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The

emergence

of morality and religion

and their

growing

ness.

the sexual impulses. He was marked, amongst other animals, mainly by the extent of his greed, as a creature of wilder passions and of more incalculable capriciousHis religious history showed the same features as his ordinary or secular conduct. So little continuity was there in his experience, and personality, that even polytheism had not been attained. Each God ruled for a moment, and then passed away and was forgotten.

But there was an operative law beneath all this chaos of particularism. It led man, from moment to moment, to seek the Best he knew, even as it makes. the preservation of life the paramount and persistent end of the animal. At length man became more or less aware of this law. He tried to apprehend and to define this Best. He sought it with a certain peropposition. sistency. It became the ideal of his practical life, and also something nobler than his ordinary purposes and interests, a supreme mystical reality. Thus morality and religion emerged from the chaos of fitful caprice, and man's interests fell into two quite definite and mutually exclusive domains. One was secular, and in it the demands and conditions of morality were supreme; the other was sacred, and within it religion. tolerated no rivalry or intrusion. With the growth of civilization, and the consequent enrichment of man's spiritual inheritance, the demands of both morality and religion were enlarged, and their rights became more and more sovereign in character. The opposition between them necessarily deepened, and it became ever more difficult at once to grant their demands and rights in all their fulness and also to reconcile them.

At present there is confusion on every side as to

THE TRANSMUTING ABSOLUTE

129

alone at

to do

justice to

both

the relation of morality and religion; and the con- Idealism fusion of the ordinary moral and religious spirit of our present tries time is amply echoed by our philosophers. We come up against it on every hand: sometimes in one guise, morality and sometimes in another. Idealism, that is the Idealism religion. which is frank and fearless, and would fain be a Realism if it can, alone tries to accord to both religion and morality their full rights; but the result is a constant oscillation from the primacy of one to that of the other. At one moment the Absolute is not the God of religion, and the God of religion is not absolute. Yet the Absolute alone, it is asserted, is ultimately and unconditionally real; and it lends to all finite things such dubious existence as they have; for it contains them, though transfigured in such a way that they cannot be called either true, or good, or beautiful. Truth, beauty and goodness vanish in Ambiguities the Absolute, to reappear on occasion something after Absolute the manner of the Cheshire cat. Except as in the Absolute, and therefore transmuted, finite things are not real, things. and being transmuted in the Absolute they become unrecognizable. On the other hand, the finite objects that we do know are just appearances—real appearances, but only appearances. The Absolute is not itself quite unknowable. We find that it is static, cannot change, swallows and transmutes finite things. But we know nothing specially to its credit, since truth, goodness, beauty disappear in it. And its very reality is of a dubious kind: for it contains, so far as we know, nothing but transmuted appearances. "take All it can "" up, include," "sublate," " transform," are phenomena, finite appearances, and the kind of reality which they possess is very obscure at best.

G. L.

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both of the

and of

finite

Barrenness of the critics and alternative

solutions.

The

present-day conscious

ness of the continuity of the real.

From these difficulties which beset the reflexions of the teachers to whom I owe most I have learnt one thing clearly, namely, that we without, neither the finite nor the all, that we cannot separate them.

can deny, or do infinite, and above From the merely

negative criticisms that have been advanced, and from the one-sided theories which, as a rule, have betrayed the interests of religion and shown no need of any Absolute, or of any unity within the differences of finite things, I am afraid I have learnt less. And as to the forms of Idealism which are still tainted with Berkeleian subjectivity, they seem to me to be quite barren. It is only in such doctrines as those of Mr. Bradley and Mr. Bosanquet that a genuine recognition of the apparently inconsistent rights of the finite and the infinite, and, as a consequence, of morality and religion, makes itself felt. And it is a great step towards the solution of a difficulty to lay it quite bare. Nevertheless, the solution has not been found. It is only suggested in the vacillation from side to side. The principle on which an uncompromising, realistic Idealism rests, has still to be justified. The dualism of nature and spirit has not been overcome, nor that of the secular and sacred, nor indeed of the finite and infinite in any form. But it has become suspect. A sense of the continuity of what is real is abroad; and that continuity is no longer merely materialistic or physical. The affirmation of gaps between the physical and biological and the conscious, or between the conscious and the self-conscious, is less confident, even while we confess our inability to overleap these gaps. Nature is one, we say, and man is merely her child. We do not hesitate to trace his history backwards and downwards

CONTINUITY OF NATURE AND SPIRIT 131

a long way. But, so far, it has not been shown that
nature produces him as consequently as she produces
apple trees, and by means of him, in the same con-
sequent fashion, builds up the marvels of the social and
spiritual world. The affirmation of continuity be-
tween nature and spirit is hesitating. All the same,
if we cannot say that the conviction is growing, we
can say that the hypothesis is becoming more and more
probable, that some principle of unity not merely
underlies but so acts and functions, as to express itself in
all things, and, as I have said, we are not any longer
tempted to offer a materialistic account of that prin-
ciple. I believe we are on the way to an Idealism
which is at the same time a Spiritual Realism, and Its
which, with the aid of the sciences, shall demonstrate the great
problem.
the working in all things of a principle which operates
as a natural force at a certain level, and reveals its
fuller character in the spiritual enterprises of mankind.
The "Stern Law-giver" for Wordsworth wore The
Godhead's most benignant grace as well as pre-
served the stars from wrong.'
"The awful power
could be called upon to perform "humble functions."
The conception is familiar to the religious conscious-
ness at its best: it is, I believe, the destiny of a sound
Idealism and of science to make it good.

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Meantime, somehow or other, it has to be shown that all our halting dualisms, even that of nature and spirit or of matter and mind, rend asunder the seamless garment of the real. That, as a matter of fact, no one ever has known, and that no one ever can know, nature and spirit except as elements of a unity is a significant but neglected truth. Spirit functions as an

1 See my Inaugural Lecture, in Glasgow, November 1894.

character

:

active principle, functions; and spirit, like everything else, is what it does. It is revealed in the natural cosmos, and revealed and realized more fully in the moral and religious life. Nature and spirit imply each other, as subject and object; they exist in virtue of each other, and neither their difference nor their unity can be compromised. The world which we think existed before man or mind, was a world, in its make and structure, relative to mind. It became a known world as soon as mind appeared and performed its part. Spirit is not except as an active principle: nature is not except as its expression. The Absolute is not static, and the Universe is not dead. Such is "the faith" of a realistic Idealism.

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