DEFINITIONS OF DUALISM
by Paul Elmer More
ITHE life of man consists of impulses which spring from the coming together of inner desires and outer impressions. By the word desires is here not meant the intelligent want of a definite object, but the mere outreaching of vital energy. Desires and impressions, so far as our knowledge attains, cannot exist independently, that is to say, there can be no living organism without the constant interaction of an inner vital energy and an enveloping world. Impulses tend to pass into mental and physical activities, of the latter of which many belong to our animal functions and scarcely reach to the senses. Mental activities react in the form of new desires, physical activities in the form of new impressions. Certain activities are beneficial to our organization, others are detrimental. The sum of desires and impressions we call the great self-moving, incessant flux.
IIBeside the flux of life there is also that within man which displays itself intermittently as an inhibition upon this or that impulse, preventing its prolongation in activity, and making a pause or eddy, so to speak, in the stream. This negation of the flux we call the inner check. It is not the mere blocking of one impulse by another, which is a quality of the confusion of the flux itself, but a restraint upon the flux exercised by a force contrary to it.
IIIIn the repeated exercise of the inner check we are conscious of two elements of our being - the inner check itself and the stream of impulses - as coexistent and cooperative, yet essentially irreconcilable, forces. What, if anything, lies behind the inner check, what it is, why and how it acts or neglects to act, we cannot express in rational terms. Of the ultimate source of desires and impressions, and of the relation of the resulting flux of impulses to the inner check in that union which we call ourselves, we are darkly ignorant. These are the final elements of self-knowledge - on the one hand multiplicity of impulses, on the other hand unity and cupiditatum oblivio, alta rerum quies. Consciousness, the more deeply we look into ourselves, tells us that we are ceaselessly changing, yet tells us also that we are ever the same. This dualism of consciousness, it seems, is the last irrational fact, the report behind which we cannot go, the decision against which there is no appeal, the reality which only stands out the more clearly the more it is questioned. If a man denies this dualism of consciousness there is no argument with him, but a fundamental difference of intuition which will follow into every view of philosophy and criticism.
IVThe attempt to resolve the irrational paradox by asserting that there is an absolute consciousness which embraces the two elements of a lower consciousness can only fall into endless regression. Thus, let A and B represent the two elements of consciousness. If a man asserts that there is a third element, C, which is conscious of A and B as mere aspects of one and the same mental activity, then for the original dualism he establishes a new-dualism in which C is one element while A and B together form the other element. And so on without end. The difficulty arises here from attempting to treat the so-called self-knowledge of consciousness as if it were the same intellectual process as knowledge which requires a subject and an object, a knower and a thing known, or, in our mental life, a present and a past. We do not know the flux by the inner check, or the inner check by the flux, or either of these by some other element of our being, but we are immediately and inexplicably conscious of both at once - we are both at once.
VReason, which is our instrument of analysis and definition, is itself an organ of the flux. In endeavouring, therefore, to define the element of our being contrary to its sphere, it can only employ terms which express difference from the qualities of the flux and which must end in pure negation. Thus, in the language of philosophy, absolute unity, or sameness, is merely the complete negation of variety, and conveys no positive meaning; immutability, the negation of change; rest, the negation of motion; eternity, the negation of time; infinity, the negation of all our experience. The error of the reason is to deny the existence of this absolute element because it must be defined in terms of negation. By the use of the term inner check, we accept the inability of the reason to define positively this element of our being, but imply also that it may be the cause of quite positive and definable effects within the flux.
VIAs one impulse is checked, some other impulse may come to the surface and may be permitted to pass into activity. The inner check has thus the semblance of an act of attention or choice. Attention, nevertheless, must not be confused with the inner check, which is essentially, in so far as it can be expressed in rational terms, a pure inhibition, having the absence of variety and change which belongs only to absolute negation. Attention is the name of the immediate effect of the inner check in the positive sphere of activities, the last point to which rational analysis and emotional appeal can apply. There is thus in the admonition to attend, that is, deliberately to stay the flux of impulses and exercise an act of choice in activity, an irreducible paradox, similar to the mystery in religion which calls a man to repent yet teaches that repentance is the work of divine grace.
VIIFeeling is the consciousness of an increase or decrease in the free play of the desires.
VIIIIn pleasure we feel an enlargement of life. Pleasure has two moments:- the coming together of accordant impressions and desires, and, further, the unobstructed passage of the resulting impulse into activity. In pain, using the word broadly as the contrary of pleasure, we feel a diminution of life. Pain also has two moments:- the coming together of discordant impressions and desires, or the obstruction of any impulse from passing into activity. A detrimental activity may be immediately pleasurable, yet will result in pain, since its effect at the last is to react in impressions that are in disaccord with our desires.
IXHappiness is the feeling that accompanies the governing of our impulses by the inner check. Repentance and remorse are the feelings that accompany the insufficient exercise of the inner check. Happiness, when it means obstruction to a detrimental impulse, may be associated with, or preceded by, some degree of pain; it is associated with pleasure when free course is permitted to a beneficial impulse. In the end happiness and pleasure tend to concur. Repentance and remorse are transitional feelings, the one tending to pass into happiness, the other into the settled gloom of misery.
XPleasure and pain, which belong entirely to the flux, remorse and misery, which belong predominantly to the flux, bring with them a sense of our life as diverse from other lives; these are the personal feelings, and the sum, or resultant, of them is personality. Happiness and repentance, on the contrary, tend to a sense of our life as free from such isolating qualities; these are the impersonal feelings, and the sum, or resultant, of them is the image in the flux, as it were, of the spirit, or so-called higher Self. It is the part of wisdom to distinguish between what is personal and what is impersonal.
XIThe emotions are the feelings of pleasure and pain modified by the complex activities of the mind. They are accompanied by instinctive physical motions and perturbations, and on examination seem to be more or less clearly localized in the body. The cardinal emotions may be arranged thus in the scale of personality:- joy and grief, hope and fear, complacence and anger, love and hatred, vanity and shame, pride and debasement. Joy is the emotion that attends the reflexion on the possession of a particular pleasure or on the cessation of a particular pain, grief the contrary; hope is the expectation of joy, fear the contrary; complacence is the sense that another person is the cause of joy, anger the contrary; love (in a restricted definition) is the sense that another person is the cause of hope, hatred the contrary; vanity is the sense that another person feels our superiority in the particular emotions, shame the sense that another person feels our inferiority in the particular emotions; pride is the independent sense of our superiority, debasement the independent sense of our inferiority. Vanity and pride, shame and debasement, are thus connected with our personal feelings as a whole, and are the main factors of personality. It needs often the most delicate judgement to discriminate between these personal emotions and their impersonal counterparts, to distinguish vanity and pride from the self-approval of happiness, shame and debasement from the humility of repentance. In common usage the distinction between these words is often ignored.
XIIThe various aspects of mental activity we may, without implication of the meaning conveyed in the so-called facultative psychology, designate the faculties of memory, reason, and imagination. These faculties we can in a way define and distinguish, but their essential nature and their relation to one another are probably as impenetrable as self-knowledge itself. Every process of mental activity appears to implicate all the faculties together, but with varying degrees of emphasis. It may be surmised, but only surmised, that in some way the faculties themselves have been created by the action of a force within the flux obedient to the inner check, and that the regularity of their function depends on the fulness of the control of this check.
XIIIMemory is the faculty by which we retain the effects of activities as the potential source of other activities. The sum of these dormant activities constitutes experience, or the data of life.
XIVThe inner check allows to memory the opportunity to balance a present impulse with the impulses of experience. Thus a man has a certain impulse which results in activity. The detrimental or beneficial effect of this activity remains dormant in experience. If, when a similar impulse arises within him, he attends and opposes a momentary check to the passing of this impulse into activity, the memory of the former effect may produce a confirming or a contradictory impulse. In this way beneficial impulses are strengthened, detrimental impulses are weakened. It is probable that the whole of life is in some manner retained passively in the memory of every man. But the readiness of memory in choosing and awakening impulses from its supply varies with individual men. Not the scope only, but the selective activity of memory in response to the opportunities afforded by the inner check, measures the fulness and richness of life.
XVTradition is the experience of society. It is stored up for use by what may be called the objective memory. The chief function of education is to transfer the wealth of a selective tradition from society to the individual.
XVIBy memory the diversity of the flux becomes to us succession in time. The concrete emotion of passing time seems to spring from a divergence between the inner and the outer flux; and there is a regular association of this emotion with personality. In pain, when the impressions intrude harshly upon us, we feel strongly both our personality and the lapse of time. In pleasure, when our portion of the flux is dominant, personality is strong, but we are scarcely aware of time except as pleasure is interrupted by fear for its continuance. In happiness, as personality tends to be absorbed in the consciousness of the higher Self, so the sense of time is lost in a consciousness of duration without succession which is akin at once to time and timelessness. The abstract activity of the faculty of memory gives us the conception of pure time.
XVIIReason is the faculty of discretion by which we perceive sameness and difference. Its effect is to break up the flowing datum of experience into units. By the perception of sameness it combines these units in larger and more comprehensive conceptions; by the perception of difference in smaller and less comprehensive conceptions. Its law is the exclusion of contradictories; that is to say, it holds that if two things are totally different they can have no bond of sameness. It may be designated in accordance with the material in which it works as objective or subjective.
XVIIIImagination is the faculty which sensualizes the data of experience apart from ourselves as separate existences. It runs parallel with the reason, and like the reason may be designated in accordance with the material in which it works as objective or subjective.
XIXThe objective reason deals, not with the whole field of experience, but with the impulses that arise under the immediate impact of impressions from the outer world, by its perception of sameness and difference conceiving this material as more or less comprehensive units. The objective imagination projects this material into the void as discrete phenomena. These phenomena are seemingly, but not really, made up of the pure matter of impressions, unconnected with our desires; of the actual outer world from which our impressions flow we can have no unmixed knowledge.
XXBy the abstract activity of the objective reason we get the conception of number. By the objective imagination we get the conception of pure space. The simultaneous activity of reason and imagination gives us the conception of specific extension. Time and extension together give us the conception of pure motion. The formulation of these abstract conceptions is pure mathematics.
XXIThe sum of phenomena is nature. As the material out of which phenomena are formed reaches the faculties through the various senses, or organs of perception, our knowledge of nature is conditioned by the activity of these bodily organs and is subject to distortion by their irregular activity. Knowledge of a particular phenomenon is reckoned accurate in so far as it fits in with our knowledge of other phenomena, and in so far as this general knowledge fits in with the knowledge reported by other persons.
XXIIScience, primarily, is the systematic accumulation of accurate knowledge. Secondarily, it is the endeavour to express the conditioned knowledge of the senses in the abstract conceptions of the faculties. There is a regular gradation of the sciences as they deal with the more complicated aspects of experience, and the margin of facts unamenable to abstract law increases with the complexity of the material. Each science, therefore, attempts to find the expression of its law in terms of the simpler science below it. Thus, by a series of approximations, history as a science tries to find its law in sociology, sociology in psychology, psychology in biology, biology in chemistry, chemistry in physics. Physics reduces phenomena to the simplest and most constant form of perception, considering them as concrete extension (mass) and concrete motion (motion, as change of mass in position). In attempting to express these physical perceptions in the abstract formulae of mathematics there may be convenience, but there is no real addition to scientific knowledge. Between mathematics and physics stands the concrete reality of energy or the impact of the impressions as received through the senses. We have then this baffling paradox: there is no pure science but mathematics, and mathematics is not a science since it has no content of knowledge.
XXIIIWhatever is recognized as remaining in the self after the separation of the phenomena of nature is called the soul. The body belongs to nature, but it is distinguished by its special association with an individual soul. The relation of corporeal to mental activity as cause, consequence, or parallel existence is profoundly obscure. The soul and the body form together what we call our organization. Perception of this external dualism of soul and body often tends to supplant that of the true inner dualism of consciousness. It may have value as a symbolic expression of the inner dualism, in so far as the body by means of the organs of perception is the instrument by which the inner flux and the outer flux are united to form our impulsive life, and is thus set apart from the inner check. The word nature may be applied specifically to the sum of phenomena exclusive of the living body of the man himself.
XXIVThe subjective reason deals with the whole material of experience, including both the immediate impulses and their train of reactions in our mental life. Its material is thus dominated not by outer impressions, as is the material out of which natural phenomena are formed, but by inner desires. By its means we conceive our mental activities as discrete quantities and the mind itself as a discrete unit. The abstract activity of the subjective reason gives us the principles of logic. The subjective imagination is the use of the faculty by which we project our complex inner experience into nature as existences apart from the soul. The abstract activity of the subjective imagination gives us the idea of creation.
XXVWhen by the objective imagination nature has been set apart from ourselves, the subjective imagination may intervene and endow these phenomena with the activities of our inner life. This is the pathetic fallacy, which makes nature to correspond to our personal emotions. It may take the form of an apparent absorption of the soul in nature or of an apparent absorption of nature in the soul. Then nature seems to smile or weep with us, or by a reversal of feeling to show a contrary face.
XXVIWhen the phenomena of nature appear to be under the control of a force corresponding to the inner check, they are said, in a general way, to be beautiful. More specifically beauty is this particular sense of unity in diversity as manifested by design, form, harmony, clear and regular transition, relation of parts. It is commonly mingled with other perceptions of the one in the many - such as sublimity, grandeur, charm, grace - more or less closely related or subordinate to it. Thus the very stability of the mountains upreared amidst the shifting panorama of the atmosphere, the endurance of great waters in their everlasting fluctuations, suggest the indwelling of some eternal word of command. The quiet gleam of light, the purity of colours, the melody of sound, hint at some deep-hidden principle of joy. The brave persistence of growing things, the stealthy instincts of wild life, proclaim the immanence of some master virtue. This formative power within phenomena we often think of as Nature personified.
XXVIIThe consolation of nature is an impersonal emotion arising from the confirmation of our inner consciousness of dualism; for beauty is, as it were, a visible image of the possible happiness of the soul. This consolation is peculiarly liable to suffer perversion from the pathetic fallacy and from the usurpations of reason. It is after all but an illusion that trembles at the touch of analysis. Hence the sense of uneasiness that often accompanies the perception of beauty, and the difficulty of reconciling ethics and aesthetics.
O nimium caelo et pelago confise sereno!
XXVIIIIn the end, when the great griefs of life attack us, there has always been, and is, one only consolation unmixed with shame and debasement. Time may deaden and mechanical immersion in the flux may conceal the cause of grief, but the true liberation comes only with the knowledge of the universality of evil and pain in human destiny, and with the consciousness that something within us stands apart from the everlasting flux and from our passions which also belong to the flux.
XXIXArt is the attempt, by means of the subjective imagination, to establish the experience of the individual in tradition. Serious art is thus almost necessarily concerned with the past and with ambitions of the future. In so far as it deals with beauty, it is an attempt to adapt the beauty of nature as seen through the objective imagination to the demands of the subjective imagination. It differs from the pathetic fallacy by implying a distinct and more or less revocable addition to nature rather than a fusion of nature and the soul.
XXXThe various arts are limited to specific fields of experience in accordance with the medium in which they work, and they rise in dignity as the sense to which they are directed has less of the flux and more of mental stability in its activity. Thus, they may be arranged in a scale of honour as they act through the medium of taste and odour, sound, colour and line, form. For the same reason their emotional appeal is more personal as they descend in this scale, more impersonal as they ascend. The so-called confusion of the genres, by obscuring distinctions, introduces an additional and unnecessary element of instability in the medium employed. Its effect, therefore, is to enhance the merely personal appeal of an art and to lower its dignity and impersonal appeal.
XXXILanguage is the medium by which we undertake to convey experience completely and directly rather than as divided and refracted by a particular organ of perception; it may be less intense and precise than the various senses in their proper fields, but is deeper and broader than any one of them. The creative use of language, or literature, is thus of the arts, but separated from them by its scope, seeming by its universality to be more essentially a function of life. Rhythm lends to language something of the sense quality of music, and relates poetry more closely to the specific arts while not depriving it entirely of the free range of literature.
XXXIIWorks of art are varied in so far as they are created by the imagination out of the material of the flux, and substantially they depend on the richness of the artist's experience. Formally they rise to a common standard of excellence in so far as the imagination of the artist is subject to the control of the unvaried inner check. So, too, taste, or the appreciation of art, passes from the impressionistic whim of the individual and from the larger convention of an age or a people to a universal canon just to the degree that it is regulated by the inner check. Criticism is thus not left to waver without a fixed criterion; and in the understanding of dualism it possesses further a key to the main divergences of thought and action, and a constant norm of classification.
XXXIIITalent is measured by a man's ability to give expression to the material of experience. Genius, or inspiration, is measured by the degree to. which the immediate consciousness of dualism enters into expression. Talent and genius in their highest stages will coincide, but in their lower stages they may exist together in varying proportions.
XXXIVHallucination comes when we seem to perceive the images of the subjective imagination as independent entities endowed with powers which are not subject to our control and which may work upon the soul. Hallucination is to the subjective imagination that which the pathetic fallacy is to the objective imagination.
XXXVReason may be mistaken in its distinctions and the imagination may wander into fallacy and hallucination, but the sure penalties of practice prevent them from going far astray in the normal man. And, though they do not, even if rightly exercised, tell us the essential reality of the outer world and of the soul, yet when they deal with the actual material of experience they make the realness of our own life. There is, however, another so-called metaphysical activity of these faculties, by which, transcending their proper function, they lead to absolute error and deception. When, on the one hand, they usurp the function of the organs of perception and undertake to give perceptive realness to abstract conceptions of time, number, and space, extension and motion,- that is to say, when they conceive a relationship among certain phenomena and then proceed to set forth this relationship in the language of the senses, they fall into hypothetical metaphysics, or pseudo-science. They fall into pure metaphysics, or ontology, when, on the other hand, they usurp the function of consciousness and undertake to explain the ultimate reality of things by abstract conceptions. Metaphysics, in general, may thus be defined as an attempt to assume essential authority for the faculties.
XXXVIWe are conscious of our self as both the inner check and the flux, one and many, the same and different. Reason denies this contradictory dualism, and, starting with an elimination of one element of consciousness, proceeds, with the imagination, to build up a theory of life and the world based on the other element of consciousness. Thus two schools of pure metaphysics, under various names and disguises, have always existed side by side in irreconcilable hostility - on this side the systems which start from absolute unity, stability, rest, the universalia ante rem; on the other side the systems of absolute diversity, flux, change, the universalia post rem. It is no contraversion of this fact that the same metaphysician may sometimes pass confusedly from one to the other school. Such a confusion will be found to underlie the metaphysics of most of those who maintain the middle ground of universalia in rebus.
XXXVIIIn this persistent opposition of the two schools of pure metaphysics, we have at once confirmation of the dualism of consciousness and evidence that no metaphysical theory will ever unriddle the secret of the world. But neither should it be forgotten that, mixed up with the logomachy of the greater metaphysicians, there has always been more or less of true insight, and that their power as guides and consolers of mankind has been proportionate to their immediate vision of the truth. Plato is at times merely the perplexing metaphysician; oftener he speaks from the depth of unexampled self-knowledge. All that is essential to the dualistic philosophy may be gathered from his dialogues, as hints and fragments of it may be found scattered through innumerable other writers, especially the inspired poets and philosophers of life.
XXXVIIIThe modern metaphysic of the one is idealism. Its error is double, in so far as it begins with denying the substantive reality of the flux, and then proceeds to treat the absolute unity of the inner check as if this were the same thing as the rationally conceived and relative unity of the flux which it has denied.
XXXIXThe metaphysic of the many has various forms and names. Its most seductive form to-day is that way of viewing life which is commonly called pragmatic. The followers of pragmatism, whatever their protestations may be, all agree in taking the flux as the whole of consciousness, and in then staying the reason at this point and rejecting its further function of discretion and combination. They deny the superrational intuition of the absolute and hold fast to the infrarational intuition of the impulses as a continuous stream in time. Truth is to them whatever persists the longest in the unchecked indiscrete experience of life. Their theory, as it is half rational and half intuitional, is unstable and elusive. Its result is to dissolve attention and to discredit discipline.
XLScience, when it passes beyond the field of positive observation and metaphysical hypothesis into pure metaphysics, is an attempt to formulate a changeless law of change, to find some absolute cause of unity or development within the flux of nature without projecting into nature the equivalent of the inner check. Chemical atoms, vortices, phlogiston, the corpuscular theory of light, luminiferous ether, are examples of science in the hypothetical stage. The conception of a perfect whole made up of an infinite number of imperfect parts, the conception of probability and survival as a principle of organization, are examples of science in transition from the hypothetical to the ontological stage. The deterministic conception of the world as produced by an endless chain of mechanical causes and effects, the vitalistic conception of the world as produced by an absolute and indeterminate self-evolution or self-creation, are examples of science in the ontological stage.
XLIRationalism is the attempt to erect reason into an independent power within the soul taking the place of the inner check. The union of science and rationalism, that is to say, the reassumption of nature and the soul under the same law, gives the false philosophy of naturalism. The two great schools of naturalism in antiquity - and their votaries under various names are still common - were the Epicurean which divided this universal flux into self-moving atoms, and the Stoic which regarded it as a continuous self-governing fluid. Scientific monism is a kind of sterile hybrid from the union of naturalism and idealism. It need be named, and no more.
XLIIAll these systems of the flux - pragmatism, science, rationalism, naturalism - have a way of merging into one another, and of existing together simultaneously in the same mind. In this indiscriminate sense they pass under the general name of naturalism.
XLIIIRomanticism is a radical confusion of the unlimited desires and the infinite inner check. In its essential manifestation it is thus a morbid and restless intensification of the personal emotions. When the artistic imagination attempts to embody this blending of the unlimited and the infinite, we have the romantic strangeness and vagueness, often accompanied with a peculiarly troubled sense of beauty. In classical art the finite and the infinite are projected together, but without confusion. In so far as romanticism turns to emotion away from reason it is opposed to science and rationalism; in so far as it obscures the true infinite it falls with them under naturalism. Its affiliation is with the pragmatic flux and the elan vital.
XLIVThus, by the failure to restrain the faculties to their proper task of developing experience, man is prone to create about himself a world of error and deception - of error in so far as under the sway of reason he introduces unmeaning abstractions and unifications into the soul, of deception in so far as he imagines a world corresponding to this usurpation of reason.
XLVThe safeguard against error and deception is self-knowledge. As self-knowledge maintains a clear and unfailing consciousness of dualism, it is called insight; as it denies the right of the faculties to supplant this dualism by their own abstractions and combinations, it is called scepticism. Insight and scepticism are the two arms, the positive and negative aspects, so to speak, of truth. Insight includes at once both the higher, or superrational, intuition which is immediately conscious of the inner check, and the lower, or infrarational, intuition which is immediately conscious of the flux of impulses.
XLVIInsight and scepticism are not to be identified with doubt, which is a mere lethargy of the faculties and may be the mother of wandering and feeble errors and deceptions. True insight and scepticism are extremely difficult to maintain, and the true seers and sceptics are correspondingly rare. In all the business of life we are aided by the proper discriminations of the reason and the proper creations of the imagination, and this benefit acts as a continual assault upon the restraining power. Their insinuations of self-competence are endlessly varied and perilous.
XLVIISelf-knowledge grows with the exercise of the inner check, and as the inner check has to do with impulses which tend both to mental and to physical activities, self-knowledge results in the one sphere in truth and in the other sphere in morality. The life of truth is philosophy, the life of morality is health (sophrosyne). Philosophy and moral health may not wholly coincide in a man's life, but each is the natural reinforcement of the other, and in their perfection they cannot exist apart.
XLVIIIIt does not follow, because the metaphysical use of the reason is essentially erroneous, that reason has no proper function in philosophy. In discriminating the effects of the inner check in the sphere of the flux, reason is at work from the first act of attention to the last trait of character. It should be observed also that the word reason, especially in the Platonic dialectic, has often been used as synonymous with superrational intuition.
XLIXThe sum of a man's desires constitutes his temperament. His disposition is that whole field of impulses which is created by the coming together of his temperament and the stream of outer impressions.
LIf an impulse is checked, a similar recurring impulse is easier to check; if unchecked, the contrary is true. Thus, by attention and inattention, the disposition of a man takes on a pattern of strength and weakness which we call habits. We speak also of the habit of attention, when the habits result from attention; and of the habit of inattention, when the habits result from inattention. A series of impulses directed towards a particular object constitutes what is called desire, in the common, or secondary, use of the word. Desire, in this sense of the word, may satisfy itself in mental images of possession, or may pass into physical activities for the purpose of actual possession.
LIWhen a man acts under the habit of attention, there is an elimination of disturbing and thwarting impulses, and he is enabled to display a direct and clear energy which we call the will. This positive force of the will, which is a mode of activity and belongs to the flux, is easily mistaken for the inner check, or original element of inhibition, of which it is the outcome. Since the will is the result of eliminating or refraining detrimental impulses, it may, by an easy transference of language, be called the will to refrain. By this name it is better distinguished from the mere vehemence of desire.
LIIA man of character is one in whom a vigorous disposition is continuously controlled by the habit of attention, or the will to refrain. As character develops, the disposition takes on a more regular pattern; the impulses become harmonious as if arranged upon a centre, and display a kind of unity in multiplicity. The outcome in conduct is consistency, self-direction, balance of faculties, efficiency, moral health, happiness. At its highest development the will would appear to act automatically, as if the troublesome choice among heterogeneous impulses had been surmounted. The man would no longer be subject to the alternations of happiness and misery, but would rise to a state of equable activity in repose which we call peace. Yet withal it must be that life in its perfection would leave something wanting to the soul; some feeling would still pierce through to remind us that happiness in all its stages is at best but a negation of the great angry flux; we know even more clearly as we grow in self-control that the peace of this life is but the shadow and not the substance. Remorse and misery we can certainly outgrow, pain perhaps; but there remains the divine discontent.
LIIIIn so far as the inner check is not exercised, and in so far as a man acts from the unbalanced impulses of the moment, his disposition is said to be impulsive. The conduct of such a man tends to fall into inconsistency, dispersion, discord of faculties, inefficiency, misery. This, in varying degrees, is the state of the multitude. The consummation of such a state would be the very contrary of peace, which is despair.
LIVIn some men the desires flow of themselves strongly in a particular direction. If the will to refrain is correspondingly weak and the impulses are permitted to generate unrestrained habits, such men acquire a violence of disposition, or egotism. As the man of character and the egotist both display a certain stable pattern of habits, they present superficially a similar appearance. But in fact they are essentially the opposite of each other; in practice it is seldom difficult to distinguish immediately between them, and by familiarity the difference comes out stronger. Clearness of aim is not the same as imperious need; inner harmony is not the same as the consistency of a harsh one-sidedness; strength is not the same as obstinacy; peace is not the same as a sullen pride. In the end the egotist is likely to fall into fatal self-contradictions and misery.
LVThe morality or immorality of an agent is determined by the exercise or quiescence of the inner check. The rightness or wrongness, virtue or vice, of a particular act is determined by the final result in pleasure or pain to the agent as an individual existing amid certain circumstances - that is to say, by the harmonious increase of life or the contrary. If the inner check permits full attention on the part of the agent, he will to the best of his experience choose the act which shall result finally in pleasure, and which is therefore right and virtuous. At any moment, even with full attention, he may be mistaken in his opinion and thus be moral while acting wrongly and viciously; but in the long run virtue and morality tend to coincide, just as pleasure and happiness tend to coincide: they would coincide immediately and absolutely were the world itself totally moral. On the other hand, a man may have large experience of virtue and vice and of their consequences, yet at any moment, without the pause of attention (more or less painful and protracted according to his disposition), may be led to act contrary to his own good - video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor. His error is due to the force of some insurgent desire, overwhelming temporarily the realization of past and future, or flattering him with sly insinuations that a vice which is harmful to others may be innocent to himself.
LVIThe discriminating power of reason should seem to be predominant in judging the ultimate outcome of pleasure and pain resultant upon a particular act; but the faculties of memory and imagination are also required, memory in supplying the material of judgement, and imagination in lending cogent realness to judgement. In the insufficiency of individual experience a man must be largely guided by the experience of society as expressed in precepts. The most useful summary of experience is the general rule that virtue is a mean lying between the two extremes of vice. Thus, temperance is the mean lying between intemperance, which is an excess in the indulgence of physical pleasure, and austerity, which is a defect in such indulgence. Courage is the mean lying between rashness, which is an excess of desire to venture or attack, and cowardice, which is a defect of such desire. And so with regard to the other virtues and vices. Essentially, however, the vice of defect is the excess of a contrary desire. Thus, austerity, though in relation to temperance appearing a defect, is in itself an excess of the kind of desire which creates pride; and cowardice, in like manner, is in itself an excess of desire to save one's life. The real defect does not show itself in the vices, properly speaking, but in the lack of elevation, the petty faults, the ignoble hesitations, the tepid dulness, which form the vast background of life. This is meanness as contrasted with the golden mean, feebleness of temperament as contrasted with the control of the inner check.
LVIITo sum up the various aspects of a man's self:- The soul is the total source of individuality, including, properly speaking, the inner check and the desires, and excluding the impressions derived through the body. Temperament is the part of the soul which belongs to the flux; the soul, unless it is conceived as including the inner check, is indistinguishable from the temperament. Soul and temperament cannot be conceived as actually existing in time yet apart from a body. Disposition is temperament as it works out in conjunction with the body; it is the energy, so to speak, of our organization. Impulsiveness is a weak disposition uncontrolled by the inner check. Egotism is a strong disposition uncontrolled by the inner check. Character is disposition controlled by the inner check. Personality is the emotional sense of our disposition as an individual fact different from other dispositions.
LVIIIAs the common disposition of mankind is lacking in character, the will to refrain needs to be, and largely is, reinforced from without by the restraining influence of public opinion, fear of punishment, education, and mythology. The proper effect of this external check is a discipline which produces healthy instincts capable, under ordinary circumstances, of taking the place of character. It must be added that the external check, if carried to a point where it crushes instead of regulating the disposition, may be debilitating and dangerous to the purely impulsive man.
LIXAs the will to refrain grows with the elimination of conflicting and egotistic impulses, so men of character tend to develop in ways of conduct free from mutual conflict and thus to fall into social accord. Justice, the mother of all the civic virtues, is the will to produce the same balance in society as already exists in the individual. The great source of social discord is the injustice springing from the diversity of unrestrained desires and from the warfare of egotisms.
LXThere is a common delusion that civic virtue can be produced by instinctive sympathy and does not need the painful restraint of the inner or outer check. Now this sympathy is that supposed law of personality by which we invariably feel the pleasure of others as our pleasure and the pain of others as our pain; and which, consequently, would always lead us, if free to follow our instincts, so to act as to affect others with pleasure. But by the very nature of personality such a law cannot exist. The feeling of pleasure and pain is the sense of the increase or diminution of our life. In so far as the pleasure of another may result in activities beneficial to ourselves, or creates the expectation of similar pleasure in ourselves, and thus enlarges our sense of life, it may awaken sympathetic pleasure in us. And pain in another by a corresponding process may awaken sympathetic pain in us. But, on the contrary, the pleasure of another is equally capable of awakening an antipathetic pain in us, when it means an activity in the other that is detrimental to us and diminishes our sense of life; and the pain of another may awaken an antipathetic pleasure in us. The notion of this instinctive sympathy as a power in itself capable of taking the place of the inner or outer check is an error of romanticism, which forgets that the personal feelings belong to the flux and tend to variety and difference. As it slurs over the distinctions among men in the abstract conception of humanity, it is called humanitarianism.
LXICharity, in the scriptural meaning of the word, is justice accompanied with feeling. It is the sure and impersonal sympathy of happiness as distinguished from the precarious and personal sympathy of pleasure.
LXIIFriendship and love are special forms of sympathy. The lowest form of friendship results from that accident of circumstances by which the pleasures and pains of two persons commonly fall together; its highest form results from a mutual feeling of charity. Love in its lowest form is the mere desire to obtain pleasure from another without care for his or her pleasure or pain. In its middle form it desires that the person beloved may have a mutual sense of pleasure. As this sense of mutuality increases, love passes into a peculiarly strong and fine sympathy of charity. The stability of friendship and love grows with their approach to charity. In friendship, and to a higher degree in love, the subjective imagination is a powerful factor in so far as it embodies our emotions in another person. Hence the close relation of friendship, and the still closer relation of love, to artistic creation. From the pure sympathy of charity, more than from any other experience of life, comes the assurance that the rejection of the world's diversity may lead not to blank isolation but to some inexpressible communion of all spirits.
LXIIISociety for its preservation organizes the external checks in the form of government. A perfect government would be neither a crushing despotism nor an unrestrained license; its aim would be to bring the character of the few to bear in some effective way upon the impulses of the many; it would be an aristocracy of justice. The theory of absolute democracy might imply that the will to refrain would in the long run assert its inner potency in all men if they were freed from external checks. The generality of men, however, are so intermittently conscious of the inner check that practical democracy, whether it call itself anarchy or socialism, proceeds on the theory that the dispositions of men tend of themselves to order and harmony; it is in essence a denial of dualism and a child of naturalism. The attempt to introduce either anarchy or socialism, by removing the influence of the few men of character, would result in a chaos of clashing dispositions or in the dominance of men of violent egotism.
LXIVIt is impossible to give a simple definition of liberty, for the reason that the thing itself is not simple, but complex. Primarily, liberty is an inner state which depends on the complete control of the desires and passions, and in this sense we say: "The truth shall make you free." But liberty is also an outer state which can arise only when society is so organized as to impose no restraint upon the actions of the man who is himself free. Were all men free in themselves, the perfect form of government would be an absolute anarchy. As the world is, the freest society is that in which custom and law impose the least restraint upon the man who is self-governed, and the greatest restraint upon the man who is not self-governed.
LXVIndividual morality is conduct controlled by the inner check. Social morality is conduct controlled by the external check of society. In general these two forms of morality are in accord, and, looking at the world at large, we may safely say that individual morality is a minute factor in its conduct in comparison with social morality. When, however, a man has advanced in character far beyond the character of the community, it may happen that his moral sense will differ widely from the social code. In that case he must rely upon the approval of conscience, which is only another name for self-knowledge developed by the exercise of the inner check. In so transgressing the social code he acts at his extreme peril. If he errs, the responsibility is upon himself, since he acts from self-ignorance and not from self-knowledge.
LXVISince the inner check is the same potentially in all men and differs only in effect as it acts or remains quiescent, each man is certainly responsible for his character or lack of character. He may not be responsible for his disposition out of which character is developed, and which by some incalculable chance came to him originally different from that of other men. There is thus in conduct a paradox of responsibility and irresponsibility corresponding to the dualism of consciousness. If we look into ourselves, we are likely to be conscious of voluntary attention or inattention at the root of our habits, and to magnify accordingly the element of responsibility. If we regard the lives of others, we are likely to exaggerate the power of their disposition, and to regard them as irresponsible. These are the inner and the outer ways of viewing life.
LXVIIThere are those who wish to escape the idea of responsibility, yet shrink from the terrors of a purely fortuitous world; such men deny the element of absolute inhibition on the one hand, and assert on the other that our dispositions come to us determined by the law of inheritance or by some other fatality of the flux itself. This theory merely removes the necessity of meaningless chance to an ever-vanishing distance. Chance and fate, in the deterministic sense, accident and natural law, are not contradictory ideas, but different aspects only of the flux. Law, as the rule of cause and effect, has no meaning except in the realm of volition, that is to say, in the irrational relation of the inner check and the flux. There is approximate sequence in nature, but no rule of cause and effect except in so far as nature is subdued to moral law.
LXVIIIOn the contrary, not only many individual minds but entire peoples, wishing to bring the whole of conduct under responsibility, have conceived the actual disposition of a man as the result of an infinite series of lives, the will in each life being able to modify to a slight extent the inherited temperament. In the infinity of time a man is thus the responsible creator of his own temperament, and, in so far as no impulse can arise without desire, of his disposition. It may be said that this theory of metempsychosis, or the law of karma, merely conceals the difficulty by removing the element of irresponsibility to an ever-vanishing distance. Yet it must not be forgotten that only by karma can the rule of cause and effect be extended to the whole of life, and that this recognition of responsibility has a deep sanction in tradition.
LXIXThe practical difficulty in judging conduct comes from regarding the large things of life instead of the small. Every man knows his freedom to follow or check the slight insignificant impulse when it arises; he loses sight of this freedom when he is impelled in a certain direction by a habit which is the result of innumerable unchecked impulses. In the same way the responsibility for taste lies in the small discriminations of pleasure. The beginning of evil is inattention, or indolence; its middle term is self-ignorance; its end is either inconsequence or excess, dissipation of character or egotism. Insight never forgets the beginning in the end, or the end in the beginning.
LXXIn all this philosophy of insight there is a constant assumption which has not been explained. What is this distinction of good and evil, of benefit and detriment, with which the action or inaction of the inner check is concerned? It might be answered that good is harmony, or self-consistency. Amid the ceaseless change and heterogeneous motion of the flux the effect of the inner check is to call a certain pause and so to create the opportunity of fusing a present and a past impulse. If these impulses are dissimilar they will counteract each other. If they are similar they will combine. Such a reinforced impulse will be stronger than single unreinforced impulses; it will tend to gather to itself other similar impulses and thus to make a wave of harmony in the stream. As a man is not alone but is a part of the universe, this particular wave will be reinforced in so far as it corresponds with other harmonies outside of himself, so that by a common check, or negation, a single uniform harmony, or good, tends to pervade the universal flux. But such a theory leaves the essential difficulty unsolved. Why is harmony strong or good? Are we not really starting with the assumption of a universal good and then working round to it under another name? And why, even if such a good is assumed, does the inner check stay an impulse until a similar impulse arises and thereupon cease its embargo? If the inner check is itself an act of attention or choice, it is not purely negative, but positive; if it works positively within the flux, it is not a pure absolute, but is itself subject to variation; and we are left with only the universal world of change, without meaning or purpose or value. In brief, the philosophy of dualism does not attempt, as do the metaphysical systems, to explain the coexistence of good and evil; neither does it undertake to bridge the gulf, which reason cries upon us to bridge, between negation and affirmation, the one and the many. We know that there is within us a stream of impulses flowing from abyss to abyss, which we call positive evil. We know that there is also within us a negative power of pause, the inner check, which we call absolute good. The order of natural life and nature, formed so to speak by eddies in the stream, at once changing and stable, we call relative good; implying thereby that it belongs purely to neither element of our being alone, but springs from an incomprehensible relation of the two elements. Of this relative world we have no true knowledge, but only opinion. To go beyond this insight and this scepticism is to pass from philosophy to religion.
LXXICertain men have reported that with the attainment of perfect peace the soul can rise into a state wherein the desires cease altogether, and the other element of consciousness, as the higher Self or infinite spirit, abides in blissful liberation. This is the region of mysticism, towards which all philosophy and all religion point; it is akin to idealism in so far as idealism also pretends to start from a conception of the absolute, but it differs from idealism in so far as it is a real knowledge of victory over the flux and not a rational denial of the flux which immediately falls into a confusion of absolute and relative unity. Mysticism surpasses the common knowledge of mankind, and its beatitude is not the happiness of human speech. The discipline of character by which we are prepared for the transcendental state is manifest, but the actual attainment is a leap into the void, a miraculous transition or ecstasy, to which many names have been given, but all inadequate. We seem sometimes in the hushed serenity of death to look, as it were, upon a visible symbol of the eternal rest.
LXXIIThe complete attainment of the mystical state would mean the cessation of natural existence, but to all of us moments may come when the consciousness of the inner check is so overpowering as seemingly to sever the continuity of our impulsive life. The memory of these visionary moments, even the assurance that such vision is possible, brings to the mind a sense of the positive quality of that inhibitive element of consciousness which otherwise possesses unity only through its negation of qualities. This conversion, by which the heart of man is brought to recognize the inner check as the constantly indwelling spirit, is called faith. By faith the everlasting No becomes the everlasting Yea. Faith is thus not the will to believe, but the flower of that insight, or self-knowledge, which grows with the will to refrain. Neither is it the arbitrary belief, contrary to experience, that all is right. Its goal is the liberation from dualism, but its source is in the consciousness of a dualism which embraces the possibility of infinite evil as well as infinite good. Faith, to those who crave a definite answer to the demands of reason and of the imagination, may seem vague and unreal. In a truer sense it is the most definite and real thing in life, in so far as it implies a constant intention of character in one direction.
LXXIIIAs the counterpart of insight is scepticism, so the counterpart of faith is disillusion - the knowledge that this apparent order of the world is not of the world itself, and that beneath the surface of all we see and feel, beneath the very act of seeing and feeling, lies the unredeemed chaos of desires and impressions, unlimited, unmeaning, unfathomable, incalculable, formless, dark. Life is but appearance, and this personality we call by our name is but illusion within illusion. As by reason the inner check can be defined only in negative terms, so to the eye of faith the flux and all its manifestations, including reason itself, become the absolute negation.
We are such stuff
LXXIVIn some men, especially in an age of spiritual apathy, the sense of disillusion may spring up without the corresponding assurance of faith. To such men nothing is real; they walk in a place of shadows, and feel that life is continually slipping away from them into a bottomless abyss. All their labour is to recreate for themselves the illusion which has been shattered, or, by ceaseless occupation, to escape the dull horror of the void. Because this tedium of the soul is due to an inability on their part to surmount the materialism that encompasses them, they are prone to take their revenge by turning upon the world with cynical bitterness.
LXXVThe mystical state is an existence in eternity released from time, and as a man grows in faith he feels himself lifted above the scorn of the hypocritic days. There is an aspect of mysticism in the faculty of memory, in so far as things remembered may be dissociated from relation to the evermoving present and set outside of the flux of time. The consolations of faith are wont to be stronger in remembrance of the past than in the actuality of the present. Romantic recollection is a dangerous parody of this doctrine. It is a retreat into the "tower of ivory" to brood over past sensations.
LXXVIThe hope of immortality is a longing to give to the future the mystical virtue of the past; it is the yearning for a life which is a continuously moving present yet freed from the tyrannous flux of time. The happiness of immortality is thus, speaking absolutely, an impossibility, but in emotional anticipation it may be merely a name for the eternal liberation of the spirit. Nor does such an argument against absolute immortality imply the immediate dissociation of the personal elements of the soul with the dissolution of the material body at death. There is nothing to show that these elements may not subsist together as an individual entity joined with some ethereal body for an indefinite period of time; there are intimations that they do so subsist.
LXXVIIAsceticism is the attempt to attain the mystical release by violence rather than by the gradual discipline of philosophy and morality. It will appear that the dominant force in the ascetic life is almost always some overweening pride or vanity or hope or fear, some exorbitance of egotism, and not the true will to refrain. Asceticism is thus liable to an equally violent relapse into uncontrolled impulses. There is also a false mysticism which seeks to lose the consciousness of paradoxical dualism in absolute surrender to the flux. This is the temptation of antinomianism. If attained it would mean the complete disorganization of character and the utter dissipation of death. The peril of the mystical path is profounder than the error of rationalism.
LXXVIIIFaith and disillusion are the positive and negative aspects of spirituality, as insight and scepticism are the positive and negative aspects of truth. Insight can exist without faith, and scepticism without disillusion; but faith and disillusion cannot exist without the lower forms from which they spring. The life of spirituality is religion; it is attended with a heightened sense of morality. Pure religion is thus philosophy and moral health raised to a consciousness of the infinite meaning of unity and diversity. It is a conscious submission of the personal elements of the soul to the spirit, bringing to the soul a happiness composed of a strange mingling of humility and self-approval. By this self-surrender to the higher Self, we understand the meaning of the words, In la sua voluntade e nostra pace, and of that older saying, "He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." In common practice religion is a complicated mood into which enter in varying degrees insight and faith, scepticism and disillusion, morality and mythology. Holiness is spirituality coloured by mythology.
LXXIXMythology is the act of the imagination by which we people the world with daemonic beings made in the likeness of our own souls. It is either rational or spontaneous according as it follows the dictates of reason or itself takes the lead.
LXXXRational mythology varies with the theories of reason. It is pantheistic when it imagines a god after the abstractions of idealism; panpsychic under pragmatism; deistic under science and rationalism; in general, naturalistic under naturalism. The deity of rational mythology, as it corresponds to an abstract conception of the inner life, is vaguely personal and is barely distinguished from the metaphysical hypotheses of science. The insufficiency and falseness of all these theories are shown by the fact that they leave no room for the reality of sin and suffering in the world. They do not properly surmount evil, but ignore it or attempt to explain it away.
LXXXISpontaneous mythology is the unreasoned work of the imagination projecting our imperfect self-knowledge into the void in the form of daemonic personalities. This imagined world is closely akin to art and literature, but differs from them in so far as it is evoked more immediately from the two elements of consciousness. It is, too, less the deliberate creation of the individual and more the joint product of society. To the individual, therefore, it seems to be independent of his own faculties and often verges upon hallucination. Belief is the acceptance of the creations of mythology as real; it is not to be identified with faith, any more than mythology is to be identified with religion.
LXXXIIThe beginning of spontaneous mythology is polytheism. As self-knowledge grows, the daemonic world tends to fall into two opposed hosts or personalities, which represent the dual elements of consciousness as hostile powers of good and evil.
LXXXIIIIn Christianity mythology takes the form of a perfectly righteous deity set over against the totally depraved human soul. The idea of a triune God is an imaginative blending of the three faculties and the inner check. In the conception of a Christ who is one person having two natures, divine and human, there is an attempt to maintain the actuality of this mythology and at the same time to restore it symbolically to the dualism of man's consciousness. The atonement through the sacrifice of Christ's human nature is a symbol of the painful control of the flux by the inner check, ending in the mystical state of liberation. By belief in the act of Christ we are assured of our own ultimate control of our impulsive nature, which in mythology is regarded as sin, or disobedience to the law of God. So a man is said to attain to salvation, or justification, by faith, meaning by belief. The insoluble paradox of grace and free-will is the mythological counterpart of the relation of the inner check and attention: in either case there is an appeal to the personal element of the soul to act on its own initiative as it can only act under the control of a power not itself.
LXXXIVWorship is an act designed to fortify belief with emotion, and thus to make of mythology a personal possession of the soul. In its higher Christian type it is an act, public or private, for the purpose of glorifying God and humiliating sinful human nature. The commonest ceremony of worship is a more or less symbolic sacrifice, which in Christianity takes the form of the eucharist.
LXXXVThe purest form of spontaneous mythology, the form that approaches most nearly to absolute religion, is the simple belief in an infinite unseen God, source and goal of the human spirit, and the unquestioning acceptance of the marks of order and beauty in nature as the footsteps of the creator in a world which, without his presence, would sink into the bleak confusion of chaos. The weakness of this bare monotheism is the danger that, while surrendering the comforts of tradition and the richer interpretations of experience, it may fall short of the higher mystic faith.
LXXXVITheology is an attempt to superimpose the abstracting activity of metaphysics upon the personal dualism of spontaneous mythology. Its high theme is the nature of God and of evil. Theologians have ransacked language for words that will define a being who is at once, and in the same substance, both infinite and personal, but they can no more do this than we can express the inner check in terms of the flux. With equal zeal theologians have tried to reconcile the belief in a benevolent and all-powerful creator with the insistent sense of evil in the world, but they can no more do this than we can express the flux as a property of the inner check. Theology thus involves a self-destructive process, and either kills mythology or abdicates in a superstition which has lost connection with our better inner life. When mythology ends, either rationalism or insight steps in. For most men the consequence of theology is a state of fluctuation between rationalism and superstition.
LXXXVIIThe great mystery of existence is the relation of the human soul to nature, and on that naked mystery rest the reality of faith and the symbolism of belief. The soul, whatever may be its verbal creed, is conscious of dualism; consciousness and dualism for the soul are, indeed, synonymous terms. Nature, on the contrary, appears to be unconscious, yet to display some of the same qualities as follow the dualism of the soul. From the abhorrence of this paradox the mind seeks refuge in metaphysics and theology. To-day the popular word to conjure by is evolution, that is, the attempt to conceal the paradox by involving it in the long operations of time. But evolution, conceived as a purely mechanical process which would reduce the soul to uniformity with nature by denying dualism altogether, is refuted by consciousness. And evolution, conceived as the work of some immanent final cause which would raise nature into conformity with the soul, must accept the apparent absurdity of regarding all nature as endowed with consciousness. It cannot properly hold that consciousness is a gradual product of development; for consciousness is a fundamental reality, and cannot be conceived as springing unevoked from any unconscious reality. By a kind of compromise it is possible to say that consciousness suddenly intervenes at some point in the development of nature as a deus ex machina, but this is to break the chain of evolution and merely explains the unknown by the unknown. When we undertake to form a conception of nature as a whole, we are compelled by the faculty of memory to regard it as a sequence in time, just as we are compelled by reason and imagination to regard it as extension in space. So far evolution is properly the scientific complement to physics. But the attempt to involve consciousness and morality in this natural sequence is doomed to failure. The presumption of ante-evolutionary science declared that whatever is is right. The presumption of evolutionary science declares that whatever is is better than what was. In either case science, so soon as it passes beyond the classification of phenomena to a naturalistic philosophy, is a liar and the father of lies. Better the frank unreason of mythology than this labyrinth of intellectual deception.
LXXXVIIIScepticism has its part in religion as well as in philosophy. On the one hand, it withholds us from accepting the creations of the mythological imagination as the exact counterpart of reality, and is the foe of credulity and fanaticism; on the other hand, it restrains us from asserting positively that there is nothing at the heart of mythology which corresponds to a variously interpreted revelation of the order of the universe. Its action upon a spontaneous mythology, corresponding to the dualism of self-knowledge, is thus to hold the mind in a state of suspense, whereas it acts as an absolute negation upon theology and rational mythology which spring from presumptuous self-ignorance.
LXXXIXWith scepticism goes the true humility of religion, which is ready to join devoutly in any genuinely traditional worship, trusting that in this way faith may be enriched and the indolence of doubt expelled. No man, without peril to his religious life, can do violence to his mythological instinct. Faith should develop gradually out of belief, and pure spirituality out of holiness, as a man grows in self-knowledge and character. There are few men, but one man here and there, who can rise to the clear vision of faith unsupported by belief in a God. Religion is equally endangered by atheism and by belief in a God who corresponds, not to the developing knowledge of the inner check, but to some rationalistic denial of dualism.
XCSelf-recollection is the quiet and deliberate gathering of the mind from the many to the one. Prayer is the same act directed to the one imagined as the infinite, eternal God. A great need of mankind is for more recollection or prayer. Therein shall a man learn to know the truth of his own being and see with open eyes the infinite consequences to himself of that truth; and from thence he shall go out into the world armed with power and assured in peace. Through the distractions and trials of life he shall carry with him the secret possession of religious philosophy, which has been called the amor dei intellectualis; rather, to him belongs the praise of Plato: "Show me a man able to see both the one and the many in nature, and I will follow in his footsteps as though he were a god."
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