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Part I: The Dawn of the Higher Religions

1. The Historian’s Point of View

When a human being looks at the Universe, his view of the mystery cannot be more than a glimpse, and even this may be delusive. The human observer has to take his bearings from the point in Space and moment in Time at which he finds himself; and he is bound to be self-centred; for this is part of the price of being a living creature. So his view will inevitably be partial and subjective; and, if all human beings were exact replicas of one standard pattern, like the standardized parts of some mass-produced machine, Mankind’s view of Reality would be rather narrowly limited. Fortunately, our human plight is not so bad as that, because the uniformity of Human Nature is relieved by the variety of human personalities. Each personality has something in it that is unique, and each walk of life has its peculiar experience, outlook, and approach. There is, for instance, the doctor’s approach to the mystery of the Universe (religio medici); and there is the mathematician’s, the sailor’s, the farmer’s, the miner’s, the business man’s, the shepherd’s, the carpenter’s, and a host of others, among which the historian’s (religio historici) is one. By comparing notes and putting individual and professional experiences together, the Collective Human Intellect can widen Man’s view a little, for the benefit of each and all. Any note of any point of view may be an aid to this collective endeavour, and the present book is an attempt to describe, not the personal religion of the author, but the glimpse of the Universe that his fellow-historians and he are able to catch from the point of view at which they arrive through following the historian’s professional path. No doubt, every historian has his own personal angle of vision, and there are also different schools of historical thought which have their characteristically different sectarian outlooks. We must examine these differences between one school of historians and another; but it may be best to start by considering what it is that all historians, in virtue simply of beeing historians, will be found to have in common.

The historian’s profession, whatever the makes of it, is an attempt to correct a self-centredness that is one of the intrinsic limitations and imperfections, not merely of human life, but of all life on the face of the Earth. The historian arrives at his professional point of view by consciously and deliberately trying to shift his angle of vision away from the initial self-centred standpoint that is natural to him as a livhig creature.

The role of self-centredness in Life on Earth is an ambivalent one. On the one hand, self-centredne: SS is evidently of the essence of Terrestrial Life. A living creature might, indeed, be defined as a minor and subordinate piece of the Universe which, by a tour deforce, has partially disengaged itself from the rest and has set itself up as an autonomous power that strives, up to the limits of its capacity, to make the rest of the Universe minister to its selfish purposes. In other words, every living creature is striving to make itself into a centre of the Universe, and, in the act, is entering into rivalry with every other living creature, with the Universe itself, and with the Power that creates and sustains the Universe and that is the Reality underlying the fleeting phenomena. For every living creature, this self-centredness is one of the necessities of life, because it is indispensable for the creature’s existence. A complete renunciation of self-centredness would bring with it, for any living creature, a complete extinction of that particular local and temporary vehicle of Life (even though this might not mean an extinction of Life itself); and an insight into this psychological truth is the intellectual starting-point of Buddhism.

With the ceasing of craving, grasping ceases; with the ceasing of grasping, coming into existence ceases.1

Self-centredness is thus a necessity of Life, but this necessity is also a sin. Self-centredness is an intellectual error, because no living creature is in truth the centre of the Universe; and it is also a moral error, because no living creature has a right to act as if it were the centre of the Universe. It has no right to treat its fellow-creatures, the Universe, and God or Reality as if they existed simply in order to minister to one self-centred living creature’s demands. To hold this mistaken belief and to act on it is the sin of hybris (as it is called in the language of Hellenic psychology); and this hybris is the inordinate, criminal, and suicidal pride which brings Lucifer to his fall (as the tragedy of Life is presented in the Christian myth).

Since self-centredness is thus both a necessity of life and at the same time a sin that entails a nemesis, every living creature finds itself in a life-long quandary. A living creature can keep itself alive only in so far, and for so long, as it can contrive to steer clear both of suicide through self-assertion and of euthanasia through self-renunciation. The middle path is as narrow as a razor’s edge, and the traveller has to keep his balance under the perpetual high tension of two pulls towards two abysses between which he has to pick his way.

The problem set to a living creature by its self-centredness is thus a matter of life and death; it is a problem that continually besets every human being; and the historian’s point of view is one of several mental tools with which human beings have equipped themselves for trying to respond to this formidable challenge.

The historian’s point of view is one of Mankind’s more recent acquisitions. It is inaccessible to Primitive Man, because it cannot be attained without the help of an instrument which Primitive Man does not possess. The historian’s point of view presupposes the taking and keeping of records that can make the life of other people in other generations and at other places revive in the historian’s imagination so vividly that he will be able to recognize that this alien life has had the same objective reality, and the same moral claims, as the life of the historian and his contemporaries has here and now. Primitive Man lacks this instrument, because the invention of techniques for the taking and keeping of records has been one of the accompaniments of the recent rise of the civilizations within the last 6,000 years out of the 600,000 or 1,000,000 years of Mankind’s existence on Earth up to date. Primitive Man has no means of re-evoking the Past farther back in Time than the time-span of tradition. Before the invention of written records, it is true, the faculty of memory develops a potency that it does not maintain in the sequel; but its span, even in the primitive human psyche, is relatively short, except for the recollection of the bare names in a genealogy. Behind this close-drawn mental horizon, the whole past is confounded in an undifferentiated and nebulous ‘Age of the Ancestors’. Within this short vista of unaided memory, Primitive Man has neither the mental room nor the intellectual means for jumping clear of Man’s innate self-centredness. For Primitive Man, the Past—and therefore also the Future, which the human mind can imagine only by analogy with an already imagined Past—is simply the narrow, close-clipped penumbra of his Present.

By contrast, the art of taking and keeping records enables Man in Process of Civilization to see people who have lived in other times and places, not simply as a background to his own here and now, but as his counterparts and peers—his ‘psychological contemporaries’, so to speak. He is able to recognize that, for these other people in their different time and place, their own life seemed to be the centre of the Universe, as his generation’s life seems to be to his generation here and now.

Moreover, when Man in Process of Civilization makes it his profession to be an historian, he not only understands intellectually an earlier generation’s sense of its own importance in its own right; he also enters sympathetically into his predecessors’ feelings. He can do this because the impulse that moves an historian to study the records of the Past is a disinterested curiosity—a curiosity that extends farther than the limits within which every living creature is constrained to feel some curiosity about its environment for the sake of its own self-preservation. In New York in A.D. 1956, for example, an historian will not live to do his work unless he shares his neighbours’ self-regarding curiosity about the high-powered contemporary traffic on the roads; but the historian will be distinguished from his fellow-pedestrians in 1956 by being also interested in ‘historic’ horse-drawn vehicles, once plying in the same streets, in spite of these extinct conveyances’ present impotence to take the historian unawares and run over him.

This margin of curiosity that is superfluous from a utilitarian point of view seems to be one of the characteristics that distinguish, not only historians, but all human beings from most other living creatures. It is this specifically human psychic faculty that inspires Man in Process of Civilization to take advantage of the opportunity, opened up for him by his accumulation of records, for partially extricating himself on the intellectual plane from the innate self-centredness of a living creature. Human Nature’s surplus margin of curiosity, which the historian turns to professional account, is also perhaps an indication that this feat of breaking out of an inherited self-centredness is part of the birthright and the mission of Human Nature itself. However that may be, it is evident that the Human Spirit is, in fact, in a position to break out of its self-centredness as soon as it interests itself in the lives of other people in other times and places for their own sake. For, when once a human being has recognized that these other human beings, in their time and place, had as much right as his own generation has, here and now, to behave as if they were the centre of the Universe, he must also recognize that his own generation has as little right as these other generations had to maintain this self-centred attitude. When a number of claimants, standing at different points in Time and Space, make the identical claim that each claimant’s own particular point in Time-Space is the central one, common sense suggests that, if Time-Space does have any central point at all, this is not to be found in the local and temporary standpoint of any generation of any parochial human community.

Considering the inadequacy of human means of communication before the industrial revolution that broke out in the West less than two centuries ago, it would seem probable that the accumulation of records enabled historians to transcend self-centredness in the Time-dimension before they were able to transcend it in the Space-dimension. A Sumerian priest, studying records in the temple of a god personifying the priest’s own parochial city-state, could become aware of previous generations of his own community as real people, on a psychological par with the living generation, some thousands of years before a Modern Western archaeologist, excavating a site at Tall-al—‘Amārnah in Egypt, could become aware, in the same sense, of the reality of the Emperor Ikhnaton’s generation in a society which had had a different geographical locus from the excavator’s own, and which had been buried in oblivion for perhaps as long as 1,600 years before being disinterred by the curiosity of Modern Western Man. The disinterment of Ikhnaton is a classic feat of the historian’s art of bringing the dead back to life, since this controversial figure has aroused in his re-discoverers some of the feeling that he evoked in his contemporaries. A twentieth-century Western historian who finds himself moved to take sides for or against this revolutionary Egyptian philosopher-king has undoubtedly broken out of the prison-house of self-centredness; but this feat of breaking out into the realm of spiritual freedom is hard and rare even on the intellectual plane, on which it is relatively easy to achieve; and, even when it is carried on to the plane of feeling, it is, at best, never more than very imperfect.

The Modern Western philosopher Croce has said that all history is contemporary history and that no history can be anything but this.2 His meaning is that even a comparatively sophisticated Man in Process of Civilization is still, like Primitive Man, the prisoner of his own time and place. He is, indeed, their prisoner in two senses.

He is their prisoner in the objective sense that his only standing-ground for viewing the upper reaches of the river of History is the constantly moving locus of the mast-head of the little boat in which the observer himself is travelling all the time down a lower reach of the same ever-rolling stream. This is the reason why each successive generation of historians in the Modern Age of Western history has been impelled to write its own history of the Graeco-Roman Civilization. Each successive generation sees this identical episode of past history in a new perspective imposed by the transit to this generation’s historical position from the position of its predecessors. This new perspective brings the familiar features of an old landscape into a new relation with one another; it changes their relative prominence; and it even brings previously invisible features to light and at the same time screens previous landmarks.

The historian is also the prisoner of his own time and place in a subjective sense. We have just observed that our Modern Western historians have been so successful in bringing the Egyptian emperor Ikhnaton back to life that they too, like his Egyptian contemporaries, are moved to feel strongly about him. Yet they do not feel about him in the same way as his Egyptian contemporaries felt. Their feelings about this reanimated Egyptian figure who was so controversial a character in his own lifetime find their fuel, not in the philosophical, religious, and political controversies that were rife in the New Empire of Egypt in the fourteenth century B.C., but in controversial current issues in the life of the historians’ own society in their own day. They have written about Ikhnaton with something of the same animus, for him or against him, which they would have shown if they had been writing about Lenin or Hitler or Churchill or Franklin D. Roosevelt. In other words, they have imported into their feelings about Ikhnaton something of their feelings about controversial contemporaries of their own; and, in so far as they have done this, they have drawn Ikhnaton out of his own social milieu into theirs.

Even the most highly gifted historians will be found, on examination, to have remained prisoners to some extent—as can be seen in the case of Gibbon, who, in writing The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, might seem, at first sight, to have chosen a subject that was sharply detached from the life of the historian’s own prosperous and confident generation in his own Western Society. Yet Gibbon was a prisoner of his own time and place in at least three ways. He was inspired to choose his subject by a personal experience which linked the Roman Empire in the Age of the Antonines with the Rome of A.D. 1764; he was able to enter imaginatively into the life of the Roman Empire in the Antonine Age because he felt an affinity between this and the life of his own generation in a Modern Western Society; and he was concerned to inquire whether his own society could ever be overtaken by the disaster that had actually overtaken another society whose affinity with his own he had recognized.

Thus the historian’s transcendence of self-centredness is never more than partial and imperfect; and even contemporaries who have been brought up in different cultural milieux find it difficult to appreciate one another’s mutually alien cultural heritages now that a Modern Western technology has given them the means of meeting one another. In the world of A.D. 1956 the greatest cultural gulf was not the rift between a Judaic Western Liberalism and a Judaic Western Communism; it was the chasm between the whole Judaic group of ideologies and religions—Communism, Liberalism, Christianity, Islam, and their parent Judaism itself—on the one hand and the Buddhaic group of philosophies and religions—post-Buddhaic Hinduism, the Mahāyāna, and the Hīnayāna—on the other hand. In the bridging of this chasm the contemporary historian has a part to play which is as difficult as it is important. The self-correction through self-transcendence, which is the essence of his profession, no doubt always falls short of its objective; yet, even so, it is something to the good; for to some extent it does succeed in shifting the mental standpoint, and widening the mental horizon, of an innately self-centred living creature.

This transcendence of self-centredness to some degree—though, no doubt, imperfectly, at best—is therefore an achievement that is common to all historians of all schools. But the slightly widened horizon which the historian’s angle of vision opens up has displayed different pictures of the Universe to historians of different schools. So far, there have been two fundamental alternative views.

One of these two views sees the rhythm of the Universe as a cyclic movement governed by an Impersonal Law. On this view the apparent rhythm of the stellar cosmos—the day-and-night cycle and the annual cycle of the seasons—is assumed to be the fundamental rhythm of the Universe as a whole. This astronomical view of History provides a radical correction of the bias towards self-centredness that is innate in every living creature; but it corrects self-centredness at the price of taking the significance out of History—and, indeed, out of the Universe itself. From this astronomical standpoint it is impossible for an historian to believe that his own here and now has any special importance; but it is equally difficult for him to believe that any other human being’s here and now has ever had, or will ever have, any special importance either. In the words of an Hellenic philosopher-king,

The rational soul ranges over the whole cosmos and the surrounding void and explores the scheme of things. It reaches into the abyss of boundless Time and not only comprehends, but studies the significance of, the periodic new birth of the Universe. These studies bring the rational soul to a realization of the truth that there will be nothing new to be seen by those who come after us, and that, by the same token, those that have gone before us have not seen anything, either, that is beyond our ken. In this sense it would be true to say that any man of forty who is endowed with moderate intelligence has seen—in the light of the uniformity of Nature—the entire Past and Future.3

Hence, in the Graeco-Roman World and in the Indian World, in both of which this view was prevalent, History was rated at a low value. In the words of an Hellenic philosopher-scientist,

The poet and the historian differ not by writing in verse or in prose. The work of Herodotus might be put into verse, and it would still be a species of History, with metre no less than without it. The true difference is that one relates what has happened, the other what may happen. Poetry, therefore, is a more philosophical and a higher (spoudaio, teron) thing than History; for Poetry tends to express the universal, History the particular. By the universal I mean how a person of a certain type will on occasion speak or act, according to the law of probability or necessity.… The particular is—for example—what Alcibiades did or suffered.4

The Indians, being more whole-hearted than the Greeks in living up to this Greek and Indian philosophy, disdained to write history. The Greeks, though their theoretical contempt for History was as great as the Indians’ contempt for it was, were moved by their keen curiosity to study History, and by their fine aesthetic sense to embody the results in great works of literary art. Yet, in spite of the production of these monuments of Greek historical writing, Aristotle’s low estimate of History was the considered verdict on History that would have been given by most Greeks in most ages of Hellenic history, as well as by almost all Indians at all times.

The other fundamental view sees the rhythm of the Universe as a non-recurrent movement governed by Intellect and Will. The play of Intellect and Will is the only movement known to Man that appears to be unquestionably non-recurrent; and on this view the fundamental rhythm of the Universe as a whole is assumed to be identical with the rhythm in the career of an individual human being. It is assumed to be a drama that has a beginning and an end, that is punctuated by crises and by decisive events, that is animated by challenges and responses, and that unfolds a plot like the plot of a play. This volitional view of History gives History the maximum of significance, in contrast to the cyclic impersonal view; but it does this at the risk of tempting the historian to relapse into the self-centredness—innate in every creature—which it is the historian’s mission to transcend.

This is the view of History that was prevalent in Israel and that has been inherited from Israel, through Jewry and through Jewry’s congener the Zoroastrian Church, by Christianity and Islam. In the Judaic societies, History has been rated at a high value at the cost of a relapse into a sense of self-importance which a sense of History ought to correct.

It is true that the intellect and will whose plan and purpose are deemed, on this view, to govern History are those, not of any human beings, acting either severally or collectively, but of a transcendent and omnipotent One True God; and, à priori, a sense of the greatness of God might be expected to be as effective a cure for the self-centredness of one of God’s creatures as a sense of the inexorability of laws of Nature. But the Judaic societies have re-opened the door to self-centredness by casting themselves, in rivalry with one another and ignoring the rest of Mankind, for the privileged role of being God’s ‘Chosen People’, who, in virtue of God’s choice of them, have a key-part to play in History—in contrast to a heathen majority of Mankind who are worshippers of false gods. A soi-disant ‘Chosen People’s’ attitude towards the rest of their fellow human beings is a corollary and counterpart of the attitude towards other gods which they ascribe to the God by whom they believe themselves to have been singled out. The One True God is conceived of as being a jealous god. He is not merely the One True God in fact; He is intolerant of the worship wrongly paid to spurious divinities. The affirmation that ‘there is no god but God’ is deemed, by the adherents of the Judaic religions, to entail the commandment: ‘Thou shalt have none other gods but Me’; and what God is believed to feel about false gods sets the standard for what God’s ‘Chosen People’ believe themselves entitled to feel about heathen human beings.

Thus in the Judaic societies, Human Nature’s innate self-centredness is consecrated by being given the blessing of a God who is held to be not only almighty but also all-wise and all-righteous. This formidable enhancement of self-centredness is an evil that is inherent in the belief that there is a ‘Chosen People’ and that I and my fellow-tribesmen are It. And this evil is not exorcised by rising, as the Prophets have risen, to a sublimely austere conception of the mission to which the ‘Chosen People’ have been called. They may accept the hard doctrine that they have been called, not to enjoy unique power, wealth, and glory, but to bear unique burdens and to suffer unique tribulations for the fulfilment of God’s purposes;5 but, even then, their abiding belief in their own uniqueness still orients them towards a centre that lies in themselves and not in the God from whose fiat their uniqueness derives. This is the moral effect, a fortiori, of those latterday Western ideologies, such as Communism and National Socialism, in which the Judaic belief in being a ‘Chosen People’ has been retained while the complementary Judaic belief in the existence of an Almighty God has been discarded.

Thus the Judaeo-Zoroastrian view of History, like the Indo-Hellenic view, offers us an escape from one evil at the price of involving us in another. The picture of a cyclic Universe governed by impersonal laws of Nature promises to cure Human Nature of its self-centredness at the cost of robbing History of its significance; the picture of a non-repetitive Universe governed by a personal God promises to give History a maximum of significance at the cost of tempting holders of this view to relapse into self-centredness and to allow themselves to run to extremes of it with an untroubled conscience. Confronted with a choice between these two alternatives, we may find ourselves shrinking from choosing either of them when we have observed the sinister side of each. Yet these are the two fundamental alternative views that have been accessible to human souls so far; and today a majority of Mankind holds either one of these two views or the other. The dilemma presented by the choice between them will haunt us throughout our inquiry. At the same time there have been other views in the field; and two, at least, of these have been important enough in the history of Man in Process of Civilization to deserve some notice.

One of these two views sees in History a structure like that of a Modern Western piece of music—though, in origin, this view is not Western but is Chinese. In this Chinese view, History is a series of variations on a theme enunciated at the start; and this view cuts across both the Judaeo-Zoroastrian view and the Indo-Hellenic, which are complementary to each other besides being mutually exclusive.

The Chinese view is akin to the Hellenic both in seeing the rhythm of History as being repetitive and in not being self-centred. My generation, here and now, is felt to have no worth by comparison with a Classical Past whose example is believed to provide an absolute standard of conduct for all subsequent ages in all conceivable circumstances. The best that we, in our generation, can do to make ourselves less unworthy of our forebears is to model our conduct on theirs, as recorded in a classical literature, as faithfully as we can. On the other hand the Chinese view is akin to the Judaeo-Zoroastrian in seeing History in terms of personality and in seeing it as being full of significance. The repetition of classical precedents is not an automatic result of the operation of an Impersonal Law; it is a conscious and deliberate act which is inspired by admiration and is achieved by moral effort. There is a sense—self-evident, no doubt, to Chinese minds when they come across the Judaic and Indian views and compare these with their own view—in which this Chinese view gets the best of both the Indian and the Jewish World and so eludes our Indo-Jewish dilemma by a characteristically Chinese feat of deftness and tact. This Chinese view, like the Greek, has inspired notable works of historical literature, and, under a recent exotic top-dressing of Communism, it was perhaps still reigning, in A.D. 1956, in the psychic underworld of nearly a quarter of the human race. The weakness of the Chinese view is that, in contrast to both the Jewish and the Indian, it is archaistic, epimethean, and static.

The other of the two secondary views sees the movement of the Universe as a chaotic, disorderly, fortuitous flux, in which there is no rhythm or pattern of any kind to be discerned. This has been the prevalent view of one school of Western historians in a post-Christian age of Western history. It will not bear comparison with either the Indian view or the Jewish; for when confronted with either of these, it stands convicted of failing to go to the root of the question—‘What is the nature of the Universe?’—that all historians ought to be trying to answer.

This Late Modern Western answer to a fundamental question is a superficial answer because it is content to accept the concept of Chance uncritically as being a sufficient explanation of the nature of the Universe, without taking cognizance of the philosophers’ analysis of it. Yet Bergson, among other contemporary Western philosophers, has pointed out6 that the notion of Chance, Disorder, and Chaos is merely a relative and not an absolute one.

If, at a venture, I select a volume in my library, I may replace it on the shelves, after taking a glance at it, with the remark ‘This isn’t verse’. But is this really what I perceived when I was turning the pages? Clearly not. I did not see, and I never shall see, an absence of verse. What I did see was prose. But, as it is poetry that I am wanting, I express what I find in terms of what I am looking for; and, instead of saying ‘Here is some prose’, I say ‘This isn’t verse’. Inversely, if it takes my fancy to read some prose and I stumble on a volume of verse, I shall exclaim ‘This isn’t prose’; and in using these words I shall be translating the data of my perception, which shows me verse, into the language of my expectation and my interest, which are set upon the idea of prose and therefore will not hear of anything else.

As Bergson lucidly explains, the appearance of Chance, Disorder, or Chaos is nothing but a negative finding disguised in an illusorily positive form of expression. The order that we fail to find in a particular situation is not Order in the absolute but merely one order, out of a number of alternative possible orders, for which we happen to have been looking. In finding a chaos, all that we have discovered is that we have stumbled upon some order which is not the particular order that we are seeking. Our investigation will not be complete till we have verified what this unsought and unexpected order is; and, when we have identified it, we shall have under our eyes an order and not a chaos.

On this showing, perhaps all that is meant by historians of this antinomian Late Modern Western school, when they declare that History is an unintelligible chaos, is that they do not find in it either of the two forms of order that are most familiar to them. They do not find in History either the Jewish rule of a living God or the Greek rule of an Impersonal Law. But they have still to elucidate for themselves the third alternative form of order that, is not finding either of those other two, they are bound to find in History ex hypothesi; and we may be sure that, in the meantime, they do see some order, pattern, and shape in History at some level of the Psyche; for, if they saw no shape in History, they could have no vision of it. When they protest that they see no shape, what they are really doing is to refuse to bring a latent picture of the Universe up and out into the light of consciousness; and, in making this refusal, they are allowing their historical thought to be governed by some pattern embedded in their minds at the subconscious level. This subconscious pattern will be holding their conscious thought at its mercy because they are deliberately leaving it out of conscious control; and a mental pattern that is not consciously criticized is likely to be archaic, infantile, and crude.

The crudeness of the pattern that some Late Modern historians are subconsciously following is indicated by the crudeness of the fragments of it that rise to the level of their consciousness like the flotsam that rises to the surface of the sea from a hulk that has gone to the bottom. Samples of these uncritically accepted intellectual cliches are the conventional terms ‘Europe’; ‘the European heritage from Israel, Greece, and Rome’; ‘a cycle of Cathay’ (perhaps, after all, not worse than a recent ‘fifty years of Europe’ that Tennyson did not live to experience); and ‘Oriental’ as a standing epithet for the pejorative abstract nouns decadence, stagnation, corruption, despotism, fanaticism, superstition, and irrationality.

Such shreds and tatters of foundered and forgotten patterns are bound to govern the thinking of historians for whom it is a dogma that, in History, no pattern of any kind is to be found; for in truth, every thought and every word is a pattern found by the Mind in Reality; and a complete renunciation of all patterns, if this could really be achieved, would reduce the Mind’s picture of the Universe to the ‘perfect and absolute blank’ that was the beauty of the Bellman’s marine chart.7 An antinomian historian who still had the courage of his convictions when he had grasped their philosophical consequences would find himself having to renounce not only Marcus Aurelius’s pattern and Saint Augustine’s and Confucius’s, and not only those scraps of patterns—‘Europe’, ‘Oriental’ and the rest—which professedly antinomian historians have usually allowed themselves without realizing that this was inconsistent with their own doctrine. The uncompromising antinomian would have also to renounce the patterns inherent in the proper nouns ‘Nicaragua’ and ‘Napoleon’ and in the common nouns ‘country’, ‘king’, and ‘man’. He would have, in fact, to achieve that suspension of all discursive thought which is part of a mystic’s yoga for extricating himself from the world of phenomena; and, since this is, of course, just the opposite of the antinomian historian’s intended objective, it is a consequence that would seem to reduce his doctrine ad absurdum.

Meanwhile, pending a settlement of accounts between the antinomian historians and the philosophers, we shall perhaps be justified in seeing in the chaotic view of the nature of the Universe, not a distinct positive view, on a par with the cyclic view and with the volitional view, but simply a useful reminder that neither of these two fundamental views is more than a hypothesis that is open to challenge.

  • 1.

    Upādāna-Sutta, ii, 84, quoted in Thomas, E. J., The History of Buddhist Thought (London 1933, Kegan Paul), p. 62.

  • 2.

    Croce, Benedetto, Teoria e Storia delta Storiografia, 2nd edition (Bari 1920, Laterza), p. 4: ‘Ogni vera storia e storia contemporanea’; p. 5: ‘La contemporaneità non è carattere di una classe di storie… ma carattere intrinseco di ogni storia.’

  • 3.

    Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, Meditations, Book XI, chap. 1.

  • 4.

    Aristotle, Poetics, chap. 9 (1451 B), translated by Butcher, S. H., in Aristotle’s Theory of Poetry and Fine Art (London 1902, Macmillan).

  • 5.

    See Wright, G. E., The Old Testament against its Environment (London 1950, Student Christian Movement Press); Rowley, H. H., The Biblical Doctrine of Election (London 1950, Lutterworth Press).

  • 6.

    In L’Évolution Créatrice, 24th edition (Paris 1921, Alcan), pp. 239–58.

  • 7.

    See Carroll, Lewis, The Hunting of the Snark.