Morality A Process that Always Attains
The two conditions of plant life.
WITHOUT pretending to deal in an intimate way with the problem of the first emergence or the nature of life nor to contribute to the discussion of any of the problems upon which biologists are divided and which are capable of being decided on biological evidence I have ventured to indicate two facts which are I believe unanimously admitted and regarded as fundamental. The first is that the lowest living plant is the result of long anterior conditions which somehow are focussed and active in it; and the second is that in reacting upon its environment it employs these borrowed powers and these only and employs them in its own way. It really is these conditions united and active. The daffodil in virtue of that which it has borrowed from its world and made a part of its living structure acts as a daffodil. Every daffodil for and by itself turns round upon the universe what the universe has lent to it and thereby produces its own unique result.
Both of these conditions are more fully present in rational life
And are vital to morality.
Rational life presents the same features. But it borrows more extensively and its reaction upon its world by means of its world is far more potent. In a word the dependence of man as a rational being upon his antecedents is fuller and more varied than that of any other of nature's products; but his independence and the uniqueness of his reaction are also more significant and full. In him in fact independence becomes freedom. What he requires from or seeks for in his world is that which he believes will satisfy or fulfil or realize himself; and his interpretation of his self its nature its needs and what will fulfil them is his own interpretation. Hence he defines his own ideals and acts in obedience to ends he himself has set up. No one can do these things instead of him forming his conceptions or willing their realization instead of him. If his interpretation of the nature and needs of the self and therefore of the good is wrong it is his own; if it is right it is his own. No one can recognize a man's duty instead of him; nor neglect it except himself. This means that the immanence of the activity of the universe becomes in man an activity that is free. And it carries with it the conditions necessary for actions which have a moral character and can be called in the fulness of the meaning of the word right or wrong. The power that is operative reveals itself as a “power working for righteousness” in the form of individual wills. And moral right or wrong is right or wrong in a final and ultimate sense. Morality undoubtedly demands this final undivided or individual responsibility. However true it may be that we ought and can bear one another's burdens we cannot commit one another's right or wrong actions. Mine are mine and my neighbour's are my neighbour's to the end of time and whatever takes place. We may be more than willing to bear the burden of the consequences of the ill-doing of others and we do not hesitate to share the good things our helpful social environment provides but the privacy of the actual volitions and deeds stands wholly unimpaired. The responsibility and the guilt of the bad act cling to the doer only and the sense of them often seems more imperishable than any of its other consequences. The “stain” will not wash. Let others be ever so generous in the way of forgiving and forgetting our wrong acts there may be amongst them some deeds whose meanness and selfishness are such that we can never forgive ourselves for doing them. We cannot annihilate nor utterly repudiate the past self. And if as a Welsh hymn suggests the songs in Zion are the sweeter for the forgiven sins of the saints they are also tear-stained. Even forgiven sins are not forgotten by those who committed them; nor are they occasions of unmingled joy.
The conditions that are vital to morality seem to be swept aside by religion.
But all these conditions which seem to be vital to the moral consciousness are simply swept aside by the religious consciousness. Religion in all its highest forms appears to break down the barriers of the separate and individually responsible personalities. Nay religion seems utterly to repudiate and destroy such individuality. For it identifies the worshipper with his God and the worshipper joyously loses himself in the object of his devotion and love.
“Faith is not merely a history or a science. To have faith is nought else than for a man to make his will one with God's and take up God's word and might in his will so that these twain God's will and man's will turn to one being and substance.”1
“Faith then” continues Mr. Bradley “is the recognition of my true self in the religious object and the identification of myself with that both by judgment and will; the determination to negate the self opposed to the object by making the whole self one with what it really is. It is in a word of the heart. It is the belief that only the ideal is real and the will to realize therefore nothing but the ideal the theoretical and practical assertion that only as ideal is the self real.
Justification by faith
“Justification by faith means that having thus identified myself with the object I feel myself in that identification to be already one with it and to enjoy the bliss of being all falsehood overcome what I truly am. By my claim to be one with the ideal which comprehends me too and by assertion of the non-reality of all that is opposed to it the evil in the world and the evil incarnate in me through past bad acts all this falls into the unreal: I being one with the ideal this is not mine and so imputation of offences goes with the change of self and applies not now to my true self but to the unreal which I repudiate and hand over to destruction.”2
Religion identifies man with the object of his worship: it deals with a new self.
It is in that it identifies man with his ideal or that man is reconciled to be made one with his God that religion reveals its nature. The separate independent solitary self facing the responsibilities of its own errors has been left behind. Its place is taken by a self that is flooded inundated with its consciousness of God. The old self was exclusive. Henceforth the individual goes forth in the strength of his God. The new self has no exclusive ends; however private they are they are not selfish. It has no will that is merely its own. It is only God's will. Existence purpose value—all that secures either reality or worth—come from elsewhere; from the ideal object of devotion. “For to me to live is Christ.”3
“Whether we live therefore or die we are the Lord's.”4
“I live; yet not I but Christ liveth in me.”5
Such are the expressions of one of the greatest exponents of the religious consciousness that the world has known and the religious experience of mankind is their reaffirmation. Nor do I think that it is possible to modify them. There is not as a matter of fact any limit to the identification of the worshipper and his God in a true religion. From that point of view not a shred or shadow of the old self remains. The present self and its ends the world in which it lives and its values—everything is new and the past is not any more.
Morality maintains the past and the continuity of the self.
But it must not be forgotten that there is another point of view—that of morality; and the moral consciousness cannot and must not utterly part with the past or treat it as if it had never been. The identification with the ideal must not be by the annihilation of the self. If the separateness of the self is destroyed as morality advances its responsibilities must be preserved. Repentant man who turns or rather returns to his God may like the prodigal son leave nothing but husks behind him. He is parting only with that which is worthless. Nevertheless the son that returns has been in a far country and shared the food of pigs. However true it is that the religious consciousness somehow through man's union with God blots out man's sins without making God share in their guilt the sins were committed. The world is not the same as if the sins had never been nor is the agent who committed them. From the moral point of view in fact the wrong actions remain irremediable indelible stains that nothing can lift away as if they had never been. They are sources of bitter sorrow to him who has committed them as well as of deep joy and thankfulness and wonder once they have been forgiven. They count “as if” they had never been; but the “as if” remains.
Solutions of the conflict of morality and religion.
(1) By turning religion into a mere mystery.
Possibly the most usual way of dealing with the difficulty arising from this apparently direct contradiction of religion and morality is that of treating this identification of man with his ideal which is the central fact of religion simply as a mystery. “This overcoming of all the usual barriers between the individual and the absolute is the great mystic achievement” says William James.6
The need of explaining it disappears when it is called “mystic” and all rational judgment is suspended. Moreover this quality as a mystery is somehow supposed to add to its convincingness and worth. It is meant as a rule that it intoxicates the soul with the sense of the nearness of God and precludes all its rational operations. But philosophy has no right to avail itself of the methods of mysticism.
(2) By making religious love a mere sentimental emotion.
When oneness with God is not left merely mystical it is often interpreted in terms of feeling. And the love which religion implies is taken to be mere emotion a form of sentimental self-indulgence.7
But love as a sentiment is antagonistic to independence; the oneness with its object which such love secures is at the expense of individuality; for it merges the individual in it for the time being instead of leaving him strengthened and enriched. If this were the only love that united God and man in religion then the reconciliation of religion with morality would be finally impossible.
(3) By uniting the will of man with the will of God and making religion a spirit of service.
But there is a higher and truer love than that which is sentimental and a saner than that which is mystical It is that which unites wills and leaves them standing. It is a spirit of service. It is the love of the mother for the child—the most marvellous and beautiful in our world—making his good her whole concern day and night. It is the love of man for woman and of woman for man which makes the happy domestic hearth the best symbol of the kingdom of heaven. It is the love of the citizen for good causes and of the patriot for his country. It not only allows but it invites the free and full expression of separate personalities. And it is full of practical enterprise ever sending the saviours of mankind into the wilderness in search of lost sheep.
Moreover the sense of oneness with God or of dependence upon him which is essential to religion degenerates into passivity if it be not thus the source of spiritual energy.
I shall try to show that religion when it thus implies a love which strengthens individuality and fills it with the spirit of service is reconcilable with morality. For the present my aim has been to reject the methods of mysticism and sentimental love because they make that reconciliation seem easy while in truth they make it impossible.
If morality were mere failure it could be swept aside for the sake of religion.
There are ways of misrepresenting morality which have the same results as these ways of misrepresenting religion. They also in like manner seem easy but are delusive. Amongst these ways of making room for religion at the expense of morality perhaps the most common is that which represents morality as the scene of constant and inevitable failure on the part of mankind. Every act that man performs is held to fall short of what “ought to be.” We must pursue but we cannot attain; approach though we can never reach; for the complete identification of the actual and the ideal were the end of all effort and therefore of morality. And inasmuch as morality is on this view nothing but the scene of constant and inevitable failure and as the ideal which alone is truly real is never reached we have only to sweep it and all it concerns out of sight. We must turn against it as against that which has neither true reality (for the good deeds are not done) nor value. The moral world on this view is the world of mere appearances and need not count for the religious consciousness. Only that counts which is done in the spirit and service of religion: for that alone is in the last resort ideal and therefore real.
But morality may be a process and never mere failure.
But not even for the sake of the religious consciousness can we repudiate the world of endeavour or deny the reality and the value of the moral act. And for my part I cannot admit that all man's moral actions are failures. Some of them I believe are perfect; and not even the poorest of them is a mere failure attaining and amounting to nothing. The religious devotees who call moral actions “trash” and affirm that we are all as an unclean thing and all our religiousness as “filthy rags” are I believe proceeding on a wrong supposition in passing their judgment.
The moral demand is always particular as well as universal: it requires the application of eternal laws to temporal facts.
It is quite true that no moral act exhausts the moral situation. It does not fulfil the whole of the moral law. Some aspect of the good remains unrealized. The situation in morality has its strict analogue in man's knowledge. We know no single fact absolutely through and through or with absolute certainty. Every fact as part of the universe has infinite suggestiveness and we never exhaust its meaning. But it by no means follows that we know nothing of the fact or that our knowledge is simply a delusion and an error. It is sound so far as it goes and in virtue of “the more” which it implies. So it is in morality. The moral law does not at any time demand realization in all the fulness of its possible applications. These are infinite. What is required is the application of the moral law to the particular circumstances so as to elicit from them their highest meaning and value. Morality on one side is a system of eternal principles and neither place nor time nor circumstance can lower or limit its demands. This was the aspect that Kant accentuated and which is usually most in evidence. But morality is also the application of eternal principles to the demands of the moment. Merely as a system of principles morality loses its vital significance and sinks into theoretic opinion. But morality implies volition and “the carrying out” of principles as we say. It brings with it purposes which reinterpret natural circumstance and lift it into a spiritual fact. The principle must await the call of circumstance and is in that sense though in that sense only at its beck. The right act amongst other good qualities has that of being timely—the precise act required. Hence follow the endless forms which the good act may take: for the variety of the demands of the circumstances of human life is itself endless. Hence also the moral task is never done nor the moral enterprise shut down as concluded.
Hence morality is a process like knowing.
In fact morality is a process. In order to be at all it must be in operation. Let no one will what is right any more and “the moral world” simply ceases to exist. It is continued volition the uninterrupted willing of what is good which keeps it in being. All spiritual facts imply a similar condition: that is to say they exist only so long as they are being produced. The spiritual world is a constant creation. Knowledge for instance no less than morality exists only so long as the process of knowing is carried on.
There exists no static world of either ideas or deeds.
There never was and never will be “a world of ideas.” in the sense of a system of mental entities other than though somehow true of the world of facts and events and as Lotze thought needlessly duplicating it. I doubt if there ever was a more persistent or widespread error which gives philosophers more trouble than this reification of ideas. Ideas are not like nor are they symbolic of nor do they correspond or in any way point to objects. They don't exist. There are minds which in relation to objects carry on a process called knowing and there are objects which guide and control and inspire their operations. But there is no third world of entities as men who speak of the world of ideas seem to think. Neither is there a moral world consisting in an analogous way of unchanging categorical laws or of a system of static imperatives or of accomplished right or wrong actions. The world of ideas is a world in which rational beings carry on the processes of the intelligence; it is these processes. And in a similar way the moral world is the process of the active volitions of rational beings seeking to convert what is to what ought to be or to realize their ideals. The forces of the natural world are not in more constant operation than are those of the world of spirit the world of knowing and willing; nor are they more constitutive in character. In other words as the natural world is the scene of unremitting active energy which however it may change its form is never spent and lost; so the spiritual world is the scene of spiritual energy whose forms are never exhausted however they may change.
There is only one all-inclusive real world and it operates in our willing and knowing.
Both ideas and volitions are ways in which spirit operates. Stop the operation and they cease to exist. The worlds of knowledge and morality as static entities philosophy has yet to banish first from its own precincts and then from the common consciousness. So far it has been much occupied in the attempt to establish some relation between the world of ideas on the one side and the world of real facts on the other or to bring them together in some fashion or another. And it has been similarly occupied in the region of conduct. Philosophy must endeavour to do with one all-inclusive real world and to make that real world active even in our knowing and willing yea even in our illusions and wrong-doing. Its ghostly rivals must disappear. They are nothing but its process operating in the imperfect thinking and willing of mankind. Nothing exists except that which is in process and everything that exists is what it does.
It follows that the condemnation of morality as a failure proceeds on a wrong assumption.
The condemnation of the moral world in which piety and philosophy have joined on the ground that it is not the scene of moral achievement is thus altogether false and irrelevant. Morality does not pretend to be an accomplished and finished achievement or the final reaching of a fixed goal or the identification of a static actual with a static ideal. The critics occupy a wrong point of view from which issue impossible because irrational demands. That which is in process or in other words that which is process or active energy is at its goal all the time that it is operative. For it to be is to be active. That which is permanent and supposed to be static is that which expresses itself in carries on and exists as carrying on the process of constant change. “The same yesterday to-day and forever”: “Not the same for two successive instants”—both of these are true of physical forces as every physicist knows. The rate and nature of the change is the constant element and the change is perpetually taking place. Grasping the law of this process he believes that he is comprehending the real fact. And I am convinced that philosophers must assume an analogous attitude if any answer to their questions is to be reached as to the nature either of morality or of reality in general.
Morality as process a never-failing success.
From this point of view the process must be regarded as at the goal all the time. That is to say if the process is going on nothing more can be reasonably required; for the process is the operation of the ideal. And the ideal so far from being something more or less distant unreal awaiting to be reached and actualized is present already as the ultimate reality which manifests itself in the facts and events. It follows that no moral effort fails. Fulfilment of the whole law is indeed not attained—an end which is not moral—on the other hand the whole process is a process of attaining. But the final end is never aimed at except as and in so far as it is embodied in some particular. Morality is not the pursuit of an abstract universal good but of the good as particularized in this or that duty. Every good deed that is to say every rational exercise of the will is commendable so long as it goes on. When effort ceases nothing remains to be praised or approved. The attainment as I have already said must be a stepping stone and not a stopping place.
Moral development is the growth of the world's will to good—or added moral force.
I doubt if any act is morally good except in so far as it affects the character of the doer makes the man a better man and facilitates similar conduct by others. Its excellence consists in the addition it has made to the moral forces of the world. Just as the process of attaining knowledge develops the powers of the enquirer and also makes the same discovery by others easier for them so it is in morality. Newton when he wrote his Principia made the way to certain mathematical truths easier for others. It takes Japan but a few years to acquire some at least of the elements of the civilization which it has cost western countries centuries to achieve. The civilization of the past is the starting point of the present even although life always begins at the beginning. There is not one lost good. Morality is a continuous development of mankind's will to good. It is a growing process: the highest ideal breaking out into a succession of different manifestations as mankind moves from stage to stage.
Hitherto theories have split up the process and divided its aspects between morality and religion.
It is the common characteristic of all the theories which we are now considering that they separate the two aspects of spiritual life and substantiate these aspects in their isolation. If the ideal is regarded as real the attitude of the spirit is religious and super-moral. If the ideal is considered to await attainment the attitude is moral and apt to be irreligious or merely secular. And inasmuch as it is assumed that the ideal must be either real or unreal there is no way of avoiding the option between the religious and the moral life. How both can be possible remains unexplained and a mystery incapable of explanation from this point of view.
The facts which are spiritual are always concrete and are both eternal and temporal.
This attitude is constantly rebuked by facts. It is more than evident that a religion which does not issue in a moral life is in some way unsatisfactory; and it is not difficult to show that morality is an uninspired strain and hopeless effort if its “not-yet” is to be continued forever and the postponement of the ideal is endless. The truth is that such thinkers are not dealing with facts but with abstract aspects of them. There never was a living that is a real religion which did not break out into some kind of behaviour and manifest itself were it even in mere ceremonialism. A living religion cannot make its permanent dwelling-place in the air. Religion in the end is a way of life and life is perpetual intercourse with temporary circumstance. Nor was there ever living morality not inspired by an ideal or a moral life not in pursuit of what was held to be an absolute and final good.
The separation of the ideal and the real and of religion and morality.
Morality as ordinarily understood is called Moralität by Hegel. He distinguishes it from what he calls Sittlichkeit and the distinction taken in its fundamental sense turns upon the external and mutually exclusive character of the relations in the first case and their interpenetration mutual saturation in the second. From the standpoint of Moralität which Hegel condemns you have on the one side the ideal the eternal the real the final good the universal perfect unconditional law approachable but never attainable; and on the other side you have the imperfect purely secular ephemeral phenomenal conditional good a series of particular deeds every one of them tainted by desire constituting a scene of failure. Not only are the elements of the moral life thus separated and thereby made unreal but morality itself is separated from religion as the secular from the sacred so that the latter can be attained only by utterly rejecting the former. And the separation ruins both morality and religion. The former is robbed of everything which could inspire moral effort and its very life is extinguished; while the latter becomes at best a ceremonial affair remote from all the concerns of practical life and inspiring none of them with deeper meaning or greater spiritual worth.
The assumption that reality depends on separateness.
Whereas the most real is the least exclusive.
At the root of these errors there lies an assumption which is false and which has never been examined—and a most common assumption it is amongst philosophers as well as amongst plain men. It is the assumption that the reality of an object depends on its standing off distinct and separate. This is at best only a half truth. It is less true than its direct opposite—namely that the amount and fulness of the reality of an object depends upon its not being separate or exclusive but comprehensive. Degrees of reality if we are to admit them are stages in comprehensiveness. The more real an object is the less loose it sits from the universe; the more are the ways of its inter-dependence upon other facts.
Illustrated in knowledge and morality.
Nowhere is this truth more plainly exemplified than in human life and its spiritual enterprises. Man grows as his knowledge widens and as his interests extend; that is he grows in the degree in which he goes out into and takes possession of his world. The universe of the little man is small and it is very powerless and niggardly. It helps him very little and it leaves him very poor and impotent. The universe of the great man is itself great: it is the instrument of his purposes as well as the content of his intelligence; and its bountifulness knows no limit. He is a greater self through the comprehensiveness of his knowledge and practical purposes. It is the morally great man who takes upon himself the burdens of the world. The perfect man we are told lived and died not only for his neighbours or his nation or his age but for the lasting good of all mankind. On the other hand a man is imperfect undeveloped small in the degree in which he shuts himself inside himself and treats his personality as exclusive.
Real facts reconcile opposites.
The assumption that real individuality depends upon separateness after the manner of all assumptions which are at once fundamental and false distorts the facts and converts them into pure puzzles. The theories which I have tried to criticize do not deal with facts but with fancies or unrealities. Spiritual facts present the elements which these theories not only distinguish but separate as already reconciled. No fuller recognition is needed or possible except that which at the same time enhances the significance of each of the aspects. On this view if I may refer back the ideal is not over there while here you have nothing but error and failure; the eternal is not beyond while time is always a transient now and here—the final good is not hung out of reach in a superhuman region while what is within reach of man and done by him is valueless. You have not universals on one side and mere particulars on the other; nor are the sacred and secular the phenomenal and real the unconditional and conditional separate facts. If you take up a spiritual fact—be it a moral act or a religious personality—you will find both of these opposite characters existing and not only existing but sustaining each other. There is no error where there is no ideal. I have never seen a cow which I would blame for not knowing mathematics. The “eternal” as I should like to be able to prove later on is that which puts forth an endless series of successive “nows”; the final good is the final cause of every present transient good; and there never was a universal which did not lie at the heart of the particular or a particular which was not the expression and realization of the universal.
Our part is to discover not to form relations.
In a word we are not called upon to form connexions between objects but only to find them and we find them whenever we discover qualities. For qualities are relations. The true starting-point of every effort to know however advanced or elementary and crude is thus the assumption of system; that is to say of a whole in which all the parts are related and derive their characters from their relations. A system does not consist of “points plus relations.” We would not describe any living thing in any such way. An organism is not a collection of characterless atoms plus a no less alien and characterless set of relations; and spirit is hyper-organic the unity is more intense and the differences more numerous and decisive. The reality of the parts comes from their inter-relations and at the same time the whole is real only because the parts or elements are real. It manifests itself and functions in every one of them; while at the same time they are its actualization and their functions are its nature in operation.
The true datum of knowledge is neither a manifold nor a mere continuum.
We are told usually that knowledge begins with either the bare manifold of sensation as Kant said or with its equally abstract opposite namely the bare unity of an undifferentiated continuum. I admit that our knowledge as first acquired and possessed does not extend beyond these most abstract and empty conditions; but I would fain insist that the datum proffered to us as an object of knowledge that which offers itself to our minds and is our co-worker in our purposes and activities is infinitely more. We are offered in these respects nothing less than the whole rich universe all to ourselves as Carlyle would say. The possibilities of the world are at our feet. But that which we can make of this datum at the best is relatively very little though it is always growing. The world is infinitely richer in its meaning and uses than it was to our savage ancestors. And these meanings and uses are growing continually as mankind moves on along the way of knowledge and right conduct. But what is offered to us the datum the object of our knowledge and means of our actions always consists of these rudimentary elements which we can seize and possess together with an inexhaustible plus. Every simple object we come upon points us beyond itself. Its explanation is always elsewhere. We are referred to its cause or effects or to the conditions under which it exists and operates and we never exhaust its implications. In a word every object declares itself to be a part or element in a system and we are referred to the system for its final reality and truth—the system that is which is so far actualized in man's experience.
The operation of mind in knowledge supposed to result in a world of phenomena.
In one sense man's mind in the operation of knowing is receptive: it must not create; it must only discover. It must merely enter more and more fully into the meaning which is present in the reality from the first. But the term receptive is most misleading. It suggests most readily the view of Locke and his successors not that facts are given us to know but ready-made ideas; that things—facts and events—copy and repeat themselves in the form of ideas upon passive minds. Kant discovered the activity of mind as bringing with it a complex apparatus for making a world of knowledge out of the raw material of the manifold of mere sensation. Things or at least things which can be known to us must agree with the conditions imposed by mind and in fact he argued be what mind makes them. The world in which we live is when thus viewed mind-made: but unfortunately it is also in consequence only phenomenal. The real world is beyond our reach.
But the operations of mind are the activities of the real world by means of mind. The datum of knowledge is the system of reality as a whole.
There is no hint in all this of the part played by the real world in the production of the world of appearances. Having presented us with its manifold or its characterless continuum it passes out of sight and we hear nothing more of it. Kant never realized how impotent the human mind would be were it given nothing but a manifold. But on the view which I would maintain the datum of knowledge the system of reality which is proffered to us and in relation to which alone we act participates in the activities of mind. It incites and guides at every step and grants all the content. It will be ray business to show that even the activities of mind itself are in the last resort simply the world's working through the medium of its highest product. Reality I must try to show declares and attains its highest and best only in the medium of mind. There and there only it acquires and reveals its ultimate or spiritual character. Then and then only the system of things acquires meaning and becomes the means of the making of spiritual products. The datum of knowing (and willing) is the system of reality; and it is never withdrawn so as to leave man's soul to work in vacuo.
Man's mind is potentially adequate to its great datum.
Mind is the process of the self-realization of spirit: it is what ought to be proving that it is the deepest real.
On the other hand man as a rational being is adequate to his datum: for he is potentially not less comprehensive. If the world in the fulness and variety of its wealth is meant to be comprehended by reason and to serve rational purposes the individual spirit on its part is meant to comprehend the world and enter into possession of its worth. If the world is real in the truest and fullest sense only in the degree in which it reveals itself in a rational medium man on his part is real in the truest and fullest sense only in the degree in which he comprehends its meaning its aesthetic perfection and its spiritual worth. That which the philosopher has to observe estimate and comprehend is the process in which the possibilities of the self are being realized. To do so he must follow the example of the fact he is observing: and the fact somehow reconciles opposites. As a process or as a possibility actualizing itself it both exists already so that all that takes place is its operations and also it has to be brought into existence for it is only a possibility. Applying this to morality and borrowing the language of morality we may say that what verily is what is at work now and here in the purposes of mankind is what ought to be. What ought to be is thus the deeper reality. That which take place is its working: and it is what it does. What ought to be the good is the living energy in the world of man. We should find it everywhere even as the physical sciences find physical energy in the world we call physical. And what ought to be has two characters which I cannot afford quite to pass over: (1) it must take the form of individual character (2) it must be cumulative and not merely repetitive. It must carry the past within itself as it moves in a way to which physical energy furnishes no parallel. In one word to comprehend the real as the rational in process we must apply the idea of evolution to the actual doings of men and women; and this we cannot do unless we abandon the rigid contrasts of static exclusive units related at best only externally and contingently as is ordinarily assumed both by ordinary and by philosophic moral opinion.
Forms of the contrast between the individualistic view of the world and the view of the universe as a single system of elements in relations that are constitutive.
These contrasts come before us in many different guises although they all spring from the same radical error of assuming that “particulars are the only realia”; i.e. that the universe consists of objects which exist in isolated independence together with external connexions into which they enter at one moment and come out at another without any alteration of character. At one time it is the contrast between human selves as mutually exclusive and human selves which are essentially members of one another. At another time it is the contrast between the attained ideal of religion and the ever-erring failure of the actual of morality: the former is supposed to affirm that the ideal is real and the only real the latter that the real is most un-ideal and imperfect. At still another time we have the two aspects of process fixed in their opposition—a continuity that never changes and the changes that have no continuity; the contrast between the merely static and the merely changing or absolutely contingent. Then we have still operative the contrast of the one and the many or of the universal and the particular. And above all we have the contrast between the one and the many as separate and the one and the many as united in a system. The datum of knowledge on this view is either a manifold of sensation or an undifferentiated continuum standing over against a universe conceived as a rational system. Reality on the one view depends on separateness: reality on the other view depends upon participation and comprehensiveness. The good or bad life on the one view is the expression of my particular finite unitary exclusive self: on the other view it is the expression of my world working in me the world which being mine constitutes my individuality.
My main contention is that from the point of view which accepts these contrasts neither morality nor religion nor their relation to each other can be explained.