Divine Personality and the Economic Life
WHEN the philosopher or theologian turns his attention to the various forms of activity in which human Personality expresses itself it is at once caught by those which occupy the foreground in the record of human achievement and confer celebrity on those who have been distinguished by their success in them—by Science by Art by Morality by Politics by Religion. Yet even in the case of those who are reckoned as the chief representatives of our race in these several fields the greater part of human life is not devoted to these dignified pursuits. Much of it is passed in sleep and as the mention in the last lecture of Dr. Freud and the psycho-analysts may have reminded us what passes in sleep is by no means to be ignored in the study of the personality of any particular human being. But even of waking life the business of satisfying the appetites which serve for the maintenance of the individual and the continuance of the species—of eating and drinking and mating—consumes a very considerable proportion.
It might be thought at first sight that since these appetites are by no means peculiar to man but are common to him with the lower animals to which we do not ascribe Personality the portion of human life which in the time table of our days is accounted for by them might be left on one side in a description of our personal activities. But though the appetites are not peculiar to man the deliberate and systematic provision which man makes for their gratification is something to which we find no real parallel elsewhere; and hence Plato was justified in giving to that type of human life which is characterized by preoccupation with this provision to the exclusion of other interests a name borrowed from the wealth which is accumulated by human beings to constitute a permanent source whence a means of satisfying their animal appetites can be regularly procured.1
A similar thought seems to have dictated the use of ‘economic’ by a contemporary philosopher to whom I have already referred Signor Benedetto Croce to denote the whole range of human action which is not determined by ethical considerations. And it is to be noted that where we seem to detect anything analogous to this deliberate and systematic provision for the satisfaction of appetite among creatures other than men—for example among bees and ants—we are apt to use words—such as ‘economy’ and the like—which belong properly to a life which however much dominated by animal desires nevertheless shows itself by its calculating and systematic character to be as rational distinctive of humanity and we may legitimately say expressive of Personality.
But while noting that the form of human activity which may be called in the sense above given to the word the economic is to be reckoned on its own account among the main manifestations of Personality it must not be overlooked that it is perhaps never found in actual detachment from some of the others which were previously enumerated. These other forms of human activity indeed make their first appearance it would seem in the service (so to speak) of the economic activity; while on the other hand it is probably not possible to discover a stage of human development at which none of them are associated with it even if only in a menial capacity.
In saying that the other and as we are disposed to consider them the higher forms of activity in which human Personality seeks and finds expression make their first appearance in the service of the economic activity I must not be understood to be asserting that these higher forms are to be explained away as mere modes of the economic. On the contrary I am satisfied that it is wholly impossible to derive our desires for Knowledge for Beauty for Goodness for Fellowship or for God from the primitive appetites which minister to the preservation of the individual organism and the continuance of the species. To use the phraseology traditional in modern philosophy I am convinced that apart from the recognition of a priori
principles the affirmations which we make in the Sciences in Logic and Metaphysic in Ethics and Politics in Æsthetic and Theology cannot be justified. It is however in no wise inconsistent with this conviction readily to admit that while the desire for Knowledge is something of an utterly different nature from any bodily appetite the best means of satisfying those appetites are among the things that man first desires to know. So too we shall not be surprised to find primitive Ethics much occupied with right and wrong ways of securing food or a mate or primitive Religion with obtaining divine assistance in the accomplishment of these tasks. We shall be prepared to agree with Aristotle2
that the community which exists for the sake of living well came into existence for the sake of mere living; and to think it no improbable suggestion of modern anthropologists that the beginnings of pictorial art are to be sought in practices the main object of which was by sympathetic magic to promote the capture of animals which as food or otherwise might serve the economic purposes of their captors.
But while the primitive subservience of the desire for Knowledge and the rest to the business of supplying animal needs marks the kinship of man with the beasts the fact that he seeks to use in the service of these needs objects which it does not enter into the heart of the beasts to conceive marks the superiority of his nature to theirs as the rational animal whose nature is in each fully-developed individual of the kind capable of what we call Personality.
The problem to which we have now to address ourselves is that of the congruity of a doctrine of Personality in God such as we found in the previous course was suggested by religious experience with the economic life of man the activities of which constitute as we have seen at least as measured in terms of the time consumed in them a very large proportion of the whole range of human conduct.
Now the first thing which strikes us in this connexion is that the man in whom the economic interest is dominant is apt to regard Religion especially in its most fully developed forms as an irrelevant extravagance which belongs to another world altogether than that in which his daily life is passed. If there be such another world it will be soon enough to concern oneself with it when one is done with this; till then as Mistress Quickly says to the dying Falstaff “a should not think of God; there was no need to trouble himself with any such thoughts yet.”3
And on their side the teachers of Religion seem to grudge to his pursuits the time and labour which he spends upon them. They deprecate his anxiety concerning what he shall eat and what he shall drink and what he shall put on.4
They dispute the claim of the economic interest to more than a very subordinate place in human life. “A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he possesseth.”5
“Meats for the belly and the belly for meats but God shall destroy both it and them.”6
“The kingdom of God is not meat and drink.”7
Such sayings illustrate the antagonism which exists between the religious and the economic interest and in view of this antagonism it would seem that the conception of religious experience as personal intercourse can hardly fail to appear incongruous with a way of thinking which would concede to the economic life the serious importance which it claims for itself just because of the present reality with which this conception invests what to the economic man is only tolerable when regarded as something remote and devoid of immediate practical importance.
We thus encounter at the very outset of our inquiry an obvious incongruity between one of the forms of activity in which human Personality manifests itself—and that the form which possesses though maybe not a greater intensity or a higher value yet a wider extension than any other—and the conceptions which our former inquiries recommended to us as expressive of religious experience at its best. The next consideration to which I will call your attention while it will still further emphasize this incongruity may tend to show that we need not on account of it abandon the hope of attaining to a view of the human spirit and its place in the universe which will not resolve into an illusion our religious experience of a personal intercourse with God.
This consideration is that of the peculiar relation of the economic life to the other forms of human life which have been enumerated and especially to the ethical. To the ethical life the economic stands in a relation at once positive and negative. On the one hand the economic activity is the absolute presupposition of the ethical and of all the other ‘higher’ activities. We find this acknowledged by the Preacher on the Mount in the midst of his emphatic prohibition of an anxious preoccupation with economic interests which would postpone to them the search for “the kingdom of God and his righteousness.”8
“Your heavenly Father knoweth” he says “that ye have need of all these things”; that is of those things to the securing of which the economic life is devoted. And the scientific or the artistic activity is as little able to dispense with the economic as are the moral and religious.
On the other hand it is impossible to regard the ethical life as a mere development of or even as a mere addition to the economic. There is a necessary relation of antagonism between them. This truth also finds memorable expression in another saying from the same Gospel discourse “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”9
Critics of Kant's ethical doctrine have often found fault with certain utterances of his which seemed to imply that only where an action has no economic value can it possess a moral. Such an assertion (I do not say that Kant really intended to make it) would no doubt be mistaken; we shall indeed see later on that on the contrary every moral act must possess also an economic character. But the language which these critics have in view has its origin in this philosopher's profound sense of the negative
relation between the ethical and the economic activities without recognizing which it is assuredly impossible to grasp the essential nature of Morality. For how can we bring home to ourselves what we mean by saying that we ought
to do this or that except by means of the contrast between what we ought
to do and what we should like
It is true that there is what we may call an economic ‘ought’ as when we say that we ought to forgo some pleasures in youth if we would secure for ourselves a comfortable old age. But though this ‘hypothetical imperative’ as Kant would call it is certainly not the ‘categorical imperative’ of morality on the hypothesis of the absolute worth of eventual comfort it presents the same negative relation towards what we like as the truly moral ‘ought’; and its discordance from the latter only appears when we ask ourselves whether this hypothetical end is really itself of absolute worth and therefore the pursuit of it really obligatory. For to this question it is possible to reply that we prefer the ‘bird in the hand’ of the present gratification to the ‘two in a bush’ represented by the prospect of comfort in years which we may not live to see; and so long as we hold to the economic standard of comparison and do not introduce truly ethical considerations this reply will annihilate the obligation implied in the original statement that we ‘ought’ to deny ourselves the pleasure which now offers itself. The economic ‘ought’ turns out therefore to derive its obligatory character from an assumption which need not be made; and it is of course for this very reason that Kant distinguishes from it the genuine command of Morality as being categorical since that command does not depend upon any such assumption.
No attempt to understand the nature of human life or of the personality which manifests itself therein can conceivably be successful which does not recognize as a fundamental characteristic of it this relation at once positive and negative between the ethical and economic activities. Not merely is the latter activity the absolute presupposition of the former but every ethical action must have an economic aspect. This has often given rise to perplexity in thoughtful minds. For it is impossible for him who perceives a moral obligation not to regard its fulfilment however contrary to what others may call his ‘interests’ as notwithstanding his true interest; nor can he but be dissatisfied if he falls short of what he knows to be his duty however great the advantage in other respects which he may gain thereby. And hence he is apt to be assailed by the sophistry that thus after all his morality is but a refined self-seeking and the ethical life merely a variety of the economic.
We shall however do well to note that as the proverb says ‘Two can play at that game.’ There is a countersophistry which if less familiar to ordinary reflection is equally plausible and equally inconclusive and this the enthusiast for morality may bring forward in reply. When once we have come in view of the sovereign claim upon us of the Moral Law we may feel ourselves uneasy in the contemplation of those numerous actions of our lives which are performed on impulse or at least without a thought of anything but the gratification of some appetite or some emotional desire. Is it worthy of a moral being to admit such actions? Must there not be a right and a wrong on every occasion and ought we not always to stay and consider what they are? Shall we not give an account of every idle word in the day of judgment?10
and therefore ought we to allow any utterance of ours to be
an idle word and not rather a deliberate expression of our judgment and will?11
Though such questions as these are as I said less often asked than those which bring into doubt the disinterestedness of all moral actions they are common enough among the scrupulous and self-tormenting minority of mankind; and even those who are not of that number are not unfrequently haunted by a suspicion that a thorough-going morality would dictate to a larger part of life than seems commonly to be brought within its purview; and hence that such a thorough-going morality is impossible or at least does not in fact exist even among those who profess to live by a higher rule than the economic. But there is sophistry in this kind of reasoning also. No part of life over which the will has any power is without a moral character or can plead exemption from the liability to be judged at the tribunal of conscience. Yet not only does it fall within the competence of that tribunal to acquit of any offence many actions done impulsively and spontaneously when they come up for judgment; we even judge it right and good that impulse and spontaneity should have a field within which they may have free play; and condemn as wrong a pedantic scrupulosity which denies them this privilege.
We need not therefore regard it as inconsistent with a view of human life which will give its due place to Religion as personal intercourse with God to admit the negative relation between the higher forms of human activity and the economic which is yet the presupposition of the rest. We shall do better to regard this same negative relation as a fundamental characteristic of the human spirit; and cease to attempt to get rid of it by endeavouring either on the one hand to exclude spontaneity and impulse from the moral life or on the other to bring morality under an economic formula.
I think that we must allow that even those great masters of moral philosophy Plato and Aristotle and especially the latter in their attempt to exhibit moral goodness as the successful performance of man's function and as the means to happiness and its chief constituent failed to bring out as it should be brought out and as Kant for example with whatever exaggerations of emphasis and neglect of certain aspects of life did bring out the essential diversity of the ethical from the economic standpoint of judgment.
I have dwelt at length upon the relation of the economic form of human activity to the ethical because it is here that may most clearly be observed that feature of the life of Spirit in which it ‘denies itself’ sets itself in opposition to what is notwithstanding essential to its own being and presupposed in this very revulsion from it; and through this inner conflict achieves a fuller and richer existence than it could otherwise have attained.
But it will be worth our while briefly to survey the relations borne to the economic activity by the other higher activities which have been above enumerated.
In respect of that one among them with which we are in these Lectures most especially concerned namely the religious its intimate connexion with the ethical is generally recognized; nor is this the place to enlarge upon the no less important distinctions which must be drawn between these two closely allied forms of human life. Whatever has been said of the relation between the economic and the ethical activities may be said also of that between the economic and the religious. The former is the presupposition of the latter; and yet when the religious life is fully established it claims to be paramount even in the economic sphere. The sophistry which takes occasion from the economic aspect belonging to any action to attempt the subsumption of Morality under an economic formula is ready to undermine in like manner the independence of Religion. The countersophistry of moral rigorism finds a religious analogue in the extravagance of mystics and ascetics all the world over. That these extravagances are however no necessary feature of Religion or even of mysticism and asceticism we may learn from the attitude of so great a mystic and ascetic as St. Theresa who was ever on the watch against encouraging among her nuns illusions due to fasting and want of sleep and offered to God as an agreeable sacrifice the care she took of her own body.12
While they give vent to the emotions engendered by the revulsion from the economic view of life which is a normal feature of Religion and which under certain circumstances finds expression in the experience known as ‘conversion’ they nevertheless imply a neglect of the very negative relation which renders this revulsion necessary since they treat the friction between flesh and Spirit upon which the movement of the religious life depends as though it could be abolished to the advantage of that life by the practical elimination of the flesh. If the perpetual sacrifice and yet the continual need of ‘all these things’ which the economic activity seeks to obtain and secure are alike necessary conditions of religious activity we shall scarcely find the nature of this activity better expressed than in a religion of personal intercourse which represents that sacrifice as made to the bountiful Father whose gifts they are and further by means of a doctrine of the incarnation and self-oblation of the eternal Son as falling not without but within the Divine Life itself.
Turning from the religious to the social or political activity a close mutual connexion will be generally admitted to exist between it and the ethical the relation whereof to the economic has already been considered. Some indeed may even affirm that the social and ethical activities are actually identical. Here too it is unnecessary to advert to the distinctions which may be drawn between them for this subject must be considered more fully by us hereafter. But we have here to observe that while the economic activity cannot be denied to be the presupposition of any social activity which aims at other than economic ends it may be said that there is certainly no such negative relation between the two types of life as was alleged when we contrasted the ethical and religious activities with the economic. The economic activity is social from the outset. The rational human being in regard to whom (or to beings not human so far as they are conceived to resemble men in possessing a capacity for social organization) we are alone accustomed to speak of economy is always πολιτικòν ζῷον a social animal.13
For the present it will be sufficient to meet this observation with a reference to a celebrated saying of Aristotle's which has already been quoted above.14
The State he says—and the State is for him the typical community—came into being for the sake of mere living—that is as we may put it is originally purely economic—but now exists for the sake of living well—that is is now not economic merely but mainly ethical. The relation at once positive and negative which we have shown to hold between the economic and ethical activities will then hold between the economic community and the ethical. And when I spoke earlier in this Lecture of the desire which serves as motive to the social or political activity as a desire for fellowship I had in view the activity of the community which while not ceasing to be economic in its organization is already in its ultimate principle of determination ethical.
When we turn to the relation of the economic life to the scientific we find ourselves in the presence of facts which it may seem difficult to harmonize with the view suggested by those which we have just been surveying that the higher human activities while resting upon the economic activity as their necessary and constant presupposition live in and by a revulsion from it and opposition to it. Yet we shall I think find that the case of Science is not so different from those of Morality and Religion as might at first appear.
The economic activity is of course the necessary condition of the scientific as of the other activities of human life which we have already considered. Moreover this positive relation between them is not merely admitted by the higher of the two it is readily proclaimed and insisted upon. A negative relation between them such as that which we have found to exist between the economic and ethical activities is less obvious. The masters of them that know do not seem to take up the same attitude of opposition towards the riches of this world with which we are familiar in the preachers of morals and religion. Where we find something of the same sort in a philosopher—in a Pythagoras a Socrates an Epictetus a Kant—we are apt to think of such men as being rather (or at least no less) moralists or religious teachers than representatives of Science strictly so called. We think the characteristic view of science better exhibited in Aristotle's emphasis on the fact that Philosophy arises only when men have by the acquisition of wealth beyond their immediate bodily needs raised themselves to a position of affluence and economic security15
;or in Bacon's insistence that the function of Science is to minister to the increase of commodities for the relief of man's estate and in his prophetic anticipations of the lavish expenditure of public resources in a well-organized effort to control nature by the discovery of its laws.16
The undissembled love of the men of the Renascence for power and wealth and splendour and their contempt for the ascetic institutions with whose decadence they were familiar were intimately associated with their passion for knowledge and freedom of thought.
But though a negative relation to the economic activity is not so manifestly characteristic of the scientific life as of the ethical and religious such a relation notwithstanding exists in the case of this form of life also.
We have heard not a little of late about the importance of bearing in mind the purpose we have in view in making any particular statement descriptive of our knowledge or opinion concerning this or that matter. It has even been suggested that to recognize the variety of purposes is to abandon the conception of an ‘absolute’ truth as unprofitable and fallacious. This suggestion appears to me to be quite wide of the mark. Some simple illustrations will best explain my meaning. My purpose in inquiring into my expenditure during the past year may be to produce an accurate balance-sheet—or only to satisfy myself how much I can conveniently invest in War Bonds. In the latter case I may ignore the shillings and pence; in the former I shall not be content without accounting for every one of these. I shall therefore it may be said take an answer in round figures as ‘true’ for the one purpose as ‘false’ for the other. Does anyone suppose that there is anything here which detracts from the ‘absoluteness’ of truth? The common phrases ‘true enough for the purpose in hand’ and ‘exactly true’ express precisely what we think in such a case.
But no doubt there may be instances more difficult to deal with. There is a saying often used about stories told of our acquaintance: ‘Non e vero ma ben trovato.’ And conversely a story may be ‘true’ yet quite misleading if taken as characteristic of the person of whom it is related so that it may (we think) be legitimately suppressed or even at least by implication denied in the interests of truth. Or once more we may hold our veracity to be unimpaired when we answer a question which is casually asked of us according to the knowledge accessible to us apart from confidential information which the interlocutor has no reason to suppose us to possess. I do not complicate the discussion by reference to cases involving a familiar ethical problem such as that of the man intentionally asked about a secret matter by one who has no right to inquire into it; or of the would-be murderer seeking to know the whereabouts of his intended victim. But even in these cases there is nothing to support the suggestion which I am criticizing. Our purpose in asking or answering the questions put to us always governs our choice or our interlocutor's choice of an answer; and no doubt the inevitable abstraction from any particular purpose in the examples given by writers of text-books on logic does impart to these examples a certain air of unreality. These writers too must in fairness be like others judged in the light of their own special purpose. Nevertheless the answer whatever it is must be true if true at all independently of the wishes of asker or answerer. And its truth must in this sense be ‘absolute.’
This is indeed the presupposition of all discourse of asking and of answering alike. The doctor who holds out to his patient a hope that he may still recover when in fact there is no prospect of his doing so may be justified on the ground that the false expectation which he thus arouses will prolong the sick man's life or spare him terror. That is a question of morals. But no one would say that the doctor was telling the truth.
I have spent too long a time in labouring a point which I can only say at last is to me strictly speaking beyond dispute; namely that my notion of truth implies its ‘absoluteness’ in the sense of its independence upon the purposes which govern its communication and that any attempt to explain what truth is in terms which do not imply that we already know what it is is doomed from the first to failure.
What is the bearing of all this upon our present inquiry? This: that it may bring out by showing the ineptitude of the attempts sometimes made to deny it the independence or autonomy of the activity of Knowledge which however often we may find it enlisted in the service of desires and interests of the kind which we have described as economic implies the presence of a capacity of apprehending what is true; absolutely true if you will although this adverb does not add anything to which is involved in the word ‘true’ itself.
Apart from the acknowledgment that we possess such a capacity the whole fabric of our thought will collapse and with the rest the theories of those who call in question the truth of our possessing it and in so doing assume that they know what is meant by truth and confess that they are seeking for it in the answer to the question which they put. Students of Aristotle will remember how despite his interest in the psychological antecedents and accompaniments of Knowledge we constantly find him speaking17
of the faculty of Knowledge itself the νοῦς as he calls it the Intellect or Understanding as of something ‘apart’ from these and once at least even as coming ‘from without’18
into a soul in whose development up to the point at which this higher nature supervened upon it there had been nothing to explain it. It is sometimes thought by those who first meet with such language as this that the great thinker whom a conventional tradition illustrated by Raphael's cartoon at the Vatican has so often contrasted with Plato as the man whose eyes are fixed upon the everyday world around us with the heaven-gazing watcher of things eternal has here turned mystic for the nonce and patched his philosophy of experience with a piece of transcendent speculation. Such an explanation of Aristotle's doctrine of the νοῦς is I am convinced wholly mistaken. In it he is I have no doubt only insisting in terms which may or may not be well chosen upon the necessity of ascribing to Knowledge an independence and autonomy which if it does not possess it is not Knowledge at all and Science in every form must yield place to a bottomless and self-destroying scepticism. This independence and autonomy of Knowledge establishes between it and the economic life even when it is most completely subservient to the ends of that life a negative relation such as we more easily recognize to hold between the ethical and the economic activities of the human spirit.
When we pass to the æsthetic activity which is stimulated by the desire for Beauty we find to an even greater degree than in the case of the scientific that the positive relation between it and the economic is far more readily recognizable than the negative.
Joy in the things with which the economic activity is concerned rather than revulsion from them or repudiation of them seems to be its characteristic. Nevertheless the negative relation may be seen here also. I will content myself with a quotation from the writings of one whose own life was devoted to the service of the Beautiful and who moreover as the words I shall cite sufficiently show was fully alive to the contrast in their respective outlook upon the objects of the economic activity between Art and Religion. It is Francis Thompson who thus addresses ‘the dead Cardinal of Westminster.’
Call holy soul O call
The hosts angelical
“See far away
“Lies one I saw on earth;
One stricken from his birth
Of destinate verse.
“What place does He ye serve
For such sad spirit reserve
In dark lieu of Heaven
“The impitiable Dæmon
Beauty to adore and dream on
“Hers but she never his?
He reapeth miseries
His wages woes.
“He lives detachèd days;
He serveth not for praise;
He is not sold;
“Deaf is he to the world's tongue;
He scorneth for his song
Shouts of the crowd;
“He asketh not world's eyes;
Not to world's ears he cries;
Shut if he please’;
“He measureth world's pleasure
World's ease as Saints might measure;
Just love entire.
“He asks not grudging pain;
And knows his asking vain
‘Love! Love!’ and dies
“In guerdon of long duty
Unowned by Love or Beauty;
Tell tell who knows!
“Aliens from Heaven's worth
Fine beasts who nose i’ the earth
“But are his great desires
Food but for nether fires?
“Can it be his alone
To find when all is known
He solely sought
“Is lost and thereto lost
All that its seeking cost?
“Through sacrificial tears
And anchoretic years
With the sensualist?”
The upshot of the examination to which we have just subjected in turn the various higher activities of human life is that in them all although more obviously in the ethical and religious than elsewhere there is a positive and a negative relation towards the economic activity upon which while it serves them all as an indispensable foundation and condition each after its own fashion turns its back as it were and finds itself in and through perpetually sacrificing to a new end of its own discovery the primary ends of that activity which it set out at first to subserve.
It might seem to be required by our plan that we should here ask whether such a doctrine of Divine Personality as it was suggested in our former course would represent the testimony of the most highly developed religious experience will cast any light upon what we have called in the present Lecture the economic activity in human life. We shall probably be prepared when we consider the peculiar relation which we have described as existing between this activity and those which we are accustomed to regard as ‘higher’ in the scale of value to find that our view of the economic aspect of human Personality is less affected than our view of its other aspects by the doctrine in question.
A few words may however be said concerning the religion of the economic man. In strictness indeed if there be any truth in our account of the revulsion from the economic life which is involved in religion we cannot speak of the religion of the economic man because so far as a man has a religion he must to some extent have ceased to be an economic man pure and simple. But as we are often told in a somewhat different connexion the economic man pure and simple does not exist; and on the other hand a far larger proportion of the life of those who are no strangers to Religion Science Art Morality or Politics is as a matter of fact determined by what we have designated as economic considerations than some of them would perhaps be very willing to admit.
We may thus speak of the religion of the economic man without absurdity if not with perfect correctness. For many a man the main currents of whose life run in economic channels is notwithstanding conscious of a need to put himself into accord with the all-controlling Power in the presence of which when he considers himself and the world in which he lives and of which he forms a part he feels himself to stand. In this sense he has or at any rate seeks after a religion and that which will satisfy him we shall expect to have the same kind of congruity with and diversity from that which satisfies a man who has reached a higher level of personal activity as exists between the experience of the less and the more advanced stages of other forms of the apprehension of Reality by the human mind. But we shall also do well to bear in mind the attitude of something little short of hostility to the economic life which we have seen to be characteristic of the awakening of the religious consciousness to the demand of God upon the soul. We shall not be surprised to find an attempt made to meet the need of a religion which as we have seen is often felt by men whose activities are mainly directed towards economic ends without incurring that breaking up of the inward harmony of life that revolution in general outlook which must be effected before Religion can manifest itself within the soul in its proper form.
We saw in the former course of Lectures that it would be an error to identify a personal with an anthropomorphic God. We found rather that a thorough-going anthropomorphism was actually incompatible just because it was so thorough-going with that intimacy of personal intercourse which men seek to enjoy with a ‘personal’ God. Nevertheless such an attempt at a religion as we have now in view will usually by vaguely anthropomorphic language point forward to the thought of Personality in God while on the other hand it will be apt to keep God as it were at a distance and so be without the power or even the will to enter into those closer relations which the expression a ‘personal God’ is intended to suggest.
A religion of this kind is exceedingly common as a state of mind existing in individual men but it does not easily assume the form of a religious institution. It is rather to be observed as a fact of considerable significance that even among primitive peoples which seem to regard religious practices as in the main instrumental to the achievement of economic ends the whole apparatus of initiation although intended to introduce the sons of the tribe to the ordinary duties of mature life is so designed as to suggest a passage into another and more mysterious world than that which the eyes of the uninitiated women or boys daily behold and in which even the everyday actions of the initiated men those which are open to the inspection of their wives and children are performed. Thus one may say that the negative relation between the religious and the economic activities is divined by men long before they are prepared to acknowledge that independence of the ends pursued by the economic activity which Religion when it has come to full age vindicates for itself.