According to the conclusions reached in the preceding course of lectures by the expression a ‘Personal God’ is meant a God with whom his worshippers may enjoy a personal intercourse. An emotion not well describable except in terms suggestive of such intercourse is associated with the higher forms of Religious Experience even where there is no such explicit assertion of Personality in God as is made by Christianity alone among the great historic religions and by Christianity only in connexion with a doctrine which denies God to be a single Person. This doctrine is found to avoid certain difficulties frequently felt to beset the doctrine of the Personality of God.
THE SUBJECT INTRODUCED
In the second course of lectures we are to examine Personality in Man in the light of these conclusions and to discuss their bearing upon the problem of the ‘value and destiny’ of finite individual persons. An apology is offered for neglect—due to the lecturer's incompetence in them—of certain subjects relevant to these inquiries namely Physiology Psychology and ‘Psychical Research.’ But attention is called to the fact that many of the processes which make up the psychical life of human beings seem to be carried on ‘below the threshold of consciousness’; and an attempt is made to arrive at some understanding of what is meant by this and similar phrases. While it is observed that it would be hard to conceive of Personality under our conditions of time and space without such a ‘subliminal region’ of psychical life the opposite may be said of the Divine Personality whereof (as was contended in the former course of lectures) we have experience in Religion. The task of the lectures immediately following will be that of investigating the manner in which a recognition of such Personality in God will affect our view of the various spheres of activity in which Human Personality is found to manifest itself.
DIVINE PERSONALITY AND THE ECONOMIC LIFE
The greater part of waking human life is devoted to what may be called an ‘economic’ activity intended to secure the satisfaction of the appetites which serve for the maintenance of the individual and the continuance of the species. This activity involving as it does the use of Reason must be reckoned along with the higher activities scientific æsthetic moral political and religious as an expression of Personality. These higher activities indeed first appear in its service although it is perhaps not possible to find a stage of human development in which none of them is associated with it. Between the economic and the religious interest in human life there exists an obvious antagonism; yet the economic activity is the indispensable basis of the religious as of all the other higher activities. The religious and ethical activities more conspicuously exhibit this double relation at once positive and negative to the economic; and in this as in other respects the political activity is closely akin to the ethical. In the case of the scientific activity and even more in that of the æsthetic the negative relation is not so prominent but it is notwithstanding present in these also. The man in whose life the economic activity greatly predominates is apt to feel a religion which emphasizes its negative relation to the economic life to be hostile to his interests; but he often has himself a religion though one which minimizes this negative relation. Such a Religion (which will usually be vaguely anthropomorphic thereby pointing forward to a doctrine of Divine Personality) though common as a state of mind in individuals does not easily assume the form of a religious institution.
DIVINE PERSONALITY AND THE SCIENTIFIC LIFE
The scientific activity has two chief products: Science in the narrower sense of the word and Philosophy. As was pointed out in the first lecture of the previous course in Science Personality seems to be of little account; for though it is a condition of the existence of Science it is omitted from the account which Science gives of its conclusions. We can thus explain as due to the necessary limitations of Science the appearance of irrelevance to the scientific view of the world attaching to the thought of Divine Personality; while if we start from that thought itself we may find in that scientific view a means of purifying and enriching the very conception which it seems to reject. Philosophy although unlike Science it deals with the Subject as well as with Objects with Individuals as well as with Universals is often supposed to incline its students towards Pantheism and so towards the rejection of Divine Personality. But a consideration of the mutual relations of Philosophy and Religion already discussed in the preceding course will at once reveal the ground of this supposition in the fact that in differentiating itself from Religion Philosophy maintains a purely cognitive attitude to the supreme Reality while Religion is always an experience of God as in direct relation to our whole individual personality. At the same time Philosophy cannot without prejudice to its business of contemplating Reality as a whole omit from its survey the religious experience which is consummated in the worshipper's enjoyment of personal intercourse with his God.
DIVINE PERSONALITY AND THE ÆSTHETIC LIFE
One might expect to find that the conception of Divine Personality to which it is often thought easier to attribute an imaginative than a scientific value would make an especial appeal to the artist; but in fact this is frequently not so. The explanation of this is that the artist is apt to represent to himself the personal God of religion as a tyrannical power denying its rights to the impulse of self-expression which is his very life: in fact as the “Urizen” of Blake's mythology. The work of Blake is especially worthy of study in this connexion as that of one who is both a great artist and a great religious mystic. In his bold anthropomorphism in his hatred of the “Natural Religion” of the eighteenth century on account of its pre-occupation with the notion of a “Moral Governor” in the tendency to polytheism which is characteristic of him as of poets generally and in his reiterated denial of a God who is more than human we see illustrated both the attraction and the repulsion which the notion of Divine Personality exercises upon the artistic temperament.
A doctrine of Divine Personality which like that advocated in these Lectures insists on the immanence as no less important than the transcendence of God may welcome such protests as Blake's against a view which would lay disproportionate stress on divine transcendence and in connexion with this disproportionate stress would tend to identify Religion with Morality. At the same time we find that with Blake as with Signor Croce a one-sided emphasis upon divine immanence prevents him from doing justice to the element in religious experience which is expressed theoretically by the affirmation of God's transcendence and emotionally by the sentiment of humble adoration.
DIVINE PERSONALITY AND THE MORAL LIFE
The conception of a moral legislator and judge of the world which is apt to repel the artist has often been felt on the other hand to be congenial to the temper of the moralist; and atheism understood as the rejection of the belief in such a God has been frequently supposed to imply or promote immorality of life.
Notwithstanding the present unpopularity of the latter view which as is rightly felt may be easily exploited in the interests of bigotry and injustice it contains a kernel of truth in that the representation of moral laws as divine commands which is cautiously approved even by Kant is perhaps the representation of them which sets the fact of obligation in the most intelligible light. By the help of an examination of Kant's concepts of “autonomy” and of the “Kingdom (or rather Empire) of Ends” as well as of Martineau's doctrine of the revelation of a Personal God in conscience we reach the conclusion that the notion of Divine Personality throws a light upon the nature of the fundamental moral experience the consciousness of obligation which no other conception of the ultimate Reality can afford.
DIVINE PERSONALITY AND THE POLITICAL LIFE
Our discussion of the relation of the conception of Divine Personality to the political activity of the human spirit takes the form of an examination of the corporate personality often attributed to certain communities and especially to the State. This attribution is not to be regarded as a mere metaphor or as a legal fiction; yet the Personality which can be rightly ascribed to a community is not Personality in its full and proper sense. It may be however suggested that the attribution of Personality to God is of the same kind; and certain facts in the history of Religion may be alleged in support of this suggestion. But it is found that the conception of corporate Personality so far from leading us to deny Personality in a more proper sense to God points in the contrary direction. The primitive deification of the spirit of the community may be recognized as the dim consciousness that the unity of the common spiritual life of men is to be sought in a Supreme Being who manifests in conscious personal intercourse the full reality of spiritual existence.
DIVINE PERSONALITY AND THE RELIGIOUS LIFE
The representation of God as One with whom personal intercourse is possible can be harmonized with the experience proper to the economic scientific æsthetic ethical and social activities of the human spirit; but the true ground of this representation is to be sought in Religious Experience. By means of an examination of Dr. Rashdall's criticism of the claim to an “immediate” knowledge of God or even of other persons the conclusion is reached that there is no inconsistency in holding that the experience whether of social intercourse or of personal religion is inexplicable apart from the admission of such immediacy and also recognizing the part played in these forms of experience by ‘inference’ or “intellectual construction.” The Lecture ends with a consideration of the objection to a doctrine of Divine Personality founded on the inadequacy to religious experience of the notion of Personality as applied to human beings. It is contended that while no doubt a “supplementation” of this notion will be required this must not be such as to eliminate from religious experience the possibility of a reciprocity in love between God and his worshipper.
NATURALISM AND THE VALUE OF THE INDIVIDUAL PERSON
The importance of Personality is depreciated from two contrasted points of view; from that of Naturalism and that of Absolute Idealism. By Naturalism is meant a way of thinking which identifies the ‘philosophical’ with the ‘scientific’ attitude of mind and is thus since the latter is conversant with ‘Universals’ only disabled from grasping the Individual and therefore the Person. But the depreciation of Personality by Naturalism is not merely due to this inability to take account of the Individual. It is due also to the necessity which it is under of regarding Personality as Natural Science must regard it from the outside only as a mode of behaviour of certain natural objects. Yet the very existence of Natural Science presupposes Personality though as essentially an apprehension of objects it cannot come face to face with the subject whose activity itself is. There will always be something paradoxical in the association of an intelligence which takes the whole world for its object with material bodies of such seeming insignificance in that world as those of human beings; nor does the philosophy of Spinoza succeed in removing the difficulty which this association presents. It may however suggest the possibility of an argument which may be brought in support of the depreciation of Personality by Naturalism against the contention that Natural Science itself is only conceivable as the activity of a personal Mind: namely that Personality in its turn presupposes Reason which transcends the distinction of persons. The recent attempts by Pragmatism and Personal Idealism to give to the personal principle of unity in our experience a priority over the rational seem on examination to be unsuccessful; and the presumption thus raised in favour of allowing on the other hand a priority to the rational over the personal principle is on the whole confirmed by a consideration of the phenomena of what is called ‘multiple personality.’ Nevertheless we are not hereby enabled to conceive Reason except as exercised by an individual and in virtue of this exercise of Reason a personal mind. Yet not only the facts of extreme and pathological ‘dissociation’ but many phenomena of everyday life and in particular those of moral struggle reveal the unity of human Personality as an achievement though an achievement which would be impossible apart from a principle of unity which is operative from the very beginning of personal life yet cannot be identified with the unity of the bodily organism.
ABSOLUTE IDEALISM AND THE VALUE OF THE INDIVIDUAL PERSON
The idealistic depreciation of Personality turns upon the thought that though a higher form of Individuality than some with which we are acquainted it is yet an imperfect form and is shown to be such by the fact that a person is essentially a member of a society. It is not indeed to be questioned that the individuality of Persons is not that which can be affirmed of the Absolute alone. But this does not dispose of the problem of the peculiar value of Personality as the only form in which within our experience Mind or Spirit is manifested as concrete reality. It is suggested that we need a wholehearted recognition at once of the genuine unity of the object of Reason and also of the unity of each personal subject as a substantial element in the system of Reality and not merely an adjective qualifying it. The contention that finite Personality is merely ‘adjectival’ is closely bound up in the thought of those who maintain it with insistence upon the ethical principle of self-realization by means of self-surrender. The discussion of the bearing of this principle upon the question of the value of the individual Personality will lead us on to that of its destiny.
THE DESTINY OF THE INDIVIDUAL PERSON
We are here concerned with the doctrine of a personal life after death but only so far as it is inferred from a certain theory of the nature or structure of Reality. The history of the modern European belief in Immortality may be traced back to two main sources: the religion of Israel after the exile and the philosophy of Plato. In both of these the doctrine of Immortality was no mere survival or even refined interpretation of beliefs associated everywhere with primitive animism but represented a new departure the starting-point of which is the individual person's relation to the Eternal and the value to be attributed to him in consequence thereof. It thus depends in either case on a certain view of the nature of Reality as revealed in a religious experience. Serious difficulties may be raised against this doctrine some of the chief among which are briefly considered; and it is concluded that while none of these are sufficient to put out of court the considerations based upon religious experience it is also impossible in the face of them to make out a plausible case on other grounds for any such doctrine either of the ‘immortality of the soul’ or of the ‘resurrection of the body.’ But this very impossibility may be shown to be what might be expected from the point of view of the religious experience itself; for an assurance of a future life drawn from grounds belonging to another region of experience would lack the religious value of an assurance whose sole foundation is faith in the personal Love revealed in the religious experience the vindication whereof has been the main topic of these Lectures.
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