idea can be held firmly to its compelling and con- 
trolling object, the real as found in experience. 



MAN knows well that he is not alone : he does not 
so well know in what companionship he is. The 
knowledge of the presence of spirit beyond self is no 
conjecture; nor does this social experience ever arise. 
Man's world is from the first a living world, even a 
divine world; and primitive animism is in so far no 
mere theory, but a report of certain and intimate expe- 
rience. There are no dead things in that early world 
of swarming spirits. 

But this, we think, is at once its glory and its chief 
defect. The idea of Other Mind is applied too indis- 
criminately, and in too petty a fashion. The conception 
of the inanimate is one we have had to work for. The 
growth of social intelligence is in the direction of clear- 
ing away the exuberance of animce, of charting certain 
large tracts of Nature which wemay regard as uninhabited, 
and hence subject to unlimited remorseless exploitation. 
We require not so much for free movement as for 
free-hearted movement a belief in the dead: we need 
to know Nature as very largely environment, and very 
little body-of-Mind; we need to regard the phenomena 
of physical fact for the most part as essentially the 
world of objects, of things intended rather than of 
intentions, mine of meanings to be dug out, veil of 
osmosis between humanity and Creative Spirit gener- 


ally having no intrinsic claim on deference for its 
own sake. 

We find it even now hard enough to decide, as we 
pass down the scale of organisms and therefrom into 
the inorganic world, where animation ceases or whether 
it ceases. Even of such conquests as we have made, 
our sense of continuity and doctrines of panpsychism 
are willing to deprive us. It is hard to conceive that 
the livingness of micro-organisms is to be traced back- 
ward, not to the atoms and molecules which have been 
synthesized in their protoplasm/ but to the whole liv- 
ing world itself. Yet this way lies progress. Not all 
the world is body; not every unit our fancy outlines as 
One Thing is the metaphor of an individual spirit. Our 
animistic world must be clarified, and its life concen- 
trated in more definite foci; gaining at once in meaning 
and in character. 

This is, I suppose, the sense of the advance by which 
man gets himself gods in place of spirits only. Spirits 
are mere flashes of divine life breaking out here and 
there, spot-wise, in Nature and in human event, as we 
have seen. They float with the stream of event, pass 
with the event, are numerous as the events are numerous, 
have no persistent individuality, are remembered only 
as a shock or an excitement is remembered, take alto- 
gether the character of the historic medium in which 
they are found. There are no gods here. Nor can there 
be gods until man in some way begins to think. He 
must get his world into more general unities by clas- 
sifying and speculating: he must see similarities in the 
forces of light and storm and sea, in the life-producing 
1 See for example Verworn, Protistenstudien* 


agencies of plant and animal and man; and, perhaps 
with the division of labor in his own societies, he must 
conceive the functions of the spirits, and assign a recur- 
ring though intermittent function (healing, or luck 
of chase, or boundary-protection, or sending of sons) 
to a special, or at least continuous, spiritual agency. 
Thus arise functional deities, and causal deities, and 
deities presiding over the three or four great spheres 
of Nature, heaven, earth, sky, water; and even deities 
of species as of tree-life in general or of fox-life or of 
eagle-life, deities which pass from one fox or eagle to 
another on the death or sacrifice of the one, from the 
whole of a field to its last sheaf as the harvesting 
progresses, and then reappear next year in the next 
crop. All these take the place of the fitful spirits of par- 
ticular objects and events, not without aid from all the 
agencies of man's growing culture which are fostering 
this thinking process; and man finds himself supplied 
with gods. 

But there is one other character of a god, lacking 
to spirits, beside these of continuous individuality, wide 
scope, and definite function or group of functions. The 
god is addressed: men use toward the god the vocative 
case; use "Thou" and not only "It" or "He." The 
god having a continuous character may also support a 
definite relationship, even an institution of intercourse 
In gaining a more general scope, the god has loosened 
his attachment to particular physical objects; but he 
never completely detaches himself from the tangible: 
he resides, perhaps voluntarily, in some special place or 
thing and this relic and clue to the god, seems to 
serve as the means of approach, physical and mental. 


Through his holy place, his temple, his pillar, his image, 
his altar, his ark, the spirit becomes an historic god, 
worshipable by an historic people in definite institu- 
tional ways. 

Herewith the way is opened for a new method of 
progress in divine knowledge, the method of experi- 
ment: the god's dealings with his worshippers become 
matter of record in tradition : and slow as men are to 
learn new things about deity, or to give up old ones, there 
is a wholly verifiable process of elimination and survival 
of ideas about God, predicates of God, in religions which 
have attained the historic stage. With the acquisition 
of a god in place of a spirit, the knowledge of God 
becomes a matter of tribal, national, racial experience. 

It is not my intention here to follow the history of 
the growth of the idea of God, even if that were possi- 
ble. I wish to consider only some of the principles 
involved in this growth and a few of its directions. 

It is a curious paradox that this most original and 
constant knowledge should be the one most and longest 
subject to change, the most ancient subject of human 
experimentation, the most encumbered with rubbish 
and error. We understand in part the reasons for these 
errors. We understand that it is not natural for man 
to reflect, becoming fully aware of that with which he 
is thinking. We understand that we have little or no 
native power of recognizing either self or God apart 
from mediators : so that in the conceptions we make 
of God there must always be an overburden and over- 
influence of the medium, physical or personal, wherein 
God is thought. 


Still, we have not to read the development of religious 
thought as a progress from error to truth. We must 
read it as a progress of growing acquaintance, adding 
to ideas which from the first have been true within their 
own intention. Early man thinks of God, no doubt, 
more truly than he is able to say or hand down in lan- 
guage ; and we cannot forget that it is his infallible 
identification of God in experience which enables him 
from time to time to correct his straying conceptions. 
After all, there is no other essential error in thinking 
of God than this : that God becomes an object among 
other objects, natural or psychical. And this is not all 
error. For not only do these over- materialized concep- 
tions hold fast the genuine objectivity of God (which 
all-important character is usually weakened by attempts 
to think of God as pure spirit) ; but further, there is 
indispensable truth in the tendency to incarnate God in 
his works, and to think of him as there where his activ- 
ity is, and where his objects are* I would rather have 
a worshipper of a thousand idols than a worshipper of a 
subjective deity or of an abstraction. 

What a man begins with in knowing God is truth. 
He adds to this, further truth and an admixture of 
error and earth. The elimination of this error by fur- 
ther experience does at the same time develop the truth 
still farther. The growth in the knowledge of God is 
a growth of predicates. Every mediator gives some 
quality or predicate to the experience of God. The 
early mediation of God-knowledge is fragmentary and 
occasional, albeit cumulative: but with progress further 
aspects of experience, social, political, moral, concerns 
of theory and art, acquire reference to the conscious- 


ness of God, until it becomes a postulate of religion 
that God is to be seen in everything, even in evil. As 
many mediators, so many predicates ; and doubtless so 
many problems also. For a predicate is, in general, 
nearly as false as it is true ; and the accumulation of 
religious knowledge is no simple sum of positive con- 
tributions. Yet given the infallible identity of the 
subject-matter, the growth of this knowledge is not in 
principle unlike that of all knowledge. 

There is one peculiarity, however, that deserves men* 
tion. I have said that these predicates of God are, 
each one of them, nearly as false as true; always in 
need of being balanced by a predicate of opposite or 
contrasting name. 1 God is person and no-person ; lov- 

1 Among the psychological reasons for the inadequacy of any given 
predicate is this : that as such predicates arise in experience their most 
emphatic elements are their negations. They are surer of what they 
deny than of what they affirm; and should be read in the light of these 
denials. Those occasions which early excite the specifically religious- 
turn of reflection are occasions, as we can now see, when some incongruity 
is felt in applying the usual habits of thought. Thus in the event of a 
birth. The insistent naturalism of the birth process clashes hard against 
man's pride and spiritual self-consciousness. There is unfailingly roused 
some doubt of Nature, some wonder ending in a denial in which flesh is 
reduced from a finality to a symbol. The reality of the birth, so we assert, 
is something other and more than its physiology; and this something 
other is able to confer dignity and awe on that event. All this, which 
here takes the form of an inference, is in fact a direct report of the feel- 
ings that here, though with greater struggle than usual, the spirit alone 
is real and essential, not deserting nor despising but interpreting the 
material. So with other propitious and unpropitious aspects of experience, 
with disease, and death, and marriage, and wherever the course of events 
most surely and elementally strikes religious fire the same sense of 
incongruity and conflict will be found. And in all this man is naturally 
more aware of the cheekage, the emotion, the disturbance in self-con* 
sciousness, than he can be of that by which the habits of his thought are 
being checked (on the one hand) and maintained (on the other), his 


ing and non-loving ; fighter and no fighter; just and 
yet alike to all ; merciful and unbending. The positive 
and tenable value of any predicate, subject to such sub- 
tractions, is problematic. God appears as a being in 
whom opposite traits are strangely united: but the 
nature of the center in which such oppositions agree, 
or are neutralized, is not picturable is known, if at 
all, only to immediate experience. As an object in the 
world of objects, God is next to nothing ; so the mys- 
tics have always truly said. Hence atheism is truer 
than many a florid religiosity whose God is but a sur- 
feited agglomerate of laudatory epithets. Atheism is 
the proper purgative for this kind of religion ; and has 
been historically an indispensable agency in deepening 
and keeping sound the knowledge of God. 

But atheism discards the one hopeful element in the 
situation, namely, that God may actually furnish the 
solution of these dilemmas; which are never problems 
about God alone, but are at the same time threatened split- 
tings in the world of human idea and ideal. For man, 
as a thing of Nature, is a being of opposing instincts, 
whose balance becomes increasingly fine ; and only in the 
increasing security of hold upon some Absolute, such 
as sanctions both the one and the other of the diver- 
gent ideals, can his tottering balance be kept. With 
his God, as a god of opposing predicates, this growing 
instability of human nature becomes a condition of 

ultimate consciousness of God. He is moved, but he does not see clearly 
of what idea his feeling is the work. He reports his experience, there' 
fore, in the form of dogma ; adopting snch positive objects as he can 
distinguish and judge appropriate to his feeling. Hence his dogma is 
permanently subject to the elimination of whatever is extraneous in the 
assumed objects. 


speed in his forward movement. Thus, in more senses 
than one, is God the pledge of the unity of human 
nature. It is by holding vigorously to the identity of 
the ultimate Object of experience that the antitheses in 
the judgments about God (and about man) do in time 
get their positive solution. But let us consider some 
of these antitheses. 

One elementary antithesis in the thought of God is 
that between the one and the many ; between polytheism 
and monotheism. This is a primitive antithesis, but 
also a permanent one : for every other antithesis has 
some bearing on this one, as, for example, that be- 
tween the personal and the impersonal. God as per- 
sonal inclines to be many, since the personal being 
seems to have outline, and to need external relations 
to other persons : even in Christianity the persons of 
God are three, whereas the Godhead which is one is 
relatively neuter. 

The development of religion has been, in the main, 
in the direction of unifying the heavens, a continuation 
of the movement from spirit to the god. But there 
is a current in the opposite direction also. The god- 
meaning has always been single ; that is, spirits have 
always been known as belonging to the genus divine, 
supernatural. And this belonging to the one genus 
has frequently meant, even for very primitive thinkers, 
a participation in one pervasive world-energy. 1 Behind 
the numerous gods we can usually discover a more 
general divinity, vaguer but also more exalted, and 

1 See Arthur 0. Lovejoy. The Fundamental Concept of the Priml 
tive Philosophy. 


often more ancient than the rest. Man has never been 
in doubt that the qualities of God are such as can 
belong only to one ; and even when he has many deities, 
they are addressed in turn (for the most part) as the 
all-powerf ul, the Lord of lords. A polytheism that is 
not in some sense a henotheism is yet to be discovered. 
The many gods have had their birth one by one, each 
one in turn a god, or rather an attempt at God. The 
gods must grow in number because the first god-shapes 
are too poor. Each god satisfies within the region of 
his own group of events; seems hero and superlative 
enough in his own province. But another province 
requires another figure of God. Hence we may say 
that polytheisms are galleries of aborted monotheisms ; 
collections of god-figures each of which well intends to 
be all, but is incompetent. There is no such thing in 
history as a primitive monotheism ; but there is a per- 
manent singleness in the thought of deity which man 
forever departs from, through loyalty to the variety of 
deity's manifestations. 

Polytheism then has its right; its richness; its 
acknowledgment of the omnipresence of deity. It is 
truer than many a monotheism. Premature monothe- 
isms have invariably been too poor. Witness the sad- 
fated monotheistic moment of Egypt; the sun-disk god 
of Amenophis IV. Witness those other royal mono- 
theisms in Peru and Mexico. There was memorable 
reasoning in that speech of the Inca in religious con- 
clave, worthy of being transmitted from times long 
prior to the Spanish discovery : " We are told, he said, 
that the Sun has made all things. But this cannot be j 
for many things happen when he is absent. He behaves 


neither like a living thing, for he never tires; nor 
like a free thing, for he never varies his path. There- 
fore the sun must have his master, greater than he; 
which greater god we ought to worship." Yet it was 
not the destiny of this greater god, nor of the greater 
gods of Persia nor of India to attain sway over the 
religious sense of man. Pantheism goes farther, is 
able to dissolve and absorb the many partial deities ; but 
pantheism also is a unity still too poor and quantitative, 
breaking out everywhere in assertions wholly polytheis- 
tic, "This thing is god, and that, and that." It is 
long before monotheism can be true for man's concep- 
tion. It cannot be true until after much free growth of 
the God-idea (in which each new element in the concep- 
tion of God may appear as the birth of a new deity), God 
can be known in experience as the one o/all these many. 

Another antithesis is that between God as near and 
God as remote ; an antithesis which has taken technical 
shape as that between the transcendence and the imma- 
nence of God. This also is associated with the contrast 
between the personal and the impersonal. For the god 
who is near is apt to be thought of as sympathetic, and 
so far like mankind ; the remote god is thought of for 
the most part as unlike and impersonal. In the logic 
of the Inca reformer above quoted, the deity in becom- 
ing one became at the same time more remote and less 
personal : his temple near Callao held no images, and 
witnessed no sacrifices. 

Here again the direction of religious progress is not 
single, but twofold. We have heard much in recent 
years of the advantages of the immanent God; and I 


have nothing to say in doubt of these advantages 
they are the modern form of the more omnipresent and 
polytheistic aspects of religion. But they are fatal 
advantages if they lose from sight that other direction 
of progress, notable from the earliest, the retreat of God. 
Religion may be too romantic, too much interested in 
what is not here but beyond somewhere in the ineffable; 
yet religion if it lives chiefly in the next things will 
turn out to be no religion at all. In proportion as the 
religious horizon is drawn close, the gamut of religious 
experience becomes trivial. 

Early gods are like man and near him. But still, 
they were as unlike and as remote as he could imagine 
them. The differences between spirits and men, the gulf 
fixed between the natural and the supernatural gulf 
leaped in death the exaggerations and superlatives, 
these are as important parts of the conception as are 
the likenesses and the simplicities of intercourse. When 
man can think beyond the sun, and beyond the sky, 
there God goes, and probably first goes. For the God- 
idea, as the limiting idea of man, is also his explorative 
idea : by dwelling in speculative fancy on that which 
is beyond what he has yet thought, man prepares the 
next conceptual conquests wins at length one more 
idea of which he must say, God is not that. We need 
not fear that God will be thrust out of consciousness 
by this effort to assign him ultimate otherness; for 
God-thinking can not well expel God from thought. On 
the contrary the work done, and the potential acquired, 
by dint of such endless series of negations, is a most 
practical measure of the worth of that conception for 
the lives of the thinkers. 


For we do not find that the greatness of man and 
the importance of human business are in proportion to 
the restriction of man's outlook, but the reverse. The 
present day has its supreme worth, every present moment 
is the measure of all the rest : but this is so, in the 
main, because every present day is " the conflux of two 
eternities," which eternities being eliminated the worth 
disappears also. We have outgrown the days when 
we make the citizen great by making the government 
small ; we shall outgrow the days when we make man 
great by making God small and useful. 

The apostle of the present moment depends for his 
persuasiveness upon his skilful use of the remote. The 
charm of Omar is wholly dependent upon his vision of 
the long reaches of destiny in which that moment is 
framed, and which none knows how to invoke more 
finely than Omar himself. It is the thought of the 
Seven Seas which makes the plash of the pebble a mel- 
ancholy marvel : and it is the vista of the long human 
caravan, with a delicate loyalty to its shadowy figures 
as they vanish, which lifts Omar's own moment from 
the level of the sensual into the atmosphere of alluring 
poetic worth. It is that remote thing with which we 
think the present that gives value to the present. And 
in this same way, and quite unconsciously for the most 
part, the remote God-thought of the Orient (where the 
sublimity and romance of religion are native-air) has 
served through centuries to preserve from utter desola- 
tion the value-element in millions of careers which to 
our eyes are inconceivably monotonous and intolerable. 

The near-by deity of a religion that betones imma- 
nence proves in experience to be a baffling object of 


worship. Paradoxically enough he is not so accessible 
as the unreachable God. If we look through the history 
of religion for instances of genuine intimacy between the 
worshipper and his god, we do not light upon sorcerers 
generally and their " familiar" spirits, nor upon the 
relation between the human Greek and his human Zeus. 
There could be no intimacy here, simply because this 
Zeus was all too near and all too human. Such deities 
have descended too far into the current of the world in 
which all things and all spirits are insulated one from 
another. We might more probably think of the Persian 
Mazdeans, between whom and their Ahura there was a 
tie of remarkable intensity : and yet Ahura Mazda even 
more than the god of the Jews was a being of remote 
and transcendent nature. The explanation of the 
paradox seems to be this : that the effort to think God 
must first differentiate God from our other objects. 
But we also are in a different world from that of any 
of our World-objects : something in us is foreign and 
transcendent to all that we view. There could be no 
absolute rapprochement between the heart of this alien- 
within-the-world which we call Self and its God, unless 
that God were also in some way alien to that same 
realm. Worship must be always in some measure, as 
Plotinus puts it, a flight of the Alone to the Alone. 

The religion of Brahm is the historic demonstration 
of this truth, in the abstract. For these Brahman 
pietists who most clearly recognized and defined the 
otherness of God from all things phenomenal and even 
conceivable were the ones who first asserted (so far 
as history knows) the immediate unity between the 
ineffable without and the ineffable within. 


Upon this point of the remoteness of God as object 
we have much to relearn that the Orient has neve* 
forgotten. We have God the Son, as they had not 
there is little danger that we shall lose the perception 
of the divinity of the Life within Nature and Man and 
Present Affairs. But while God the Son may now have 
become our necessary way to practical union with the 
Father, yet the Father must first be known before the 
Son is recognized as God. Without the Father, the 
Son is a mere man : for the incarnate is always bound 
and infected by the finite thing it touches. Until the 
human spirit knows the self that is more at home in the 
infinite than here among Things, it has not yet found 
its Self nor its God. Only the transcendent God can 
be truly immanent. This also is a matter of experience. 

One of the most striking stages in the development 
of religion is the epoch when religion adopts morals as 
its own province, and when the gods of religion take on 
ethical character. This is so distinctive an advance 
from earlier amoral thoughts of God, which present 
him simply in terms of nature-powers, quite as likely to 
be evil as good, that most classifications of historic 
religions (Tiele's especially) mark off in some way the 
"ethical religions" from the earlier as merely " natural- 
istic" or "objective/' How do the judgments arise 
that God is good, or that he is moral ? Is it not rather 
that he is found favoring the good of men and the 
right of men, than that he is himself good or moral in 
any sense in which we attribute these terms to each 
other ? Immoral or malevolent, God cannot be ; but 
there is a struggle in our thought of God between the 


God that is described by our ideal predicates, and that 
God who rejects all these as something less and other 
than the truth. And here again, we can see at once 
that the problem of personality and impersonality is 

It is pertinent to call attention to the fact that the 
God who merely is, as our Absolute Other, is by that 
fact both promotive of our weal and of our morality, 
This has been one of our cardinal doctrines. In our 
discussion of the need of God we showed in some detail 
how the mere presence of a companion Mind, standing 
outside the arena of human effort with its contrasts of 
good and evil, may be found, in experience, to transmute 
evil into good ; that while, by this very experience, the 
companion would deserve the attribute of goodness, yet 
this standing outside the arena itself is a necessary con- 
dition of his being found all-powerful in this trans- 
muting work. It is not otherwise with the morality 
of God. Did not Jesus of Nazareth preach that new 
conception of God's justice which so strongly resembles 
an indifferent treatment of the righteous and the 
unrighteous ? If God merely is, that existence of God 
is a promotive of human morality. For what is the 
essential morality of man if not this, that he make 
himself universal, escaping in thought and act from his 
self-enclosedness ? If God were but a point external 
to man's consciousness, and if man could reach thai-/ 
point, his feat in doing so would be at least the begin- 
ning of morality. The moral importance of God in 
history has been chiefly dependent on the relations 
which man has sustained to his gods : loyalty to a god 
is a moral relation ; and when through loyal obedience 


to a common god men become loyal to fellow-tribesmen 
and their customs, that god is favoring morality among 
men, quite apart from any mythical reputation he may 
have. In finding God as simply existent we find him, 
I say, both good and righteous in his activity j and the 
condition for so finding him is that he himself remain 
above the contrasts of good and evil. 

There are then, we believe, no pre-ethical stages of 
religion, though there are indeed pre-legalistic stages ; 
there is no moment at which God in his totality begins 
to be thought of as good, though there are great 
moments in religious development when specific charac- 
ters of God's goodness become clear, as of " mercy " 
and " loving-kindness " ; and finally, there are no such 
specific predicates of good that do not stand in need, 
as we think of them, of being tempered with contrast- 
ing qualities, such as justice and universality. The 
God-idea must advance at times from the moral to 
the amoral, as well as in the reverse direction. But 
herewith the question of the moral attributes of God 
debouches wholly into the question of God's personality. 
This question we have variously encountered, and shall 
now briefly touch upon for itself. 

We have found God in the first place as an Other 
Mind, an individual Subject, wholly active: and no 
war of predicates can invade this certainty. But so 
large are the differences between this Other Mind and 
those with whom we commonly converse, that we do 
continually recur to the query, How shall we think of 
Him ? We are baffled and not foolishly by the absence 
of a body that we can attribute to God j for here the 


perfect metaphor of Nature seems to break there 
is no point of view which is God's in particular, and 
the being that has every point of view loses to us all 
semblance of individuality. " that I knew where I 
might find Him." 

It is something to note that our body is the sign of 
our limitation, and of our dependence. Our body is 
that through which we are acted upon as well as that 
through which we act. But our body is also that 
through which we are found and become personally 
present to other persons. The abolition of body is the 
abolition of the recognizable and the understandable in 
all personal relations. 

And we see, too, that the advance of religion has 
been very largely from personality to impersonality. 
For most like ourselves are those early sonls, doubles, 
shadows, which people the other world. Eeligion must 
lose that literally human heaven, and its human gods, 
and therewith vanish from grasp and from interest. 
The alternative to the thought of God as person is the 
thought of him as Substance, as Energy, and chiefly as 
Law. Brahmanism, we may say, finds God as Substance, 
the great That Which. Buddhism, often accused of 
having no supreme god, sometimes described as the 
godless religion, has also its Absolute : but its god is 
the Law, the law of Karma, the fixed principle of justice 
in the heart of all change. Karma is, as nearly as 
possible, a "Moral Order of the Universe," in which 
terms though with quite other meaning Fichte de- 
scribed his deity. Emerson's " Spiritual Laws" which 
are alive and which execute themselves, which are an- 
other name for his Over-soul, are a deity of not unlike 


character. The Greek Fate and Chaos, the Stoic mate- 
rial Keason, the Chinese Tao : all such conceptions of 
God, are they not the enlightened thoughts of men 
about deity? Have we not said but lately that the re- 
mote God is the primary necessity of religion? 

We have said this ; and noted at that time that man 
is not made great by diminishing the majesty of his 
world. In the same spirit we may now say that man 
is not aggrandized nor freed by weakening the type of 
his world's unity. Just as we could not enhance our 
own definiteness by blurring the definiteness of Nature, 
but the contrary : so we should detract from our own 
concreteness in any detraction from the concreteness of 
our world-unity, and in our thought of it. There is 
neither merit nor truth in rarefying the thought of God; 
nor in presenting him to our conceptions in terms of 
some thinner and weaker sort of world-unity easier to 
image and believe in than a personal world-unity. 

It is God in external relation to me, as my Other, 
that seems the personal God ; it is God as the Whole, 
including me within himself, that seems impersonal: 
and the true God is the Whole, as in Christian doctrine 
God is the One of the three persons. But we may dis- 
cern in the world generally a principle to the effect that 
inner relations assimilate themselves to outer rela- 
tions, and conversely. Thus, of organisms, the whole 
cares for the parts in the same sense that the parts may 
be said to care for each other : and the several organs of 
an organism do tend to reproduce in themselves the fea- 
tures of that whole, becoming in themselves organisms 
with internal relations resembling their own outward 
relations. Of State and citizen the same holds: and 


whatever the character of the State in its international 
relations, that same character (be it of Athenian greed, 
or of Machiavellian expediency, or of better sorts) will 
reproduce itself in the character of the members of the 
State. Now the State is in some measure an artificial 
body, and its moral quality lags behind the qualities of 
its members. But the World is not artificial: the char- 
acter of the World is first, that of its members de- 
rivative. We may find our thought of God following 
in arrear of the best conception we have of ourselves; 
but it is only because we know that whatever selfhood 
we have is an involution of the selfhood of the Whole, 
and that our external relations to our fellows do but 
follow and reproduce in their own more distant fashion 
the relation of God to us which from his view is inter- 
nal. Hence the remark that "Man is never long con- 
tent to worship gods of moral character greatly inferior 
to his own " l may be accepted, with its sting drawn, 
because of what we know of our relation to the Whole 
of which we are natural parts. 

The conception of God as Law has its right in 
destroying the poverty of my thought of personality. 
I confess that this word "person" has for me a harsh 
and rigid sound, smacking of the Eoman Code. I do 
not love the word personality. I want whatever is 
accidental and arbitrary and atomic and limited and 
case-hardened about that conception to be persistently 
beaten and broken by whatever of God I can see in the 
living law and order of this Universe until it also has 
all such totality and warmth. 

But I see that personality is a stronger idea than law ; 

* McDougalL Social Psychology, p. 311. 2d edition. 


and has promise of mutuality and intercourse that laws, 
even if living, cannot afford. I see further that person- 
ality can include law, as law cannot include personality. 
And I see, finally, that this deepening conception of 
personality is not more an ideal than an experience. 
For God is not falsely judged in experience to be both 
the one and the other. The negation of any one such 
attribute by the other is only for the enlargement of 
the first, not for its destruction. Until I can perfectly 
conceive personality, God must be for me alternately 
person and law; with the knowledge that these two 
attributes of one being are not, in truth, inconsistent, 
and that their mode of union is also something that I 
shall verify in some moment of present knowledge, as by 
anticipation of an ultimate attainment. Not only is God 
to be found in experience, but whatever attributes are 
genuinely predicated of him are to be found there also. 
God is the Eternal Substance, and is known as such; 
God is also the Eternal Order of things : but God is 
That Which does whatever Substance is found to do. 
If it is the knowledge of God that first gives us our 
human comradeship and its varied and satisfying respon- 
siveness, the God who is the bearer of that responsiveness 
is not himself without response. These comrades are in 
a measure God's organs of response, even as Nature is 
God's announcement of his presence and individuality : 
but God has also a responsiveness of his own, and herein 
lies the immediate experience of the personality of God. 
The relations between man and God have, in the course 
of religious history, become more deeply personal and 
passionate, with the deepening sense of evil and spiritual 
distress. The soul finds at length its divine companion. 


But as religion enters into these deeper and more fertile 
strata of the knowledge of God, it becomes evident 
that the development of religion falls increasingly upon 
the shoulders of individual men, whose experience of 
God and its cognitive content becomes authoritative for 
others. We find that religion becomes universal at 
the same time that it becomes most peculiarly personal, 
and takes its impetus and name from individual founders 
and prophets. Buddhism and Christianity and Islam 
are religions of redemption and of universal propagan- 
dism ; and it is they, chiefly, that willingly refer their 
character and revelation of God to one person. Our 
understanding of the higher stages of the knowledge 
of God, so far as man has yet progressed in this knowl- 
edge, will best be pursued in a closer study of mysticism 
and worship. 




WORSHIP, or prayer, is the especial sphere of the 
will in religion. It is an act of approach to 
God : and while this act involves a lifting of thought 
to God, it is more than an act of thought it intends to 
institute some communication or transaction with God 
wherein will answers will. 

What this transaction may signify it is not easy to 
understand. Prayer is instinctive; and as with all 
instinctive actions its motive lies deeper than any obvious 
utility: our attempts at explanation are likely to leave 
its ultimate meaning uncaught. The motive of worship 
may seem to he moral an impulse of deference to the 
great and holy and a desire to share in that holiness ; or 
we may think to discern an end more deliberatelyjprac&caZ, 
as when prayer takes the form of propitiation or petition: 
yet all such moral and practical motives are but appur- 
tenances of the primary motive, which as yet we must 
simply call religious allowing its rightful uniqueness 
and problematic character. Worship, we may say, is 
governed by the " love of God " whatever this mys- 
terious phrase may mean. In so far as love seeks 
knowledge of its object, worship resembles thinking : yet 
love seeks its knowledge by its own way and method, 
characteristically different from the way of reflection: 
it is these differences which are now important to us. 


For philosophy, in its rightful and necessary effort to 
do justice to the religious idea in contrast to a religion 
of feeling, is inclined to halt in the world of thought, 
unable to see what more than thinking may be involved 
in the act of prayer. Kecognizing that idea is neces- 
sary, it assumes that deliberate reflection is sufficient. 
It identifies Gottesdienst with Denken, and thereby 
impoverishes the meaning of worship. 

Worship is indeed a reasonable act, even when 
instinctive and momentary : it is informed of God ; it 
uses and contains all available knowledge of the being 
whom it addresses. But in worship the universality of 
thought is overcome ; and God is appropriated uniquely 
to the individual self. Worship brings the experience 
of God to pass in self-consciousness with a searching 
valency not obligatory upon the pure thinker : in some 
way it enacts the presence of God, sets God into the 
will to work there. In the nature of the case, the 
aspect of deity which reason discovers is an uncondi- 
tional, inevitable, universal presence: from such a 
presence there can be no escape and so no drawing 
near save by the movements of deliberate attention. 
But the drawing-near of worship is more than a 
movement of attention. 

Our philosophical thought finds God as an object 
in the third person, not in the second. Thinking comes 
upon God in a contemplation which the sound of the 
word " Thou " would break and startle. There is here 
some spell of distance, some veil of insulation, from 
which natural religion does not suffer. In worship, not 
alone the universality, but also the objectivity proper to 
deliberate thought must be accepted and overcome. 


Our moral freedom consists in this, that in knowing 
God we maintain a moment of reserve; the further 
relation requires a further consent. And in the consent 
which distinguishes the act of worship, objectivity, the 
otherness of God and man, ceases to he the whole truth 
of that relationship. 

What this further element may be, we shall for the 
present simply illustrate. We are well acquainted with 
the difference between the observer of life and the 
sharer of it. We know the man to whom nature, for 
instance, is a foreign and independent spectacle, and 
the man who in the presence of nature readily becomes 
a part of all that is around him. We know the man who 
in all social situations maintains some fine insulation, 
some predominance of the self-preserving instinct; and 
we know the man whose self spontaneously diffuses and 
mingles with each situation by some natural osmosis 
between him and his object. And we know further 
that while the former temper has a certain advantage 
in discoursing about its world, the latter temper though 
less fluent in speech does win a kind of knowledge of 
its world which the less adventurous and more objective 
temper may wholly fail to understand. We experience 
these varieties of temper in ourselves, and know well 
that while this consent is sometimes in our power, at 
other times even this touch of freedom which makes us 
one with our object seems to have drifted beyond our 
present grasp. And though this difference has cogni- 
tive consequences, we are inclined to refer it at last to 
an attitude of will, to a moral difference which in its 
beginnings is under voluntary control. In any case we 
recognize here an other-than-theoretical relation to our 


object, a relation which surmounts objectivity without 
destroying it, and which is seen quite simply in that 
transition in consciousness from " he " to " thou," and 
from "thou "to "we." 

These two aspects of our living belong together. As 
we have just now compared the two tempers of isola- 
tion from our objects and of fusion with them we 
recognize that neither would be significant without the 
other. Distance without fusion becomes individualistic 
and sterile; fusion without distance is formless, senti- 
mental, and oppressive. We want our living to add to 
its objectivity this unifying consent ; but we want no 
consent save of one who in thought has made himself 
free. Consent, and that union with the object so 
curiously uncommandable by direct effort, flows through 
and around all our deliberate thought-work, lifting and 
floating it on the tide of a more central relationship 
with our world. Eeflective thought, it appears, is too 
purposive, active, self-distinguishing, self-preserving, 
and at the same time too unindividual and unfree in 
its result, to do justice to the meaning of worship. 

The discrepancy between these two processes appears 
most vividly when we consider their historical aspect. 
If we identify the essence of worship with thinking, 
then whatever else has been historically associated with 
worship by way of external action, ceremonial form, 
and the like, is set aside as accidental, as something 
with which the man of thought may dispense, as some- 
thing with which civilization itself will dispense in time. 
From this point of view, historical worship has two ele- 
ments: reflection (which is important) and rite (which 


is relatively unimportant), the merely practical aspect 
of religion, making use of the knowledge of God but 
adding nothing to it. These practices, as we now see, 
are not only untheoretical they are even peculiarly 
unpractical : here is a great accretion of activities, not 
turned outward into the world, but directed upward 
and disappearing in their energies, like the fire of sacri- 
fice, in an unanswered gesture of aspiration unan- 
swered, unexplained, though seemingly undiscouraged. 
This external part of worship is the exclamatory or 
demonstrative side of religion ; it is religion vaunting 
itself, celebrating itself, decorating itself, and in the 
process of time these externalities, once pedagogically 
or socially useful, become unnecessary. 

But our historic conscience has been making us aware 
that this line of cleavage between the important and the 
unimportant in religion is badly drawn. It produces a 
conception of religion which is in much danger of omit- 
ting religion itself. For religion has always assumed 
that there is something in particular to be done about 
God ; and has identified itself with the work of doing 
it. It has assembled religious practices into institu- 
tions systems of just such special activities; it has 
spent itself in perfecting and establishing them ; and 
what a spectacle do these structures constitute as they 
heap themselves in history. What will our philosophies 
make of this rank growth of deed, ceremony, orgy, 
assembly, ritual, sacrifice, sacrament, observances pub- 
lic and private of a thousand sorts? Is all this to be 
left as an alien mass? are these performances and 
experiences to be turned over chiefly to the student of 
abnormal psychology? If in the presence of these 


phenomena of religious practice our most lively sense 
is a sense of the erratic, do we not thereby measure 
the inadequacy of our understanding ? Must not the 
mere bulk and persistence of this aspect of religion 
convey some impression of importance ; and still more 
so, the intensity of spirit with which it has been carried 
on ? Our eliminations of the unimportant in religion 
must mightily reduce this mass, no doubt ; but it will 
not all be cut away from religion. Something which is 
other than reflective thought will appear as an essential 
ingredient of worship. And perhaps a rapid survey of 
these historic phenomena may suggest what this essen- 
tial ingredient is. We shall find religion, perhaps, 
making its own selection. 

There is no moment in the early history of religion 
when this active, vocative side of worship is without its 
own distinct importance, real or supposed. If man's 
religion is first embodied in his exclamations, these 
exclamations were at once cognitions and prayers, incip- 
ient transactions. God-friendly and God-unfriendly 
are distinguishable even here; and God-unfriendly can 
be made God-friendly. What consequences may hang 
from this practical issue of the friendliness of God is 
not clear early theories are no better than our own : 
the imagination exhausts itself in picturing the divine 
rewards and punishments ; but behind all these pictures 
there is, even from the beginning, a residual import- 
ance in being right with deity which we might call an 
ontological importance, i.e., affecting somehow the 
substance of one's self, the soul and its destiny, open- 
ing up some bottomless depths of being such as the eye 
is hardly fitted to gaze into. The amount of power 


that can be released when the religious nerve is pressed 
is quite out of proportion to the belief in the more 
definable pleasures and pains. Let political and legal 
needs make the most of this superstitious potency while 
it lasts. To keep God friendly there are few efforts 
that men will not make, few privations that they will 
not undergo. It is but a trifling symbol of such efforts 
and privations that the god requires a deliberate and 
methodical approach in sacrifices and prayer; whatever 
importance religion has begins to concentrate in the 
special act of worship. 

But these necessary moments of approach have their 
own terrors, when some one must take it upon him- 
self to break through the habitual taboo of Holiness ; 
a cloud of oppressive gravity deepens over the event, 
supportable only by fierce resolution, wrapped probably 
in mutilation and blood. And when the act is accom- 
plished in safety, an exultancy equally fierce floods the 
brain ; exhibitions of savage gaiety, the license of super- 
men, can alone satisfy the spirit. We are strangers 
now to this vehemence, whether for better or for worse; 
but we can still catch from afar the pulse of this ancient 
ocean, its terrors and its glorious liberations. We can 
understand how this strange sense of ontological im- 
portance must condense in any phase of human experi- 
ence in which the actual remoteness of deity seemed 
overcome. We shall expect it to set excessive value 
upon those states of enthusiasm, ecstasy, intoxication, 
in which heaven and earth were felt to flow together ; 
and to raise into prominence persons specially apt 
in the arts of worship, quite apart from any other 
human capacity that these persons might have or lack. 


Thus the system of worship develops its adepts,- 
its mystics. 

Judging externally, from the qualities of dervishdom, 
yoginism, devoteeship and sainthood generally, all these 
special achievements of approach to God might he 
regarded as the luxury or extravagance of the religious 
consciousness, were it not that they have been regarded 
by religion as in some form and degree its chief neces- 
sity. Eeligion (which in any given people lives more or 
less as a single body) seems to breathe chiefly through 
the experience of individuals who carry to its highest 
the art of personal worship : the Brahmin becomes holy 
because the act of prayer (Brahman) is holy. The value 
of the saint, to all appearances, must lie in the simple 
fact that he knows how to communicate with God ; this 
simple fact gives to his look, his gait, his way of judg- 
ing events, the sentences that fall from his lips, an 
unaccountable weight. Of substantial result not much 
more can be extracted from these persons; not much 
more has been demanded of them. Their art of dealing 
with the god has been a matter of wonder not to the 
people only, but to themselves as well ; they have diffi- 
culty in communicating either that art or its significant 
fruits to the religious public. They do not mix well, 
these mystics : they must live as objects to the crowd, 
solitary often, often in exclusive groups of like-minded 
spirits, willing and able to accept from each other large 
meanings on small suggestions, leaping to some substance 
through a swirl of dizzy symbol. It is this difficulty of 
communication, this separation from the mass in thought 
and habit, this embarrassment of speech, which has 
embodied itself in the word mysticism. 


The suspicion of unreality and o pious distemper 
which this name must always bear is a monument, not 
all unjust, to the vanity of those who first adopted it, 
as if their esoteric knowledge and privilege with deity, 
this circumstance of separation from the rest of men, 
were the essence of their art, and wholly a matter for 
congratulation. But it matters not to us if some or 
even most prophets have been vain or false, if there 
are any true prophets. In this, as in other great mat- 
ters, nature makes a thousand failures to bring forth 
one consummate product. The existence of the gen- 
uine mystic Bernard, Mohammed, Lao Tze, Plotinus, 
Eckhart, John of the Cross however seldom he is 
found, is the momentous thing ; sufficient to command 
respect for the tradition of mysticism, sufficient to jus- 
tify the attention which through religious history has 
been focussed upon these individuals. 

For the mysteries and the mystics have in the course 
of time distilled into their own tradition the essence of 
religious practice. They know, if any know, how it is 
that the knowledge of God can be the most universal 
of perceptions, and at the same time the most rare and 
difficult. They know wherein the act of prayer differs 
from an act of reflective thought. A philosophy of 
mysticism would be a philosophy of worship. 


WHEN we speak of mysticism we have now before our 
mind a great historic phenomenon, found everywhere 
that religion is found: for as there is no religion without 
worship, so there is no religion without its specialists in 
worship. And a survey of the modes of approach to God 
practised by the mystics in all ages seems to confirm our 
distinction between worship and the usual processes of 
thought. In these strange courtings of frenzy, ecstasy, 
intoxication; in these traps set for the inspiring deity, 
preparations elaborate, demonstrative, fantastic, inhuman at 
times, we see little external resemblance to the quieter 
processes of reflection. 

Yet, as the methods of devotion clarify; as excitement 
learns its own due channels, finding assuagement in art and 
ceremonial dignity ; and especially as worship recovers a right 
to private as well as to public pursuit ; worship approximates 
meditation, even externally. Worship takes on the aspect of 
a more deliberate, intense, and thorough thinking. In thought 
as in worship, I must to some extent remove myself from the 
current of experience, from " appearances " ; I must stop the 
intrusions of sense, and check the prepossessions of habitual 
idea. Further, in thought as in worship, I must yield myself 
to my object and identify my being for the time with its own. 
Worship, then, is but the completion, is it not, of these par- 
tial works of common thought? and true worship will issue 
in true knowledge, as its essential result and aim. What 

1 Readers whose eye may have fallen upon an article in Mind, Janu- 
ary 1912, on "The meaning of mysticism as seen through its psychology/' 
will perhaps recognize in this note and in some of the following chapters 
disjecta membra of that article, much revised. 


this knowledge is, the mystics will report as their peculiar 

Thus some of the greater mystics and schools of mysticism 
have actually reduced worship back again to thinking, con- 
templation, reflection ; and have represented the end of wor- 
ship as a personal knowledge of God, or even as a doctrine 
about God. To the Vedantist, thought becomes the true 
sacrifice, equivalent to and replacing all other sacrifices. The 
only art of the mystic is after all an art of knowing, difficult 
perhaps, but not different in character from other thought. 
Naturally, then, we might expect the doctrines of the mystics 
to approach a common type ; and we might better identify 
mysticism with its cognitive result than with any peculiar act 
of will deserving the special name of worship. Such has 
been, in fact, the fortune of mysticism: in so far as the 
mystics have presented their results systematically they have 
tended to a common type of metaphysical theory; and the 
name mysticism has become attached to a well-known and 
well-refuted doctrine about the nature of God, or of Eeality. 
In the refutation of that doctrine the excuse for worship as 
a peculiar esoteric art of thinking disappears, and practical 
religion merges itself with philosophical thought. 

Thus, when Eoyce writes of mysticism he treats it as one 
of the four leading types of metaphysical system, identified 
with the doctrine that reality is pure unity, the negation of all 
appearances and pluralities, immediate therefore and ineffable. 
Of this doctrine Eoyce exhibits the emptiness in wholly con- 
clusive argument : speculative mysticism needs no more refu- 
tation, and shall have none here. And we may the more 
willingly refrain from further criticism since our own view of 
reality which excludes that one is already before us. 

But unquestionably we restrict our view of historical mysti- 
cism in identifying it with this result : mysticism has been a 
much broader thing than this type of metaphysics. Not all 
mystics have been independent speculators ; and not all spec- 
ulators among the mystics have conformed to this type. If 


mysticism is found in all religions, it must be found avowing 
every conceivable variety of metaphysics ; every variety, that 
is, consistent with its one necessary postulate, that reality may 
be, and ought to be, approached in worship. Christianity, 
for instance, is the home of much mysticism, even of the best; 
yet Christianity does not profess the " negative metaphysics " ; 
it is the express foe of the " abstract universal," for its God 
has once for all sanctioned the world of appearances by becom- 
ing flesh and dwelling among us. Nor have the Christian 
mystics as a body been at war with their creed. It is to be 
presumed that the meaning of the mystics is compatible with 
truth, whatever that may be ; and is itself therefore independ- 
ent of any passing theory of it. We cannot then predeter- 
mine the meaning and fate of mysticism by identifying it with 
a doomed metaphysics. We shall judge mysticism first by 
the mystics, not by the theories of a few: and the agreement 
of the mystics lies in that fact, prior to doctrine, and wholly 
coextensive with religion, the practice of union with God in 
a special act of worship. 

While we cannot attach the meaning of historic mysticism 
to any one result of thought, it remains true that the art of 
the mystic is closely allied with the art of thinking. We can- 
not fairly explain worship as a developed and extended process 
of reflection ; but we may yet find that thinking is definable 
as a partial worship. Worship has its own way of reaching 
wisdom, and must certainly make for truth rather than for 
error. But if this is the case, how can we account for the 
undoubted tendency of various important schools of mysticism 
to converge upon that falsely abstract metaphysics ? 

This seems to me to be the explanation : that the mystic in 
reporting what he has experienced has attributed to the objects 
of his experience some qualities which belong rather to his 
own inner state. To distinguish between what is subjective 
and what is objective about our experience is frequently 
difficult, even in physical observation ; but especially in the 


experience of the mystic, the objects are difficult to grasp, 
while the inner event is comparatively tangible. It would be 
strange if there were not a general tendency to mistake one 
for the other. Let me enlarge a little upon this point. 

The mystic prays ; and wins, if he is right, some answer to 
his prayer which is significant to him. He has won knowl- 
edge, and such knowledge as he thinks reflection could hardly 
have brought him; but he cannot say exactly what it is. 
Nothing is more notorious about the mystic's knowledge than 
its inarticulateness. The mystic himself knows that his insight 
is unfinished and unsatisfactory, even while he declares his 
experience to be one of perfect satisfaction. " The soul knows 
not what that God is she feels," says Corderius. Curiously 
helpless and plastic is this knowledge: able to live under 
various theological systems just because it needs some help 
from the environment to determine what it is. 1 It is not 
without an independent force of reaction upon the conceptions 
it uses ; but without these conceptions to give it voice, it could 
scarcely win strength to react on them. And as the mystic 
has been hard put to it to tell what it is that he knows, he has 
in our later and Western world had increasing recourse to 
reporting the psychology of his experience, in lieu of its cog- 
nitive contents. Indeed, he has not only used psychology, but 
has made it for his own purposes. 

And unquestionably the reputation of mysticism in this 
world would have suffered less if our mystics could earlier and 
more completely have commanded this psychological mode of 
expression. Objective-mindedness is the great merit of all 
original religion ; but the long-standing inability to distinguish 
between the characters of an experience as a temporal inner 
state and the characters of its object has cost religion much. 
Is it not more than probable that those words " one, immediate, 
ineffable " which describe the Reality of the ** negative meta- 
physics," are in their first intention descriptions of the mystic's 
inner experience? May it not be that those negations which 
1 See Holding. Philosophy of Religion, p. 178 if. 


have passed for metaphysical definitions are in their original 
meaning rather confessions of mental obstruction and difficulty 
than assertions about the Absolute ? There is a wide differ- 
ence between saying, " My experience of Reality is ineffable " 
(passing my present powers of expression) and saying 
" Eeality is ineffable " (without predicates). As a report of 
procedure and experience Reality may be that which one 
realizes when he cuts himself off from "appearances," closes 
as far as may be the avenues of sense, silences the cataract of 
ideas, and withdraws his mind into its deepest cave : in such 
manner it may be that the central unity of the soul meets 
the central unity of the world, and knows it to be one with 
itself* And yet, this report of experience is not to be forth- 
with translated as a complete account of Reality. I must 
abstract myself also to think ; but what I think is not therefore 
an abstraction. 

Something of the character of that experience must indeed 
belong to its object. If there were no contrast in reality 
between the one and the many, between the substance and its 
appearances, between its indescribable and its describable 
aspects, then an experience which was " one, immediate, and 
ineffable " would find simply nothing in the world to light 
upon. But he who would deny that such an experience can 
discover anything real must be prepared to abolish the reality 
of substance. The mystic cannot find the whole of reality, 
but he may find its center ; he may find the only handle by 
which the whole can be held as a unity. 

And this is the advantage of psychology in dealing with 
mysticism, that it is non-committal in regard to the cognitive 
or other possible importance of an experience, and may yet 
furnish the clue to such meaning. For where self-expression 
falters the signs of meaning may still be read in causes and 
effects. The immediacy of any experience must submit to 
interpretation by what is outside it and related to it. The 
logic and the psychology of our experiences are BO adjusted 
that what becomes invisible to one becomes visible to the othe 


It is possible that the thread of meaning, lost though it may 
be to the mystic himself in his ecstatic moment, may at that 
very moment appear, so to speak, on the reverse of the cloth, 
as something then and there happening to the substance of 
the mystic himself ; justifying his sense of the "ontologieal 
importance " of that event. 

This implies, of course, that the "immediacy" of the 
mystic experience has its external relations ; and this impli- 
cation I fully accept and shall try to justify. Some part of 
the meaning of this experience is to be discovered in its 
external career. For which reason, not only the psycholo- 
gist, but such other scientists as like him see mysticism in its 
outer bearings, the historian, the sociologist, have been quicker 
than the metaphysician to recognize its vital importance in 

Mysticism, then, we shall define not by its doctrine but 
by its deed, the deed of worship in its fully developed form. 
Nothing concerns us more than to know what that experience 
means, and what it may add to our knowledge of God : but 
we shall not foreclose these questions by taking a finished 
speculative system into our definition of mysticism. Mysticism 
is a way of dealing with God, having cognitive and other fruit, 
affecting first the mystic's being and then his thinking, afford- 
ing him thereby answers to prayer which he can distinguish 
from the results of his own reflection. Since the Pseudo- 
Dionysius, " mystical theology " has not meant a rival 
theology, but rather an " experimental wisdom," having its 
own methods and its own audacious intention of meeting 
deity face to face. 



BUT can we find anything in ourselves to corroborate 
that sense of " ontological importance " which 
formerly attended the processes of worship ? To attain 
union with God in a mystical experience, other than in 
thoughtful attention to the mysteries of self-conscious- 
ness and existence : we can no longer take it for granted 
that there is any superior worth in this, or indeed any 
worth at all. To our present ethical and immanental 
mind, it is necessary to show cause why any distinctive 
practices for religion should exist. To find God in 
personal intercourse and business is enough, is it not ? 
the religion of daily life and duty is the important 
thing. Let us approach God through these many 
mediators convenient mediators, requiring no devia- 
tion from our reasonable plans. Further, is there not 
something displeasing not alone about the historic 
forms of mysticism but even about the notion of direct 
unmediated union with deity ? If we avoid the vocative 
case oftentime in dealing with our own great; how 
much more in thinking of God- The pretence of the 
mystic stands on no secure footing in this modest and 
third-personal generation. 

Only, let us be thoroughgoing. Let us be clear that 
mysticism and common worshiD do stand or fall together. 


Are we prepared to make away with all religious observ- 
ance, with " church," and all that goes with church ? 
If not, then recognize here some muffled remonstrance 
against the total vanishing of the art of the mystics. 
Is any religious practice or institution, prayer or prayer- 
posturing, solemnity, sacrament, or consecration, or 
priestly-office in any form, of lingering significance to 
us, even instinctive and irrational ? Then, in heaven's 
name, let us do what we can to isolate this element, 
valued by many in dumbness and dilution, and mate 
an issue of its intrinsic worth. 

Further, let us be clear that wherever mediated and 
indirect relations are possible and valuable, there pre- 
sumably immediate relations are possible and valuable 
as well. Greenbacks and reflected light are on the 
whole more widely useful than gold and direct sunshine ; 
men have tried to get on without the originals here 
also, but not so far successfully. And when we con- 
sider, is not our doubt of worship even now directed 
rather against the special mediators which worship has 
been using than against the thing itself ? We do not 
quite know what to do with our Holy Writ, our Christ, 
our Priests and Saints, and our church institution. We 
are trying to shift our mediators from these special ones 
to some of more universal character. But just because 
of this uncertainty of mediation, the element of unme- 
diated dealing with God which is at the heart of all 
mediated dealing must assume greater importance. 
Could we regain the secret of the worth of worship, it 
might well become clear to us what place in God's world 
and humanity's world is to be taken by bibles, priests, 
and redeemers. A true understanding of mysticism, I 


venture to say, must either cleanly emancipate us from 
the whole of special religious trapping and performance, 
or else reanimate in some vital fashion our historic 
system of mediation. 

Thus, though the art of worship as interpreted by the 
mystic is foreign to many of our prejudices, a definite 
self-understanding may still show that a clear rejection 
is too indiscriminate : it may be one of those things 
which we can hardly live with, nor yet live without. 
The effort to dispense with it is the best way to realize 
its vitality. 1 And it may be possible, as a preliminary 
to our detailed study of mysticism, to verify even in 
a superficial review of our own current consciousness 
certain of those motives which have led men in the past 
to approach their god thus directly and individually. 
I doubt much whether that ancient sense of " onto- 
logical importance " is yet dead. The instinctive nature 
of prayer is some guarantee of its survival ; and it is 
fair to assume that every fundamental instinct can 
present intelligible grounds for its existence. The 
expressions of prayer are sensitive to all the advances 
of self-consciousness; hence there is little outward 
resemblance between our own reserved devotions and 
those enthusiastic orgies, incantations, and slaughter- 
feasts we can put ourselves to worship more handily 
than did our forefathers and with less noise. But in 

1 Worship is an art which is perhaps being lost rather from over- 
practice and dilution of its proper instinct than from actual loss of the 
secret. We think that we know what it is all about; we find that we get 
on perfectly well without it; we learn with some surprise that we can 
give no tenable reason for pursuing it; we end by judging that it is not 
for us, who are now able to follow our religion by the pervasive and unob- 
trusive processes of thought and moral action. 


some way, if I mistake not, we can still recognize in 
ourselves traces of that impulse which in the religious 
tongue is called the " love of God/' some form of that 
same ancient demand for more direct touch with our 
Absolute than the usual processes of thought afford. 

In the first place, no one wholly escapes the sway of 
a certain spiritual ambition, which is unwilling if 
there be in the universe any supreme consciousness 
to remain apart, or in any relation to that consciousness 
which is relatively external and distant. If there is in 
the world any such being as God is supposed to be, a 
career is set for every soul : there is an inevitable trend 
of all finite spirits to a consciously understood footing 
with that being. In structure this is a well-known 
principle of human action. It is akin to the necessity 
whereby every Christopher must serve his Strongest : 
because, namely, it is not good, and in the long run 
insupportable, that two great, self-conscious, self-appre- 
ciating powers should exist in simple pluralism or 
disunion, unperceptive of each other, unmeasured 
against each other. The strong man who values his 
strength is restless until he finds that situation in the 
world where his strength is placed. There is a neces- 
sity imposed upon every self-knowing thing to seek the 
most self-knowing and the most excellent as that in 
whose presence it finds itself finally known and judged. 1 

1 Doubtless I am attributing to the lovers of God a greater sense of 
their own merits than at once appears to their own overt consciousness. 
But in all these matters we are seeking an interpretation that is not yet 
found : and we must assume the privilege of knowing the soul of the 
mystic, if not better than it knows itself, at least more analytically, appeal- 
ing to our own self-scrutiny above all traditional descriptions of the 
worshipful temper. 


There is an impulse here like that by which men flock 
to cities and to great occasions, seeking centers where 
there is adequate knowledge, measurement, and placing 
of men. A fundamental and holy presumption of worth 
there is in this love of God, such as no soul can dissem- 
ble. However retiring the spirit may be with regard to 
the highly-conscious regions of this historic world, to be 
retiring with regard to God is unmeaning and impossible. 
A sheer hunger there is in all of us for self-conscious- 
ness more nearly absolute than we yet have : in some 
form and degree this motive is felt and appreciated by 
all men. 

And what we can thus appreciate in diffusion, we 
must allow to come to legitimate dominance in special- 
ization (quite another thing from extravagance or ex- 
aggeration). In some souls this ambition may still 
become a ruling passion, and in them we may best 
see the meaning of what is vague and truncated in 
ourselves. To such minds the simple fact of the 
existence of a god is an imperative profound and practi- 
cal: prayer with them becomes a clarified and persistent 
purpose which strikes out at once upon an unrecalled 
journey of devotion. This impulse is seen at its height 
in those precocious mystics who even in childhood (as 
Teresa and Gruyon) could not hear of martyrdom without 
a surge of envy, and resolves to become martyrs likewise. 
Here is a spiritual exquisiteness which may easily become 
a spiritual avarice : but it is obviously in this sense a 
disinterested love, that it takes precedence of all other 
interests, and requires no recompense in their terms. 
These are the mystics by birth, they who "desire to 
leave all in order to be with God." 


But note well that while the mystic of genius is a 
natural product, the mystic impulse is not a matter of 
special temperament. For there are mystics in all tem- 
peraments. This incentive is deep enough in human 
nature to take various forms according to the disposition 
of the mind. There are fierce mystics as well as tender 
ones ; men who scorn to live in a world where they are 
uncertain of their own souls ; who storm the gates of 
the heavenly city till they wrest from God the pledge 
of their security the Jacobs, Brunos, Luthers. Tinder 
all such saintly bluster and Teuf elsdrockian defiance we 
can still recognize the love of God, the ontological 
ambition, the need of an unyielding origin for the 
thrusts of the will. There are practical and world-mov- 
ing mystics as well as dreamy ones, the Mohammeds, 
Bernards, Loyolas, Wesleys. 1 The love of God, also, 
will be coloured by every defect of the lover : there will 
be sentimental mystics, and cowardly mystics, and lazy 
mystics, and many another sort. It is the property of 
mysticism to set all such elements of personality into 
high relief not a disadvantage, if one demands self- 
knowledge. We have no present interest in these 
peculiarities save to show that the spiritual ambition of 
the mystic is the prerogative of no one peculiar type of 
human nature. 

The love of God, I have said, desires the assured 
presence of God and tihie drastic self-knowledge which 
that presence brings, as an immediate insight. But 

1 Wesley and Luther were mystics within our definition, though both 
were hostile to certain types of mysticism which came uncomfortably near 
to their own positions, so that verbally they are known rather as opponents 
of mysticism than as mystics. 


there is another aspect of this same spiritual ambition ; 
for worship seems to contain a demand for knowledge 
of truth about the world, as well as about self. The 
mystic reports that he now knows something about the 
meaning of life and death, and of the other grave 
things that concern mankind. This is such knowl- 
edge as each individual soul of man has need of, and 
such as one can hardly accept either on hearsay or on 
inference, if it can be obtained in one's own immediate 

Fear of the unknown, the primitive human fear, though 
it has become much socialized, is not to be banished. 
Our own personal destiny we may now, in the midst of 
a worthful social order, more readily and honorably 
forget than could our ancestors: and to affect an 
unconcern regarding death and the future has become 
in some eyes a stock virtue. But these things cannot 
always be forgotten, nor ever rightfully forgotten, until 
we have once cleared our minds with regard to them. 
The need to make immediately sure the foundations of 
life is not an impulse that can grow antiquated or 
improper. No motive to prayer is more fundamental 
than this, which in presence of such a limit of insight 
as makes the soul a subordinate in the universe requires 
of existence the power to surmount it. And on no 
point are the mystics more agreed than on this, that 
worship brings " revelation." The " noetic " character 
of mystic experience is so general that James includes it 
in his definition of mysticism. How, in the presence of 
God who knows these things, the worshipper also gains 
some insight into them I do not here enquire ; but it 
seems evident that the impulse of prayer has in it as one 


ingredient a desire for such insight as this ; and that 
some of the mystics think themselves to have gained it. 
The mystic's remarkable inability to speak out may 
be no discredit to either the value or the universality 
of what he so mysteriously knows. It is a principle 
observable elsewhere that the more heavily we are 
impressed by a truth, the more difficult it is to put its 
significance at once into words. He who knows in any 
intense and profound fashion may labor, as poets have 
sometimes done, for years with the burden of his mean- 
ing. It is quite possible to win an insight suddenly, 
and to know that one has it; and yet to find that 
knowledge standing forth in the midst of the soul like 
a body at once powerfully charged and powerfully 
insulated, sputtering with sparks and fringes and 
penumbrse, but accomplishing no relieving strokes. 
The circumstance which gives credit to the mystic's 
assertion is that he has held himself responsible for his 
alleged revelation. He has labored to make it public, 
notwithstanding its difficulty. Boehme spends twelve 
years, so he tells us, in bringing to birth the truth with 
which two such experiences had burdened him. In 
spite of what James tells us, that the mystic's knowledge 
is not binding on any but himself, it is obvious that the 
mystic is under some radical necessity of propagating 
his truth : is he not the most vehement propagandist of 
history ? And have not men, on the whole, benefitted 
by his announcements ? Some knowledge of universal 
truth, it seems, may come to men through worship. 

And our judgment of tibte worth of worship must 
also take into account, as I surmise, the worth of novelty 


in knowledge and in life generally. In the worship of 
the gods, the force of all habits is for the moment 
destroyed, hahits of mind and of action. In tribal life, 
the customary taboos are suspended; the moment of 
worship is an antinomian moment, and what is deposited 
out of it may be different from what was dissolved into 
it. Prom their mystics the people are ready at this 
time to hear things and to receive commands which 
would previously have been blasphemy. Mystical prac- 
tices may themselves become habitual, and have their 
acknowledged place in the system of things ; oracles 
and prophecies have their established modes and places : 
but these are habitual ways of receiving the destruction 
of habit ; they are the point of fixity which renders all 
other fixities relative and unnecessary. Worship is the 
provision which the spiritual constitution has made for 
its own perpetual amendment. 

In the increasing solidification of tribal life, and the 
submergence of personality in the " cake of custom," 
the god-consulting process is the one spot which remains 
fluent and stra/nge to the tribe itself. Hence doubtless 
the uncouth forms in which mystical practices have 
clothed themselves; the strange spot in the life of a 
strange people may well seem alien to our own habits 
(unless, indeed, we find it the one spot in which that 
weird social machinery becomes wholly human and uni- 
versal). But however tamed worship may become, it 
has always this same function in the life of people or 
of individual : it involves the external criticism of all 
habit, and a radical openness to novelty. Within the 
motive of worship there is to be discerned, I believe, a 
weariness of the old, the habitual, the established, a 


hunger for what is radically new and untried. This is, 
in part, the significance of that deliberate undoing of all 
bonds and attachments, of all received knowledges and 
properties, which is part of the preparation for the mys- 
tical experience in all ages. If it were possible for the 
soul to become aware of all its attachments and habits, 
how could it be better disposed for originality? The 
scientific discipline of the mind is of the same effect 
in its own sphere: to disaffect oneself as far as may 
be of prepossessions, to recognize and allow for the 
biases of the person, the body, and the age. It is not 
improbable, then, that worship may include this value 
of preparing the soul for the reception of novelty 
with its primary value of uniting the worshipper with 
his God. 

Worship may be regarded as an attempt to detach 
oneself from everything else in uniting with God. It 
seeks God first as an object, that Other of all worldly 
objects; and it seeks to join itself to that absolute 
Other. The mystic proceeds by negation; this and 
that, he says, are not God : it is not these that I seek. 
The effort of worship measures the soul's power of 
detachment. And my power of detachment measures 
the whole of my freedom, the whole of my possibility 
of happiness, the whole of my possible originality, the 
whole depth and reach of my morality and of my human 
contribution. What the mystic reaches is, in terms of 
his world-conceptions, a zero : not indeed the Whole of 
reality, but Substance, the heart of God. It is just 
such a zero as one encounters when he seeks his own 
soul behind the shifting content of his experience, or 
when he seeks the soul of another, in distinction from 


that other's various external expressions. This zero is 
not a place to stay in; but it may be pre-eminently a 
place to return to, and to depart from. In worship 
one touches the bottom of that bottomless pit of Self 
and perceives at hand the real Origin of things ; gaining 
not the whole of any knowledge, but the beginning 
and measure of all knowledge. May not worship be 
described as the will to become, for a moment and 
within one's own measure, what existence is ; or more 
simply, as the act of recalling oneself to 'being? 

If these suggestions have truth in them, the act of 
worship may begin to justify itself, even from the stand- 
point of use in experience. It might be described as 
a spontaneous impulse for spiritual self-preservation; 
for self-placing, for the ultimate judgment of life, and 
for the perpetual renewal of the worth of life. And in 
thus returning to the sources of being we may still more 
dimly discern, it may be, a self-preservation of farther 
scope, such as immortality may hang on ; a glint of 
ontological bearing of unlimited importance. 

It is true that the "love of God" does not explicitly 
seek these things : it is the wholly simple impulse of 
which these strands are but artificially severed elements. 
The worth of God's presence to the genuine mystic is 
a sufficient and absolute good ; and he often expresses 
himself as if the ecstasy of his moment were its own 
justification. But every immediate value must be sanc- 
tioned by its bearings in the system of all values, must 
have a meaning which can give account of itself in 
the form of knowledges such as we have suggested. 
Worship must not be an intoxication which alienates 


the soul from the duller interests of experience ; and 
hence, as mysticism has learned its own meaning, it 
has realized that subjective delight recommends noth- 
ing, and that the supremacy of the moment of its 
experience must be judged by the staying powers of 
its insight. 

We must not hesitate, therefore, to explain the love 
of God by what it is not, the one by the many, the 
disinterested by the interested, the self-abandoning by 
the self-seeking. We must assert that there is no love 
of God which is not at the same time an unlimited self- 
valuation ; that there is always something self-seeking 
about worship and mysticism generally. Something 
forever dissatisfied with what mankind, in its habit, 
philosophy, art, and formulae generally have to offer 
this individual soul for its safety and comfort and occu- 
pation and enjoyment and loyalty. Not good enough 
is all this for my personal particular spirit, says the 
mystic ; nothing in the world is good enough for me. 
But because of this personal dissatisfaction, and demand, 
and further seeking for self, something creative might 
well come of worship, we think. And something not 
un-social in its result. Perhaps this spark of ontological 
ambition which creative nature has deposited in the 
single self, is nature's own way of bringing the new to 
pass for the good of all creation. It is indeed the 
noblest and truest of all self-seeking tempers, the utmost 
measure of character and' worth. The love wherewith 
God loves the individual may reappear, perchance, in 
that love wherewith the individual loves God, and 
himself, and all men. 

So much, then, for preliminary conjectures as to the 


possible permanent worth of worship, the meaning of 
the mystical love of God. We may now put ourselves, 
I trust with greater patience, to an examination of the 
facts in the case. 



"YTTHAT worship is, and how it differs from think- 
V V ing, the mystics themselves have made copious 
efforts to explain. Whatever the distinctive nature of 
worship may be, something of it should appear in a 
study of the ways used by the mystics in approaching 
their god, and in the directions which they have given 
to other souls who would win the same certainty. 

In undertaking such a study, we shall not do well to 
impose at first our own language upon the mystics. We 
must give ourselves over for the time to their guidance, 
to their own modes of expression, and even so far as 
we can to their sentiments; realizing that they are 
laboring with conceptions not wholly literalized, and 
that we shall be able in due course to win our own 
freedom and our own interpretation. 

But as the mystics have been pioneers in psycholog- 
ical analysis we shall not be at any moment free from 
the necessity of looking behind their language. In 
trying to give explicit guidance, our spiritual directors 
have been only too careful, too profuse, too minute in 
their distinctions ; and one must perforce ride over the 
distinctions somewhat roughly. And further, we must 
expect much of the figurative and even cryptic in their 
speech. There seems to be some intrinsic difficulty 


about explaining worship in literal terms, or without 
presupposing that the hearer already knows what is 
meant. The Book itself nowhere explains, but simply 
assumes that we understand what is implied in " lifting 
up our eyes unto the hills/' and in all similar figures. 1 

Indeed, there is a strong disposition in the mystic, 
even when he acts as guide, to give up the effort of 
describing what is distinctive of worship : he is inclined 
to summarize whatever is unique about the process, and 
especially whatever distinguishes it from thinking, by 
invoking a special faculty of the mind this we have 
already noticed. Nothing could more strongly express 
his conviction that worship and thought are diverse; 
but of course all such appeals to a special faculty throw 
the burden of understanding back upon the hearer. 
The names which the mystics have invented for this 
special faculty are curious and wonderful, yet not with- 
out power of suggestion. We found Tauler, in the 

1 As power of psychological analysis grows, our mystic advisers are 
able to meet the soul more nearly on its own ground ; yet the results of 
this progress for the most part make not less demand, but rather more, 
upon our native understanding. This passage from Tauler is not more 
cryptic than many another : " Only to those is this great Good, Light, and 
Comfort revealed who are outwardly pure and inwardly enlightened, and 
who know how to dwell withia themselves. . . . When the Nameless in 
the soul turns itself wholly inward toward God, there follows and turns 
with it everything which in man hath a name. And this turning attaches 
itself always to that in God which is likewise Nameless. . . . Then in 
such a man God announces his true peace." Such words as these are 
surely addressed rather to those who already know than to those who from 
the standpoint of ignorance enquire, and Tauler is not unconscious of this. 
" Now I will tell you something further of this search . . . and in plain 
German words, too ; yet I fear that you will not all understand them. 
But those of you who have already experienced something of such sacred 
things, and in whom such light has once inwardly sm'ned, may well 
understand something of what I say/ 1 (Predigten, ii. 307, Ausg. 1841.) 


passage quoted, referring to this faculty as " the Name- 
less in the soul " ; and Tauler is exceptionally fertile in 
just such names for this Nameless. It is called the 
Spark of the soul (Fiinklein, Eckhart; Scintilla, Bona- 
ventura), the Apex of the soul, also the Ground of the 
soul, further, its Groundless Nothing, its Right Eye, its 
Eternal Eye, its Upward Face, its Innermost, and the 
like. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. We 
understand these expressions, more or less dimly, just 
as we understand what " The Subconscious " is our 
modern Great Fetich of a special faculty : we under- 
stand them in so far as we find within our own experi- 
ence something which may serve as key to the riddle. 
We have, indeed, no reason to reject as meaningless 
these appeals to a special faculty : we are no longer in 
danger of picturing our mind in insulated compart- 
ments: we may use these names as indicating the 
process of worship in its totality, and vaguely charac- 
terizing its difference from other activities. 1 They are 
summary names for our problem, and as such they are 
useful and true : but they are the beginning of our 
analysis, not the end of it. 

Various as the ways are which mystics in different 
ages have used in approaching their god, their resem- 

1 We know that one "faculty" is distinguished from another only 
(a) by difference in the objects with which it deals, and (b) by a differ- 
ence in the procedure by which these objects are found. The faculty of 
religious knowledge is thus to be defined (a) by the fact that it considers 
God as its object, and (b) by the fact that we have distinctive things to 
do in order to approach God. The faculty itself is but a name for these 
actions taken as one. 


blances run deep. In all of them there are efforts of 
the mind fairly described in the mediaeval terms, purga- 
tion and meditation. And in all of them these active 
efforts are brought to a close by a voluntary passivity. 

Let me note in passing that in all acts of will, the 
body plays its part; and it is the physical side of all 
mental acts, whether one sets himself about thinking, 
or enjoying, or praying, which is most directly control- 
lable. In proportion as the inner process is subtle and 
evanescent, the physical preliminaries must be extensive. 
The most delicate instruments of precision require the 
heaviest of foundations. If attention is preparing for 
some especiallyfinediscrimination,as in listening for faint 
sounds, the larger muscles will be called into play as a 
frame to the smaller ones. Thus in worship also, or 
rather, especially in worship, the physical basis must be 
cared for : the first preparation of the mystic has always 
been a physical preparation, more or less elaborate of 
cleansing, fasting, continence, ascetic practices generally, 
solitude, darkness, kneeling or other special disposition 
of the body. We have no need to go into the details 
of these performances, which are at bottom quite as 
instinctive as are the physical efforts of thought and 
emotion ; we have simply to note their necessary presence. 
Worship is too spiritual a process to dispense with the 
material. It is only by the enlistment of the body, in 
some fashion, that the body can be held in leash during 
the difficult flight of the soul. 

Now of the inner preparation itself which accompan- 
ies this external activity, it is predominantly negative ; 
and we may begin by considering the mystic's self-denial, 
or "purgation." 


The mystic's effort is largely given to suppressing the 
various natural momenta both o the mind and of the 
desires, an essay, as we have said, in detachment. It 
is a summary exercise of one's power both of abstraction 
and of renunciation. " Into this house (of his innermost 
self) must man now go, and completely desist from and 
abandon his sensations, and all sensible things, such as 
are brought into the soul and perceived by the senses 
and the imagination. And he must also put away all 
ideas and forms, even the conceptions of reason, and all 
activity of his own reason." l " A man must begin by 
denying himself, and willingly forsaking all things for 
God's sake, and must give up his own will, and all his 
natural inclinations, and separate and cleanse himself 
thoroughly from all sins and evil ways . . . And when 
a man hath thus broken loose from and outleaped all 
temporal things and creatures, he may afterward become 
perfect, " etc. "No one can be enlightened unless he be 
first cleansed or purified and stripped. So also, no one 
can be united with God unless he be first enlightened. 
Thus there are three stages: first, the purification (or 
purgation); secondly, the enlightening; thirdly, the 
union." 2 

In this sort of mental and moral self-suppression, 
there is much room for casuistry. The attempt to 
deny self completely brings Oriental mystic and West- 
ern mystic into the same familiar paradoxes of self- 
consciousness. From what self, and from what desires 
must I detach myself? or from all? And if from all, 
for what motive? 

1 Tauler. 3. Predigt auf den 3. Sonnt. nach Trin. 

* Theologia Germanica, trans. Winkworth, chs. xui and riv. 


Here the philosophies part the mystics. The more 
roundly God is divided off from the world, the more 
unrelenting is the antithesis between all heavenly and 
all earthly affections. If we can draw a clear line 
between the eternal and the temporal the task of repu- 
diating the temporal becomes a deadly affair. If it is 
once fairly accomplished, the mystic has destroyed all 
reason for return. "If our inward man were to make 
a leap and spring into the Perfect, we should find and 
taste how that the Perfect is without measure . . . better 
and nobler than all which is imperfect and in part, and 
the Eternal above the temporal or perishable, and the 
fountain and source above all that floweth or can ever 
flow from it. Thus that which is imperfect and in part 
would become tasteless and be as nothing to us." l Such 
a soul has become a citizen of another country; it 
resumes its loves, if at all, with a gleam of absence 
the mystic has become spoiled for living. 2 

It is one of the most extraordinary facts about human 
nature that it is capable, under the spell of religious 
ambition, of such superhuman heart-steeling. A large 
part of the fame of mysticism in history is due to its 
achievements in indifference. And though the giants 
of self-mutilation may have been the victims of mis- 
taken theories, I find in their willingness to pay the 
extreme price something heroic to which I cannot but 
do reverence. He who believes that " if God is to come 
in, the creatures must go out " must make his drastic 

1 Theologia Germanica, ch. vi. 

2 "And if our Lord did not now and then suffer these visions to be 
forgotten, though they recur again and again to memory, I know not how 
life could be home." Teresa, Life, ch. aomii (tr. Lewis). 


But human nature has also its own quiet refutations : 
these holy ones do often grow less zealous when sep- 
arated from their influence and fame. Can it be that 
all this violence has but driven worldly interest to more 
subtle attachments? For the most part, yes: the love 
of life has been dispersed and transformed, not destroyed. 
It has been, in part, the good-fortune of mysticism that 
self-scrutiny has its limits ; that many a wider human 
affection may exist without being observed and hunted 
to death. If St. Catherine of Siena has become the 
"bride of Christ" she cannot, of course, be the bride of 
any mortal : but she is set free to love many a mortal as 
no other woman dare. Fortunate St. Catherine, whose 
self-searching has its limit. Unfortunate Meister Eck- 
hart and many another who can think out such demands 
as this : " So long as ye desire to fulfil the will of God 
and have any desire, even after eternity and God, so 
long are ye not truly poor. He alone hath true spiritual 
poverty who wills nothing, knows nothing, desires noth* 
ing." 1 Here mysticism groans on the rack of its own 
logic; and must continue to do so, until after untold 
spiritual agony it discovers the meaning of its negations. 
This radical self-annihilation must give way : the negation 
of opposition must become a negation of priority. For 
the sounder mystics the love of God remains at the heart 
of their plural other loves: and if the fires of these 

1 InjuaticetoEckhartl should say that he is not always so nihilistic. 
The following fragment of a saying (italics mine) may more fairly 
express what he means: "was ist luterkeit? das ist das sich der mensche 
gekeret habe von alien creaturen vnt sin herce so gar uf gerichtet babe 
gen dem lutern guot, das ime kein creature trcestlichen si, vnt xr ouch 
nit begere denne als uil als si das luter guot, das got ist, darinne begrffin 
mag" Wackeroagel, Altd. Leseb., col. 681. 


become invisible during the moment of sacred passion, 
it is not the invisibility of death. They have joined 
their tongues in one upleaping flame, to return without 
break to the severalty of their individual altars. 

Changing conceptions admit some union of the infi- 
nite with the finite; nevertheless the active part of 
worship still remains a path of negation. For the god 
whom the mystic seeks is in fact something other than 
any given natural object of pursuit; and since we are 
always better aware of what our absolute is not than of 
what it is, the note of negation must remain predomi- 
nant. But meanwhile, worship has its positive side 
also; the mystic has always in some way recognized the 
fact that passion can be cast out only by some greater 
passion. We may now consider what these positive 
elements are. 

| II 

In turning away from the world, the mystic has 
always needed something to turn toward ; in all of his 
purgation there has been an element of " meditation." 
He has done what he can to find his own positive ulti- 
mate will, to make real to himself what it is that he 
most deeply cares for. He has tried to remind himself 
of his absolute good. 

A great part of what we commonly know as prayer 
is, in effect, just such a process of self-reminding. The 
simplest rational account of prayer would probably be 
this: a voluntary recollection of those deepest prin- 
ciples of will, or preference, which the activities of liv- 
ing tend to obscure. In essence, this is not different 
from the practice developed chiefly by the Roman 


Stoics, who found it useful as a matter of self-discipline 
to recall, in this or that trying situation, what is truly 
to be desired and valued, and what is a mere illusion of 
value. " Straightway practise saying to every harsh 
appearance, you are an appearance, and in no wise 
what you pretend to be. ... Never say about any- 
thing, I have lost it ; but say, I have restored it. ... Is 
the oil spilled ? Say, on the occasion, At such a price 
is sold freedom from perturbation. ... In every cir- 
cumstance, hold these reflections ready : 

Lead me, O Zeus, and them, Destiny, 

The way I am bid by you to go : 

To follow I am ready. If I choose not, 

I make myself a wretch and still must follow." 

Thus the practice of bethinking oneself of one's first 
principles of value shades with Epictetus insensibly into 

But in the prayers of the typical mystics, the act of 
self-reminding is less frequently concerned with such 
explicit truths or principles: it is more often a medi- 
tation upon some object in which values are rather 
embodied than expressed. Objects of familiar pious 
reflection are chosen as means of recovering the mystic 
strand of consciousness, and of bringing into abstract 
preference the quality of conviction. A concrete 
object, moreover, is less confining than a formula : it 
has its truth as the formula has, but in infinite con- 
centration. Especially if this object is a person, or an 
event of religious history, the soul may find in it an all 
but adequate embodiment of the absolute good, bear- 
ing at once on all circumstances of life, and not on 
some only. 


But neither the formula nor the concrete object is 
wholly satisfactory as an object of meditation. 1 As the 
mystic becomes proficient, he recognizes that all such 
objects have but relative worth. 2 Teresa used at one time 
to begin her orisons with thoughts of episodes of the 
Passion : but she writes, " There are many souls who 
make greater progress by meditation on other subjects j 
for as there are many mansions in heaven, so there are 
many roads leading thither. Some persons advance by 
considering themselves in hell others in heaven ; and 
these latter are distressed by meditations on hell." 
Clearly, then, there is no necessity in any of these 
objects. And further, their office (as objects of delib- 
erate meditation) is transient: they must go, at last, 
the way of all other objects of thought and desire. 

For to all the mystics, whether of East or West, this 

1 In the choice of these objects, the working of experience is evi- 
dent : any religious tradition lights upon the words and episodes and 
characters and phrases and hymns which best mediate the mystic con- 
sciousness of its own epoch ; and as the mental attitude to be reached is 
one of difficulty, this choice must be sensitive to all the shades of human 
temper. It is here that questions of taste intrude to dispel religious har- 
mony : acceptable objects for such reflection must vary not alone from 
age to age, but also from person to person, and from social group to social 
group. A loss of sympathy here makes the greatest of difficulties in reli- 
gious understanding, quite apart from questions of creed* We do not now 
find those objects edifying upon which our mediaeval brethren could dwell 
for pious hours without pall, and which made the themes of their religious 
art. What we have to do is to penetrate to what is necessary and uni- 
versal in these objects, fitting to humanity, and not to this or that stage 
of religious sentiment. 

2 I ignore for the present questions which naturally gave the Chris- 
tian mystics much trouble, whether in the higher reaches of prayer any 
consciousness remains of the sacred humanity, the Holy Trinity, etc. See, 
for instance, Fdnelon, Explication des Marimes des Saints, Arts, xxvii, 


stage of meditation is a mere preliminary; and the 
function of these objects is at least as thoroughly 
negative as positive. They have rather to recall the 
mind from other things than to fix it upon themselves. 
Their function is chiefly one of neutralizing and sky- 
clearing : in so far as they leave the mind occupied with 
particular images, they too must be put away. The 
Yogi must meditate upon the syllable OM, but only 
to unify his mind and to prepare for the exclusion of 
that syllable together with all other objects : it is but 
a ladder which in mounting he puts beneath him ; it is 
the sand with which the sweeper covers his floor. 

The one positive admonition which is most persistent 
is the vague direction to turn the thoughts inward. 
And even the meaning of this "inward" is rather 
not-outward than positively introspective. 1 " Introrsum 
ascendere " is the brief formula for the mystic's self- 
direction. In all its vagueness this direction has prob- 
ably served a better purpose than any attempt to be 
more explicit. For any positive and literal direction is 
apt to become a misdirection, a danger clearly recognized 
by many a keen student of human nature among the 
mystics, and warned against. " Let him not presume 
to approach that excellent Darkness which is beyond 
all Light, but rather the darkness of the not-knowing of 
God; and there let him yield himself to God in all 
simplicity, asking nothing, begging and desiring nothing, 
but loving and intending only God, and verily such an 

1 In so far as it suggests a subjectivity of interest, we shall find the 
mystic endeavoring to correct the impression. " To ascend to God," says 
Hugo of Saint Victor, " is to enter into ourselves ; and not only so, but 
in our inmost selves to transcend ourselves" (ineffabili quodam modo in 
intimis se ipsum transire). 


unknown God. Yea, upon His unknown will let him 
throw all his affairs and concerns as well as his sins and 
wickedness as they there occur to him, and this all with 
genuine love." 1 

Thus the content of the object of meditation tends 
to reduce to a nothing so far as picture-content is con- 
cerned but not quite to nothing, unless will is nothing. 


In the long experimental history of these efforts of 
purgation and meditation, three things have become 
clear. First, that the mystic cannot complete his own 

1 I cannot refrain from quoting here at length Tauler's recognition 
of this difficulty. 

" In dieser seiner Erneuerung und Einkehrung erschwinget sich der 
Geist alsbald ueber sich, gegen die gottliclie Finsterniss, viel geschwinder 
und hoher, als ein Adler gegen die Sonne. . . . Hiervon stebet im Buche 
Hiob also geschrieben : ' Dem Manne iat der Weg verborgen, und Gott 
hat ihn umgeben mit Finsterniss/ namlich, mit Finsterniss der Unbegreif- 
Hchkeit oder Unerkennlichkeit Gottes, da er weit iiber alles, dass ihm 
zugeschrieben werden kann, erhaben, und ganz namen-, form-, und bildlos 
ist, ja er ubertrifft darin alle Weise und alles Wesen. Und dies ist, liebe 
Christen, die wesentliche Einkehrung, zu der das Stillscbweigen der 
Nacht, samt ihrer Rube und Einsamkeit, sehr viel hilf t und niitzet. Darum 
rathe ich einem jeden treulich, wenn er vor der Mette gut geschlaf en hat, 
dass er sich alien seinen Sinnen und sinnlichen Kraften gleichsam entziehe, 
und nach verrichteter Mette mit alien seinen Kraften sich iiber alle Bilder 
und Formen versenke, ja, iiber alle seine Sinne und Kraf te sich erschwinge. 
Doch solle er wegen seiner Eleinheit und Nichfcigkeit nicht gedenken 
noch sich vornehmen sich der vortreffiichen Finsterniss zu nahen, von 
welcher ein Lehrer spricht: 'dass Gott eine Finsterniss sei nach allem 
Licht,' sondern zu der Finsterniss der Nichterkennung 
Gottes, und da ergebe er sich Gott ganz einf altiglich, f rage nichts, bitte 
und begebre auch nichts, sondern liebe und meine nur Gott, und zwar 
einen solchen unbekannten Gott; ja, in seinen unbekannten Willen 
werfe er alle seine Sachen und Geschafte, auch seine Gebrechen und 
Siinden, so ihm alsdann einfallen, und dies alles mit wirklicher Liebe." 


purification ; second, that there is a clear self-contradic- 
tion in trying to expel all desire ; third, that when the 
deepest will attempts to subordinate all partial desires 
by setting up its own absolute good as an object of 
meditation, this effort is notably liable to substitute 
some false god for the true one. Taken together, these 
three results amount to a practical demonstration that 
the attempt of worship, in so far as it depends upon the 
mystic's own active efforts, is impossible. 

There must be some way of cutting short these infi- 
nite processes of self-preparation, if in order to see God 
one must in fact accomplish a pure heart. The mystics 
have not failed to find ways of summarizing all this 
preparation in a single act. Ruysbroeck, for example, 
cuts the knot by a stroke of will : we have the neces- 
sary humility and love if we will to have them. In the 
good-will to renounce oneself, the renunciation is, for 
the purposes of worship, completed. Santa Teresa has 
another way of concluding the matter : let us once 
clearly see and acknowledge our defects, and in that 
knowledge be free from them. " This matter of self- 
knowledge," she says, " must never be put aside. . . . 
The knowledge of our sins and of our own selves is the 
bread which we have to eat with all our meats, however 
pleasant they may be, in the way of prayer ; without 
this bread life cannot be sustained, though it must be 
taken with measure. . . . (But) when a soul beholds 
itself resigned, and clearly understands that there is no 
goodness in it ... why should it be necessary for it to 
waste its time on this subject? From foolish devo- 
tions, Lord deliver us/* For both Teresa and Ruys- 
broeck this dismissal of the processes of prolonged self- 


discipline is made possible by a self-examination which 
has reduced all their sinful desire to one category, 
namely, pride: and it is the summary repudiation of 
this pride, in the one by a magnificent will to be hum- 
ble, in the other by a clear perception of its nature, that 
effectually closes the earlier stages of preparation. 

But whether in one way or another these efforts are 
brought to an end, the mystic finds himself at last not 
trying, but waiting. His last effort is to destroy all 
effort, and to make himself wholly passive. It seems, 
indeed, as if the attainment of passivity, of the right 
kind, were the whole aim of these preparations; the 
act of worship having rather to clear the way for the 
assertion of some other power, inner or outer, than to 
do anything of its own. Just how this passivity is to 
be brought about, and what it consists in, is not easy 
for the mystic to define. He uses many a figure to 
describe it: emptiness (Ledigkeit), silence, permissive- 
ness (Lidekeit, Lidelicheit, lydende Vernunft, Tauler), 
poverty, destruction of self, inward stillness (innere 
Gelassenheit, Suso), nothingness (in the sense of the 
" 0, to be nothing " hymn), even idleness, or dormancy 
("Miissigkeit"), l death, extinction. In the ideal of 
passivity, indeed, we come upon one of those far- 
reaching discoveries of religious experience which take 
a thousand shapes and names, and enter in various 
degrees into all phases of worship. In Quietism, it 
comes to an especial cultivation : for if one must resort 

1 " Alles das Gott von uns haben will, das 1st, class wir miissig aeyen 
and ilm Werkmeister seyn lassen ; waren wir ganz und gar miissig, so 
waren wir vollkommne Menschen." Tauler, quoted by Earl Schmidt, in 
Johannes Tauler/' p 120. 


to passivity in the end, why not from the first. But in 
Luther's appeal to grace, rather than to works, his reli- 
ance on the forgiveness of sins; in the self-abandon- 
ment of conversion ; and in many another assertion of 
the "feeling of absolute dependence"; we see other 
forms of this same principle of passivity which com- 
pletes the preparation of the mystic. 

However, it is obvious that there can be no question, 
here, of pure passivity. The state is the precise opposite 
of a state of drifting, or of psychical indolence. The 
will to worship remains to distinguish this nothingness 
from all others. The mind is in a condition of power- 
fully directed attention. Such as the term "contem- 
plation " suggests. 1 The effect of all these various 
self-suppressing efforts has been to lop off interfering 
and distracting movements of attention ; whereby all 
the strength of these inhibited tendencies has been told 
over into a single comprehensive thrust of the mental 
energies. It is a suppression of body by body ; of 
desire by desire; of activity by activity; in sum, a 
suppression of self by Self. The loss of self and of 
self-consciousness of which the mystics often speak, a 
loss concomitant with the cessation of traffic with things, 
is essentially a recalling of all subordinate and partial 
selfhoods into the one master-self of all, a simplification, 
and at the same time an extreme heightening of self-con- 
sciousness in its now exclusive relation to its Absolute. 2 

3 " Contemplation," as used by the mediaeval mystic, implies that the 
effort of " meditation," in which one holds the object before the mind by 
force of will, gives way to a state in which the object attracts and holds 
attention without further conscious effort. 

2 " This slumber of the mind resembles at first a negation of exist- 
ence, but it is the exaltation thereof. Nothing perishes in us but the 


Something deeply paradoxical there is about this volun- 
tary passivity of the mystic, like the motionlessness of 
a rapid wheel or the ease and silence of light. And 
this paradox the mystics themselves have not failed to 
observe and study. They have seen that there is an 
idle passivity which must by all means be ruled out ; 
and they have spared no effort to distinguish between 
the true passivity and the false. Let me quote a few 
of their own explanations. 

These from Molinos : 

" By not speaking, not desiring, not thinking, one arrives 
at the true and perfect mystical silence wherein God speaks 
with the soul, communicating himself to it, and in the Abyss 
of its own Depth teaches it the most perfect and exalted 
Wisdom. . . . Strive to be resigned in all things with silence, 
and in so doing, without saying that thou lovest Ifim, thou 
wilt attain to the most perfect, quiet, effectual, and true love." 

" The very Virtues which have been acquired and not 
purified are a hindrance to this great gift of the Peace of the 
Soul, and the more so, the more the soul is dogged by an 
inordinate desire for sublime gifts, by the wish for spiritual 
consolations, by sticking to infused graces, entertaining her* 
self with them, and desiring more of them in order to enjoy 
them : and finally, by a desire of being great." 

"It is a vulgar error of those who say that in Internal 
Recollection or Prayer of Rest the faculties operate not, and 
the soul is idle and inactive. This is a manifest fallacy, and 
belongs to those who have little experience, because although 
the mind operates not by means of memory nor by the second 

person, that is to say, the limit. ... To return to the universal is to 
enlarge, to become divine, not to abolish and lose oneself." Simon, cole 
d'Akxandrie, pp. 156-7, 218. 

1 The Spiritual Guide, tr. R. Y. Lynn (with liberties). 


operation of the intellect, which is judgment, nor by the third 
which is discourse or reasoning, yet it operates by the first 
and chief operation of the understanding, which is simple 
apprehension enlightened by holy faith, and aided by the 
divine gifts of the Spirit ; and the will is more apt to continue 
one act than to multiply many, so that the act of the under- 
standing as of the will is so simple, imperceptible, and spirit- 
ual, that hardly the soul knows it, much less reflects upon it." 

These from Teresa : 

" In mystical theology, the understanding ceases from its 
acts because God suspends it. We must neither imagine nor 
think that we can of ourselves bring about this suspense." 

" To have the powers of the mind occupied, and to think 
that you can keep them at the same time quiet, is folly* 
There is no great humility in this (trying to be passive), and 
though it be blameless, it carries a sort of punishment after 
it, in that it is labor thrown away, and the soul is a little 
disgusted : it feels like a man who preparing to take a leap is 
held back he has used up his strength, and is yet unable to 
do as he wished." 

"What the soul has to do at those seasons is nothing more 
than to be gentle and without noise. By noise I mean going 
about with the understanding in search of words and reflec- 
tions whereby to give God thanks for this grace, and heaping 
up its sins and imperfections together to show that it does not 
deserve it. Let the will quietly and wisely understand that 
it is not by dint of labor on our part that it can converse to 
any good purpose with God, and that our efforts are only 
great logs of wood laid on without discretion to quench this 
little spark." 

And these from P^nelon, who had reason to feel the 
force of the Quietistic discussion, from both sides, and who 
speaks, if not as mystic, yet as a sympathetic arbiter: 


"All passive contemplation reduces itself to something 
very simple. It is a tissue of acts of faith and love, so simple, 
so direct, so peaceable, and so uniform, that they do not appear 
to constitute any action, but a repose of pure union. This is 
why St. Francis de Sales wished to reject the term ' union ' 
for fear of expressing some uniting act on the part of the 
soul: he would have it called a simple and pure Unity. 
Hence also it is that this contemplation has been called orison 
of silence or of quietude ; hence finally that it has been called 
passive. God forbid that it should ever be thus described 
for sake of excluding the action real, positive, and meritori- 
ous of the will, nor acts real and successive which must be 
reiterated every moment. It is called passive only to exclude 
the self-interested activity or empressement of the mind, when 
it is inclined to continue some agitation in order to feel 
and see its own operation, which if it were more simple and 
unified would be less noticed.'* 

"It is passive as a feather is passive, which when dry 
responds to every touch of the breeze, but when wet with the 
dampness of its own heavy desires shows an inertia which is 
felt as a real object. It is passive as the mirror of the lake 
is passive, which when its own motion is stilled, is able to re- 
turn faithfully the objects whose light falls upon it ; but when 
agitated by the breath of its own desires, returns these same 
rays in a broken, disordered, and so unintelligible condition." 


This, then, is the preparation of the mystic : on the 
whole, a negative path ; an activity ending in a volun- 
tary passivity, destined to give way in turn to an invol- 
untary passivity when God accepts and lifts to himself 
the prepared soul. Its history is that of an activity of 
self-suppression which must itself be suppressed. And 
what, in the end, does it amount to ? Wherein does 


it differ from the simple act of thought, the " lifting 
of the mind to God"? 

First, I should say, and most obviously, in the moral 
character of the process, in the ideal of the 'pure heart * 
which is recognized as the condition of finding God 
in worship. 

Second, in the simplification of consciousness. In- 
stead of spinning connections, the mystic strives to be 
rid of connections, and to reach an object which is 
behind and prior to all distinctions. He has practised 
recollection, and has become total. He wishes to be, 
rather than to think ; assuming that there is a distinc- 
tion between being and thinking. 

Third, in the repudiation of effort. What the mystic 
knows will be empirically known. What the mystic 
wills, will be willed by necessity. The worshipper has 
exercised his freedom, perhaps the first and last absolute 
freedom possessed by the human spirit, to consent to 
an empirical apparition of the real. 1 

The mystic is prepared : what will happen to him ? 
Will there be an event ? Will his voluntary passivity 
give place to an involuntary passivity; and will he 
know that he is one with God ? The mystic has been 
knocking at the door of his world, an outsider, prepar- 
ing himself inwardly and outwardly, doubtless with a 
certain sense of magic and mummery about it all ; as 

1 Royce's often-quoted phrase which describes the mystic as the 
" thoroughgoing empiricist " is strikingly true of the mystic's method of 
knowing. But the mystic's peculiarity is that he applies this method to 
objects which empiricists generally insist cannot be given in any such 
immediate, unreasoned manner, namely to totals not to elements; to souls, 
not to sensations; to resultants (like history, or society) not to factors; 
and finally, to God himself. 


of doing things whose reason he does not see, and 
which through hidden laws or arbitrary will of the God 
will have an effect if they are well done. Yet the true 
mystic has known well enough that his experience is no 
adventitious effect, but wholly a response to his own 
meaning and within his own unbroken idea. If the 
effect were magical and external, the mystic would be 
thwarted, he would not consciously have been with 
God at all. What he reports is, that he has been 
admitted; that from being an outsider, knocking at 
the door of things, he has ceased to be an outsider and a 
subordinate. He uses the words illumination, union, 
sometimes deification, to express what has come to 
him. In some way he is admitted to the council of the 
maker of this world of things. He has become an 
understander of the heart of it. And in evidence of 
his truth he is able to walk about among things and 
men, do we say as an alien? on the contrary, as one 
for the first time fully present and at home, able to 
recognize himself and God in whatever declares itself, 
able to open himself to the whole of experience. 

This is what the mystic reports. But having fol- 
lowed the course of the mystic's own volition, and 
largely in the mystic's own tongue, we must now 
seek further light, external light, such as psychology 
can furnish, upon the nature of this experience, and 
its interpretation. 


WHAT is the experience of the mystic? And 
what meaning has that negative path for us of 
the present day ? To the mystic, the whole meaning 
and logic of worship is personal ; and there is no more 
to be said about it than has been said. He has come 
consciously into the presence of God, and what is more, 
into a unity of will with him. He knows nothing of 
any psycho-physical facts which could make clearer the 
significance of that event. On the contrary, he seems 
to find himself though perhaps only for a brief 
instant free from the body, wholly " in the spirit," 
where neither mortal thought nor mortal psychology 
can follow him. We must allow the mystic the first 
word in reporting, and also in interpreting, his experi- 
ence. But while he dwells upon its unique, superlative, 
indescribable aspects, psychology helps our understand- 
ing of that experience by finding what is not unique 
about it, what analogies it has in more commonplace 
experiences, undertaking thereby both to describe and 
to explain it. * 

1 The mystic himself, as we have noticed, plays the psychologist so 
far as the beginnings of description are concerned; and he alone can prop- 
erly inform us of the inner nature of his experience. But his description 
offers the clue to concrete analogy ; and this in turn to more scientific 
description and explanation. 
There is danger, no doubt, in pursuing analogies of what is eesen- 


The mystic experience is unique and free, but not in 
the sense that it has no analogies and no ties in the 
world of common experience. The fact that these ties 
exist is to be seen in the simple circumstance that the 
experience is transient. 1 For if union with God were 
the whole story of mystical experience, there could be 
no reason why that moment should pass. The mystic 
himself knows very well that his vision cannot last, so 
long as he remains a human being. 2 Many a mystic 
has expressed regret that his joy could not endure, but 
none (so far as I have found) has expressed surprise. 
This absence of surprise may show that the immediacy 
of the experience is never so great as to be wholly free 
from outer reference, that some consciousness of the 
worldly self and of its ties remains. The mystic has 
found himself in a region where the gravitation of earth 

tially a religious event. The religiousness of it lies, as the mystic instinc- 
tively knows, in what is unique and can be told only in the personal 
language of religion. The religious element is always lost among its 
many copies, and degraded. Nevertheless, this is the only way in which 
the unique can permanently hold us. We must run the risk of this loss; 
and when analysis is finished try again to recover the original. 

1 It is hardly necessary to recall the familiar description which 
William James has given to the class of experiences he proposes to call 
mystical : they are ineffable and noetic, usually also transient and passive 
(Varieties of religious experience, p. 380 f). In the character of ineffa- 
bility, the indescribable quality of the experience becomes a point of 
psychological description; and both this ineff ability and the transiency 
ore to be explained, as I shall try to show, on psychological grounds. 

2 "This sublime condition is not of permanent duration. It is only 
DOW and then that we can enjoy this elevation (mercifully made possible 
to us) above the limits of the body and the world. I myself have realized 
it but three times as yet, and Porphyry not once. All that tends to purify 
and elevate the mind will assist you in the attainment, and facilitate the 
approach and recurrence of these happy intervals." Vaughan, Hours with 
the mystics, voL i, p. 81. An imaginary letter from Plofcinus to a disciple. 


operates but slowly; but that it still operates and will 
claim its own, lie seems by this silent confession to be 
fully aware. 

Thus mystic experience comes within the range of 
law, and probably also within some law of rhythm. 
That is, the mystic's elevation is transient presumably 
because it is a phase in some natural rise and fall, some 
organic wave perhaps, in experience. If so, this tran- 
siency, external character though it is, will offer the 
most favorable angle for scientific approach. For any 
rhythmic movement in experience reveals not only an 
organic bond, but a law of connection as well, through 
which the special phase in question is bound in with 
the before and the afterward, and begins to be in- 
terpreted, 1 

1 The idea of rhythm with its organic relatedness (causal or other- 
wise), need not be wholly alien to the mystic's inner meaning not more 
in regard to the forces that bear him up than in regard to those that hold 
him down. The logic of the relation between the worshipper and his 
God is indeed wholly personal and particular not magical but the 
worshipper still relies upon a steadfastness in the being worshipped ; he 
frequently comes to look upon his elevation as a response to a right 
approach on his part, as some function of the condition of his own heart. 
He holds a quasi-natural adjustment o attitude to the supernatural. 
Meister Eckhart says, " I will never ask God to give himself to me : 
I will ask him to make me pure of heart. For if I am pure, God must of 
his own nature give himself to me, and flow into me." " Meister eghart 
sprach : ich wil got niemer gebitten das er sich mir gebe : ich wil in bitten 
das er mich later mache : wan were ich luter, got muest sich mir geben 
von siner eigener nature vnd in mich fliessen " ( Wackernagel, Sprtiche 
deutscher Mystiker, in Altdeutsches Lesebuch, col. 681). The Spruch 
continues : " Wo mit kumet man zuo luterkcit ? rait einem steten iamer 
na dem einigen guot, das got ist. Vnt wo mit kumet man in ein jamer ? 
mit uernichten aich selben vnt mit missevalle alien creaturen." Thus the 
mystic himself is often disposed to read hid experience as a course of 
interaction between a higher and a lower law with an element of human 
freedom in the circuit. 


This, at any rate, is what has impressed me in mysti- 
cism : That the turning away from the world in the 
negative path of worship (together with the mystic 
experience itself which marks the limit of the up-swing) 
and the turning back again constitute a normal rhythm 
or alternation which has many analogies, and a vital 
function in the human mind capable of psychological 
expression. The marked disconnection between the 
mystic experience and the usual level of life, which 
obscures both to the mystic and to the observer the 
presence of any organic bond between these levels, has 
also a psychological meaning. In the present chapter, 
I shall do no more than bring forward some of the 
analogies which help to interpret (1) the rhythm, 
(2) the disconnection, and (3) the unsociality of the 
mystic's life circuit. In the next chapter, I shall try 
to bring its law to definite terms. 

1. Rhythm. If there is any rhythm in life which 
religion, in the observances of worship, follows and 
cultivates, it is something more than the simple ebb 
and flow of our "animal spirits." Excitement and 
depression, high spirits and low spirits, are organic 
fluctuations which leave their mark on the religious 
life as on all life. Undoubtedly there is a kind of 
vision connected with the high places in this vital 
rhythm, which resembles, and may actually develop 
into, mystical experience. Variations of this kind do 
affect most markedly our capacity for fellowship, and 
the promptness of that " fusion " with our objects which 
we thought characteristic of the mystic consciousness. 
I can conceive it possible that the habit of worship 


might take possession of some such subtle wave in our 
organic life; but I cannot think, as do certain writers, 1 
that this type of flux brings us very near the mystic's 
experience, and for the following reasons : 

First, quasi-mystical moods of this sort are as likely, 
perhaps more likely, to come over the mind when the 
physique is at low tide ; as in fasting, exhaustion, weak- 
ness from loss of blood or insomnia, or in the early stages 
of convalescence. 

Second, if mystic experience has its rhythm, it shows 
little sign of regularity it is not periodic. The wor- 
shipper's will and conscience take part in the affair, 
and not the organic wave alone: voluntary decision is 
interpolated, as in the circuit of nutrition. It is not 
true that mystic experience mechanically follows wor- 
ship; there is a certain looseness of connection between 
prayer and its answer, which the passivity of the mystic 
implies. But the preparation of mind and the act of 
consent must enter into the history of the event at some 
previous time. 

Third, there is no depression which corresponds in 
constancy and prominence to the mystic's elevation. 
The elevation of the mystic is not in such wise above 
normal that it must be compensated by a corresponding 
below-normal. On the contrary, it seems to be, in some 
sense, another normal. Something of its content and 
quality tends to become a permanent possession of con- 
sciousness; which would not be the case if it were simply 

1 See especially Godfernaux, " Cette oscillation constante dn ton vital 
est bien, semble *t il, 1'aspect physiologique propre du sentiment religieux 
. . . Quiconque e*prouve le sentiment religieux est un extatique a quelque 
degreV' Revue philosophique, vol. 53 (1902), pp. 164, 


an extreme, or " hyper-tension/' There comes a time 
in the life of some of the mystics when the vision of 
God is, as they assert, a continuous experience, and the 
semblance of rhythm disappears. 1 

These considerations lead me to judge that the mystic's 
ascent and return are not to be understood as simply 
an unusually pronounced oscillation of vital tone. But 
perhaps they also imply that the rhythm itself is unnec- 
essary. May not the very circumstance that the meaning 
of the mystic experience is to be built into the continuous 
level of consciousness, show that the two levels of expe- 
rience belong together; that the alternation is accidental, 
and to some extent pathological? Delacroix, whose 
masterly studies of the mystics put us all in his debt, 
inclines to regard whatever rhythm there is as something 
to be overcome; and as something that is overcome 
in the long experience of the greater mystics. 2 After 
much painful experiment and mistake, such persons 
as Teresa, Madame Guyon, and Suso, emerge into a 
period of serene and powerful activity, from which the 
fitfulnessj the heights and depths, the interruptions 
and disturbances, of the earlier enthusiastic devotions 
have disappeared. 

But I must doubt whether this alternation is essentially 
pathological or whether it is ever overcome : I must doubt 

1 " My soul is, as it were, in a fortress with authority, and accord* 
ingly does not lose its peace . . . The imaginary visions have ceased, but 
the intellectual vision of the Three Persons and of the Sacred Humanity 
seems ever present." Teresa to the Bishop of Osma, May 1581. " Cette 
vie divine devient toute naturelle a I'&me . . . Ici I'oraison est Faction; et 
1'action est 1'oraison: tout est e*g&l, tout est indifferent a cette fime . . . 
Ici 1'extase se fait pour toujours et non pour des heures." Madame 
Guyon, Torrents 232, 246. Quoted by Delacroix. Etudes, 143, 148. 

* Etudes d'histoire et de psychologic du mysticisme, esp. ch, ii, vi, xi. 


it if only from the fact that worship and mystic experi- 
ence involve an exclusive occupation of attention which 
in the nature of the case is incompatible with simulta- 
neous attention to other affairs, and vice versa. " When 
attention is turned in one of these directions, it is in 
some degree withdrawn from the other. I cannot at 
the same moment be conceiving of God as the only 
being of worth, and yet of my life this fragmentary 
life as itself a matter of worth. I alternate. . . . 
(One) requires a certain narrowing of his vision, a certain 
exclusion of the infinite aspects of his task, in order to 
perform that task well." Thus Professor Palmer states 
the situation. 1 If worship has any vital function to 
perform, it must alternate with other things, the necessity 
of rhythm lies somehow in the nature of my practical 
attention. 2 

1 G. H. Palmer, The Field of Ethics, pp. 181, 173. 

2 The mystics found various ways for expressing a belief that some 
such alternation is not a matter of choice, but a result of the structure of 
human nature; as in such words as these: 

" Now the created soul of man hath also two eyes. The one is the 
power of seeing into eternity, the other of seeing into time and the crea- 
tures, of perceiving how they differ from each other as aforesaid, of giving 
life and needful things to the body, and ordering and governing it for the 
best. But these two eyes of the soul of man cannot both perform their 
work at once; but if the soul shall see with the right eye into eternity, 
then the left eye must close itself and refrain from working, and be as 
though it were dead. For if the left eye be fulfilling its office toward 
outward things; that is, holding converse with time and the creatures; 
then must the right eye be hindered in its working; that is, in its contem- 
plation. Therefore, whosoever will have the one must let the other go." 
Theologia Germanica, Winkworth, ch. vii. 

To Flotinus and Pseudo-Dionysius, the two alternate directions of the 
mind had a metaphysical meaning: they symbolized the emanation and 
reflux which were supposed to make up the cosmic history; and more than 
this, they were parts of that cosmic rhythm itself. 

Ffoelon has his usual judicious comments to make on the notion of per- 


I am driven therefore to look for further analogies 
among those normal alternations such as sleeping and 
waking, work and recreation, conflict and co-operation, 
society and solitude, hungers and satisfactions of various 
types. The fact that much of the early elevation is 
built into the later level of continuous living may he 
interpreted, in no very far-fetched manner perhaps, as 
akin to the assimilation of a meal. The experience 
seems in fact to have supplied the subject with a certain 
moral fuel as well as with cognitive material. His ina- 
bility to bring its content to immediate expression is to 
be understood by the fact that this supply is still rela- 
tively external to him and requires a normal interval to 
be made his own ; as in time it is made his own. Rhythm 
of this type would then last at any rate as long as the 
subject continues to grow. Approximate continuity is 
a sign of old age in mysticism; just as the gradual 
obliteration of the sharp rhythm of sleep and waking is a 
sign of physiological old age. Alternation lies deep in 
the nature of things psychical as well as physiological : 
it is the fundamental method of growth. I am inclined, 
therefore, to regard the mystic experience as a normal 
incident in the attainment of a new psychical level; 
and no exceptional incident, but one which in various 

petual orison, or "spiritual marriage." " There is such a thing in this 
life as a state habitual, though not entirely invariable, in which the most 
perfect spirits perform all their deliberate action in the presence of God, 
and for love of him . . . This referring of all voluntary action to our 
unique end is the perpetual orison enjoined by Christ, and by Saint Paul 
when he said, Pray without ceasing. But this orison should never be con- 
founded with contemplation pure and direct (which) has not the same 
species of perpetuity: because it is often interrupted by acts of the 
various virtues necessary to all Christians." Explication des maximes 
des saints, Art. xxv. 


forms and degrees is a recurrent event in every per- 
son's life. 

This may stand as a rude hypothesis which will place 
mystic experience in an organic relation to the rest of 
life. We may sharpen this conception by considering 
now the relative discontinuity which seems to exist 
between mystic experience and the ordinary level. 

2. Disconnection. The traditional religious mystic 
reaches a point of ecstasy in which he is as thoroughly 
detached from his waking world as is the sleeper. And 
as in the case of sleep, this disconnection follows upon 
a voluntary effort to be effortless, when his preparation 
has put him into the hands of some agency beyond 
himself. The absorbed thinker is also detached from 
the world, and the absent-minded man, and the person 
who falls into a "brown study": in some respects, the 
mystic's abstraction more resembles these than the lax- 
ity of sleep. But again, as in the case of sleep the sac- 
rifice of time and of complete active consciousness is 
regarded as a natural means of conserving both life 
and time, so the mystic may be justified in regarding, 
as he does, his self-abandonment as a paradoxical 
necessity, not more remarkable than sleep, for main- 
taining his spiritual integrity. 

Disconnection is the aspect of mysticism which the 
observer is most inclined to resent and condemn as 
abnormal. The mystic, on the other hand, has prized 
it most highly : for to be " carried away " is the chief 
sign that supernature has taken the place of nature* 
But both the critical observer and the mystic might 
profit by considering that the element of "mystery" or 


"ineffableness" in mystic experience is largely if not 
completely due to the fact of disconnection alone, not 
to any inherent mysteriousness or unnaturalness in the 
content of the experience. Psychologically, mystery is 
felt whenever there are two bodies of experience not in 
perfect communication, quite apart from the question 
whether the one or the other is inherently wonderful or 
weird. Mystery does not lie in either of the two bodies 
by itself ; it expresses the effort of each to make terms 
with the other, and the beginning of success. It is the 
state of mind of one who begins to see. Mystery is 
thus the characteristic quality of every incipient idea, 
not yet wholly seized by the mind. And the mystic 
may be regarded, I think, as one who is confronted 
quite empirically with a body of new experience and 
idea in such wise that he is a possessor of two bodies 
of experience, neither of which he can doubt: both 
must be true, and he does not understand how both 
are true. 

This is no uncommon state of mind. Such an expres- 
sion as the following seems to me quite typically mys- 
tical: "How came this creation so magically woven that 
nothing can do me mischief but myself? ... If I will 
stand upright, the creation cannot bend me/' Here 
stands Emerson with the weight of appearances against 
him, sure of "the creation," yet equally sure of his 
own immunity ; confessing that he cannot understand 
how both assurances can be woven into one fabric, 
using therefore the word "magical." The mystic might 
be broadly described as the man who is willing to drop 
one world of assurance while he seizes another, confident 
that reality will harmonize them both, though he cannot 


yet grasp the idea which does harmonize them. Inabil- 
ity to bring the two experiences together tends, it is 
true, to cast doubt for a time upon the reality of the 
one not present: and the religious mystic is one for 
whom another world than this, or another stratum of 
experience, has gained such substantial certainty that 
the reality of everyday experience must suffer this kind 
of passing doubt. But the true mystic is he who holds 
to the reality of both worlds, and leaves to time and 
effort the understanding of their union. This kind of 
discontinuity in experience (such in part as Emerson 
pleads for in his arraignment of anxious consistency) 
seems to me a condition of mental soundness and health, 
as well as of mental growth. 

There is some deep-going practical principle here 
concerned, whose existence we can note without at 
present trying to determine its law. It is a principle 
which suspends the operation of the ideals of reason, 
from time to time, without in the least questioning or 
supplanting those ideals. We must have consistency 
in the end; we must have connectedness; we must 
have unity : but for the sake of having this ultimate 
unity and order, anarchy and discontinuity must have 
their moment. That sort of self-possession which is 
made of continuous rationality must be held subject to 
self-abandonment, when the hour of empirical truth 
arrives. And the hour of truth is always present. 
Idolaters of self-possession, as we are : do we not see 
that every pulse of consciousness is full of the tumult 
and wonder of these plunges into the ununified and 
returns therefrom? that sensing, listening, accepting 
the hint of any honest emotion, every merest decision 


such as the instants of living are made up of all of 
these involve some commitment to the unknown, some 
such willing embrace of a momentarily broken ration- 
ality ? The emotion itself is but the call of the new 
idea which has its overt connections yet to make with 
this system of mine ; passion is but a more impetuous 
commitment to an insight of larger scope and of larger 
destructive (and reconstructive) implications. All enthu- 
siasms, whether of devotion or anger or love or courage, 
are alike in this : all alike spurn continuity and seize 
the insight which the moment offers as a new world of 
truth, whose unity with the old may be cared for in 
due time. And has not passion also such a tide as 
the mystic knows, which after the critical moment of 
consent substitutes its own motion for the will, now 
apparently passive, of the worshipper? Some cult of 
discontinuity, strongly resembling the mystic's breach 
with the world, we may thus see everywhere in the inti- 
mate working of our mental life. The disconnection 
which the mystic practises is so far countenanced, and 
vaguely explained. 

The mystic, we may say, simply brings his discontin- 
uity into the open and makes an avowed principle of it. 
We see why it is that no person whose god is conven- 
tion and self-rule can be a mystic. In the typical 
mystic temperament we expect to find a certain open- 
ness of spirit, such as readily accepts a present inspira- 
tion as its law. The encasements of mental attitude in 
such persons are never fast-set : the limberness of their 
inner substance promises well for continuance of growth. 
At his worst, the mystic is impulsive and childish ; at 
his best he retains something of childhood, its tender- 


ness, its freshness of impression, its unsatiated wonder, 
its generosity : he has that simplicity and teachableness 
which are found in the very young and the very great. 
He may, for this reason, be a demonstrative person 
(the " gift of tears " was once regarded as a saintly 
attribute) ; or he may, for the same reason, seem to live 
in perpetual calm : in any case, he is one whose attach- 
ment in the Absolute is so secure that he has no fear in 
embracing any insight which can gain the consent of 
that side of his consciousness, though for the present it 
can claim no other. (Here perhaps we begin to break 
through into the theory of the mystic disconnectedness, 
and the continuity behind it; but we shut that prospect 
for the present, and return to our psychology.) 

Some degree of openness to discontinuity in experi- 
ence is evidently a part of deeper practical wisdom. 
But does this general principle, whatever it may be, 
valid for these partial ventures in experience, does 
this principle explain or justify such radical and total 
disconnection as the mystic practises ? For the mystic, 
strictly speaking, is the man whose disconnection is 
made between the whole system of things and ideas 
temporal on the one side, and the heart of the eternal 
on the other : whereas the subdued " mysticism " of our 
ordinary life merely flits from one body of ideas to 
another within that world-system. Radical mysticism, 
religious mysticism, with its sweeping negation and 
equally sweeping affirmation, seems to sever a man from 
his fellows as well as from nature : it tends to make 
him solitary, anti-social, and useless ; to give him over 
to subjectivity. We are not inclined in our time to 
rate highly any solitary aspect of religious thought or 


practice. And yet I incline to think that just this 
radical social disconnection is also an essential part 
of mysticism. 

3. Solitude. All thoroughgoing mysticism is soli- 
tary, so far as human companionship is concerned : we 
must first be clear about that. There are phenomena 
of religious history that look much like mass-mysticism, 
and have been interpreted as such : religious dances, 
dramas, festivals, revivals, in which the white-heat of 
social consciousness becomes the generator of mystical 
enthusiasms. But even in these somewhat tumultuous 
and disorderly variations of our theme, the mass-con- 
sciousness forms the level from which the individual 
departs : he is not a mystic until his own spirit has 
made its solitary leap to Grod, like a tongue of flame 
out of the midst of the fire. 

Much of what we call " social life " moves on a sim- 
ilar principle that of passing from hand to hand a 
function which in any one hand is a solitary function : 
each one in turn becomes "it," takes upon himself alone 
the difficulty in question, learning by his own experi- 
ence what otherwise he sees only from the outside. 
Whoever helps to sustain any social structure is alone 
just in so far as he is responsible : and he comes, for the 
most part, to his solitary social position through having 
wrestled with some angel in more literal isolation from 
other human ken* The initiate must go down alone 
into the grave ; though initiation is on the whole a 
social ceremony. And so, whether we have in mind an 
orgy of Dionysus or a meeting of the society of Friends, 
it is individual seizure by the spirit which marks the 


moment of religious success. 1 We do not understand 
solitude until we see that it can ride on the back of any 
whirl of sociality however furious ; its pang may be the 
more poignant because the utmost limit of common 
possession has been tested in an immediately preceding 
moment. He who merely imitates is but a false mystic 
for the thing to be imitated is a burst of original 
impulse: he who is entranced by social suggestion is 
but a false mystic for the inner core of what his 
social environment requires of him is the violent subdual 
of the social bond by the superior energy of the divine 
rapport. He alone is utterly unsocial who refuses 
when him own watch comes to go out and meet the abso- 
lute in the darkness. Solitude, I say, is the essence of 
mysticism : and, I add, the basis of its supreme social 

For it is the most dangerous things that are the most 
important. We of this age have come to fear solitude 
and with it all mysticism because solitude is the home 
of stagnant growths and morbid consciousness, because 
it is the crowning curse of all vices and itself a vice 
even in religion. We see in it only the danger of los- 
ing objectivity, which is indeed its essential peril. But 
consider the mystic's intention, which after all is the 
thing to be judged : his intention is that his absolute 

1 Though the early ascetics of Egypt lived iu communities, their 
dwellings appour to have been individual, and each had its place for entire 
solitude. W. M.F. Potrio, Personal Religion iu Egypt, p. 68. The same 
is true of the early monks of Ireland, so I am told by Mr. C. A. Bennett, 
who supplies uie with the following note: " With many of their establish- 
ments were connected ' diserts,' lonely spots iu woods or mountains, to 
which from time to time the individual monk might retire for solitary 
meditation, fasting, and prayer. The cenobitic never wholly replaced the 
eremitic ideal in Ireland." Of. Gougaud, Les Chre'tientes Oeltiques, pp. 


Object shall gain in strength pari passu with his entrance 
into himself. Mysticism in its true character is pre- 
cisely the redemption of solitude: it is the process 
which enters one step farther than we have yet explored 
into the heart of our own infinite subjectivity, and 
reclaims that new increment for the general use, in the 
form first of a deepened morality and art. If our own 
age with its growing sociality and immersion in the 
manifold is little mystical, it is also true of it that the 
power of evaluating solitude and therewith the depth of 
self-consciousness is little developed : in so far as this 
age of ours has flattened and shallowed out, it is because 
it has so far lost its mystical instincts. 

I cannot doubt that the value which attaches to the 
partial discontinuities of living in our spiritual economy 
attaches also to the complete disconnection which the 
typical religious mystic practises : the latter is governed 
by the same law as the former. We cannot live well, I 
judge, unless there is something in our lives which offers 
us from time to time the possibility of absolute detach- 
ment and solitude : that which is necessary and useful 
in part is necessary and useful also in whole. The 
mystic is simply the person who does consciously and 
with the whole man that which we are all doing spon- 
taneously and in fragmentary fashion in every moment 
of our effective living. Doubtless, then, the rhythm of 
mystic experience has its law, such as will place it with 
the other normal rhythms of experience. But as the 
mystic rhythm is the most comprehensive of all, I shall 
refer to this law simply as the principle of alternation ; 
and shall now try to state its meaning. 



ri 1HE principle of alternation, so far as the program 
J- of daily living is concerned, is neither abstruse nor 
unknown. Of the various goods which go to make up 
a balanced existence, we naturally treat each in turn as 
if it were a sole and sufficient object ; we do not under- 
take to pursue them all, or many, at once. All good 
things do doubtless belong together; but each good 
thing, we recognize, is to be pursued separately. The 
difficulty lies in inferring from the parts to the whole : 
that is to say, in seeing that the alternation which is 
obviously necessary as between one partial object and 
another is also necessary as between all partial objects 
and the whole. But just this, I think, is what worship 
means : that the whole must become a separate object 
of pursuit, taking its turn as if it also were a part, as if 
it were another among the many goods of practical 
occupation. Let me illustrate this principle as we com- 
monly recognize it among these many partial interests, 
and then carry it on to the total alternation of religion. 

We may best appreciate the principle of alternation 
by what it is contrasted with, the principle, namely, 
tiat all things belong together and should be pursued 


together. To this contrasting principle we pay much 
respect : old dualisms as between soul and body, form 
and matter, God and world, have become tabooed iu 
practice as they have become obsolete in theory. We 
believe in the concrete, in the soul that is one with body, 
the God that is immanent in the world : and we are 
inclined to make practical programs according to this 
belief. If soul and body belong together, we must 
cultivate both together. If man and woman belong 
together, we must educate both together. If all beauty 
is one beauty, then the highest art will be composite 
we must have perfumed music, dramatic music, Wag- 
nerian opera, or in German fashion, music with beer, 
Gemiitlichkeit, and a fine outlook. But for the most 
part some sense of fitness saves us from turning our 
concrete doctrine too thoroughly into a program. Our 
inferences become fantastic ; and without abandoning 
our belief in the concrete, we recognise a fundamen- 
tal dualism or pluralism in the necessities of conduct 
Eeflection and action belong together, but we cannot 
carry on both at once, with success : each best finds its 
due influence on the other if each has its time of whole* 
hearted attention. We cannot endure form without 
substance, whether in men or books or things, nor sub- 
stance without form; these also belong together and 
perfection in either will bring perfection in both : but 
not waiting for perfection in either, each must be 
acquired in its own way and time, by some degree of 
separate attention. In larger concerns, liberty and 
authority belong together : but in the course of history 
an expansion of one alternates with an expansion of the 
other, each developing characteristic abuses, preparing 


the way for an outburst of the other with more or less 
disturbance and passion. 

The whole man, in short, is not to be found in any 
one moment nor in any one man. The dreamer and 
the man of affairs are forever finding their way together; 
the spirit of peace is forever breeding with the spirit of 
war, in more successful syntheses of character : * yet 
specialization has its infinite work to do, the concrete 
is its deposit, not its occupation. 

So it is with all the antithetical goods of the world ; 
and so presumably is it also with that most comprehen- 
sive antithesis between God and the whole world of 
visible work. I believe in the "concrete universal" as 
a metaphysical doctrine; God and the world belong 
together neither is anything without the other : but 
from this true generality it no more follows than in the 
above practical matters that God and the world can yet 
be best known or won together. The concrete univer- 
sal cannot either in this case or in any other be forthwith 
made into a maxim for historical conduct. God and the 
world, I maintain, must be worked in with one another 
forever: forever they must be pursued in alternation. 
We have now to follow out this theory. 


In every art we recognize a distinction between tech- 
nique and spirit. We care little for one without the 
other j yet we know that technique has its own right, 

1 In classic times, the pursuits of commerce and city life actually 
unfitted men for fighting; the antique contempt for the merchant was based 
in part upon a psychological fact. To-day, commerce has its good quota 
of combativencss ; and an industrial country is never without an efficient 


and must be cultivated, as if for technique's sake alone : 
the spirit has its own moment, in the intervals of tech- 
nical study, and the spirit represents the whole. Here 
the whole alternates with the parts. 

The art of winning knowledge is not different from 
other arts in this respect. We know what the tools for 
intellectual discovery are facts in infinite variety and 
extent, measurements, classifications, knowledge of all 
existing theories: he who would win truth must fill 
himself as full as possible of science, of history, of 
social motives, of the immense richness of the cosmos. 
But we know too that there comes a moment when 
these very things, his necessary means, become his 
poisons: this is the moment at which they become him- 
self. The man becomes identical with his learning, is 
nothing but his learning: he cannot use it because he 
has lost sight of the thing it is not, he has forgotten 
what it is for. His technique cannot serve him unless 
he can see beyond it. That self must be withdrawn 
and re-oriented: it must turn its back upon itself, and 
revert to the whole. 

This practical necessity is embedded in the very cat- 
egories with which science carries on its work. It is in 
the psychology of our knowing processes that we find 
the barest and simplest view of this alternation in which 
the whole is one member. For as a process in time, 
knowing has to ply not only from fact to fact, from 
part to part of experience, but also between all such 
parts and some conception of the whole. Beside all the 
work of observation there is the work of hypothesis, 
the alternation between induction and deduction, laying 
hold on a whole and returning from the whole to the 


several parts. 1 The scientist is occupied with phenom- 
ena ; but beside the phenomena, the concept of substance 
in some form or other (whether of matter, or energy, 
or law, or soul) must take a place as one other object 
of necessary attention. Any concrete knowledge of a 
society, a race, an age, etc., must be reached by a 
similar interplay of categories: beside the extending 
of knowledge, there must be a deepening of knowl- 
edge, an attempt to grasp the ' spirit' of things, their 
principle, formula, essence, in brief, their one, their 
whole. It is not otherwise with our knowledge of 
individual men. If I wish to know a person, I must 
pursue acquaintance in two antithetical directions: I 
must learn to know him in what he does, at his periph- 
ery, in the various expressions of his action in the 
world of our common objects; and I must also learn 
to know him by the pursuit of his central * substance/ 
by the intuitive seizure in intimacy of the unity from 
which all these plural deeds are derived. 

And knowledge of the greater whole evidently follows 
the same principle as the knowledge of these lesser 

1 There is a tendency among logicians at present to make a concrete 
of induction and deduction as of everything else ; and to assert that 
neither process exists apart from the other. Ostwald asserts that there 
is no deductive science, but there is wohl a deductive procedure, which 
must be understood in connection with induction* Well, let it be so : 
there is an inductive procedure and a deductive procedure, and these are 
two different procedures, and do in the history of research alternate with 
each other. That is all ; whether we draw the lines of any science cleanly 
about one or the other procedure is of no consequence. The alterna- 
tion itself will never be wiped out. Analogically speaking, the quest of 
induction is scientific prayer; and the discovery of a whole, in answer to 
such prayer, a scientific mystical experience. Inductions are not to be 
taken by violence, they are received in passivity. The question of induc- 
tion is treated further in chapter xxxi below. 


wholes. My world at its periphery is ' experience/ 
'life'; at its center it is c substance/ ' reality/ ' God/ 
We must know both aspects in turn, and conceive them 
as we can together. My total picture of this world is 
drawn like an artist's sketch not by a line continuous 
and adequate in the field of vision, but by a series of 
lines which err, and which are broken in their course by 
recurrence to the (undrawn) idea. God is in the world, 
no doubt : the plural and visible aspect of things is 
divine also that is, if we are able to see it so. But 
if we are to prosper in such an interpretation of the 
world (which certainly sets upon that world a high 
value) we need from time to time to have caught the 
original meaning of ' divinity ' in some immediate experi- 
ence. 1 We must recur to the whole. 

Herewith we come upon the principle of alternation 
in its full meaning, which is best seen in the history of 
the will. In all our practical living we human beings 
are pursuing some total good under shapes and by 
means which are inadequate to it, and so partly false to 
it. We are obliged from time to time to reject what 

1 It is not accurate to say that we are unable to hold in a single view 
the many and the one, the appearances and the reality, the periphery and 
the center, the world and God. To some extent we must do this: in 
attending to the many, we may not lose sight of the one, at the risk of 
losing the many also; and in attending to the one we may not lose sight 
of the many, at the risk of the vanishing of tho one. The one must 
always be known as the one of these many. The situation is rather this: 
that in the process of attending to and dealing with the many, the vision 
of the One tends to vanish and must be renewed by empirical presence of 
its object Likewise, in lifting the mind to the One, the sense of the 
many, with which the One must be thought, tends to fade, and God loses 
all meaning to the mind that regards him. The exclusive direction of the 
mind whether to the many or to the One is a self-destroying process : 
whereas the alternating of attention may be a self-developing process. 


we have done, to withdraw our forward-moving efforts, 
and revert to the whole : not because of the fact of 
error (for there are errors which may be remedied on 
the spot without change of direction), but because of 
the type of error, it is an error which involves not 
only our tools, but our selves, the operators. We begin 
to get into our own way and so to defeat our own work. 
We can find no radical remedy except in getting rid of 
that self ; and no radical way of abandoning that self 
except by reverting to the whole. 1 

This is, in outline, the meaning of the principle of 
alternation. There is something about our practical 
attention to any part or parts which turns self-defeating, 
and requires such complete abandonment of the parts, 
and reversion to the whole as religion has demanded, 
that whole which is different from all parts. And there 
is also something about practical attention to the whole 

1 The principle of alternation is the supplement of the principle of 
relativity both of knowing and of willing Both principles, of alternation 
and of relativity, are historical principles : they apply, that is, to blowing, 
not to knowledge. It is not knowledge that is relative ; it is the temporal 
act of knowing. It is my momentary position as a being in time and 
space which determines that at any moment I may see but one side of a 
shield and this limitation I cannot overcome. But such knowledge of 
the whole as I have leads me by alternating my position to repair the 
defect of my historical knowing. Now knowledge of the whole, such as 
guides this alternation between relative parts, is also a matter of degree* 
And in so far as I fail to overcome my relativity at any point, or find 
myself sinking deeper into it, I am forced to turn away from all parts, 
and directly seek a whole that will place them. Thus I alternate between 
whole and parts, and thereby transcend relativities as they make them- 
selves felt. Every detail of psychical life shows this method of action. 
Attention in its minuter physiology is a rapidly alternating process, per- 
petually withdrawn from its object and instantaneously replaced; in the 
instant of its withdrawal having recovered a better poise and a steadier 
termination, having wiped away the film of relativity with which self and 
object had begun to obscure each other. 


which turns self-defeating, and can only be recovered 
by occupation with the parts. Hence the movement 
of our temporal life must swing between them. But 
in order to see more clearly what is meant by this 
" reverting to the whole/ 7 we must look deeper into 
that self-defeating tendency which makes this alterna- 
tion necessary. 


It is a matter of common observation that every 
human effort produces something it does not want; 
and this by-product sooner or later checks the effort. 
We may even say that every effort produces something 
of the opposite of what it aims at : the strain to see 
brings blindness ; the strain to think brings absence of 
mind; strained self -consciousness brings loss of self- 
possession ; careful calculation invites failure ; scrupu- 
lous morality develops the immoral ; high aims bring 
specialization and deformity. These are facts, but what 
is the reason for them ? 

The reason, as I see it, lies as far back in the nature 
of things as the fact that the soul of man has a body, 
appears in space, and works out its destiny in time. 
Whatever is the cause and meaning of our physical 
existence, that same cause makes our temporal efforts 
self-checking and that same cause requires us to recover 
our spiritual integrity by bringing the whole down 
among the parts, and treating it as a thing of time and 
space like ourselves. 

That which makes existence in time important to 
spirits such as we are is the power of voluntary attenr 
tion : it is the specific mark of our individual selfhood, 
and it is also the place of our freedom* All the work 


of life, with its manifold interests, can be described as 
the sphere of our voluntary attention and action. This 
characteristic marks off all our occupation with the parts 
from our occupation with the whole in worship, which 
in the mystic experience itself becomes passive, that is 
to say, effortless. The contrast between mystic experi- 
ence and tf life ' is at the same time a contrast between 
effortless attention and effortful attention. But in this 
effortful attention we find the chief mark of our per- 
sonal liberty ; and it is just this liberty which is bought 
with the great price of artificiality, and separation 
from nature. 

For in this voluntary business of life, we are not 
merely pursuing a good which is already made ; we are 
constructing our good, we are making good. That 
same absolute good which the mystic simply finds, 
appears to our common action as something which we 
can win only by making it our own, reproducing it, or 
realizing it by our own labors. All practical life may 
thus further be described as a transition from a self 
that is given to us (by birth or otherwise) to a made- 
self. And it is here that we inevitably separate our- 
selves from nature. For all such practical constructive 
effort must have its plan, its aims, its standards ; and 
whatever aims and standards we self-consciously adopt 
and define to ourselves as 'our good' are so many 
theories, types, generalities, never quite the whole 
truth. Since we must model our conduct on some 
definite plan, the practical will is necessarily theo- 
retical, and so far, abstract, incomplete. 1 We gain 

1 The will works in the concrete that is true. But what it con- 
sciously sots up in the concrete world are its own ideas, mouldings and 


firmness in the saddle of practical self-possession only 
by condemning to death a certain margin of our 
consciousness. 1 

This inherent defect in the operation of voluntary 
attention becomes more pronounced and radical as effort 
continues ; simply because every voluntary effort, assum- 
ing as it must that its standards are adequate, that it 
knows what it wants, strengthens the assumption by 
acting upon it, and so deepens the breach between the 
artificial self and the natural self. We are never occu- 
pied with any object without becoming to some degree 
fascinated by that object and assimilated to it ; as the 
object is partial, so we who deal with it become partial. 2 
As a conscious, self-making agent, " the individual is 
always wrong " ; yet, just as such a free, effortful, self- 
making agent, the individual must always assume that 
he is right. 

We are thus, by " our finite situation," bound in a 
predicament from which our active selves cannot shake 
free, though the ultimate knower in us is not involved 
in it. Ambition and duty, all use of conscious freedom, 
all work, in short, develops of itself an inner opposition, 
or spiritual checkage. For this loss of margin, as the 
artificial self becomes identified with its own assump- 
tions and objects, is a progressive impoverishment of 

improvements upon a given reality, pseudo-individual objects, imitations 
of the concrete. Never yet has the conscious will of man constructed by 
its own effort alone a living being* Our explicit practicality, I repeat, is 
theoretical and abstract. 

1 Here commences the building of " subconsciousness " See the 
note on this subject at the end of the book. 

2 This is the "relativity" to which the human will is subject ; we 
cannot act in the world of matter without becoming material ; we cannot 
use our freedom without becoming to some degree a thing. 


that whole-idea, whose use, as we thought/ gives all 
objects what value they have. In order that my various 
practical enterprises should go on well, it is necessary 
that my various ends should maintain their worth; 
and in order that they may hold their worth and inter- 
est, my whole-idea must be active in all my occupa- 
tions I must be thinking with my whole-idea, and 
efficiently- But the incident o voluntary activity 
is to undermine the effectiveness of this whole-idea. 2 
And the result is a spiritual fatigue, analogous to, but 
neither identical nor contemporaneous with, physical 
fatigue. 3 

The symptoms of this spiritual checkage are not hard 
to recognize* They are simply the inevitable assump- 
tions of action become hardened into fixed illusions. 
We find ourselves in the first place regarding the several 
objects of our pursuit as though they were absolute, 
real in themselves and good in themselves ; and we 
cannot see them otherwise than with this exaggerated 
importance. We cannot bear to lose any of them ; for 
every loss is a dead loss. And if we win, we are still 
dissatisfied, for every gain, too, is a dead gain, reaching 
no further in its value than the object then and there 

l Seo above, chapter xL 

8 Deliberate narrowing of the range of idea, in one's occupation with 
the part, is the essence of sin. Freedom may thus add to the breach 
between natural self and artificial self a positive barrier. For the present 
we may ignore this farther element in the "separation between man and 

8 No donbt this fatigue of the idea is also physical in the same way 
that all spiritual limitation is physical I that Is to say, there is a physio* 
logical expression for it. It is none the less a concern primarily of ideas; 
it has a necessity of the same order as that which makes us temporal 
beings at all. In the end it is a matter of religion, and can only be suc- 
cessfully approached from the religious quarter. 


gained, leaving infinite further gains to be made- No 
gain is so great as to seem to me a gain of the whole, 
My world of will-objects has become pluralistic; 
and my practical problem has become essentially hope- 
less. Another symptom is criticism. For all work 
and construction must be critical, that is, selective. All 
voluntary activity takes up the critical attitude toward 
what is, and resolves to bring about something better, 
by first conceiving something better. The practical 
temper has to separate the good from the bad: and 
since its world has taken on this pluralistic and abso- 
lute appearance, the good qualities and the bad qualities 
of things and of men seem independent of each other. 
We think that we can have the one without the other 
and we insist on it. We have no interest in a possible 
union of the good and the bad ; we draw a clean line 
between them ; we are condemnatory and exacting, for 
the sake of our own standards. We grow mighty in 
discrimination, and terrible : we grow puny in synthesis 
and creative power. A further consequence and 
symptom is that our responsible temper finds nothing 
in the present that satisfies it. It is alienated from its 
present moment: it is romantic., in the sense that it 
seeks its good elsewhere, far away, in a place very dif- 
ferent from anything it finds in experience. As the 
over-prepared, over-equipped, over-trained person, with 
his eye habitually fixed on some future moment as the 
moment of his action, is indeed prepared for everything 
except for the judgment " Now is the time " ; so the 
soul over-steeped in actual work loses capacity to believe 
in the presence of the good worked for. Its sympathy 
flows forth with difficulty ; and that attitude of " fusion" 


which we were recently describing as mystical in char- 
acter, finds little scope for exercise. The one and good 
is not here that is all. 

All of these common symptoms of spiritual fatigue, 
I repeat, are nothing more than the habitual assump- 
tions of action taken as whole truth. They picture 
nothing but the abstracted soul of the active man ; the 
common materialism of strenuosity, deepened into a 
belief in the " abstract universal." All these symptoms 
sum themselves up in this: that I find nothing indi- 
vidual in my world. I find no present particular of 
which I can say Here is the standard embodied: I 
find no object in which my whole-idea, with its high 
power of synthesis of good and bad, can find end- 
less occupation. My universals have parted company 
with particulars. I find illustrations of value ; things 
good in this respect and bad in that ; specimens of 
general concepts ; but no individual. 

And losing contact with the really individual aspect 
of the world beyond me, I also lose contact with the 
individual in myself. My artificial self becomes the 
only self I am acquainted with. This self is built up 
according to self-conscious standards of criticism, uni- 
versal in character, derived largely from my social con- 
sciousness, and passing current in the world just because 
I have thus dutifully universalized myself. It is a well- 
known selfhood known, in fact, through and through, 
empty of mystery well-behaved also, conventionally 
confirmed in its own successful technique of self -hand- 
ling, the man of the city and of the world ; betraying at 
every point the failure of privacy, of recourse to the indi- 
vidual I am, the sealing of spontaneity, the formal hard*- 


ening of the heart, the unhumauizing of men by over- 
contact with humanity, the strain of general attitudes 
not wholly naturalized in oneself. 

To live thus with the universal, the abstract univer- 
sal of action, and with one's own artificial and dutiful 
embodiments thereof, is the beginning of death. 


The effort of work, then, provides for its own arrest 
Work, simply as a voluntary application of ideas, does 
gradually disintegrate those values for which alone work 
exists. In all literalness life ceases to be worth living, 
and death in some shape will be sought. Into the 
midst of all effort, dutiful or otherwise, there must fall 
soon or late a sense of the aimlessness of work, a ques- 
tioning and denial of worth-whileness, a consciousness 
of moral wear and tear in the determined pursuit of 
objects whose value is not wholly convincing, a need 
for recovering sincerity and spiritual poise. 

And this new-born need, still of the same moral stuff 
that first launched the work, now reverses the direction 
of action, and turns naturally toward some object whose 
value is convincing without any effort, toward enjoyment 
in some form or other. Pleasure, recreation, friendship, 
the companionship of men and women, beauty all 
these recall the outgoings of ambition and moral effort, 
and reunite a man with his natural appreciation. Some- 
thing in common these all have with the quest of the 
mystic, and with the mystic experience itself. And 
worship is the whole which includes them all. 

It is not primarily external failure which brings man 
to worship. It is simply the internal decay of the incen- 


tive of work, the drooping of the sails of ambition, the 
falling out of humor with one's own humor, the mys- 
terious vanishing of the raison d'etre of life as a sphere 
for the theoretical will. 1 And whatever recovers the 
worth of living by recovering the natural mcjar of the 
whole-idea is worship, or a part of worship. 

It may not be at once obvious how worship is related 
to all these other means for recovering our values ? 
there is much here that has no resemblance to worship, 
nor any visible need of it. For spiritual as well as for 
bodily fatigue, physical nature has its simple advice to 
give, and ancient human experience its rule of thumb. 
As the Egyptian proverb has it, " The archer hitteth 
the target, partly by pulling, partly by letting go; the 
boatsman reacheth the landing, partly by pulling, partly 
by letting go." 2 No man can earn the good by con- 
sciously mastering all its conditions ; so the race long 
ago found out. Critical responsibility must be limited ; 
physiology and the self-righting mechanisms of the 
world mxist do what self-consciousness fails and will 
always fail to accomplish. All such counsels of pas- 
sivity, laissez faire, partial death, are parts of practical 
wisdom and have no apparent necessary connection with 

But these things all need religion to finish them just 
because they are relatively un-self-conscious. Our free 
and self-conscious personality ought not to be satisfied, 
and cannot be satisfied, with a restoration purely by 

1 All these, taken together with the sense of one's own responsibility 
for the result, i. e., that it is due to self-assertion. The sense of sin re-reads 
and complicates, but does not essentially alter, the problem. 

* Instructions of Ftah Hotep to his son. 


mechanism or by laissez faire. In fact there can be 
no such thing as a recovery of value which is essentially 
physiological or subconscious ; the idea must be recov- 
ered as an idea, that is to say, consciously and inten- 
tionally, 1 Worship, we may say, is the self-conscious 
part of the natural recovery of value ; it is that part, 
therefore, which assigns all other parts their place and 

Sleep wins our consent without offering any account 
of its method or meaning or perhaps a minimum 
account. In the pursuit of pleasure there is something 
more of the positive and intentional. To pleasure, 
friendly association, and art we turn still blindly and 
instinctively ; but with some dawning grasp of the idea 
in what we do. There is a free and deliberate element 
in the reversal of action. In all of these we perceive 
the play of the universal in the particular, a natural 
union of the two given without effort, and rejoining us 
with the individual element in our experience. 3 But in 

1 This implies that in the complete alternation there is something of 
the voluntary self which is not abandoned : if this self is to know the 
meaning of its own recovery, it cannot be wholly in abeyance while the 
process of recovery takes place. There is something in all our artificial 
efforts which is absolutely right, and cannot be withdrawn : namely, the 
task itself of being self-governing, world-building, self-making beings. It 
is our nature to be artificial, and our right to be wolf-knowing : whatever 
postulates and selfhoods have to be negated and TO vised, they are not 
these. Freedom has the peculiarity that it can recognize its own relative 
failure, and define more or less clearly what it lacks ; and in so far as it 
can define its need, it can consciously pursue it. Thus the preparation 
of the mystic never surrenders its intentionality, even when it is most 

2 To Kant's mind, it is the communicability of the aesthetic judg- 
ment, the universal validity to which it aspires, that stamps it at once 
as an affair in which thought is engaged. But he cannot identify it with 
objective reason, nor with explicit reason ; hence he explains it as a sub- 


worship the idea has broken through and become explic- 
itly an object of search; the soul deliberately seeks 
the One, the individuality of the world, as a present 
object of experience. 

Everything that may still be to us an object of 
immediate and effortless appreciation will take part in 
this search. Hence worship naturally allies itself out- 
wardly, as well as inwardly, with recreation, social enjoy- 
ment, and beauty. Worship uses these, and goes 
beyond them : it recognizes in them the absolute which 
is its own and discards the rest ; puts behind its back 
all but the One which is in all, and is the condition of 
them all. This final, sacrificial aspect of worship 
the negation, or rather subordination, of all partial 
loves is the act which alone can make these loves 
immortal : it is the conscious possessing of their neces- 
sary condition. 

Thus worship adds the touch of unity and self-con- 

jective play of the faculties of knowledge in an " Erkenntnis iiberhaupt." 
" Also imiHS der Gemtitszustand der oines Gofiihls des freien Spiels der 
Vorstellungskrtlfte za einem Erkenntnisse uberhaupt sein." And of what 
Vorstellungskriifto ? " Kinbildungskraft, fur die Zusammensetzung des 
Mannichfaltigen der Anschauung, und Verstand fur die Einheit des Be- 
griffs, der die Vorstellungen veremigt." Kritik der Urteilskraft, p. 62. 
We know, iu general, well enough, what this means : the sense of the 
inner onlivenment, and lightening at the same time, of the action of our 
" powers " in the presence of beauty, as if a smooth place had been found 
and those powers were not more in harmony with each other than with 
the reality which they appreciate. It is essentially free play, and reflec- 
tive, but not subjective. 

Kant notes the relatively effortless, self-continuing character of the 
experience of beauty thus : "Sie hat (eine) Causalitat, den Zustand der 
Vorstellungeu selbst uud die BeschJiftigung der Erkenntnisskrafte ohne 
weitere Absent zu erhalten. Wh weilen bei die Betrachtung des 
SchUnen, weil diese Betrachtung sich selbst st&rkt und reproducirt." 
Ibid., p. 68. 


sciousness to the whole body of our natural spiritual 
recovery. It is, I repeat, nothing more than doing with 
the whole self, and consciously, that which in blinder 
and more fragmentary fashion we are doing at every 
moment of our waking lives, and especially in the 
moments of partial return, such as we have mentioned. 
The mystic is he who knows that his insight must be an 
event in time, and that it is his right as a self-conscious 
being in time to seek for it. The man who prefers to 
leave his religion in the obscure, in its diffused and 
partial forms, is the man who puts the prize of life upon 
vagueness and the unexplicit. The mystic, on the 
other hand, who adds worship to all the rest, the mystic 
is the man who prizes the overt, the definite, and the 

literal in religion. 


The motive of the mystic, then, is something quite 
different from moral ambition. In the active part of 
the mystic's preparation for worship, the moral motive 
may still be visible : it may still be touched by a sense 
of the importance of work, of various humane interests, 
as if it were for the sake of these ends that one now 
turns his back upon them. The zeal of the mystic for 
self-purification, his moral scrupulousness, may be in 
part derived from his view of his own practical duty or 
his desire for success. But this is all something dis- 
tinct from the love of God in its psychological meaning; 
and this meaning does not appear until the active stage 
of worship, which is " prayer," gives way to passivity in 
the discovery of an object of effortless appreciation. 
Unless the characteristic of pleasure, that is, of wholly 
spontaneous and original conviction of worth, enters 


into worship, the prayer has no answer and worship is 
to that extent a failure. 

But in the mystic experience that is what happens. 
The object upon which the worshipper has bent his 
thought becomes actually significant of the whole. The 
mystic has found a present object which is able to 
gather into its own vortex all the meanings of his 
worldly work, and therewith to abolish the independent 
worth of that work. His idea of the world in its unity 
has, simply, become adequate to its synthetic task ; and 
the disunited segments find their way together : this is 
the whole secret of value. It would be just to say that 
the worshipper is at first moved rather by the desire to 
love God, than by that love as a ruling motive : and 
that the actual love of God is itself the success of 
prayer, simultaneous with the insight which the mystic 
obtains, identical with it. 1 The character of this expe- 
rience is well pictured in a simple note in the diary of 
Tolstoy, whose mystical traits (though he would hardly 
be called a mystic) are closely allied with his powers of 
penetrating self-description : 

" Yesterday," he writes, " I hardly slept all night. Having 
posted up my diary, I prayed to God. It is impossible to 
convey the sweetness of the feeling I experienced during my 
prayer* I said the prayers I usually repeat by heart, fi Our 
Father/ * To the Virgin,' etc., and still remained in prayer. 
If one defines prayer as a petition or as a thanksgiving, then 
I did not pray. I desired something supremely good ; but 

1 "L'oraison s'appelle meditation jusqu'a ce qu'elle ait produit le 
noiel de la devotion: apres cela elle se convertit en contemplation. Le 
de*sir d'obtenir 1'amour divin nous fait mtfditer; mais 1'amour obteim nous 
fait contempler." St. Francois de Sales, Traitd de 1'amour de Dieu, VI, 
iii, quoted by De Montmorand, Bevue philosophise, vol. 57, p. 252. 


what, I cannot express, though I was clearly conscious of what 
I wanted. I wished to merge into the Universal Being. I 
asked him to pardon my crimes ; yet, no, I did not ask for 
that, for I felt that if he had given me this blissful moment, 
he had pardoned me. I asked, and at the same time felt that 
I had nothing to ask ; and that I cannot and do not know how 
to ask : I thanked him, but not with words or thought. I com- 
bined in one feeling both petition and gratitude. Fear quite 
vanished. I could not have separated any one emotion, 
faith, hope, or love, from the general feeling. No, this was 
what I experienced yesterday : it was love of God, lofty love, 
uniting in itself all that is good, excluding all that is bad." l 

The moving principle of Tolstoy's life at this time 
was doubtless a large human ambition, taking impulsive 
shape as a desire to perfect himself, and to "test him- 
self"; and swinging perhaps only in this solitary in- 
stance within the circle of mystic worship. But this 
human ambition and this divine love are closely related 
to each other. We may say that beyond the limits of 
the mystic experience itself, the love of God takes on 
the form of human ambition ; that these motives are, so 
to speak, allotropic forms of the same. They alternate 
with each other, as the hour glass is turned, each 
one in turn becoming the life of the other. With the 
idea of God, one loves the world ; and then with the 
idea of the world, one loves God again, and the two 
loves, or ambitions, are of one substance, though they 
involve alternations in the history of the empirical will. 


For worship cannot last ; it also has its type of self- 
defeat and death. The worshipper who persists in his 

* Life of Tolstoy, Aylmer Maude, voL r, pp. 63-64. 


contemplation of the whole, thinking to establish himself 
permanently in the immediate presence of God, becomes 
an automaton, precisely as the determined worker 
becomes a machine. 

' Automatism ' of a very literal character is not only 
admitted but even boasted of by certain mystics who 
have professed to enjoy the constant vision of God. 
Madame Guyon reaches a stage of perfection whose 
chief marks are the absence of personal volition, the 
replacement of effortful voluntary action by spontaneous 
obedience to the suggestions of her religious sense, or 
fancy. She accepts the logic of the complete with- 
drawal of individual will and choice, namely, that all 
acts become indifferent: there is a will in the world and 
she has become the instrument of it, but with perfect 
passivity, without sharing in it, " laissant & Dieu le soin 
de faire naitre les occasions et de les ex&3uter." " But 
why do you do this rather than that? I do not know* 
I give myself over to that which carries me on/' 1 From 
this condition of mind there comes the " apostolic life," 
marked by an extraordinary facility in preaching and 
writing, capacity to do a prodigious amount of work, 
and to undergo great distress without protest from her 
own intelligence and will. Her life during this time 
has traits of largeness ; but it is a largeness which is 
evidently consuming itself and lessens to a small end : 
it exhibits much free motion, but little effect ; it produces 
much writing, elaborate commentaries on scripture, 
" Torrents " of various sorts ; but how much of perma- 
nent worth ? 2 To abandon conscious control of the 

i Cf . Delacroix, Etudes, etc., p. 155 ff. 

* Mme. Guyon's (Euvres completes fill forty volumes. In it all, there 


trend of work, to resign remembrance of what has been 
done and written, to live continually in the present 
moment only (in so far as these things actually occur) 
here inspiration, real enough in itself, begins to 
decline into irresponsibility. The sad weakness of will 
and of voluntary thought which comes of it is sufficient 
comment on its general failure as a plan of life. " I 
find in myself no power either to decide or to execute; 
I appear to myself like a phantom." l We have no need 
to dwell on the failure of unremitting worship. Wo 
in our day have well perceived and overcome that dan- 
ger. We need only note the fact. 

Thus each aspect of life apart from its alternate 
becomes a mechanism. And the whole of human 
existence falls into two phases, work and worship ; the 
domain of duty and the domain of love, respectively. 

We have now outlined the relation which worship, as 
I believe, does normally bear to life at large: it is a 
necessary alternative to all our effortful willing and 
knowing, so far as these are living processes of empir- 
ical history. The principle of alternation tends to justify 

is some genuine inspiration. Cowper (in a letter to Unwiw, Aug. 3, 
1782) says, " Mr. Bull . . has put into nay hands three volumes of French 
poetry, composed by Madame Guion a quietist, say you, and a fanatic, 
I will have nothing to do with her *T is very well, . . but in the mean 
time her verse is the only French verse I ever read that 1 found agreeable ; 
there is a neatness in it equal to that which we applaud, with so much 
reason, in the compositions of Prior. I have translated several of them, 
and shall proceed in my translations," etc. The preface to " Podsies et 
cantiques spirituels " describes (doubtless with exaggeration) this verse 
as having been written "sans aucune reflexion. . , Co hri 4tait un gSne 
insupportable de faire la moindre reflexion," See Delacroix, p. 158* 

1 " Je ne trouve en moi nulle puissance de vouloir ni d' exe*cuter, et je me 
trouve comme un f ant6me." Lettres V, p. 458 ; Delacroix, Etudes, p. 214. 


the f negative path' of the mystic by placing it in its 
organic context. Neither phase of the rhythm is jus- 
tified by itself. Duty has no right over men apart from 
their religious experience. On the other hand, religion 
has no right apart from its descent into the world of 
effort. In reality, in the logical and eternal order of 
things, these two phases of experience belong together, 
and in time also are always finding their way together: 
but in psychological order, in the natural history of the 
mind, they fall apart, and must be pursued separately. 
Eeligion belongs with morals yet the deeds of religion 
must alternate with the moral life and for a time displace 
it. Eeligion belongs with all the works of art and 
science and human betterment yet it has its own 
moment which takes away from theirs. 

Any given moment of life must choose between two 
goods, psychologically incompatible. On the one hand, 
the peace of the hermit, the silence of the forest, the 
exaltation of sacrifice, the mightiness of simplification 
and unity, the joy of self-abandonment, the calm of 
absolute contemplation, the vision of God. On the 
other hand, the variety and stress of life, the zest of 
common ends, the mastery of means, the glory of infinite 
enterprise, the pride of creativity and self-possession. 
The modern world as a whole has made its choice. But 
there is a better choice : namely, the choice of both. 
For the life o each is that it may lose itself, from time 
to time, in the life of the other. And this, which is 
obvious in things partial, is true and even chiefly 
true in things total. 



IN what has gone before, we have been so much en- 
gaged with the psychological bearings and analogies 
of worship, that the central purpose of the mystic's 
prayer and its answer have been obscured. It may be 
well, therefore, to state now in simpler fashion our view 
of prayer, and of the attainment which prayer reaches ; 
not attempting to carry theory farther, but simply to 
relieve and clarify this central point. 

Let us first consider what is meant by the answer to 
prayer, that is, the mystic experience itself, and then 
the nature of the prayer which finds such answer. 

Mystic insight has been compared by William James 
with our occasional experiences of realizing, more or 
less suddenly, the meaning of words, sayings, points of 
view, which may have been familiar and empty posses- 
sions for a long time. Such realizing as this, we may 
observe, is never simply the discovery of the meaning 
of a general proposition. It is a flowing together, after 
some artificial separation, of universal and particular. 
I wake up to the meaning of an old adage, or of an 
opinion to which I have been hostile on prejudice, when 
I bring such a generality into connection with a con- 
crete occasion. And the commoner mystical experiences 
begin, I believe, with the concrete occasion, only sug- 


gesting or foreshadowing the universal meanings which 
they have. 

Experiences of this sort are not uncommon. They 
are but moments of greater mental integrity than usual, 
in which consciousness is more concrete, the associations 
and resources of the mind more instantly collected and 
fused into a total grasp of the meaning of its present 
object. Such a moment is apt to be disconnected from 
other moments just on account of its unusual synthesis: 
it is disconnected from our usual condition of discon- 
nectedness. What surprises us in such a moment is 
that we are commonly so blind. Hence these moments 
are remembered, and become authoritative over other 
moments, as occasions when we have seen clearly, whether 
or not we can any longer recover that same clearness 
of view. 1 

Such an experience for instance, sporadic yet fairly 
common, is a sudden realization of the flux of time, the 
aaystery of the past that is gone as if it had never been, 
and of the future moment that is sure to be, yet is wholly 
non-existent. So seductive is the occupation of the mind 
with generalities, and so practically useful the assump- 
tion that everything recurs, that the individual quality 
of time-units rarely penetrates to us we act as if one 
moment could always be substituted for another. The 

1 Such experiences reach all degrees of clearness. The dominant 
idea which defines a passing 'mood* and most certainly every mood 
has its idea, or vision may be very obscure. Our various feelings, our 
marked experiences of pleasure and pain though they never fail to 
become authoritative in our total consciousness of what the world means 
are, singly taken, hard to read: we seldom think of them as moments 
of insight. We hardly recognize an experience as typically mystical until 
the idea has broken through, and our sense of its significance outweighs our 
interest in its present quality. 


uniqueness of the present moment has to be discovered 
and rediscovered ; it cannot be fairly seen without some- 
thing like a religious reverberation; the poetry of many 
an Omar is in that simple fact. It is perhaps some such 
sense of infinite significance in mere present existence 
which leads Meister Eckhart to say that " He who stands 
continually in a present Now, in him God the Father 
begets his Son without ceasing." * 

Still more frequent and still more typically mystical 
is the discovery of oneself as an individual ; as when 
some summons drives home the question. Who are you? 
What are you ? The assumption of an artificial selfhood, 
if we are right, is not an accident nor a pure vice it 
is a necessary incident of duty. The idealist as well as 
the hypocrite may be suddenly confronted with a new 
vision of himself upon a rude demand to be " natural/' 
or serious, or sincere. Such demands very frequently 
find only another self not the real one ; may substi- 
tute for the social self a more primitive and uncouth 
being, equally untrue, the self of my bad conscience or 
of my self -distrust still, then, a theoretical self, though 
less theoretical than the made-self. The individual self 
is indeed hard to find, the self which is, deeper than all 
epithets. To come upon this individual is an event 
straightway known to be significant 2 Inge quotes the 
following from Tennyson's memoirs : 

1 "Meister eghart sprioht: wer alle cit allein ist, der ist gottes wir- 
dige; vnt wer alliu cifc do beimenen ist, dem ist got gagenwurtig; vnt wer 
alliucit stat in einem gegenwurtigen nu, in dem gebirt got der uatter sinen 
sune an vnderlas." Wackernagel, Altdoutsches Lesebnch, col. 670. 

2 What this revelation of self may signify is a further question and 
doubtless differs at different times. It is likely to be an egoistic revelation) 
a vision of the infinite risk of being alive, and of the infinite right of the 


"A kind of waking trance I have often had, quite from boy- 
hood, when I have been all alone. This has generally come 
upon me through repeating my own name two or three times to 
myself silently, till all at once, out of the intensity of the con- 
sciousness of individuality, the individual itself seemed to dis- 
solve and fade away into boundless being : and this is not a 
confused state, but the clearest of the clearest " etc. 

But the best known of all experiences o the mystic 
type is that of discovering the individuality of another 

We deal with men for the most part through their 
qualities and properties, that is to say, through their 
universal, describable, recominendable or eondernnable 
sides ; each man stands to us, or tends to stand, for a 
certain formula, quality, function, in semi-official man- 
ner. We have our theory o him; he plays his part in 
our artificial world, as one of many. We note in him 
many qualities, good and bad, interesting and perhaps 
contradictory; we wonder how all these characters are 
united in one being who feels no such variety in him- 
self. The one quality that combines these many in a 
consistent identity we can neither describe nor convey; 
nor can we surely hold the memory of it except by 
return from time to time to his presence. But for 

solitary self to be satisfied. It always includes in itself that more abstract 
vision above described, the uniqueness of the time-movement. Subjective 
idealism, and such practical philosophy as that of Nietzsche or Max Stir- 
ner, are unravelings of the purport of just such mystical experiences : and 
they are not false visions, for the stake of existence to the subject cannot 
be overstated, though it may well be disproportionately stated. The will 
to power and the will to save one's soul have much in common: and one 
as the other has immeasurable religious importance. In all such experi- 
ences, and the self-recovery that goes with them, it is the vision of the 
individual which marks the moment of mystic illumination* 


the most part we are not concerned with this; the man 
is a function, and would be improved by the excision of 
his bad qualities; we could easily re-make him to his 
advantage, after the pattern of our own universal 
standards. Our critical judgment of him is, we have 
said, pluralistic and general : there is a miracle in him 
that is, his individuality but we remain outside the 
mystery, and willingly. For it is the business of men 
to fit well together in the work of the world, to be 
officers there, reliable working-universals. 

But at times we are granted something like a mystic 
vision : it seems to us that we have come into the pres- 
ence of the individual and have seen the miracle as such. 
We have found the other soul in its seclusion and sim- 
plicity so we think; and we begin to appreciate the 
place even of its apparent defects in that synthesis which 
is itself. The critical attitude is no longer able to hold 
its negation against this interest in the person as sub- 
stance as something that is, and is one. The vision 
in fact begins to work upon us; we cannot forget it: 
we no longer attend to it with voluntary effort, but it 
forms a part of our consciousness and begins to make 
us over after its own pattern, as if it were active and 
we were plastic before it. This perception of the other 
as an individual being is love, in its special meaning. 
Love does not displace criticism : it contains it. 1 Love 
accepts the individual with his defects, because the One 

1 1 perceive faults in my social acquaintances, but I do not make a 
practice of telling them their faults, because my relations with them are 
still subject to the abstract assumptions of our artificial selfhoods. But 
whatever fault I discover in one whom I love I make known to him : for 
thereby I address the self which I have discovered, simpler and greater 
than the self of that fault, and which can join me in being hostile to it. 


which it has seen contains the inward remedy for those 
defects. Nor does love feel the need of concealing its 
own faults, for love of another involves also a discov- 
ery of the individual in oneself : l it is a presence of the 
individual to the individual, a "flight of the alone to 
the alone." 

Love is a revelation like that of the mystic, full of 
significance. For in finding the individual, one has 
indeed found the individual's idea. That which explains 
and unites and largely justifies all these various and 
seeming-inconsistent qualities is some view of the world 
which he has, some hold on the absolute, some whole- 
idea. He is an individual vision of reality; and in 
knowing him, I do at the same time know his vision 
and make his vision my own. This is the central fact 
of all mysticism: namely, that the discovery of the indi- 
vidual is always a discovery of truth, of a powerfully 
synthetic idea, and yet not by the way of effortful 
thinking. That interest in another soul which we call 
love is not an interest in his idea as a matter of theory : 
it is an interest in him as an individual substance, a 
being which knows and is more than its knowledge. 

All these common experiences, we say. are analogous 
to the mystic insight. And there can now be little 
doubt about the nature of that insight itself and its 
place among the rest. For what is the mystic experi- 
ence but finding the idea of the whole, as love finds 
the idea of a person? Worship seeks the self of the 
world as an individual being; but in finding this self, it 

1 Love thus includes in itself all of those lesser or relatively abstract 
experiences which we have been describing. 


gains, or regains, a tolerating conception of this world, 
a view which can make life as a whole once more accept- 
able, inviting, great. In this idea it is able not to sink 
but to suspend its criticisms of existence : it is not recon- 
ciled to defects, but it sees something more than dead 
fact, even some meaning, in their presence. The total 
sound of life sends up to it some echo of beauty ; and it 
is able, without blindness, to become as it were a lover 
of the whole. For the idea which thus of itself absorbs 
our hostilities, binding our many and divergent judg- 
ments in powerful synthesis, is won not by the effort 
of the theoretic will, but by coming effortlessly upon 
the spirit of the world, as an individual being, simple, 
wonderful, and in close union with the individual in 

These other experiences are not only analogous to the 
mystic insight : they are, as we have said, parts of it. 
All loss of value in the world is at the same time a loss 
of religious insight. All the artificialities of effortful 
attention strike first at the virility of the whole-idea, 
and dim the consciousness of God. All absolute criti- 
cism condemns the whole; all pluralism mutilates first 
the unity of existence; all romanticism adds to the bur- 
den of heaven. And wherever in all life the individual 
vanishes from my grasp, there has vanished first the 
individual God. Where men and self become abstrac- 
tions, there God also becomes an abstract universal, 
occupying an official position in my artificial world, 
reduced to be dealt with in polite and deadly distance. 
On the other hand, wherever the individual is recovered, 
there is in some degree also a vision of God. God is 
the One of all these plural loves and pleasures ; and it 


is the love of God which naturally includes and places 
all the rest. 

But of all these objects, God is the only one always 
accessible to direct pursuit ; the only one admitting such 
a conscious, voluntary cult as worship is. Our pleasures 
are so many discoveries; friendships, appreciations, 
loves generally, happen to men as by good chance : once 
they have dawned upon us, we may pursue them as 
vigorously as we will, but the appreciations themselves 
cannot be directly sought. It is only such vision of 
God as one at any time has that enables him to recog- 
nize the pleasant, the beautiful, in things and persons : 
the only net that can be spread for the loving of men 
and things is the consciousness of the absolute. 1 So 
far as these other objects retain their value, that is to 
say, their idea, we may turn to them ; but their salt has 
a tendency to lose its savor, and cannot be salted again 
by its own kind. This is the root of our trouble. We 
know always that life is worth living; we know, too, 
that we have in us somewhere the power of appreciat- 
ing it; we know that nothing is common or unclean, 
and nothing hopeless: only we cannot see it so. We 
have lost our primitive joy in primitive things ; we have 
lost our freshness of impression. It is no longer true 
that "the scent of a flower, the flight of sea-gulls 
round a cliff, the cornfield in the sun, stir us to strange 
and cosmic delights." And it is worse than useless, so 
we find, to try with might and main to feel in these 

1 As a command, the injunction to love one's neighbor would be 
meaningless unless the command to love God went before it. In the 
case of all other affections, I love what I must ; in the case of this one I 
love as I will, hence it is subject to command. 


things what we have once felt. Nothing is more com- 
mon than this trying, and nothing more fatal. Yet the 
thing is there. There are great funds of enthusiasm 
and literal love of men and things in us, if we could 
but reach them. There is a love of life in us which we 
never let go. But that love of life, if we can discern 
its true nature, is at bottom a love of God : it is that 
mystic thread which " in the ground of the soul " is 
never broken. If we can regain that, all the rest will 
follow. And only by regaining that can we surely 
recover the rest. It is for this reason that we must add 
to all the other means for keeping or recovering our 
spiritual integrity, prayer. And what, in this present 
day of grace, does prayer mean ? 

It means, in the first place, that we maintain our dis- 
content, returning again and again to the demand that 
our existence shall find itself justified in our own eyes. 
The first practical principle of religion is to hold with- 
out weakening the right of every individual life to know 
its own worth. We must not let reality go, this reality 
which has produced us, until it satisfies us: it must 
yield us the idea which unites what we most deeply 
desire with what is. This is the prayer of Jacob ; and 
in a fundamental sense it is the first prayer of every 
human being. We are right in wishing to see first and 
be loyal afterward. 

It means, in the second place, that we understand 
clearly to what self this right belongs, and cultivate 
that self. This right to see does not belong to our com- 
plex and strident personality which goes about, think- 
ing by omnipotent effort to earn its happiness and its 


certainty. It belongs only to that in us which is simple 
and sincere. The sincere is that which is moved by 
necessity not by effort (no feeling is sincere which is 
made by will) : the genuine will is the will which goes 
forth from effortless attention, that is to say, from love 
and that is to say, from sight. We have the right 
to see first and be loyal afterward only because unless 
we see we cannot be loyal, nor in any sense sincere 
or moral. No determination to be a lover of life, no 
resolve to fight down desire or grief or regret or aver- 
sion, no attempt to transform one's own nature, can suc- 
ceed by dint of the effortful will alone. But sight does 
its own transforming : sight turns the energy of our 
own desires into the work of their own re-mating. It 
is thus an effortless self, and therewith a necessary will r 
that we have to seek. And for the same reason, it 
is a simple self, not involved in our artificial distinc- 
tions. 1 

To be able to command this simple and sincere self 
is the critical condition of religious insight. Hence 
(thirdly) we in this day must still follow, in some fash- 
ion significant for ourselves, the negative path of all 
&he mystics. We require the sight which cannot come 
through trying to see ; we must try, then, to put our- 
selves consciously where sight must follow. We must 

1 This world is so made, not only that a simple view of the whole is 
possible, but thnt our mastery of the world may proceed, and must pro- 
ceed, from this simple view outward. The idealist philosopher has been 
inclined to conceive the subject as ruler of the object : in this case, to 
* return into oneself ' is to return to the seat of ultimate power, and to find 
the law-giving principle of things, that which is a priori in both thought 
and practice. But it is rather the simple than the subjective that we 
must learn to appeal to, the simple which is both subjective and objec- 
tive, and whose a priori, or ' anticipated attainment ' is concrete. 


deliberately review and reject, from time to time, what- 
ever is falsely artificial and self-assertive in our out- 
going purposes; we must track, as far as we can, the 
points of our own partiality. We must, even in this 
modern world of ours, know how to shake off the pre- 
possessions of our theoretic wills ; to regard all ambi- 
tions and duties for the time as non-existent; to reduce 
all reality to the primitive terms of self, universe, and 
the present moment (wherein everything begins from the 
beginning). In this stark, original selfhood, detached 
from action and from the warping of the interests of 
action, we view all that active career as in a drama, as 
the life of another, in the light of what we can then 
and there muster of the whole. Its loves and hates rise 
up before us in a more universal frame. We must 
recall especially whatever is still to us of effortless 
value, whatever we do still sincerely enjoy and love, and 
we must pray for the vision of the whole of which these 
various goods are fragments, and upon which they depend 
as their absolute. I use the word 'pray/ because, in 
the end, there is no other word which conveys that atti- 
tude of will in which effort is so combined with non- 
effort, and self-assertion with consciousness of absolute 
dependence. Nor do I know why this word should be 
translated into anything more scholastic. The insight 
we require is both a right and a gift, the justest gift 
in all experience ; we dare not be too proud to comply 
with its evident conditions. We must know that in 
doing these things, we are already using a degree of 
mystic insight : we are relying upon an attachment to 
the whole which is too deep in us to be lost or over- 
eome ; we are striving to ' enter into ourselves/ to 


recognize this attachment for what it is, the love of 
the God of that alienated world. This is prayer. 

And the answer to prayer is whatever of simplicity, 
of naturalness, of original appreciation, is brought into 
our view of things by this act of obedience of the mind 
to its absolute object. In proportion as our prayer is 
honest, we shall find ourselves less thinking, and more 
seeing ; and we can turn again to meet experience with 
so much better poise and understanding. How full, 
how instantaneous, how overwhelming may be the 
vision of the deity of the world and the worth of one's 
own part in it, no one can say : certainly it is beyond 
the province of philosophy to prescribe. Neither can it 
be told when or through what apparent accidents the 
deeper insights of our experience may occur. Philos- 
ophy can only point out the fundamental law of reli- 
gious life, the right to see first and be loyal afterward ; 
and interpret in its own abstract language the condi- 
tions of that vision. 

But the meaning of the mystic experience is pro- 
phetic. It anticipates an attainment still to be won ; it 
can be held only by proceeding to that winning. Wor- 
ship is false unless it is sanctioned in turn by the life 
that follows it. This sanction is twofold. First that it 
does not undermine, but rather supports, the world of 
other aims. The mystic must return not less a lover of 
men, but rather a lover in more intense and human 
fashion, because it is only the true worshipper who can 
find the world genuinely lovable. The vision of God 
must give the reason for all the irrational attachments 
of life, all the sacrifices of self to brother, state, or 


cause. It furnishes the answer to the last Why of 
duty. To be * loyal afterward ' is the first sanction of 
true worship : and also the condition of further insight. 
It is by the alternation of loyalty and worship that 
each life must hold and increase its individual level 
of value. 

The second sanction of worship is, that the worship- 
per does not merely sustain, but creates. All beauty, 
as Plato thought, incites to reproduction. It incites 
perhaps to something more than reproduction to 
origination. Some superabundance there is in the 
vision of God which sends the seer back not to the 
old but to the new ; not with a release from old griev- 
ances, but with something like a hunger for pain and 
difficulty. The edge of the tool of will is restored, 
and it is eager for world-making. The man is able to 
fight, to oppose and suffer ; he is endowed with grit, 
with faith. This is the moral result of true worship. 

And this, I believe, is the whole inward response to 
prayer. The mystic has reverted to the One, and now 
returns to the many, more real than before, more po- 
tent. That which can happen only with the conscious- 
ness of God is an act of God: and I cannot doubt that 
it has been with the mystic even as he says namely, 
that God has given to him something of Himself. By 
just so much as the ultimate meaning of tilings becomes 
present to him, by just so much is he capable of bring- 
ing new values back to earth ; not in explicit form at 
first, but as an enhanced quantity of being in himself, 
as a renewed grasp of the quality of the goal. In this 
way is the mystic freighted with the future ; and the 
fruit he may gather in his own person, or may spread 


abroad in the world merely in the form of his own 
quickened hold on life and love of it, in the form of 
the " Holy Spirit," to be applied and gathered by others. 
But the whole meaning of the answer to prayer, and 
so of prayer itself, cannot appear until we have reviewed 
those fruits of which the mystic experience contains 
the prophecy. 




IN times gone by, the more remarkable experiences of 
the mystics were unhesitatingly read as direct com- 
munications of God to the human mind. The content 
of some of these experiences has been deposited (to- 
gether with much else) in the various sacred writings 
of the world, as revelation. Other such experiences 
seemed to signify commands, and found expression 
chiefly in action : their record is to be found in history, 
as the inspired works and prophetic deeds of men. In 
religion as we know it to-day, we hear little of either 
revelation or prophecy : answer to prayer, such as it is, 
seems to have taken on a more private interest. Yet I 
have no doubt that in some form or other these are 
still the fruits of religion : so far as religious experience 
has become intelligible to us, it has been as a develop- 
ment both in idea and in will. And further, I have no 
doubt that these results are acts of God : for that is an 
act of God which cannot happen without turning the 
mind to God. I shall therefore discuss the fruits of 
religion under these heads : revelation, inspiration (re- 
ligious creativity), and the prophetic consciousness. 

These are the results of religion as they appear first 
in the life of the individual, and through the individual 
contribute to the wealth of mankind. It is through the 
individual that religion achieves those results in history 


which first drew our attention (chapter ii), and whose 
theory we are now ready to develop. But there are 
further fruits of religion, more distinctively historical 
in character; results which appear in the structure of 
the social environment wherein the religious conscious- 
ness must live and breathe. It remains for the con- 
cluding chapter to outline these over-individual fruits 
of religion,, and their effects in the general movement 
of history. Thus we touch upon the edge of another 
aspect of the woi& of God in the world, suggested in 
part by the term providence, and in part by the term 
salvation in so far as this saving must come to the in- 
dividual from the outside, through the medium of his 
spiritual environment. Here we shall find a necessary 
supplement to the inner answer to prayer ; and also a 
view of the function of those historic mediators which 
the universal spirit of religion forever inclines to trans- 
cend, and forever returns to by an inward necessity 
hard to understand. 



IN speaking of revelation we have in mind that 
knowledge which is the especial product or by-product 
of religion ; we have to ask what it is that the mystic 
knows, which cannot otherwise be known. We have 
in mind also those sacred books. They form a peculiar 
body of literature : unorganized, obscure, repetitious, 
unscientific, powerful, immortal. In this present chapter 
we shall have in view both this ancient literature and 
contemporary religious experience; and shall undertake 
to interpret the one by the other. 

The mystic both in his preparation and in the expe- 
rience that supplements that preparation, is a world- 
destroyer as we have seen : and his return must be a 
re-creation of a world. The mystic is always original 
in the sense that he feels obliged to make his world 
consciously his own, to build up everything for him- 
self from the beginning. But this may not mean that 
he has any novelty to offer others ; on the contrary, 
being much occupied with first principles of world-build- 
ing he may never come so far as the world otherwise 
has come. Tolstoy well shows this quality o the mys- 
tic as knower : the imperious necessity of rejecting all 
previous accomplishment of men ; of reducing the world 


to anarchy, and building all up again from chaos. His 
life is spent among the rudiments, not without great 
result, but without ever perceiving the worth of his own 
temporal present : a huge, fertile, world-moving anach- 
ronism. Such in general is the case of genius, control- 
ling the future not by any complete grasp of its own 
age, but by a recovered hold upon the ancient and eter- 
nal. And such, in general, is also the case of the mystic ; 
whose chief concern is not to find things new to men at 
large, but only to find the Ancient of Days as a God 
revealed personally to him. The mystic is, in the first 
place, an original knower of old truth. 

What the mystic knows is, first of all, that which he 
intends to know, namely God : and in so far as he is a 
mystic pure and simple he knows nothing else than 
God. There is nothing new about this knowledge 
except its relation to him: what he knows he knows 
certainly, in his own person, and for himself. 

Nevertheless, he seems to regard his old truth as of 
general interest : he treats it as if it were a veritable 
mystery, and as something which could not otherwise 
be known to men than through his announcing it. He 
is not in any way abashed by the multitude of his pred- 
ecessors who have been publishing the same thing. 
The typical mystic seems to be innocent of all historical 
comparison in this respect : history always begins with 
him, and flows outward in all directions. He speaks 
his mind as if he were the first to speak, and as if all 
depended upon his speaking. 1 It is because of this 

1 There is, of course, a psychological necessity here at work. No man 
can keep a truth as his own without trying to impose it upon others. If 
it is a troth, this revelation, it is a knowledge of mankind's god, not of 


circumstance that the systematic truth-seeker, who 
measures revelatiou by stages, finds the literature of 
mysticism and of all religion curiously repetitious and 

any private god of the worshipper ; and it must show itself true in their 
confirmation of it. A certainty which cannot be recovered iu the certainty 
of other moments and of other men is a defeated and dying certainty. 
For his own sake, if for no other, the mystic has been driven to become a 
propagandist of his old discoveries. 

This necessity of corroboration casts doubt upon the absolute cer- 
tainty of the revelation itself. The mystic experience seems to carry 
with it a great surge of certainty : the mystic knows that " This is God "; 
there is a sense of arrival, of having touched goal, that seems to banish 
all possibility of doubt. This moment becomes the standard of all cer- 
tainty ; it is an " illumination." Yet, the mystic himself frequently falls 
into doubt, in later moments, about the authenticity of his experience ; 
it may have been due to the devil, or to imagination. If he thus belies 
his own original assertion of immediate certainty, what credit can it have 
on strictly non-partisan grounds ? 

The mystic needs to judge the truth of his experience by its bearing 
on other experience. If it accords with life generally, he will in the long 
run regard it true ; if it cannot be made to harmonize with experience 
otherwise and with thought, he must abandon it. Hence there can be no 
immediate certainty, we are sometimes told ; assurance is conferred on the 
mystical experience by its external relations, by the entire system of liv- 
ing truth into which it falls. The truth of the world is necessary to give 
certainty to the truth of God. " It is the possibility of comprehending 
these experiences," says Delacroix, " of living them, of utilizing them in 
action, which here serves as a touchstone of their truth. Intuition is of 
no value save in an ensemble with which it accords." Etudes de psycho- 
logie, etc., p. 380. 

I agree with Delacroix that without a system of experience there 
would be no certainty of anything ; and that harmony with world-knowl- 
edge is needed to establish the certainty of God. But since we have 
judged that the certainty of this world is derived from the certainty of 
God in the first place, the world can hardly withhold its consent. The 
world is not otherwise known than as the world of this God ; God is not 
otherwise known than as the God of this world : the two knowledges are 
of one piece the mystic cannot be mistaken. The intention of worship, 
which gives the whole experience its identity, has its continuous object, 
the known God present in all experience : this is the absolute constant in 
the process, and hence not subject to doubt. Thus it is possible to be 


empty, defying serial arrangement, recurring again and 
again to the same point. But there are reasons for 
this peculiarity and we shall do well to look into them : 
emptiness and antiquity have their own way of becom- 
ing fertile. 

In the first place his repetitions are justified by the 
character of the truth which he has to announce. For 
his truth is a truth which has to be verified individually 
by every new human being. The ancient truth of the 
mystic is nothing else than the truth about originality, 
about what it is to own one's own soul. The knowl- 
edge of God as the worshipper has it is the opposite 
of everything that can ever become merely traditional 
in religion. No matter how true an idea of God reli- 
gion may hand on, the true idea may constitute a wall 
which keeps God out, if it is adopted as an idea simply,. 
that is to say, as a repetition of other men's insights, 

certain at the moment, without waiting for later oorroboration or later 
doubt. I know of no certainty which is not certainty at some moment 
or series of moments ; certainty also must have its temporal existence* 
We must remember that in these experiences, to which we giro the name 
of mystic simply because in them the individual finds himself consciously 
at one with the whole of things, the world is not absent : it is with one's 
world-knowledge that one now knows his world-unity, or God. The 
system of ideas is in no sense abandoned, but rather in the liveliest use, 
though not thought of. Hence it is that the mystic may be certain in 
his moment, immediately. 

But to keep this certainty in all later moments is a problem for those 
later moments. Systematic agreement and alternation are necessary to 
hold what has in a moment been gained. The moaning of that experi- 
ence is the meaning which it can keep throughout all such oscillations of 
thought ; it is the invariant which survives and becomes defined through 
the long course of trial and error which all this system-making and com-* 
parison involves. Both statements are true one may be wholly certain 
of the presence of God ; and yet one must keep this certainty, novel or 
not, by communicating it. 


as a universal idea. God, who is truly said to explain 
man to himself, must explain me to myself. What I 
require to find in a god is that " This is what I have 
wanted ; this is what I have been meaning all the time ; 
the world as I now see it is a world in which I as a 
primitive, various, infinitely discontented will can com- 
pletely live and breathe." This is what the mystic is 
trying to make plain that the idea, as a universal, 
is not sufficient for any man to live by. 

Hence the chief burden of his revelation (as if of 
the idea's own never-resting conscience) is that religion 
must exist as experience and not as idea only. There 
is nothing in sensation which physical science cannot 
exhaust, except the experience of having sensations : in 
the same way, there is nothing in the mystic experience 
not expressible in idea, except the experiencing itself. 
This is the chief part of the mystic knowledge which 
tsannot be otherwise known, namely that the mystic 
experience is possible. Monotonously and age after 
age, men rediscover and reannounce this invariant truth, 
as if they were calling on men to exist, to live, to save 
their souls. And what is it to save one's soul, if not to 
be original in this sense (and in what follows from it) ? 
From this point of view the reiteration of the mystic is 

But there ib a further reason for the mystic's persist- 
ent celebration of time-worn axioms. Repetition, which 
is abomination to science, is not necessarily an abomi- 
nation to the sense of beauty, nor to the sense of grati- 
tude, certainly not to the lover, and for similar reason 
not to the worshipper. Individual interest can never 


recur often enough to its old theme ; and ' revelation/ 
though it is a contribution to truth, is not, in its first 
intention, a contribution to science. 

There is no topic so much discussed among friends, 
and none so inexhaustible, as that invariant relation of 
which they have the fact before their eyes, friend- 
ship. Friendship doubtless stimulates the mind, but 
chiefly to feed upon itself. As for lovers, the world 
knows what secret topic occupies their conversation, and 
upon what theme they bring forth endless poetry. Song 
and poetry are forms which infinitely repeatable truth 
must take : they thus become the mystic's specialty, 
and revelation must consist largely of the song of 
God. " He hath put a new song in my mouth," says 
the Hebrew mystic a song whose novelty does not 
appear in its name " even praise unto my G-od." 

Not infrequently it appears to the mystic that this 
poetical repetition has become the whole purpose of his 
existence. " Thou hast put off my sackcloth and girded 
me with gladness to the end that my glory may sing 
praise to Thee and not be silent." A more literal con- 
fession is found in those newly unearthed " Odes of 
Solomon." " As the work of the husbandman is the 
ploughshare; and the work of the steersman is the 
guidance of the ship ; so also is my work the psalm of 
the Lord : my craft and my occupation are his praises, 
because his love hath nourished my heart." x And the 
English translator of these Odes refers in his preface to 
the similar expression of Epictetus : '* Well, then, since 
most of you have become blind, ought there not to be 

1 Ode 16, quoting with some freedom the rendering of Mr. Harris, 
Cambridge, 1909. 


some man to fill this office, and on behalf of all to sing 
the hymn to God ? ... If then I were a nightingale, I 
would do the part of a nightingale ; if I were a swan, 
I would do like a swan. But now I am a rational 
creature, and I ought to praise God : this is my work ; 
I do it, nor will I desert this post so long as I am 
allowed to keep it ; and I exhort you to join in this 
same song/' 1 

The mystic consciousness is self-preoccupied ; and the 
knowledge that comes from it is very largely knowledge 
of itself. 

This self-absorhed character of mystic knowledge 
may explain why the mystics have so much to say about 
" the truth " in the abstract, without suggesting what 
the truth is. The mystic knows the Truth, so he assures 
us : but he seems to spin hopelessly about this point, 
and to come forward very slowly with any statement 
of its contents. 2 

May it be that the mystic is more sure that he is 
sure than of what he is sure, except that he is sure 

1 Discourses, Book I, ch. xvi. Tr. Geo. Long. 

2 The Odes of Solomon may again illustrate the point: 

"He hath filled me with words of truth, that I may speak the same. 
Like the flow of waters flows truth from my mouth, and my lips show 
forth his fruit. And he has caused his knowledge to abound in me; for 
the mouth of the Lord is the true Word, and the door of his light." 
(Ode 12.) 

" He glorified me by his kindness, and raised my thought to the height 
of his truth. Herein he gave me the way of his precepts ; and I opened 
the doors that wore closed; and the bars of iron which I was about to 
break in pieces melted and dissolved before me nothing appeared closed 
to me, because I was the door of everything." (Ode 17.) 

With how much show of substance, and yet how empty of definable 
content is all this celebration of "the Truth." 


of God and of his own relation to God? In these 
matters, the that actually precedes the what, both in 
time and in importance. 

In politics, as Walter Bagehot has well shown, there 
is a moment of development at which it is more impor* 
tant that there should be law, than that there should be 
good law : any law at all, at this moment, is good law, 
because law is better than disorder. There is a moment 
in religion, also, at which any God is a good God; any 
absolute is a good absolute ; any certainty at all is a 
matter of supreme importance. This moment cannot 
last, either in experience or in reason ; but it is enough 
to give color to the primary religious attitude. Any 
certainty is better than no certainty ; it is good both 
for the mystic and for his hearers to have touched abso- 
lute assurance, on no matter what subject. To be cer- 
tain has a pragmatic meaning in any case ; the man is 
disposed to resolute action in general, and his resolute- 
ness is able to communicate itself. The presence of 
the form of assurance in the world, is the presence of 
some emptiness that will gather to itself its own filling 
in time ; as many an unequipped good-will by practis- 
ing assurance has in time acquired some substance 
of efficiency, in medicine and elsewhere. And who 
knows but that the various pretences through which 
boys grow into youth and manhood show also some 
natural precedence of the form over the matter : any 
form at all is some matter such seems to be the rule, 
a germ which in honest soil will grow. I dare say that 
this preliminary law of Bagehot' s is a child of this 
same religious assuredness which alone in this world is 
capable of absolute command. 


Let the mystic, then, be certain of his " the truth," 
his " God's truth," and do not enviously require him 
at every turn to say what the truth contains. No one 
insists more than I that it must contain something, and 
can be no pure ineffable zero, but in human language 
we must be willing to wait for its deposit, and even to 
put up with much error. The church, let me say, is 
always right in claiming to be infallible. Any church 
which modestly declines such pretension, any mystic 
who in his main point admits that he may be mistaken, 
does thereby stamp itself or himself as fraudulent. For 
if one knows God, he will also know that he knows (so 
truly testifies Spinoza) ; hence, although not every one 
that claims certainty is true, every one that disclaims it 
is false. It is among the certain ones that all true 
prophets will be found. It is among the infallible 
churches that all true churches will be found. What 
the church chiefly has to learn is not to be infallible in 
regard to too much. 

The infallibility of the religious institution proceeds 
from the certainty of its mystics ; it is better that they 
also should not be certain of too much, should be willing 
to abide in the region of being sure chiefly that they 
are sure of "the truth," of the absolute. But the 
mystic feels the clamor of the crowd for bread ; he has, 
besides, his own internal emptiness which must be filled; 
he trembles on the verge between being rightly sure 
of his residual object, and being wrongly sure of some 
more visible content. As a matter of natural history, 
the mystic, in practical affairs, is apt to carry his assur- 
ance too far. The defect of his virtue may be, that he 


becomes absolute on too slight provocation. He is the 
sturdy will, which in decline may become the tempera- 
mental dogmatist. It is never easy to deal with a will 
of this sort, which supposes itself to be founded on an 
original source of truth at once immovable and inacces- 
sible. One can only watch its career (once its certainty 
invades this world of sense) as of a thing of Nature, 
closed in general to common instruction ; and be grate- 
ful for any tendency which it may show to coincide 
with reason. But the indomitable and unreasonable 
person is neither a result of mysticism nor a cause; 
he is a well-known natural product, widely distributed: 
and while his natural firmness may be magnified by 
the sanction of religion, it must at the same time be 
rendered safer and truer by the essential tendency of 
worship to universalize the mind and bend it to reason. 
Indeed, is not mysticism the natural antidote for over- 
mightiness of personal will ; and perhaps the only pro- 
tection of society, in the end, against its most vehement 
members? For if the Strong Man in his solitude is 
not in company with the Absolute Other, his solitude is 
indeed absolute, and wholly menacing. The worshipper 
by the nature of his profession, must first humble him- 
self before his object, and with all his strength suppress 
his strength, until it begins its assertions at the zero of 
all historical content. None but God can reach the 
all-mighty will in its solitary origins. It is the destiny 
of religion to find that difficult and all-important center 
of a just infallibility, which curbs and defines all abso- 
lute assurance, without disastrously abolishing it. 

It is well for the mystic to dwell chiefly upon his 


absolute certainty of the absolute, and of his wholly 
original relation to ancient reality. But his revelation 
cannot stop here, because his experience has legitimate 
bearings on other experience, and he is obliged to trace 
them out. The mystic will become a knower of things 
new as well as old. 

Of this new knowledge, we have here to say that it 
comes to the mystic in the course of his return to the 
world, unsought by him. He has known God from 
the standpoint of the world ; now he begins to know his 
world from the standpoint of his new experience of God, 
As after every new experience the familiar experiences 
to which one returns are lit up with unfamiliar light, 
shining out strange and reborn : so as the mystic resumes 
his occupation with the many things, he finds that " all 
things have become new," and this novelty he will 
learn how to distil into the stock of human wisdom at 
large. 1 

It is natural that these new impressions should be 
read first in their religious bearings, and so contribute 
first to the dogmatic enrichment of religion itself. From 
such impressions arise those dogmas which have to do 
with the world and man. If all things do contain 
' memorials' or reminders of God, the mystic will see in 
that fact a divine origin of the world ; and in time these 
same reminders will take shape as a doctrine of the 
divine Word or Logos. And as he finds reminders, 
he finds also obstructions to the reminding: here 

1 Says the Ode-writer: "My heart was cloven, and its flower 
appeared ; and grace sprang up in it ; and it brought forth fruit to the 
Lord. . . . And every thing became like a relic of thyself and a memorial 
forever of thy faithful works. For there is abundant room in thy Para- 
dise, and nothing is useless therein." 


begin his condemnations, his contributions to law 
and prophecy. 1 

This way of making judgments is a very common 
one ; it is what we might call, judgment by compatibil- 
ity or incompatibility of mood. All of our earlier 
moral judgments are of this sort. A dominant per* 
sonal relationship (say of child to parent) governs one's 
attitude to all sorts of things, not so much through ver- 
bal command, as through a perception of what would 
harmonize or jar with the conscious quality of that 
relationship. The recurrence of the presence of the 
person gradually defines the judgment. In the case of 
the mystic, the various approaches which he makes to 
his God after meeting his world and judging it, become 
so many questions to which he finds a yes or no, accord- 
ing as his consciousness of God is accessible to him or 
not- God shows thereby what he loves and what he 
hates; and though there is much weary guessing as to 
the reasons for the presence or the absence of divine 
favor, yet in the course of time inductions emerge, 
"experimental wisdom" of fairly stable sort. These 
resulting judgments are thus due to what F. B. Jevona 
has happily called " supernatural selection," in contrast to 
the natural selection of survival by actual utility. 2 And 
all such judgments, social, cosmological, and moral, are 
at the same time judgments about the nature of God ; 
are so many developments of the knowledge of God, 
made possible by this continuous alternation in experi- 

1 This process also we see in the Odes of Solomon : " And I forsook 
vanity, and turned to the Most High my God, and I was enriched by his 
bounty ; and I forsook the folly which was diffused over the earth 
yea, I stripped it off, and cast it from me/' 

9 Introduction to the history of religion, oh. viii. 


ence* The mystic's preparation is an epitome of such 
empirical judgments about God, that is to say, of the 
kind of disposition which God will favor. Thus the 
mystic contributes little by little to the dogmatic con- 
tent of religion; and these dogmas have their own 
methods of trial and selection. 

In this origination of new judgments, the mystics have 
done their harm in the world, being sure of things 
that are only partially true. We thought that the mys- 
tic would do well to be slow in concrete creativeness. 
But taking the whole bulk of dogmatic utterance 
together, we must still judge that the harm done is 
infinitely less serious than would have been the harm 
of losing that same material and the assurance with it. 
The mystic's blunders have their indispensable truth ; 
and partial truth may be pragmatically truer than the 
completely guarded statement. Most mystic utterances 
are untrue ; as, for example, most of Emerson's statements 
are untrue. His continual volley of the small cartridges 
of dogma is a symptom of mystical habit ; they are a 
minor rill of mystical enlightenments. And doubtless 
to his own knowledge and intention many of his state- 
ments are partial. He writes esotericatty, that is, for 
the reader who has the sense and good-will to supply 
the cautions and conditions for his statements. That 
word of his already quoted, "No one can harm me but 
myself" is esoterically true, empirically untrue; but 
how far superior to all such guarded and accurate state- 
ments as we might make of it. The valid doctrines of 
the church are in the same case ; their truth is literal, 
but esoteric. It is capable of complete translation into 


philosophic propositions about the world and man and 
the Absolute, in the course of infinite time. But 
meanwhile it conveys truth to the man of good-will and 
insight ; indispensable truth ; would we could also say, 
" and nothing but the truth." 

The mystic gives us the thing which is to be modified. 
There are many who can supply the modification ; but 
who else could have pulled down from heaven that sub- 
stance ? In the positive dogmas of the mystic we find 
absolute truth getting its first relations to facts : its 
second and third and subsequent relations will be found 
in time j but meanwhile we have the thing, and men can 
live by it. It is the mystic's function to set theses into 
the world, crude positive theses ; antitheses will come of 
their own accord : but the thing that wins immortality, 
after all the corrections of thought and experience, will 
have personal identity with that original thesis. 

Of the mystic's knowledge, then, in summary survey, 
we have to say this. That the contents of ' revelation ' 
are twofold. There is first the certainty and praise of 
God, and of the mystic's relation to God ; this knowl- 
edge moves within its own circle, and has no apparent 
fruit nor progress, being to an external view self- 
absorbed and empty, not much else than certainty of 
certainty. But secondly, there is the positive contribu- 
tion of the mystic and prophet to the concrete spiritual 
wealth of mankind, a creativity to which we can discern 
no limit. 

Thus it is that the knowledge of God which is in 
intention the end of the mystic's knowledge is also its 
beginning. The knowledge of the oldest becomes the 


parent of the newest knowledge. And not alone in 
the domain o religious truth. For in the light of this 
experience all other experience, we say, has become 
changed and of new meaning. Many of the judgments 
which the mystic now coins, judgments contributory to 
science and the arts, will appear to him unparented. 
They simply arise in his mind. The same, I think, may 
be said of all our unparented knowledge, that knowl- 
edge which we attribute vaguely to ' inspiration/ and 
of which we speak dogmatically, saying, " It must be 
.so " : all such knowledge has as one parent this same 
original knowledge of the eternal. This will be the 
thesis of our next chapter. 



T7IROM time to time the methods of religion have 
-T impressed us as being methods fit for the origi- 
nation of new thonght and of new value, if any such 
thing is possible on this planet. And I believe that 
we must recognize in worship the very process through 
which religion becomes historically fertile in the sense 
of our first speculation regarding the role of religion in 
history. 1 It is our purpose now to enter as we can into 
the logic and meaning of the creative event, and to 
sketch its re-echoings in life generally. 

For creativity has its method and logic ; not such as 
binds it or predetermines it, but such as gives it root, 
lodgment, and effect. Any valuable creativity is far 
removed from pure chance or irresponsibility in things. 
It has its place and its conditions, just as in the world 
of organic life, creation and birth have their own 
assigned organic method and quota of energy in the 
economy of the life-cycle : whether or not it is an easy 
matter to define the parentage of novelty, some parent- 
age it must have. The world that shall be emerges 
from the world that is by the appearance of the purely 
new; yet that emergence is subject to some control 
and consent of the world that is : unless the present in 

1 Chapter ii, 


some fashion loves and desires the future, the future 
will bear no progeny. In so far, a theory of origi- 
nation is possible ; and what is more to be wished for 
than insight into creativity ? 

It is an old observation that moral and cognitive 
ideas tend to form self-perpetuating systems; they 
grope toward equilibrium, working-harmony with each 
other and with experience, until they strike an arrange- 
ment which goes on reproducing itself, not leading 
beyond itself by any further stroke of experience. 
This is the settled character, of men, races, states, 

The structure of such a moral system was hinted at 
in several places by Aristotle. Thus in the Nicoma- 
chean Ethics (n, 2), "Strength is produced by eating 
much food and by undergoing much severe labor ; and 
no one can do this so well as he who is strong . . . 
(similarly) by abstaining from pleasures we become 
temperate, and when temperate are best able to abstain. 
... (In general) that same class of actions which 
develops a given virtue is itself furthered and energized 
by that virtue." Aristotle is observing that virtue some- 
how is presupposed in acquiring virtue ; that it must 
aid in its own acquisition ; l conversely, that if it is 
absent we are shut out from it, as he who has no 
strength is shut out from that working and eating which 
produces strength. These systems, circles, groups, 2 
have thus an apparently fatalistic character. Only he 

1 An observation that might have reconciled him with Plato if he 
had pursued it farther* 

9 Groups in the mathematical sense, defined chiefly by the rule that 


who is already temperate can become temperate ; only 
he who is already wise can gain wisdom. Aristotle 
himself will admit to the study of ethics only those who 
are already mature and well-trained, prepared to admit 
the necessary first-premises for his reasonings. The 
good he defines with a deliberate circle as that which 
the good man judges to be good ; the good man being 
defined, in turn, as he who values what is really good. 
Thus the good and the good man adjust themselves 
to each other, and recognize themselves each by the 
other. There is no appeal from their position; -nor, 
on these principles alone, is there any way of knowing 
whether what the " good men " of any time, or of all 
times, regard as good is really good. For our blind- 
spots perpetuate themselves as well as our true visions : 
every type of character has a conception of the good 
which it sustains and is in turn sustained by. Hence 
every type, good or bad, tends to lose the power of 
self-criticism: the 'best* has no way of discovering 
its own defects. There is no way here for growth, 
novelty, creativity. 1 

The ultimate resistance to any innovation is this 
approximate self-sufficiency of the set of ideas, moral 
and other, which we already have, the tendency of 

a combination of any two elements of the group according to the charac- 
teristic operation of the group produces always another member of the 
same group, never an object falling outside that group. 

1 Whatever is, in the world, whether defective or not, tends to as- 
sume the form of organic completeness, mutual self-support of parts, 
self -propagation, and thus to justify its existence by immanental struc- 
ture: whatever is pretends to be right. On the other hand, whatever 
pretends to be self-sufficient, and to justify itself only by its group form 
and self-propagating powers, is to be suspected of defect : whatever 
merely w, is wrong. 


that set of ideas to reproduce within its own kind, 
exclusively. In so far as we are stupid, we can only 
stupidly try to overcome stupidity ; in so far as we are 
selfish, we make selfish efforts to escape the rewards 
of selfishness as by giving to charity for the sake of 
treasure in heaven ; in remorse for falsity, we try to 
right ourselves, yet anxiously preserving our face : and 
we observe, in others if not in ourselves, that defects 
are not overcome by this kind of trying. In just such 
futile endeavors is not our total humanity bound, in 
so far as it hopes for any genuine originality in what- 
ever direction ? 

But group-enclosedness can in some cases be 
destroyed, as vortex-rings are destroyed, by a touch 
from outside the group a touch positive enough 
to be disorganizing. And in so far as we can trace 
the inner process of creative thought, such as history 
has so far known, we find just such group-burstings 
taking place ; and we can discern, I believe, something 
of the conditions under which such burstings and origi- 
nations occur. 

It is indeed only in recent times that invention has 
been conjoined with the power of self-description ; and 
with the willingness to be autobiographical: but we 
need few instances to put us in possession of the prin- 
ciples at work. For invention is, in essence, no rare 
event ; every soul of man that lives and works in the 
world is creating at every moment of his life some 
infinitesimal rill of novelty. We need then only such 
examples of creativity as may bring us to consciousness 
of what goes on in ourselves. We shall find that the 


moments of creation are moments in which the old is 
not less, but more, intensely present to consciousness ; 
it is grasped as a whole, and realized y as for the first 
time ; and in that realization we shall see emerging a 
dogma of rejection, " This (old position) cannot be the 
truth," "This cannot be so." Which negative dogma 
will make way for a positive dogma equally unpar- 
ented so far as that moment discerns " This contrast- 
ing thing must be so," and herewith the new idea has 
its footing in the world, born as something necessary 
having therefore a parentage though as yet unname- 
able, a parentage which we may be able to make evident. 
We may take a few instances from Tolstoy, a mind 
richly creative, dogmatic, artistic and withal trench- 
antly autobiographical in all his works, making it pos- 
sible to follow with advantage the beginnings of new 
ideas. Here is an extract from his diary, written after 
seeing an execution in Paris, long before his political 
opinions had begun to take shape, an early and nega- 
tive item in the creation of those opinions : 

" When I saw the head separate from the body, and how 
they both thumped into the box at the same moment, I under- 
stood, not with my mind, but with my wholo being, that no 
theory of the reasonableness of any present progress can jus- 
tify this deed ; and that though everybody from the creation 
of the world on whatever theory had held it to be necessary, 
I knew it to he unnecessary and bad." * 

Another instance from his educational journal, on pun* 
ishing a boy in his experimental peasant-school for 
stealing, by hanging a placard on his buck: 

1 This and the following extracts from Tolstoy are taken from Ayl- 
mer Maude's Life of Tolstoy. 


44 1 glanced at the face of the punished boy which had 
become yet paler, more suffering, and harder than before, and 
I thought of convicts ; and suddenly I felt so ashamed and 
disgusted that I tore the stupid card off him, told him to go 
where he liked, and became convinced and convinced not 
by reason, but by my whole nature that I had no right to 
torment that unfortunate boy ; and that it was not in my power 
to make of him what I and the inn-keeper's son wanted to 
make of him. I became convinced that there are secrets of 
the soul hidden from us on which life may act, but which 
precepts and punishments do not reach." 

In Tolstoy's religious development, his new ideas emerge 
with the same unparented certainty, as he has recorded 
his experience in "My Confession." Let me quote 
instances along the way of that remarkable progress. 

44 One can only go on living when one is intoxicated with 
life ; as soon as one is sober, it is impossible not to see that it 
is all a mere fraud. . . . Sooner or later my deeds will be for- 
gotten, and I shall not exist. Then why go on making any 
effort. . . . How can men fail to see this ? 

" I now see that if I did not kill myself, it was due to some 
dim consciousness of the invalidity of my thoughts. I, my 
reason, has acknowledged life to be unreasonable. But how 
can reason, which (for me) is the creator of life, and (in 
reality) the child of life, deny life? There is something 
wrong here. 

44 Then I turned my gaze upon myself, on what went on 
within me, and I remembered that I only lived at those times 
when I believed in Grod. As it was before, so it was now : I 
need only be aware of Grod to live ; I need only forget him or 
disbelieve in him, and I die. . . . 4 What more do you seek ? ' 
exclaimed a voice within me. 4 This is he. He is that with- 
out which one cannot live. To know God and to live is one 
and the same thing I ' . . . and the light did not again aban- 
don me." 


And now, having won for himself this ancient truth, he 
finds insights arising in him of a more novel character, 
but with the same dogmatic abruptness. It cannot be, 
he thinks, that believers of other confessions than that 
of the Greek Church are without true religion ; whence 
it follows that the church must be wrong in condemn- 
ing them. And with regard to war, and executions, 

" It was impossible not to see that killing is an evil, repug- 
nant to the first principles of any faith. Yet they prayed in 
the churches for the success of our arms ; and the teachers of 
fche faith acknowledged killing to be an act resulting from the 

The whole spiritual history of this man is a series of 
like unparented inspirations. And it is not otherwise 
with minds of greater psychological sophistication crea- 
tive in other fields. Psychologists are seldom autobio- 
graphical, by some strange contrariety ; but Fechner, 
who is of their greatest, does often write in confessional 
vein, and here is a passage much to our present pur- 
pose. 1 Sitting on a bench in the Hosenthal at Leipzig 
on a warm sunny morning with plenty to occupy his 
senses, he falls to musing as follows : 

" A strange illusion is this. At bottom, all before me and 
about me is night and silence : the sun which so dazzles me is 
in truth but a dark ball, seeking its way in darkness. ... In 
this universal darkness and desolation and silence which 
embraces heaven and earth there hover certain beings who but 
singly and inwardly possess brightness and color and sound, 
mere points probably, which emerge out of the night and 
sink back into it, without leaving behind them any vestige of 
their light and sound ; who see one another, though nothing 

1 From &? aening of his book, Die Tagesansicht gegeniiber der 


between them is lighted; speak with one another, though 
nothing between them resounds. So it is to-day, so it was 
from the beginning, so will it be to all eternity." 

Now comes to Fechner the view of the natural man in 
all its vehement contrast to this world-picture, which to 
Fechner is but the Weltanschauung of his age by general 
consent. This natural man 

" believes that he sees objects about him because it is actually 
light about him ; he does not believe that the sun begins to 
brighten the world first "behind his eyes. . . . His illusion, 
furthermore, will certainly never yield, no matter how firmly 
established (by consensus of science and philosophy) may be 
the knowledge that it is illusion. May it not be that this 
knowledge is itself an illusion? Is it not the truth that 
endures longest, and is not that which longest endures the 
truth ? 

" Must not that Night- view shrink in fright from itself if 
with a faithful mirror before it, it could know that it is itself 
which it sees therein ? Nay, had the world at first seen the 
entire hopelessness and footlessness and vanity of that view 
with the clarity which came to me in that hour, it had never 
been able to win its place as a World-view. And though 
clarity is the last thing in these matters, the last thing will be 
clarity. As surely as day follows night, so surely upon that 
Night-view of the world a Day-view must follow, which will 
give foundation to the view of the natural man not contrar 
diet it. And the world will appear in a new connection, in a 
new light, and under new and positive points of view." 

Here is the beginning of Fechner's new idea, which 
with true prophecy he indicates as the idea of the gen- 
eration succeeding him, the view which in our own way 
we have tried to take possession of. This idea also 
comes to its originator as a dogma, an " It must be 


so," namely, that the view of the natural man, this per- 
sistent view, is the true one. 

We need look no further for instances of the creative 
event : these may be typical of all, whether in art or 
morals or science or religion. 

In all these experiences of dawning novelty, we may 
observe the same sharpened consciousness of the old or 
usual idea, the idea with reference to which the new is 
defined as new and different. This old idea is, as we 
say, freshly realized; which means, freshly connected 
with reality, especially with the reality which the thinker 
is conscious of in himself that which is realized is 
" brought home, " made a conscious part of his own vivid 
and literal present world. And this old idea, in being 
realized, is at the same time repudiated ; repudiated, not 
with any pure and blank negation, but in favor of some 
positive thing which in time will make itself known. In 
this realizing and repudiating, the new thing is already 
asserting itself, and doing conscious work. These are 
the psychological phenomena which in various propor- 
tions always surround the birth of novelty. 

And the event of this birth itself is to be traced, as 
I think, to this touching to the quick of self-conscious- 
ness: the old idea has penetrated to the self; the self 
has been stung by it; and in the reflexion thereby 
occasioned, the new thing is engendered. It is when 
Tolstoy finds himself "ashamed and disgusted" judg- 
ing himself; it is when Fechner lets the " natural man" 
in him spill his scorn on the futile theorist of his habit- 
ual selfhood; it is when some deep-set love of life and 
reality reaches a point of wrath and habit-breaking, or 


in other moods, of wholly joyful inertia-killing; it is 
in such moments that creation takes place. I wish, 
then, in the first place, to connect the event of creation 
with the event of reflexion, that is, with the emergence 
of a seZ/-consciousness out of a consciousness that is 
pursuing in all smoothness the lines of the empirical 

In reflexion, the focus of consciousness shifts in such 
a way that without losing wholly from sight the object 
with which one has been engaged, the interest now 
attaches, not primarily to that object, but to the self in 
its relations with that object. These reflexive move- 
ments of consciousness are, in general, occasioned by some 
defeat in the ordinary inertias of the mind. As when, 
in speaking, one becomes aware of throat, or difficulty 
of words, or clothing. As when the hunter returns 
empty from the day's chase, reflecting that, after all, 
what he wanted was not so much the game as the pur- 
suit. Or, as when in success one comes to the end of an 
absorbing task, and finds himself at a loss what next to 
do: he is for the moment "thrown back upon himself" 
as upon a being who during the absorption has been 
forgotten his reflexion is occasioned by the defeat of 
his usual habits of occupation and attention. 

And in all such occasions the organic function of 
reflexion seems to be precisely the demand of the situa- 
tion for something new. The continuous thread of my 
empirical self-consciousness is no doubt due to some per- 
manent friction in applying my existing stock of ideas 
to experience, and the persistent demand for creative- 
ness thereby occasioned. We should expect reflexion to 
have something to do with creation. And for the further 


reason, that the Self stands permanently outside all those 
closed or closing groups of mental and moral habit; the 
more perfectly self-sufficient and self-propagating these 
groups become, the more they fuse with the object-world 
becoming object of self hence different from self 
though in their perfect working not reminding the self 
of itself. He who can revert to himself is free from all 
groups, and has in himself that which can disorganize 
them and see beyond them. The only question is, how 
one is able to revert to himself, that is, how reflexion is 
possible. For if defeat is the only occasion for reflexion, 
and a self-sufficient mental group does not meet with 
any defeat, we are still unable to free ourselves from 
its bondage, through our inability to reflect. How is 
rejlexion possible? Is not this the question to which 
every critique of creativity must come? 

Now my proposition is that the power to reflect 
depends upon the power to find your Absolute, in the 
last resort upon practical religion. It is through alli- 
ance with the Absolute that man is able to reflect: it 
is through his reflexion that he becomes creative of 
novelty, system-destroying novelty. 

Of reflexion generally, we know that it is not under 
direct and complete control of the will. Self -conscious- 
ness is subtle and elusive ; self-knowledge, or significant 
self-consciousness, is the most difficult of knowledges. 
Success in seizing that in self upon which one would turn, 
in self-analysis, self-expression, discerning of one's 
actual motive or actual state of feeling, depends upon a 
certain gift, a genius of self-capture, a skill in fixing 
the retreating shadow; and for this there seem to be na 


rules of technical procedure. We only know that the 
Other Mind is the chief aid to self-knowledge, the only 
environment in which it can attain high development. 
Socially-fostered reflexions may bring the individual to 
the general level of social-self-knowledge : they cannot, 
however, lift him above that level, and it is precisely 
this social closed-group which it is most important to 
break through. Here we revert to a principle already 
appealed to in another context : that there is no criti- 
cism of any self or system except in present view of a 
positive content beyond them. And that which is out- 
side every finite system, " the Not of all that man can 
think or say," is precisely the absolute with which reli- 
gion seeks and gains vital alliance. If God has once 
been known, the world and the self must thereafter be 
seen under the survey of this experience. I am able to 
reflect upon any world-self system because and only 
because I have already experienced something beyond 
it. It is Tolstoy's certainty of God that gives him 
power to criticize the Church. It is Fechner's sense 
of the validity of some more primitive world-view that 
separates him from the accepted "Night-view." In 
brief, all of my partial reflexions are parented "by some 
previous total reflexion. But total reflexion, that is, 
reflexion upon the whole of things temporal, is precisely 
a definition of the cognitive side of mystic experience. 
And conversely, reflexion might be defined as a par- 
tial mystic experience. For reflexion, like worship, 
abandons the forward and outward direction of atten- 
tion, and reverts inward, seeking by denial to separate 
itself from immersion in the object which occasions that 
reflexion, and succeeding only in so far as its denial is 


supplemented by a positive vision o the reality which 
that object does not contain. KeHexion also illustrates 
the principle of alternation ; self-knowledge and object- 
knowledge growing by intervals of self-abandonment 
each in the other. And the motive of worship, so far 
as it is a rejection of the world, we thought to find, 
even as the occasion for reflexion is found, in some 
friction in the usual objective processes of the mind. 
Reflexion is the generalized form which worship takes 
in our experience : it is, so to speak, the agent for the 
dissemination of religious attainment throughout the body 
of experience. It has no necessary religious character ; 
for this belongs only to the total reflexion. But all 
such partial mystical movements are dependent for their 
vigor and sense upon the total alternation of conscious- 
ness, and what it can grasp of the Absolute and its 
quality. Our "scent for reality," our "grip" upon 
fact and value, are our experience of God as being 
thought with. At any given time this sense of reality 
is as a possession of the individual, inalienable from his 
personality, his own definition and character, the most 
intimate fact about him, wholly independent of his 
piety or intentional relation to God. But the conditions 
for the maintenance of this "instinct," for its perpetual 
regeneration, and withal for its growth, require as in the 
case of every instinct that we take self-conscious posses- 
sion of that which is by nature present ; that this which 
is thought with shall be renewed also by being from time 
to time thought of and made an immediate experience. 1 

1 In simpler, but more barren fashion, the logic of novelty may be 
exhibited thus : 

Assume a point, A, which shall be outside every particular system of 
thought or character, outside every group ; and adopt the general prin- 


The scope of our principle will be extended when we 
observe that induction is a mental process akin to reflex- 
ion. It has been regarded as typical of all invention, 
this process of induction, whereby the mind arrives at 
a new law, a new synthesis, a new aperqu of essential 
likeness, a new simile or metaphor, a new hypothesis, a 
new speculative order among the facts of experience. 
Induction is sometimes described as a movement from 
parts to whole or to universal : worship and reflexion 
may be described in the same terms. Induction is not 
compellable by rule ; this also it has in common with 
mystic experience and reflexion. No fixed method can 
be laid down in logic whereby the law of a given set 
of phenomena can be determined. There are good 
ways of preparing yourself to discover such laws and 
likenesses: but when you have followed all the tf induc- 
tive methods,' you must wait for your gift. The prob- 
lem 'To find the common element in a given group of 
objects J has no solution ; there is no general formula 
for discovering- integrals. Even simple observation is 
a gift, simple observation being the elementary opera- 
tion in induction; and simple observation may serve to 
show the kinship we are asserting : 

ciple that any such system, B, when seen from the standpoint of A, changes 
its character, becoming for experience, say B'. With these two assump- 
tions we have defined at once the conditions for an infinite progress in B. 
For as B by reflexion from A becomes B', so B' by reflexion from the 
same A becomes B", and so on. Thus endless novelty springs from recur- 
rent contact with that which is eternally the same. The second of these 
assumptions is equivalent to the principle formally touched upon, in chap- 
ter xiv (The Need of an Absolute) : namely that Sein with Bewusstsein 
gives Werden. This logical scheme is accurate so far as it goes, but has 
nothing to say of the quantitative or qualitative values of the changes in 
question, nor of the psychological conditions under which B is viewed 
from the standpoint of A, nor of the growth of A within its own identity. 


I observe nothing unless I question ; and I question 
nothing unless I conceive a thing as being other than 
it turns out to be. What I see at the theater and what 
you see there are different things; because you are con- 
scious of more ways in which the play might have been 
better or other than it is. You note a trick of carriage 
or voice which you trace to a certain training or racial 
origin; I observe nothing but a carriage and a voice 
it does not occur to me that they have any peculiarity, 
that they could have been different. I have no questions 
ready, I do not see outside of them. Simple observa- 
tion is a gift: and is great hypothesis-making a gift 
of any radically different sort than this of conceiving the 
thing otherwise, that the apple should not fall, or 
the earth not be a plane, or the center of things else- 
where than where we are? In one case as in the other, 
one is helped by all manner of acquaintance with facts, 
experience, imagination, training, "spreading the divine 
net"; but making thereby no fore-fated capture of the 
divine idea. We will ascribe the successful result 
neither to chance nor to industry ; shall we say to (jemux, 
thereby asserting that our indxiction has some parentage, 
we know not what? Precisely so; and what is genius 
again, but that same "scent for reality" whoroin reflex- 
ion has its source also? 

As reflexion is a judgment upon my self as a whole, 
so induction is a judgment upon some external self or 
class as a whole. Induction is external reflexion ; and 
reflexion is internal induction. And for the most part 
these operations are simultaneous, parts of the same 
mental movement* It is one and the same thing to 
become aware that "All the objects about me are inani- 


mate " as to become aware that " I am alone " ; the 
former is an induction, the latter a reflexion. To 
observe that "All these books have fine print," and to 
locate in my eyes a subtle discomfort, are probably not 
two mental operations, but one. It does not flash upon 
my mind in any ease that " All A's are B" without a 
simultaneous exposition of self-consciousness, like the 
recovery of a lost name. Ability to invent, to induct, 
to discern likenesses, depends on a degree of conscious- 
ness which is at the same time power to reflect, to delect 
what it is in me that is restless and groping for further 
predicate-giving* The inventive artist, poet, musician, 
has his moments o prelude to idea-making in which 
musing he can hardly tell whether ho is scrutinizing 
his objects or the stirrings in himself. Reflection and 
induction are of the same fabric, and haves tho same 
conditions for success. Kvery induction Is induced by 
a prior induction, ultimately by a total hntwtion, or 
judgment about the whole of things, none othor than 
my whole-idea, derived from whatever knowledge of tho 
whole and of God my experience) ban built up for me- 
Every induction i at the Haute time a deduction, then, 
an "Ifc must be so/* patented, though from tho 
background of consciousness, by an insight which in 
its origuw is 

Worship then in its most gemmilisuul meaning in the 
genus of which reflexion and induction, including 
simple ohwrvjttion, ara species; and inyHtical movements 
of the* mind, reversions to that which i relatively total, 
in infinite replication and variety, make up one half of 
the whole of mental life. Herewith I think we have 


taken into view in principle all phases of creativity 
and invention. Invention can never be the result of a 
direct effort to invent, if only because the thing' to be 
invented is not yet seen. No one by taking thought 
can increase his stature ; he must apply himself to that 
through which the increase of stature may come : and 
he who would invent would best put himself about 
invention by strengthening his hold on reality. He 
who would be creative in any direction would do best 
to pursue that from which alone creativity can result, 
a personal knowledge of the Absolute- This is that 
"guidance of God" for which men may legitimately 
pray, and expect answer. When the holy spirit is 
come, he shall lead you into all truth ; and not other- 
wise is new truth, or new value accessible to man- 
kind. Thus religion is fruitful through worship; and 
may we not also say, it is the one fruitful thing in 
the world? 

Whatever religion adds to human wealth is not 
poured in, as an extraneous gift: it comes in continuity 
with what that individual has known before. No man 
by means of his religious insights can bo transformed 
from ignorance to learnednens. The fruits of inspi- 
ration are not such as labor could secure : honee they 
neither displace labor, nor produce "unearned incre- 
ments" in the field of human exertion. 

It is true that certain of the mystics have claimed 
much imparted knowledge, even of the informatory 
order. Teresa claims to have received, through her 
devotions, the powers of description and literary expres- 
sion, and of penetrating the meaning of the Mass, though 


Latin was to her an unknown tongue. The friends o 
Boehmo, it is said, would bring 1 to him words from for- 
eign tongues whose meaning he would divine from their 
sounds. But granting to the full the historic accuracy 
of stories like these, we have not made these individuals 
learned. A type of education they do accomplish, qtiite 
germane to the type of their mighty efforts in self- 
discipline, an education, namely, iu self-knowledge 
and in human nature generally, suck as any person 
with similar original effort might hardly fail to win. 
But whatever self-development the mystic, receives, 
he receives not without his own activity; and Ixonce 
there will he no complete breach of continuity in his 

So evident has it become to us that the inspirations 
of religion bear the marks of all existing limitations, 
of character,, of times, of opinions, that products of 
stich alleged inspiration have been interpreted as the 
deification of one's own thotights otherwise eHtnbliahed. 
The mystic, it is said, is governed by his expectations. 
The God ho sees is the God he has been led to define 
to himself, by tradition and reflection. The ideal he 
reaches is his own ideal., that is, the ideal of his time, 
modified by lus own individual quality, and elaborated 
by his own thinking. The practice of prayer i a means, 
we might think, of selecting from one's stock of ideas 
certain ideas to which we wish to give a special potency 
and control ; and through some process of autosugges- 
tion, fixing these ideas in the seat of power. We cannot 
doubt, as we review the history of sainthood, that each 
saint in turn has reinforced in himself by his devotion 
his own clarified personal equation, and the sentiment 


of tradition. In mediaeval saintdom what do we find 
in saintly character but the reproduced pictures of still 
older saints, the types of perfection embodied in older 
eulogies? a certain corporate flavor which gives us, 
indeed, the mid-age fragrance and romance ; but also 
the mid-age mustiness, softness, impure purity, and 
flabbiness of soul, all that type of mind which in 
these latter days Nietzsche has so effectively condemned, 
to the great surgical benefit of Christendom. Where 
else in history can we find so distinctive a spiritual 
mannerism fastened upon a thousand turbulent years 
with successful solidarity ? Eeligion, on this showing, 
might well qualify as an apt instrument of spiritual 
conservatism, perhaps even of tyranny, little fitted to 
encourage originality of mind. In no case does the 
good of which the mystic catches sight seem to depart 
by any great gulf from the best good of his time. 

Herewith the mystic finds himself accused, and not 
for the first time, of opposite faults : of turning in a 
fast circle, and of detached individual caprice. The 
truth of which seems to me to be this : that before he 
can be original he must first be as unoriginal as possible, 
must first make fast whatever he can fix upon as tenable 
in his spiritual environment. All of his negations are 
in the interest solely of the best he yet knows ; and so 
far as his preparation remains primarily his own activity, 
he gets no step beyond the best he knows. Of himself 
he can accomplish nothing but continuity, even of the 
most binding type: no one can be more conscious than 
he of his inability to " pass beyond himself/' His best 
efforts do but tighten about him the net of his own 
limitations. Hence the mystic's vision of the good 


will change slowly, for the most part : but the important 
matter for us, at present, is that it changes at all. 

In antagonism to rash claims to supernatural enlight- 
enment, free from human limitations, it is well enough 
to point out the abundant presence of these ties. When 
X boasts of complete novelty, it is proper for Y to exult 
over every sign of antiquity he can discover in it : but, 
on the whole, this is not the most genial and profitable 
of occupations. " Give me a difference, a new depar- 
ture," says the dialectician, "and I will show you a 
likeness in the midst of that difference." Good : that 
is clever, and sometimes important but does it banish 
the miracle of difference ? Since for some reason (not 
wholly good) continuity seems the self-explanatory and 
obvious aspect of our living, and the miracle of the 
world to lie in its production of novelty, it is an obli- 
gation to make our scientific most of any spark of 
novelty that may be emitted by any process whatever. 
In worship and its results we see everywhere limitation, 
limitation even exaggerated; but limitation in the pro- 
cess of overcoming itself. The right and wrong of the 
traditional moral quality will infect the act of worship ; 
but ask how this traditional error is to be put off, how 
historically it has at last been put off and we shall find 
that it is this very act of worship which (in some form 
or other) is the appointed way of escape from it. Wor- 
ship is undoubtedly a bad thing, when bad men worship 
and all men are bad: but he who would therefore 
abolish it abolishes his only hope of better men. 

The worshipper's God will contain a magnified image 
of himself that is inevitable. But the act of bringing 
one's view of self into conjunction with an actual con* 


sciousness of the Absolute is an act which must do 
something to disrupt the limitations of that idea. The 
worship of God in human form is never identical with 
the worship of man. The known God-function tends to 
disjoint the humanity of the thing worshipped. What 
the worshipper has before him is not man, but man 
denied; man at war with all that is false in his own 
humanity; man overcoming himself; man in Unter- 
gang, as Nietzsche would have it, giving way to Super- 
man. This process depicted in the heavens takes 
place in the minds of the worshippers ; and their own 
humanity exposed to the blast of their own experi- 
enced absolute becomes newborn, a thing different by 
some slight increment from what it was before. Every 
man knows the true God, that is our first premise ; let 
his God-pictures be what they may, they are all doomed 
and dying pictures, pictures of the man that is being 
put behind, on the way to the man that is to be. 

Would I persuade my neighbor to put off his defects, 
his faults of vision, his hereditary quirks and hateful- 
nesses, I can accomplish nothing effective and central 
but this to show him himself in the light of his own 
absolute. For to find this absolute, as the mystic finds 
it, he has been obliged to reject what he can of his 
empirical trappings, and most of what I despise in him 
has been detected by himself, if not in his own prepara- 
tory introspection and katharsis of the passions, yet in 
his return from the contemplation of Deity. How shall 
he detect the rest f How shall he overcome what is so 
abominably rooted in him that he carries it to heaven 
with him and spoils my prospects of enjoying life there ? 
He may never see it ; in which case I must either wish 


him dead, and well out of this fair universe with all his 
foulness, or else I must wish him once well in the fresh 
air and sun, with a more complete negation of himself, 
through a better hold upon his own absolute I must 
wish him a better mystic. The only ultimate appeal of 
man to man is built on man's grasp of God. And what 
I can see to be true of my neighbor is not less true 
of myself. 

In whatever field the originator may act, or the 
reformer, or the creator, his procedure will be the same. 
It is as he re-takes his world, having for the love of 
God turned his back upon it, that his world appears to 
him new with a novelty which he is himself giving to 
it or eliciting from it. He is the bearer of a treasure 
of "recollection" not essentially different from that of 
which Plato speaks; and under these rays whatever 
object he turns upon becomes cognitively and morally 
fruitful, full also of value and life. This is not the 
work of the impersonal idea ; it is the work of a per- 
sonal experience ; and in so far as this vision of the 
absolute is his own vision, colored by his own individual 
quality and resonance, his new endowment is but a 
deeper spring of that factor which we sometimes call 
' temperament/ sometimes ' instinct/ sometimes 'genius.' 
His creation is still his own, and bears the stamp of 
his individuality. His relation to his absolute has not 
obliterated him, nor overmastered him : enabling him to 
reflect, it has given to him himself ; enabling him to 
create, it has given to him a freedom which might well 
be called freedom in the concrete. 

Nor does the creator create without the aid of that 


world to which he is contributing. Creating means 
nothing but bringing to birth in particular historic fact 
and context. Though the creator begins by destroy- 
ing, that which he can never destroy nor wish to destroy 
is the definite sensible existence upon which he must 
knit his novelty. The true element in everything false 
is the fact that it has existed, and has occupied a place 
in the world of particular things ; it seems just to say 
that it is the false thing (as thing, not as false) that is 
the other parent of the new, in parentage giving up its 
life to that which replaces it. Of all fields of human 
creation that of the historic deed exhibits at its best this 
continuous descent of the idea into the particular ; and 
creative historic action is the supreme moral achieve- 
ment. The mystic in historic action is termed the 
prophet : in a study of the prophet we may span the 
final term of religion's work in the world. 


WE have seen through what channels religion con- 
tributes to the wealth of human life, not creating 
anything for men, but creating men, conferring on 
them power and freedom to create. We have now to 
take the one important step which remains to complete 
our view of the effective insertion of religion in the 
world : namely, to enquire how human happiness and 
misery are affected by religion and worship. It is the 
ultimate problem of practical religion, and indeed of all 
practical thought, to make reckoning, not with the 
general principles on which this world is framed and 
furthered, but with the actual data of fortune, the par- 
ticular shapes and configurations of happening, as fate 
or providence pile them up about us and with appar- 
ently random distribution. It is a matter of the last 
importance for any view of life whether it leads men to 
find their welfare within the stream of historic circum- 
stance, risk, accident, or outside of it even though 
just outside. Our philosophy and our religion take one 
hue or another according as we regard our particular 
fortunes as matters of chance, whose evils we must 
know how to transmute and be superior to ; or as them- 
selves necessary elements and ingredients of our welfare. 


Mankind very early overcomes the illusion that his 
happiness is dependent upon the possession of particu- 


lar objective things wherein values lie. 1 The first use 
life makes of reason is to distinguish between the thing 
and the value : we are not bound to honey in order to 
get sweetness ; nor are we bound to sweetness to get 
savor for our food ; nor to savor for satisfaction. By 
a long course of experience in which our desires are greatly 
generalized and provided with an immense gamut of 
substitution, the world of values begins to float apart, 
like a world of ghosts, between self and the world of 
things, gaining embodiment in this object or in that 
only by a stroke of will. No man's happiness is bound 
to the possession of any particular thing unless he 
himself freely binds it thereto. 

And if personal choice rather than necessity must 
determine the objects of my pursuit, it is personal choice 
that must hold me to any adopted pursuit; my whole 
relation to particular things, persons, objects beyond 
myself, becomes arbitrary, tentative, liable to repudia- 
tion. It is only my will, not my view of objective neces- 
sity, that holds me to any given historic course. No 
particular thing or definable object is necessary to my 
happiness. And, alas, no particular thing or definable 
object is sufficient for it. There is a thorough absence 
of correspondence between values and historic objects. 
A certain alienation from history results in this way 
simply from universal experience. 

And, in the main, this freedom from things has been 
an advantage. So great is the contingency in the 
matter of historic success in controlling any particular 

1 The outline of the following argument was first stated in an address 
before the Phi Beta Kappa Society of Leland Stanford University, 
entitled " The Necessary and Sufficient Conditions for Human Happiness." 
Parts of that address I have used in this chapter. 


object, so difficult the acquisition of assured power, so 
elusive these visible vessels of our values, especially 
those more precious living objects of love and social 
pride, that no degree of independence has been thought 
too great. Religion for the most part has found it well 
not to diminish but to emphasize and enlarge this natural 
separation of ours from the material and particular 
prisons of our happiness. 

Philosophy, too, has worked in the same direction ; 
reminding men to what extent each one is the maker 
of his own happiness, to what extent all the necessary 
conditions for happiness lie within the self, and not at 
all out there iu history and circumstance. To be " phil- 
osophical " is nothing other than to practise this belief. 
Every age has its seer who renews this ancient doctrine. 
We listen to him and believe him : it seems that all 
assurance of happiness depends on finding it a wholly 
inward affair, and even that all justice requires it. For 
in so far as welfare depends on external things, some of 
its conditions will be beyond control: those who succeed 
will succeed in part by leave of circumstance ; and there 
will be those that fail without fault of their own, and 
without recovery. Hence men have always demanded 
of the sage, " Teach us to be happy," as if this were 
indeed an art open to every one who can possess himself, 
let fortune be what it may, an art of the inner man, not 
of external mastery. 

Hear the words of Maeterlinck, who with inimitable 
union of power and art has made this doctrine a liv- 
ing force in our own time: "It is true," he writes, 
"that on certain external events our influence is of the 
feeblest ; but we have all-powerful action on that which 


these events shall become in ourselves. Nothing befalls 
us that is not of the nature of ourselves. The event 
in itself is pure water that flows from the pitcher of 
fate, and seldom has it either savour, or perfume, or 
colour. But even as the soul may be wherein it seeks 
shelter, so will the event become, joyous or sad, tender 
or hateful, deadly or quick with life. I do not pretend 
that destiny is just. (But) there is nothing in the world 
more just than happiness, nothing that will more faith- 
fully adopt the form of our soul, or so carefully fill the 
space that our wisdom flings open." 1 The controlling 
conditions of welfare lie within, and not in that current 
of outer event, the current of history, or as Maeterlinck 
calls it, of destiny. 

And have we not in our own analysis of value con- 
cluded that worth is conferred on things, not by their 
intrinsic qualities, but by that with which we think them? 
It is the idea that creates what beauty, what desirability 
of any kind, things seem to possess ; it is not in their 
power to rob us of this, it is not in their power to 
make or mar our happiness. Happiness, may we say, 
is the idea of the Whole in unhindered operation upon 
experience. He who knows God knows how to be 
happy in this world, having in himself both the source 
of positive value and that by which all pain can be 

We tend, I say, to believe such doctrines as these ; 
it seems that we must believe them, or condemn the 
world. On the other hand, we feel uneasy under them. 
They seem to leave us without a full and sufficient 

1 Wisdom and Destiny, tr. A. Sutro, pp. 28, 29, etc. 


warrant for historic action and effort. These are, after 
all, stoical doctrines at heart; the stoic would have 
us sufficient in ourselves : and yet, if we examine the 
sources of his strength we shall find that the stoic sage 
is depending upon a sense of intimate kinship with that 
very destiny to which he professes himself superior. 
" Nothing for me is too early or too late, Universe, 
which is in time for Thee." That which makes it 
possible for such a thinker to open himself to affection 
and to experience is a magnificent faith in something 
outside himself. Such a shut-in-ness as can encounter 
no solidity of value in the world beyond, and is without 
assurance of any other victory than that of its own 
poise or of its own value-creations is necessarily without 
power of self-abandonment. The pride of crcatorship 
in this realm of values, which is indeed the highest 
prerogative of our individual selfhood, may turn to the 
veriest curse at the moment when the goods in our 
hands appear to us as nothing but our own creations. 
Creation is a solitary business; we are therefore not 
surprised to find here and there a soul, lofty in this 
citadel of inner values, smitten with the horror of 
imprisonment in its own freedom, ready to accept any 
touch of fate, ready to cry out, " Strike, sacred Reality," 
if it may but regain the sense of validity outside. 

Self-sufficient we cannot be. And this truth our 
theory of value has taken into account. For that 
whole-idea cannot be had by any but the completest 
exposure to the world of objects; nor can the vigor 
and integrity of that idea be maintained by any self- 
enclosed determination of the will, but only by resort- 
ing to its source in experience. Nevertheless, the con- 


ditions for happiness do still lie outside history, do they 
not ? The current of particular event has no decisive 
importance for our welfare. We love life ; but we love 
it as second-best, as a region wherein the idea meets 
resistance. The mystic has found his absolute object 
by help of negation after negation ; he is free not indeed 
from reality, but from all particulars ; he waits as one 
whose chief good is delayed as one reconciled with 
God, and also as a fruitful and useful citizen, but as 
one who has no absolute treasures laid up here where 
moth and rust corrupt, and where the thieves of cir- 
cumstance break through and steal. What has our 
mystic, then, to do with fortune ? 


In order to answer this question, we shall have to 
develop a stage further our account of the inner nature 
of happiness. Happiness we know has its quantitative 
variation : it increases with the body of idea we can 
bring to bear on any subject ; it is in large part a mat- 
ter of horizon. The happy man in any situation is the 
man to whom that situation is no cave, who in the midst 
of it can hold his broader bearings, bringing to it the 
quiet sense of affairs and, in the end, of eternity. The 
institution in which I am a conscious factor ; the state, 
which flings over a petty personal existence a large 
dome, a dome of concrete inclusiveness and eternity, 
any totality of which I form an actual part, the crowd 
in which I am able to lose myself, even the sense of my 
own insignificance as a forgotten cog in the wheels 
of universal event all of these add to the quantity of 
my happiness. But while happiness may be much or 


little, there is here no account of unhappiness, which 
is a matter of quality not of quantity of experience. It 
is the question of unhappiness that we have now to 

On its inner side, I think we must say of unhappiness 
that it is in all cases a matter of conscious conflict, that 
is, of divided attention or distraction. I am unhappy 
whenever my idea is torn between two or more ohjects 
that claim it. For instance, he who is unable to bury 
himself in anything because of the simultaneous 
demands of everything else, is clearly in so far simply 
unhappy. If guilt causes unhappiness, it is through the 
disruption of selfhood caused by the unbanishable call 
of ignored obligations. If sorrow is unhappy sorrow, 
it is because of some persistent conflict, as between a 
beloved past and the insistent present objects of atten- 
tion, the unwelcome necessity perhaps of living on and 
away from that past. And even of physical pain ; if it 
is able to suspend happiness for a moment, it is because 
it half succeeds in pinning consciousness within the 
focus of its own event. More than half the pain of 
pain is the imprisonment of personality, and the unequal 
struggle of the spirit to get free and be itself. Unhap- 
piness is dividedness of mind. 

And this notion of unhappiness is corroborated by 
the fact that whatever wipes out our fragmentation and 
induces in us a wholeness of attack gives back the 
happiness which is continually slipping from our grasp. 
Such, in general, is the function of recreation and art, 
of worship and all its partial analogues, so far as they 
bear directly on happiness, not merely to enhance our 
idea, but to reunite its fragments. Art instils into us 


its own unity; and especially music, which combines 
the movement of a restless will with the peace of a 
completed totality. It matters not how we regain our 
singleness of thrust whether by the ascent of a hill, 
or in prayer, or through a book or a human being : the 
ground of the blessedness of such a moment, and of 
the moments of action that issue from its canopy, lies 
in its power to recall the divergent channels of our 
attention into unity, to u make us whole " from center 
to limit of our mental range, for the purposes of the 
next undertaking. Psychologically speaking, happiness 
may now be described as the continuous undivided 
consent of my whole-idea to the experience or activity 
at hand ; and the empirical mark of happiness is concen- 
tration, or enthusiasm of action. To the happy man, 
things and deeds appear worth while ; his actions meet 
the mark, and rebound to enhance his energy for the 
next stroke ; whereas those of the unhappy man strike, 
if at all, like spent bullets, or shatter, and contribute 
nothing to his self-continuance. Whatever restores 
wholeness in action restores happiness. 

Happiness, on this showing, does certainly not depend 
immediately on external things at all, but upon our own 
inward mode of dealing with them. If it were within 
our power to throw the whole force of our idea, at will, 
upon any object : there could be no content of experi- 
ence however hideous, or painful, or spiritually grievous, 
which could make us unhappy. But is it possible, or 
even conceivable, that attention could be so brought 
within the will? There is something paradoxical even 
in such a supposition. For if it were true, then no 


event of failure could dethrone any one's happiness; 
we should be unable to attach unlimited importance to 
the outcome of any finite enterprise; that is, we should 
be unable to give whole-hearted attention to the enter- 
prise; and hence, by hypothesis, we should be unhappy. 
For we can give ourselves with but half a will to under- 
takings whose failure can alter no real value. It seems 
a condition of happiness that happiness should be 
destroyable by failure ; otherwise we could hardly treat 
any present task as worth the effort of our whole will. 
The type of attention requisite for happiness seems to 
depend on a belief during the course of any effort that 
the object thereof is worth my whole devotion : and I 
cannot at the end of such effort, if I fail, thereupon 
repent my belief or change it. There is some sophistry 
well known to proverb and fable in allowing defeat to 
contradict the theory of the endeavor namely, that the 
grapes were really worth having. Defeat, then, must 
necessarily split attention, leave me divided between 
this fact to which I must attend because it is the pres- 
ent reality, and that nolrpresent object to which my 
whole effort and belief had prepared me to attend. 
Defeat must necessarily split attention and create unhap- 
piness, unless in some way it is possible, in the pursuit 
of definite ends, to combine an unlimited attachment 
with an unlimited detachment. 


That such paradoxical attitude is possible is indeed 
suggested to us by certain familiar facts of experience. 
Something like a union of perfect attachment with 
perfect detachment does exist in the consciousness of the 


good sportsman, or of the good experimentalist. To 
the good sportsman, defeat in any contest must not 
leave bitterness behind, nor either diminish the entire 
enthusiasm for the next attempt. As for the good 
experimentalist, his failures become sources of satisfac- 
tion to him just in proportion as he has spent every 
effort to make them succeed : for the withholding of 
any effort leaves it uncertain whether or not the failure 
is a genuine failure, and need not be tried again ; here, 
perfection of attachment is evidently a condition for 
completeness of detachment. And we can see, also, 
that these attitudes are largely applicable to fortune 
generally. To some measure, the happiness of life 
depends upon a perfection of the game spirit : to " get 
mto the game" accepting its rules and its risks, has 
been given as the best available rule for human hap- 
piness. Something hypothetical or even histrionic 
seems to enter into our conduct with this temper ; we 
assure ourselves that we are staking our whole souls 
on this issue or that, but we know in our hearts that 
we are not; we know that defeat, if it comes as it 
always may, will not destroy our integrity of spirit, 
and therewith our happiness. 

So much the wisdom of life suggests; and it leaves 
us indeed external to history, superior to it, even in a 
relation of moral irony toward it. We play as if our 
treasure were there, knowing that it is not; and we 
must so play, or lose even that happiness which, in 
striving, we have. Is this a satisfactory attitude toward 
history? Is drama, play, a certain inward duplicity in 
our enthusiasms, tolerable on the whole, as perhaps it 
may be tolerable in tentative fragments of living? Is 


"the game" our last adjustment to destiny? Is it 
not rather itself a division of mind, and a fundamental 
unhappiness ; an alienation, even though a subtle one, 
from the world in which we must perforce act, from the 
particular to which we must perforce attend ? 

The modern forms of stoical doctrine exhaust all 
ingenuity to overcome this breach and to reunite with 
active history the soul which they have fundamentally 
detached therefrom. They assure us that welfare lies 
in the pursuit, not in the winning ; from which it follows 
that we must mightily pursue and act even though 
nothing is to be captured. Or we are shown that the 
world of particulars and accidents is here to produce in 
us the moral temper, to develop the soul : it is, as Fichte 
would have it, the externalized material of our duty 
whence we must strenuously open ourselves to experi- 
ence for the love of our character, regardless of empirical 
outcome. Or, after all, the great interest is just knowl- 
edge and consciousness itself, which can never be sub- 
served by any withdrawal from facts nor injured in 
their untowardness. This is Maeterlinck's point of 
view, and it seems to me the best possible statement of 
the case : " To the sage, truth can never be bitter. He 
finds more pleasure in the attempt to understand that 
which is, than in the attempt to believe that which he 
desires. There is no gain in shutting out the world, 
though it be with walls of righteousness." Conscious- 
ness, self-knowledge, knowledge of man and of reality, 
this is the great result of our insertion in history 
nothing else matters. " Destiny has only the weapons 
t?e give her. She is neither just nor unjust, nor does 


it lie in her province to deliver sentence on man. She 
whom we take to be goddess is a disguised messenger 
only, come very simply to warn us, on certain days of 
our life that the hour has sounded at last when we 
needs must judge ourselves." In all the literature of 
Stoicism there is no finer conception than this of the 
way in which the disenfranchised soul is yet held in 
whole-hearted attachment to the detail of fortune. 

But the ruses are not successful ; the will cannot thus 
be decoyed into unreserved espousal of the pursuits of 
life. The world of common action having no part in 
the absolute end, being there as a means only, becomes 
touched with a sense of incomplete reality or illusoriness, 
such as we discern in the atmosphere of Maeterlinck's 
earlier writings. It fails to hold that concentrated 
allegiance of the idea which is necessary to happiness. 
The inadequacy of the stoical principle even in its best 
forms has impressed itself on our racial instinct, and 
the world generally has taken refuge in another prin- 
ciple, that of altruism, or vicarious happiness. Success 
there must be, but it need not be my success : mastery 
of fortune there must be, but it need not be my mastery. 
Let me but know or believe in some power that is con- 
trolling or shall control physical event and history ; then 
the event begins to have a meaning : and I can find my 
happiness in the assured victory of that power, though 
free as any stoic from the need of victory in my own 
person. History has entered into the absolute goal of 
things as a member ; and all history thereby becomes 
contributory and important. 



The language of the altruistic principle is familiar to 
us. It is the language at once of resignation and hope. 
It is the language of the patriot: "I may fail, but the 
idea of liberty must conquer " ; " This measure of mine 
may be defeated, but the policy or cause must triumph." 
It is often the language of the scientist; or again of 
the parent who regains in his sons the hope for all that 
he has not himself accomplished. Such vicarious hap- 
piness must be, in fact, the greater part of the actual 
joy of any living man ; for no one can reach maturity 
without identifying his happiness to some extent with 
the welfare of his friend, the success of his party, or 
the establishment of his opinion, quite apart from any 
prosperity of his own. The scope of this principle is 
universal ; and taken together with the prevalent belief 
that all cosmic affairs are so connected that they form 
a single history in which all can participate, it offers a 
plausible solution of our dilemma to many minds, the 
only possible solution. For in such an interconnected 
world as this, every being must lie open to every other : 
vicarious joy can be no more actual than vicarious suf- 
fering, so long as we take into our survey anything less 
than the whole movement of life. The same knowledge 
or sympathy that brings in upon me the joy of remote 
triumph brings in also the more pungent distress of the 
many near defeats. In the race there can be no per- 
fection till all are perfect, no complete happiness till all 
are happy. What sure triumph, therefore, can there 
be for any except in the common end, indefinitely dis- 
tant, the end wherein all triumph ; and what present 


happiness can there be save in that consummate vica- 
riousness of interest which makes the goal of all history 
the justification for all that now is ? 

This principle has its religious heightening ; it is even 
the sum total of what many understand by religion. 
Thy will be done: is not this the act wherein the indi- 
vidual definitely identifies his own success with the 
success of the Highest, rising thereby superior to his 
own fortunes without being dissevered from whole- 
hearted historic action? 

And it has also its philosophical expression. It seems 
to me that Royce has brought this principle of altruism 
to its philosophic fulfilment. It is indeed impossible 
to seize fragments from a thought so vast and organic 
as his without danger of misrepresenting it; but I 
must venture to quote from a chapter wherein, dealing 
with our interminable struggle against the evils of our 
finite existence, Royce summarizes the conditions which 
may secure to us such happiness as we can certainly 

" In all this my own struggle with evil, wherein lies 
my comfort? I answer, my true comfort can never lie 
in my temporal attainment of my goal. For it is my 
first business, as a moral agent, and as a servant of God, 
to set before myself a goal that, in time, simply cannot 
be attained. . . . Wherein, then, can comfort truly be 
found ? I reply, In the consciousness, first, that the ideal 
sorrows of our finitude are identically God's own sor- 
rows . . . and in the assurance, secondly, that God's 
fulfilment in the eternal order is to be won through the 
very bitterness of tribulation . . . through this, my 
tribulation." And as for the less noble ills that "seem 


not to have, for our present consciousness, any ideal 
meaning . . . Our comfort here lies in knowing that 
in all this life ideals are sought, with incompleteness 
and with sorrow, but with the assurance of the divine 
triumph in Eternity lighting up the whole." * 

Thus to conceive my finite experience sub specie 
aternitatis is not merely an emancipation from evil, it 
is our essential and positive achievement of happiness. 
It is the experience in which " our temporal life is even 
now the expression of the eternal triumph " ; and through 
this act of knowing I become an actual partaker in that 
triumph. It is this conception of the eternal which 
makes a vicarious happiness possible : and it is vicarious, 
in so far as my present relation to that will is one of 
loyalty primarily, not of comprehension; my present 
attitude to fortune, one of resignation, not of control. 
What this eternal triumph is, I do not know; I only 
know that it is real: and this, for Koyce, is enough. 
"Strengthened by that knowledge, we can win the most 
enduring of temporal joys, the consciousness that makes 
us delight to share the world's grave glories and to take 
part in its divine sorrows." 


These truths do deeply touch the original springs of 
human happiness. Such knowledge of the eternal Pur- 
pose and loyalty to it must be a great part of any real 
welfare. Vicariousness of mind is wholly necessary to 
happiness ; ensuring the widest scope of that idea-world 
whereby all things must be appreciated that are appre- 
ciated. Have we not already found in altruism the 

1 Tlie World and the Individual, vol. ii, pp. 407 ff. 


largest possible contribution to personal welfare ; l and 
in companionship the experience which can transmute 
all pain ? 2 Vicariousness is wholly necessary ; and were 
it not for that fatal separation from one's own immedi- 
ate concerns, might be regarded as sufficient. But the 
vicarious principle cannot heal this division ; hence it is 
not final. 

For vicarious happiness is, by its nature, independent 
(or relatively independent) of my personal success in 
any present undertaking. So far from supplying an 
adequate motive for treating this present business as of 
infinite importance, it is essentially a refuge from the 
contingencies of that business. It does not remove nor 
evade misfortune ; but when misfortune comes, it relieves 
it by distributing the shock through the whole range of 
my vicarious interests. He who loves the whole has 
resources beyond himself in his own evil hour. But 
the question of that particular evil is not met ; one is 
simply lifted above it or borne through it by his attach- 
ment in the absolute. One is consoled, but not restored 
to confidence in the worth of his own action. Our prin- 
ciple has no launching powers ; its attitude toward evil 
and misfortune is essentially passive : it is always one of 
comfort after the fact, never of adoption before the fact. 

But surely we have not attained human manhood 
with reference to the ills of our destiny until we can go 
to meet them, instead of waiting in philosophic discom- 
fort for them to surprise us. He whose deed is dragged 
from him is not owner of that deed ; and he who must 
pass out of his own conscious will for comfort, cannot 
wholly return to this same conscious will for the coun- 

i Chapter xi, p. 136. * Chapter xv, p. 222 ff. 


sels of positive action. No man, I venture to say, can 
be wholly happy in defeat unless he foreknows and 
goes to it, not as Napoleon to his island, but as Socrates 
to his death. Not resignation, but renunciation, is 
the greatest and last of the virtues in presence of the 
ultimate enemies of our fortunes. And not blank renun- 
ciation, but renunciation made significant by some 
consciously known purpose which in the midst of defeat 
is not defeated. Only thus can the will return whole- 
heartedly to the charge. No vicarious or indirect 
mediation can supply me with the necessary integrity 
of interest in this present undertaking. In short, no 
man can be happy, nor ought to be, without a conscious 
control of his own fortune ; without a fundamental and 
necessary success of his own in dealing with the world 
of objects beyond him. 

This is a hard saying: for it demands what both 
altruism and stoicism have assumed to be impossible, a 
power over facts even in the midst of our finite circum- 
stances. Nevertheless, I believe that we must either 
make this requirement, or abandon the attempt to find 
happiness in the world. This latter course is alwayd 
open to us, and is virtually adopted by most ; but at a 
greater cost than they think, that of relinquishing the 
hold of religion upon human history. 

Altruism, not less than stoicism, leaves me unsure of 
the worth of my present act and purpose : that present 
act is liable to be defeated by an event, which even 
though it reveal to me the will of God or my own 
deeper will, must hold over my undertaking a shadow 
of invalidity. I can never taste the quality of genuine 
happiness, namely, perfect belief in and devotion to 


my own undertaking. I am a necessarily diminished 
and divided being : I am to act, but another than I is 
to succeed. And not less than in the case of stoicism 
does such an attitude impose upon myself and upon my 
world, in time, an air of unreality. For while God and 
Nature first become real to me because they determine 
me ; they can only remain real, in so far as I also can 
successfully determine them, and as I intend. Men's 
mental horizons always tend to shrink beneath what 
their passive experience shows them as real ; they 
tend to coincidence with the sphere of their conscious 
efficiency. Religions of nature and of humanity appeal 
to men chiefly because here are purposes whose mean- 
ing we think we can share, and effectively promote, 
even as we intend. The earth is real to me in part 
because it resists me; in part because it yields to me 
and I can recognize my own works in solid rock. Were 
there no sure succeeding there, earth and I would speed- 
ily become unreal to each other. Reality must be 
defined as the region wherein I can identify my happi- 
ness with my own success ; not alone with the success 
of another. 

Indeed, I can only know and understand an Other in 
so far as our object-worlds, and our objective goods like- 
wise, are the same : hence, in whatever sense God is to 
triumph in history, in that same sense must I triumph 
also. In some degree, as we have seen, every soul of 
us knows the whole, and feels in his own limbs the thud 
and the impulse of the engines of reality : it must be 
possible, then, for our wills, to the same degree, to con- 
tain the will of the universe. We must be able to reach 
a kind of maturity in respect to God himself, in which 


we are ready to assume the burden not only of omnis- 
cience as we continually do but also of omnipo- 
tence, with regard to some fragment, however minute, of 
the historical work of the universe. In such a moment 
the act which we should utter would be known as a com- 
pletely real act; and since we cannot separate our own 
reality from the reality either of our objects, or of our 
deeds we too become for the first time completely 

To require this of the world is to require what we 
may call the prophetic consciousness. By the pro- 
phetic consciousness I do not mean a knowledge that 
something is to happen in the future, accomplished by 
forces beyond myself: I mean a knowledge that this 
act of mine which I now utter is to succeed and hold 
its place in history. It is an assurance of the future 
and of all time as determined by my own individual 
will, embodied in my present action. It is a power 
which knows itself to be such, and justly measures its 
own scope. I do not say as yet that an assurance like 
this is possible ; still less that it has ever been attained : 
I say only that it is necessary for happiness that with- 
out it this region of historical fact must stand condemned 
as outside the sphere of either justice or reality. Apart 
from the possibility of prophetic consciousness, this 
region must be to our wills a " realm of chance" 
just such a realm as Hegel and Boyce and Howison 
agree with James in accepting impenetrable to the 
Spirit, and ultimately repellent to the Spirit ; wherein, 
therefore, the Spirit can never be wholly naturalized 
and at one with its own existence. 



If this demand for prophetic consciousness seems 
preposterous, it is chiefly, I must think, because our 
various philosophies of life have persuaded us of its 
impossibility ; and we will be reconciled, even though 
half-heartedly, with what is attainable a bowing- 
down which is the modern form of devil worship. 
Further, the love of power, of which this prophetic 
consciousness is but a sublimation, is associated in 
theory with the ruthless, the violent, the competitive, 
the relentlessly self-assertive, as in the philosophies 
of Hobbes and Nietzsche. Only a few can command 
success of this sort ; and that at such moral cost that 
we repudiate the ideal, and seek our happiness in some 
other faculty. But may it not be that this instinctive 
love of power which is in every human creature needs 
only to be raised to the dignity of prophecy to lose 
both its cruelty and its incredibility ? May it not be 
that these philosophers of the Wille zur Macht have 
but labored to preserve to us our confidence in the chief 
moral element of our nature ? 

For when we consider the facts of life, such an expe- 
rience as this, a knowledge of necessary historic com- 
mand of fortune, is neither hypothetical nor unknown, 
nor yet confined to the careers of violence. Moments 
of world-shaping prophecy are indeed rare enough in the 
records, even if the records are to be believed. And 
yet it is not meaningless that men whom we otherwise 
respect have, in certain critical passes of their experi- 
ence, claimed this for themselves ; they have left it at 
least ideally open to our attainment. Do we not recall 


utterances o Ptah Hotep, of Socrates, of Alexander, 
of Dante, Spinoza, Montesquieu, Hugo, Froebel, Pitt, 
Browning, Disraeli, sent out in the teeth of hostile cir- 
cumstances, asserting a sense of invincibleness in their 
historic position ? There are false prophets also ; but 
we ask only whether there be any true ones. And we 
have not to depend on the reports, perhaps the boasts, 
of others' experiences. We may assume that whenever 
a supreme type of experience is possible to human 
nature, it will have numerous analogues and anticipa- 
tions scattered throughout our common experiences. 
If the prophetic consciousness is possible, it will not be 
left without a witness here. 

I am inclined to think, as I examine our ordinary 
commerce with physical facts and with social partic- 
ulars such as history is made of, that our consciousness 
of command is the rule, while tentativeness and defeat 
are the exceptions. Skill is possible in a thousand 
ways ; and skill is an experimental dealing with facts 
which has reached the point of assurance. Active life, 
like the life of thought, is built on the basis of concrete 
certainty. Our conscious enterprise is ^three-fourths 
experiment ; but it steps out from a vast substratum of 
the indubitable. If our bodily existence is itself a 
kind of instantaneous and perfect command over a 
limited range of physical nature, our active existence 
has a like range of primitive certainty which defines the 
level of the species. A. man is he who can infallibly 
exercise or acquire a certain minimum of assured power 
over facts, in work and speech and habit; man is 
defined by a certain high level of assumable power. 
The child must be taught to doubt, not to be confident 


of success ; the proud prophetic attitude is the native 
air of our existence, and can no more be wholly can- 
celled by our numerous defeats than can our conscious- 
ness of deity. 

But our more significant prophetic experiences lie on 
the other side of experiment ; they come to us as skill 
assimilates itself to nature, and imitates the fundamen- 
tal certainty with which it fuses. A well-defined and 
limited consciousness of power seems to me to be the 
essential fruit of mature self-knowledge. May not an 
orator command his audience, and know that he must 
do so, as simply as a child commands the ear of a parent? 
In such powers we all share. For all language, and all 
expression of every kind, is just such a process of mak- 
ing historic and actual certain experiences which at first 
are but private meanings of my own : and in so far as 
I can be sure that these private meanings are indeed 
universally valid, I may undertake with certainty to 
utter them. If I know, as I do, that my own experi- 
ence of physical nature is an experience universal and 
sharable, it may be that beliefs, emotions, reasonings, 
principles, should appear to me with a like universality. 
And it is not uncommon to see men so convinced of this 
necessary acceptance of their idea that they are willing 
to persist in uttering it in face of universal repudiation, 
sure at the same time that they know their fellows 
better than they know themselves. Often we find our 
poets dealing in just such generous prophetic insistence 
with our common lives, knowing that what they express 
is no private sentiment, but the typical and universal 
sense of man. We remember, among others, the 
"Non omnis moriar" of Horace; and of Shakespeare, 


" Yet do thy worst, old Time." And this of Francis 

" I hang 'mid men my needless head, 
And my fruit is dreams, as theirs is bread : 
The goodly men and the sun-hazed sleeper 
Time shall reap; hut after the reaper 
The world shall glean of me, me the sleeper ! " 

The more visible modes of prophecy, however, appear 
in those regions of experience where human happiness 
reaches its common height, namely in the more intimate 
personal relationships. No one is lover who does not 
prophesy: and this prophecy reaches its summit in 
the most presumptuous of all commands, tf% Follow me." 
In all friendship we say we have the debt of loyalty, 
and find our happiness in loyalty : yet loyalty is that 
one element of mutual living which nothing but a 
prophetic consciousness can explain. Nothing but a 
prophetic consciousness, a foreknowledge of the power 
of success in this difficult relationship, can justify the 
vows of marriage as they have been made : and any less 
binding vow is so much less than moral. Love itself 
seems to have such prophetic bearings, whether truly 
or falsely; it summarizes and discounts all obstacles 
in advance, and instates itself in unquestioning com- 
mand of life and body. Love at least must postulate 

Our prophetic experiences begin in our immediate 
personal context. Our first acquired and conscious 
historical powers are powers over the free agents of 
history our fellow persons. From this focus our 
prophetic range spreads itself outward, largely through 
the conductive medium of men and institutions, until it 
reaches and claims the services of all matter. Prophecy 


accepts and stands upon all these acquired and distrib- 
uted powers, such as they are, and fuses them into single 
deeds, addressed to particular situations, deeds which 
know their place and their meaning, and which shake 
themselves free from the contingencies of the progres- 
sive experiments of mankind, for the purposes of their 
own moment. 

Moreover, the consciousness of historic validity is not 
limited to such single deeds as these. The form of 
command, as power perfects itself, tends to become 
non-assertive, silent, and immediate, conveyed with the 
temper of attitude and action : and as personality 
acquires this more perfect poise, the exercise of pro- 
phetic power may become continuous, not simply con- 
centrated in climactic performances. The effect of such 
silent and continuous command may be nothing more 
than this, that things grow in its presence. But this, 
if we have not been mistaken, is what chiefly happens 
in the presence of God. This also is historical action. 


These are the common foundations of our action. 
And if there be any such thing as a more total and 
significant prophecy than these, it will have the same 
structure as they : it will be the whole of which our 
various experiments are parts. Happiness may be iden- 
tified with success in the utterance, not of fragmentary 
meanings here and there, but of some total meaning ; 
the indelible historic expression of a self. It cannot 
fail to be at some high cost that a man may come to 
recognize his own total and universal meaning, and 
impose that upon the course of things. Some complete 


commitment to that aim might well be necessary. And 
such commitment will not leave him to suffer that pain 
alone which may reach him by diffusion ; it will put 
upon him the necessity of courting pain, even of creat- 
ing pain for others where none now exists, rousing 
them from their ease and exciting their wrath. It is 
well for us that every man has his quantum of the 
belligerent spirit ; for it is as necessary to our happiness 
to have found and defined our proper antagonism as to 
have found and defined our proper love. Enthusiasm 
can exist on no other terms ; for enthusiasm is not energy 
merely, but energy conscious of a potential difference. 
When we have caught the spirit of this kind of detach- 
ment we discover that the outer dimension of ourself 
varies with the greatness of the thing we are over 
against quite as truly as with the greatness of the thing 
allied to us. We take a fierce joy in the power to per- 
fect that detachment by simplification, by renunciation, 
demonstrating to ourselves that we have the power to 
renounce, to deny, to oppose to send our plowshare 
deep, so that when it moves, as it must, a huge segment 
of sluggish, inert earth will be disgruntled and dis- 
placed. We find re-entering into our souls those lost 
virtues of war and asceticism virtues which can 
never be artificially fostered or reclaimed. 

In such a temper as this are strangely combined the 
self-sufficiency of the stoic, the universality of the 
altruist, and that righteous love of power which our 
own age at once celebrates, fears, and decries. The 
prophet is the realization of all these human motives ; 
and it is he whom all these have in mind as the super- 
man, who is also the sage, and the man wholly happy 


in his historic context. Is it not he whom Maeterlinck 
has in mind, even while he praises the stoic virtues ? 
" To those round about us there happen incessant and 
countless adventures, whereof every one, it would seem, 
contains a germ of heroism; but the adventure passes 
away, and heroic deed is there none. But when Jesus 
Christ met the Samaritan, met a few children, an adul- 
terous woman, then did humanity rise three times in 
succession to the level of God." This is that "con- 
sciousness of self which "with the greatest of men 
implies consciousness up to a point of their star or their 
destiny " ; and not alone because " they know in advance 
how events will be received in their soul," but because 
m addition to this they also know what they will do 
with these events, and what stamp history will carry as 
it falls back from that encounter. 

Shall we not acknowledge, then, that the prophetic 
consciousness is a wholly credible experience, abun- 
dantly indicated in the ideals as well as in the instincts 
of men as the concrete conception of happiness? And 
if we regard it as necessary for happiness, we do not 
thereby wholly condemn our experience even as we find 
it. It is certainly not necessary for happiness that 
every undertaking should succeed, that there should be 
no failures : it is only necessary that as our buffeted lives 
labor for the most part between our two great refuges 
stoicism and vicarious satisfaction it should still 
remain open to us to believe that these lives may have 
some total historic meaning, and that this meaning can, 
through whatever discipline or observance, be brought 
to consciousness and valid expression. If we can believe 
this, history can never become wholly alien to us. 


But how and when does the hour o such total 
prophecy arrive ? Is there to be a moment when not 
alone the hero, the patriot, the sage, hut the simple 
man of quiet life and plain speech, may lay aside the 
attitude of humility, cease to admit his possible failure, 
and take control of the history which at that moment 
is enacting itself in his presence ? Must there come to 
every one an hour when the connection between the suc- 
cess of his cause in the world and the success of his own 
deed lies clear before him, turning vicariousness into 
cowardice ; when he knows beyond doubt that the arc 
of the destiny of that idea must now coincide with the 
swing of his own arm ? In what form does prophecy ar- 
rive ? And how is the prophetic consciousness possible ? 


My answer is that the prophetic consciousness is 
possible in the same way that reflexion is possible, in the 
same way that a total present judgment upon the world 
is possible. The prophet must know himself; and he 
must know his world, not in detail but in so far as it is 
relevant to his purpose : such knowledge as this must 
come to him through his relation to the absolute. The 
prophet is but the mystic in control of the forces of 
history, declaring their necessary outcome: the mystic 
in action is the prophet. In the prophet, the cognitive 
certainty of the mystic becomes historic and particular ; 
and this is the necessary destiny of that certainty : mystic 
experience must complete itself in the prophetic con- 
sciousness. The lightning of Zeus is not released until 
already it is f orefated to strike the earth ; in this trans- 
action heaven and earth must break away together. So 


whatever certainty the mystic acquires means and fore- 
tells a positive overcoming of the world : he can only keep 
his certainty by making it visible to himself in historic 
accomplishment. Prophetic power is the final evidence 
to each individual that he is right and real ; it is his 
assurance of salvation ; it is his share of divinity ; it is 
his anticipation of all attainment. Hence it is that the 
greater mystics have been great founders, great agita- 
tors, and have if not a heavenly immortality yet unques- 
tionably a mundane immortality. There are no deeds 
more permanent than those of Buddha, of Mohammed, 
of Jesus. And innumerable lesser deeds of equal 
validity have completed the substance of these mighty 
frames. The deeds of the mystics constitute the hard 
parts of history ; the rest has its day and passes. 

The love of history has not usually been reckoned 
among the virtues of the mystic. The mystic is pre- 
cisely the timeless and unhistorical being, even in the 
midst of his creations. It is no concern of the artist 
that he produces to-day or to-morrow, for this company 
or for that. I admit the paradox. The carelessness 
of time is the chief evidence of the artist's historic 
security. If he is a true creator he addresses history 
itself, with all its accidents. Socrates does not write, 
nor does Spinoza publish his chief work ; but each in 
his own way cares sacredly for the viability of the link 
between himself and the concrete future, 

Ketreat from history is the mystic's temptation. 
And he who dwells in the universal alone becomes 
false ; the unhistorical mystic is a liar : he has hidden 
himself from the truth which is only in the fact. But 
the falsity of mysticism is the beginning of its end. 


The next swing of the alternation of mind brings the 
scientist, who is the mystic confronting the fact with 
his absolute. Objectivity of mind is the most germane 
fruit of religion ; and science becomes possible only 
through long discipline of worship. Man cannot at 
first bear a perfect contact with nature, nor conceive a 
wholly physical causality ; none of his early hardships 
give him the sense of fact; his fancies stand between 
him and the possibility of a fully physical experience. 
It is only the developed spirit that can bear the fact in 
its nakedness. It is only the modern mind that can 
define causality. Truthfulness is a wholly modern 
virtue, born with the Renaissance and its respect for 
the objective event. And the Renaissance is the medi- 
aeval mind turned upon nature ; it is worship turning to 
discover the sacredness of history. The historical 
virtues, truthfulness and economic integrity, are the 
latest moral products of spiritual advance, the especial 
deposits of the Christian temper in religion. 

And indeed it is only the mystic who ought to be 
historically moral ; for to him alone can the world as 
it is, in its very particulars, be sacred. The unf riendlj 
shapes of fortune are the chief occasions for faith; onljl 
faith is right in exposing itself to them without reserve ; 
and faith is but the love of God, the prophetic conscious- 
ness, confronted by the particulars of history. It is 
only the mystic, I say, who is wholly bound to history, 
and therewith to truth and honor. 

There is such a thing as losing one's soul : and that 
is, rejecting one's call to prophesy. For if there be 
any immortality beyond this present scheme of things, 
it is not in abstraction therefrom : the destiny of our 


own deeds, great and small, is an integral part of what- 
ever future there may be for us. To deserve to endure 
is the only guarantee of enduring. I have no faith 
in an intrinsic indestructibility of the substance of 
consciousness. One life is given us ; another may be 
acquired. 1 Immortality, I venture to think, may be the 
chief and total object of the prophetic consciousness. 
But if so, it must be a consciousness of such command 
of nature as he only has who can wholly accept nature 
as it is ; of such superiority to the catastrophes of his- 
tory as he only has who can unreservedly live out into 
this present history, knowing it, even to its last hard 
fact, as Ms sphere of divine control. 

Professor 0. A. Bennett calls my attention to a 
remark by Edmund G-osse in an essay on Malherbe 
to the effect that in the sixteenth and seventeenth 
centuries it was the fashion for all poets to claim im- 
mortality. When prophecy becomes a convention, the 
virtue has leaked out of it; but it was presumably 
wme original virtue that inspired the imitators. 

i See on this point Frederic Palmer, The Winning of Immortality. 



OUR historic existence with its immense contingen- 
cies we take for the most part with a certain poetic 
remoteness : we only half believe in it ; we hope well of 
it that is to say, we hope well of the luck that seems 
to prevail there. We live still in a semi-savage dreami- 
ness, incredulous of the distant contingency, incredulous 
therefore of the present moment, veiled from the actual 
conditions of action, circling at planetary distances about 
our own practical center. The fanciful is too real to us, 
the real too fanciful* The evil that is in this world, and 
especially in this spirit of meaningless accident the 
luck which we hope will be for us good luck this evil 
does not rouse us : it benumbs us, rather, and confirms 
our somnambulism. This is our ingrained irresponsi- 
bility, our original sin. 

It is the last fruit of religion to produce, or approxi- 
mate, a prophetic consciousness, that is to say, a natural 
historic consciousness, wholly wakened, literal, and real, 
capable of seeing the divinity of its own present fact 
and acting upon it. It is the work of faith to face the 
bulk and detailed circumstance of nature, banish its 
luck, remove its mountains. Religion must labor long, 
but aims at last to bring about such a faith, literal, 
prophetic, responsible. 

But we are right in our incredulity, so long as 


religion comes to us only as a psychological necessity. 
The conditions for prophetic control of fortune lie 
without as well as within, far out on the borders of the 
universe. Science and the State, under the encourage- 
ment of faith, may banish luck gradually to these 
borders : but from them, luck streams back upon human 
life distributed, perhaps, in its incidence, yet none the 
less menacing and vast. Unless the original sources of 
history, the ultimate arrangements of natural facts, the 
configurations of physical things which set the last limits 
to the hopes of all living beings, are already subject to 
some other control than our own, there is no such thing 
as absolute certainty of historic action. I cannot hasten 
the missile that has once left my hand ; every workman 
must leave his work at last to a world that he can no 
longer govern ; the whole race of prophets and world- 
builders stands helpless in the presence of a wider agency 
whose name is either Fate or Providence. Without the 
cooperation of an environment not less than infinite, 
the best prophet comes at last to zero the worse because 
of his concrete hopes. The mystic must give reason 
for his dogma that there is no "realm of chance " ; that 
beside the work of God which we have been tracing in 
the individual mind, there is a supplementary work of 
God in the world beyond the human will, there at the 
origins of the plot which all events work out. Thus 
the theory of religion rests back upon cosmology and 
the philosophy of a wider history for its final justification. 

I cannot here follow out into this wider world the 
question of the right of the religious consciousness in its 
immediate practical assurance. But at least one principle 


prevailing in that world is already in our hand, and I will 
touch upon it in closing. So far as our own human 
history is concerned a small part, no doubt, of our total 
environment we can see that the religious will tends 
to create the conditions for its own success. Note what 
these conditions are. 

It is in our human environment, as we said, that our 
natural will-to-command finds its first successes: our 
power extends from this center outward. Yet taking 
the human world as a whole, it presents a problem to 
prophetic ambition not less baffling than that of the 
control of nature : in fact, these two problems are precise 
counterparts of one another. Dealing with the social 
environment has always the guidance and encouragement 
of response, pro and con, which nature lacks. On the 
other hand, dealing with nature has always this element 
of satisfaction, that nature is a single order, persistent, 
invariably faithful to its own principles whether against 
us or for us. The obstacles to prophetic confidence in 
dealing with the human world consist in the absence of 
just these qualities. He who intends to accomplish 
something permanent must appeal to an environment 
that treasures and faithfully conserves values. The 
fluid mass of free wills conserves nothing, holds itself 
bound to nothing. A world which can promise to 
conserve must itself be unitary and eternal: it must 
have a principle of persistent identity and reliability 
like that of nature. To introduce into this mass of free 
individuals an order, unity, and inflexibility of purpose 
like that of nature would indeed be something of a 
miracle. Yet without this, the prophetic attitude is not 
justified : this, as I see it, is precisely what the prophet 


must require. He must find in the current of history 
a unity corresponding to the unity of the physical 
universe, or else he must create it. And what I want 
to point out is that it is just such a conscious unification 
of history that the religious will spontaneously tends 
to bring about. 

We can see that the type of power which we have called 
prophetic, unlike that power which Nietzsche celebrates, 
tends not to compete with and destroy the like power in 
its neighbors, but rather to develop and to propagate it. 
As laughter begets laughter, and courage courage, 
passing from mind to mind and crystallizing a social 
group or a social world upon its own principle, so does 
the world-conquering temper of religion beget its like. 
No human attitude is more socially contagious than that 
of worship, except the practical attitude toward facts 
which comes out of worship : namely, enthusiasm for 
suffering, conscious superiority to hostile facts of what- 
ever sort or magnitude, knowledge of their absolute 
illusoriness, so far as they pretend finality, in a word 
the practical certitude of the prophet. When religion 
has thus acquired a clear-sighted and thorough contemp- 
tus mundi, religion begins to be potent within this same 
world of facts: it was within the scope of the stoic to 
become impregnable, but the religious spirit finds itself 
more than impregnable, irresistible. The prophetic 
attitude begins at once to change facts, to make dif- 
ferences, to do work ; and its first work is, as I say, 
its social contagion : it begins to crystallize its environ- 
ment, that is, to organize the social world upon its own 

And if this temper is actually spread through the 


social world (not rising and dying out like the wave of 
laughter, but reaching the threshold of self -perpetuation), 
something more has happened than the dissemination 
of a type of will by 'social imitation' namely, that 
environment is created which this same type of will 
requires. The human world has taken on a certain 
unity of mind and purpose ; for whatever may be the 
special field of action of any religious will, every such 
will must desire that unification of the conscious world 
as a necessary part of its own purpose. So far, all have 
common cause. Every prophetic will is something of 
an environment for every other ; as the group widens, 
and pervades human life with its principle, it becomes, 
as an environment, more adequate to its task, and may 
reach complete adequacy. 

We may conceive some such group as becoming fully 
conscious of the nature and extent of this task ; and 
adopting as its own special responsibility the extension 
of its own unity, for the sake of making this same will 
accessible to all men. It would thus make it, so to speak, 
its own prophecy that prophetic will shall be possible; 
that no human being shall be obliged to let his prophetic 
impulses die for lack of that unity in the human world 
which must justify them. This, I believe, is the essen- 
tial purpose of the religious institution. It is this 
purpose, as I conceive it, which brings religion to earth 
in the form not simply of a system of truth, not simply 
as a type of personal experience, but in the form which 
religion everywhere takes, that of the positive historic 
body with work to perform. 

Positive religion in its primitive phases makes history 
possible, cultivating what we might call the tribal and 


national memory. In its more developed phases, it 
tries to achieve a more general, non-political, but none 
the less historic solidarity among men. It undertakes, 
we may say, to do for the sporadic prophetic impulses 
of men what the State does for their sporadic impulses 
of justice and public power. Let me develop this idea 
a little. 

As I look over the circumstances of religious develop- 
ment, I observe that there are four striking changes in 
the religious consciousness which usually occur together: 
as religion becomes ' redemptive' (that is, world-over- 
coming in one way or another), it detaches itself from 
the national life, it begins a universal propaganda, and 
it refers itself and its adherents to some distinctive 
historic object or person as the beginning of its temporal 
undertaking (and so, as a special point of irruption of 
the divine into history). Thus Islam points to its shrine 
and its sacred book ; the Buddhist convert must take 
refuge in the Buddha, as well as in the doctrine and the 
order ; Christianity asks men to regard its founder as 
the unique way to God. How are we to understand 
this remarkable concurrence of characteristics at this 
stage of development ? 

It is the analogy of the State which best helps me to 
understand what these things mean. The political 
organization affords to the individuals under it what 
Bagehot well describes as a " calculable future." In 
the State I have some prospect of a tangible immortality, 
I acquire property that may affect in one way or another 
my children's children. I promote laws, perhaps, that 
influence more or less all lives to come within the scope 


of that government. I can do my small part anywhere 
in art or industry or science with a sense of worth; 
because the State is there to give permanence to 
the growing treasures of one generation after another. 
The State lends to my deeds its own permanence, 
so far as these deeds are legitimate and within its own 

In the same way the religious institution (I am 
speaking now of the ideal, as reflection shows it to me, 
certainly not of the entire body of instituted religion 
as it now is) the religious institution seems to exist 
to lend its own permanence and immortality to the deeper 
and wider prophetic purposes of men. In severing its 
fortunes from those of the State, it assures to the 
individual his right to live and take part in an infinite 
history, though outside all States, and in spite of the 
defects of all earthly States. It stands between the 
creative individual will and that unordered, or unstably 
ordered, human social mass, before whose free mobility 
and passion that will is indeed in a hopeless plight. 

Religion defies the clash and decay of the political 
attempts of men, whose mission in their own sphere is 
similar; but it is historic religion which chiefly renders 
those political attempts hopeful. Religion from primi- 
tive times the protector of the stranger, the market-place, 
the truce, is the forerunner of international law ; because 
it alone can create the international spirit, the inter- 
national obligation; it alone can permanently sustain 
and ensure that spirit. 1 

1 By such super-nationalism in religion, national individuality is not 
obscured, but rather promoted* We require a world-religion just because 
we do not require, nor wish, a world state. 


It is this function, as I think, which the greater 
religions have more or less clearly perceived. They 
propose to bring into human affairs that most general 
unity, not interfering with nor displacing any more 
special undertaking, without which no such special 
undertaking whether of art, or of science, or of law 
is worth while, being without promise of permanence. 

We customarily think of the religious institution as 
a way of arranging for the social side of worship. 
Worship is imperfect unless when I worship, I am joining 
the race in worship. 1 Instituted religion has accordingly 
made worship public ; at its best, it does much to join 
the minds of all sorts and conditions of men in worship, 
of all present human worshippers, and with those of 
the past and of the future. Further, we think of the 
institution as an educating body, or as propagating the 
religious type of mind by that social imitation we were 
speaking of. But we usually fail, as I think, to see 
what the institution does to justify that type of mind ; 
namely, that it brings to the individual soul not only its 
moral ideal, its psychological norm, but also the kind of 
world wherein such a mind can alone rightly assert itself. 
It is a unified and responsible world, one which cares 
for the individual in his concrete character, and will 
bear out his rightful will to endure, a human world 
which religion itself has made. 

It is a sign of the good faith of the institution that 

1 We have regarded worship in its mystical aspect, as a solitary 
adventure of the soul : but we have also noted from time to time that 
before the mystic may make his lonely flight to God, he must assert as 
fully as possible his unity with his human spiritual context. Unity with 
the Absolute becomes significant in proportion as the worshipper is first 
one with the spirit of God as already established in the world. 


it brings to the individual, who seeks assurance of his 
own absolute worth, its assertion of its own power and 
permanence- It encourages him to prophesy, only in 
so far as it itself is based on prophecy. It asserts its 
own universal scope and indestructibility the gates 
of hell shall not prevail against it. If this is a true 
assertion, the individual may always knit his prophetic 
action to that. The attitude which as a solitary being 
he could not rightfully assume is made possible to him 
by this external agency which is throwing over all 
history its most general unity, bringing men everywhere 
to a singleness of mind and a singleness of purpose. 
Through that agency, and not otherwise, he may win, 
in the language of religion, his (historic) salvation, the 
forgiveness of his ingrained sin. 

In our current consciousness, we feel little need of 
these external assurances, nor of the institution which 
offers them. The sense of sin grows foreign to us : the 
suggestion that we any longer require what our fathers 
called salvation strikes with a note of unreality. We 
feel ourselves morally secure; and historically, as 
secure as need be. But when beneath this over-social- 
ized surface of consciousness we penetrate to the actual 
basis of such certainties as we have, our self-respect, 
our belief in human worth, our faith in the soul's 
stability through all catastrophes of physical nature, 
and in the integrity of history this history of ours 
forever, we must recognize there a mass of actual 
deed, once for all accomplished under the assurances of 
historic religion. A system of deed, I might rather 
say, organized about a prophetic purpose once planted 


in history and now perpetually reproducing itself all 
around us. 

The work of positive religion is largely silent ; like 
the work of positive law, it is as great in what it 
prevents as in what it noisily accomplishes perhaps 
greater. But the work is there, and if we are just we 
shall acknowledge it. Our confidences with regard to 
history must be built in history as well as in universal 
thought, in both of these, welded together. Unless 
we can discern at its silent work in human affairs this 
power, self-consciously eternal, actively communicating 
its own scope to the feeble deeds, the painful acquire- 
ments, the values, the loves and hopes of men, we 
have no right to such faith as we habitually assume. 
And without such faith there is for us no valid religion. 



IT is well to emphasize the fact that subconsciousness is not 
an endowment but an incidental acquisition, due to strain 
of voluntary attention. It is a by-product of determinedly 
self-conscious life. No infant has a subconsciousness: no 
adult is without one. 

Our subconsciousness at any time may be roughly 
described as that remainder of consciousness which persists 
outside the sphere to which in our various practical efforts we 
deliberately narrow our interest. And this remainder has two 
divisions which must be sharply distinguished in thought, 
though in fact they blend into one another. 

We may define these two divisions by their relation to the 
voluntarily conscious self : the first is allied with it, the sec- 
ond is more or less hostile to it, or critical of it. The former 
part, the allied subconscious, is called subconscious chiefly be- 
cause it is not being thought of, though it is being thought 
with. It contains the instincts that we inherit and the habits 
we form ; also the memories we store, and all the system of 
ideas with which we do our apperceiving. It contains the 
habits of appreciation we build up, and the habits of decision 
in short our * character.' It is an active organ in all expe- 
rience, and can at any time become an object of reflective 
scrutiny. Though many an element of memory, of attitude, 
of my controlling ideas and deeper instincts, may evade 
the grasp of my pointed attention at any moment, there is 
nothing here that is essentially inaccessible, nothing that may 
not become part of the focus of consciousness. It is not 
split-off' from the central stream of attention: its objects 


are the same objects, its world is the same world, with that 
of the artificial or central self. 1 

The other aspect of subconsciousness, the critical, is the 
part to which the name is more properly applied. It is a 
consciousness of objects which we, the artificial person, have 
chosen not to be conscious of. It is the unchosen or repressed, 
marginal life of the mind, maintaining an existence of protest, 
like a sort of bad conscience. What our artificial efforts 
exclude from notice is not utterly excluded; we are not so free 
as we seem in the self we make. It is impossible to condemn 
to oblivion any small voice in us without in some measure 
being conscious of that voice ; and especially if we condemn 
on less than full conviction we cannot help being aware that 
our condemnation is hasty, and this element of our conscious- 
ness remains in communication with the excluded strand, and 
keeps it alive, as it were surreptitiously. 

Thus it is that old habits of observation continue to do 
their work without separate urging. Things which I have 
once noticed, or collected, or otherwise valued, I continue sub- 
consciously to take notice of, though I may have outgrown the 
interest, or may have become ashamed of it. There is an 
extraordinary cunning and minuteness about this aspect of 
subconsciousness. It is the watch-dog of the mind. It may take 
note of time, observe faces, remember the numbers on houses 
or bank-bills, the names of streets, the turns of stairs, passing 
shadows, flitting expressions of the eye and voice : it is faith- 
ful, as the photographic plate is faithful, to slighter impres- 
sions than the artificial self can discriminate. For doubtless 
the limits of voluntary interest have reduced the fulness of 
the reports which our senses may make to the artificial self. 
Our eyes and ears are capable of far more than we can now 
get from them ; the remainder, up to the limit of their sensi- 
tivity, may still be kept in a subconscious record. But again 

1 Since subconsciousness, as I believe, is a division within consciousness, 
the proper contrast is between the subconscious and the artificial self , not 
between the subconscious and the conscious. * 


we must say that this faithful and relatively mechanical 
observer in us takes note of nothing that has not at some 
previous time been important to the self-conscious mind, 
whether of the individual or his ancestors. Its world, though 
supplementary, is still the same world as that of the artifi- 
cial self. 1 

* There is in reality, as I have said, no sharp line between the allied 
subconsciousness ' and the ' critical subconsciousness ' : whether any given 
experience, noted by these persistent habits of observation, becomes criti- 
cal, or merges itself with the allied ' apperceivmg mass,' is a question 
chiefly of the kind of exclusion which relegates that experience to sub- 
consciousness. It may be an exclusion of antipathy ; it may be an exclu- 
sion of simple limitation of interest (in which case, the subconscious crit- 
icism amounts only to this, that * These things also ought to be taken 
into account ') : or again, it may be an almost wholly passive exclusion. 
Professor Angier, in commenting upon this note, makes this distinction 
very clear and graphic. He writes : 

" As I take it, many of the occurrences of life which apparently do 
not impress explicit consciousness at all, toward which at any given time 
we react in no accepting or repressing way whatever, slide into the sub- 
conscious where they find congenial connections and become part of the 
reservoir of what you call the * allied subconsciousness.' In traveling, for 
instance, I imagine that many of the scenes through which we go, which 
never enter the focal point of consciousness, nevertheless contribute richly 
to the final attitude with which our travels leave us; and later, in recalling 
these travels, they furnish a background for our memory image or for 
onr conversation. 

" Is there not a difference between those things which we have " chosen 
not to be conscious of," i.e., repressed, and those things which have simply 
not entered the field of explicit choice at all ? This seems to be a real 
distinction. Those things which do not enter the field of choice, but 
nevertheless casually make their impression on the subconscious, do not 
necessarily, perhaps not at all, constitute part of the critical subconscious- 
ness. To my mind it is only those things to which we are either instinc- 
tively or through deliberation averse that become our subconscious moni- 
tor and critic. 

" It seems to me that we meet two types of personality based on this 
distinction: one, the genial, tolerant man who impresses us as reeking with 
a rich and friendly co-consciousness which gives subtle color and tone 
to all his sayings and doings; and the other one, whose helping co-con- 
sciousness is meager, but whose critical or antagonistic co-consciousness 
is rick" 


This protesting part of subconsciousness has great varia- 
tions in its volume and strength as compared with the self, 
conscious stream running along beside it. It has its periods 
of fulness and of emptiness; it has its own methods of 
relief, finding its way back to the central self. We may 
describe briefly the circumstances that fill it up ; and then 
these methods of relief. 

1. Strenuousness. Clearly, whatever tightens the strain 
of conscious attention will increase the burden of the subcon- 
scious. The natural materialism of determined action; the 
stern selection for world-building purposes of fact having a 
specified degree of solidity and resistance ; these make quick 
work of all trailing " clouds of glory/' and relegate them to 
the subconscious where they maintain a ghostly existence. 
What men call sentiment has to spend much of its life in this 
Coventry: it has little chance while "business is business" 
and probably ought to have little chance. 

Insistent * reasonableness,' i.e., strident logical pose where 
ideas are far in advance of possible idea-connections, richly 
contributes to the subconscious, and correspondingly impov- 
erishes the artificial self. Note too that it is the nature of 
reasonableness of this sort to seem to itself right and self- 
sufficient: the circle of ideas that pass censorship becomes 
fixed ; they make themselves a closed group. The voice of the 
excluded margin is timid, unarmed, merely advisory, at a 
political disadvantage. It is easy for the focus to become 
tyrannical, to refuse due representation to the counsels of the 
subconscious; so that a parallel stream of judgment which 
might silently mingle with and modify the course of decision 
is cleanly excluded and put into hostility. Thus the focal 
center of life hardens, polishes its surface, and tends to 
perpetuate its own quality. 

Severe mental concentration produces apparent oblivion to 
external happenings ; but in reality a division of mind which 
adds to the subconscious. If long continued, certain segments 


of memory and of the technique of common living maybe split 
off, temporarily or permanently. 

Moral and religious strenuosity has the same result, and 
particularly when one wages war against an entire aspect or 
conception of oneself. Dr. Prince's Miss Beauchamp shows 
very well a type of zeal which must result in highly charged 
subconsciousiiess. As a child " her mother exhibited a great 
dislike to her. . . On the other hand she herself idealized 
her mother, bestowing upon her almost morbid affection : and 
believing that her mother's lack of affection was due to her 
own imperfections, she gave herself up to introspection, and 
concluded that if she could only purify herself and make 
herself worthy, her mother's affection would be given her." l 
As she comes under Dr. Prince's observation u she is possessed 
of a conscientiousness which at times has proved embarrassing 
to her friends. It is carried sometimes to a degree that may 
be characterized as morbid. For instance, while in college 
she was the recipient of a scholarship; consequently she 
considered it her duty, in return for this benefit, so diligently 
to apply herself to her studies that it was impossible for 
teacher or physician to enforce sufficient recreation, or even 
the rest and hygienic measures which were absolutely neces- 
sary to keep what little health she had." Further fragments 
from Dr. Prince's notes : " morbid pride . . . refinement of 
thought and feeling beyond the ordinary . she took 
everything intensely . . . mentally and morally stubborn." 
The depth and coherence of Miss Beauchamp's subconscious 
life must be attributed very largely to this extraordinary will 
together with the equally extraordinary definition of its own 

This is not to condemn the strenuous life ; on the contrary, 
only through strenuous attention can the standard of definition 
and factuahiess be set to which it is the aim of all idea to 
conform; I only point out the inevitable incident of that 
strain. Any action at all, any dealing with things, is a strain 
1 Morton Prince. The Dissociation of a Personality, ch. ii. 


outward, involves some artificial limitation of judgment, some 
over-influence of physical standards, and will require compen- 
sation. The subconscious is simply tlie internal register of 
the compensation required, and will obviously increase in 
fulness with the degree of free-will put behind the action. 

2. Suppression of critical comment. There are various 
ways and various motives by which our spontaneous criticism 
of people and things gets huddled out of sight, and may be so 
effectively suppressed as to become subconscious. Thus we 
incline to suppress self-criticism ; the self of us which " knows 
better" when we want to depart from common sense or 
common duly, the self to which our moral gadflies appeal when 
they assume that every man knows what is right, and come 
toward us rather with indignation than with persuasion ; the 
self which we call conscience or mother wit; this self is 
capable of being suppressed that is to say, so systematically 
hushed that it learns its place and ceases to interfere. In 
such cases, our bad conscience does literally take up its abode 
in subconsciousness. We suppress also criticisms of others, 
of institutions, opinions, etc. ; we choke down dislikes, wrongs, 
fears, doubts, scruples, on the theory of our artificial self when 
it holds that these negative feelings ought not to exist. 
Theoretical policy, especially social policy, must in the main 
be affirmative ; succeeding policy must be blind to minor hin- 
drances ; health must ignore disease : and these fair resolves 
run much danger of building up a critical subconsciousness, pro- 
ducing a bland and false personality. One is parted from the 
truth of his own aversions. One begins a regime of duplicity, 
and may end by losing all personal grit ancl valency. An 
especial case of this suppression is that of the knowledge 
of guilt of a past act which I regard as uuconf essable : 
it may be a trivial matter; or it may be a criminal record, a 
character overcome and hidden from sight ; or it may be no 
moral thing at all, but a physical or mental peculiarity, or a 
defect in one's pedigree or origin which, as one thinks, simply 
must not be known. Suppressions of this sort contribute 


richly to subconsciousness, and incidentally to the clinic of 
the psychiatrist. 

3. Organic growth. The assumption that the artificial 
self is sufficient unto itself makes difficult the entrance of new 
ideas into consciousness, especially of new attitudes toward life 
as a whole such as growth brings. Whatever is new in the 
field of idea is still weaker, as against the central self, than 
the usual marginal idea; for the most part these incipient 
developments can gain recognition only through the channels 
of dream, imagination ; they so far gain the conscious ear as to 
call the mind away from actualities, from time to time, to a 
world of vague but alluring phantasms which turn into nothing 
real. Hence it is that adolescence, which is peculiarly a time 
of theory-grasping as well as of growth, is subject to subcon- 
scious accumulations and to dreams, and so to more or less 
disturbing processes of relief. On the other hand, these new 
ideas have this advantage over other types of subconscious 
burden that they are waxing in force rather than waning, and 
are destined at some time or other to find their way to the 

The rejoining of the artificial self with the subconscious 
self is an event for which nature has not failed to provide 
certain instinctive methods. For each of these ways of accu- 
mulating there is a way of discharging : I think it is true 
that all of the major rhythms of conscious life involve some 
rise and fall in the subconscious pressure. I wish to point 
out that all of these methods of relief involve finding an 
object which is common to the conscious and the sub-conscious 

1. For stremiousness the natural remedy is a general low- 
ering of activity, roposo. Wherever the strains of artificiality 
and attention can be released, as in privacy and the ease of* 
friendly intercourse, the subconscious begins to find its way 
back to the focus. This type of relief reaches its natural end 
in sleep. In sleep, voluntary attention is abolished ; the mind 


is acting on no theory of the good, and no theory of itself. 
But in sleep it cannot be said that consciousness is abolished ; 
it is rather the case that consciousness has attached itself to 
an object which is common to all interests, conscious and sub- 
conscious, namely, the individual self. And by relating them- 
selves to that object, without interference from the theoret- 
ical will, the various strands of mental life tend to resume 
their natural relations to each other. 

2. For suppression of comment the natural remedy is a 
generally heightened activity, excitement, orgy, passion. 1 
Passion might almost be defined as a rapid release of subcon- 
scious strain under heightened attention. It occurs when some 
object in the conscious field arouses an idea belonging to that 
strand of the allied subconsciousness which is keeping this 
part of the critical subconsciousness alive. We commonly 
observe that in anger, long suppressed comment finds its way 
to the surface : criticisms which one had resolved never to 
utter come to the fore and join in the summary destructive 
flux. More accurately speaking, anger is the flood itself, 
the rapid synthesis of the disowned ideas with the idea which 
has here found its object. But any agitation tends to enlist 
wider and wider areas of mental resource, and so to bring 
subconsciousness into working relations again with the artifi- 
cial self, just as by aid of heat or solution chemical unions 
may take place, and equilibria be established, which other- 
wise would remain indefinitely in posse. In excitement, one 
passion makes opportunity for another ; and orgy may end, 
not only in general exhaustion, but also in the general harmony 
and unity of the entire creature. Thus, amusement and 
recreation do their part in relieving subconscious pressure. 

3. What organic growth contributes to subconsciousness is 
a kind of suppressed comment ; and its natural relief is also 
a kind of passion. This passion occurs when the dreams, in 

1 There is, of course, no strict one-to-one correspondence between 
these types of relief and the types of accumulation of strain. Thns 
suppressed comment may also be relieved by repose, or by change* 


which the growing motive had been finding vague expres- 
sion, 'come real'; i.e., when in the waking world an object 
appears which at the same time recalls and satisfies those 
groping ideas. This, of course, is what happens in * falling 
in love.' 

4. But beside these instinctive methods of relief there is 
another, namely that of deliberate reflection. Experience in 
this matter, as in all matters, brings about the possibility of 
conscious control of the process of reuniting the disjoined 
fragments of selfhood. One learns to recognize in himself 
the malaise of subconscious pressure, and to turn upon him- 
self with the demand, " Well, what is the matter with me." 
Such a person is delivered from the more drastic and physi- 
ological upheavals, just so far as his power of self-analysis 
reaches. If he can find the idea which commands both the 
conscious and the subconscious, he can do intentionally what 
nature does instinctively. Thus, confession and seltconfes* 
sion relieve the strain of suppressed comment, and in such wise 
that one knows what has happened to him in so far, with 
better result than by the way of passion. The deliberate 
practice of sincerity and prizing of the e natural' self are 
habits which to some extent may prevent the accumulation 
of rebellious residues. Resolute facing of the fear or the 
doubt which dogs one's peace; consciously planned occa- 
sions for meeting and removing grounds of injury or dislike: 
in all these ways, and in many others, consciousness holds 
in its own power the methods of reunion with the critical 

But there is no such thing as a complete displacement of 
nature by art in this matter: the squarely reflective restora- 
tion of selfhood reaches but little way. It is but a process of 
seeking, or as we might say, of prayer ; it cannot surely com- 
mand the reconciling idea ; and even so, it does not so much 
displace the natural methods of repose, excitement, and love 
as it does meet these half way, and recognize their place in 
the conscious system of life. 


It must have become evident that the subconscious or " sub- 
liminal self " is only another name for that natural self of which 
we have been speaking ; the self which in effort we lose, and 
tend to harden a superficial crust against. Whatever releases 
subconscious ideas into central consciousness does so far relieve 
spiritual fatigue ; and vice versa, whatever relieves this fatigue 
does at the same time rejoin these two partially divided aspects 
of conscious life. It will therefore be possible though of 
no great advantage to express the meaning of worship in 
term of this relation between subconsciousness and the rest 
of consciousness. 

Characteristic of worship is the necessary place in it of the 
method of deliberate reflection ; this constitutes the active part 
of worship, or prayer. And in the passive side of worship, 
the mystic experience itself, we find qualities which resemble 
those of all the * natural ' modes of recovery, rest, excitement 
and love : worship is a natural synthesis of all of these ; the 
elevation of the mystic is a state at once of passion and of peace. 
This might be inferred apriori from the fact that the idea of 
God is one to which no item of consciousness, whether split 
off or not, can get out of relation ; it is an idea which 
belongs permanently to that self which stands prior to the 
divergence between the artificial and the subconscious. 

The religious ecstasy or orgy is a product of religious spe- 
cialization. That is to say, worship ideally speaking is capable 
of fulfilling all the functions of the other means of re-integra- 
ting selfhood, whether of love, or of amusemont, or of sleep 
itself (as witness the exploits in comparative sleeplessness 
of Madame Guyon, of Philip of Alcantara, and of many 
another) : and if one must, or will, confine himself to this one 
method of spiritual recovery, mystic ecstasy is quite normal. 
We avoid it, and on the whole prefer to avoid it, by a differ- 
entiation of worship in which our mystic experience is diffused 
among the several more instinctive rhythms. I do not doubt 
that the distrust shown by certain of the stricter sects toward 
amusements, especially toward dance and the theater, fe iue 


not so much to the alleged inherent sinfulness, o these amuse- 
ments, as to the circumstance that they actually substitute for, 
and so diminish the intensity of, the specifically religious mys- 
ticism. It is a clear modern instance of the 'jealous God'; 
and this jealousy is justified in so far as pleasure is disposed to 
ignore its dependence upon the whole-idea for existence. 

The language of subconsciousness need not misrepresent the 
facts of religious experience. With the descriptive skill of 
James or of Pratt it conveys much truth which could hardly 
otherwise be so effectively expressed. But it almost inevit- 
ably misleads. For it hardly fails to suggest, first, a division 
that does not exist ; and second, a superhuman resource which 
is different from the resource of our simple waking selves. 

As to the first point, we must insist on the fact that there 
is no subconsciousness which is out of consciousness. The 

* allied subconsciousness' is an organ of consciousness ; and the 

* critical subconsciousness' is present to the 'allied subconscious- 
ness ' in the same way that the artificial self is present. The 

* allied subconsciousness' is simply the comprehensive self 
whose object is c the whole.' After many years of observation, 
Janet finds himself doubting whether even in hysterical patients 
there may not be a self which envisages both the normal and 
the dissociated segments of consciousness. He thus states his 
own present questionings: "Does not the hysteric herself 
possess a sort of insane belief which makes her relinquish 
certain phenomena ? Up to what point is she sincere in her 
declarations of ignorance ? Does she not to a certain extent 
deceive herself ?" etc. 1 And what may hold good in such 
abnormal deepening of the cleft between the artificial self and 
subconsciousness, I cannot doubt to be true of our normal 
relation to subconsciousness namely, that we are conscious 
of our * subconsciousness' all the time. The subconscious is 
not something which, we should think of as a distinct gland of 
psychical life, accumulating its own stores and occasionally 

1 Subconscious Phenomena! p. 66. 


overflowing into the central self. The subconscious is the 
deposit of our own logical sense, our own value-consciousness 
and moral judgment, our own metaphysical instinct, in short, of 
our own whole-idea, in its unceasing criticism upon the judg- 
ments of our partial, strenuous, and artificial self. It con* 
tains the opposite, or antithesis, which our artificial self at any 
moment needs to justify it and make it completely true ; it 
contains, therefore, the next turn in the dialectic of experience: 
all of Hegel's categories may be conceived to spring up in 
order out of subconsciousness. 

And this may serve to correct also the second misconception 
which the language of subconsciousness arouses, namely, that we 
have here a mysterious and superhuman faculty of knowledge. 
Not that it leads us to think too highly of our capacities. 
That reflection of von Hartmann's is hardly too sanguine, 
however absurdly it is expressed: "Let us not despair at 
having a mind so practical and so lowly, so unpoetical and so 
little spiritual; there is within the innermost sanctuary of 
each of us a marvelous something of which we are uncon- 
scious, which dreams and prays while we labor to earn our 
daily bread." * Well, so there is ; only, we are not uncon- 
scious of it. Subconsciousness has indeed infinite resources, 
but they are cwr resources they are the resources of the 
infinite idea such as we in our normal waking capacity do 
rightfully possess, and such as we shall in time learn to 

1 Quoted by Hart, Subconscious Phenomena, p. 106. 



ris a besetting fault of our constructive thinking to over- 
estimate the load which a distinction will carry. We 
prove that conscience is uniquely different from the calculus 
of values and think we have saved ethics. We discover that 
theoretical judgments and judgments of appreciation are fairly 
independent, and hasten to found philosophies of religion upon 
the breach. With these and other dichotomies we renew 
the experience that unless we have something more than a 
difference, what we accomplish is simply to insulate our ethics 
and onr religion. What tempts us repeatedly into this dead 
comer is, I believe, the conviction that mind must be studied 
on its own ground : whereas the truth is that regarded thus 
intimately and ideally the objects of our inner experience 
tend to fall into just these fruitless disparities. 3 In my own 

1 From an article published in Psychological Bulletin, Vol. v f No. 5 
(May 15, 1008). 

2 The more contemporary psychology exerts itself to be purely experi- 
ential, th mow it Jhuls itself busied in listing the * irreducible ' elements 
of the mind. This is true particularly of German psychology where good 
judgment is less likely to interfere with consistency of method. It 
might save some trouble to observe that all aspects of the mind as pure ex- 
perience are irreducible. Pleasure is pleasure ; Bcgrilf is Begriff ; reason 
is reason; nothing is identical with anything else not even with the 
aggregate of its elements ; everything is simple and unique. It is well 
to note this truth, to insist on it is to spin on our boot-heels. An ir- 
reducible is an object of which we can only say that it is what it is ; of 
this material no science can be made. The tendency which isolates these 
objects has something idealistic about it, perhaps ; but since it has no- 
thing but the * given* to off or, it is necessarily dogmatic and exclamatory. 
Only a genuine idealism can afford to be thoroughly materialistic in its 
first explanations* 


attempts to gain relief from such situations I have found 
myself moving, more or less clearly, in the direction of phys- 
ical theory. 

I have come to believe that there is a certain inevitable 
logic in this. Our inner experiences, our oughts, our happi- 
nesses, our values, even our pleasures among themselves, must as 
objects of thought remain miscellaneous furniture, each turning 
its back to the other in default of common understanding, 
unless we can bring some finely indifferent unit of order and 
comparison into them. The first business of all explanation 
is to express a thing in terms of what it is not an event in 
terms of its cause, truth in terms of process, sensation in 
terms of motion. Other things equal, the more alien in nature 
the terms in which a thing is expressed the more successful 
the explanation: the thing has its roots in the utmost corners 
of reality the demonstration is complete. 1 Now nothing is 
so admirable in its categorical indifference to the concerns of 
the spirit as is physical nature. It has no member either in 
the psychical movement or influenced by it. It is a seamless 
garment of interweaving threads ; it is what the mathemati- 
cian calls, in a word, a closed group, and the physicist, a con- 
servative system. This complete conceptual independence it 
is which chiefly qualifies it for serving as a terminus of explana- 
tions for the peculiarities of spirit. Its alien quality (once it 
is admitted to be a part of the same world with spirit) insures 
that no aspect of consciousness will be unrepresented in the 
physical system ; there will be nothing even in the relation of 
1 The difficulty always is to see that such explanations explain. To 
explain a thing by what it is not that is to explain one mystery by 
another. But is there nothing illuminating about that ? Tho company 
which miseries are said to love lightens them ; mysteries love company 
also, and for a similar reason. If we are satisfied to look no longer for 
the supports of the earth because a group of unsupported planets can be 
self-supporting we must be prepared to recognize similar relations among 
facts. Every datum, taken alone, is dark, just because it is ultimate. 
This stranding upon ' data ' is empiricism's weak spot, and its opportunity. 
The thing that relieves data of darkness is, not more data exactly, but the 
group-form into which data assemble themselves. 


consciousness to its world of objects and to other subjects 
which is not shown in its field by wnie exact metaphor. That 
is to say, the elements of consciousness which on their own 
separate ground are mutually repellent, find themselves mir- 
rored in a homogeneous world no part of which can get out of 
relation to any other, and from which, therefore, if we have the 
key to the metaphor, those relations can be read and understood. 

But this logical hint is enforced by a more substantial con- 
sideration. It is reasonable to suppose that the answer to any 
question will be found in the context of the phenomenon that 
calls forth the question. There are good grounds for think- 
ing that whatever plurality the mind shows, whatever temporal 
movement and flux, is due to its entanglement in nature ; or, 
to read the same relation from the other end, nature may be 
the temporal and plural life of the mind. So of each several 
aspect of the mind. Conscience, for instance, has no variety, no 
application, no career, except for its commerce with our ' empiri- 
cal' instincts and desires ; and desire, in turn, has no variety 
nor development, except in the toils of a differentiating organ- 
ism. Very probably, also, conscience splits off from desire 
or desire from conscience on some rock of nature. Hence 
without any assumption as to which of the two, nature or 
mind, is the prime mover in this differentiating process, we 
should naturally look for our principles of synthesis in that 
same region of things which reveals tlie cleavages. Genetic 
surveys have always the advantage of showing the emergence 
of the thing in its * natural' relations in the case of con- 
science, for instance, it will be found in the company of those 
desires and impulses with which it is destined to concern 
itself as regulator. Nature can give no sign of conscience 
except in the midst of its business. We have not first to 
deduce the thing and then its application ; but if we find it at 
all, we shall find the application first and the thing in the 
heart of the application. 

Now to decipher the physical substratum of mind, what we 
most need is a distinction of categories. Not every aspect of 


consciousness is presented in the physical context by a separate 
organ or process ; we must be ready to appeal to the higher 
physical categories, the configurations of organs and processes, 
accelerations of processes, and other differentials and modifi- 
cations of energy. What nature shows us is not simply a 
metaphor of consciousness (and hardly that for its language 
is all but literal), but it shows us a, finished anrrfysis of 
consciousness. We know that whereas in itself pleasure is 
simple, conscience is simple, and nature is simple, the attempt to 
express one in terms of another brings out the subtleties of eiieh ; 
and we shall not expect to find every unitary mental state 
marked out in the body by tangibly colligated physiological 
phenomena. We should be guided much more truly by the 
principle ft&i psychical categories are comjilemc.ntary to physi- 
cal categories. The first aspect of a psychical one will be a 
physical many ; this physical many will have its physical unity 
also, but that unity will not be in the same class of objects 
with the many will be found in physical functions \\hieh 
are the more derivative in proportion as the psychical category 
is more substantial. The unity of the 4 self * may thus be the 
last thing for which the simple physical expression is found 
(no pineal body among other bodies), though that simple 
expression necessarily exists. The processes which belong to a 
self are naturally more widely dispersed and more various than 
those which belong to such imperfect and fragmentary unities 
within a self as ' an experience, 9 ' an idea,' * a pleasure,' etc. In 
the interpretation of the freedom of consciousness we have a 
clear case of the complementary nature of physical and psychi- 
cal categories. The freedom and initiative of consciousness is 
represented in nature by the obedient regularity, sometimes 
called the necessity, of physical sequence. This is the only basis 
upon which the relation of the free spirit to nature can be made 
intelligible. In a machine whose parts have any slack or lost 
motion the eye will discover the origin of pushes and pulls by 
the direction of the slack. But in a machine all of whose con- 
nections are perfect, so that there is not even infinitesimal slack 


in any part, it is impossible for observation to discover whether 
the wheel is pulling the piston or the piston pushing the wheel. 
Nature as a mechanism certainly offers no visible suggestion as 
to the seat of its original impulses ; it simply goes its perfect 
way ; and this alone it is which enables me to accept unreservedly 
the testimony of consciousness that itself is the active and origi- 
nal thing in the world, all else being ultimately passive. With 
this understanding the chief difficulty in all biological accounts 
of conscience is relieved how, namely, out of natural law, 
that is, out of absolute obedience, can come the dictator. It is 
just because nature is the region of perfect obedience that the 
dictator has to fc come out. 5 In all strictness, dictatorship is 
simply the permanent outside of nature ; and nature gives birth 
to conscience as it were, by way of confession. What we see in 
nature is the gradual perfection of the receiving organ, so that 
freedom acquires growing significance as life moves on ; but 
some receiving organ is always there, the regular is the contin- 
uous signature of the free. We have therefore no separate 
place to make in our account of value or conscience for free- 
dom, since it is completely expressed in the character which 
makes nature nature. 

The term 6 idea ' will play the fundamental r61e in the 
theory I have to propose, and it will be desirable to sketch its 
physical interpretation before attempting the farther ques- 
tion of the nature of value-experience. I shall attempt in the 
end to show, through these physical expressions, that values 
and conscience are functions in the life of c ideas,' and to 
point out definitely, in the same language, what these functions 
are. Our disjointed world of facts, appreciations, and duties, 
may then be seen in some intelligible shape and connection on 
a basis other than metaphysical, though at every point the 
shapes of nature are but the intaglio of the spirit. 


If our interpretation of freedom is valid, the fact that any 
given physiological apparatus works 'mechanically' creates 


no presumption that it is unaccompanied by consciousness. 
Consciousness is not introduced into the biological series at 
the point where mechanism fails to meet the needs of adjust- 
ment, because there is no such point. Hence * instincts, 
however truly explained as congeries of simple automatisms of 
tropic character, may at the same time represent some element 
of consciousness. Such an element would necessarily be a 
* universal' or general idea; for the instinct is related not to 
individual objects, but to a type or class of objects, in such 
wise that whatever object affords the proper stimulus releases 
the appropriate action. To consciousness the stimulus would 
appear not as c this individual object ' but rather as * a specimen 
of this kind of thing ' toward which such and such a line of 
action is desirable. 

The repetition of the stimulus would present to conscious- 
ness < another specimen of the same type,' and the similarity 
of response might connect itself for that consciousness with 
some quality common to the two particular objects ; but we 
who look on can see that the identity of the idea lies not 
primarily in any objective characters of the two experiences, 
but rather in something which the organism carries around 
with it, and which exists when there are no ' experiences 9 to 
set off its train of behavior. I wish to show not only that there 
is a biological equivalent for the permanent identity (some- 
times called the ' timelessness ') of the idea, and for the native 
difference between an idea and ' an experience,' but also to 
show that the idea has a more continuous presence in conscious- 
ness than the experiences in which it is subsumed from time 
to time. An idea is in fact never absent from consciousness ; 
the prevalent belief that it vanishes and reappears is a con- 
fusion between the idea and the experience. Recognitions of 
objects are intermittent ; but our ideas, it should be evident, 
are not what we think o/J they are what we think with. Now 
whatever else the unity of a consciousness may mean, it also 
means that there is no isolated action of ideas, but that I 
think with all of them at once in each moment, though the 


* bearing' of any given idea upon any given experience may 
be very remote. 

But beside the ideas that correspond to instincts, that is, to 
the various modes of regular, quasi-official dealing with objects, 
there is a set of ideas of a different sort, which I may call the 
field-ideas, such as the idea of extension, or of the physical 
continuum, or of a particular friendship, or that important 
symbolic idea 'the whole of things.' These do not correspond 
to any outlinable instincts ; their biological expression must 
be sought elsewhere. But inasmuch as the field-ideas develop 
in close concomitance with the development of the instincts, the 
nature of the biological expression may appear by considering 
the interaction of instinct-ideas in the course of evolution. 

The evolution of ideas in its most general biological char- 
acter may be summarized as a matter of the bala?icing of in- 
stincts that is, of the emergence of * secondaiy ' or counter- 
instincts, which act together with the ' primary ' instincts as 
more general instincts than either alone. Such a pair will be 
represented in consciousness by a more general idea. Now we 
have to note that every time one instinct has been balanced 
by another, consciousness has acquired not only a new type 
or class of objects, but also an idea of much greater scope 
than that corresponding to either of the two instincts separ- 
ately. Just as my present impulse cannot be checked by the 
suggestion of something future without making me aware not 
merely of the two points in time, but more or less dimly of 
the stretch of time between ; so the generalized habit of modify- 
ing the present impulse by the consideration of future contin- 
gencies cannot be established without making the idea of the 
time-field a correspondingly firm element of my conscious 
vista. So in proportion as I learn to modify my reflex upon 
what is here by the suggestion of what is not here, the idea 
of space becomes a mastered range of mental vision. The 
logic of the process is this ; that whenever an x meets its non-05, 
x having been my largest class, the two can coexist in the same 
mind only as parts of some * universe of discourse ' whose scope 


will in general be very much greater than x. The develop- 
ment of an inhibitory instinct, therefore, can never mean the 
setting of one suggestion against another simply, but it means 
opening a whole field of possible variations where before there 
was but one fixed line. This whole process of balancing 
instincts, impulses, suggestions and associations means that the 
mental range is becoming more complete. Man's peculiarity 
in biological terms is his extraordinary balance throughout 
his being he stands on two feet. It is this same peculiarity 
which in psychical terms is expressed in his extraordinary 
capacity for gripping large totals, and at last for coming to use 
the category * the whole.' The use of this category is reason, 1 
Now any one of these vista- or field-ideas, as we may call them, 
varies greatly in vividness. This vividness will be a function 
of the intensity of the co-impulse and also of the intensity of 
the non-x suggestion. The consciousness of time, for instance, 
is made vivid "by the conflict between the claims of a pungent 
present and a pungent future. Let me suggest that a vivid 
representation of a future moment and therewith of the time- 
field, whether voluntary or resultant, stands for an expendi- 
ture of actual physical energy; and that the continuous and 
easy presence of future and past to our vision represents a 
high level of potential energy in the nervous elements con- 
cerned. In general, I would propose that the extent of the 
ideal-whole in whose presence a conscious being lives and to 
which he adjusts his action is biologically represented by the 
potential energy of the nervous centers. 


The earliest and simplest instincts seem to be of such sort 
that the c perception ' of the stimulus and the 'gratification ' of 

1 The effect of the counter-instinct in developing a field-idea shows 
itself in the phenomenon of hesitation. Now the resultant of two instincts- 
is just as determinate as the action of one. Hesitation means not that 
two possibilities interact, but that a range of possibilities has to be run 
over as a relatively independent object. Man's fitness for reason ia 
concomitant with his pre-eminent fitness for hesitation. 


the instinct are one and the same process. Dealing with its 
object either by contact or by immediate reaction the subsump- 
tion of the general idea is the satisfaction. Despite the 
immense veiling of the phenomena of pleasure and pain by 
the complexities of development, the profuse demarcation of 
states of consciousness as 4 ideas ' which are neither instinct- 
ideas nor field-ideas but perhaps fragments thereof, I believe 
it can be shown that all pleasure is still of the nature either 
of subsumption (wherein an idea, or a conceptual whole, is 
applied to one of its instances) or of induction (wherein some 
instance or group of instances are provided with a conceptual 
whole which covers them). The joy of making a successful 
induction and the satisfaction which a child takes in applying 
a new word, are typical of all our positive values. 

I cannot here make attempt to cover the field of value- 
experience, nor to account for all the well-known anomalies of 
our feelings of pleasure and pain. I shall review simply in 
very rough outline a series of phenomena which seem to 
me fundamental in the sense that any theory which will explain 
them will explain the rest in the long run. 

1. Pleasures connected immediately with the senses and 
with the several physiological functions have their marked 
rhythmic intervals ; and the longer the period of intermittency, 
the greater, in general, the volume of the pleasure (Spencer). 
This dimension of pleasure seems to be a function of the nutri- 
tion of the organs concerned. 

2* Pleasure is itself a destructive and exhausting process. 
This is a natural inference from (1), Pleasure heightens 
life that is, it quickens expense ; it draws living to a focus 
as a flame creates its own draught. The intensity of a pleas- 
ure varies directly with the rate of destructive metabolism. 

Pleasure may ' accompany states in which the organism is 
being built up' (Eoyce, and many others) ; but the process of 
building up is incidental to the pleasure itself, a biologically 
fortunate incident indeed, but having no representation in con- 
sciousness. The actual succoring of the organism occurs later 


in time than the pleasure and affects first of all parts quite 
different from those concerned in the pleasure. In the long 
run pleasure is normally profitable to the organism ; it usually 
accompanies only such expense as the body is happy to restore ; 
the drain affects primarily funds which have been appropria- 
ted for that particular purpose ; and these circumstances have 
something to do with differentiating pleasurable expense from 
painful expense. But per se, pleasure is a drain. 

This is a clear instance of the complementary relation 
between physical and psychical categories above noticed. As 
an experience, pleasure is indeed a filling up of the cup, the 
supplying of a need. And the deeper the draft upon vital 
resources, the greater the fulfilment of desire. This holds 
true to the limit. Only that delight can ultimately satisfy 
and fill the soul which drains the body to the point of 
death. Indeed, all joy is akin to death; the fortunate drone 
unites with the queen, and dies a rapport symbolic of 
all pleasure. 

It is, in part, confusion between these inverse psychical and 
physical categories which has misled so many of the best 
observers into the belief that pleasure is a psychical accom- 
paniment of physiological construction. It is extremely doubt- 
ful whether such construction enters into consciousness at all. 

3. It follows from (2) that the expense in pleasure is not 
confined to the organ immediately concerned with the object 
which is the occasion of the pleasure. To a certain degree, 
change of object will renew pleasure, and variety of object 
preserve it ; but there is evidently a common store which every 
pleasure draws upon, independent of the particular organ or 
object. A person thoroughly exhausted in one joy is ready 
to enjoy nothing else but Nirvana. 

4. The quality, 'pleasure,' is a function neither of the 
special nor of the general exhausting process alone, but of some 
relation between them. Pleasure is at the same time a central 
and a peripheral experience. 

In psychical language, pleasure requires attention. The 


physiological design of consciousness must be one of concen- 
tration. However wide the range of a person's affairs his 
whole interest must be recalled to the simplest experience he 
would enjoy* The process of * becoming absorbed,' let us say 
in music, is at first a conflict with the inertia of other trends 
of interest : they must all fall into line at last. The inten* 
sity of the pleasure depends upon the perfection of the focus, 
that is, upon the absence of competition among objects of 
attention. The person is all in the pleasure^ no matter if it 
be a * mere ' sensation. 

5. But if it is important for the perfection of the experience 
that other interests cease to compete, it is equally important 
that they continue to exist. The quantity of the pleasure 
depends on the completeness of the recall, but it also depends 
on the presence of interests to be recalled. Pleasure is a func- 
tion not simply of the fact of focus, but also of the amount of 
stuff concerned in the focusing. In this respect, different 
pleasures, so far from being competitive, depend each one on 
the existence of the others to give them magnitude : every pleas- 
ure has one dimension which varies directly with the number 
of instincts, or desires of possible kinds of pleasure and not 
simply with the degree of differentiation, but with the ground 
covered by the differentiated interests, that is, with the range 
of the objects. In other words, pleasure is a function, among 
other things, of the idea-horizon ; any given pleasure echoes 
into the whole cavern of a self, and varies in quantity with the 
volume and resonance of that cavern. Even within the career 
of a single pleasure it is noticeable that as absorption becomes 
complete and the circumference of the circle of consciousness 
begins to contract, the pleasure has passed its culmination, and 
will tend to zero until the interruption of another object of 
attention dissipates it, 

AH this points to the hypothesis that in all pleasure our 
* field-ideas' arc at work (not as thoxight of, but as thinking). 
The ' circumference of consciousness ' is a variable which cor- 
responds exactly to those changes in the v: vidness of the fielcU 


ideas which we supposed to represent a certain tension or poten- 
tial in the centers. And this tension, we said, was in turn a 
function of the competition of impulses. For example, the 
extension of time-vista both toward and backward which 
marked the earliest economic advances of mankind, is concom- 
itant with the growing possibility of inhibiting a present 
impulse by the idea of a future value. The continuous sub- 
jection of impulse to the consent of all the possibilities in a 
time-field means indeed an interference with pleasure in the 
sense that each claimant for attention has to struggle for pos- 
session ; but it means that every object which gains this atten- 
tion is the source of a pleasiire whose value is greater than 
that of an undisputed enjoyment of the same object in propor- 
tion to the enhancement of the time-idea. In physical lan- 
guage, every increase of the potential energy of the centers 
increases all conscious values in the same proportion. 

"What the physiological processes are which play themselves 
off in the actual business of enjoyment, I can here do no more 
than hint. All pleasure is rhythmic and tends to self -main- 
tenance. A mood,ior example, which is a value-experience on 
a somewhat roomy and deliberate scale, becomes pleasurable in 
proportion as it learns the arts of life, as melancholy feeds and 
reproduces itself from node to node of its rhythm. The quality we 
call 4 pleasure ' is deeply connected with this formal character 
of the processes involved (a character which makes of them pre- 
cisely what the mathematicians mean by a * group '). On the 
conscious side, it will be evident by a little observation, that 
the change which occurs when a trying experience after repe- 
tition becomes pleasurable, may be described as the acquisition 
of an idea under which each element of the experience is 
snbsumable as it rises. When for instance anxiety in a given 
situation gives way to confidence, we have acquired on the 
intelleotual side, vista, and on the practical side a readiness to 
meet with appropriate action whatever type of event may arise 
in the course of the experience. So with a mood : it is impli- 
citly a Weltanschauung, and it lives by the process of corrob- 


orating its theory of things in the events that pass its focus , 
in this commerce of its idea with the instances of life lies its 
satisfaction, be it a gloom or a glory. I propose that the same 
is true of organic pleasures. In them, nature has embodied 
in structure the idea concerned ; she has solved the problem 
of that particular evil for us (for doubtless all the destruc- 
tion which is at the heart of consciousness is an organic prob- 
lem) ; and the idea she uses will be most difficult to drag into 
the foreground of vision. But that the idea is present in phys- 
iological concentration, and can in time be read, no one who 
follows the spiritual progeny of any instinct can question. 

My thesis then is simply this : that all pleasure is essentially 
a process of intercourse between an idea and its instance. 
The field-ideas of any consciousness will be concerned in all of 
its pleasures ; and each of these pleasures will have as one of 
its dimensions a quantity which varies with the effective range 
of its total field, or, biologically speaking, with the potential 
energy of the centers. 


Since Spencer, much has been done by way of distinguishing 
conscience from those types of inhibition which more or less 
closely resemble ib and ally themselves with it. The work of 
describing psychologically the unique characters of conscience 
is in the nature of the case always unfinished ; but it will be 
sufficient for our purposes if, by way of a phenomenology of 
conscience, we may make clear the separation between con- 
science itself and the load which conscience carries or adopts. 

The load is the relatively changeable aspect of conscience. 
Every individual in the course of his career makes numerous 
changes in the points of scruple which constitute the burden 
or application of his conscience ; the race has done the same 
thing on far greater scale. Perhaps the first burden and 
certainly the most permanent protges of conscience are the 
* secondary instincts ' but they are not conscience. This 
load makes use of all accessible means of support : pains, 


punishments, associations of approval and disapproval, and all 
the well-known instruments of social propagation, so that in 
the contents of conscience as we find it in ourselves there are 
motives traceable not only to our own education and experi- 
ence but to every stage of our historic and phylogenetic jour- 
ney, motives in which the aspirations of the Orient, or even 
the sorrows of those remote pre-moral ancestors whom Spencer 
invokes, are among the comparatively recent relics. But all 
this is something other than conscience. No theory indeed 
is complete which does not explain the circumstance, remark- 
able enough in itself, that conscience has the capacity of ally- 
ing itself with all this material that it is able so early in 
human history to lend effective support to a struggling 
secondary instinct, and to turn the natural disadvantage of 
the remote consideration into some sort of equivalent chance 
for survival. But the first point is to distinguish the thing 
itself from all its adoptions ; and I shall resume very sum* 
marily what seem to me the most significant points in that 

1. Conscience has nothing to do primarily with the way 
we feel about any specifiable kinds of action. For it is 
a more central affair than can be described in terms of a 
connection between types of action and such elements of 
experience as might adhere, by association, etc., directly to 
these types, 

Nothing is more astonishing in the earliest history of the 
moral motive than the speed with which it shakes free from 
peripheral lines of association and becomes an organic attitude 
to action in general, which it requires some use of subsuming 
intelligence to apply to particular kinds of action* The func- 
tion of those third parties to the moral situation which appear 
so early in moral development the alleged first ancestor, 
the totem, the lawgiver, etc. is primarily that of supporting 
conscience in this central position, the position, that is, of 
relative independence of the 'types of action' and thereby of 
more or less freely variable application to them. Psychologi- 


cally expressed, the thought of an action has to pass through 
the thought of this third party, with the regime he repre- 
sents, before that action or kind of action is considered 
right or wrong. 

2. The painful quality which we attribute to the motive 
side of conscience is also a part of its load ; that is, it is adven- 
titious. Conscience is necessarily painful only in so far as 
all hesitation, or the halting of immediate satisfaction, is pain- 
ful. Whatever traces and suggestions of past pains and 
punishments conscience bears with it must be referred to its 
accretions, not to its nature. The sort of check which 
conscience imposes upon action is more nearly like that which 
some inarticulate presentiment of a greater good might impose 
upon a definable good. But strictly speaking, conscience has 
nothing to do with represented pleasures any more than with 
represented pains, nor with any represented utilities of an 
inheritable sort, as will appear from the following. 

3. Conscience resembles the aesthetic consciousness in being 
a continuous source of new requirements, not traceable to any 
lessons * of previous experience. If it were the record in us 
of experiences of any sort already finished and organically 
digested it would tend to fading rather than to finesse. But 
nothing more than conscience is subject to explorative origi- 
nation, and to the sport of virtuososliip. 

The theory of the biological aspect of conscience which 1 
have now to propose is simple. It depends upon the theory 
of ideas and values already developed, and needs but one 
further preliminary, the proposition, namely, that anyjfeft 
in consciousness is, or may become, itself an object of or factor 
in consciousness. 

Just as we have impressions not only of distinct statio 
objects, as stones and trees, but also of processes, as dawning 
or waning of light; so we have awareness not alone of high 
spirits and low spirits, but also of the rise and fall of spirits, 
if these changes are sufficiently rapid ; so also, of the flux of 
vigor, of the loosening of attention, etc., sometimes even 


of waking or falling asleep* I presume that every flux in 
consciousness is in some measure an object of consciousness, 
for consciousness is by definition, 'that region in which 
appearance and reality coincide ' ; though it may well be that 
few fluxes are separately registered and noted. 

Now if our theory of values is sound, the most significant 
of all fluxes in any consciousness for the integrity of its values 
would be a flux in the effective range of its field-ideas ; for we 
proposed that the field-ideas were factors in every particular 
experience of value. Physically, every pleasure has for one 
of its factors a coefficient of potential tension in the centers ; 
and the potential capacity of these centers has been very grad- 
ually extended as instincts have balanced each other, the most 
sensitive index of this growth being the range of effective 
bearing of our field-ideas upon the immediate business of 
living. Any act which rejects the bearing, let us say of the 
future upon the present, wilfully obscuring the time-vista and 
tending to diminish its efficiency in consciousness, will strike 
a blow at the degree of all values in that consciousness. It 
will do so, moreover, in a way of which the agent can at the 
time have no inkling. 

Conscience, I believe, is the perception of this differential; 
that is, on the physical side, it is a recognition of the flux, 
real or virtual, of potential capacity in the nervous centers ; 
on the side of consciousness, it is a sense of flux in the valid 
bearing, or efficiency, of my field-ideas. Or, since all field- 
ideas in the same consciousness must come, as we have said, 
to an understanding with each other, so that they act as parts 
of a single field which we may symbolize abstractly as ' the 
whole,' conscience may be described simply as the perception 
of flux in the awareness of the whole. 

In this description the word perception is open to valid 
objection, inasmuch as the consciousness which is experiencing 
the flux in question does not interpret its experience in terms 
of any such flux. The change which affects ' ideas/ conscious- 
ness always tries to interpret as a change in * experiences/ 


referring its uneasiness to the agency of mysterious objects, 
the ' third parties ' above mentioned. It would perhaps be 
better to say not that the flux is * perceived," but that this 
actual flux has become a separately effective agent in con- 
sciousness, leaving undetermined how consciousness, in its 
more or less bedevilled efforts to construe to itself what is 
happening, shall report these effects. On the biological side 
the language seems to me sufficiently precise. I make no 
attempt to portray to my mind the ultimate physical occur- 
rences an attempt which would be presumptuous with far 
more knowledge of these processes than I can boast : I am 
content to state what I believe to be the true genus of the 
event itself. To say that we are aware of a thing, is to say, 
biologically, that the representative of the thing is doing some 
work within. The work which conscience does, we thought 
to be inhibitive in character. Now wherever there are field- 
ideas at all, there are fluxes of field-ideas as a matter of course : 
but conscience "begins when thisfluw begins to be itself effeo* 
tive, through whatever apparatus. Biologically, therefore, we 
may say that the * recognition ' of the flux above described 
consists in a resistance to a negative flux wherein the capacity 
of the centers is diminished. The biological equivalent of 
conscience is : A resistance to any tendency/ to diminish the 
potential capacity of the nervous centers. If this supposition 
is valid, it should at least accord with the phenomena of 
conscience which we have brought forward. 

It is evident that conscience would from the start be inde- 
pendent of external expeiiences associated with any special 
* types of action.' Conscience would work just as decisively 
in inhibiting an action which threatened our field-integrity in 
an entirely new and unheard-of way, as it would in the case 
of a thoroughly conventional mode of offence perhaps better. 
But any external sign of disapproval upon an action undesir- 
able in this intimate way would add its definite c no ' to the 
less definite 4 no * of conscience ; and any considerable group 
of such tangible corroborations of conscience would form a 


body of fusions which even to skilled psychological observe 
tion, if it were of the prevalent point-blank variety, would 
defy analysis. Conscience pure and simple is distinguishable 
only in its work of initiative and variation. 

And we can see further how conscience would have an 
aesthetic and super-useful character. As a sense for a differ- 
ential, it would vary with powers of discrimination ; it would be 
a function of 'fineness of fiber.' It is entirely conceivable 
that a prodigy of conscience should appear in the midst of a 
relatively rough-shod community, which could not be the case 
if conscience were the vanishing echo of an already fixed 
racial inheritance. But while conscience outstrips utility, it is 
not hard to see that it would tend to be useful. For the field- 
ideas are but signs of the adequacy with which consciousness 
presents to itself its world. Conscience at any time stands 
for a superabundance of adaptation. But, as in many other 
cases, nature has had to adapt herself generously because 
there was no way whereby she could adapt just enough and 
no more. 

Finally, we can see that as it would be impossible for early 
man to discover the nature of the evil that threatened him in 
his troubles of conscience, so it would be impossible for him 
to express it accurately in terms of any known good. Its 
voice in him, until he seized upon the sticks and straws of 
* empirical' corroborations, would be chiefly that of inarticu- 
late resistance, a check which gave no clear reason for its 
presence, a categorical imperative or forbiddal. But in so 
far as he tried to make plain to himself the uneasiness at his 
center he would have to connect it with the widest objects of 
his Weltanschauung his future, his ancestors, and his spir- 
its. For these remotest objects are only the outpost stakes 
which we have set as marks of the widest total mental ranges 
we have thus far conquered. The sense of duty as a strain 
indicates that the range of 4 the whole ' is being enlarged. 
The sense of pleasure which at length displaces duty in that 
same type of action may mean that this degree of totality is 


now secure. But unless we suppose that a man's mind can 
reach a complete adequacy of view, the sense of duty can 
never, as Spencer suggests, be expected to disappear. 

The final test of any such theory as this will be found in its 
ability to explain the history of the evolution of conscience. 
This immense task must be reserved. What I have here 
aimed to do has been accomplished to show the natural 
relations of ideas, values, and duties, through the medium 
of their common biological context. 



IF it has been the fault of realism to give the object of 
knowledge an independence which makes it meaningless, 
it can be no sufficient ground for idealism as a positive doc- 
trine to refute a meaningless independence. It is not enough 
to bring forward the ever-ready "Ich denke, welches aUe 
meine Vorstellungen begleiten kann," or Royee's " Ich will, 
welches alle meine Vorstellungen einnehmen kann." For while 
the idealist may say, after the mathematician's fashion : c Give 
me any object, however independent, and I will show you an 
ich-denke, or an ich-will, which can take it in,' the realist may 
always rightly reply: 'Give me any ieh-denke, or ich-will, 
however capacious, and I will show you an object whose being 
is independent of that very thought.' 

For it is an act of reflection which discovers the ich-denke 
as including the object ; and by reflection upon your reflec- 
tion you rediscover the primitive relation of externality between 
your mind and its objects: you are unable to make an idea 
of your idea except by recognizing something which is not 
that idea. 

Now philosophy can have no permanent interest in a game 
of who shall speak last. While if we decide the matter by 
enquiring who has spoken first, the realist carries the day: the 
' first intention ' of the mind is that it deals with objects inde- 
pendent of its own thought for their being. And no matter 
how successful you may be in showing what interest the sub- 
ject may have in the objects which it finds, this interest is so 

1 Reprinted in part from an article published in The Philosophical 
Beview, Vol. xix, No. 3, May, 1910, under the title, "How Ideas reach 


far secondary r , in respect to the existence of the independent 
objects, that it would be precisely the same interest were 
the objects as different as can be imagined. Your * ich-will * 
has no power to determine what the objects shall be ; it assumes 
that they are there to be accepted. 

That the original and naive attitude of the mind to its 
objects requires to be interpreted, we must assert with ideal- 
ism. But it seems clear to me from considerations like the 
foregoing, that the interpretation cannot be so readily found 
as by taking the object up bodily into the subject through 
the reflective turn so typical of idealistic reasoning. The 
idealist reflection shows successfully that nothing can be real 
for us in which it is not possible to trace the mark of ourselves 
and of our interests. But this always leaves it possible 
that the same objects may bear other marks at the same time ; 
and that these other marks are the defining characters of 
their objectivity. 

The whole life of knowledge can best be understood, I 
believe, as an intercourse between the self and an independent 
reality. An analysis of cognitive experience should show 
what this means, and how idealism in extending the Lam to the 
entire scope of the I-think is rendering meaningless the con- 
ception of selfhood. Knowledge implies a complete breach, 
at some point or region, in the wall of the self. Let us 
consider whether any such region can be defined. 

There are reasons for looking for such a region first within 
physical experience. Some of these reasons have recently been 
put forward by M. Bergson. Largely the same reasons were 
touched upon by Kant, whose uneasiness about empirical ideal- 
ism came in part from the same quarter ; and it may not be amiss 
to recall briefly these familiar considerations. The entire 
weight of our judgment of Wirklichkeit, Kant asserts, hangs 
upon Waltrnehmung. 1 We may make to ourselves concep- 
tions as we please of things according to the categories (for 
1 Postulate des empirisohen Denkens uberhaupt. 


instance, of things so related that the condition of one thing 
carries with it a definite condition of the other things) ; but 
from these conceptions we can never know what actual things 
stand in that relation, nor can we understand how they can 
be so related, until we refer to physical experience. 1 Of our 
knowledge of change, a strong point with M. Bergson, Kant 
says, that in order to represent to ourselves Veranderung, 
we are obliged to make use of Bewegung, or change in space, 
for an illustration : without this we cannot make even the gen- 
eral meaning of change clear to ourselves, for it is something 
whose possibility is quite beyond the grasp of the 'pure 
understanding.' 2 In sum : however much a priori knowledge 
may be possible, we have actually no working ideas at all 
without " Wahrnehmung, mithin Empfindung " ; and this 
click of sensation is required to give the note of reality to any 
part of the system of experience, categories and all. 

But as with idealists generally, so with Kant : while we hear 
him speaking boldly about 6 external reality ' in quite realistic 
vein, we have always to expect from him the annulling stroke, 
" Yes but what do you mean by external reality ? " Kant 
has not failed to express himself on this point, most radically 
of course in the " Widerlegung des Idealismus." The reality 
which we know in physical experience, he says in effect, is 
outer, not only in the two senses commonly accepted by idealism, 

1 The following sentences from the Allgemeine Anmerkungen zum 
System der Grundsatze are noteworthy, partly because of the use of the 
expression, ( objective Realitat ' instead of ' Wirklichkeit,' and partly 
because Kant is speaking of the reality not simply of individual things 
but of the categories themselves that is, of things as conceived: " Es ist 
etwas sehr Bemerkungswurdiges, dass wir die Moglichkeit keines Dinges 
nachderblossenCategorie einsehen konnen, sondern immereine Anschau- 
ung bei der Hand haben miissen, um an derselben die objective ReaKtiit 
desreinenVerstandesbegrinrs darzulegen. .