AN INTERPRETATION OF RUDOLF EUCKEN'S PHILOSOPHY
W. TUDOR JONES, Ph.D. (Jena)
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[Greek: Hara ohyn, hadelphoi, hopheiletai hesmen, ou te sarki tou kata sarka zen, ei gar kata sarka zete meggete hapothneskein, ehi de pneumati tas praxeis tou somatos thanatoute zesesthe. hosoi gar pneumati theou hagontai, outoi uioi theou ehisin.]—St. Paul (Romans, viii. 12-14).
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The personality and works of Professor Rudolf Eucken are at the present day exercising such a deep influence the world over that a volume by one of his old pupils, which attempts to interpret his teaching, should prove of assistance. It is hoped that the essentials of Eucken's teaching are presented in this book, in a form which is as simple as the subject-matter allows, and which will not necessitate the reader unlearning anything when he comes to the author's most important works. The whole of the work is expository; and an attempt has been made in the foot-notes to point out aspects similar to those of Eucken's in English and German Philosophy.
It is encouraging to find at the present day so much interest in religious idealism, and it is proved by Eucken beyond the possibility of doubt that without some form of such idealism no individual or nation can realise its deepest potencies. But with the presence of such idealism as a conviction in the mind and life, history teaches us that the seemingly impossible [p.8] is partially realised, and that a new depth of life is reached. All this does not mean that the individual is to slacken his interests or to lose his affection for the material aspects of life; but it does mean that the things which appertain to life have different values, and that it is of the utmost importance to judge them all from the highest conceivable standpoint—the standpoint of spiritual life. This is Eucken's distinctive message to-day. The message shows that an actual evolution of spirit is taking place in the life of the individual and of human society; and that this evolution can be guided by means of the concentration of the whole being upon the reality of the norms and standards which present themselves in the lives of individuals and of nations. No one particular science or philosophy is able to grant us this central standpoint for viewing the field of knowledge and the meaning of life. The answer to the complexity of the problem of existence is to be found in something which gathers up under a larger and more significant meaning the results of knowledge and life. This volume will attempt to elucidate this all-important point of view—a point of view which is so needful in our days of specialisation and of material interests. It may be, and Eucken and his followers believe it is, that the destiny of the nations of the world depends in the last resort upon a conception and conviction of [p.9] the reality of a life deeper than that of sense or intellect, although both these may become tributaries (and not hindrances) to such a spiritual life.
I have to thank Professor Eucken himself for allowing me access to material hitherto unpublished, and for encouraging me in the work. I am bold enough to be confident that could I say half of what our revered teacher has meant for me and for hundreds of others of his old pupils, this volume would be the means of helping many who are drifting from their old moorings to find an anchorage in a spiritual world.
W. TUDOR JONES.
Highbury, London, N.,
November 1, 1912.
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1. Introduction 13
2. Religion and Evolution 26
3. Religion and Natural Science 57
4. Religion and History 70
5. Religion and Psychology 87
6. Religion and Society 108
7. Religion and Art 119
8. Universal Religion 128
9. Characteristic Religion 151
10. The Historical Religions 166
11. Christianity 180
12. Present-Day Aspects of Philosophy and Religion 206
13. Eucken's Personality and Influence 227
14. Conclusion 236
List of Eucken's Works 245
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AN INTERPRETATION OF RUDOLF EUCKEN'S PHILOSOPHY
Rudolf Eucken was born at Aurich, East Frisia, on the 5th of January 1846. He lost his father when quite a child. His mother, the daughter of a Liberal clergyman, was a woman of deep religious experience and of rich intellectual gifts. When quite a boy he came at school under the influence of the theologian Reuter, a man of wonderful fascination to young men. The questions of religion and the need of religious experience interested Eucken early, and these have never parted from him during the long years which have since passed away.
At an early age he entered the University of Goettingen and attended the philosophical classes of Hermann Lotze. Lotze interested him in philosophical problems, but did not [p.14] satisfy the burning desire for religious experience which was in the young man's soul. Lotze looked at religion and all else from the intellectual point of view. His main business was to discover proofs for the things of the spirit, and the value of his work in this direction cannot be over-estimated. Hermann Lotze's works are with us to-day; and he has probably made more important contributions to philosophy and religion from the scientific side than any other writer of the latter half of the nineteenth century. But he seems to have been a man who was inclined to conceive of reality as something which had value only in so far as it was known, and left very largely out of account the inchoate stirrings and aspirations which are found at a deeper level within the human soul than the knowing level. Life is larger and deeper than logic, and is something, despite all our efforts, which resists being reduced to logical propositions. It is quite easy to understand how a young man of Eucken's temperament and training should acquiesce in all the logical treatment of Lotze's philosophy, and still find that more was to be obtained from other sources which had quenched the thirst of the great men of the past.
When Eucken entered the University of Berlin he came into contact with a teacher who helped him immensely in the quest for religion, and in the interpretation of religion as the [p.15] issue of that quest. Adolf Trendelenburg was a great teacher as well as a noble idealist, and his influence upon young Eucken was very great. Indeed, it seems that Trendelenburg's influence was great on the life of every young man who was fortunate enough to come into contact with him. The late Professor Paulsen, in his beautiful autobiography, Aus meinem Leben (1909), presents us with a vivid picture of Trendelenburg and his work. Under him the pupils came into close touch not only with the meaning but also with the spirit of Plato and Aristotle. The pupils were made to see the ideal life in all its charm and glory. The great Professor had all his lifetime lived and meditated in this pure atmosphere, and possessed the gift of infusing something of his own enthusiasm into the minds and spirits of his hearers. Eucken has stated on several occasions his indebtedness to Trendelenburg. The young student entered the temple of philosophy through the gateways of philology and history. This was a great gain, for the barricading of these two gateways against philosophy has produced untold mischief in the past. At present men are beginning to see this mistake, and we are witnessing to-day the phenomenon of the indissoluble connection of language and history with philosophy. In fact, the new meanings given to language and history are meanings of things which happened in the [p.16] culture and civilisations of individuals and of nations, and such a material casts light on the processes, meaning, and significance of the human mind and spirit.
Eucken learnt this truth in Berlin at a very early age, and his life and teaching ever since have been a further development of it. This fact has to be borne in mind in order that we may understand the prominence he gives to religion, religious idealism, spiritual life, and other similar concepts—concepts which are largely foreign to ordinary philosophy and which are only to be found in that mysterious, all-important borderland of philosophy and religion.
After graduating as Doctor of Philosophy in the University of Goettingen, we find him preparing himself as a High School teacher, in which position he remained for five years.
In 1871 he was appointed Professor of Philosophy in the University of Basel. In 1874 he received a "call" to succeed the late Kuno Fischer as Professor of Philosophy in the renowned University of Jena. It is here, in the "little nest" of Goethe and Schiller, that Eucken has remained in spite of "calls" to universities situated in larger towns and carrying with them larger salaries. It is fortunate for Jena that Eucken has thus decided. He, along with his late colleague Otto Liebmann, has kept up the philosophical tradition of Jena. In spite of modern developments and the presence of [p.17] new university buildings, Jena still remains an old-world place. To read the tablets on the walls of the old houses has a fascination, and brings home the fact that in this small out-of-the-way town large numbers of the most creative minds of Europe have studied and taught. The traditions of Goethe and Schiller still linger around the old buildings and in the historical consciousness of the people. Here Fichte taught his great idealism—an idealism which has meant so much in the evolution of the Germany of the nineteenth century; here Hegel was engaged on his great Phenomenology of Spirit when Napoleon's army entered the town; here Schopenhauer sent his great dissertation and received his doctor's degree in absentia; here too, the Kantian philosophy found friends who started it on its "grand triumphant march"—a philosophy which raised new problems which have been with us ever since, and which gave a new method of approaching philosophical questions; here Schelling revived modern mysticism and attempted the construction of a great Weltanschauung. But only a small portion of the greatness of Jena can be touched on. Eucken has nobly upheld the great traditions of the place, not only as a philosophical thinker but also as a personality.
What is the secret of Eucken's influence? It is due greatly, it is true, to his writings and their original contents, for it is not possible for [p.18] a man to hide his inner being when he writes on the deepest questions concerning life and death. A great deal of Eucken's personality may be discovered in his writings. Opening any page of his books, one sees something unique, passionate, and somehow always deeper than what may be confined within the limits of the understanding, and something which has to be lived in order to be understood. And to know the man is to realise this in a fuller measure than his writings can ever show. He has to be seen and heard before the real significance of his message becomes clear. His personality attracts men and women of all schools of thought, from all parts of the world, and they all feel that his message of a reality which is beyond knowledge—though knowledge forms an integral part of it—is a new revelation of the meaning of life and existence. Professor Windelband, in his History of Philosophy and elsewhere, describes Eucken as the creator of a new Metaphysic—a metaphysic not of the Schools but of Life. This aspect will be discussed at fuller length in later pages, so that it may be passed over for the present.
Eucken believes in the reality and necessity of his message. He is aware that that message is contrary to the current terminology and meaning of the philosophy of our day. Some of his great constructive books were written as far back as 1888, and have remained, almost until our own day, in a large measure unnoticed. [p.19] The Einheit des Geisteslebens in Bewusstsein und Tat der Menschheit is a case in point. It is one of his greatest books, and its value was not seen until the last few years. But the philosophy of the present day in Germany is tending more and more in the direction of Eucken's. Writers such as the late Class and Dilthey, Siebeck, Windelband, Muensterberg, Rickert, Volkelt, Troeltsch —naming but a small number of the idealistic thinkers of the present —are tending in the direction of the new Metaphysic presented by Eucken in the book already referred to as well as in the Kampf um einen geistigen Lebensinhalt.
The philosophy of Germany at the present day is making several attempts at a metaphysic of the universe. Much critical and constructive work has been done during the past quarter of a century and is being done to-day. The attempts to construct systems of metaphysics may be witnessed on the sides of natural science and of philosophy. Haeckel, Ostwald, and Mach have each given the world a constructive system of thought. But these three systems have not, except in a secondary way, attempted a metaphysic of human life. Haeckel's system is mainly poetico-mythical, chiefly on the lines of some of the pre-Socratic philosophers. Ostwald's attempt is to show the unity of nature and life through his principle of Energetics; and Mach's may be described as an inverted kind [p.20] of Kantianism in regard to the problem of subject and object.
None of these has attempted a reconstruction of philosophy from the side of the content of consciousness; in fact, they all find their explanation of consciousness in connection with physical and organic phenomena observed on planes below those of the mental and ideal life of man. Such work is necessary; but if it comes forward as a complete explanation of man, it is, as Eucken points out again and again, a wretched caricature of life. To know the connection of consciousness with the organic and inorganic world is not to know consciousness in anything more than its history. It may have been similar to, or even identical with, physical manifestations of life, but it is not so now. Eucken admits entirely this fact of the history of mind; but the meaning of mind is to be discovered not so much in its Whence as in its present potency and its Whither. A philosophy of science is bound to recognise this difference, or else all its constructions can represent no more than a torso. Physical impressions enter into consciousness, [p.21] and doubtless in important ways condition it, but they are not physical once man becomes conscious of them. A union of subject and object has now taken place, and consequently a new beginning —a beginning which cannot be interpreted in terms of the things of sense—starts on its course. This is Eucken's standpoint, and it is no other than the carrying farther of some of the important results Kant arrived at.
This difference between the natural and the mental sciences has been emphasised, at various times, since the time of Plato. But the difference tended to become obliterated through the discoveries of natural science and its great influence during the latter half of the nineteenth century. The key of evolution had come at last into the hands of men, and it fitted so many closed doors; it provided an entrance to a new kind of world, and gave new methods for knowing that world. But, as already stated, evolution is capable of dealing with what is in the light of what was, and the Is and the Was are the physical characteristics of things. In all this, mind and morals, as they are in their own intrinsic nature operating in the world, are left out of account. A striking example of this is found in the late Professor Huxley's Romanes Lecture—Evolution and Ethics. In this remarkable lecture it is shown that the cosmic order does not answer all our questions, and is indifferent [p.22] and even antagonistic to our ethical needs and ideals. Huxley's conclusion may be justly designated as a failure of science to interpret the greatest things of life. Before culture, civilisation, and morality become possible, a new point of departure has to take place within human consciousness, and the attempt to move in an ethical direction is as much hindered as helped by the natural course of the physical universe. This lecture of Huxley's runs parallel in many ways with Eucken's differentiation of Nature and Spirit, and Huxley's "ethical life" has practically the same meaning as Eucken's "spiritual life" on its lower levels.
Numerous instances are to be found in the present-day philosophy of Germany of the need of a Metaphysic of Life, and of the impossibility of constructing such from the standpoint of the results of the natural sciences either singly or combined.
Professor Rickert's investigations are having important effects in this respect. In his works he has made abundantly clear the difference between the methods and results of the sciences of Nature and the sciences of Mind. And even amongst the mental sciences themselves, all-important aspects of different subject-matters present themselves, and render themselves as of different values.
Professor Muensterberg has worked on a similar path, and has insisted once more on the nature of reality as this expresses itself in [p.23] a meaning which is over-individual. Professor Windelband's writings (cf. Praeludien, Die Philosophie im XX. Jahrhundert, etc.) have emphasised very clearly the need of the presence and acknowledgment of norms in life, and of the meaning of life realising itself in the fulfilment of these norms.
When we turn to the great neo-Kantian movement, we find alongside of discussions concerning psychological questions important ethical aspects presenting themselves. The works of the late Professor Otto Liebmann of Jena (cf the last part of his Analysis der Wirklichkeit) and of the late Professor Dilthey and Dr. G. Simmel point in the same direction. Professors Husserl, Lipps, and Vaihinger, as their most recent important books show, work on lines which insist on bringing life as it is and as it ought to be into their systems. The same may be said of Professor Wundt's works in so far as they present a constructive system.
But the ground was fallow twenty-five years ago when some of Eucken's important works made their appearance. Even as late as 1896 he complains of this in the preface of his Kampf um einen geistigen Lebensinhalt: "I am aware that the explanations offered in this [p.24] volume will prove themselves to be in direct antagonism to the mental currents which prevail to-day." He states that his standpoint is different from that of the conventional and official idealism then in vogue. By this he means, on the one hand, the "absolute idealism" which constructed systems entirely unconnected with science or experience—systems whose Absolute had no direct relationship with man, or which made no appeal to anything of a similar nature to itself in the deeper experience of the soul; and, on the other hand, the degeneration of the neo-Kantian movement to a mere description of the relations of bodily and mental processes.
Probably enough has been said to show that the idealistic systems of Germany are tending more and more in the direction of a philosophy which attempts to take into account not only the results of the physical sciences and psychology, but also those of the norms of history and of the over-individual contents of consciousness.
It has been stated by several critics in England, Germany, and America, that Eucken has ignored the results of physical science and psychology. This was partially true in the past, when his main object was to present his [p.25] own metaphysic of life. The problems of science and psychology had to take a secondary place, but it is incorrect to state that these problems were ignored. It is remarkable how Eucken has kept himself abreast of these results which are outside his own province. But he has been all along conscious of the limitations of these results of natural science and psychology. The results fail to connote the phenomena of consciousness and its meaning. While Eucken has accepted these results, I have not seen any evidence that any of his conceptions concerning the main core of his teaching—the spiritual life—are disproved by any of them. He shows us, as will be elucidated later, that as sensations point in the direction of percepts, and percepts in the direction of concepts, so concepts point in the direction of something which is beyond themselves. And as the meaning of reality reveals itself the more we pass along the mysterious transition from sensation to concept, so a further meaning of reality is revealed when concepts search for a depth beyond themselves. This is the clue to Eucken's teaching in regard to spiritual life. It is a further development of the nature of man—a development beyond the empirical and the mental. And the object of the following chapters will be to show this from various points of view.
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CHAPTER II [p.26]
RELIGION AND EVOLUTION
Eucken accepts gladly the theory of descent in Darwinism, but insists that the theory of selection must be clearly distinguished from it. He agrees with Edward von Hartmann that the doctrine of selection is inadequate to explain the phenomena of life. But, as he points out, there is much which is true and helpful in the theory of selection even in regard to human life. "In all quarters there is a widespread inclination to go back to the simplest possible beginnings, which exhibit man closely related to the animal world, to trace back the upward movement not to an inner impulse, but to a gradual forward thrust produced by outward necessities, and to understand it as a mere adaptation to environment and the conditions of life. It seems to be a mere question of natural existence, of victory in the struggle against rivals." But he is not satisfied that such an explanation covers the [p.27] phenomena of consciousness. If there were no more than this at work in the higher forms of life, the things of value—the things which have meant so much in the upward development of humanity—would be reduced to mere adjuncts of physical existence. If mental and moral values mean no more than this, they are simply annihilated. But the values of life are something quite other than any physical manifestation; and however much they are conditioned by physical changes it is inconceivable that what is purely physical should be the sole cause of them. Man would never have risen so far above Nature, and become able to be conscious of his own personality and of the meaning of the world, had there not been present from the very beginning some spiritual potency which could receive the impressions of the external world and bind them together into some kind of connected Whole. This connected Whole may be no more in the beginning than a potency without any content, and its roots may be discerned in the world below man; but without such a potency, different in its nature from physical things, the whole meaning of the evolution of mind and spirit is utterly unintelligible. But what can this potency mean but something which includes within itself the germ of that which later comes out in the form of the values which have been gained in the life of the individual and of the race?
[p.28] In order to understand Eucken's conceptions concerning Spirit, Whole, Totality, and other similar terms, this fact has to be borne in mind. The capacity for more is present in man's nature. It may remain dormant in a large measure, but it is not entirely so, as witnessed by the fact that men have scaled heights far above Nature and the ordinary life of the day. And humanity, on the whole, has climbed to a height to give some degree of meaning to the life of the day—a meaning superior to physical impressions, and which is able to see somewhat behind, around, and beyond itself. Wherever this happens, it comes about through the presence and activity of the life of the spirit within man. The spiritual life is, then, a possession of man, but it is a possession only in so far as it is used. It is subject to helps and hindrances from the world; it is not freed from its own content; it can never say, "So far and no further according to the bond and the duty"; it has to undergo a toilsome struggle before it can ever become the possessor of the new kind of world to which it has a right.
In all this we notice something in the new world of consciousness similar to what happens within the physical world. In the world of nature no animate (and probably no inanimate) thing has received a donum which it may preserve as its own without effort. Everything that has value has to be preserved through [p.29] struggles necessitated by the changing conditions of the impinging environment as well as struggles between contrary characteristics within the nature of the thing itself. Otherwise nothing could maintain its identity and individuality at all. There must be some core in everything which exists as an individual thing. This individuality is seen more clearly as the scale of existence is mounted. In the organic world each thing lives in a more or less degree its own life, however much that life is conditioned and even hindered by the environment. What is it, then, that keeps the thing together? It is some point of union of elements otherwise scattered. When we come to man we see this more clearly than in the world below him. This core is a kind of Whole made up of isolated impressions mingling with a potency different in nature from themselves, and transmuting them to its own nature in the forms of self-consciousness, meanings, values. This potency—this Whole—although present from the very beginning as the condition of becoming conscious of anything, yet remains in constant change. Impressions pour in through the senses, enter the Whole that is already present; they drop their content into that Whole by means of the senses, and the miracle of transmutation, entirely mysterious, takes place.
This point is not new. It is a fact well [p.30] known in the history of psychology, and played a very prominent part in the psychology of Kant. But Eucken has deepened the conception in such a way as to be able to rid himself of the postulates of Kant concerning God, Freedom, and Immortality. The germs of these, according to the meaning of Eucken, are within the spiritual life itself, and not transcendent in the form presented by Kant or external as presented by Hegel. There is, then, within consciousness a process in many respects analogous to the natural process. And as the meaning of the physical universe has become clearer through the conception of evolution, so the meaning of consciousness, originating in a higher world than Nature, will become clearer if viewed in a similar manner. Let us then turn to one of the most important aspects of Eucken's work, Evolution and Religion.
Eucken's deepest, and consequently the most difficult, account of the meaning of religion is to be found in his Truth of Religion and his Kampf um einen geistigen Lebensinhalt. It is important to deal with the concept of the spiritual life at this stage of our inquiry, for it is the pivot around which the whole of Eucken's philosophy turns.
The essence of religion is conceived by him as the possession by man of an eternal existence in the midst of time; of the presence of an over-world in the midst of this world [p.31]—guiding man to the revelation of a Divine Will.
This is Eucken's main thesis, and connected with this thesis is the fact that religion can come to birth in the soul of man only through a conquest of the ordinary, natural world which surrounds him. The world which surrounds him hinders more than it helps the birth of religion in the soul. The aim of religion is therefore not the perfecting of man in a natural sense, but the bringing about of a union of human nature and the Divine. Religion must therefore include a "world-denial and a world-renewal." There is not enough for man's deeper nature either in the physical world or in the ordinary life of the hour. The natural world knows of no complete self-subsistence, for everything is connected with its environment, and it is in this connection with its environment that life below man largely obtains its existence. But in man we discover a transition stage from the sensuous to the non-sensuous, and it is in the latter that the meaning of the former can be obtained. The history of civilisation and culture is a history of this all-important fact. The meaning of man is, therefore, not to be found in his relationship to the physical world, but in his own consciousness. Although we may not be aware of it, consciousness is the power which, in the long and slow progress of the ages, has overcome the sensuous and made it subservient to the [p.32] meaning and value which its own content of experience has presented. The necessity and proof of religion are not then discovered in anything in the external world, but in the realisation of the fact that we are meant to be citizens of a world higher in its nature, the birthright of which is to be found within our own nature. The conquest of nature and the growth of culture are proofs to man of his superiority to the world of sense impressions. This denial of the sufficiency of the world of sense in the evolution of the human soul, on the one hand, and the affirmation of the potentiality of a higher world of spirit on the other hand, constitute the nucleus of the Christian religion. Its superiority consists in giving their rights to both worlds, and also in showing that they do not possess the same value. This essential nature of Christianity will be demonstrated later.
We must return, then, to consciousness itself and see what may be discovered within it concerning the meaning of religion. The great thinkers of the ages have all been agreed as to the impossibility of finding sufficient proofs and meanings of religion either from Nature or from some supernatural source flowing in a miraculous manner towards our earth. The growth and interpretation of natural science in modern times have rendered it impossible to find proofs of religion in any external mode. Yet the problems of man's [p.33] Whence and Whither raise themselves with energy and even tragedy in our own day. These, as Eucken points out, are "problems concerning our Whence and Whither, our dependence upon strange powers, the painful antitheses within our own soul, the stubborn barriers to our spiritual potencies, the flaws in love and righteousness, in Nature and in human nature; in a word, the apparent total loss of what we dare not renounce—our best and most real treasures." The loss takes place because we have been looking outward instead of inward for support, and prop after prop has given way. This is the situation to-day, and it has been brought about by no evil power, but by the gradual dawning of the meaning of things. Still, it is not the whole meaning of things, for, as Eucken points out: "But we are now experiencing what mankind has so often experienced, viz. that at the very point where the negation reaches its climax and the danger reaches the very brink of a precipice, the conviction dawns with axiomatic certainty that there lives and stirs within us something which no obstacle or enmity can ever destroy, and which signifies against all opposition a kernel of our nature that can never get lost."
The religio-philosophical problem is, then, a return to the Whole of Life. It is here that any satisfactory answer can be found if found [p.34] at all. It is necessary to investigate the final grounds as well as the most complete structure of Life; it is further necessary to discover whether the movement of Life necessarily leads to religion. As Eucken invariably presents the truth of religion, the meaning and significance of religion are to be found through self-consciousness. This meaning of consciousness is twofold in nature. On the one hand, it is something that may be known, and, on the other hand, it is something that is active through its own inherent energy. Here we find a difference between what we may know we are and what we are. Our knowledge of what we are, the conditions of what we are, the history of what we are—all these are a help for us to be what we are capable of becoming. But all these are not the very movement of the becoming itself. That movement is the resultant of the spiritual potency after experiences in the form of cognition have marked out the path for conation. This conation is an inheritance; it is present in the form of dissatisfaction with the present situation; it moves in the direction of a goal which is marked out by intellect. Now, however much this conation may be analysed, it resists being decomposed into a number of elements which make it up, for any such number, except in the very manner they are united, could not produce the situation. In other words, whatever the history of this conation may be, it is now a unity or whole. [p.35] Conditioned as it is by the surrounding world and by its own history, in so far as it is this, it is determined; but it is still free in so far as it is capable of becoming a new point of departure for life and of proceeding on its way in a world of spirit. Unless man's nature contained within itself some unity or whole of the kind already referred to, it would mean no more than a receptacle of momentary impressions which would vanish as soon as their physical effects had passed away. But man is in reality more than all this. In the form of memory and experience he is able to hold together in a core of his being the meaning of these impressions after they have filtered into his consciousness. That is what we find, in however obscure a way, as the very beginning of every human life. This unity or whole, as already stated, may be no more than a potency in the beginning of life, but it gains in content and depth as it passes from impression to impression, and from experience to experience. And all further impressions and experiences have to be referred to this nucleus of the nature in order that they may be used and may prove themselves helpful. It is in this nucleus of the nature that everything obtains its meaning and value.
The Whole consequently grows, and gradually man becomes conscious of his personality as over against the environing world and even his own body. This consciousness of [p.36] inwardness is of slow growth, because the natural tendency of life is to give a primary place to the world from which we have emerged—the world of physical existence, and also because much of that physical world reigns powerfully within our nature. But when reflection turns into itself, it becomes aware that the inwardness constitutes the kernel of a reality higher in its nature than anything either in the physical world or in the physical life which the man has to lead.
Two modes of reality now present themselves to the life, neither of which allows itself to be conceived of as an illusion. On the one hand, we find the physical world and our own physical nature. We discover that we cannot jump out of these without destroying all we possess; we have to come to some kind of understanding with the physical world and our own physical existence. Yet, on the other hand, the consciousness of a kernel of our being, non-sensuous and spiritual in its nature, has for ever broken our satisfaction with the physical world and our own physical existence. There are only two alternatives on which we can act. Either we are to conceive of our spiritual personality as something secondary and subsidiary to the natural world, or we are to insist on its independence, and acknowledge it as the beginning of a new mode of existence. If the former alternative is chosen, the personality can never pass to a state of self-subsistence, [p.37] but will conceive of reality as something which is mainly physical. The consequence is that the personality will suffer seriously in its evolution, for such an evolution is brought about through the recognition and willing acknowledgment of the breaking forth of a new kind of reality within the spiritual nucleus of life. If the latter alternative is chosen, this nucleus of life is now seen as something quite other than a quality entirely dependent upon the physical or than a mere flowering of the physical; it is seen as a reality higher in its nature than the physical or even than the ordinary life of the individual. Such a situation is forced on man when once he reflects upon the inward meaning of the content of his consciousness. It is true that such questions may be thrust into the background, and consequently inhibited from presenting us with their full value and significance. And it is this which happens only too often in daily life. The constant need of attention to external things, the absorption of the mind in conventionality and custom as these present themselves in the form of a ready-made inheritance—all these occupy so much of the attention as to prevent man from knowing and experiencing what his own life is or what it is capable of becoming. Man has penetrated into the secrets of Nature as well as into the past of human society through close and constant attention to external things. [p.38] He has been able to gather fragments together, piece them into each other, and through this frame laws concerning them. It is thus that the external world and society have come to mean more to a human being than to an animal. The animal is probably almost entirely the creature of its instincts and of the percepts which present themselves to it from moment to moment, and which largely disappear. But man rises above this situation. The external world and everything that has ever happened on its face are not merely objects external to himself, which contain all their qualities in themselves. Somebody has to experience all this, and that somebody that experiences all this is mental in his nature, however much this nature has been conditioned by physical things in the past or present.
Eucken emphasises this fundamental fact in all his books. Wherever a being is capable of experiencing impressions and of giving meanings to these, we are bound to conclude that the power which does this is something quite other than physical in its nature. It may be that such a power has never been known except in connection with what is physical; it may be that various chemical changes give the truer and clearer explanation of its origin, as far as its origin can be known at all; it may be that there was nothing of the mental visible in the early stages of its development; but all this is very different from stating that [p.39] no potentiality for mental evolution was there. And it is this potentiality which is the issue at stake. We have no warrant for stating that it does not exist because it does not lend itself to be verified by the senses. Where does mind manifest itself to the senses? It is something which does not exist in space as a horse or a tree. It may be that consciousness has emanated from simple chemical beginnings and combinations, but it is not a simple or a chemical thing now. We divide worlds into inorganic and organic. The main principle of division is necessitated on account of the fact that some characteristics are present in the former which are absent in the latter. It is precisely the same between Body and Mind, with one difference. Body and Mind are indissolubly connected, but one cannot be reduced into the other. However much the connection on one side may influence the other side, the difference between a meaning and a thing remains. And it is this fundamental difference which makes it absolutely necessary to acknowledge a world of consciousness in contradistinction to a world of matter and its behaviour, whether such matter is to be found in the human body with its mechanical and chemical changes and transformations or in the physical universe outside our body.
It is only when the mind becomes aware of its own existence—an existence not to be established as being in Space (or entirely in [p.40] Time) but as a reality subsisting in itself and in will-relations—that the efforts and fruitions of the spirit of man become intelligible at all. But such an awareness has become a permanent possession in a greater or less degree within the life of man. Whenever he becomes conscious of the fact that in his own soul a new phenomenon has made its appearance, he begins, after the willing acknowledgment of the reality of such a phenomenon, to exercise its potency over against the external world and over against much that is present in his own psychical life. A Higher and a Lower present themselves to him. The two alternatives force themselves, and there is no third: either this deeper kernel of his life must mean the possibility and, in a measure, the presence of a new land of reality; or, on the other hand, it means no more than a mere epiphenomenon and blossoming of the merely natural life. If the latter view is adopted, the spiritual nucleus of man's nature obtains but slight attention except on the side of its connection with the surrounding organic world, and consequently what this nucleus is in itself as an experience recedes into the background, and descriptions and explanations in scientific or philosophical form step into the foreground. But a contradiction is imbedded in this very account. Some kind of experience of life, apart from, and higher in its nature than, the connection of the spiritual nucleus with its [p.41] physical history, persists in the life. The man of science is generally a good and worthy man. He believes in the moral life, and he does not throw the values of the centuries overboard. Such belief and valuation are not made up of the content of the explanation of life from its physical side, but are an unconscious acknowledgment of the presence of truths and values as experiences and as now subsisting in themselves, however much they are caused by physical things.
If, on the other hand, an acknowledgment of the reality of this spiritual life is made, new questions immediately arise. And the most fundamental of these questions have always been those farther removed from any sensuous or physical domain. They are questions concerning the value and meaning of life. It is a deep conviction of the reality of the deeper kernel of our being that alone constitutes the entrance to a new kind of world. But to acknowledge the presence of such a new world does not signify the possession of it simultaneously with the acknowledgment. The new world is discovered, but it is not yet possessed. There are terrible obstacles in the way; there are enemies without and within to be conquered. It is of little use entering into this struggle without an acknowledgment—born of an inward necessity—of the spiritual nucleus of our nature. Unless man has accustomed himself to hold fast to this "subtle thing termed spirit" [p.42] he will soon be swamped in the region of the natural life once more; and when this happens the spiritual nucleus loses the consciousness of its own real subsistence as something higher in its nature than physical things or than the body and the ordinary life of the day. If the enterprise is to issue in anything that is great and good—into a spiritual world with an ever-growing content here and now—an insistence upon the reality of this deeper life coupled with the highest end which presents itself to the life must be made. Something is now seen in the distance as the meaning and value of life—something which our deeper nature longs for, and which has created a cleft within the soul between the ordinary things of sense and time and that which "never was on sea or land." It is something of this nature which Eucken discovers as the germ of all the spiritual ideas of religion as well as of the essence of religion itself. The Godhead, Eternity, Immortality, are concepts which arise within the soul through a consciousness of the inadequacy of all natural things and of even mental descriptions and explanations to answer and to satisfy the potency and longing of human nature.
Most of the great thinkers of the ages have insisted on the necessity of the recognition and acknowledgment of this deeper life which is in dire need of a content. If man is not to be swamped by the external and become the [p.43] mere sport of the "wind and wave" of the environment, he has to enter somehow into the very centre of his being and become convinced that the dictates which proceed from that centre are the most fundamental things in life. This has always formed the kernel of religion, however often men, failing to reach that kernel, have lived on the husks. But even this very sham notifies some small attempt in the right direction. In modern times—in the various forms of Idealism and Pragmatism—such a need of getting at the core of being and of being convinced that the effort is worth while, has been emphasised again and again. "Launch yourselves with as strong and decided an initiative as possible. Accumulate all the possible circumstances which shall re-enforce the right motives; put yourself assiduously in conditions that encourage the new way; make engagements incompatible with the old; take a public pledge, if the case allows; in short, envelop your resolution with every aid you know. This will give your new beginning such a momentum that the temptation to break down will not occur as soon as it otherwise might; and every day during which a breakdown is postponed adds to the chances of its not occurring at all."
"The Stoic and Butler also said, 'Follow God.' In each case you must realise that, whatever you do, you take your life in your [p.44] hands; you enter on a grand enterprise, a search for the Holy Grail, which will bring you to strange lands and perilous seas. For you cannot say, interpreting, 'Thus far and no further, merely according to the bond and the duty.' In following God, you follow by what has been, what is ruled and accomplished, but you follow after what is not yet. 'It may be that the gulfs will wash us down'; it may be that the gods of the past will rain upon us brimstone and horrible tempest. But he that is with us is more than all that are against us. Whoever keeps his ear ever open to duty, always forward, never attained, is not far from the kingdom. The gods may be against him, the demi-gods may depart; but he, as said Plotinus, 'if alone, is with the Alone.'"
It is impossible for us, as Eucken constantly insists, to stop short of this. Who can prescribe limits to the capability of consciousness when it is focussed, in the form of a conviction, on the deepest problems which press themselves upon it? There is only one objection that the empiricist can bring forward, and that is that all such ideals can never be proved to exist as things exist in space. But, as already hinted, is existence in space the only form of existence? Is it not necessary for something which is not in space to make us aware of what is in space? "If not as men of science, yet as [p.45] men, as human beings, we have to put things together, to form some total estimate of the drift of development, of the unity of nature."
If the deepest core of consciousness is acknowledged and the vague ideals and ends which present themselves are attended to, something new happens in the life. Life now starts on the great enterprise referred to by William Wallace. It finds its highest reality in an experience born within itself and differentiated for ever from the natural and even the intellectual life. To such a conclusion man is forced; and if the situation is evaded, something within his soul never comes to birth. It is seen at once that in order to know the content of this new world, it is necessary for a long series of struggles to take place. And to this point we now turn.
The deeper consciousness has relegated the natural world to a secondary place, and has further shown man that the main object of life includes not only finding a footing against the dangers of natural things, but to plant oneself within a spiritual world of meanings and values. This cannot be done without an independent and decisive act of the soul. A meaning of life has now revealed itself beyond that of the "small self." This meaning can be reached only through this decisive act of the soul. This meaning is over-individual in its nature; [p.46] it is a truth, goodness, or beauty, which presents itself as an idea and ideal formed by the experiences of many individuals, at different epochs and in different circumstances. Thus the individual, in order to realise his own life, must work with material presented in the community. Such material has been found helpful in the life of the community. It consists of collective results made up of large numbers of single factors. These have been tied together in the form of various syntheses. Such various syntheses comprise a larger meaning than what ordinarily happens from moment to moment in connection with the relation of the individual to the external world or, indeed, within the individual's own ordinary life. Many of the isolated, fragmentary experiences of the individual have to give way when tested in the light of any larger synthesis. If this were not so, no commercial, social, civilised life would be possible at all. The more real life is now perceived to be that of the larger meaning and value. The individual, solitary experiences may be legitimate, for they often express wants and needs of the individual which have a certain right to obtain satisfaction. But the extent and limits of these rights have to be measured by some norm or standard other than themselves, or else each individual will proceed on his own course regardless of the rights of others. It is the presence of various syntheses which express the [p.47] collective life of the whole—of each and every individual—that makes civilisation possible. Thus, in the very process of civilisation itself, as Eucken points out, there is present a factor which is termed Spiritual, and which is not to be mistaken for a mere flow of cause and effect, or for one mere event following another. Eucken emphasises this all-important element of the over-individual qualities present in human history. There is here much which resembles Hegel's Absolute. But there is a great difference between the two in the sense that Eucken shows the constant need of spiritual activism on the part of individuals in order to realise and keep alive the norms and standards which have carried our world so far; and there is also the need of contributing something to the values of these through the creation of new qualities within the souls of the individuals themselves.
But the problems of civilisation and morality are not the only, or the highest, problems which present themselves. But even such problems have partially been the means of drawing man outside himself, and of enabling him to see that his self can only be realised in connection with the common good and demands of the community. He now feels the necessity of living up to that standard. This is an important step in the direction of the moral and religious life. It reveals the presence of a spiritual nucleus of our being obtaining a content beyond the needs [p.48] of the moment; it shows life as realising itself in wide connections; and the individual becomes the possessor of a certain degree of spiritual inwardness in the process. Even as far as this level we find the deeper life—the spiritual life—insisting on the validity of its mental and moral conclusions over against the objects of sense. Without this insistence no knowledge would progress and be valid. The macrocosm is mirrored and coloured in a mental and moral microcosm. A replica of the external world has a reality in consciousness, and this reality is not a mere photograph of the external, but it is the external as it appears to the meaning it has obtained in consciousness. The meaning of the world is thus something beyond the world itself; it is more than appears at any one moment. If the world were less than this, if the percept could not somehow become a concept, all progress would come to a standstill, and we should be no more than creatures of sensations and percepts which vanished as soon as they appeared. But these do not vanish; they persist in various ways, as after-images, concepts, memory. Thus, in the very act of knowing anything at all, something greater than the physical object known is present. And Eucken would insist, therefore, that the mental and spiritual are present from the very beginning and bring to a mental focus the impressions of the senses. In the interpretation of Eucken's philosophy several writers [p.49] have missed the author's meaning here. They have, through the ambiguity of the term "spiritual" in English, conceived of "spiritual life" as something entirely different from the mental life. It is different, but only in the same way as the bud is different from the blossom; it means at the religious level a greater unfolding of a life which has been present at every stage in the history of civilisation and culture.
But, as already noticed, the mental life is passed when we enter the life of a community. The norms and standards, already referred to, make their appearance and persist in demanding obedience to themselves even at the expense of much within consciousness that points in another direction.
But even such a stage as this does not give satisfaction to man. Much effort and sacrifice are needed to live up to the life of the community. And such effort and sacrifice are often the best means of calling into activity a still deeper, reserved energy of the soul. The soul now recognises a value beyond the values of culture and civilisation. The Good, the True, and the Beautiful appear as the sole realities by the side of which everything that preceded, if taken as complete in itself, appears as a great shadow or illusion. Here we are reminded of Eucken's affinity with Plato's Doctrine of Ideas, as well as of his attachment to the revival of Platonism by Plotinus. Values for life, subsisting in themselves, become objects [p.50] of meditation, of "browsing," and of the deepest activity of the soul. Life is now viewed as consisting in a great and constant quest after these religious ideals. It sees its meaning beyond and above the range of mentality or even morality, though it is well that it should pass as often as possible through the gate of the former, and is bound to pass always through the gate of the latter. A break takes place with the "natural self"; the mental life of concepts, though necessary, is now seen as insufficient; and life is now viewed as having a "pearl of great price" before its gaze. Here the stirb und werde of Paul and Goethe becomes necessary. The real education of man now begins. His life becomes guided and governed by norms whose limits cannot be discovered, and which have never been realised in their wholeness on the face of our earth. What can these mean? They cannot be delusions or illusions, for they answer too deep a need of the soul to be reduced to that level. If we blot them out of our existence, we sink back to a mere natural or mechanical stage. When the soul concentrates its deepest attention on these norms or ideals they fascinate it, they draw hidden energies into activity, they give inklings of immortality. Is it not far more conceivable that such a vision of meaning, of beauty, and of enchantment is a new kind of reality—cosmic in its nature and eternal in its duration? Man has to [p.51] come to a decision concerning this. There is no half-way house here possible without the deepest potencies of human nature suffering and failing to transform themselves from bud to blossom and fruit.
At a later stage in our inquiry this question will recur in connection with the conception of the Godhead. But here it may be observed that to decide on the affirmative side that somehow such norms and ideals which mean so much are cosmic realities, is simply to state no more than that an evolutionary process is taking place towards a new kind of world as well as a new kind of existence. No outsider is competent to pronounce judgment on the validity of the proofs possessed within this spiritual realm. The qualifications here are beyond the range of knowledge, although knowledge does not cease to act within such a realm. The experiences here cannot be measured or weighed; and that a certain obscurity is present in them is only what may be expected, considering that the spiritual nature is farther removed from the region of nature with its physical existence than when it deals with problems on the intellectual level. But such spiritual proofs are found in the fact that these realities present themselves only at the height of spiritual development, and in the fact that they produce an inversion of the nature of man, and change the centre of gravity of his life to a more inward recess of his being [p.52] than is open on the natural or intellectual side.
Thus, once more, the soul is driven forward by its own necessities to a religious reality. What can it do but grant cosmic origin and validity to such ideals? If these ideals are not this, then, as Eucken points out, they are the most tragic illusions conceivable.
When they are acknowledged as cosmic realities, man is in the midst of a religion of a universal kind. But the acknowledgment of these as cosmic realities is something more than a concept. The men who have come to this conclusion required something more than logical arguments in order to establish this truth. The conclusions were based upon a specific (characteristic) religious experience of their own. And such a religious experience was larger and more real than anything that could be established in the form of concepts concerning it. As we shall notice in a later chapter, it is somewhat on this account that Eucken differentiates between universal and specific (characteristic) religion.
It becomes evident that such contents of the new spiritual world cannot be utilised by man without effort. These realities have to pass from the region of ideas to the region of actual experiences. In other words, they must become man's own religion. Man has now become convinced of the reality of a universal spiritual life as constituting, in a measure, the [p.53] foundation of the evolution of the soul, and as the goal towards which he must for ever move. Eucken is unwilling to speculate as to the origin or the goal of this. The centre of gravity of life must be laid in what may be known and experienced between these two poles. There is a certainty which is intermediate between man and the Godhead. It is when this certainty is realised as an actual portion of the soul that man becomes competent to carry farther—backward and forward—the implications of this certainty. And implications of a new kind of Weltanschauung result from the spiritual experiences of the Lebensanschauung of the spiritual life. On this matter we shall touch at a later stage in the inquiry.
At present let us confine our attention to the intermediate reality which presents itself in a form that is over-individual. It is only when we pass out of the psychology of the subject—a matter that deals with the history of mental processes—that we are able to view the meaning of the realities which are over-individual. As already pointed out, these realities are not the creations of man's fancy or imagination after reason has been switched off. They are non-sensuous realities which have moulded and shaped the lives of individuals and nations in varied degrees. These ideals are not to remain merely objects of knowledge; they are to become portions of the inmost experiences of the soul. This they cannot become without the [p.54] calling out of the deepest energy of the individual. His fragmentary spiritual life—small as it is—still calls for more of its own nature, and this more has been seen in the distance as something of infinite value. A mountain, as it were, has to be climbed; dark ravines have to be gone through; and rivers have to be swum across. The whole vision means no less than an entrance into a new kind of world, the scaling to a new kind of existence, and a conquest which will make the pilgrim a participator in that which is Divine. A struggle has to take place, because so much that belongs to the life, on the level where it now stands, belongs to a world below it. Impulses and passions, the narrow outlook, the timidity and hollowness of the "small self"—all these, which have previously remained at the centre of life, have to be thrust to the periphery of existence. So that an entrance into the highest spiritual world is not merely something to know, but far rather something to do and to be. This is the meaning of Eucken's activism. It is not the busying of ourselves over trifles; there is no need of encouragement in that direction. It is rather the inward glance on the nature of the over-individual ideals; it is a deep and constant concentration upon their value and significance, in order that the soul may plant itself on the shores of the over-world. It is in granting a [p.55] higher mode of existence to these ideals, and in preserving them as the possession of the soul, that man finds the ever greater meaning of that spiritual life which was present within him from the very beginning of his enterprise. The process of forcing an entrance into this over-world has to be repeated time after time. There are no enemies in front, but the man is surrounded by them from around and behind him. The indifference, in a large measure of the natural process, the rigid instincts of mere self-preservation, the temptation to smugness and ease, the cold conclusions of the understanding when satisfied with explanations from the physical world, the hardness of the heart—these and many other enemies fight for supremacy, and the soul is often torn in the struggle. The struggle continues for a great length of time; but the history of the world testifies to an innumerable host of individuals who scaled and fell, who started again and again, until at last their conceptions of the Highest Good became a permanent experience and possession of their deepest being.
And when the spiritual life creates an entrance into this over-world something happens which makes a fundamental difference in the life. The life may again and again sink back to its old level, but what has happened will never allow it to remain satisfied on that level. "We fall to rise, are baffled to fight better, sleep to wake" (Browning). Life now becomes [p.56] alternately a quest and a fruition. The individual has to gather his whole energies together because something great is at stake. This is nothing less than the possession of a new kind of reality. The struggle has yielded a conquest for the time being. He tastes and "eats his pot of honey on the grave" of enemies within and without. This fruition means no less than a taste of "eternal life in the midst of time" (Harnack), and the relegating of the whole world of phenomena to a subsidiary place.
This is the kernel of Eucken's Truth of Religion. The book deals with the most subtle psychological problems of the soul, and reaches the conclusion of an entrance by man into a divine world. All this is far removed from the ordinary traditional conception either of God or of religion. Perhaps the majority of mankind is not as yet ready for such a presentation of religion. But I think it may be safely said that it is through some such mode of conceiving religion as this that the "great and good ones" of the world found an entrance into a divine world and grasped the conception of the evolution of the soul as a process which begins where organic evolution ends.
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CHAPTER III [p.57]
RELIGION AND NATURAL SCIENCE
In the previous chapter we have noticed how man is able to reach an over-world which will grant him a new kind of reality over against the whole remaining domain of existence. But the evidence hitherto brought forth has been that of the nature of man himself. We have in this chapter to inquire whether there is a warrant for such a conclusion within the realm of natural science. Does science give any hint of the presence of spiritual life anywhere in the universe? Eucken answers distinctly in the affirmative.
The conclusions of natural science have, in modern times, come into direct conflict with religion. Traditional religion has grown up on a view of the universe which has been [p.58] utterly discarded by modern knowledge. Religious leaders have often had to be dragged to see the truth of this statement, and, as Eucken points out, many are still far from realising the seriousness of the cleft between knowledge and religion. The theology of the Middle Ages has not yet disappeared, although fortunately there are some signs of a great reconstruction going on in our midst. Fortunately, this naive view of the universe is a theology and not a religion; but doubtless even the religion of the soul suffers when its knowing aspect is perpetually contradicted by scientific knowledge. There is such a close connection between "head" and "heart"—even closer than between body and mind—that the use of discarded theories of the universe and of life cannot but prove injurious to the deepest source of life.
The mental conceptions of religion have, in the course of the ages, undergone many transformations, and there is no reason why another transformation should gradually not come about in the present. In Hebrew and Greek times we discover a polytheism, after a long course of development, emerging into henotheism, and finally, here and there, into monotheism. The old conceptions of gods and spirits present in trees and wells, mountains and air, are overcome. They are not so much destroyed as supplanted by higher conceptions. In pre-Socratic philosophy we find the gods and [p.59] spirits relegated to a secondary place, and Nature is conceived as a system of inner energies and strivings. In these conceptions Man is drawn closer to Nature, and the connection of his life is shown to be closely interwoven with the life of Nature. But the empirical aspect of this teaching was pushed into the background through the teachings of Socrates and Plato. The "myth" regained some of its pristine power in a new kind of way; and "God transcendent of the world and immanent in the world" came prominently forward as a doctrine of the universe and of life. This is the kernel of the Christian theology, constructed through the blending of Hebrew and Greek philosophies. Such a conception remained very largely the philosophy as well as the theology of the Christian Church until the seventeenth century. During this long interval hardly any progress was made in the investigation of Nature, so that such a theology proved rather a help than a hindrance to the religion of those who understood it. But such a theology has been destroyed, however unwilling many people are to acknowledge the fact. But until this fact is acknowledged, there is very little hope, in Eucken's opinion, of the Christian religion gaining many adherents from the side of those who understand the modern meaning and significance of natural science. The physical universe has become a problem; and the old solution was a matter [p.60] of speculation based upon scarcely any observation and experiment. Eucken marks the stages which have brought about a revolution in our conceptions of the universe as consisting of the change brought about in the science of astronomy through Copernicus in the sixteenth century, the founding of exact science through Galileo in the seventeenth century, and the theory of evolution propounded by Darwin and his followers in the nineteenth century. The whole tendency has been to describe and explain Nature in terms of mechanism, and to extend such mechanism into the life of man. Proof after proof has poured upon us, and has been the means, on the whole, of establishing a kingdom of mechanism within the realm of Nature and of human nature. Theology and speculative philosophy went on their courses unheedful of these developments of physical science, until in our day both have had to reconsider the tenableness of their position, and to see that Nature and its physical manifestations have to enter as all-important factors into their reconstructions. Miracle is now relegated to a secondary place in theology, and it has disappeared altogether from science; a Supreme Being transcendent of, and immanent in, the world is not known to science, however far it reaches into the secrets of Nature. Doubtless the loss to religion has been here incalculable; for although the natural scientist was able to destroy the old building, [p.61] he was unable to construct a new one. And Eucken shows that the natural scientist will remain unable to accomplish this, because the material with which he deals is physical in its nature and constitutes no more than a part—a secondary part—of what is found in the world.
The old mode of conceiving the universe, when driven from its citadel by the new conceptions of physics and astronomy, turned for refuge to the mystery of Life itself. Here it supposed itself to be safe. But the development of modern chemistry and biology shows how dangerous it is to base a theological and religious superstructure on the unfilled clefts of natural science. The lesson here during the past hundred years ought to be a grave warning against its repetition in the future. These clefts have been filled more and more by the investigations and results of modern chemistry and biology, so that the theologian is constantly kept in a state of panic, and has to shift his camp and run away when the tide of knowledge sweeps in with its newly discovered results. The whole situation seems serious, but it is not so disastrous as it appears at first sight. Doubtless the gains of science have been numerous, and have shaken and practically ruined the old theological and metaphysical foundations; but a halt has now been called on science itself, and its limitations have become perceptible even to its own [p.62] leaders. It is not quite so certain that the problem of organic life can be settled in terms of chemical combinations and mechanism. Many scientists are agreed on this point, although they repudiate the claims of neo-vitalists such as Driesch and Reinke. No judgment can be pronounced on this subject at the present day, and probably the problem will take a long time before any important results will accrue. And even these results will not solve the problem of organic life, for the manifestations of life, the higher we mount the scale of being, are not things visible to the senses but express themselves in the forms of meanings and will-relations.
The limits of natural science become clearly perceptible when we enter into the complex problem of the relation of subject and object, [p.63] or of mind and body. The final tribunal in regard to the great questions of life and religion is not natural science. This is not a matter of a mere wish that it should be so on the part of religious teachers who ignore the findings of science, but is a conviction of the scientists themselves.
Natural science has been so busy with the investigation of the physical world that it has had time to remember but little besides objects in the external world. And yet what are objects in the external world without a subject to know them? And what are the hypotheses which science frames in order to explain phenomena but syntheses of factors framed in consciousness? What are laws of Nature but mental constructions framed concerning similar ways of behaviour on the part of a large number of objects? What are the fundamental conceptions which serve as the very groundwork of the whole of science but concepts which are explanations of phenomena and not themselves phenomena?
Wherever we look, we find that our view [p.64] of Nature is in the first place a result as well as a conviction of the content of consciousness; that we do not perceive things and their qualities in a form of immediacy, but only after they have entered into consciousness are we able to know what external objects really are. The constructions of science in the form of hypotheses and laws are a proof that the reality of the physical world and its meaning are known only in so far as they are known by mind, and in so far as the universal (which is a mental content) explains the particular (which may or may not be an object in the external world).
Eucken emphasises this truth in several of his books, and whenever the truth is borne in mind the scientist becomes aware of the existence of a reality beyond that of the objects of sense. And even when the scientist is unaware of the mental qualities which operate in perceiving external objects and of the generalisations formed as the result of the impressions left by the objects in the mind, he uses these all the same. Professor Haeckel (one of Professor Eucken's colleagues in Jena) starts out in The Riddle of the Universe with the strong hope of reducing the whole universe (including God) into a state of material substance, and ends with a kind of peroration on the virtues of the new goddesses, the True, the Good, and the Beautiful.
[p.65] But an increasing number of scientists to-day are aware of the limits of science. They know that the mental models which they have to frame in order to interpret phenomena are not material things, and exist nowhere except in a world of mind and meaning. Eucken's conclusion then is that what knows and interprets is a mental quality. He would rather call it the life of the spirit of man, or the spiritual life. A non-sensuous power has to operate in order that the physical world may be known at all; that power has, further, in a manner unknown, to gather the fragmentary impressions of the senses, turn them into that which is mental, combine them into what is termed meaning.
We are led back to the point made so clear by Descartes—to his insistence on the presence of a thinking subject as the starting-point for the knowledge of all existence. This truth was elucidated later by Kant in a manner which the world can probably never get rid of. Therefore, if so much happens in the mind in connection with the knowledge and interpretation of the world, our view of the world after this happens in the mind is entirely different from the view which exists before it happens. Thought stands over against the sensuous object, transforms the object into a logical construction of meaning. When one becomes aware of this, not only do the objects themselves become most problematic [p.66] in their relation to consciousness, but the very tools with which the scientist works—e.g. space and time—become so puzzling that only by a return to a metaphysic do they become partially explainable. And thus we are landed in a region of idealism in the very midst of the work of natural science. Naturalism has arisen only because the subject was forgotten in the enchantment of the object. The attention has been turned so long on the object that the nature and the results of the attention itself are quite left out of account. We can all believe in what naturalism has to say concerning organic and inorganic objects; but it has not said enough when it leaves the power that knows the meaning of what it says out of account.
The conclusion Eucken arrives at is, then, that we must ascribe reality to the quality that knows and interprets as well as to the thing that is known. He ascribes reality to the physical world, but this is not the whole of reality. This cannot be so, simply because we could not know that the physical world was real had it not been that there was implanted in us a mental organisation to know all this. The other reality is that of consciousness and the meanings it formulates. Thus natural science itself announces the presence of more than sensuous nature. This more which knows the external world is the more which has constructed civilisation, culture, and [p.67] religion. This more has formed an independent inner life over against the natural world. Had it not been for this power of the more to construct its inner world, Life would have been no more than the life of sensuous nature—shifting from point to point, and entirely at the mercy of a physical environment. But the progress of mankind shows everywhere the growth of a life higher in nature than that of physical or animal existence. Some kind of total-life has been formed in which the individual can participate; and in the participation of which he can be carried far beyond physical things and beyond his own individual interests. Mankind has striven after truth, and has discovered something that is beyond the opinions of individuals, that does not serve his own petty interests, but overcomes them and reaches out after truths which are valid and good for all.
What is all this that has happened? What has brought it about? What is the individual potency that knows the world and passes beyond it? What are the ideals and norms which revealed themselves in the co-operative movements of humanity, and only revealed themselves when humanity was at its highest attainable level? Enough has been said to show that it is more than Nature, that characteristics are found within it entirely unknown in Nature. We are bound to take this more into account, for it has constructed all the gains of mankind. [p.68] What can it be, in the individual efforts of the soul and in the ideal constructions of science and the higher ethical and religious constructions of life, but a reality higher than sense and outside the categories of space and time? What better name can be given to it than a Spiritual Life in contradistinction to the life of Nature?
When this life of the mind and spirit of man is acknowledged, it is seen to be the beginning of a new order of existence. There appears within it a new kind of reality. It is the standpoint from which natural science itself has arisen. Such an acknowledgment of life as a new kind of reality alters in an essential manner the whole view of the world. Nature now signifies not the whole of things, but only a step beyond which the cosmic process progresses. Two worlds, instead of one world, now appear—one growing out of the other, but keeping a connection still with the other. Nature consequently gains a deeper significance of meaning when we recognise that it gives birth to mind and spirit —characteristics which merge into consciousness, values, and ideals. Nature is not discarded in our new view, but it takes a secondary place. The primary place must be given to the spiritual life—the life which is active as an organisation in knowing and being and doing. And when this truth is realised, this life of mental and spiritual activity becomes the [p.69] centre from which the new reality will obtain an ever greater content. The deepest aspect of reality is then discovered, not without but within. This reality is now conceived as something which belongs to a new kind of world, and this new world stands above the physical world. Man, when he conceives of things in this manner, will be able to bear the indifference of the physical course of existence towards the spiritual potencies of his being. The natural process may seem to harass and even destroy him; it matters not, for he has been led to a conviction of the possession of qualities which have not come into activity and power in any world below him, and which have laws of their own and goals spiritual in their nature. But all this will not come about as a shower of rain descends. The spiritual life has to insist on its superiority to the natural process, and to construct, with the deepest energy of its being, ever richer moral and spiritual contents for itself; for it is these contents which constitute the growth of the meaning and value of the new world, as well as of its indestructible reality beyond the process of Nature.
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CHAPTER IV [p.70]
RELIGION AND HISTORY
The subject of history has obtained a most prominent position in the whole of Eucken's philosophy. All his books deal with the subject, and in a manner resembling one another, whatever the particular subject dealt with may be. But the most exhaustive treatment of history presented in his volumes is to to be found in the chapter on history in Systematische Philosophie("Kultur der Gegenwart," Teil I., Abteilung VI.), and in the latter half of The Truth of Religion. In the former volume Eucken deals with history in its relation to civilisation and culture, and in the latter the place of history in the religions of the world is strikingly expressed.
We have already noticed in the previous chapter how he set out to discover the presence of a mental or spiritual life in the very act of knowing the physical world and in the constructions which form both the basis and the apex of physical science. It was shown [p.71] here that a life higher than the physical was present in order to be able to read the meaning of the world. Such a life became a standpoint to view Nature, and is the possession, more or less, of each individual. But although the possession of individuals and above Nature, the consciousness that knows Nature is still carried beyond its own individual life. The meaning of the physical world appears in consciousness, through the syntheses it forms, as objective, although it is not an object of sense but of thought; and, further, this very objectivity subsists in the form of generalisations and meanings which create standards for each individual in his relations with the physical world. Eucken then concludes that there is a trans-subjective aspect present in the conclusions of physical science itself. And it is on this fact that he bases the presence of a mental or spiritual life in the very act of knowing at all. But it is evident that the whole of man's potencies and relations are not confined to the knowing of Nature and framing interpretations concerning it. There are other provinces to which man is related—other objects besides physical ones to which his attention is called to frame interpretations concerning them also. History is one of these provinces. The subject-matter here is entirely [p.72] different from the subject-matter of physical science. In the latter the objects are physical; in the former the objects are not things, but will-relations. We are in history dealing with the effects of heredity and physical environment upon all organic life—man included. But it has been already shown that man, though rooted in the natural world and dependent upon it, is still the possessor of a world which is above the physical. Man's roots in Nature have been unearthed in a large measure; and his dependence on the world from which he has emerged is greater than was suspected, and probably it will be discovered in the future that he is still more dependent on what is below him. But however deep his connection with Nature may prove itself to be, he will still remain an unsolved problem if he is coolly stripped of all the qualities he has gained since he emerged from the bosom of Nature.
We are consequently led to the higher aspects of history where the centre of gravity of the matter lies in the relations of wills.
By will-relations is meant the impact of individuals upon one another from the side of meaning. It is through the expressions of the meaning of our concepts that we are able to construct an intelligible world. The individual's [p.73] deeper reality does not consist in the percept we obtain of him, but in the mental attitude he has expressed towards a mental attitude of ours. The clothing of meaning is certainly physical; there is our friend's physical body in front of us, and his speech is audible in a physical sense to physical ears. But neither body nor speech is absolutely necessary for the expression of meaning to another. We have neither seen nor heard many of the individuals who have exercised great influence over our lives. Words have answered the purpose. By this is not meant that we have not lost something of great value in having to depend on print alone. Something of every individual reveals itself in his body and speech which is missed when we have to depend on paper and ink as mediums of meaning. But meaning is something other than its medium; it is a mental or spiritual content. This content has to be classified and interpreted. The interpretation forms here again, as on the level of natural science, syntheses and generalisations larger than any one individual. These are the resultants of mind with mind and will with will. When human beings come into contact with each other, there originates a state of things in which something is thought and done. What is thought and done deals with situations outside the situation of each individual. The interpretation of these situations is, therefore, an objective reality which becomes a [p.74] norm for each individual. Mankind has thus created a reality which is beyond that of the content of each individual's experience as an individual.
We thus see that there are presented in such norms two aspects of a very different nature. On the one hand, we discover the contribution of each individual, and witness events dealing with situations which succeed one another with greater or less rapidity. This aspect is in constant flux. It constitutes the capability of meeting the needs of the moment. All this works well so long as the needs of the moment involve no great complexities. But immediately the situation becomes complex there is a turn to something besides this mere flow of things. To what? It is a turn to something whose nucleus of meaning and value has persisted in the midst of all the flow. This is no other than one or other of the highest of the ideal constructions which formed the basis of the life of the community. The community had been unconsciously garnering something over-individual and over-historical for its future use. Thus, in history itself there is the presence of a reality higher than the individual, and higher than the ordinary meaning of the [p.75] hour. This becomes the standard by which everything has to be measured. Of course, this norm does not remain static in regard to its own content. But its growth of content depends upon the contributions made to it by individuals in their will-relations. Something over-individual issues out of all these relations, and this enters into the still higher over-individual norms which are the heritage of society. Eucken consequently shows that history itself is dependent upon something which works within it—interpreting its events, and absorbing into itself something that is of value. What other can this be but a spiritual life higher not only than physical things but even than the will-relations which accrue from moment to moment? It has already been noticed that on these lower levels the spiritual life is ever present—present as a potency and experience when viewed from the standpoint of the individual's creativeness, and present as norms and values when viewed as an object of thought brought forth through general conclusions founded on situations beyond any single situation of the individual. Thus, we get in Eucken's teaching the over-historical as the power which operates within the events of history. It is what philosophy has termed the Ideal, and what religion has termed the revelation of God. It is not correct, then, to say that we are dependent upon the content of the moment apart from the presence of the [p.76] content of the past in that moment in order to grasp reality. The Past does not mean a mere series of events which occurred some hundreds or thousands of years ago, and before which we bend and towards which we try to turn back the world, for that would mean what Eucken terms "mere historism." The Past has rolled its meaning down to the Present: the Past mingled with the content of the Present is at each point of its course something other than it was before. But in any case this aspect of the Past as presented by Eucken shows that human life requires a great span of time which has already run in order to create its ideals and to be raised from the triviality of the mere moment. Goethe perceived the importance of the same truth:—
"Wer nicht von drei tausend Jahren sich weiss Rechenschaft zu geben, Bleib' im Dunkeln unerfahren, mag von Tag Zu Tage leben!"
At certain epochs in the history of the world great events have happened. Often such epochs are followed by epochs of inertia. Men bask in the sunlight of the glory that was revealed to humanity; they receive help and strength from what had been. But the greater the interval between the occurrence [p.77] of that greatness and the contemplation of it, the more difficult does it become to grasp and to possess something of the true meaning, value, and significance of such greatness. The greatness, as the interval grows, becomes something to be known, something which is believed to fall upon us in an external, miraculous manner; and finally it often becomes an object of wordy dispute and strife. Certain periods in the history of the Christian Church give abundant evidence of the truth of this statement. Eucken points out in his Problem of Human Life how barren in creative power, for instance, was the fourth century. Why? An interval of nearly three centuries had passed away since the Master and his followers had proclaimed truths and experiences which were the burning convictions of their deepest being. Gradually, and often unconsciously, men glided down an inclined plane, until at last the spiritual nucleus of Christianity had largely disappeared and little more than the husks remained. At the close of such intervals religion becomes a number of conflicting intellectual theories, and the worst passions are called to its support. Dogmatism and intolerance prevail, and a blight comes over the choicest potencies of the soul. All this happens because certain great events and experiences of the past are conceived of as marking a terminus in the history of the moral and spiritual evolution of the world. The [p.78] soul is not stirred to its depth to preserve such experiences and, if possible, enhance them. Thus the world leaves such a rich spiritual content largely behind itself; and when this happens, it becomes a matter of the greatest difficulty to recover it. And even when it is recovered, something of infinite value has been for ever lost. The present moment of the soul has to live on itself; and such a life remains alien to depths of reality which have been plumbed by the great personalities of history in the past. It is a want of conviction in truth and reality that makes us seek finality in the past. It may be that the highest personalities of our day are not able to scale such spiritual heights as were scaled by the Christians of the primitive Church; but unless they believe that the same power is present in their souls they will never have courage even to make the attempt. It is a vision of the nature of the reality which was climbed by the personalities of the past, coupled with the consciousness of the same spiritual power in the present, that will enable Christianity to be lived on such a "grand scale" in the present and the future. The spiritual experiences of the past have become over-individual and over-historical norms for our lives; but such norms are no more than ideas until the will enters into a relation with them. When this happens, the individual does not only observe a goal in the distance but also starts to move towards such [p.79] a goal with the whole spiritual energy of his nature. And every individual who moves in the direction of such norms brings some contribution of value from the present to be added to the norms of the past. The spiritual life is thus individual and over-individual, historical and over-historical, transcendent and immanent.