Divine Personality and the Scientific Life
IN this Lecture I propose to pass to the consideration of the scientific activity in human life and to inquire what light if any an examination of the way in which our personality exhibits itself therein may be found to throw upon the doctrine of Divine Personality developed in my previous course of Gifford Lectures. This activity is of course that the chief products of which are Science in the narrower sense of the word and Philosophy.
The difference between these two may be briefly but for our present purpose sufficiently said to lie in this that Philosophy concerning itself as it does with the Whole totum hoc quod sumus et in quo sunaus1 cannot omit from its consideration the knower or the Subject as well as the known or the Object; whereas Science as distinguished from Philosophy abstracts in dealing with the world of objects from its relation to the mind which knows it. It follows from this characteristic of Science that as I have already in the first Lecture of my earlier course had occasion to point out it is precisely in Science thus understood that Personality seems to be of least account. Personality is no doubt a condition of the existence of Science; but Personality is omitted from the account which Science gives of its conclusions. Thus we see that these can be stated and understood apart from any interest in their first discoverer while the work of the artist or philosopher cannot in the same way be separated from its spiritual context in the soul of the artist or philosopher by whom it was achieved.
It is thus in harmony with a fundamental feature in the nature of Science that the conception of Personality in God should seem at the least irrelevant to it if not incongruous with it. There is a well-known story of Napoleon that he called the attention of Laplace to the absence from the pages of his Mécanique Céleste
of any mention of God and that he received from the great astronomer this answer: ‘Sire I had no need of that hypothesis.’ Nowadays there would be few even among convinced theists who would not consider that Laplace was right in construing the mechanical system of the heavens without reference to a Divine Personality. Such a reference would be bound we think to be as Bacon long ago hinted2
barren of results suitable for incorporation in the fabric of an exact knowledge of nature or for application to those economic needs of men to which such an exact knowledge may be made to minister.
This being so we are not surprised to find that although many great men of science have been convinced believers in a personal God the belief which they thus hold is not particularly congenial to the scientific temperament. Indeed we may suspect that it was often as the traditional mode of acknowledging all things to have proceeded not from Chance but from Reason that it recommended itself to some of those who have maintained it rather than as the expression of a religious experience of intimate personal communion with the God whom they acknowledged to be the ‘great first cause’ of the wonderful order which they studied. It may moreover be observed that in days when the use of theistic language is less widely regarded as the only or even as the best way of affirming the rationality of the world it is perhaps the mathematicians astronomers and physicists that have been among the men of science least in haste to abandon it just because the subject-matter of their studies is so highly abstract that while testifying to the presence of Reason in the world it has no particular suggestion alternative to the traditional theism to offer as to the mode in which that Reason may be supposed to exist and operate. On the other hand it is probably the biologists who have the most concrete subject matter to study of any scientific men that find this same traditional theism most uncongenial to their habits of thought. Life can make a better shift than Number or Space or Motion to take the place of God: and if we try to think of it as taking that place we shall find that the phenomena which we regard as the effect of its operation do not by any means suggest Personality in their cause; least of all a Personality invested with the attributes customarily ascribed to God of supreme wisdom and goodness.
It is a thought by this time familiar to us all that Nature may with some plausibility be said to bear witness to the power of God and even to his wisdom if indeed we can call that wisdom and not rather cunning which does not seem to be inspired at all by goodness; but that as regards the goodness of God anyone would be rash who would rely upon the testimony of Nature to establish that. I recognize indeed the force of the reasoning which from the days of Socrates and Plato onwards has found in Goodness the only ultimate guarantee of that rationality of the world which we must postulate if we are to have any Science or any Philosophy at all. I believe those Fathers of the Christian Church to have been in the right who built up the theology which was to incorporate their own religious experience upon the foundations of the philosophy in whose teaching this ‘great argument’ was central. But I greatly doubt whether apart from some such religious experience as theirs of a personal relation to the Supreme Goodness the conviction which that argument could carry to the understanding would avail except it may be with a few exceptional souls to give in the face of the evil in the world an assurance on which the unquiet heart might rest. Where however a religious experience of this kind is present then the reasoning which could not do its work for it may well overcome the fear that in believing it to be a genuine experience one is merely the dupe of a pleasing illusion.
But while faith in a God with whom personal intercourse is possible may be said to be uncongenial to the temper of a mind exercised chiefly in scientific activities at any rate under the intellectual conditions of contemporary life it is to be observed that from the point of view of such a faith this very uncongeniality is capable of explanation and justification while from the purely scientific point of view the religious experience of personal intercourse with God must either remain a riddle or be dismissed as illusory.
Confining our attention for the moment to Science in the restricted sense in which we distinguish Science from Philosophy we have already noted in the previous course of Lectures those characteristics of its procedure to which it is due that Personality must for ever elude its grasp. Its gaze is necessarily fixed upon the objects of our knowledge but the nature and conditions of Knowledge itself it cannot scrutinize without ceasing to be Science in the narrower signification of the term and passing into Philosophy the concern whereof is not merely with the world of objects but with the Whole wherein the known is not severed from the knower nor the object from the subject. Even in the world of objects Science with its generalizing method can only use the individual as a point of departure; and the Person as the individual subject of knowledge is doubly unamenable to scientific treatment. Lastly a personal relation to the Supreme Reality such as is expressed in that form of Religion which we have described as the highest is still further removed from the possibility of such treatment; for here Personality is expressly contemplated in union with that ultimate nature of the Whole which as we have seen is the concern of Philosophy as distinguished from Science.
There is thus nothing to excite surprise in the appearance of irrelevance to the scientific view of the world which is sometimes and indeed often felt to attach to the thought of a God with whom personal intercourse is possible. On the other hand if we start from this thought itself we may as I have already suggested find that this same aversion to it on the part of Science may serve as a means of purifying and enriching the very conception which Science seems to reject.
A distinguished theologian of our own days3
has profoundly observed that the part played in the religious life of another age by the ‘vision of judgment’ which once dominated the imagination of serious men but has now for the great majority even for those who would not deny it all significance become a symbol of ever present moral issues rather than a mode of conceiving the ultimate relation of our life to its material environment and of this environment to our life—that the part once played by this expectation has now to a great extent been devolved upon the spectacle presented to us by Natural Science of the material universe extending without bounds in space and enduring from eternity to eternity under the reign of inviolable laws whereby every detail of its course is conceived to be determined. The task thus taken over is that of reducing to insignificance and convicting of vanity the everyday life and interests of human beings; and it will probably be admitted that this task is likely at least for those who have learned to take seriously to heart the revelations of biology geology and astronomy to be more thoroughly accomplished by the modern scientific determinism than by the old eschatology.
That it should however be performed as efficiently as may be is assuredly a matter in which Religion is profoundly interested. The feeling which frequently inspires some of the most active hostility encountered by religious tradition among us the feeling that the conception of God offered to us by that tradition is unworthy of the awful majesty the immeasurable vastness of this stupendous universe whose secrets the devotees of Science are ever exploring without any fear of exhausting them—this feeling is in a most true sense a religious feeling; and Religion when once it has had this feeling brought home to it can never be fully content with accepting a God to worship regarding whom a doubt must lurk in the hearts of all but his most ignorant worshippers whether he is not on a scale so to speak quite out of proportion to the world with which the natural sciences acquaint us and proportioned only to a picture of that world which with the increase of our knowledge we have long since outgrown.
In Science therefore and in those very characteristics of Science which make it take little or no account of Personality—and which often arouse on the part of men imbued with the scientific temper a sharp opposition to Religion itself Religion comes to recognize an indispensable helper in the work of enlarging her own conceptions to match the demands of that aspiration after the Highest and nothing short of the Highest which is the mainspring of her own activity.
In what I have just said I have not suggested that a reverent attitude towards the vastness of the material universe is other than reasonable. I have even affirmed it to be religious. It must however not be forgotten that there are those who would regard this attitude itself as mistaken and as the result of an illusion. According to the maxim which Sir William Hamilton took as the motto of his philosophy:—
On earth there is nothing great but man.
In man there is nothing great but mind.
Man as Pascal says4
may be as frail as a reed but he is a reed that thinks and so is greater than the unthinking universe by which he can so easily be crushed. Rank in the scale of values it may be pointed out must not be measured by the space occupied or the time outlasted; else the whale or the tortoise would be higher among animals than the human being. Nay to Hegel5
even the infinity of Space and Time themselves had nothing dreadful about it but its tediousness.
It is not irrelevant to our present subject to inquire where the truth lies in this matter. It seems difficult to deny the justice of the assertion that mere bigness and mere continuance in time are qualities in themselves unfitted to excite our reverence. On the other hand it is no less difficult to deny that both at least contribute to the sublimity of objects which we should generally allow to be sublime for example the starry heaven. We remember how Kant6
reckoned this as one of the two things—the Moral Law being the other—which inspired his own mind with a feeling of solemn awe; and assuredly he never said anything that awakened a wider and readier response in all who possess any capacity for such a sentiment. The Psalmist was moved long ago by this same spectacle to cry out to him whom he supposed to be its maker and his own: “What is man that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him?”7
And it would be strange if we who have a juster conception than the Psalmist could have of the immensity and remoteness of the celestial bodies and of the countless ages through which they have endured did not for that very reason feel with far greater poignancy that insignificance of ours in their presence of which he thus speaks.
We must notwithstanding observe that with him it is not strictly speaking towards them but towards the Being the work of whose fingers he took them to be that the awe excited by the sight of them was directed. Again there are others—Plato and Aristotle for instance—whom we know to have been profoundly impressed with a sense of the superiority of the stars to ourselves and who did not (at any rate in Aristotle's case) believe them to be the handiwork of a Creator but rather eternal in their own right. By Plato and Aristotle however they were regarded as themselves divine or perhaps rather as manifesting the presence of divine beings possessed of an intelligence far more exalted than our own. It is at any rate worth inquiring whether those among ourselves who neither believe them to be creatures of God nor attribute to them a superhuman intelligence are not in their reverent attitude towards them secretly influenced by associations belonging rather to these older doctrines than to the Naturalism which they consciously profess.
The heavenly bodies are among all the objects of our senses unquestionably (though not it is true to our senses themselves but to our knowledge) the biggest the most remote and the most enduring. Yet if I am right in my suggestion the sentiment which even these inspire in us is not in truth due to those characteristics taken by themselves but involves at least a subconscious recollection if I may so express it of a personification with which the immemorial language not only of poetic literature but of that far more widely spread kind of poetry which is implicit in popular legend and fancy and seems almost instinctive in our race has made us all familiar however firmly we may be convinced of its scientific falsity. When we come to any other things than these whose bigness or distance or long continuance seems to impress us with a sense of awe in the contemplation of them we are at once struck with the fact that this impressive bigness distance or long continuance is a purely relative quality. St. Peter's at Rome is imposing from its vastness as a temple made with hands; but a mountain of the same size would be of small account; nor do we cease to be capable of a
vague emotion of delight
In gazing up an Alpine height8
because we are well aware of the insignificant proportion which is borne even by the highest peaks to the circumference of the terrestrial globe itself but a grain of dust compared with the mighty systems of orbs unimaginably huge to one of which it is an inconsiderable satellite.
In the same way we may be deeply moved by the venerable antiquity of a church many centuries younger than a time which from another point of view we should never think of calling ancient; and our reverent contemplation of the oldest works of men is not I think seriously disturbed by a contrast of the comparatively short period during which our race has existed on the earth with the vista of immense ages spread out before us by geology and astronomy.
These considerations may I think lead us reasonably to suspect that the awe excited in us by what is big and what is old is not in fact due to bigness and oldness in themselves but to these if at all only in connexion with a scale quite different from the scale of mere quantity whether it be quantity of space or of time.
Our suspicion may receive support from the reflection that the Lilliputians did not worship the man-mountain9
nor does the thought of the “monstrous eft”10
that says the poet “was of old the lord and master of earth” arouse in us a sentiment of reverential awe. And where-ever this sentiment is found I am much inclined to think that we shall find that we are imaginatively investing its object if not with personality at least with attributes which properly belong to persons.
The ancient building or tree the mountain or ocean or planet is conceived as having watched many generations and as made wise by the gathered experience of long centuries. Even where (as I think is generally the case with Wordsworth) it is an essential feature of our sentiment for the natural objects hills or woods or sea which stand out as especially embodying the majesty which belongs to Nature as a whole that we do not
regard them as human but rather as composing and solemnizing us by their very remoteness from—we may go so far as to say their indifference to—our desires and troubles our passions and regrets—even there it is of ‘presences
of Nature in the sky And on the earth’11
of ‘a presence
that disturbs us with the joy Of elevated thoughts’12
that the poet who has most deeply felt and most nobly expressed the sentiment is led to speak. Nor would it I believe have been otherwise had the contemplation of these ‘powers’ filled him as it has spirits less happily tempered not with solemn joy and consolation but with terror and despair; nay had he even like the preacher in the cathedral of the City of Dreadful Night seen in Nature nothing but
With infinite Mystery abysmal dark
Unlighted even by the faintest spark
For us the flitting shadows of a dream.13
So long at least as this sombre mood is mixed as so often it is with a sense of solemn awe it must be that we still feel ourselves in a presence though it be a presence that disturbs us with feelings very different from the joy of which Wordsworth speaks in the lines which I have just quoted.
It is also to be observed that those in whom the deepest emotions of awe and reverence are aroused by the contemplation of the immeasurable universe which surrounds us and its wonderful order and who feel most acutely the jarring incongruity with the majesty of that spectacle of a religion which would see in it the expression of an intelligence like that which in themselves (as they would say) is conscious of its fleeting littleness in comparison with the sublimities confronting it are not commonly devoid of a reverence no less genuine for the intellectual greatness of those whose genius has opened the eyes of their fellows to these same marvels. But this latter reverence really contradicts not indeed the other reverence for Nature but the disparagement of the human spirit which it is often supposed to entail. That disparagement rests indeed upon a confusion between the weak and perishable frame which is an infinitesimal part of the material universe and the mind which so astonishingly transcends the limitations of its original point of view by discounting and allowing for them in its miraculous ascent to the apprehension of laws valid for “all time and all existence.”14
It is not the bigness of Nature in comparison with the human body or its long continuance in comparison with human life which enables it to excite our reverence; it is rather the perpetual challenge which it makes to the intellect and the imagination of man by which if they may sometimes confess themselves baffled they are baffled not as they would be by nonsense and chaos but as by a problem
which must have a solution though it be hard to find. Did we regard the mystery of things as a riddle like that famous one which was propounded at the mad tea party about the Raven and the Writing Desk15
we should entertain towards it not a feeling of reverent awe but one of a quite opposite character.
Although the aspect of things with which the exercise of the scientific activity which we have been considering makes us acquainted may seem incongruous with the thought of Divine Personality yet that same activity if we turn our attention from its results to itself is assuredly a fact extremely difficult of explanation from the principles of Naturalism. Known to us only as a manifestation of Personality it reveals to us the spirit of man as conversant with the Eternal and the Infinite and as finding a progressive satisfaction in the exploration of Nature just because there seems no end to the questions which may be asked and answered concerning it. The man of science is uplifted rather than depressed by the thought which brought sadness to the great pessimist of the Old Testament as he meditated on the “travail which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it”16
and the thought that “he hath set eternity in their heart”—a sense of the infinite as we might put it—“yet so that man cannot find out the work that God hath done from the beginning to the end.” Shall we be going far astray if we suggest that nothing but a manifestation of Personal Spirit could thus inspire the sentiment of reverential awe in the mind while in the very act of demonstrating by its scientific activity its own unique dignity; since to nothing less than Personal Spirit can Personal Spirit without loss of self-respect render the homage that the entertainment of that sentiment implies?
I do not think that we should be going far astray in making such a suggestion; but I am well aware that the rejoinder will readily occur to many that not to be less than Personal Spirit is not the same as to be
Personal Spirit; that it is consistent with being more
than Personal Spirit. This possibility I will shortly examine more closely when I have passed to the consideration of that other form of the cognitive activity which we nowadays call Philosophy rather than Science. But I am I confess exceedingly doubtful whether the attempt to think of the “Infinite and Eternal Energy from which all things proceed” (to quote Herbert Spencer's famous description of the God of Science17
) as lacking Personality does not after all while it unquestionably helps us to put aside certain problems which would puzzle us if we were to ascribe personality to it at the same time in the apprehension of most of those who find it more to their liking than the traditional language of Religion which calls it God recall rather something which—like electricity or the ether or unconscious life—we should in other connexions have no hesitation in ranking below
Personality. When the thought of it excites—as we cannot doubt that it excited in Herbert Spencer himself—a reverential awe we find that the language used of it at once approximates to that which is appropriate to a Person. “We find ourselves” says Spencer “in the presence
of an Infinite and Eternal Energy from which all things proceed.”
I am far from desiring to press overmuch an argument which might seem to be based upon the inevitably metaphorical character of the only language which we have to use. I do not think that Science taken by itself can assure us of Divine Personality. The only satisfactory evidence of that lies as the only satisfactory proof of Personality in our fellow men lies in personal intercourse. I have already insisted in my earlier course that by no reflection which abstracts from the religious experience can we reach the God of Religion.
But we may notwithstanding call the nature of the sentiment excited by the spectacle of the world in many men of science towards the mysterious Power from which it has its unity an evidence that the revelation of Religion is not altogether incongruous with the mood of Science. At the same time we may remember that the history of Natural Theology18
has ever been the history of a discrimination between the anthropomorphism which would be justly exposed to the scoffs of Xenophanes as likening God to man as a particular sort of animal no otherwise than a lion might liken him to a lion or a horse to a horse19
and that other anthropomorphism (if it is so to be called) which finds in man's mind and reason a credible witness to the presence of a royal intelligence (as Plato speaks) in the nature of Zeus.20
For this being so we may gladly accept the help of Science to purify our notions of the Divine Nature by making us slow to indulgence in fancies which the personal relation to God experienced in Religion might have seemed to authorize but which are felt to be out of place when we consider that the God whom we know by faith is also—if he be God indeed—the ‘veiled being’21
—a part of whose ways it is the inexhaustible task and joy of the votaries of Science to discover.
But as we saw Science in that narrower sense of the word in which we distinguish it from Philosophy is not the only form which the scientific activity assumes; there is also Philosophy in that sense more fully established in modern times than formerly in which we contrast it with what we describe as specifically Science. It is with those problems which Science leaves on one side in order to concentrate its energies on the investigation of the objects which surround us in the world which the senses apprehend—though that very investigation certainly leads us far beyond what the senses can apprehend—with the problem of the nature of that which is the subject of Science and not its object and the problem of the Unity which is implied in the fact of Knowledge wherein things are objects to a subject—with just those problems it is that Philosophy strictly so called occupies itself.
How then does the scientific activity of the human spirit in the form of Philosophy stand toward the recognition of Personality in God?
It is I think a common impression that the study of Philosophy tends towards Pantheism; an expression which in its popular acceptation is understood to describe a view agreeing with Theism as against Atheism in the recognition of an object of worship while agreeing with Atheism against Theism in the denial to that object of worship of the attribute of Personality. Such common impressions are usually worth noting and more often than not contain a kernel of true apprehension which however needs much examination and sifting before it can be made available for incorporation in a reasoned view of the world. In the present case we need not spend many words on the alleged tendency of Philosophy to reject mere Atheism. The aversion to this word which will be found to be general among philosophers is not wholly to be explained by the evil associations which it has gathered about it. It is true that in our own time as in others some thinkers who are deserving of all respect have not refused or have even claimed for themselves the designation of Atheist. For example Dr. M'Taggart23
considers merely misleading the use of the word ‘God’ except for a being conceived not merely as personal but as a finite person side by side with other persons although no doubt vastly more powerful and good than any other; and so as he sees no reason to believe in the existence of any such being he has declared himself content to be described as an Atheist. Yet since for him the ultimate reality in the world is a spiritual unity an eternal society of eternal individual spirits his view no less than that of most other philosophers would probably appear to the ‘man in the street’—or shall we rather say to the ordinary journalist?—to fall under the head of Pantheism.
There are no doubt other thinkers—I would mention among our own contemporaries Mr. Bertrand Russell—whose doctrine the same critic from outside the schools of philosophy would consider fairly entitled to be called Atheism since it not only leaves us with no object for worship but forbids us that satisfied acquiescence which Dr. M'Taggart leaves to us in the supreme and ultimate reality of things which if it cannot properly be called worship may at least be described without absurdity as a beatific vision. Such philosophies of pessimism—to use another term in popular use—have however at any rate in the past been in a very decided minority; and the impression that speaking generally Atheism is not the favourite attitude of Philosophy receives support from the facts of history. And the same facts undoubtedly give considerable ground for the suggestion that Philosophy has favoured on the whole a way of thinking which subordinates and ignores or even denies the notion of Divine Personality—a way of thinking such as is frequently though not always accurately described as Pantheism.
It has been already observed in my former course that while the personality of the man of Science is of course a condition of the results of his activity yet those results may be and indeed should be stated in a form which abstracts altogether from that personality; but that on the other hand a similar abstraction cannot be made in Philosophy; so that it is not possible to study with profit the doctrines of the great philosophers as one may the discoveries and hypotheses of the great men of science elsewhere than in their original context.
If this be so if the philosophical form of what I have called as a whole the scientific activity of the human spirit is thus so far more intimately affected by the individual personality of the agent than that other form to which the name of Science is more particularly appropriated; and if moreover the very mission of Philosophy as the contemplation of the Whole of Absolute Reality forbids her to pass over any feature of experience least of all one so important as Personality as being no concern of hers; it is plainly impossible when we find a tendency in Philosophy to think of God otherwise than as personal to explain it as we did a like tendency in Science by the limitations requisite to its concentration on the performance of a special task such as was for Science the exploration of the objective world.24
Philosophy is bound to take account of Personality. It cannot neglect the presuppositions of its own activity and Personality is at least one of these. Again it cannot neglect any region of experience neither that of personal intercourse between man and man nor that of religious experience which as we know often takes the form of a consciousness of personal intercourse.
But as was pointed out in the tenth Lecture of my previous course Philosophy stands to Religion in a peculiar relation in which she stands to no other of the several forms of human experience all of which it is her office to survey. For Religion has in a sense in which this cannot be said of any other form of experience the same object as Philosophy itself. Hence Philosophy finds in Religion a rival or competitor and indeed historically a competitor which is already in possession when she herself enters upon the field. For indeed it is in the soil of Religion that as a rule Philosophy springs up and before she has differentiated herself from Religion Religion both in the individual and in the race discharges functions which when fully developed Philosophy must take over.25
It is in this situation that we must look for the true explanation of the tendency in Philosophy to represent God after what is called a pantheistic manner or to use a phraseology already adopted in these Lectures to dwell upon his immanence
to the exclusion of his transcendence.
Religion not only in what as we have seen is the rare although highly developed form in which explicit stress is laid upon Personality in God himself but always is an experience of God as in direct relation to our whole individual personality or at least to a social personality within which we feel ourselves to be included and is thus distinguished from the purely cognitive attitude towards the supreme Reality which is proper to Philosophy. Thus although Religion is never really an experience of a God merely transcendent there is always in the experience an element which we may describe as the consciousness of his transcendence and which at its fullest and highest becomes a consciousness of Divine Personality. So long therefore as Philosophy respects Religion as an autonomous form of experience it cannot ignore this characteristic of it and must take account of it in its own conception of the Supreme Reality. Where Philosophy becomes a doctrine of divine immanence and as such calls in question the reality of the transcendence implied in the attitude of worship proper to Religion it is really attempting to substitute itself for Religion; and this is just what Signor Croce for example would as we have already seen have it do. But such an explicit substitution or even an attitude towards Religion which implies as much does in fact tend to the impoverishment of human life and incidentally makes for the disparagement of the human personality which attains its true dignity in the religious experience of personal intercourse with God.
It is quite consistent in Signor Croce to dismiss contemptuously the belief in the immortality of the individual soul and that in the existence of a transcendent God together as by no means corresponding to profound demands of the human spirit.26
This belief in individual immortality we shall hereafter have to consider on its own merits; but even if on other grounds we should find ourselves forced to abandon it in its traditional form on the principles of Signor Croce the position of the individual person in the world is strangely enigmatic. The arrogance of the tone in which this writer speaks of views which he considers outworn should not disguise from us the difficulties inherent in all theories which like his attribute deity to the Spirit which is in us and which we are (Deus in nobis et nos27
) while regarding the only form in which this divine Spirit is conscious of its own reality the form that is of individual personality as something essentially transient and perishable. That attempts to escape from these difficulties by assigning to individual personality a ‘value and destiny’ such as is accorded to them by the traditional theology of Christendom are beset by grave difficulties of their own must be frankly admitted. But for the present it is sufficient to point out that by recognizing as in my judgment she is bound to do that Religion is a genuine and autonomous form of experience Philosophy leaves open to herself a chance of profiting by any light which may be thrown upon this problem by the religious experience of personal intercourse with the Supreme Reality.
This experience Philosophy cannot indeed create from her own resources any more than she can thus create any other form of experience except that of reflexion which is the experience of her own specific activity; but neither can she without prejudice to success in her own task refrain from taking it into account in displaying the mutual relations of that manifold spiritual experience of which in its entirety it is her office to be the interpreter.28