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 footnotes 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.
AN INTERPRETATION OF RUDOLF EUCKEN’S PHILOSOPHY[p.13]
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 Göttingen 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 Göttingen, 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, Münsterberg, 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 Münsterberg 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. Präludien, 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.[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 manifestion; 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—guiding [p.31]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.[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 morewhich 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.[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.
Eucken has worked for many years at this difficult problem—a problem so important in the life of civilisation and religion. It has already been hinted that the conception bears striking resemblances to aspects of Hegel’s philosophy. But there are differences. One of these was pointed out long ago by Eucken: “The gist of religion is with Hegel nothing but the absorption of the individual in the universal intellectual process. How such a conception can be identified with moral regeneration of the Christian type, with purification of the heart, is unintelligible to us.” Eucken’s philosophy, on the other hand, is pre-eminently a spiritual activism. The life-process is shaped by the collective activity of individuals; and when this activity slackens the ideals of the over-world suffer. Man is thus called to be what he ought to be; and in the process he heightens something of the value of the Ought. An Ought and a Will are involved in the creativeness of the individual life and of the Life-process; so that it is a mistake to conceive [p.80]of Eucken’s activism as some stirring of the individual to realise merely his own needs as these present themselves to him from moment to moment. He is called and destined to do infinitely more; he is to be a creator of the Life-process and a carrier in the making of a new world; but all this can be done only from the standpoint of a vision of a spiritual life superior to history and to the individual himself. Vision and action are to be ever present. In the light of the vision man becomes more than he now is; through action the vision increases in depth and value.
What relation this has to the conception of the Godhead will be dealt with in a later chapter. It is enough at present to bear in mind that, as far as we have gone, a reality above sense, time, history, and the content of the individual life has become evident. And it is such a reality which gives meaning to the events of history.
It has to be borne in mind that much which is natural and of the earth enters into history. Such effects have become clearly discernible in modern times. Physical conditions do exercise an influence, and hem the course of the spiritual life. The indifference of the physical order of things to the ethical values of history is a problem which constantly perplexes every thinking mind. No solution to the puzzles of life is to be found in Nature. What do we discover there? “We discover enchainments [p.81]of phenomena which seem to conduct to the creation of great misery and which, with unmerciful callousness, drive man over the brink of an abyss. The faintest hint would have sufficed to hold him back from such a catastrophe; but this is not given, and consequently destruction takes its course. Petty accidents destroy life and happiness; a moment annihilates the most toilsome work. Often, also, we discover a chaotic medley, a sudden overthrow of all potency, a seeming indifference towards all human weal and woe, a blind groping in the dark; we discover gloomy possibilities constantly sweeping as dark clouds over man and occasionally descending as a crashing tempest.” Hundreds of similar examples may be found in Eucken’s books, and all point to the insufficiency of the natural process for satisfying the deepest needs of our being. But in spite of the fact that the natural process accompanies Life everywhere, man has built a world beyond the world of sense.
With the entrance of the spiritual life a new mode of history makes its appearance. This fact is to be witnessed in the tools invented by man in order to overcome physical barriers. The growth of technics in our own day is a proof of Nature yielding here and there to the demands of life and intellect. This has all been brought about by mentality, and new modes of living are the result.[p.82]And when we enter the domain of human society the superiority of the spiritual life becomes evident here as well. It is true that we are as yet far from any ideals of human society which include the good of all, and which bind all together in spite of radical differences that will continue to persist. Systems of various kinds are presented—often at variance with one another; but even these are evidence of a spiritual life far above the achievements of any single individuals. What must we do? We must all work on in the direction of the highest: and the higher we mount the nearer we are to a point of convergence of all the different syntheses; and out of the union there will be born a synthesis which will include the whole family of man. We possess already such a synthesis partially realised here and there in the lives of the greatest personalities of history; but to the mass of mankind such a synthesis is little more than a name, even though that name be God or Infinite Love. The content of the name has to be realised: and this can never come about except through a deep stirring and longing, through enormous sacrifices, painful and recurring failures, to issue finally in a conquest—a height attained by mankind on which the content of God and Infinite Love will be born in the soul as a living, personal, and durable experience. When this comes to be—and every genuine effort in the movement of our higher being brings us nearer to it—there issues [p.83]an incomparably higher mode of life. Thus a new history is framed through the spiritual activities of individuals; and something of its very nature and of the mode by which such a reality can be reached will become an atmosphere into which future generations will be born, as well a higher condition than has ever previously existed to hail the entrance of human souls into the world.
Eucken insists that it is not the movement of democracy towards better social conditions that will be effective in bringing about such a change. Much, of course, can be effected by better social conditions. There are needs to-day in connection with labour which ought to be met. But at the best they can do no more than touch the periphery of human existence. A poverty in the “inward parts” will still exist in the midst of external plenty. But if men and women could be brought to the consciousness of spiritual ideals and their efficacy, a disposition of soul and character would be created which would rapidly change the evil conditions of life and the perplexing problems of capital and labour. Several writers have gone astray when they have imagined that Eucken has but scant sympathy with the social needs of our times. It would be difficult to find anywhere a man of a more tender heart. But he sees deeper than the level of material and social needs and their fulfilment. He sees that it is only by a change [p.84]of disposition and attitude of the soul that permanent changes in the material well-being of the world can come about. For it is in the soul’s relation with its over-individual and over-historical ideals that permanent qualities can be created and preserved: it is in our own deepest being, through a conviction of the values of sympathy, sacrifice, and love that any genuine history can find its birth and nurture. We require to pay no less attention to the things of the body; but the things of the spirit must step into the foreground of life once again. Then we are working at the heart of the Life-process—a Life-process which is the beginning of a new cosmic process; and what will issue out of such a result will probably be greater and better than anything we can dream of. Men are called to this work to-day. They understand but little its significance and its trend; they must be willing to learn from those who have lived through these problems, and who see ramifications of the problems into a soil deeper than is perceptible by the masses. The masses must be willing to be taught in the things of the spirit. Hence we see the need of great personalities who will combine in their own souls a penetrating knowledge and an intense enthusiasm for the real welfare of mankind. A true history can never be born outside this region; the world, without such a conviction, can only wander out of one morass into [p.85]another; and failure after failure will be the inevitable result of all the attempts. Movements will have value and duration only in so far as they are the outcome of a need of a spiritual life which includes demands of intellect, morality, and religious idealism.
Eucken shows at the close of his remarkable article in Beiträge zur Weiterentwickelung der Religion that some form or other of the Eternal must enter into time and its changes, and become a norm towards which mankind will move. When this happens, mankind will not be content to look merely beyond the grave for the redemption of the race and the annihilation of sin. The very world in which we live is surrounded by an over-world of ideal truth and goodness. Why should we live on “hope and tarrying” when there is so much to be done and gained? The energies of men run on such lines into “sickly sentimentalism” and “watery wishes,” and nothing great issues out of our activities on the surface of life. History becomes no more than a succession of changes of which the later are of no more value than the earlier. All this happens, because there is no Eternal—no over-world of over-individual and over-historical values—present. In a large measure our very religion grants us here but little help. It is either a contemplation of certain events in the past which were delivered for once and for all or an immersion in the social environment. [p.86]We remain aliens to the truth that these events can be repeated to-day. We are not convinced as to the possibilities of our own nature and of the realisation of the Divine in the making of history. Our age is an age of stripping things of their connections and qualities and of finding their essence in what they were and not in what they are and ought to be. Even history is brought back to its origin from savagery; and its explanation is sought in its beginnings and not in its ends; the aspirations of the soul are supposed to be explained in their totality when biological and psychological names are given them; enthusiasm and conviction, which leave the level of the daily rut and the conventionalities of society, are branded as signs of shallowness and even of insanity. We are in the midst of plenty, and feed on husks. The situation will not be altered until we turn from intellect to intuition—which is no other than a turn from the mere way in which things are put together to what the things essentially are and ought to be in their meaning and value. When this happens, a new meaning will be given to history, and the events of the day will be illumined and valued in the light of the standard of spiritual ideals. Can we then doubt that there works in history a Divine element which is over-historical, and which alone gives their meanings and values to the events of history itself?[p.87]
RELIGION AND PSYCHOLOGY
It has been noticed in the two previous chapters how Eucken discovered the presence of a mental or spiritual life in the very act of knowing any object in the physical world. And the presence of such a life enables the percept to turn into a concept. Such a concept is something far removed from the level of the sensuous object or of its mere perception. We are in this very act in a world of meaning. When such a meaning comes to be acknowledged, it forms a kind of standard which interprets any future facts that enter into it. The further the progress of the knowledge of physical objects advances the more the concepts become removed from the level of the sensuous; as is witnessed, for instance, in the forms of laws and hypotheses, which constitute the very groundwork of physical science. The physical scientist, whether he is conscious of it or not, has constructed an ideal world of meaning which constitutes the explanation [p.88]of the external world. This is a fact so familiar that it needs no further elucidation here. But there is great need for calling attention to the power which does all this as well as to the reality of the interpretation which that power, in its contact with physical phenomena, has brought forth. That such a power of the mind is connected with physical existence does not in the least explain its nature. It is not physical now; it is meaning and value, and there is no such thing as meaning or value in the nature of physical objects in themselves. Their meaning and value come into being when they serve a purpose which the mind has framed concerning them. Eucken insists that a reality must be ascribed to so much as all this—to that which knows and interprets Nature. However much Nature and Spirit resemble one another, however much the latter is dependent on the former, Nature must be conceived as exhibiting a lower grade of reality than mind. Indeed, Nature could not exist for mind unless there were a mind to know it; and this fact inevitably leads us to ask the question, whether Nature could exist at all.
Eucken maintains that the insufficient attention paid to this priority of the subject is the [p.89]defect of all the systems which have reduced life and all its values to their lowest denominator. A naive realism is a relic of past ancestry; it is a failure to conceive anything as reality unless it lends itself to the senses. Had men not grasped a higher order of reality than that of the external object, none of the mental and moral gains of the world would ever have been realised. Hence, man has to insist that the mental or spiritual life is the possessor of a reality of its own, although much of the material comprising that reality has been drawn from the physical world through the senses. But the spiritual life has proceeded far beyond these initial stages of knowing the world. Material of a kind other than the physical has presented itself to it. Thus, in will-relations we find the material itself belonging to a higher order of existence than the material of the physical world. It is then what might be expected when the spiritual life, within the domain of events of human history, forms a Life-system higher in its nature than the natural process.
Eucken then concludes that Nature and History require for their interpretation the presence of a spiritual life. Nature involves the spiritual in the very power of mind in knowing external things. He would not state that the physical course of things is enough in itself to prove the existence of spiritual life. We are uncertain of any working towards [p.90]definite ends in Nature. The whole matter belongs to the region of speculation; and speculation based on something other than observation and experiment has greatly retarded progress in connection with the truest interpretation of the highest things. Eucken would really agree here with the physical scientist pure and simple that, however far back the investigations of the physical world are carried, the scientist does not seem to come to anything at the furthest point which bears more affinity to what is mental than was to be discovered at the point from which he set out.
But in History it is different. We are here dealing with material which is not in space, and which has not resulted through any mere succession in time. The material, in fact, is timeless, because it is a synthesis of factors which cannot be reckoned mechanically, and which requires a great span of time in order to be constructed by the spirit of man. At this level the spiritual life has gained a reality which is over-personal as well as personal. It is true that this over-personal reality is in the mind of the individual; but that does not mean that the reality is no more than a private experience. Its content is clearly now higher and more significant than the individual’s own life. That we cannot locate in space this over-personal aspect of the ideal is probably a disadvantage. But this cannot be helped; and [p.91]it cannot possibly be otherwise, simply because the over-personal reality is not a spatial thing. The same may be said of the content of individual experience, even when it does not for the time being hold before itself any ideal. But such over-personal elements mean more than was to be found on the level of knowing the world. A further development of spiritual life has taken place; and reality has become objective in its nature and subjective in its apprehension and appropriation by the individual. Reality has, through the over-personal which has evolved in history, obtained a cosmic significance; and it is out of this region that a Lebensanschauung as well as a true Weltanschauung have developed.
This digression from the subject of this chapter has probably prepared us to see that the potentiality of consciousness and the presence of over-personal elements presenting themselves to consciousness are the two main elements in the construction of the several grades of reality which present themselves on the lower level of Nature and on the higher level of History.
But our question now is, Does the nature of man himself confirm such statements as have already been made? And it is to man’s own nature and its content we now turn, as these are presented in Eucken’s teaching.
It is probable that Eucken has done less justice to psychology from the side of the [p.92]connection of consciousness with the external world. He is aware, and points out the fact in several of his books, of the close connection between mind and body; but seems to think that the fact is sufficiently brought out by text-books on psychology that some kind of dualism or parallelism is absolutely necessary to be held in order to account for the content of consciousness. What exact meaning and province should be assigned to psychology is to-day a matter of serious dispute. Textbooks of the nature of William James’s Principles of Psychology present a double aspect of the subject-matter as well as of its mode of treatment. It is often difficult to differentiate in James’s works where one aspect ends and another begins. Psychology is presented by him as a natural science on one page, and on the opposite page we discover ourselves in the region of ethics and even of metaphysics and religion. On the one side, we find the connection of consciousness and its mode of operation with the physical organism presented in terms which emphasise the mechanical and chemical sides. On the other side, the content of consciousness itself, after the connection has taken place, is presented as a psychology as well. So that several important writers on psychology have emphasised the need of differentiating one aspect from the other, and of confining the meaning of psychology to the description and explanation of the connection [p.93]of mind and body. But when we pass to the content of consciousness, something more than a mere connection of mind and body is discovered. The content of consciousness includes the Will—the unrest of consciousness in its actual situation, a dissatisfaction with its state of inertia, and a movement towards some End. When the Will operates with the content of consciousness we are in a realm which is beyond the physical—a realm, too, which is other than a passive, descriptive attitude of a spectator of things. The realm of values has now been reached; and a content, different in its nature from any account it is able to give of itself or of its connection with the physical, starts on its own independent course. The psychologist is “right in insisting that the atoms do not build up the whole universe of science. There are contents in consciousness, sensations and perceptions, feelings and impulses, which the scientist must describe and explain too. But if the psychologist is the real natural scientist of the soul, this whole interplay of ideas and emotions and volitions appears to him as a world of causally connected processes which he watches and studies as a spectator. However rich the manifold of the inner experience, everything, seen from a strictly psychological standpoint, [p.94]remains just as indifferent and valueless as the movement of the atoms in the outer experience. Pleasures are coming and going; but the onlooking subject of consciousness has simply to become aware of them, and has no right to say that they are better or more valuable than pain, or that the emotions of enjoyment or the ideas of wisdom or the impulses of virtue are, psychologically considered, more valuable than grief or vice or foolishness. In the system of physical and psychical objects, there is thus no room for any possible value; and even in the thought and idea of value there is nothing but an indifferent mental state produced by certain brain excitement. For as soon as we illuminate and shade and colour the world of the scientist in reference to man’s life and death, or to his happiness and pain, we have carelessly destroyed the pure system of science, and given up the presupposition of the strictly naturalistic work.” Wundt presents a standpoint not quite so pronounced, but which looks in the same direction.
This fundamental difference has been recognised by Eucken, and forms an important contribution on his part towards elucidating [p.95]the meaning of spiritual life not only in the process of knowing but in its new beginning in its creation of an “inner world of values.” The content present in the construction of this “new world” is other than a mental content expressing connection of psychical and physical. Eucken differentiates between the two aspects already referred to, and designates the difference by the terms Noological and Psychological Methods. These methods are most clearly presented in The Truth of Religion. He says: “To explain noologically means to arrange the whole of spiritual life [including mental life] as a special spiritual activity, to ascertain its position and problem, and through such an adaptation to illumine the whole and raise its potencies. To explain psychologically,on the contrary, means to investigate how man arrives at the apprehension and appropriation of a spiritual content and especially of a spiritual life, with what psychic aids is the spiritual content worked out, how the interest of man for all this is to be raised, and how his energy for the enterprise is to be won. Here one has to proceed from an initial point hardly discernible, and step by step, discover the way of ascent; thus the psychological method becomes at the same time a psychogenetic method. The main condition is that both methods be held sufficiently apart in order that the conclusions of both may not flow together, and yet may form a fruitful completion.”[p.96]”Such separation and union of both methods and their corresponding realities make it possible to understand how to overcome inwardly the old antithesis between Idealism and Realism. The fundamental truth of Idealism is that the spiritual contents establish an independence and self-value over against the individual, that they train him with superior energy, and that they are not material for his purely human welfare. In the noological method this truth obtains a full recognition. Realism, however, has its rights in the forward sweep of the specifically human side of life with all its diversions, its constraints, and its preponderantly natural character. Viewed from this standpoint, the main fact is that life is raised out of the idle calm of its initial stages, and is brought into a current; in order to bring this about, much is urgently needful by man, which cannot originate, prior to the appearance of the spiritual estimation of values, but which becomes his when he is set in a strong current; then, on the one hand, anxiety for external existence, division into parties, ambition, etc., and, on the other hand, the mechanism of the psychic life with its association, reproduction, etc., are all seen in a new light. These motive powers would certainly never produce a spiritual content out of man’s own ability; such a content is only reachable if the movement of life raises man out of and above the initial performances and the initial motives. No mechanism, [p.97]either of soul or of society, is able to accomplish this; it can be accomplished alone by an inward spirituality in man. Through such a conception, Realism and Idealism are no longer irreconcilable opponents, but two sides of one encompassing life; one may grow alongside the other, but not at the expense of the other. Indeed, the more the content of the spiritual life grows, the more becomes necessary on the side of psychic existence; the more we submerge ourselves in this psychic existence, the greater appears the superiority of the spiritual life.” This difference between nöology and psychology is pointed out by Eucken in his delineation of spiritual life along the whole course of its development. The insistence on the reality of life within the region of values, brought forth through the activity of the Will, is shown to be absolutely necessary in order that life may not sink into the level of the mere physical object on the one hand, and into mere subjectivity and momentary changes of consciousness on the other hand. It is a decision at this point which constitutes the great turn to a life of the spirit and to the granting to it of a self-subsistence as real as objects in the external world; it is a turn which includes, further, a new beginning of a remove from the content of the moment and from the impinging of the environment upon the subject; it is a realisation by the mind and [p.98]soul that its own content is now on a path which has to be carved out, step by step, by its own spiritual potency. It is in the light of what is attempted and accomplished in this respect that the external world and all its ramifications into the soul are in the last resort to be interpreted. When the foundation of life is thus placed upon a spiritual content of meaning and value, norm and end, the first impressions of things are seen as nothing more than preparatory stages and conditions to a life beyond themselves. To come to a decision, insisted on again and again, in regard to the reality of life and its content is not possible without the deepest act of the whole of the soul. Such a conviction concerning the spiritual kernel of our being is not a mere matter either of thought or feeling or will. The three make their contribution towards the great affirmation which takes place, but they are united at a depth in consciousness which has no psychological name; they come to a kind of focus within the blending of the over-individual norms and the need and capacity of the soul for such norms. When this happens, the individual has created a cleft in his own nature which renders it forever impossible for him to be satisfied with the mere external aspect produced by the first impressions of things. An inverted order of things has come about: the sensuous world is relegated to the circumference, and a spiritual world [p.99]dawns within the content of the soul. This is the deepest meaning of religion; and, as we shall see at a later stage, it constitutes the very nucleus of Christianity with its announcement of conversion, the regeneration of the soul, and the union and communion of man with the Divine.
Doubtless all this is difficult of apprehension, mainly on account of the fact that there is no proof for it in a manner that can be made intelligible. But the question arises, What is the power that acts and brings forth proofs concerning anything? It is evidently not the whole of the potentialities of man’s nature: it is no more than the understanding dealing with the evidence of impressions. But the understanding, when dealing with the content of the union of individual potency and over-individual norms, is dealing with a content infinitely larger and more complex than itself; the material is too great and intricate for the understanding to handle; it is a fruitless attempt of the Part to monopolise the meaning and value of the Whole. The proof rather lies within the domain of the soul itself, and is not something which may be tacked on to any kind of external, spatial existence; it is the emergence of a new kind of existence or self-subsistence. The proof (if we designate it by such an insufficient term) is within the experience and not without; it is the spiritual experience itself and not merely an account, [p.100]in the form of even valid logical concepts, concerning such experience.
The space devoted to this subject may be justified on account of the fact that Eucken’s meaning of the evolution of spiritual life towards higher levels cannot be understood without an understanding of the distinction between knowledge about experience and the content of experience itself, as this latter reveals itself in the ways mentioned. Eucken has lately paid great attention to this matter in the new edition (1912) of Hauptprobleme der Religionsphilosophie der Gegenwart, especially in the chapter on the “Philosophy of Religion and the Psychology of Religion.”
The root of the matter here seems to be the ready acknowledgment of the content of [p.101]spiritual life as well as of the fact that it possesses a higher grade of existence than anything in the world without or even within the psychic life. This is granting the manifestation of spiritual life a foundation deeper than nature, culture, civilisation, and even morality; for it is the norms of the over-world uniting with the spiritual nature of man which have brought forth all these. This willing acknowledgment becomes ever necessary, because something of two worlds is now present in the life of the man. On the one hand, the natural world, with its material elements and its instincts and impulses, is present in the soul. But, on the other hand, all these cannot be torn away from the life. They constitute a great deal of the vitality and the pleasure which are the legitimate possessions of man. How cold and soulless would life be without these! But the danger arises when there is not present a Standard sufficiently high and powerful to govern these, and to make them serve the higher interests of the soul. In other words, they must be melted in the contents and values of the over-individual ideals; they must be sanctified to subserve the higher, absolute ends and demands of the spirit. What can we say, then, of Life when the natural assists the spiritual and when the individual passes out to the realm of the over-individual save that a real point of departure into a new kind of world has actually taken [p.102]place? Even this interpretation is insufficient to explain what happens, although it happens within ourselves; far less, as we have seen, will any other interpretation which explains life in lowest terms suffice. We are then, says Eucken, driven to the conclusion that such a state is either the breaking forth of a new kind of reality or the worst of all possible illusions. And this great and inexorable Either—Or presents itself in every decision taken towards what is higher than the level we are standing on. The matter here does not belong to any speculative domain, and is not the result of fancy or imagination out of which reason has taken its flight. The matter is concrete—tangible through and through. The history of mankind bears witness to the validity of it; the experience of each individual in the deepest moments of life echoes the experience of the race. The superiority of this new beginning in the over-worldhas to be established over and over again by each individual on account of the danger of sinking back to a lower level where the main power of spiritual life is not in action. A certainty is therefore requisite in the very beginning of the enterprise—an enterprise which is absolute and eternal. No limits are perceptible to the possibilities of spiritual life when the fullest conceivable content of the soul is seated at the centre of life, and when every outward is interpreted and governed by an inward. This experience is [p.103]far removed from all attempts to found religion on speculation drawn either from the physical world or from the generalisations of logic. These have their value—they point to the presence of some degree of spiritual life when the human mind has worked upon the material presented to it. But the matter at this highest level does not deal with the relations of life but with life itself in the light of an over-world.
Eucken is nowhere finer than when he detects the necessity for the acknowledgment of such a spiritual foundation of life. It is not a mere individual need, but the union of an individual need with a reality objective to the need. If the reality were already the possession of man, no such need could arise. Still, the reality is present in his mind as an idea and ideal; it is present to the individual, but it is not as yet the possession of the individual except in a measure at the best. So that the certainty includes within itself a realisation and a further quest. And the very nature of the quest involves a struggle of the whole nature. The certainty has gone so far as to show that the highest good which presents itself to the soul is the “one thing needful,” and is possible of partial attainment. When all this burns within the soul, something of the norm or ideal gets fixed within it, and the individual starts to conquer more and more the new world into which he is now landed. [p.104]Often the life is driven out of its course by alien currents; a great deal of what the man has now left behind himself still clings tenaciously to the new life, and the whole soul becomes an arena often of a terrible conflict. The spiritual life and its content of a new reality may be temporarily beaten in this warfare; but the battle is finally won if ever the deepest within the soul has been touched by a conviction of the eternal value and significance of the new life. The conquest is followed by periods of calm and fruition. Here the deeper energies gather themselves together; they grant a peace which the world cannot give and cannot take away; they create new certainties, new demands, and new attempts for the possession of a reality which is still higher in its nature than anything that previously revealed itself.
Gradually the soul is forced more than ever to the conviction that the whole matter is too serious to be of less than of cosmic significance. And it is out of this that the idea of the Godhead arises. It is not a speculative dream but a conclusion forced upon the man by the actual situation; the material for the conclusion is not anything which descends into the soul with a ready-made content. Eucken states that such a view of revelation belongs to the past history of the race. It is now no less than a revelation springing from the very nature of the soul at its highest possible level. [p.105]It occurs only when a foundation, a struggle, and a conquest have been worked out by the soul in the manner already depicted. No close determinations, as we shall see later, are made concerning the meaning and nature of the Godhead. The man is here at an altitude so rare and pure that it forbids any logical or psychological analysis. God is not something to be explained, but to be possessed. When the attempt is made to explain Him, He is very soon explained away; when he is possessed, He becomes not something other than was present before, but more than was present before; a cosmic significance is given to the universe and to man’s struggle to scale the heights of the over-world with all its momentous values.
Here, again, the spiritual life has landed us out of psychology into the deepest experiences of religion and into the consciousness that the intermediaterealities which presented themselves as over-individual norms and ideals are realities of cosmic significance. The Godhead is now possessed. As Jacob Boehme presents it: “From my youth up I have sought only one thing: the salvation of my soul, the means of gaining possession of the Kingdom of God.” Here, as Professor Boutroux points out, “Jacob Boehme learnt from the mystics what it means to possess God. One must take care, so these masters [p.106]teach, not to liken the possession of God to the possession of anything material. God is spirit, i.e. for the man who understands the meaning of the term, a generating power previous to all essence, even the divine. God is spirit, i.e. pure will, both infinite and free, with the realisation of its own personality as its object. Henceforward, God cannot be accepted by any passive operation. We possess Him only if He is created within us. To possess God is to live the life of God.” This is on lines precisely those of Eucken, and something of this nature seems to be gaining ground to-day in a strong idealistic school in Germany. We may soon discover that a true mysticism is the flowering of the bud of knowledge; that true knowledge constitutes a tributary which runs into the ocean of the Infinite Love of the Divine and becomes the most precious possession of the soul.
Eucken touches on this subject in an extremely interesting chapter in his Truth of Religion. “This is a question of fact, and not of argument…. Because we convinced ourselves that things were so, we gained the standpoint of spiritual experience over against a merely psychological standpoint. For the [p.107]latter standpoint occupies itself with purely psychic processes, and in the province of religion especially it occupies itself with the conditions of the stimulations of will and feeling, which are not able to prove anything beyond themselves. The spiritual experience, on the contrary, has to do with life’s contents and with the construction of reality; it need not trouble itself concerning the connections of the world except in a subsidiary manner, because it stands in the midst of such connections, and without these it cannot possibly exist. Man never succeeds in reaching the Divine unless the Divine works and is acknowledged in his own life; what is omitted here in the first step is never again recovered and becomes more and more impossible as life proceeds on its merely natural course. If, however, the standpoint of spiritual experience is gained, then religion succeeds in attaining entire certainty and immediacy; then the struggles in which it was involved turn into a similar result, and its own inner movements become a testimony to the reality of the new world which it represents.”[p.108]
RELIGION AND SOCIETY
Eucken shows that the problems of history are closely allied with those of society. The best accounts of the meaning he attaches to human society are to be found in The Main Currents of Modern Thought, Der Kampf um einen geistigen Lebensinhalt, and Life Basis and Life Ideal. The conclusions reached in these three books are the same—they are an insistence on the need of spiritual life as a creative power in the utilisation of norms and ideals as well as in the creation of further norms and ideals. He points out the devious paths which human society has travelled over: all these, in the case of society and of the individual, are shown to lead to disaster when they depend merely upon the environment or upon the ideals of a utilitarian mode of a historico-social construction.
Society has gained much through the necessity of emphasising some aspects of a Whole—of thinking and acting collectively—instead [p.109]of emphasising merely the Parts. The history of human society, in a very large measure, is the history of shifting the centre of gravity of life alternately from the Whole to the Parts and vice versa. When the centre of gravity remains in some kind of Whole, a number of individuals move towards the same goal, and much that is subjective has to be shifted to the background of life. Now, this is a gain, and it is the only path on which a corporate life becomes possible. Men (and women too) stand shoulder to shoulder when some kind of Whole or Ideal seems to them to be a necessity of their nature. But progress is brought about not only through cementing human beings together in order to move towards any kind of ideal. The energy is in the right place, but the question has to arise as to the nature of the over-personal ideal itself. All over-personal ideals cannot connote the good of all, but the good of all must be present as possessing a validity of its own before any lower over-personal ideal can prevent landing men in disaster. The over-personal ideals which do not include the good of all often represent the good of a section alone, and all other sections have to become convinced that this is a good. Thus many Life-systems present themselves. Each of these includes a good. The problem is, How is each section to realise that there is a good present in what each other section presents? [p.110]There must be some common standard by which the ideal of each section of the community can be measured, for it is in the light of such a standard alone that the lower good receives its true place, meaning, and value. There are, beyond all sectional over-personal ideals, values which connote the highest welfare of everyone “who carries a human face.” These values are the results of the partially collective experiences of the deepest in life, and have been gained in the history of the race. They are the values which are the needs and rights of all. Justice, Sympathy, Love—these and others are the highest syntheses. They have, as yet, been only partially reached; and this partial realisation is the possession of a few, and has not yet succeeded in becoming the necessary standard which shall pass judgment on all lower ideals. “Rights are rights,” we are told. This may be true, but something higher has to interpret them, or else one set of rights comes into conflict with other sets and stands but little chance of realisation. And even if realised, a whole series of complexities immediately arises. This has been, in the main, the history of human society. And are we able to say that society has progressed much during the past century in this direction of illuminating lower needs in the light of higher ones which include the good of all? Eucken doubts whether the progress has been great. And here once more, [p.111]in connection with the deepest meaning of society and the individual, he sees the need of ideals which are universally true and universally valid. This means that the spiritual life as it presents itself in the universally true, good, and beautiful, must become the sun which will shine upon all that is below it; it is the Whole in which the Parts must find their function and meaning. If the life of society relates itself to anything lower than this, the best within it cannot come to flower and fruit. In other words, society will have to return to a conception and utilisation of an absolute spiritual life before it can gain any new territory of eternal value. Probably quite as much attention will have to be devoted to the Parts—to the environment, the needs of the hour, the material comforts and happiness of life. But granting that the possession of all these will come about, what then? We are still wretchedly poor in the “inward parts.” What we have won has not within itself sufficient spirituality to touch the deepest recesses of the soul. Material plenty and pleasure are a good when they are used as they ought to be used. Where is that “something” that teaches us this? Where is the Ought? The Ought is something outside and infinitely higher than all the gains which the environment or the group is ever able to bring forth. “Life,” says Eucken, “cannot be made simply [p.112]a question of relationship to environment and of the development of mutual relationships (as this tendency would have it) without the independence of the isolated factor [spiritual life] being most seriously reduced. And it must not be forgotten that the individual is the sole source of original spiritual life; corporate social life can do no more than unite and utilise. The maintenance of the strength and freedom of this original life would be less important, and its limitation would be more easily endurable, if human life stood upon a firm foundation and needed only to follow quietly in a naturally appointed direction. In reality, life is not only full of separate problems, but being situated (as it is) between the realm of mere Nature and the spiritual world, must begin by systematically directing itself aright and ascending from the semi-spiritual to the truly spiritual construction of life. It is hence called upon to perform great tasks, which cannot be carried out without serious efforts and the mobilisation of all our spiritual forces. This necessarily leads us back to the original sources of strength, and hence to the individual.”
This passage represents well Eucken’s main teaching in regard to our social problems. We shall ever fail in the highest sense if the spiritual content of life is no more than a means to reach material ends, however necessary such ends may be. For in such a [p.113]manner spiritual life—the universally true and valid—is reduced to a lower plane; it becomes entangled in lower stages, and thus ceases to be a “light on the hill” illumining the steep upward path. Convictions of a spiritual nature—the very forces which have moulded society—are absent from such a system of life which has no more than the day or the hour to look forward to. Individual and society become the creatures of mere impulses and passions, stimulated to activity by a “dead-level” environment. Something of value is gained when even this kind of environment is a good; but the response is quite as readily given to that which is injurious, simply because the “universally true and good” is absent as an inwardness and conviction in the soul.
Without such an inwardness and its content the deeper energy of life is not touched, and men drift with the tide of the environment. Without the ideals or syntheses which are, in their very nature, universal and absolute, progress comes to a standstill, and degeneration soon sets in. The ordinary situation, apart from the presence of the content of the over-world within the life of the soul, swings like a pendulum between a shallow optimism and a blind pessimism. There is no power present in the soul to come to any fundamental decision, but life drifts on a river between Yea and Nay; a failure to penetrate beneath the [p.114]crust of chance and circumstance becomes evident, and the deeper values and meanings of life disappear.
Eucken’s only solution for our present-day troubles is a return to our own deeper nature as this was depicted in previous chapters. The signs of the times, he tells us, are encouraging; the utilitarian mode of life is wearing itself out; the tastes of material comforts have been with us long enough to experience the poverty of their quality; and the mad gamble for the “things which perish” is gradually weeding out its devotees. Eucken’s solution to the problems of society is a religious one. Where is the conception of religion as the solution of the momentous and intricate problems of our day to be found in the teachings and writings of our economists? It is not to be found. These deal either with petty details or with laws which have no spiritual content whatever in them. Society may proceed with various Life-systems—individualism, socialism, or any other, but until it gets into touch with its deepest soul, each such system of life is hastening towards its own destruction and towards the injury of progress.
The conception of the State is presented by Eucken in a similar manner. He points out how we stop short in our politics of dealing with the universally true and good. Party strives against party, and nation against nation. [p.115]Groups of all hues and cries propound their own particular ideals as the all-important ones. Higher ideals are left out of account, so that we find the world to-day spending its energies in warfare concerning many things of minor importance. How can we expect fruition and bliss to follow on such lines?
Eucken presents in a convincing manner the danger of resting upon the external in Society and State. “We are experiencing to-day a remarkable entanglement. The older forms of Life, which had hitherto governed history and its meaning, have become too narrow, petty, and subjective for human nature. Through emancipation from an easy-going subjectivity and through the positing of life upon external things and, indeed, upon the whole of the great universe, Life, it was believed, would gain more breadth and truth; and in a noteworthy manner man undertook a struggle against the pettiness of his own nature and for the drawing out of all that was merely human and trivial. A great deal has been gained through such a change and new tendency of life. In fact we have discovered far more than we had hoped for. But, at the same time, we have lost something—a loss which at the outset occasions no anxiety, but which, however, through painful experience, proves itself to have been the ‘one thing needful.’ Through its own development the work has destroyed its own vehicles; it has [p.116]undermined the very ground upon which it stood; it has failed, notwithstanding its infinite expansion, through its loss of a fundamental and unifying Life-process; and in the entire immersion of man into activity his deepest being has been sacrificed. Indeed, the more exclusively Life transforms itself into external work, the more it ceases to be an inner personal experience, and the more alien we become to ourselves. And yet the fact that we can be conscious of such an alienation—an alienation that we cannot accept indifferently —is a proof that more is firmly implanted in us than the modern direction of life is able to develop and satisfy. We acknowledge simultaneously that we have gained much, but that the loss is a painful one. We have gained the world, but we have lost the soul; and, along with this, the world threatens to bring us to nought, and to take away our one secure foothold in the midst of the roaring torrent of material work.”
Eucken shows that the individual will obtain his true place in Society and the State only when spiritual ideals have become fixed norms -norms which form the highest synthesis to be conceived of. And Society and the State will discover their vocations in precisely the same manner. It is impossible to shut our eyes to the fact that things are not well with the world to-day. The growth of the material [p.117]interests of the world and of life has become a menace on a scale unknown in the previous history of civilisation. There is only one refuge in the midst of all this welter and chaos. That indestructible refuge is “an inner synthesis and spiritual elevation of life.” It is this alone which can prevent the disintegration that is bound to follow in its absence. The petty human element cannot be eliminated from this; and the mere life of the hour—the life that has no substance of duration within itself—cannot be stopped on its reckless career without the presence of spiritual ideals within and without. If the world proceeds in its denial of the reality and need of spiritual life and its over-world, the negation, when it reaches its climax of disaster and despair, will “turn again home”—to the necessity of spiritual values—and out of the ruins a new humanity will emerge.
Thus, once more we are landed into the province of a religion of spiritual life as a necessity in the affairs of the world and of the State. Eucken’s great plea is that the civilised nations of the world should become aware of all this before it is too late to turn back—before the boat has reached too near the rapids to avoid disaster. The remedy is in our own hands. How to create the consciousness of the situation is the problem of problems, and all individuals are called to bring the whole of their energies to its solution.[p.118]It is evident that some kind of uneasiness has to take place in the deepest recess of the human soul, but the best ways and means of doing this are not yet quite evident. We know what we need and what prevents decadence of individuals and nations. “If ye know these things, blessed are ye if ye dothem” (Gospel of John). The bridge between a knowledge of the Ought and its possession is difficult to construct, but its importance is necessary to be brought constantly before the people. The majority of the people have thought fit to leave almost the only place where such an obligation was presented—i.e. the Christian Church. Until they return, or some other institution higher than the Church is brought into existence, the peril will remain. No individual conviction, based on anything less than spiritual ideals, will suffice. What we are looking for is in our midst; it is and has been from the very beginning, in spite of an “existential form,” largely archaic, present in the spiritual nucleus of the Christian religion. [p.119]
RELIGION AND ART
Eucken has written less on this subject than on any of those which constitute the headings of the chapters of this book. But he has treated art in precisely the same manner as he has treated all other important problems: he has shown that no great art is possible unless it is rooted in a creativeness which is spiritual. In his Main Currents of Modern Thought we get an instructive account of art and its relation to morality. His account of the development of art in modern times, from the Renaissance to the present day, shows the ebb and flow of the conception of the Beautiful. The check which the Renaissance received through the Reformation in relation to art had its good as well as its evil side. Intense scorn arose in the Protestant world for every kind of image and decoration, because these were supposed to posit life on what was purely sensuous and natural, and so bar the way to the Divine. Still, the obstruction [p.120]created by Protestantism in this direction opened a door in quite another direction. Art of a higher kind than picture or statue arose, which was far removed from the sensuous level and which emerged from a deeper soil within the soul. The whole series of musical composers produced by Germany is a proof of this. The period of the Aufklärung viewed art with scant favour, but with the rise of the New Humanism a change in favour of art took place.
The origin of this change is to be found where one might least expect it—in the soul of the sage of Königsberg. Kant’s Critique of Judgment is unanimously allowed to be the greatest book ever produced on the subject. Goethe and Schiller were influenced by it—the latter in a remarkable manner. We find in these writers an effort to unite the Good and the Beautiful. It is impossible to read the poetry of Goethe without finding that great moral problems are imbedded in his conceptions of the Beautiful. His poetry is an attempt to bridge the chasm between the external world and the soul. His nature was too deep to remain satisfied with the mere impressions of the senses. The union of the world without with the world within gave him a view of the universe and of human life full of originality and suggestiveness.
Schiller worked in practically the same direction. A moral standpoint of a high order [p.121]is to be discovered in his writings, and he believed this standard to be possible of preservation alongside of a legitimate “freedom granted in the phenomenon.” “Then the two tendencies again became divided. Romanticism gave a peculiar definite and self-conscious expression to the priority of art and the aesthetical view of life, while Fichte and the other leaders of the national movement exerted a powerful influence in the direction of strengthening morality. The social and industrial type of civilisation, which became more and more powerful during the course of the nineteenth century, was inclined, with its tendency towards social welfare and utility, to assign a subordinate part to art. Modern art arises in protest against this and is ambitious to influence the whole of life; in opposition to morality it holds up an aesthetic view of life as being alone justifiable. Hence at the present time the two spheres stand wide apart.”
Eucken shows how such an antithesis between morality and art has partially existed for thousands of years. But whenever a cleavage takes place both morality and art suffer. On the one hand, morality tends to become a system of rules for the performance of which a reward is promised either in this world or in the world to come. On the other hand, art is stripped of the distinction between the values of sensuous things as these express[p.122]Themselves in their relation to human life. In the former case, insistence on morality (even on morality alone) has deepened human life; it has given it a more strenuous tone; and it has created a scale of values which alters the whole meaning of life. But morality conceived as a system of regulations and laws has always the tendency to harden and narrow the life, and to posit the individual too much upon himself. Any justification from without—from the physical side—consequently fails to give any help or satisfaction. And man needs this help. As it is impossible for him to fly out of the world to some region where mind or spirit alone reigns, he has to do the best he can with the physical world in the midst of which he exists. It is within such a world that he has to cultivate the spiritual potencies of his own being. It is true that the spiritual potencies of his own being are higher and of more value than anything in Nature. Still, that does not mean that Nature has to be discarded or condemned before the potencies of his own being can develop. Nature is not a mere blind machine; it has produced all—including man and his potencies—that is to be found on the face of it. It is therefore not entirely meaningless, and the meaning it possesses is a necessary element in the evolution of personal spiritual life. Man must enter into some relation with Nature. But such a relation produces even more than all this. When viewed in a friendly mood, [p.123]Nature herself wears an aspect higher than a materialistic or intellectual one. It calls forth the best in imagination; it enables us to feel that something of the power that dwells within the soul dwells also in all the manifestations of phenomena. This fact is evident in all the poetry of the world, and without the perpetual presence of Nature to the soul in the form of wonder, reverence, and admiration, no poetry worthy of the name is possible. Nature thus is of value in the fact that when its phenomena present themselves to a consciousness aware not only of its knowing aspect but also of its feeling aspect, the union of Nature and soul produces a feeling of reality which creates an ideal nature. “The light that never was on sea or land” becomes now on sea and land; it illuminates the whole scene with a “halo and glory” which was concealed before. But there must be present “an eye of the soul” united with the physical impressions before all this is possible. Indeed, the effect of all this is nothing less than an ideal creation of a world consisting of Nature and the spiritual potencies of man. It is evident that if the internal [p.124]factor, which represents itself in the form of morality or value, is absent, the picture of Nature is quite different. And this is Eucken’s complaint in regard to much of the art of the present day: the internal factor is absent. Seriousness is not blended with freedom in it; or, in other words, the inward has no power to pass its quality into the outward. But when the inward is present in the form of morality or value, then art becomes joyous, serious, helpful, and disinterested. This last aspect of the disinterestedness of art was perceived clearly by Kant, and has formed an important contribution to the philosophy and even to the religion of the nineteenth century. When a potency of the soul, gained in a province outside art (as is the case with morality or value), operates, there is no danger of art degenerating into mere subjectivism; otherwise there is a very grave danger. Loosened from morality it becomes a mere play of decoration and fancy—a mere superficial embroidery of an empty life; it can look on the human world and all its struggles with an indifferent and often cynical mood. Why has all this happened? Because the inward factor of the “strenuous mood” has been replaced by a sentimental factor based on nothing deeper than the satisfaction of the senses; and the result of this is found in feelings which are more psychical than spiritual in their nature.
But that art is necessary for any completion [p.125]of life is seen by the fact that its contribution to the soul is more than a thought contribution. For the deeper life of the spirit of man is more than thought, although thought forms an essential element of it; this deeper life has wider demands than can be expressed in the form of logical propositions. Eucken shows how true art is therefore indissolubly connected with spiritual life. “Without the presence of a spiritual world [the resultant of the union of the spiritual potencies and external objects], art has no soul and no secure fundamental relationship to reality, and in no way can it develop a fixed style. We hear to-day of a ‘new style,’ and are in the saddle after such a conception. But shall we find it so long as the whole of life does not fasten itself upon simple fundamental lines and does not follow the main path in the midst of all the tangle of effort? How is it possible to attain to a unity of interpretation where our life itself fails in the possession of a governing unity? We discover ourselves in the midst of the most fundamental transformations of life; old ideals are vanishing, and new ones are dawning on the horizon. But as yet they are all full of unrest and unreadiness; and the situation of man in the All of things is so full of uncertainty that he has to struggle anew for the meaning and value of his life. If art has nothing to say to him and no help to offer—if it relegates these questions far from itself—then art itself must sink to the level of a [p.126]subsidiary play the more these problems win the mind and spirit of man. But if art is capable of bringing a furtherance of values to man in his needs and sorrows, it will have to recognise and acknowledge the problems of spiritual life as well as participate in the struggle for the vindication and formation of a spiritual world. When art does this, these questions which engage our attention are also its questions.”
In spite of the contradictions of life, in spite of much which seems indifferent to human weal and woe within the physical universe, the contradictions may be surmounted by the union of man’s spirit with other aspects of existence which look in an opposite direction. The ideal world of art is not to be discovered by ignoring these contradictions, but by acknowledging them to the full, and by seeing that Nature is supplemented by man and his soul. Such a union, as has already been pointed out, will create an earnestness and joyousness of life; it will enable man, when any teleology of Nature herself fails to give him satisfaction, to realise a teleology within the substance of his own life—spiritual in its essence, infinite in its duration, and the flowering of a bud which has grown with the help of the natural cosmos. When Nature is thus viewed as a preparatory stage for spirit, it will wear an aspect very different from the mechanical one. Its real teleology [p.127]will be seen: there can be no dispute about it; it has actually produced man, and man has now to carry farther the evolutionary process. Eucken has presented this aspect in a fine manner in his article on Schiller in Kantstudien (Band X., Heft 3), Festschrift zu Schillers hundertstem Todestage. No one in modern times discovered the contradictions of the world in regard to the needs of man more than Schiller. And yet no one led a more joyous life than this “half-poet, half-thinker.” Pressed from within and without by many alien elements, he overcame them all and found, despite his physical weakness, what a gift life is. It is in the direction of a great synthesis of spiritual life and natural phenomena that true art will discover the qualities for a permanent duration. Such a synthesis will enrich the spiritual life, and will grant it something of higher construction concerning the meaning and value of the union of Nature and Man. So Eucken has once more landed us into the spiritual life as the source and goal of all true Art.
“Only the rooted knowledge to high sense
Of heavenly can mount, and feel the spur
For fruitfullest achievement, eye a mark
Beyond the path with grain on either hand,
Help to the steering of our social Ark
Over the barbarous waters unto land.”
We have followed Eucken’s system developing step by step from the stage of knowing the world up through the evolution of spiritual life in history, in the soul, in art, and in society. Everywhere the investigation has revealed a progressive autonomy and duration of spiritual life in the midst of all the kaleidoscopic aspects of the objects which presented themselves to consciousness. Something spiritual has persisted and evolved in the midst of all the changes, and the changes have been utilised by this deeper potency of the soul. Through the evolution of this spiritual potency changes have been brought about in the external world, in human society, and in the individual soul. This spiritual potency has bent things to subserve its own inherent demands. The union of conation and cognition within the soul has brought forth everything that has happened outside the natural process of the physical world, and much even of that world [p.129]has been made subservient to man. When the attention is turned to this “fact of facts” concerning the work of spiritual life, individually and collectively, it is impossible to consider it as a mere addendum to the natural process, however closely connected it may be with that process. Sufficient has been said to prove the superiority of spiritual life over the whole aspects and manifestations of Nature. The question, then, cannot be laid aside concerning the nature of the life of the spirit in itself. What is it now? What is it capable of becoming? Why should its evolution snap at its highest point? Why cannot the power that has accomplished so much in the history of our world, and has always done this the more efficiently the more a remove from the realm of the sensuous took place—why cannot such a power proceed farther on its course? And what limits can be set to it? The pertinency of such and other questions cannot be doubted. The spiritual life has ascended too high and accomplished too much to be treated with indifference. And yet that is the way it is being treated only too widely to-day. Men hesitate to grant to it a reality of its own because of its close connection with mechanical and chemical elements. They half affirm and half deny its reality. The question arises, What is reality? Eucken agrees with the great idealists of the world that reality in its highest manifestation is [p.130]something that pertains to spirit and meaning rather than to matter and its behaviour. Our rigid clinging to a meaning of reality from the side of its physical history is doubtless a remnant of a race—memory which may be largely physical in its nature. We find a difficulty in conceiving as yet a reality existing in itself—existing in itself though material elements have helped it on its upward course. But even here it is not at all certain that nothing but material elements have operated in this fundamental process. Men have by now known enough of the connection of mind with lower processes in order to be aware of a mystery present in the whole operation—a mystery which does not yield itself to the senses.
But even such a past history of the spiritual life is not all that can be said concerning it. It is now in process of evolution, and its greatest work is always accomplished not by looking backward but forward. The whole universe has operated in bringing spiritual life into existence. Are there any reasons whatever for concluding that the whole universe is not co-operating now in its further development? Life, civilisation, culture, morality, and religion are proofs that this life of the spirit is moving onward and upward. It does not move without checks and entanglements [p.131]from without and within, but in every “long run” it is gaining some new ground and tilling it as its own. It dare not turn back; it dare not throw away the pack of the Sollen (the Ought) off its shoulders. The over-individual norms have planted themselves too strongly in the heart of humanity to be ever uprooted. The meaning and value of life now lie in a beyond. It is not a beyond within any physical region that was; neither is it, so far as we know, a beyond in any physical region that is to be. It is a beyond of the spirit; and as it is the most real and most requisite possession of man, how can it have anything less than a cosmicsignificance? The future of spiritual life is therefore governed not by something that is to be in the cosmos, but by something that is now present in it—by the acknowledgment, assimilation, and appropriation by man and humanity of spiritual norms which are far beyond their present actual situation.
The whole meaning here is that something sub specie aeternitatis has to take the foremost place in life. We are beings who perpetually move. Eucken and Bergson are both emphasising this to-day. But the latter deals with the movement alone; he has no notion whither we are going, nor can he possibly have until he revises very largely his conception of the function and meaning of intellect in life. But [p.132]Eucken states that we do know whither we are going. What are the over-personal spiritual norms and standards but stars by which to steer the direction of our course over the tempestuous sea of time? Everyone who guides his life in connection with reason guides it by means of some norm or other. Even the daily avocation requires this in order to be fulfilled. And the norms which furnish guidance to the spiritual life have originated and are utilised in precisely the same manner as those of the daily avocation. The only difference is that there is more meaning and value in the former than in the latter. But each is a Sollen and constitutes a beyond. This Sollen is a certainty; it exists, and its existence is in itself. It is the star for the Wollen. The Will is our own; the Ought is not our own; the fact that we possess it as an idea is no proof that it has become a possession of the whole of life. In this sense the Ought has an objectivity and a subsistence of its own. The Will has to travel in the direction of the Ought, and its course is mapped out by this Ought at every step of its progress. Hence, in order to reach towards the Sollen the nature of the Sollen must become known. As noticed in previous chapters, such a movement towards so high [p.133]a goal becomes a difficult task—a task which demands the activity of the whole spiritual nature. Man’s dependency and the meaning of his life are thus set before his eyes, and the aspects of momentary existence are valued as of secondary importance. Unless this meaning of the norm becomes clear, life will revolve around the reality nearest-at-hand, and will consequently fail to unfold the deeper spirituality of its nature. “And if all depended on the brief flash of the moment, which endures but the twinkling of an eye, only to vanish into the dark of nothingness, then all life would mean a mere exit into death. Thus, without eternity there is no spirituality, and without connection there is no content of life. But what is enthroned in itself above Time becomes for the man who wins such a spirituality, first of all, an immense task which allows itself to be grasped on the field of Time alone; and, also, the Eternal which works within us and which hovers before us on the horizon of Eternity can become our full possession only through the movement of Time. To wish to check the course of Time means not to serve Eternity, but to ascribe to Time what belongs to Eternity.”
It is not said by Eucken anywhere in his writings that the natural sources at which Life drinks must be abandoned. These remain with us as long as we are in this world of space and [p.134]time. But these are not found in the same place, neither is the same importance attached to them, once the meaning and value of the over-personal norms and the potency of spiritual creativeness have come into union with one another.
What Eucken means by universal religion is the establishment of this independency and supremacy of spiritual life over all else in the world. We have already dealt with this aspect in former chapters; the conclusion was reached that everywhere the presence of a life of the spirit made itself felt, and gave a meaning and interpretation to all life and existence. That is the conclusion Eucken arrives at in his Kampf um einen geistigen Lebensinhalt. The problem of religion qua religion is hardly touched. But, indeed, what other than religion can all these conclusions mean? Norm and potency are emphasised. An elevation above the world and above the “small self” has taken place. But something still has to be done before we have entered into the very heart of the matter. The problems which arise after all the conclusions previously arrived at are acknowledged must be taken into account. Having come so far in regard to the value and meaning of spiritual life, we are bound to go farther. No point occurs where we can find a terminus. Though we have already been constrained to grant the norms a reality of their own, we have only just touched, here and there, [p.135]upon their cosmic significance. The matter thus reaches a further point than we have yet touched. What justification is there for granting spiritual life this cosmic significance?
Attention has already been called to the fact of a distinction between nature and spirit. But attention has now to be directed to the necessity of emphasising the reality of spirit. The nature of spirit is revealed most clearly in the life and content of human consciousness. No anthropomorphic standard from without can come to our aid to establish the existence of spirit. The standard is to be found within the consciousness itself. A distinction has to be made between nature and spirit. However much they resemble each other in the beginnings of life, spirit has travelled far beyond nature or matter. It has developed for itself an essence which may be designated as substance. The chief characteristic of matter is that it occupies space; but spirit, though connected with, and largely conditioned by, matter as it exists in space, is now something quite other—something which has to be granted an existence of its own, and which forms the beginning of a new kind of world and unfolds a new kind of reality.
The reality of spiritual life is not discovered in anything which is external to life; it is to be found in life itself. The reality is revealed and, indeed, created by an act of the spirit of man. Such an act must be the act of one’s [p.136]own deepest being. But although such a new reality is not to be found in anything external to life, yet the very revelation points, as we have already observed, to something which is over-individual. Even the meaning of the reality itself, from its immanent side, is something quite other than the natural life and its contents. It is something revealed, but not as yet possessed; it is hard to be reached; and even within the man’s own nature obstacles and hindrances of various kinds are to be found. But the new reality persists in the midst of the hindrances; the man discovers himself as the possessor of a deeper kind of truth than was present and operative in the ordinary life. A cleavage is therefore made between the “small self” and the spiritual life. In the degree the former wins through the calling forth of the deepest activities of the soul, in that degree does the transcendent aspect of the new reality urge itself upon man. And when the two aspects—immanent and transcendent—of the reality are firmly grasped by the soul, the soul moves upward in the exploration and possession of its new world.
The failure to enter into this region of religion is due to the fact that men often attempt to construct religion on certain so-called faculties of the soul. Some attempt to discover and establish religion through the power and conclusions of the intellect. It is evident that when the knowing aspect of consciousness [p.137]takes such a leading part, and deliberately ignores the affective and active aspects, no more than a segment of the reality can be discovered, and such a segment leaves out of account important elements of human nature. If the affective aspect takes the lead at the expense of the other two aspects, we are here again in a region where only certain fragments of our nature are touched. If the active aspect busies itself without carrying along with itself the content of meaning and value to be discovered in consciousness, the true element of the greatness of the reality is missing. Eucken shows in his Truth of Religion that there must be a point in the soul, at some deeper level than any of the three, where the three are working conjointly. It must be so, because what is now at stake is more than knowing a thing; it is to be the thing we know we ought to be. It is unfamiliarity with such a truth that brings a difficulty into the mind when face to face [p.138]with the problem of religion. The mind has not learned how to attend to the truth in its own self-subsistence, but posits this truth in its relation to the conditions in the external world which brought it forth. Thus the conception of truth is made up very largely of its history on its physical side, and this history of the truth comes to possess the entire meaning of the truth itself! The road to religion, in its deepest sense, is barred to everyone who fails or refuses to grant the deeper reality which presents itself within the soul a self-subsistence. The only existence of such a reality can be its own self-subsistence. The reality is now conceived as something quite other than an existence in space; it exists for consciousness and can persist within consciousness.
When reality is conceived as a substance subsisting in itself, the passage to the Absolute is opened. This Absolute is the most universal and complete meaning and value which the soul is capable of possessing; its very nature forces itself upon man as being true; and its value has revealed itself in its being the only power which will carry farther the spiritual evolution of the soul. If such an Absolute is left out of account, it is evident that the most universal [p.139]truth which presents itself to life as absolutely necessary cannot enter into the deepest recesses of the soul; it cannot be more than a subsidiary element accompanying lower intellectual elements of life, which are more closely allied on such a lower level with physical processes of the body and with the physical world. And when truth is treated in this manner, it cannot possibly make its abode and become a power in the soul. Consciousness hesitates to create a further cleft within itself because the evidence of truth at such a height as this does not lend itself to the senses. The result is that the full power of the truth fails to produce effects on the consciousness, and thus keeps it on practically the same level as that on which it has been accustomed to work. The higher truth—the higher spiritual life—has not become anything more than a fact of knowledge or a probability. It has not become one’s own life. It is only when this higher aspect of spiritual life becomes one’s own life, and is acknowledged and used, that it is ever possible for man to become the possessor of an original energy, of an independent governing centre, and so to realise himself as a co-carrier of a cosmic movement. This is the presupposition of religion: it testifies that within man’s soul there appears something higher than sense or intellect, but which remains surrounded by alien elements which impose checks to its further development. It is quite evident that the appearance of [p.140]truths which are absolute and complete within the life is in direct antagonism to much that was previously present within it. This fundamental fact, however, is not evident without a great deal of attention paid to the nature of the higher elements which present themselves. Without comparing the values of the higher and the lower elements, how is it ever possible to know what they are and what they mean? When the whole being attends to both elements—higher and lower—there is no possibility of making a mistake concerning the different values of what are presented. A higher grade of reality reveals itself over against all that had been previously gained. The soul is forced to admit that something of a higher nature than it hitherto possessed seeks admission. And this Higher, if it enters into the whole of life, so far from revealing itself as a continuation of what had already happened, reveals itself as something which is discontinuous with the ordinary life, and superior even to the highest attainments of the intellectual life. And it is this aspect which produces the conviction of such a revelation as being objective in its very nature. It belongs to something or somebody outside our own individual experience or achievement. That there is much which is mysterious in all this, is only what might be expected. But the very fact that the Higher comes with such power when the soul expects, assimilates, and appropriates it [p.141]is a proof of its existence somewhere at the core of the universe. It cannot mean an illusion; it brings changes of too fundamental a nature to be no more than that. Its very value and the enormous difficulty of turning it from being an idea into being a possession demand too much energy of the soul to allow of its being dismissed without any more ado. It contains elements so different in their nature from the ordinary life of the hour as to render it impossible to be considered of no more than of subsidiary importance. For it has to be borne in mind that the values and norms farthest removed from the regions of sense and intellect appear only when man follows the drift of his own higher being; it is not when he remains effortless and satisfied with the life of the hour that such values and norms appear. They appear when the ordinary life is seen through as no more than a stage for the further evolution of the soul through the grasping of a higher kind of reality than has as yet presented itself to it. As Eucken says: “Religion proves itself a kingdom of opposites. When it steps out of such opposites, it destroys without a doubt the turbidity and evanescence of ordinary commonplace life, and separates clearly the lights and shadows from one another. It sets our life between the sharpest contrasts, and engenders the most powerful feelings and the most mighty movements; it shows the dark abyss in our nature, but also [p.142]shows illumined peaks; it opens out infinite tasks, and brings ever to an awakening a new life in its movement against the ordinary self. It does not render our existence lighter, but it makes it richer, more eventful, and greater; it enables man to experience cosmic problems within his own soul in order to struggle for a new world, and, indeed, in order to gain such a genuine world as its own proper life.”
All this is not a matter of speculation, but of fact. And it is in the recognition of this fact that Eucken’s philosophy of religion constitutes a new kind of idealistic movement—a movement tending more and more in the direction of Christianity. But he differs here again from the absolute idealists and the pragmatists. The former base their Absolute upon the demands of logic, whilst Eucken bases all upon the demands and potencies of life; the pragmatists emphasise the primary place of the will in the development of the inner life, but they have certainly ignored the presence of over-individual norms, as the goal of volition, whilst Eucken holds to the necessity of both. With the absolutists the relation of the Absolute with the will is not clearly perceived, and consequently the Absolute becomes merely an object of thought and contemplation; and in all this the individual does not become aware of a burning desire to move in the direction of the goal. [p.143]The pragmatist leaves the individual at the mercy of the momentary content of consciousness; this content is quite as likely to be trivial as to be great; and hence there is no absolute standard present to determine the nature and value of this content of the moment, and consequently no more than a life of effortless drifting can issue out of all this.
This blend of absolutism and pragmatism is richer in its content than either of the two. Each has missed something of importance, and it is here supplied by Eucken.
Norms and potency become two indissoluble factors in the evolution of the higher life. As already stated, the norms have an objectivity of their own, and consequently when they enter into life, life becomes conscious of their being something given and not brought into existence by its own potency. It is out of this conclusion to which life is forced that the doctrine of Grace, found in some way or other in all religions, is to be accounted for. And it is out of the consciousness of the interval between norm and achievement that the sense of guilt follows man whenever he penetrates deeply into the deeper experiences of the soul. Grace and guilt—naming only two experiences of the soul—are not remnants of a traditional theology, but essential elements which accompany the deepest experience of the soul. When they are wanting, it is most probable that the soul has not plumbed its own [p.144]existence to its very depths, but has rather chosen to be satisfied with what lies but a little way beneath the surface—with what does not cause too much uneasiness, but is sufficient for a life to persist as a good member of the society by which it is surrounded. Only half a religion can become the possession of any individual who does not at least pay as much attention to the nature and value of over-individual norms as he pays to the nature of the environment and of the ordinary life. It is always a sign that humanity is drifting to the shallows of life when it looks upon religion as the flowering of the mere natural life of good custom, earthly happiness, and ease. Whenever the tragedy born in the conflict between norms and ordinary life is absent, the very elements which constitute greatness and the “taste of eternity” are also absent. It is on account of this fact that Eucken insists that no individual or nation that loses its own deeper religious experience can be really great or true; for the purest spring of human life and conduct is wanting, and the whole life issues from a shallower stream. It is impossible here to enter into the truth of this matter; but our individual observation concerning men and communities is almost enough of itself to verify the statement. That such a higher spiritual life is a reality may be evidenced further through its effects. It changes the whole relationship of the man [p.145]who has experienced it to everything he comes in contact with. New convictions and new points of view have now actually occurred within his soul; man has become conscious of a spiritual inwardness, brought forth through the presence of an over-personal spiritual life coupled with his own spiritual needs. With the possession of such spiritual elements, how is it possible for him any more to look upon the world and human life with the same eyes as before? The dawning of a new reality has made him a new creature; he is now compelled by his own deeper nature to preserve and to reflect the light which is within him; and all this brings prominently forward the need of something other for the progress of the world than the first look of things is able to show. It is in such manner as this that we must account for all the ideals which have moved mankind from the level of animalism and greed to the level of civilisation, culture, morals, and religion. The work is far from being completed: the world still clings to the old level of ordinary life, and is so slow to grasp the value of the life of spiritual ideals. Still, something has been accomplished in the course of the ages; and although, probably, the progress has not been continuous, there has been a gain in the “long run.” But the point to bear in mind is that it is the power of the over-individual ideal which has carried the race along. Ideals have been perverted, it is true; they have been [p.146]drawn down and mixed with what was inferior in its nature, yet they have never been completely destroyed in this evil process. They have still a marvellous power of disentangling themselves from human perversions, and of revealing themselves once more in their pristine power and glory. “But the spiritual life declares its ability also positively within the human province through a persistent effort to move outside the ‘given’ situation, through a tracing out and a holding forth of ideals, through a longing after a more complete happiness and a more complete truth. Why is not man satisfied with the relativity which so obstinately clings to his existence? Why has he a longing for the Absolute in opposition to such relativity, and through this plunges himself into the deepest sorrows and distractions? This has happened not only in special situations of individuals, but in the whole process of culture; indeed, the upward march of culture would have been impossible without a striving of man from a level above his ‘given’ position and even above himself. Was not subjective satisfaction more easily reached by him in the semi-animal stages of his existence than in culture and civilisation with all their toils and tangles, and does the progress of culture and civilisation with all their mechanical appliances make him in the merely human sense happier? What else could compel him to step into this perilous track but the necessity of his own nature [p.147]revealing to him the presence of a new order of things?”
The whole of this movement is from within without. Even the physical world has to enter into consciousness before it can be known and interpreted; even the over-individual norms have to be accepted and interpreted by the spiritual potency before the reality which they possess in themselves can become our own personal reality. We receive from without on the plane of Nature and on the planes of mentality and spirituality. The consciousness does not evolve its content on any level of its progress from itself alone. Material from without has to enter into it. But the whole of this material will become one’s own possession in the degree it is attended to after it has entered consciousness; something has to happen to the material within consciousness; it has to awaken a potency, and has to distil its own content within that potency. But as this potency is not of the same nature entirely as what presents itself as possessing value, it is clear that the higher element which presents itself has to enter into a struggle for the throne of life with elements of a lower order. As this all-important fact has been dealt with in a previous chapter, there is no need to dwell on it again; but it is well to bear in mind that the fact [p.148]constitutes an important element in Eucken’s conception of “universal” religion.
“Universal” and “Characteristic” religion do not constitute two different religions, but two grades of the one religion. In “Universal” religion Eucken deals very largely with the intellectual grounds of religion. He is aware that it is necessary for us to carry our whole potencies into religion. Intellect is one of these, and we cannot afford to construct our religion on what comes into perpetual conflict with intellectual conceptions. Eucken has shown that intellectual conclusions, if they are carried far enough and include the whole of their own meaning, lead us into religion. We have already noticed how the presence of norms and standards were necessitated by the very theory of knowledge itself. It is a great gain for man to know that this is so—that in so far as knowledge testifies anything in regard to religion and spiritual life it affirms more than it negates. It is of enormous advantage to be assured that knowledge is on our side in the quest for something that is deeper than itself.
Further, Eucken conceives it as the function of religion on this “Universal” level to present, on the other hand, the actual situation. What but knowledge can reveal to us the difference between spiritual norms and ordinary life, between intellect working alone and intellect merged with the spiritual potency of one’s [p.149]being? We are bound to know these and a hundred other things. They all go to prove that there is justification for the movement of spiritual life in the direction of an over-world, and in its hope for the possession of a new grade of reality. It is well and necessary to affirm all this before we enter on the “grand enterprise.” When an affirmation, based upon insight, is made, there will be present within the soul a greater power to resist hunting after shadows or slipping to a lower level when we are in the very midst of the quest. And, indeed, on this very level of “Universal” religion something besides the mere knowledge of religion has taken place. Values which are intellectually true are bound to exercise some influence on the life. Thus, something of the nature of the higher reality has touched the soul and will of man. We know in what we have believed. This is a stage which must be passed through, for we can never feel certain upon a higher altitude unless we are certain of what had led to it. And although, on the higher altitude, there is the merging of intellectual truth in something higher than itself, still what is discovered on this higher level is richer in content if we can call up at times intellectual affirmations for its support.
But “Universal” religion has its limitations, and has to pass into something more characteristic, specific, and personal. The over-personal norms, which are spiritual in their very nature, [p.150]have not only to be interpreted, they have also to be appreciated and reverenced. The How of their appearance, after it is settled, takes a secondary place, and the norms in their own value and subsistence are attended to. Thus, they become not merely ideas having some kind of reality of their own, but also become revelations of the very nature of the world; they become the source of all creation; the one spring of all being. In other words, they are made to mean the Godhead; they mean the creation and sustaining power of all life. A communion with the Godhead now takes place, and man finds himself in possession of experiences brought about without the intervention of the world. Thus “Universal” religion culminates in a “Characteristic” or personal religion. And to this culmination, as it is presented by Eucken, we now turn.[p.151]
On the level of “Universal” religion great changes have taken place in life. The consciousness and conviction of the reality of a new kind of world have arisen; the sensuous, and even partially the intellectual, domains have been relegated to a secondary place: other values, higher in their nature and more universal in their scope, have attracted the attention of mind and soul. In all this a change has taken place in the disposition as well as in the will. Prior to this change the character had not become conscious of its own inwardness, but remained subservient to the norms of social and moral inheritance. Some amount of morality and good will have issued forth in this manner, and, indeed, the gain cannot be over-estimated. But it is evident that something further has to happen if the movement of society is to proceed onward and upward, and if the energy for such a movement is to be discovered within the soul. The whole material which enters into consciousness has to obtain a deeper meaning [p.152]than it hitherto possessed. And this happens on the level of “Universal” religion. The spiritual is now recognised as the highest manifestation of life; and this spiritual is seen to be something which has to be gained through a struggle which calls the whole nature into activity. Such a movement from the less to the more spiritual proceeds side by side with the freedom of the individual. Freedom has now taken a new meaning. Hitherto it meant little more than the consciousness of the individual moving along the line of least resistance. The effort to move in such a direction is generally pleasurable; and when it tends to become painful the individual gives up the effort. The highest norms were not present with a categorical affirmation of their reality and value. But when they are present, the will is turned from the direction of ordinary life and its ease to the conception of the meaning and value of the highest norms. Something, appearing as of intrinsic value, now makes itself felt, and stirs the whole nature. Thus, a new movement begins; the passive attitude of the soul gives way to an autonomous attitude and movement. The will, consequently, is conscious of a deeper need than any hitherto experienced, and therefore calls into being some deeper elements of its own in order to reach its goal. The whole nature has now affirmed the idea of the good, which had dawned upon it as an imperative. It is in [p.153]such a moment that the real nature becomes free—it becomes conscious, through and through, of the possibility of leaving its old world and of ascending into a new one. This is, in Eucken’s words, the real spiritual evolution (Wesensbildung) of human nature. This evolution, which, prior to this, was considered very largely as a kind of gift of the environment, is now perceived as capable of realisation only in so far as the spiritual norms are willed. When we examine the progress of humanity, we discover that it has taken place in this manner; a task had to be set and the whole nature had to be called forth to realise it. The result is that a new creation takes place in the history of the world. Such a creation becomes a new norm in the moral world, as well as a possession in the life of the individual who has struggled to realise it.
Such a spiritual process, after something of its nature has been realised, finds necessities laid upon it on all hands. Once we have stepped into the very centre of spiritual norms and ideals they begin to reveal with a wonderful rapidity and impressiveness their own intrinsic content and value. “Universal” religion has enabled us to realise that we are dealing with “grounds” which are a demand of the deepest nature, and with convictions which seem, without a doubt, “to ring true.” The man has found a shelter in the midst of all the chaos and welter of the natural process, [p.154]and his deepest reason has not failed to come to the assistance of his spiritual need. He now becomes conscious of security and even of victory in the enterprise before the battle has really begun on an arena outside his own nature; a conviction is being brought into being within his deepest soul that the best and strongest elements in the universe are on his side. Although hindrances and entanglements of all kinds increase in number, the increase in spiritual certainty, and faith in the final issue of his life, have grown at a greater ratio. Such a man has settled his destiny; he has come to the great spiritual affirmation of life—an affirmation which has to be repeated so often, and which each time distils something of a higher order within the soul.
It is evident that such an affirmation of the reality of spiritual ideals, which have now an existence of their own, should lead us farther. If they mean so much, why cannot they mean more? If they subsist in themselves, they must be what they are. They are to us meaning and value of infinite significance. But such and other spiritual characteristics are not things, and, as we have seen, not mere projections of our own individual selves. There is nothing short of personality and over-personality by which they can be even partially designated and determined. We are forced to this conclusion if they are to be objects of communion and union: and we are forced [p.155]further to gather the Many into the One. That was what was done on all lower planes. Why stop short here, because infinitely much happens when the Many find their points of union and meaning in the One? We have said that infinitely much happens when the Many find their meaning in the One. A need of the nature has arisen which demands this, and it has arisen at its highest possible level alone. Such a nature will never become absolutely certain of the meaning and value of all that has led up to this until the One obtains a self-subsistence. If this effort fails, the whole effort of development towards unity and inwardness fails. And when such a chain of effort snaps at its highest link of spiritual development, everything that had entered into the process at all the levels below it snaps along with it in so far as it had any validity whatever in the light of what is higher than itself.
But the fact that this conception of the One, conceived as Absolute Spiritual Life, has produced so many effects of the highest kind is a proof of its existence. Qualities come into being which can never come with such power in any other way. The spiritual experiences, revealed at such a level, have something to say on this matter. These experiences, [p.156]although aware of the meaning of universal concepts, have become aware of something higher still: Knowledge has given place to Love; a region has been reached beyond all the contradictions of the world and beyond all the dialectics of knowledge. It is a region which includes the good of all without injuring the good of any; and all the meaning of the world and of life is interpreted from this highest standpoint. This is the essence of “characteristic” or specific religion. On the level of “universal” religion, God was seen from the standpoint of the world; in “characteristic” religion the world is seen from the standpoint of God. The appearance of the world is consequently different from each standpoint. All must now be viewed and valued from the standpoint of “characteristic” religion, from the standpoint of the One—the Godhead; and if humanity is ever to be brought to this standpoint, the nature and the meaning of the One have to be presented to it. And it is this, as Eucken shows, which has been partially accomplished by the religions of the world. Their founders were personalities who had scaled the heights towards the “holy of holies” of the One; they descended into the plains to reveal what they had seen and heard and experienced on the heights. They had been able to commune with the Alone, and their natures had been completely transformed. In passing thus from the stage of “universal” [p.157]religion to the higher stage of “characteristic,” men have discovered a further security and spiritual evolution of their whole being. Their views of man and the world have become changed; they now long to make mankind the possessor of the “vision splendid” which has meant all for them. Communion with the One as Infinite Love has revealed to them a peace and a power which are far beyond all the lower unities.
It is of value, in the midst of all the complexities of life, of the partial interpretations of the various branches of knowledge, to have passed through the several stages below the One. Some must guard the highest citadel of religion and keep open the avenues to Infinity, Eternity, and Immortality. And the greater the number who are able to do this, the better for the world and for the individual. But a taste of this Infinite Love can be obtained without all this. Just as some of us are able to walk without a knowledge of the bodily mechanism and to eat and digest without a knowledge of the history of our bread, so the deeper spiritual potencies inherent in man are able to find a vast amount of satisfaction by resting upon and trusting in a Love Absolute, Eternal, and Infinite. Here, man is in a region of infinite calm beyond the distractions of the world and of knowledge. He cannot remain here for any great length of time; he has to return to the world, but he is never [p.158]again the same being after having scaled the “mount of transfiguration.” “Religion holds as certain and conclusive that this new inner foundation is the greatest thing of all and the wonder of wonders, because it carries within itself the power and certainty of the overcoming of the old world and the creation of a new one; it is on account of this that religion longs for the conviction of the whole man, and brands the denial of this as pettiness and unbelief. The world may therefore remain to the external view as it appeared before—a kingdom of opposition and darkness; its hindrances within and without may seem to nullify everything else; they may contract and even seemingly destroy man and his spiritual potencies; all his acts may seem fruitless and vain, and his whole existence may seem to sink into nothingness and worthlessness. Yet, through the entrance of the new life and a new world, everything is transformed from within, and the clearness of the light appears all the more by contrast with all the depth of the darkness. Indeed, in the midst of all the mysteries of existence, hope and conviction and certainty will consolidate our experience, so that ultimately evil itself must serve the development of the good.” Or in the words of Luther: “This is the spiritual power which reigns and rules in the midst of enemies, and is powerful in the midst [p.159]of all oppression. And this is nothing other than that strength is perfected in weakness, and that in all things I can gain life eternal, so that cross and crown are compelled to serve and to contribute towards my salvation.”
Eucken shows how this idea of God comes from the Life-process itself. The Godhead is present, not as an external revelation but as the ever fuller meaning and experience which have been carried along in the soul in its passage from the natural level to the highest spiritual plane. At its summit the development unfolds its true spiritual content of Love. The Highest Power—however much there still remains dark concerning it—has had communication with man, is present within his soul, has become his own life and nature, as well as his self-subsistence over against the order of the world. Here Love is raised up into an image of the Godhead—Love as a self-communication and as an essential elevation of the nature, and as an expression of inmost fellowship. “There originates a mutual intercourse of the soul and God as between an I and a Thou.” It has already been stated that Eucken insists that no close determination, in an intellectual form, should be given to this conception and experience of God. The idea of a personality of God is not an intellectual idea presented in any doctrinal form; it is an idea [p.160]born within the Life-process on its highest levels. On such levels it becomes obvious and indispensable. Man may be clearly conscious of the symbolism of the idea, and yet, at the same time, grasp in it an incontestable intrinsic truth which he knows to be far above all mere anthropomorphism. Eucken shows that it is not merely a human greatness that has been transferred to the Divine, but that the whole meaning here is a return to the source of a Divine Life and its mutual communication with man; and therefore the whole process is not an argument of man concerning the Divine, because the Divine has to be apprehended through the Divine within us. “All opposition to the idea of the Divine personality is ultimately explained by the fact that an energetic Life-process is wanting—a Life-process which entertains the question not so much from without as from within. Whenever such a Life-process is found, there is simultaneously found, often in overt contradiction to the formal doctrinal statement, an element of such a personal character of God.” But this immanent aspect of the idea of God is accompanied by a transcendent aspect. We have noticed already that the very nature of the Ought included a transcendent and objective aspect. The same fact becomes evident in [p.161]religious experience. The two poles—immanence and transcendence—are complementary. The former shows that something of the Divine nature has been implanted within human nature; the latter shows that more is in existence than we have already possessed. Spiritual norms never decrease but increase in splendour the nearer man is to their attainment. Something is here discovered which is not found in the world; it is a kind of transcendent summit, a mysterious sublimity. And an approach towards this summit produces experiences never to be possessed in any other kind of way. As Eucken himself puts it: “If this sublimity superior to the world secures an abode in the soul, and, indeed, becomes the inmost and most intimate part of our being, and enables us to participate in the self-subsistence of infinity, it opens up within us a fathomless depth, in which the existence that lies nearest to our hands is swallowed up, and it makes us a problem to ourselves—a problem which transforms the whole of life—whilst it enables us to understand and to handle what at the outset appeared to be its whole life as a mere phase and appearance. Thus it is the same religion which opens out from God to man and which simultaneously opens itself out in man himself and becomes a great mystery to him. Therefore, in the idea of God the intimate and the ultimate must both be present if religion is to reach its full development and to [p.162]avoid the dangers which everywhere threaten it.” Both these aspects interlace in one Life-process; the unity is present in the manifold, and the ultimate present in the intimate.
According to Eucken, it is out of such an experience as we have noticed that the idea of immortality becomes a firm belief and faith within the soul. The idea cannot be proved scientifically, simply because its spiritual content is greater than anything which is below it. The whole proof lies within the experience itself at this, its highest summit. “The Infinite Power and Love that has grounded a new spontaneous nature in man, over against a dark and hostile world, will conserve such a new nature and its spiritual nucleus, and shelter it against all perils and assaults, so that life as the bearer of life eternal can never be wholly lost in the stream of time.” We are here in a region farthest removed from sense and understanding; but the remarkable thing is that the conviction of immortality does not dawn on any lower level; it is not on the lower levels a portion of spiritual experience. It seems as if an element of immortality is only to be gained at a certain height of the spiritual life. On all levels below, men seek for proofs in the analogies of Nature, in the supposed return of the spirits of the dead, and in the craving found in their own lives. All these proofs have one thing in common: they [p.163]are all of a lower order of value than the meaning which the content of experience gives to immortality on its highest level. For at this highest level the proof is not something happening outside the man; it is the deepest part of his own being which now actually possesses a taste of life eternal. It seems, then, that there is no answer to the problem outside ourselves, because it is not something to be known, but something to be experienced after long toil and a stirring of the nature to its lowest depths in the drift of all that is highest and best. It is sufficient for us to possess a life which is spiritual and timeless in its nature: and when such a life is possessed, empirical proofs are neither demanded nor desired. It is within one’s own new and spiritual world that proofs are now discovered, and they are timeless and spaceless in their own intrinsic nature. “Do this, and thou shalt live.” If the man has to negate all concerning the preservation of his natural individuality, the new world he has gained for his soul will have abundant affirmation within itself, without the support of any earthly props. It is his own highest life which testifies to him that “death does not count” at all.
Eucken’s whole plea is that spiritual life at the point of its highest manifestation should not be interpreted by anything below itself. [p.164]We have already noticed how, on lower levels, spiritual life was even there interpreted by its norms, and not by its connections with what was below itself. The disappearance of miracle in religion is an indispensable stage which must be passed over. It is necessary only on a mid-level of religion, and has really been far more of the nature of a symbol than of a fact. It is at our peril that in religion we give up such a symbol until a more “inward wonder” has happened within our own soul. When the self-subsistence of the spiritual life and the reality of the norms of the over-world, now all united in God, are experienced, all miraculous manifestations of the Divine, imaginary or real, are relegated to a secondary place. They all belong to a point which the man has passed; they are milestones to which he can never return. “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet.” As Eucken points out, “This is no other than the sign of spiritual power and of a Divine message and greatness.” The movement from signs and miracles is a movement from the outward to the inward, from percept to spirituality; and the essence of religion, as a reality in itself and as an experience of the soul, is to be found by taking such a step. The centre of gravity of life has now been shifted from the outward to the inward. To accomplish this means nothing less than a [p.165]struggle for the governing centre of life. Unless we succeed in this struggle, the inner life will reach no independence and subsistence of its own. Even when the struggle succeeds in gaining its longed-for depth, it has not removed for once and for all the contradictions from without and within. Difficulties, from the lower side, will accompany the spiritual life in its higher evolution, but once it has become conscious of its own Divine nature and certainty it will gain sufficiently in content and power to relegate them all to the periphery. Something has happened within the soul which can never be obliterated. As Eucken says: “The contradiction is now removed from the centre to the periphery of life; it can therefore only touch us from without, and is not able to overthrow what is within; it will not so much weaken as strengthen the certainty, because it calls life to a perpetual renewal and brings to fruition the greatness of the conquest.”[p.166]
THE HISTORICAL RELIGIONS
We have noticed in the two preceding chapters how Eucken distinguished the two stages of religion—the “Universal” and the “Characteristic”—and how he showed the necessity of both stages. As man cannot escape from the conclusions of his intellect, it becomes necessary for him to come to an understanding with those conclusions; and although such conclusions do not form a complete account of life in its deepest aspects, still they are indispensable for him in order to know that he is on the path towards a further development of his spiritual nature. Hence the grounds of religion have to be emphasised by the conclusions of the intellect. But though intellectual conclusions, as we have already seen, warrant us in holding fast to the presence and reality of a life of the spirit and to the possibility of an evolution of such a life, all this does not mean that such an evolution is actually reached through the affirmations of [p.167]the intellect. The road of spiritual development is marked out, but we have to travel over that road ourselves. Something more than an intellectual acknowledgment of the existence of such a road is necessary before the actual movement takes place. When the actual movement does take place, when the intellectual conclusions come in contact with a will arising from our deepest needs, the matter becomes personal—it becomes something that has to be affirmed by the blending of intellect with the deeper spiritual potencies. The vision at this higher stage constitutes not only the certainty of a path for man—a path which leads to higher regions—but brings forth hidden energies in order to start him on the enterprise. The whole vision is now seen to be possible of realisation only through personal decisions of the whole nature in the direction of the over-personal values which present themselves. These over-personal values increase as the soul passes along the upward path and as it grants a self-subsistence and unconditional significance to these values. There follows here an increase of spiritual reflection; the content of the vision is loosened from sense and time; its self-subsistence becomes more and more real and more and more and more different from all that was experienced on any level below; knowledge steps into the background, and love and appreciation now guide the whole movement of [p.168]the soul. As we have already seen, when this happens, the idea of God as Infinite Love presents itself, and the soul’s main task is to climb to the summits “where on the glimmering limits far withdrawn God made Himself an awful rose of dawn.” Religion is at such a level more than an intellectual insistence upon its grounds; the soul looks now rather to its summits. Hence the two stages of Universal and Characteristic religion become necessary. And it is not always true that the Universal mode ceases once the Characteristic mode is partially realised. The soul has to descend from the heights into the ordinary world below. And as it now sees the world with new eyes, it sees much more to be condemned than was previously possible for it to see. There comes the constant need of certifying the validity of its experience on the heights, and of getting others who have never attempted the experiment to do so. The man possessed of something of the vision within his own soul proclaims his “gospel,” and conceives of all kinds of ways and means by which humanity can be drawn towards the same goal.
This is the meaning which Eucken attaches to the origin and development of the union of universal and specific religions as these have been revealed in human history. The intellectual grounds of religion as well as something of the actual spiritual experiences are presented by the founders. Every kind of [p.169]religion has originated in this manner. They are all attempts at showing that a here and now and a beyond have united and become potencies of life, and can become actualities. The here and now always points to a beyond, and the beyond, when it is realised, returns to the here and now and always transforms it. Thus, we are in the midst of two worlds which are continuous with one another just as the valley is continuous with the base of the mountain.
Such historical religions do not, then, originate in the collective experiences of humanity, but in what has actually happened in the life of unique personalities. These personalities have become, as it were, mediators between God and man. Such religions adopt the most diverse forms, because the personalities have given of the content of their own personal experiences, and no two experiences view anything from standpoints precisely identical. The historical religions may consequently be narrow in their outlook. The personalities are dependent upon their race, place, training, and inheritance for the particular intellectual presentation of their religion. Thus, each historical religion has its own view of the universe and its own morality. But the value of no historical religion is to be judged from this standpoint alone. Such views of the universe and such morality must have appeared to them somehow as a good—as [p.170]ways and means to what lay beyond. We may have outgrown such ways and means; other ways and means higher in their nature may have become our inheritance. But these higher ways and means could not have evolved out of their lower stages had not some element of the beyond instilled itself into them. The historical religions could never have flourished on immorality and superstition, however much of these we may discover in them. It is the beyond, over-personal element which has kept them alive, and this element has always had a hard struggle to overcome and transform the here-and-now elements. Whenever the historical religions are traced back to their sources, there is discovered an element above the world in the souls of their founders and of their immediate followers. As Eucken puts it: “To these founders the new kingdom was no vague outline and no feeble hope, but all stood clear in front of them; the kingdom was so real to their souls and filled them so exclusively that the whole sensuous world was reduced by them to a semblance and a shadow if they could not otherwise gain a new value from a superior power. The new world could attain to such immediacy and impressiveness only because a regal imagination wrestled for a unique picture in the tangled heap of life, and because it invested this picture with the clearest outlines and the most vivid colours. Thus the new world dawns on humanity with [p.171]fascinating power, rousing it out of the sluggishness of daily routine, binding it through a corporate aim, raising inspiring ardour through radiant promises and terrible threats, and creating achievements otherwise impossible. This prepared road into the kingdom of the invisible, this creation of a new reality which is no merely serene kind of play but a deep seriousness, this inversion of worlds which pushes sensuous existence down into a distance and which prepares a home for man within the kingdom of faith—all this is the greatest achievement that has ever been undertaken and that has ever worked upon human soil. … Their works seemed to carry within them Divine energies; wonders surrounded their paths; their life and being bridged securely the gulf between heaven and earth.” Now, Eucken shows that it is of great importance to acknowledge these personalities in order that life may be brought into a safe track. Enough has already been said of the impossibility of finding a sufficiency for life and death within the span of ordinary existence. And as this is so, a whole span of past and present has to be taken into account. The world cannot move a step towards the heights of the future without this. The real future is the blend of what was and isforming the standard and the receptacle for what is to be. We have already noticed how such a standard [p.172]evolves; and how, when it is followed to its utmost limits, it merges into the conception of God. But as all this is a conception spiritual in its nature—devoid of flesh and blood as its clothing—it becomes extremely difficult for the majority of mankind to hold fast to its reality in a world where flesh and blood mean so much. Something more tangible is craved for by man as a proof of an over-world and of an over-personal life. Such proof men are able to obtain in the great religious personalities of the world without having to go through the intellectual processes of discovering the grounds of religion. Men are able to view this spiritual truth as they view a picture. It becomes easy to understand how such personalities have been raised beyond all human valuations to a likeness to God and even to an equality with God. Such personalities were the highest conceptions which men could possess of the Godhead. This seems to have been a necessary stage in the evolution of the religious life as well as of religious conceptions. And even to-day attention is not to be diverted from such personalities. The question whether they were or were not gods has become meaningless. What psychology is able to fathom the soul of any individual? Every attempt at doctrinal formulation states less than was present within the souls of such personalities. But, on the other hand, it does seem necessary, [p.173]according to Eucken’s teaching, to avoid confusing such personalities with the All. They were great; they possessed elements above the world; but none of them possessed the whole that is in existence.
The truth concerning these founders of religion seems to lie in the fact that they realised a depth of life beyond the world, the intellect, and the span of ordinary life. It is this fact that needs to be brought prominently forward in our day. And such a fact becomes an experimental proof of the presence and efficacy of the Divine within the soul and points to an upward direction the total-movement of the world. If such a fact does not succeed in holding for itself a primary place, other subsidiary facts will colour and weaken its true spiritual content and value. This is the road on which speculative and superstitious ideas have found an entrance into the historical religions. When such is the case, the spiritual reality is gradually weakened, is lowered to the level of intellectualistic dogma, until it ultimately becomes, though in the guise of religion, the worst enemy which spiritual religion has to encounter. All hard and fixed dogmatic settings of religion usurp the supremacy of the spiritual life itself.
Eucken shows this in connection with religious institutions—institutions which were meant by their founders to be essential but [p.174]still subservient to the needs and aspirations of spiritual life. Thus, genuine religion is measured by a doctrinal standard or by a sacrament. These may possess an incalculable value in religion, when used as means and not as ends; but they may, and often do, issue in its degradation to a stage which is hardly a spiritual one. Every historical religion possesses some absolute truth, but does not possess the whole truth; and also each historical religion possesses some elements which have to pass away. But this matter will be dealt with in a later chapter.
The main service of the historical religions is to bring home to us the fact that in the course of human history a spiritual life above the world has again and again dawned on mankind through the experiences and works of great personalities. To realise intensely such a fact is to realise the fact that all this can happen again in a more concentrated form than is actually presented in the slow and toilsome effects of the results of the collective life of the community.
It may be well to refer here to Eucken’s classification of the religions of the world. This classifications consists of the Religions of Law and the Religions of Redemption. The Religions of Law maintain that the kernel of religion lies in “the announcement and advocacy of a moral order which governs the world from on high.” God has revealed His will to man; [p.175]if man obeys, rich rewards await him in a future life; if he disobeys, painful punishment is sure to follow. Man himself has to select one of the two alternatives, and he believes himself able to choose. The Religions of Redemption consider such a view false and superficial. Now, there is no doubt that the Religions of Law are stages which are of value when men are incapable of grasping the difficulties and complexities of religion. The whole of religion on this level of Law is a replica of the relations which obtain on a smaller scale between a sovereign and his subjects, or between a master and his slave. Authority is something purely external. The two Religions of Redemption—the Indian and the Christian—seek the meaning of religion in a very different manner. They both agree that human capability, which seems so evident to the Religions of Law, is the most difficult and important of all questions. They agree further that the essence of religion does not consist in guiding life for the sake of something that life is to participate in or to avoid in the future; they agree that a change must happen within the soul in this world, and that this change only comes about through the aid of a supernatural power. But these two religions differ fundamentally in their different ways of looking at the world. To the Indian religions, the existence of the world is an evil; the world is itself a kingdom of illusions. “All in it is transient [p.176]and unreal; nothing in it has duration; happiness and love are merely momentary, and men are as two pieces of wood floating on the face of an infinite ocean which pass by one another, never to meet again. Fruitless agitation and painful deception have fallen upon him who mistakes such a transient semblance for a reality and who hangs his heart upon it. Therefore it behoves man to free himself from such an unholy arena. This emancipation will take place when the semblance is seen through as semblance, and when the soul has gained an insight right into the foundation of things. Then the world loses its power over man; the whole kingdom of deception with its evanescent values goes to the bottom, all the excited affections caused by the world are extinguished, and life becomes a still and holy calm; it reaches the depth of a dreamless sleep, enters, through its immersion into an eternal essence, beyond the shadows; it passes, according to Buddhism in its most definite interpretation, into a state of entire unconsciousness.”
How different a spirit from all this breathes in Christianity! In Christianity the world is good as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough. Something of the revelation of the Divine may be discovered within it, but this is only a segment of a greater whole which comes to realisation within the soul. Here, the world is not cast away, despite all its limitations, but [p.177]is perceived as the only sphere where spiritual experience may exercise itself and draw out its own hidden potencies. Tribulation is to be found in the world; but a standpoint above the world, gained by cutting a path right through the world, is possible. When such a standpoint is reached, the world is seen as it ought to be seen and used as it ought to be used. But this aspect of the meaning of the world in the Christian religion will be dealt with later. It is sufficient to state here that Eucken considers Christianity superior to all other religions by virtue of the fact that it overcomes the world, not by fleeing from it, but by transforming it. It views the physical world as a stage upon which the life of the spirit has to realise all its possibilities; the world and all that is within it take a secondary place: the primary place is now accorded to the world of ideals and values as these merge into love and the conception of the Godhead.
The question of the finality of the Christian religion in its purely historical sense has been discussed by Eucken in his Truth of Religion, Christianity and the New Idealism, and Können wir noch Christen sein? In these three works he arrives at the conclusion that no one religion has a claim to the name “absolute religion,” because even Christianity itself cannot be more than a partial, though the highest, manifestation of the Divine. And what Christianity has been and is in [p.178]itself as a force in the history of the Western world cannot be the same as what it was in the personal experience of its Founder. It is not something which descended once and for all into the world, and so remains its permanent inheritance. It is the most priceless inheritance we possess; but such an inheritance has to be discovered again and again. All this cannot come about without calling up to-day the same spiritual energies as were needful for the tasks that were present when Christianity started to conquer the world. Its aspects of “world-denial and world-renewal” render Christianity the very religion we need. “It is the religion of religions,” but a statement of this fact does not mean the realisation of the fact. The same energy and aspiration are needful to-day as in the days of yore. Christianity, whenever it has lived on its highest levels, has struggled for two tremendous facts at least: the insufficiency of the world and the regeneration of the world in the light of the Divine. It is not a repetition of what the Founder said concerning religion. What the Founder said cost him enormous labour to discover and to possess. We shall gain so much and no more of the same spiritual substance as we put the same kind of energy in motion. In order that we may unravel the complexities of our day, a spirit similar to his spirit must become ours. When such a spirit ceases to exist, Christianity will become merely a [p.179]name; its power will have disappeared, and men can delude themselves into believing that they possess it when in fact they are the possessors of but little of its spirit and of much of its form. But the possession of the same spirit as that of Jesus constitutes the further development of Christianity, and this further development is nothing other than what we have already seen—the experience and efficacy of an eternal order of things in the midst of all the changes of time. Thus we are thrown back once more, not upon our bare individual selves, but upon the presence of the Divine within the spiritual life itself. Christianity is therefore not something that has been completed in the past, but the highest mode of conceiving and of experiencing Life in the present; it becomes an inward, personal and spiritual experience; and its duration and expansion depend upon the increase and depth of such a spiritual inwardness.[p.180]
It has been noticed how “Characteristic” or “Specific” religion means the carrying farther of the implications of “Universal” religion. It is not only necessary to know the “grounds” of religion, as these reveal themselves within the conclusions of the intellect: we have to plant ourselves upon these “grounds”; we must be what they mean. Thus, religion becomes a personal task—something that can never be realised until the whole nature comes to constant decisions of its own and acts upon those decisions in the light of what has expressed itself in the form of those over-personal norms which have further developed into a conception of, and communion with, the Godhead. We have noticed further, how this essence of religion was realised in the lives of great personalities in history, as well as in the religions which they helped to found.
Eucken does not hesitate to affirm that the highest of these religions is the Christian [p.181]religion. The core of the Christian religion consists, as we have already noticed, in its presentation of “a world-denial and world-renewal” in a far higher degree than any of the other religions, and also in the fact that it presents the union of the human and the Divine in a clearer light than before. We have noticed, too, how the Indian religions had to condemn the world in order to penetrate to the very essence and bliss of religion. Mohammedanism affirmed the world in too strong a manner, and its eternal world constituted a kind of replica of the present material world on an enlarged scale. The Jewish religion evolved through a series of stages which finally culminated in Christianity. The Roman and the Greek religions presented too many pluralistic aspects to be able ever to reach the highest synthesis whereby the Many found their meaning, interpretation, and value in the One.
Although the Christian religion cannot be designated as absolute religion, still it may be designated as the highest and most perfect manifestation of the Divine. The meaning of the term “absolute religion” involves a conception impossible to maintain, on account of the fact that in all religions some spiritual truth is discerned and realised. The term “absolute religion” is also false on account of the fact that no religion can contain the whole that is to be revealed and experienced. Christianity [p.182]is best valued when it is seen, not as a completion of the revelation of the Divine to man, but as a revelation which has to be preserved, deepened, and carried farther. In the soul of the Founder of Christianity there was doubtless present far more than is expressed in the Biblical records, and far more than actually filtered into the individual and collective consciousness of the earliest Christian communities. But we cannot live on what has occurred in the life of any other individual or community except in so far as this enters also into our own individual and the collective consciousness. We have already touched on this aspect of the impossibility of obtaining sufficient strength for the warfare of the present in anything that occurred in the past. Some measure of strength—and no psychology is able to say how much—can be obtained from a vision of the spiritual meaning and significance of the life of the Founder. But there is very great danger in looking here alone for the sole source of all the help we need. The spiritual principles of Christianity have been operating in the world ever since the Master presented the Gospel which he lived and died for. The problem of Christianity is thus a twofold problem. On the one hand, we have constantly to go back to the Fountain-head, because it is here that the stream is purest. But we have, on the other hand, to enter into the religious current which surrounds us; and this may be not so [p.183]pure as it was at its source. Alien waters have entered into the current—waters of very different taste from those which even the Founder expected. These have doubtless polluted the stream. But, on the other hand, good elements—primary and secondary—have entered into the deepest nature of Christianity itself. These have to be taken into account. They have been necessitated by the new and ever more complex situations and conditions into which Christianity has had to enter from generation to generation. It was comparatively easy for Christianity in its early beginnings to include within its compass the whole of life. But by to-day life has branched off in so many new directions; perplexing problems of knowledge and life have made their appearance. We dare not dismiss these to a region outside the sphere of influence of Christianity. Christianity, if it is to remain and increase as a living force, has to interpret these problems; it has to help us to distinguish between the chaff and the wheat.
What, then, is the true meaning of Christianity? Eucken shows that it is not possible to determine the nature of Christianity without realising that the nucleus common to all religions lies in the fact “that they manifest and represent a Divine Life, and that such a Life in its inmost foundation is superior to its external configuration and activity, and is able to withstand all the changes of time, and to [p.184]maintain within itself, in spite of all its curtailment through the human situation, an eternal truth.” This nucleus lies deeper in Christianity than in any other religion. But even Christianity itself is not a pure spiritual nucleus. Much, as we have already noticed, has gathered around it—much that reveals a lower grade of spirituality. All this constitutes the clothing of Christianity. The clothing has been changed again and again in the past. What reason is there for affirming that it cannot be changed again? It is therefore necessary to differentiate between the Substance of Christianity and its Existential-form. The Substance constitutes the fundamental Life superior to the world, and has been present throughout the whole of the Christian era; and it is this Substance which has raised men beyond the merely human situation; it is the Substance that has enabled men to overcome the world, and afterwards to see the world from the standpoint of the Divine. In this work of differentiation we are dependent in a very large measure upon the results of knowledge. Such results do not grant us the Substance of Christianity, because this is something which has to be lived into in order to be possessed. The transformation which occurs on account of a change in the Existential-form may indeed prove helpful to the spiritual nucleus itself, because it represents a truth of the intellect-a truth which does not conflict with any [p.185]knowledge outside its own sphere. There are many dangers to be discovered in this process of interpreting the spiritual nucleus. A mode of interpretation whose meaning has very largely passed away is bound to prove injurious, because it comes into sharp conflict with a newer and more comprehensive meaning, and consequently Christianity fails to win the support of those who are acquainted with the new Existential-form. And even the individual who retains the old clothing, and looks upon it as being something of the same nature as the spiritual nucleus, is in danger of basing a portion of his religion on a foundation of sand. But, on the other hand, he who is aware of the flaws of the old Existential-form without having assimilated the Spiritual Substance which lies beneath it, is in danger of drifting from religion altogether. The only way of serving best and carrying farther the development of the Christian religion is to grasp and experience deeply the fact that the Spiritual Substance is something entirely different from its form of existence. Its form of existence is an attempt to account for the Substance; it consists of intellectual concepts. And as with everything else in this world so with religion; mere intellectual concepts change, and cannot be more than receptacles used by the human mind to enshrine the things which are presented as meanings and values within the soul.[p.186]Eucken pays great attention to the necessity of this process of differentiation between the two elements in Christianity. There is a need to-day of a new form of existence for Christianity; but the satisfaction of this need will not grant us the spiritual nucleus itself. The spiritual nucleus is something to be gained not by means of knowledge, but by means of love. Eucken goes so far as to state that the idea of love and love of one’s enemy as presented in Christianity forms a new element for the redemption of the individual and of the race. To grasp this idea and to penetrate into its nature is to solve all the problems of life and death. This is the Eternal element in the Christian religion. It is found, it is true, in other religions; but why should we look for it elsewhere when it blossomed with such divine glory in the life of the Founder? This is the highest spiritual synthesis conceivable. The world has known nothing greater, and nothing greater is to be known. This is the Eternal element in Christianity which has to be possessed and preserved and furthered. If we ask the question concerning the success or failure of Christianity in the future, the answer is to be found by answering the question, Is Love to God and Love to man found within it to-day? If we are able to answer in the affirmative, we are thereby answering the question in regard to the future duration and conquests of Christianity. And if it possesses [p.187]this element deeply enough, it can adopt any existential-form which appears true without any kind of alarm. If we have to answer in the negative, there is no guarantee as to persistence of Christianity in the future. Anything less than the spiritual nucleus of Love is lacking in strength necessary to withstand the storms of the future.
We thus see that the essence of Christianity and its durability do not lie in any kind of theology: it lies within the Spiritual Substance which has abode within it throughout the centuries. Here will the world find its peace and power; here will all social complexities be solved; here will the meanings and blessings of the spiritual over-world of goodness and love become the possession of man. This is what Eucken means by contending that it is not the business of Christianity to deal with social problems in any light but the light of Infinite Love. Without an experience of this deepest source of Christianity, we do not possess the equipment for doing anything more than patching and re-patching the evils of the world. And all our patching, when but a small span of time has passed away, will leave the situation just as it was, or probably worse. Every solution will give birth to a new complexity; the world may be incessantly active in connection with the betterment of the social situation,’but we shall never heal the wounds of individuals and of nations until they are [p.188]brought to the depth of the spiritual life revealed in Christianity as Eternal Love. “A warm love towards all humanity runs through Christianity; it longs to redeem every individual; it gives man a value beyond all special achievements and on the other side of all mental and moral deeds; it has been the first to bring the pure inwardness of the soul to a clear expression. But it has also, through the linking of the human to a Divine and Eternal Order, raised life beyond all that is trivial and merely human with its civic ordinances and social interests. He who, with the best intention, views Christianity as a mere means for the betterment of the social situation, draws it from the heights of its nature, and deprives it of the main constituent of its greatness—the emancipation from the petty-human within the depths of the human itself. It is essentially the nature of Christianity that it transplants man into a new world over against the world that is nearest to our hands; it has planted the fundamental conviction of Platonism of the existence of an Eternal Order over against the world of Time amongst a great portion of the human race, and has given a mighty impetus to all effort. But it has, though it separated the Eternal from Time, brought it back again into Time; and through the presence of the Eternal it has, for the first time, proposed to mankind and to each individual a fundamental inner renewal, [p.189]and through this has inaugurated a genuine history.”
Acknowledging such a nucleus as constituting the very substance of Christianity, Eucken proceeds to show the necessity of preserving and unfolding the nucleus against the changes of Time. The nucleus has to be preserved over against Nature. It has been noticed in previous chapters how modern science has presented us with a view of Nature immensely vaster than that presented in Christian theology. Such a view has destroyed for ever a large number of the theological conceptions of the past. The earth has been reduced to a subsidiary place within the cosmos; and any attempt to return to the old conceptions is bought at too high a price. A new mode of thought in regard to the interpretation of the physical universe has come to stay, and the sooner the Christian Church comes to an understanding with it the better for the Church itself. And this new mode may be gladly accepted, because it cannot touch the nature and destiny of the soul of man. We are not able to view the perfect circle of things, but we are able to [p.190]trace a segment of it in the fact of the unmistakably cosmic character of the spiritual life. The progressive intensifying of the Life-process has made the fact abundantly clear that Nature is not the final reality it was supposed to be by the scientific mode of the past, but that it signifies no more than a “human vista of reality.” And, as we have already observed in connection with the Theory of Knowledge, the nature of that “vista” is determined by a mental process and a construction beyond Nature. Nature appears as no more than an environment when once the power of Eternal Life has appeared within the soul. An insistence on this power and its capacity has raised man to a level from which he recognises the “priority of spirit” in spite of all the “palpableness of sensuous impressions.” Man thus appears great as against Nature; but there is more than enough to make him humble when he views himself in the light of that truth which constitutes the Spiritual and Eternal Substance of Christianity.
Not only do we find the two different elements present in the Christianity of our day; they are also apparent in the presentation of Christianity found within the Gospels themselves. The miraculous elements in the Gospels exhibit a number of contradictions; and an even more serious objection to them is the fact that they come into direct conflict [p.191]with the scientific interpretation of Nature. As Eucken says: “To place a miracle in that one situation would mean an overthrow of the total order of Nature, as this order has been set forth through the fundamental work of modern investigation and through an incalculable fulness of experiences. What would justify such a breach with the total mode of reality ought to appear to us with overwhelming, indisputable clearness. Has the traditional fact this degree of certainty, and cannot it be explained in any other way? Who is able to assert this with entire assurance? If the superiority of the Divine was, on this particular occasion, to be proclaimed in a tangible manner, why did all this happen for a small circle of believers alone, and why did it not happen to others? There seems, however, to have been necessary a certain state of the souls of the disciples to make them see what they thought they saw; but in all this there is found a psychic and subjective factor in operation—a factor whose potency is very difficult to define and to mark its boundaries. It would have been a fact of a wonderful nature if the souls of the disciples, from within, became suddenly and without intermediary convinced of the continuation of the life and the presence of the Master: all this would have been no sensuous miracle—no break in the course of Nature. But we have to bear in mind how times of strong religious agitation and [p.192]convulsion are so little qualified to judge concerning external phenomena, and how easily a psychic state solidifies into a supposed percept! Within and without Christianity there are numerous examples of the sensuous appearance of a dead person being considered to be fully authenticated by the narrower circle of friends. Savonarola appeared more than a hundred times after his death, but always to those whose hearts clung to him; and to fifteen nuns of the convent of St Lucia he gave the consecrated wafer through the opening in their grille.”
Eucken shows that an inability to accept the miraculous element in the Gospels need not prevent anyone from being the possessor of the Spiritual Substance. The spiritual content of Christianity is a content which lies beyond the region of physical phenomena, whether those phenomena are natural or are supposed to be supernatural. Christianity is dragged down to a lower level by confusing its mode of existence with its spiritual kernel. Religion is able to subsist without such aids simply because it has discovered the true wonder within the spiritual life itself. We do not know what future investigations may reveal from the scientific side. It may be that Nature will appear more and more mechanical in many of its manifestations; but even if this should prove to be the case, it can produce no injury whatever to the nature [p.193]and content of spiritual life. It may be, on the other hand, that the scientific movement now proceeding in the direction of neo-Vitalism will produce results which will modify and even overthrow the mechanical conceptions of life, and thus enable the future to construct a Metaphysic of Nature. The battle between these two schools of science is proceeding to-day. But even if the final issue should be a decision in favour of mechanism, the destiny of Christianity or of the human soul does not depend upon such a decision. If the issue should turn in favour of the vitalistic conception, great gains are bound to accrue to religion; for thus a warrant for a belief in a reality higher in nature than what is termed physical will be established and shown to be at work in the origin and constant “becoming” of physical phenomena. The main point for us to-day is to hold fast to the superiority of spiritual life to all that we know concerning the physical universe. Unless this is done, we shall lose the deeper inward connections of life, and shall be in danger of sinking back to the level of naturalism—a level from which the culture and religion of the Western world have partially emerged. Further, the spiritual nucleus of Christianity [p.194]must be preserved over against the changes of history. Changes in human society threaten Christianity more directly than even the changes of Nature. These changes, in so far as they are judged by a spiritual standard to be good, can be accepted by Christianity, but only on the presupposition that Christianity has learned how to differentiate between its Eternal Substance and its temporal form of existence. The mere flow of the events of Time is insufficient to produce a religion of substance and duration, for here we are dependent upon the content of the moment. This aspect has been already dealt with in the chapter on Religion and History. A similar necessity for differentiating between the Eternal and the temporary which Eucken enforced in regard to Christianity applies in his view to all the movements of the world. Whatever form—scientific, philosophical, social, theological—these movements may take, they have all to find their meaning in a Standard which is Eternal. Whenever such a Standard has been recognised, mankind was able to move in an upward direction; whenever it was absent, the complexities of knowledge and life increased and had no light to reflect upon themselves, and no power to [p.195]raise themselves to a higher plane. When the Eternal and Substantial is present at the governing centre of life, all of reality that can possibly present itself to man is viewed in an entirely different light. Great spiritual movements cannot possibly arise from any shallower source. There must be present in all such movements a consciousness of something of Eternal value, and a faith in the possibility of attaining a higher grade of reality in the midst of all the fragmentary factors which present themselves. Religion is thus viewed as a movement which takes place not by the side of life, but within life itself. A power of immediacy grows within the soul; it is now able to sift and winnow, to select and to reject; it is able to penetrate into the difference between first and second things, and to relegate all minor things to their lower sphere.
It is of no avail to ignore this difference; and neither is it of any avail to ignore the difference between the old and the new existence-forms of Christianity. The old and the new conceptions cannot possibly flow together. One mode has to take a primary place, and the other a secondary place. The old intellectual presentation of Christianity has, in many ways, become inadequate. But [p.196]still it cannot be thrown overboard in any light-hearted manner, if for no other reason than that it has grown along with the growth of the Spiritual Substance itself. Some kind of shock, and even loss, may be temporarily experienced in parting with it; but this is a process that has to be passed through; and once it is passed through, the new clothing of Christianity cannot but help man to see a richer meaning in the Eternal. It may not fit quite so compactly for a time; it may not merge easily with the Spiritual Substance. We are far less comfortable in a new suit of clothes than in an old one; but comfort is not the only criterion in regard to the things of the body or of the soul. There may be a need for a change, and our needs are of more significance than our comforts. The change from old to new can be accomplished when the difference of Substance and Form is clearly perceived, and when the Substance is preserved in the midst of the change. This is one of the greatest tasks set to the Christian Church to-day, and no one is competent to undertake it if he has not experienced in the very depth of his own soul the meaning of the Eternal as the essence of the Christian religion. Eucken has grasped this truth in an unmistakable manner; and he sees nothing but disaster for religion in any attempt to present a new clothing at the expense of ejecting the Eternal kernel. But still he insists that in [p.197]theology the claims of the new forms are overwhelmingly necessary and just.
When we turn to Eucken’s conception in connection with the place of the personality of the Founder in the Christianity of the present, we are treading on very difficult ground. This is a question which cannot be decided by the cold, calculating intellect. Without a doubt, there is here something unique in the history of the world—something which no psychology can fathom and no logic can construct into exact propositions. But here once again, the two elements—the Spiritual Substance and its Form—are apparent in the life of the Founder, and in our conceptions concerning his life and death. But we need not fear that any real loss will accrue if we hold fast to the indisputable fact of the presence of a divinity within his life—a divinity which has to be repeated on a smaller scale in our own lives before we are ever able to have even a glimmer of it. It is out of such a spiritual experience that the life of the Master can gain its real value and significance for us. But in the past there has been a tendency to see a good deal of this significance in theological constructions which have now ceased to contain any genuine meaning. At the best these constructions could never mean more than the best intellectual presentations of good men. Something besides them—deeper than them all—had to appear before any soul could be [p.198]converted to the things of Eternal Life. Here Eucken shows that metaphysical concepts such as the Trinity have tended to become purely anthropomorphic and mythological, probably necessary at a certain level of religion, but which have now been superseded by truer conceptions of life and existence. There is no longer any meaning in asking whether the Founder was a “mere man” or a God. He was an intermediate reality between the two. To measure the depth and content of his soul is a presumption of shallow minds; to determine in a speculative manner the exact nature of his divinity, and to formulate imposing doctrines out of all this is quite as presumptuous. It is sufficient for us to know that he overcame the world, that the Godhead dwelt in a form of immediacy within his soul. All this is an experimental proof of the working of the Divine upon the plane of Time. But such Divine breaks in pieces if it is subjected to exact determinations. Some account of it we must have: the understanding demands this; but that account must include what the best light of knowledge has to throw on the subject. But when all is said, something infinitely greater remains unsaid, and yet to be experienced—something that requires the soul to exert itself in order to experience what all this means. When face to face with the meaning and value of the life and death and spiritual resurrection [p.199]of the Founder of our Christianity, we are face to face with an eternal reality revealed within the soul of the “son of man.” At such a depth of our nature, the petty questions concerning how much or how little was present disappear into the background of life, and we are able through such a vision to pass to the Father. When emphasis is laid on such a fact as this, Christianity will again become a religion of the spirit—a religion which will unite all mankind at a point of unity beneath all close intellectual determinations and differences. And Eucken points out that it is not in the life of Jesus alone that we can obtain such a vision. But we do not gain the vision by merely saying this. If we know of any other character who was so much and who did so much, probably we shall obtain there what we need. But in the Western world at least we do not know any such character; the essence of his life and personality has been always connected with the conception of God. But this is not the sole conception and, as Eucken says, we cannot bind ourselves entirely to this one point in Christianity. The narrow paths which lead to religion are many; we have to draw help from all quarters where the Divine has been revealed. But the danger lies in merely knowing so many such paths while walking on none of them. The personality of Jesus will remain in Christianity, and the world in its darkness will turn again and [p.200]again to that palpable proof of the Divine seen on such a summit, and endeavour to scale the same everlasting hill of God. “Here we find a human life of the most homely and simple kind, passed in a remote corner of the world, little heeded by his contemporaries, and, after a short blossoming life, cruelly put to death. And yet, this life had an energy of spirit which filled it to the brim; it had a Standard which has transformed human existence to its very root; it has made inadequate what hitherto seemed to bring entire happiness; it has set limits to all petty natural culture; it has stamped as frivolity, not only all absorption in the mere pleasures of life, but has also reduced the whole prior circle of man to the mere world of sense. Such a valuation holds us fast and refuses to be weakened by us when all the dogmas and usages of the Church are detected as merely human organisations. That life of Jesus establishes evermore a tribunal over the world; and the majesty of such an effective bar of judgment supersedes all the development of external power.”
We may bring this chapter to a close by once more pointing out Eucken’s insistence on the Spiritual Substance of Christianity and the need of a new Existential-form. The Substance was present in the life of the Founder; mankind has to turn to that fact for one of [p.201]the experimental proofs of the Divine. But such a fact is not sufficient. It is something which happened in someone else, and not in ourselves. The fact is to serve as an inspiration that something similar shall and can happen in ourselves. When this is realised, we become conscious of the power of the Divine within the soul; and the problems of our own day are seen and interpreted in the same spirit as that in which Jesus faced and interpreted the problems of his day. Such a spiritual experience will become a power to use all the good of life, and thus sanctify it in the very using of it. The over-personal norms and standards have now become our own possession; they enable us to see the world as it ought to be seen and to work for the realisation of the vision; and the norms mean even more than this, for we have already seen that they point to something beyond themselves and yet continuous with themselves. They point to Infinite Love as the very essence of the Godhead. The reality of the over-individual norms and the conception of the Divine as Infinite Love thus induce in us a conviction of the possibility of an evolution of the spirit and of a reality beyond sense and time. The Eternal thus enters into Time and overcomes Time. This is Eucken’s final conclusion in regard to the Christian religion and the destiny of man. But all this has to be experienced before it [p.202]can be realised. “The task to-day is to work energetically, to labour with a free mind and a joyful courage, so that the Eternal may not lose its efficient power by our rigid clinging to temporal and antiquated forms, so that what we have recognised as human may not bar the way to the Divine as that Divine is revealed in our own day. The conditions of the present time afford the strongest motives for such work. For once again, in spite of all the contradictions which appear on the surface of things, the religious problem rises up mightily from the depth of life; from day to day it moves minds more and more; it induces endeavour and kindles the spirit of man. It becomes ever plainer to all who are willing to see that mere secular culture is empty and vain, and is powerless to grant life any real content or fill it with genuine love. Man and humanity are pressed ever more forcibly forward into a struggle for the meaning of life and the deliverance of the spiritual self. But the great tasks must be handled with a greatness of spirit, and such a spirit demands freedom—freedom in the service of truth and truthfulness. Let us therefore work together, let us work unceasingly with all our strength as long as the day lasts, in the conviction that ‘he who wishes to cling to the Old that ages not must leave behind him the old that ages’ (Runeberg), and that an Eternal of the real kind cannot [p.203]be lost in the flux of Time, because it overcomes Time by entering into it.”
Eucken is aware of the various Life-systems which present themselves on every side as all-inclusive. But he sees no hope for a real spiritual education of mankind until every Life-system shall seek for a depth beyond the natural man and all his wants. And such a movement is visible amongst us to-day. It needs to be possessed and proclaimed. The redemption of the world depends upon its success. The Christian religion is such a Gospel. “But a movement towards a more essential and soul-stirring culture—to a progressive superiority of a complete life beyond all individual activities—cannot arise without bringing the problem of religion once more to the foreground. Our life is not able to find its bearings within this deep or to gather its treasures into a Whole unless it realises how many acute opposites it carries within itself. Life will either be torn in pieces by these opposites, or it must somehow be raised above them all. It is the latter alone that can bring about a thorough transformation of our first and shallow view of the universe as well as the inauguration of a new reality. Man has emerged out of the darkness of nature and remains afflicted with the afflictions of nature; yet at the same time, with his appearance upon the earth the darkness begins to illumine, and [p.204]’nature kindles within him a light’ (Schopenhauer); he who is a mere speck on the face of a boundless expanse can yet aspire to a participation in the whole of Infinity; he who stands in the midst of the flux of time yet possesses an aspiration after infinite truth; he who forms but a mere piece of nature constructs at the same time a new world within the spiritual life over against it all; he who finds himself confined by contradictions of all kinds, which immediate existence in no way can solve, yet struggles after a further depth of reality and after the ‘narrow gate’ which opens into religion. Through and beyond all the particular problems of life and the world, it behoves us to raise the spiritual life to a level of full independence, to make it simultaneously superior to man as an individual and to bring it back into his soul. When this comes to be there is at the same time a transformation of his inmost being, and for the first time he becomes capable of genuine greatness…. These final conclusions strengthen the aspiration after a religion of the spiritual life…. Such a religion is in no way new, and Christianity has proclaimed it and clung to it from the very beginning. But it has been interwoven with traditional forms which are now seen through by so many as pictorial ideas of epochs and times. Earlier times could allow the Essence and the Form to coalesce without discovering any incongruity in this. But the [p.205]time for doing this has irrevocably passed away. The human which once seemed to bring the Spiritual and Divine so near to man has now become a burden and a hindrance to him. A keener analysis, a more independent development of the Spiritual and Divine, and, along with this, the truth of religion, do not succeed in reaching their full effects if religion is looked upon as merely something to protect individuals, instead of as that which furthers the whole of humanity —as that which is not merely a succour in times of trouble and sorrow but also as that which guarantees an enhancement in work and creativeness. The situation is difficult and full of dangers, and small in the meantime is the number of those who grasp it in a deep and free sense, and who yet are determined to penetrate victoriously into it, so that the inner necessities of the spiritual life may awaken within the soul of man. Whatever new tasks and difficulties lie in the lap of the future, to-day it behoves us before all else to proceed a step upward in the direction of the summits and to draw new energies and depths of the spiritual life into the domain of man; for this kind of work will prevent the coming of an ‘old age’ upon humanity and will breathe into its soul the gift of Eternal Youth.”[p.206]
PRESENT-DAY ASPECTS OF PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGION
In this chapter some of the most important problems of the present day will be touched upon in the light of Eucken’s Philosophy of Religion. Reference has already been made to Eucken’s account of the limitations of various Life-systems, of their struggle with one another, and of the necessity for a religious synthesis which will include their most important results within itself. The answer as to the possibility and necessity of such a synthesis constitutes the kernel of Eucken’s Philosophy of Religion. He has succeeded in a remarkable manner in assessing the results of science, philosophy, sociology, art, and religion. In them all he has discovered the presence of a reality which is non-sensuous in its nature, and, which reveals itself [p.207]in judgments of value that carry within themselves their own necessity and self-subsistence. This is his conclusion in regard to the work of the spirit of man on whatever plane of knowledge or experience that spirit works. Man’s spirit has to carry all its knowledge and experience into its own conative spiritual potencies. We thus see that everything becomes an aid to the unfolding of an ever greater degree of reality within the spirit of man. It is then within the spirit of man that everything finds its interpretation and value. Whatever interpretation is given to anything apart from the union of the whole potency and cognition of man’s spirit is only a partial interpretation. And it is in the failure to recognise this truth that so many Life-systems have set themselves against the higher aspects of philosophy and religion. The most important question has not been asked: What is the relation and value of all results in connection with the deepest potency and necessity of man’s spirit? Are these results capable of enriching that spirit of man when he becomes conscious of them? These are the questions which Eucken continually asks and answers in his great works; and it is this fact which makes his teaching so valuable and superior to all the Life-systems of our day. It is difficult to think of any aspect of experience which Eucken has left out of account. He has not, indeed, interpreted [p.208]in detail all the Life-systems in vogue, and no human being is capable of achieving such a task; but he has clearly perceived the flaws which lie in them all. And this discovery of his has revealed a flaw common to them all. That flaw consists in ignoring the presence of a spiritual life as the great workshop where every form of reality finds its truest meaning. This flaw is so serious in that several Life-systems have thus over-estimated the importance of their results by neglecting to take into account the potentialities and necessities of man’s spirit. Let us, then, try to trace this defect in connection with some of the most important Life-systems in vogue to-day. When the various systems of Idealism are estimated, they seem to present aspects of reality with vast portions of human potencies and experiences left out of account. Absolute Idealism is based upon the demands and implications of logic. Its doctrines would have taken a very different colouring had it considered that the necessities of Logic have to be adjusted to the necessities of Life. Such systems are of little value to the soul, because the needs of the soul were not taken into account when they were formulated. This fact was the main cause of the late Professor James’s rebellion against all forms of Absolute Idealism. He felt that they bore no relationship to human life and its needs, and consequently could not exercise any important [p.209]influence on life; they could not move the will, for no possibility of reaching the Absolute was offered to man. All the conclusions were in the realm of an intellectual universal and not in the realm of spirit. They must be unreal in the highest sense on account of this very failure. They have presented their half-gods as realities outside Nature, human nature, the pressing ideals of life, and even God Himself.
Eucken shows that any true Life-system has to start with Life itself. There may be interpretations needful which have no implications for Life, and these have a right of their own; but when such interpretations are carried further, when the subject who knows such interpretations and who uses them is taken into account, then the interpretations found on this level are something quite different from what they were when the whole spirit of man was not taken into account. Eucken consequently comes to the conclusion that philosophy has not completely fulfilled its vocation until it has become a philosophy of Life—until the truest meaning of every object is discovered in its relation to all the necessities of the spirit. And it is here that his teaching comes into conflict with so much that goes by the name of Idealism. How can any system be more than a half-truth when its final meaning is presented with but little attention to the highest aspect we know in the world —to human life in its struggles and conquests, [p.210]in its living and loving, and its forward movement towards some distant goal? The special value of Eucken’s teaching lies, then, in the fact that it interprets what happens, can happen, and ought to happen within life itself. No system which leaves out the soul with its possibilities is complete. This has been done too often in the past, and is being done to-day. Is it, then, a wonder that philosophy has given so very little help to Life in its complex problems without and its sharp opposites and contradictions within? Life is more and needs more than a philosophy of words, devoid of power, can offer it. Life, when at its best, believes in the all-power of its own spiritual potency; it has faith in the possibility of ascent from height to height, as well as in the possibility of an incessant progress not only of individuals but of the whole of mankind. A System stands or falls according as it is able to conceive of Life in such a manner. And Eucken has done this as probably no other living philosopher has done it.
If we turn to Immanent Idealism, we discover the same failure. It emphasises the presence within consciousness of what is idealistic and noble, but it leaves out the objective and imperative character of what is present. It also forgets that the possession of ideals as ideas is only the initial stage of such ideals becoming a very portion [p.211]of the deepest substance of soul itself. We may deceive ourselves even with the contemplation of the best ideals; they can never become truly ours until the will is set in motion and the whole nature is stirred to its depths in order to press forward to what it perceives as having infinite value. Something has inevitably to happen within the depth of the soul before its real creation can advance. Eucken here, again, has perceived this truth and presents it everywhere with great power. His Philosophy is an Activism of the most powerful type. He is aware that to know and to be are so far apart. But his Activism is not a mere movement of the individual’s will, brought forth by anything that has grown within it as a private inheritance. The Activism is started and kept going on its course by the over-personal norms and values already referred to. It is the union of norm and will that constitutes the full action. Life’s greater meaning and value is, therefore, not a ready-made possession; it is rather something already possessed, and a vision of something more in the distance to be possessed. The presence of the Divine within the soul is not the same prior to the search and after the search. This is [p.212]one of the most distinctive features of Eucken’s teaching, and constitutes a necessary supplement to certain presentations of Immanent Idealism prevalent in various forms to-day.
When we pass to Materialism in its various forms, we find Eucken conscious of its poverty and its caricature of life. It is caused by excessive absorption in the sensuous object with all its manifold relations. But it is possible to believe in all that it states; for it can never really say anything concerning the deeper meaning of spiritual life if for no other reason than that it cannot penetrate into life’s deeper experiences. It is a stage in human thought which is passing away. What will become of it after Professor Haeckel’s passing is difficult to imagine. One thing at least is certain: as a complete system of the universe or of life it is doomed. A mechanical interpretation of the universe is legitimate: we may have to adopt more of such interpretations in the future. But there is no need for any alarm from the sides of philosophy and religion. Their citadel is not built upon a thing, but upon a thought; and the gap between the two increases in the degree in which our knowledge of Nature and Man increases. Eucken has many great things to say on this subject in his larger works. Doubtless he would agree with some of the [p.213]advocates of Naturalism in regard to the meaning of the physical universe, but such agreement would not be an admission that all had been said that could be said concerning the need and the possibility of a Metaphysic of Life.
The one word More constitutes all the difference. This More, with Eucken, is the beginning of a new order of existence and of value where the physical order ends. His work consists in interpreting this More, and we have already seen whither the More leads us: it leads us into spiritual norms and their values, and these in their turn led us into Infinite Love in the Godhead. The failure to see the value of all this is due to the inattention of the advocates of Naturalism in regard to the non-sensuous structure of mind: the Thing and its relations monopolise them so completely that they are blind to every reality non-sensuous in its nature, although they possess some amount of such reality in their very knowledge and adoration of the Thing. Our troubles will continue to accumulate, and the prospect of the future will grow extremely dark, if the grip which physical things have on the world to-day be not relaxed. The very physical powers which we have helped to create, and which hitherto have proved of service to men, will mean our destruction unless something of the More which is beyond them be found as a possession and an activity within the governing centre of life. This is Eucken’s [p.214]plea over against the various forms of the Naturalism and Materalism of our day. These are not enough for man. But man is so slow in recognising this fact. The appeal of Spiritual Idealism is considered to be something which is vague and useless. Our deepest reality and the source of all true energy have been robbed of their efficacy by our absorption in scraping together physical elements of chaff and dust. How often does Eucken show our dire poverty in the midst of all this external plenty! The all-sufficiency of all forms of Naturalism condemns itself through its failure to pass beyond itself. Had there not been some who did pass beyond the Thing and its relations the spiritual values of the race would have been annihilated. “As soon as we demand to pass beyond mere awareness to a genuine knowledge, we discover our deplorable poverty, and must confess that what is termed certain seems on clearer investigation to rest upon a totally insecure foundation.” “It is not natural science itself which leads to naturalism, for, indeed, no natural science could arise if reality exhausted itself in the measurements of naturalism; but it is rather the weakness of the conviction of the spiritual life; it is the failure of certitude in regard to the presence of a spiritual existence; it is the unclearness concerning the inner conditions of all mental and spiritual activity which a shallow and popular philosophy [p.215]presents—it is all this which turns natural science into a materialistic naturalism.” The strength of materialistic monism does not lie in any proof of there being nothing but mechanism in this wide universe, but in its energetic propaganda against certain traditional theological forms of ecclesiastical religion—forms which are rapidly being disowned by the leaders of religious thought. Even monism concedes that “it is better being good than bad, better being sane than mad.” This concession, and the attempt to live according to it, constitute a proof of the presence in some form of a non-sensuous reality and value in the constructions of materialistic monism itself. Hence, Eucken’s conception of spiritual life cannot be got rid of after all. It will remain so long as men live above the animal level and strive to ascend to something higher still.
When the neo-Kantian movement is examined, we find that its long and honourable history presents us with gains which cannot be measured. But we have already noticed that in so far as this movement has specialised within the domain of the connections of mind and body, and has attempted to reduce psychology to the limits of the relations between the two, it is largely outside the inner meaning and value of the life of consciousness. [p.216]Its work has proved useful in many important respects. It has made man realise that the connection of body and mind is not so simple a matter as materialistic naturalism would lead us to suppose; and it has shown, on the whole, the impossibility of reducing consciousness to mechanical elements. Even in the various forms of psycho-physical parallelism the factor of mind and meaning stands apart in its origin from the factors of bodily movement. But neo-Kantianism has developed on higher lines than those of physiological psychology. It has dealt with the presence of an inner world of thought—a world of values and judgments of values, of norms, imperatives, and ideals—realities which are not presented in any scheme of natural science. It is impossible to read such a great book as the late Professor Otto Liebmann’s Analysis der Wirklichkeit without discovering this truth. In this great work, as well as in his Gedanken und Thatsachen, Liebmann shows how man is more than a natural product. [p.217]”Natural science,” he tells us, “is a very useful, and, indeed, an indispensable handmaid to philosophy, but it is in no manner the first, the deepest, the most original basis of philosophy.” Liebmann’s successors, especially Windelband, Rickert, Münsterberg, Adickes, and Vaihinger, work on similar lines. And there is a great deal in Eucken’s teaching which tends in the same direction. But he goes a step further than all the neo-Kantians. We have already noticed how he gives judgments of value and spiritual norms a cosmic significance. He finds that when these norms and values have awakened with great clearness within man’s spirit they inevitably lead to the conception of the Godhead. And it is in this work that Eucken’s Metaphysic of Life becomes a religious metaphysic. As values and norms mean so much when a reality is granted them by the truest of the neo-Kantians, they come to mean infinitely more when they are acknowledged as somehow constituting the foundation and the acme of all existence. Eucken’s main desire is to establish such norms and values beyond the possibility of dispute and beyond the constant changes of Life-systems. They mean for him what is present within their spiritual content as a realisation as well as the More to which they still point. His teaching is not contradicted by anything in the neo-Kantian movement;[p.218] he accepts its transcendental reality and lifts it out of the realm of individuality and of history into a cosmic realm. After having followed the implications of the neo-Kantian movement so far, he feels compelled to take the next step. For unless that next step is taken, some of the deepest potencies of human nature fail to come to flower and fruit. When the step is taken, they do blossom and bear fruit. Is not this a sufficient justification for taking the “next step”? It is; for man cannot allow any potency of his being to remain dormant without suffering a loss; and on this highest level of all the loss must be incalculable. “Thou hast created us for Thyself, and our heart will never find its rest until it rests on Thee.” That confession of Augustine is Eucken’s confession also; and it is the implication which such a confession contains that constitutes the significance of his message to the world. He is in the line not only of the philosophers but of the prophets and the mystics. The ladder of knowledge reaches, like Jacob’s ladder, up to heaven itself—to that pure atmosphere where knowledge, merged in a deeper reality, becomes something so different from what it was before. An eternal blessedness has now become the possession of man.
Eucken has a great deal to say regarding the Historical Life-systems of the present day. [p.219]He is aware that the neglect by German thinkers of the fundamental importance of Hegel’s teaching on this question has meant a heavy loss. That loss is already perceived, and Hegel’s value in the realm of the Philosophy of History is being rediscovered. Men are more and more feeling the necessity of conceding a validity and objectivity to the concepts of History. The work of the late Professor Dilthey in this respect is of great importance, and has strong affinities with Eucken’s teaching on the same subject. But Dilthey’s objectivity and validity stopped short of religion in the sense in which religion is presented by Eucken. Dilthey gave the norms of History a transcendental objectivity and considered them sufficient for man. But Eucken, as already stated, while granting all this and even insisting upon it, finds that the norms of History do not include the whole that human nature needs. The “next step” has to be taken whereby a reality is revealed beyond the confines of the best collective experiences of the human race. Once more, we are landed in the conception of the Godhead. The step became inevitable, because the best [p.220]historical concepts, in their totality, pointed to something still beyond themselves.
During the past few years Eucken has devoted much attention to the Life-system presented in Pragmatism. He is alive to the value of much of the work of the late Professor William James and of Dr F.C.S. Schiller. He feels that Absolute Idealism is too abstract and too remote from life to move the human will. It is too much like placing a man before a mountain, and asking him to remove it. The very magnitude of the object weakens instead of strengthening the will. Pragmatism has the merit of insisting that the task be done piecemeal, so that man may not lose heart at the very outset. And some kind of goal is present in Pragmatism. But Eucken’s main objection to Pragmatism is that, however adequate it may be at the beginning of the enterprise, it will tend, as time passes, to turn man in the direction of the line of least resistance, and so be degraded to the level of the ordinary life and its petty demands. His Activism is entirely different from James’s Pragmatism. James depended too much upon the “span of the moment” and its immediate experience. There is in this “span” often no cosmic conviction present in consciousness to proclaim that the action is [p.221]”worth while” at all costs. While constantly demanding the need of effort in order to experience the deeper potencies of spiritual life, Eucken insists that such effort can enter into a current only in so far as norms and values are clearly perceived as the meaning and goal of spiritual life. A universal of meaning and value must be perceived, however imperfectly it may be, before the individual can call his deepest nature into activity. And what is such a universal but something beyond the flow of the moment and beyond the realm of ordinary daily life? Such a universal, too, must have an existence of its own—an existence and a value which are beyond the opinions of any individual or of any group of individuals, even if such a group were to include the whole human race. It is clear, then, why Eucken parts company with Pragmatism.
If, finally, we view his attitude towards the Religious Life-systems of our generation, we find words of warning and of encouragement. His whole work culminates in religion. But he teaches us that we have to learn from the sides of knowledge already presented in this chapter. And it may be said that the Christian Church (or any other Church) has yet to learn this lesson. It still seeks to find its revelation in what was, and in modes which come constantly into direct conflict with the results of the various Life-systems already referred to. It wants the fruits of religion without tilling [p.222]the ground and nurturing its plants. Its insistence on placing the basis of religion in myth and miracle dooms it to a greater disaster in the future than even in the past. Eucken sees no hope for a “revival” of religion in the soul until an inverted order of conceiving reality takes place. The religious synthesis from the intellectual side is to be obtained by passing through the grades of reality explicit in the various Life-systems, and by abstaining from the imposition of barriers which forbid anyone roaming and “ruminating” within these. If one condition is obeyed, this is the most fruitful way to construct a new religious metaphysic which will supplant traditional theology. That condition is that the various Life-systems form a kind of scale which extends from Matter up to the Godhead. The new religious metaphysic will then mean a real philosophy of values.
Does this constitute an impossible task for the Christian Church? It will remain impossible so long as we look upon the essence of Christianity as something which descends upon us apart from the exertion of our own spiritual potencies. It is a consolation to know that the highest reality may be experienced without having to undergo a training in the methods and implications of science, history, or metaphysics. But the experience here cannot possibly mean so much as the experience which passes through and beyond the implications of knowledge to the [p.223]Divine. Such an experience as the latter must be richer in content. And even apart from this, it produces something of value on the intellectual side—something which grants religion a security in the eyes of the world. When the Church tends in this direction, its faith will come into comradeship with the various branches of human knowledge as these reveal themselves on level above level. Christianity has nothing to fear, but everything to gain, from the development of all the branches of human knowledge. Its source being Spiritual and Eternal, why should opposition be presented to any development of the lower realities in science, Biblical criticism, history, and philosophy? This lesson is not yet learned, and Eucken pleads for its acknowledgment. “If we consider how much is involved in such a change in the position of the spiritual life, and if we also present before ourselves what transformations civilisation, culture, history, and natural science carry within themselves, we see clearly the critical situation in which religion is placed, because these surface-changes are not of the essence of religion. Through the mighty expansion and the fissures which these changes bring about, the old immediacy and intimacy of the soul have become lost, and religion has now receded into the distance, and is in danger of vanishing more and more. The derangement of things which such changes cause occurs [p.224]not only in connection with their own facts and material and against their old forms, but the effect proceeds into the very character and feelings of man and into his religion. And yet, when we examine the matter more closely, we find that such changes cause not so much a breach with Christianity as with its traditional form, and that they seek to bring about a fundamental renewal of Christianity. For when we penetrate beyond the motives and dispositions of men to their spiritual basis, all the changes are unable to contradict what is essential to Christianity, but they even promise to assist this essential element in its new, freer, and more energetic development. But we have to bear in mind that all this will not descend upon us like a shower of rain, but will have to be brought forth through immense labour and toil. It becomes necessary to replace that which must pass away, and to reconsolidate the essentials which are threatened. All this cannot come about save through an energetic concentration and deepening of the spiritual life, save through a struggle against the superficiality of Time regardless of all consequences, and save through a vivification and integration of all that points in the right direction.”[p.225]This passage illustrates well Eucken’s whole attitude regarding Christianity. It is evident that much remains to be done within and without the Church. Within, radical changes are to take place; but always in the light and with the preservation of the spiritual substance. Without, the indifference of a vast portion of the civilised nations of the world has to be reckoned with. It is an immense problem, often enough to dishearten good men and women. How can men be moved from their inertia and their resentment against the deeper demands which spiritual life makes upon every human being? That is the problem of problems and the task of tasks to-day. No clear solution of it is yet perceptible. But in the meantime, those who care for Divine things and who have experienced some of their power within their own souls must hold fast to all they possess, and labour unceasingly to increase the spiritual value of their possession. Probably catastrophes have to happen in order to bring the world home to religion and God.
Rudolf Eucken’s gospel is a proclamation of the necessity of religion and the possibility of its possession. This, according to him, is the final goal of all knowledge and life. If religion is not this, it is the most tragic deception conceivable. “Religion is either merely a sanctioned product of human wishes and pictorial ideas brought about by tradition and [p.226]the historical ordinance—and, if so, no art, power, or cunning can prevent the destruction of such a bungling work by the advance of the mental and spiritual movement of the world; or religion is founded upon a superhuman fact—and, if so, the hardest assaults cannot shatter it, but rather, it must finally prove of service in all the troubles and toils of man; it must reach the point of its true strength and develop purer and purer its Eternal Truth.”
The fact that the influence of Rudolf Eucken’s personality and teaching is spreading with such rapidity and power from west to east and from north to south is a proof that an increasing number of men and women are aspiring after a religion of spiritual life such as was presented by the Founder of our Christianity. All the Life-systems of our day must converge towards such a conception of religion.[p.227]
EUCKENS PERSONALITY AND INFLUENCE
In this chapter an attempt will be made to present in a brief form some of the most important aspects of Eucken’s personality and influence. His training and the relation of his teaching to the German philosophical systems of the present have already been touched upon in some of the earlier chapters. But no account of Eucken’s teaching is complete without a knowledge of his personality.
We cannot understand his personality without bearing in mind Eucken’s nationality. He is a man of the North. A mere glimpse of the deep blue eyes reveals this immediately. His ancestors lived in close contact with Nature, and faced the perils of the great deep. The history of the men of the North has witnessed, along the centuries, a struggle for existence as severe as any struggle known in the history of our world. A trait of Eucken’s character almost entirely unknown in England is his deep sympathy with the small nations [p.228]of Europe, and especially with those of the North. He has written and pleaded on behalf of Poland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. He finds that small nations, when their independence is preserved, have the tendency to bring forth original characteristics of thought and life, which are only too apt to get lost in the bustle and mechanism of the great nations. He has shown us on several occasions how much the world is indebted to its small nations for the ideas and ideals which have shaped its destiny. He believes with his whole soul that size does not necessarily mean greatness. When we compare the greatness of Palestine and Greece with that of the larger countries of the world, the latter sink into insignificance when weighed in the balances of the spirit. He has, during the past few years, several times pointed out a danger to personality and character from the vast organisations which have been created in the various departments of life during the latter half of the nineteenth century. The deeper personality of man has receded more and more into the background through the growth of such organisations. This fact is clear in the realms of commerce and of politics. We call a nation “great” in the degree in which it succeeds in outstripping other nations in its exports and imports, or in forming alliances with its neighbouring states or with other nations. A large portion of the gains which accrue from such [p.229]unions is purely accidental, and these gains cannot possibly touch the essentials of life. The explanation of this is the fact that the centre of gravity has been shifted from mental and moral racial qualities to qualities which are far inferior in mental and moral potency and content. Thus, we witness the painful inversion of values which has taken place during the past fifty years. Every “small nation” has to take a secondary place, has to become subservient to a nation which may possess for its inheritance but few qualities besides those of expansiveness and force. The small nation is forced to submit, to develop on lines entirely alien to its original potencies, and to labour with might and main to fill the coffers of the rich nation. The old calm and peace, as well as the originality of the small nations have thus too often been cruelly uprooted; the characteristics of working on their own original lines, and of producing something of essential value in the history of the world, have been largely shorn of their initiative and freedom in the case of several of the small nations of Europe. Superficiality and indifference to deep national and spiritual traits become the primary things, and the life of the small nations, as time passes, tends to become mechanical and servile.
When we survey the work of the small nations of the Western world, we discover achievements which have been of immense [p.230]value in the civilisation, culture, morals, and religion of Europe. And what a distressing sight it is to witness the attempts of larger nations to crush the spirituality of the smaller ones! The attitude of Russia towards Finland and Poland is known to all. A greed for territory and a passion for ready-made values are characteristics which are only too evident to-day in the case of some of the Great Powers of Europe. We need, as Eucken points out, a new standard of valuing the national characteristics and the relationship of nation with nation. Such standard must include moral judgments and human sympathy. It is the presence of spiritual powers such as these which constitute the really deep and durable elements in a nation’s progress. “When righteousness goes to the bottom, then there is nothing more worth living for on the earth.” Eucken’s philosophy cannot be understood apart from his intense interest in mankind and its spiritual development. He goes, indeed, so far as to say that this is the sole goal of philosophy; its message is to create new spiritual values in the life of the individual and of the race. Our systems of philosophy are painfully defective in this respect to-day. Man, as a being with a soul, is little taken into account in most of them. Is it surprising, therefore, that philosophy has not succeeded, [p.231]for centuries, in interesting or influencing the intelligent world at large? It will not succeed in doing this until the deepest needs of mankind are taken to be something more than objects of psychological analysis or of logical generalisations.
Eucken’s personality is rooted in a deep love for humanity and its spiritual qualities; and herein lies the essential reason of his championing of weak nations and pleading for the preservation of their original spiritual characteristics. These qualities are pearls of too great a price to be lost in a world where so much tinsel passes as what possesses the highest value.
It is not difficult to see why the small nations of the North feel that in Eucken they possess a true friend who sees clearly what they feel instinctively, and who points out to them the path of their spiritual deliverance.
It is impossible, also, to understand Eucken’s system of philosophy without taking into account his religious experience. This aspect has already been touched upon, but it requires elucidation from a more personal point of view. Eucken’s philosophy is the result of the experience of his own soul. It is something which can never be understood until it is lived through. Everything is brought back to its roots in the needs, aspirations, and inwardness of the soul. One must become “converted” [p.232]before he can understand Eucken’s teaching. Something has not only to be understood but to be lived through; the body and the external world have to be relegated to a subsidiary place; the intellect has to merge into the spiritual intuition which is deeper than itself. It is after one has been willing to pass through this fiery furnace that the great “illumination” begins to appear. And such an illumination will increase in the degree that service and sacrifice are willingly undertaken for the sake of the infinite spiritual gains which remain in store.
This element in Eucken’s personality draws him to everybody he comes in contact with, and draws everybody to him. He has drunk so deeply of the experiences of Plato and Plotinus, of the great Christian mystics and moralists of the centuries, that he sees the value of every soul that comes to him for help. It is far from Eucken’s wish for these matters to be published. And the present writer will only state the fact that nobody, however ignorant and obscure, has failed in Eucken to find a father and guide. Hundreds of men who had either lost or had never found their moral and spiritual bearings in life have succeeded in doing so through coming into contact with him. The present writer remembers well many a conversation among students of six or more different nationalities, concerning the secret of Eucken’s teaching [p.233]and influence. Imagine Servians, Poles, Swedes, Scotch, English, and Welsh meeting together after a philosophical lecture to discuss the question of the spiritual life and wondering how to discover it! Eucken’s personality had created in their deepest being a need which could never more be filled until the Divine entered into it. In the class-room the great prophet makes it impossible for us to content ourselves with merely preparing for examinations. The teacher’s exposition and inspiration are creating a deep uneasiness in us. We feel how limited and shallow our nature has been when we are face to face with a man who reveals to us the eternal values of the things of the spirit; and who reveals them not as they have merely been revealed by the great thinkers of the world, but as he himself has felt and lived them. We all become impressed with the fact that we are in the presence of a power above the world; and the feeling of pain is changed into a feeling of strong optimism in regard to the possibilities of our own nature. We feel that we, too, in spite of our limitations, can become the possessors of something of the very nature akin to that which our great teacher possesses. Eucken works a change in every man and woman who remain with him for a length of time. Many of us understand something of what Jesus Christ meant to his disciples; how he created an affection within their souls which all the obstacles of the world [p.234]could never obliterate. Eucken has done something of the same kind, on a smaller scale, for hundreds of his old pupils.
These pupils are found to-day from Iceland in the North to New Zealand in the South, and from Japan in the East to Britain and America in the West.Many of them have risen to eminence, and all of them have experienced something of a spiritual anchorage in the midst of the tempestuous sea of Time; all alike cherish an affection for their old [p.235]teacher—an affection which is one of their dearest possessions. They have helped to spread his spiritual teaching, and, along with his books, have made his name known in all the civilised countries of the world. Some of Eucken’s most important works have already appeared in half a dozen languages. The demand for them increases everywhere. This receptivity is a good omen of better days. The world is beginning to get tired of the mechanism and shallowness of our age, and is once more on the point of turning to the spiritual fountains of life. Where can it find a better guide to lead it to the waters of life than in Rudolf Eucken?[p.236]
It will probably prove helpful at the conclusion to indicate the main contents of Eucken’s greatest works in order that the reader who turns to them for the first time may be able somewhat to find his bearings. The whole of Eucken’s works turn around the conception of the spiritual life. This fact must be constantly borne in mind. The term has been repeated so often in all the previous chapters that the reader may be inclined to think that some other expression might well have been exchanged for it. But no other term serves Eucken’s meaning, and the recurrence of the term has to be endured in order that it may yield of its rich content.
It has been shown how Eucken establishes a new world with its own laws and values within the spiritual life. The spiritual life possesses grades of reality: it reveals itself from the level of connection of body and mind and of ordinary life right up to Infinite Love in [p.237]the Godhead. Such a reality is created within the total activity of the soul; but it is not mere subjectivism by virtue of the fact that its material comes to it from without. And Eucken shows that it is thus a life partly given to man, and partly created by him. The “given” elements have to enter into man’s soul. This they cannot do without much opposition. With the persistent energy of the total potency of the soul a world of independent inwardness is reached—a world which will have an existence of its own within the soul, and which will become the standard by which to measure the values of all the things which present themselves.
It is this superiority of the spiritual life which constitutes the essential factor in the evolution of the individual’s personality as well as in civilisation, culture, morality, and all the rich inheritance of the race. Such an inheritance can be developed farther by the [p.238]full consciousness of the spiritual life and by the exercising of it from its very foundation.
In The Problem of Human Life Eucken sees in the message of every one of the great thinkers of the ages, however much he may differ from them, the vindication of a life higher than that of sense or even of in-intellectualism. In one form or another, they all present some world of values which is born and nurtured within the mind and soul. All these thinkers stand for something which is great and good. Eucken attempts to discover this core in their teaching; and in the midst of all the differences some spiritual truth and value make their appearance. This volume has undergone many changes, and is now in its ninth edition.
In The Main Currents of Modern Thought Eucken deals, in the first part of the book, with the fundamental concept of spiritual life as this reveals itself in the meanings of Subjective—Objective, Theoretical—Practical, Idealism—Realism. The middle portion of the book deals with the Problem of Knowledge as this is shown in Thought and Experience (Metaphysics), Mechanical—Organic (Teleology), and Law. The third portion of the volume deals with the Problems of Human Life as these are presented in Civilisation and Culture, History, Society and the Individual, Morality and Art, Personality and Character, and the Freedom of the Will. The final portion deals [p.239]with Ultimate Problems; and the two chapters on the Value of Life and the Religious Problem bring out the deeper meaning of spiritual life.
This volume has undergone many changes. When it appeared in 1878 it was little more than a history of the concepts we have already referred to. But at the present time it deals with the history of the concepts, a criticism of these, and finally the presentation of the author’s own thesis regarding the reality of an independent spiritual life.
In Life’s Basis and Life’s Ideal he analyses the various systems of thought which have been presented to the world. He finds many of these deficient; but although something that is contained in them has to pass away, they possess some spiritual element which requires preservation, and which is valid for all time. None of these systems is final; they have to preserve what is spiritual within them, and also merge it in some newer revelation gained for mankind. Every system of the universe and of life has to move; it has perpetually to drop something of its accidentals, and continually strengthen and increase its essentials. Everywhere emphasis is laid on the fact that the spiritual element [p.240]must be preserved and increased at whatever cost, for it is an element of the highest value for the world, and constitutes the energy of the world’s upward march.
In the Einheit des Geisteslebens, as well as in the Prolegomena to this, the necessity of a spiritual conception of knowledge comes to the foreground. All systems of Naturalism lack enough spiritual life within themselves to meet the deepest needs of the race. Man is more than all such systems. Even on the grounds of the Theory of Knowledge itself man can be proved to be more. Eucken deals in these two books with the content of consciousness: that content reveals what is a Whole or Totality, what is beyond sense, what includes within itself the isolated impressions of the senses or of the understanding, and what is therefore spiritual in its nature.
In the Kampf um einen geistigen Lebensinhalt—a book of the greatest value—we find Eucken at his best. His attempt here is to deal with the struggle for the spiritual life and the certainty of its possession. He shows how man has emerged out of Nature, and how he has moved in the direction of gaining an inner world during the long course of civilisation, culture, morality, and religion. Through titanic struggles this inner world becomes man’s possession, and constitutes the true value and significance of his life. Man now realises that it is this world of spirit and values [p.241]which constitutes the only really true world. Issuing out of this possession of the ever richer contents of this inward, spiritual world, the personality constantly becomes something quite other than it was, and its possession adds to the inheritance of the spiritual ideals of the world. At this source man is in possession of a power of a new kind of creativeness in any field of knowledge or life he may be obliged to work. Nothing blossoms or bears fruit without the presence and the power of spiritual life in the deepest inwardness of the soul.
In The Truth of Religion Eucken roams in a vast territory. All the oppositions of the ages to religion are brought on the stage, and are made to reveal their best and their worst. He shows how every system of thought, devoid of the experience and activity of the deepest soul, fails to engender religion. He shows over against all this the intellectual warrant for religion, and passes from this to the personal search by the soul for what is warranted by the intellect and by the deepest needs of one’s own being. This has been the meaning of the religions of the world, and this meaning finds its culmination in Christianity.
Eucken’s smaller books, such as The Life of the Spirit, Christianity and the New Idealism, Können wir noch Christen sein?, and The Meaning and Value of Life, present certain aspects of the larger volumes in a simpler form.
Eucken is at present engaged upon the [p.242]completion of a work of great importance dealing with The Theory of Knowledge. His system has been stated to be in need of this important corner-stone, and he has hastened to meet the demand. The book will deal with the “grounds” of the life of the spirit in an even more fundamental manner than any of his books. A preparatory work, small in bulk—Erkennen und Leben—has just appeared in German, and will be issued in English in the spring of 1913.
In Erkennen und Leben Eucken shows the need of clearness in regard to the concept of the spiritual life. This work is an introduction to his forthcoming work—The Theory of Knowledge. He shows that the Problem of Knowledge can only be answered through a further clarification of the Problem of Life. It is, therefore, necessary to show what such a Life is and how it may be lived, and, finally, how it makes Knowledge possible. This is the only way by which the final convictions of Life are able to possess greater depth and duration.
Knowledge is possible only in so far as man participates in a self-subsistent life. Without such a self-subsistent life many intellectual achievements are possible, but they do not deserve the name of Knowledge.
Such a self-subsistent life must be operative in the foundation of our nature, but it must constantly receive its material from the most [p.243]important meanings and values of the world. The self-subsistent life dare not feed on the mere analysis of consciousness or on the material which it already possesses.
History shows how a self-subsistent life is not created through the mere succession of events, but is always found as a life which is superior to the perpetual changes of Time. Consequently, every real Knowledge has something sub specie aeternitatis as its essence, and this differentiates it from all mere relativism.
The movement of History culminates alternately in Concentration on the one hand, and in Expansion on the other: Positive and Critical epochs alternate. Both aspects are necessary for the growth of life.
In modern times the growth of the Expansion-side of life has destroyed in a large measure the equilibrium of life; and the task to-day is to construct a new Concentration-side.
Such a new Concentration is possible: the experience of History testifies to its presence in several epochs; and there is a deep longing for it in many quarters to-day.
In order to attain to such a Concentration the “dead-level” life of the present must be overcome, and a turn must take place towards a new Metaphysic of Life.
Such is the problem to-day, and no complete answer is to be found in the past systems of Metaphysics. “The possibilities of Life and [p.244]of Knowledge are in no way exhausted, but it is only through our own courage and actions that the possibilities can become actualities” (Erkennen und Leben, p. 161).
The various systems of Thought need a synthesis which will include them all. It is difficult to-day to obtain a theory of life which does not leave out of account some essential elements. Is there a possibility of discovering such a synthesis? I believe that Eucken’s works answer this question. But we wait eagerly for the appearance of his greatest work, and I think that, when it appears, he will more than ever deserve Windelband’s designation of him as “the creator of a new Metaphysic.”[p.245]
LIST OF EUCKEN’S WORKS
1866. “De Aristotelis docendi ratione.” Pars I. De particularis. This was
the Doctor’s dissertation at Göttingen University.
1868. “Über den Gebrauch der Präpositionem bei Aristoteles.”
1870. “Über die Methode und die Grundlagen der Aristotelischen Ethik”
(Separatabdruck aus dem Programm des Frankfurter Gymnasiums von 1870).
1871. “Über die Bedeutung der Aristotelischen Philosophie fur die Gegenwart”
(Akademische Antrittsrede gehalten am 21 November, 1871). This was in Basel.
1872. “Die Methode der Aristotelischen Forschung in ihrem Zusammenhang mit den
philosophischen Grundprincipien des Aristoteles.”
1874. “Über den Wert der Geschichte der Philosophie” (Antrittsrede, Jena, 1874).
1878. “Die Grundbegriffe der Gegenwart.” This was translated by Stuart Phelps in 1880,
and published by Appleton of New York. The fourth edition has been translated
by M. Booth, and has been published by T. Fisher Unwin in 1912. The title of the
third German edition was changed to “Geistige Stromungen der [p.246] Gegenwart.”
The English edition is entitled “The Main Currents of Modern Thought.”
1879. “Geschichte der philosophischen Terminologie.”
1880. “Über Bilder und Gleichnisse in der Philosophie”: Eine Festschrift.
1881. “Zur Erinnerung an K. Ch. F. Krausse” (Festrede, gehalten zu Eisenberg am 100
Geburtstage des Philosophen).
1884. “Aristoteles Anschauung von Freundschaft und von Lebensgütern.”
1885. “Prolegomena zu Forschungen über die Einheit des Geisteslebens in Bewusstsein
und Tat der Menschheit.”
1886. “Die Philosophie des Thomas von Aquino und die Kultur der Neuzeit.”
1886. “Beiträge zur Geschichte der neueren Philosophie.” (Second edition, 1906, under the
title “Beiträge zur Einführung in die Geschichte der Philosophie.”)
1888. “Die Einheit des Geisteslebens in Bewusstsein und Tat der Menschheit.” This will be
published by Williams & Norgate.
1890. “Die Lebensanschauungen der grossen Denker.” The ninth edition appeared in 1911.
Changes and additions have been made in each succeeding edition. English translation
(1909) by W.S. Hough and W.R. Boyce Gibson under the title “The Problem of Human Life,
as viewed by the Great Thinkers from Plato to the Present Time” (published by Charles
Scribners’ Sons, New York; and T. Fisher Unwin, London).
1896. “Der Kampf um einen geistigen Lebensinhalt.” (Second edition, with many changes, 1907.)
A translation of this volume will be published by Williams & Norgate in the spring of
1901. “Das Wesen der Religion.” (First and second editions.) This essay was translated by W.
Tudor Jones in 1904, and was published for private circulation. It is now out of print,
but will soon reappear together with another essay, “Wissenschaft und Religion.”
1901. “Der Wahrheitsgehalt der Religion,” 1901. (Second edition, with numerous changes, 1905;
third edition, with changes, 1912.) The second edition was translated by W. Tudor
Jones, and published by Williams & Norgate in 1911 under the title of “The Truth
of Religion.” A translation of the third German edition will be published at the close
1901. “Thomas von Aquino und Kant: ein Kampf zweier Welten.”
1903. “Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Philosophie und Lebensanschauung.”
1905. “Was können wir heute aus Schiller gewinnen?” (Kantstudien: Sonderdruck).
1905. “Wissenschaft und Religion.” This comprises a chapter in the collection of essays
entitled “Beiträge zur Weiterentwickelung der Christlichen Religion.”
1907. “Grundlinien einer neuen Lebensanschauung.” This volume was translated by Alban G.
Widgery, and published by A. & C. Black in 1911 under the title of “Life’s Basis and
1907. “Hauptprobleme der Religionsphilosophie der Gegenwart.” (First edition, 1907; fourth
and fifth editions (with additions), 1912.) The first edition was translated by W.R.
Boyce Gibson and Lucy Gibson under the title “Christianity and the New Idealism: a
Study in the Religious Philosophy of To-day.” This is published by Harper & Brothers,
London and New York.
1907. “Philosophie der Geschichte.” This is an essay in the volume entitled “Systematische
Philosophie” in the series “Kultur der Gegenwart.”
1908. “Sinn und Wert des Lebens.” Third edition (with many additions), 1911. The first
edition was translated by W. R. Boyce Gibson and Lucy Gibson under the title of
“The Meaning and Value of Life” (Publishers: A. & C. Black).
1908. “Einführung in eine Philosophie des Geisteslebens.” Translated by the late F.L. Pogson
under the title of “The Life of the Spirit” (third edition, 1911).
1911. “Religion and Life” (the Essex Hall Lecture for 1911). This is published by the Lindsey
1911. “Können wir noch Christen sein?” A translation of this is in preparation.
1912. “Naturalism or Idealism?” (the Nobel Lecture, translated by A.G. Widgery). This is
published by Heffer & Sons, Limited, Cambridge.
1912. “Erkennen und Leben.” A translation of this work, by W. Tudor Jones, is in preparation,
and will be published by Williams & Norgate in the spring of 1913 under the title
of “Knowledge and Life: An Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge.”
1913. “Erkenntnistlehre.” This volume will appear early in 1913. The translation will also
appear during 1913, and the book will be published by Williams & Norgate under the
title of “The Theory of Knowledge.”
It is not only in Germany, but also in England, that natural scientists forget this important fact. The Presidential Address of Professor Schäfer at the British Association (September 1912) is an instance of attempting to explain life in terms of its history and of its lowest common denominator. And huge assumptions have to be made in order to explain as little as this.
A fuller treatment of this subject will be found in my forthcoming volume, Pathways to Religion. It is incorrect to state with Professor Sorley (Recent Tendencies in Ethics, p. 30) that “her [Germany’s] philosophy betrays the dominance of material interests.”
An important article on this book appeared in Mind during 1896, and, as far as I can trace, this seems to be the first serious attention which was given to Eucken’s writings in England. A translation of the volume will appear shortly by Messrs Williams & Norgate.
Cf. Main Currents of Modern Thought, translated by Dr M. Booth (1912).
Main Currents of Modern Thought, p. 259.
The Truth of Religion, p. 6l.
Ibid., p. 62.
W. James’s Text-Book of Psychology, p. 145.
William Wallace’s Lectures and Essays on Natural Theology and Ethics, p. 210.
Edward Caird’s Introduction to William Wallace’s Gifford Lectures, pp. xxx, xxxi.
On this conception of the spiritual as More, cf. Bosanquet’s Psychology of the Moral Self.
Cf. Wicksteed’s The Religion of Time and the Religion of Eternity, in Carpenter and Wicksteed’s Studies in Theology.
Eucken’s best account of this subject is found in Parts I., II., and V. of his Truth of Religion and in Beiträge zur Weiterentwickelung der Religion, pp. 240-281. This latter is a volume of ten essays by well-known German religious teachers.
The President of the British Association (1912) states in his address that it is not within his province to touch the question concerning the nature of the soul. I take the report of his address from Nature, 5th September. Dr Haldane goes much further in the direction of Vitalism (discussion at British Association on the subject).
Cf. Driesch: Philosophy of the Organism; Vitalismus als Geschichte und Lehre; his article in Lebensanschauung (a collection of essays by twenty German thinkers, 1911); Reinke’s Philosophie der Botanik; McDougall’s Body and Mind; Thomson’s Heredity, Evolution, and Introduction to Science (the two latter in the Home University Library). Bergson’s Creative Evolution deals with the subject, but the value of this book is greater in other directions. T.H. Morgan’s Regeneration is a weighty contribution to the subject.
A revival of the study of Kant’s first Critique would be of great value to our natural scientists. Green, in his Prolegomena to Ethics, has interpreted this aspect in a manner that ought not to be forgotten. Cf. further Edward Caird’s Evolution of Religion, vol. i.
Ward’s Naturalism and Agnosticism, vol. i., is a reply to this important question.
Cf. Münsterberg’s Psychology and Education, and his Eternal Values; also Royce’s The World and the Individual.
This trans-subjective aspect has been worked out in an original way by Volkelt in his Quellen der menschlichen Gewisskeit.
The works of Münsterberg and Rickert deal with great clearness on this difference of subject-matter in science and history.
The main weakness of Bergson’s philosophy seems to be in not recognising this problem. Bosanquet, in his Principle of Individuality and Value, has very clearly recognised and interpreted it upon similar lines to Eucken.
In this respect Eucken and Bergson seem to agree, although it is difficult to reconcile this aspect of Bergson’s with his statements concerning the grasping of reality in the perceptions of the moment.
“Hegel To-day,” The Monist, April 1897.
Truth of Religion, p. 328.
Green has dealt with this aspect in the first part of his Prolegomena to Ethics in practically the same way as Eucken. Cf. also Nettleship’s Life of Green and his (Nettleship’s) Philosophical Remains.
This need of differentiation has been presented by Münsterberg in a powerful manner in his Psychology and Life, Eternal Values, and Science and Idealism.
Münsterberg’s Science and Idealism, p. 10; cf. also his Grundsuge der Psychologie, Bd. i., 1900.
Wundt’s Grundriss der Psychologie and the article “Psychologie” in Philosophie im beginn des Zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts (Festschrift fur Kuno Fischer, art. 1).
The Truth of Religion, pp. 178 f.
It is a great merit of Bergson, too, to have perceived this fundamental difference. The difference between intellect and intuition, in his larger volumes, is more illuminating on the side of intellect. The relation of both is expressed by him more clearly in his short Introduction to Metaphysics (soon to appear in English).
Troeltsch, in his Psychologie und Erkenntnistheorie, has perceived the difference very clearly, but in a manner quite different from Bergson. Troeltsch has dealt with the presence of the content of the over-empirical as something which is higher than any psychology of the soul, and which is at the farthest remove from the percept.
Richard Kade, in his new book, Rudolf Euckens noologische Methode, points out very clearly Eucken’s contributions on this point from 1885 downwards. Kade further deals with the later developments of Windelband, Rickert, Troeltsch, and Wobbermin in the same direction.
Historical Studies in Philosophy,1912, p. 176.
Cf. the two remarkable volumes of Baron von Hügel, The Mystical Elements of Religion,1908, and especially vol. ii. These books are a mine of rich things, but I have not observed that many in our country have as yet realised this fact.
The Truth of Religion, p. 456.
Main Currents of Modern Thought, p. 353.
The Truth of Religion, p. 59.
Cf. Decadence, Henry Sidgwick Memorial Lecture, by the Rt. Hon. Arthur James Balfour, M.P., 1908. Mr Balfour has perceived the problem in a more optimistic manner than Professor Eucken; but he, too, is conscious that much is required of the people. “Some kind of widespread exhilaration or excitement is required in order to enable any community to extract the best results from the raw material transmitted to it by natural inheritance” (p. 62).
Main Currents of Modern Thought, p. 398.
This aspect has been developed in modern times by Schopenhauer, Ed. von Hartmann, and others. Bergson seems to me to be greatly indebted to Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer’s Will and Bergson’s élan vital are practically the same (cf. Schopenhauer’s Über den Willen in der Natur, and Bergson’s Creative Evolution). Edward Carpenter, in his Art of Creation, has worked out a similar point of view independently of Bergson.
Der Kampf um einen geistigen Lebensinhalt, Zweite Auflage, 1907, S. 331.
George Meredith, The Sage Enamoured and the Honest Lady.
Cf. the closing passages of Bradley’s Appearance and Reality for a similar view; also the latter part of Ward’s Realm of Ends.
This weakness of Bergson’s philosophy is shown in the whole of Bosanquet’s Principle of Individuality and Value.
It is a great merit of Windelband to have brought this aspect of the Ought prominently forward in contradistinction to the over-importance attached to the Will alone by the Pragmatists. Cf. his Präludien.
The Truth of Religion, p. 175.
Modern psychology would agree with such a view, but probably not with the implications given to it by Eucken. The “faculty” psychology as it was presented by Kant has now disappeared, and consciousness is conceived as a unity in which the three aspects referred to are present, and even the single aspect that is in the foreground of consciousness is influenced by the others which are in the background. Another point made clear by Höffding (cf. his Psychology) and others is the difference between the activity of consciousness in the “drifting” process of association of ideas and its power to stem the association current, and to turn it into new directions by means of the reflective power of consciousness itself.
It is a great merit of Bergson’s philosophy to have pointed this out. It is a conception presented several times in the history of philosophy, but there is great need of re-emphasising it to-day, especially as things in space have gripped the soul with such power and disastrous results.
The Truth of Religion, p. 243.