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Chapter IX: Conclusion

We have said that religion, when compared with morality, shows the more excellent way; for while the moral outlook is wholly fixed on practice, religion gives knowledge of the truth. This, again, is why I have maintained that the way of religion is also the more rational.1 Yet, just because it is the way of truth, few are found who follow it. There are those who have learnt from personal experience of God's presence to guide their lives by the light of infused grace; there is also the small company of thinkers who have been led, probably in maturity of age, to question the worth of temporal satisfactions and, like Spinoza, to seek a refuge from the vanity of earthly things in the fruition of a res infinita et aeterna. But the majority, even among Christians, have their minds centred on conduct, in comparative indifference to the claim of religion to reveal truth. Moral integrity and human kindliness are what count for most in personal relationships and the ordinary affairs of life. When question arises of an appointment to a responsible post in business or the public service, of the choice of a tutor or a trustee, of their hopes or wishes for the young in matrimony or friendships, men scrutinize their qualities of moral character rather than their religious convictions. They are naturally moved to ask, does it really matter what people believe about God, so long as they lead good and honourable lives; or even whether they believe in God at all? In an age of insecurity and moral recklessness, when so many act merely as their fancy leads them, like the democratic type of soul in Plato's Republic, without regard to any principle, ethical or religious,2 it is to the good will that men appeal for a safeguard from the insolence and anarchy of blind impulse. Let scientists and philosophers and theologians wrangle one with another about speculative truth; the only saving knowledge is the practical knowledge that springs from habituation in moral conduct. As against this conviction, prevalent among those who reflect most seriously in our generation, I have contended that it is the way of speculative knowledge alone that can bring salvation. Morality is a vain refuge, if it be not grounded on the theoria of religion. “Where there is no vision, the people perish”;3 and the vision cannot be restricted to the things of time. What men need is to be recalled to the life of reason, not as exclusive of either the will or the emotions, but as integrated with them in the living growth of personality.


I start from the patent fact that in these last days the cause of truth is under a cloud, alike in the public mind and in that of professed thinkers. Ask the plain man as to the place that he assigns to reason, and he will answer in terms, if not of contempt, yet of disparagement. Of course, nobody wants to be, or at least to be thought, unreasonable. But this only means that nobody wants to sink below reason in the ordinary intercourse of life; to talk, for instance, like Miss Bates or Mrs. Nickleby, or to be the plaything of passing impulse, a creature of moods and patches, like the victims of Pope's libellous line:

“Most women have no characters at all”.

It does not mean the acceptance of the sovereignty of reason in things that really matter; in the choice of ends to live for, or in our convictions about love, duty, goodness, God. On these large issues, people are wont to appeal to a higher faculty than reason, to something in themselves—call it intuition, feeling imagination, faith, or what you will—that they regard is supra-intellectual. The old definition of man as animal rationale is out of date. Reason, doubtless, has its place: in science and philosophy, for example, where happy thoughts do not suffice and conclusions must be grounded upon logical inference; in law, again, which is largely concerned with subsumption of cases under rules; or in practice, in calculating the means to a desired end. But science and philosophy are the preserve of a minority of experts—“caviare to the general”; the law is at best a cumbrous and expensive instrument for settling disputes, most of which, we think, should never have arisen, and, moreover, is so infinitely self-respecting that it can well dispense with any tribute from the laity; while, in the conduct of life, it is the end, and not the means, that is of primary importance. No: the poets are in the right when, like Shelley and Wordsworth, they exalt imagination at the expense of intellect—“that false secondary power, by which we multiply distinctions”; we are men, not logicians, and are here, not to analyze or reason, but to live.

My purpose has been to protest against this restriction of the scope of reason, and to advocate a wider conception, which will cover the higher activities of the mind, in moral, æsthetic and religious thinking, as well as in science and philosophy. When knowledge and truth are measured, as has largely been the case during the last three centuries, by the standard of physical science, these other claimants are bound to revolt against the ban of exclusion and to vindicate their autonomy by appealing to non-rational sources of value. This is precisely what is happening to-day, The revolt against the Scylla of intellectualism has gone near to throw the world into the Charybdis of irrationality. I am thinking chiefly of youth, and of the publicists and men of letters whose views of life excite, and reflect, their admiration. I do not wish to dwell here on the temper of mind of the younger generation; how eager they are to experiment in life, how impatient of obstacles that thwart their efforts, how they strain every nerve to keep pace with the rapid onrush of the world around them.4 But there is one characteristic that I must refer to, as illustrating the danger of which I am speaking; their mistrust of reasoned knowledge.5 It is not that they despise learning; they ignore it. For the most part, indeed, they look neither before nor after. Past achievement—naturally enough, we grant—is discredited; the young hold, with Bentham, that the only lesson to be learnt from history is the folly, not the wisdom, of our ancestors. The more thoughtful, who are not content to take their cue from changing circumstance, when they pause, as they put it, to “think things out”, do so, not to engage in reasoned study of themselves or their environment, but rather to make sure of the integrity of their desire or of the right practical response to the immediate situation. It is a true impulse thus to seek enlightenment within—we recall Augustine's Noli foras ire—; yet Augustine's inward probing was for no transitory guidance, but for the vision, within the soul, of a ray of the eternal Light. The interest of the present generation is not in truth, but in action. Now truth, when chained to practice, tends always to vanish in error and unreason. If we doubt it, we need only reflect on the violence that truth is suffering at the hands of the Totalitarian State. Of the two alternatives to the rational life, emotionalism and pragmatism, the former seems to be losing its appeal to youth.6 But this does not mean that they seek to base conduct, private or public, upon reasoned principle. Rather is action for action's sake the watchword. When we consider religion, which is acknowledged to-day, as was not the case half a century ago, to be, for good or evil, a matter of supreme significance, We must distinguish between the attitudes of its opponents, of its advocates, and of the general public. Among all three, the appeal to reason is at a discount. The opponents are few in number, but intense in their hostility; their temper is not contempt, but indignation; religion is the enemy, and the cry is “Ecrasez l'infâme”. Of course, it is possible to reject religion on intellectual grounds, but nowadays we rarely find men taking this position; their reasons, if they have any, are raisons de cæur, and arise, as with the Communists, from emotional abhorrence. The general public, on the other hand, has no dislike of religion, it rather respects it; but it holds that a man should choose in the matter as he pleases, in accordance not with reasoned principle, but with purely subjective preference. This, of course, implies rejection of the claim of religion to give truth. When we survey religion as exhibited in the characters and behaviour of its adherents, those, be it understood, who are in earnest with their profession, we note a similar tendency, alike in theory and in practice, to depreciate the claim of reason. Religious thinkers, in their desire to emphasize divine transcendence and to oppose to the “inferred God” of science or metaphysics a living object of worship, are prone to regard the truths revealed in religion as supra-rational. In Protestant circles, the influence of Rudolf Otto and Karl Barth has told strongly in this direction. But, if reason and faith be thus divorced, what becomes of the objectivity of religious knowledge? In the Roman Church, the sovereignty of reason is secured by the official approval of the religious philosophy of St. Thomas. Here the peril lies rather in the emotionalism of certain forms of popular devotion.7 In Anglicanism and the Free Churches, the most serious danger is to over-stress the practical function of religion. The Group movement, for instance, is virtually indifferent to everything save conformity in conduct to the divine will. It leaves its adherents free to adopt their own theoretical convictions, provided that they follow the methods of the movement in their praxis. Again, we are often told, and not only by irresponsible laymen, that the churches must keep pace with the times, must modernize their creeds and observances, must take a lead in politics and social service. But what of the eternal truths that it is their primary mission to reach? When preachers and journalists speak of the kingdom of God as though it were a temporal millennium, they are guilty of confusion of thought. The new Jerusalem may be a chimera of the fancy: but, if real, it is not a city to be built by our generation “in England's green and pleasant land”, a slum-cleared London or Manchester it is a city that hath foundations, eternal in the heavens, whose builder and maker is God. Religion—this has been our point throughout—claims to give knowledge, and knowledge of eternal truth; by its capacity to justify this claim it will stand or fall.


I turn now to the field of science and philosophy. Here, if anywhere, we should expect the interests of truth to be paramount, unalloyed by any considerations of practice. But the last half-century has witnessed a disturbing tendency, on the part both of scientists and philosophers, to coquet with pragmatism. We are here on international ground and can no longer speak of currents of thought at home in separation from those on the Continent and in America. To take science first; it is more than thirty years since Poincaré declared, in Science et l'Hypothèse, that its basic assumptions are conventions adopted for human convenience, and that its laws are empirical generalizations, dependent on calculation of probabilities, and “true” only in the sense that they prove successful in the prediction of events. Scientific dogmatism, characteristic of the days of Huxley and Tyndall, has given way to what can hardly be distinguished from scepticism. The revision of the Newtonian system, so long accepted as final truth alike by philosophy and science, which has resulted from recent research in physics, has imperiled the very foundations of scientific knowledge. To-day we find Sir Arthur Eddington writing of the laws of conservation of energy and gravitation as a “put-up job”, fabricated by the human mind for methodological convenience, and relative through and through to “our mode of apprehension of the world about us”. Whether any laws of nature will survive, as principles intrinsic to the objective order, is, he thinks, uncertain; “it is perhaps as likely that they will as that they will not”. Doubtless many will refuse to endorse this sceptical attitude towards truth; philosophers at any rate will prefer to follow professor Mexander in his defence, against Eddington, of the objectivity of scientific knowledge.8 But when expert opinion is so ambiguous, is it likely that the public will find a refuge in science for their shattered confidence in reason? If truth means merely practical efficacy, why should efficacy in applied physics enjoy a prerogative denied to efficacy in applied religion?9 It will be said, and justly, that the question of the meaning of truth is not one for science but for philosophy. Let us ask then of the philosophers. They too, we find, have for the last half-century lent their voices to swell the chorus of anti-rationalism. Not all, I know; but I am thinking of those whose influence on the public mind has been most pervasive. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, Bergson and William James, in their several ways, raised the standard of revolt against the prevalent intellectualism; they challenged the sovereignty of reason, Bergson by appeal to intuition—the supra-intellectual faculty in direct contact with the life-spirit and becoming one with it in immediate insight—James by asserting the primacy of the will and practical satisfaction as the criterion of truth. Their effect on the intelligentsia of France and America was immediate and widespread. I cannot here dilate on the swarm of doctrines that have drawn inspiration from these two thinkers in the course of the last half-century. In France, for instance, a remarkable band of writers, some of them champions of the Catholic faith, others frankly secularist, but all in principle activists and anti-rationalists—Le Roy, Maurras, Barrès, Le Berthonnière, Georges Sorel and the rest—bear witness to the depth of Bergson's influence.10 James's voice survives in his successors; only the other day we heard it in the pages of Santayana's brilliant story, The Last Puritan. “Thought,” he writes, “is never sure of its contacts with reality; action must intervene to render the rhetoric of thought harmless and its emotions sure.” What is this but the seed of unreason burgeoning on metaphysical soil! Bergson and James were prophets, not indeed of un-reason, but undoubtedly of the anti-rationalist reaction. To dethrone intellect—the scientific intellect, be it remembered—from sovereignty in knowledge was their avowed intention. Throughout their writings, and especially in Bergson's, we catch the echo of Pascal's famous apostrophe: “Que j’aime à voir cette superbe raison humilée et suppliante!”

Let me make the point quite clear. We are not suggesting that a philosopher of genius like Bergson is to be held responsible for the torrent of unreason that is deluging whole peoples on the Continent to-day. Yet ideas, as the French say, are idêes-forces, and Bergson's appeal, from the static moulds fashioned by the scientific intelligence for control of inanimate matter, to a higher activity that brings man into sympathetic union with the living heart of reality, was bound to provoke less cautious and well-balanced thinkers to the extreme of paradox. Georges Sorel, for example, built upon his master's doctrine of the fabulatory function in man a gospel for French syndicalism, that proclaimed salvation for the workers through faith in the “myth” of the general strike, as the first Christians—it is Sorel's own analogy—had been inspired to martyrdom and to victory through faith in the “myth” of the Parousia.11 Well might Bergson pray to be delivered from the exaggerations of his disciples! The truth is that both Bergson and James forecast in their philosophies a change that is transforming the whole character of our age. In the field of thought, motion has replaced matter as the ultimate in nature; the temporal process has come into its own, supplanting the fixed conceptual structure of traditional science; nothing is real—no, not even God—that is not on the move. In Les Deux Sources, Bergson rejects the primacy of the life of contemplation, so dear to the Greeks and medievals, as an intellectualist aberration, maintaining that mysticism finds its goal, not in the rest of theoria, but in the living movement of praxis.12 St. Thomas and Dante, following Jesus in the Gospel, had staked their all on Mary; modern thought puts its money on Martha. It is easy to see how such a doctrine tallies with the desire of modern youth for freedom of personal expression and their thirst to live life to the full, however dangerously. What is most significant is the coincidence of this unrest in the world of thought with the spread of unrest in the world of action. The break-up of the traditional science has been paralleled, more catastrophically, by the break-up of the historic order of civilization. This is due to many causes; to the rapid growth, in number, in self-consciousness, and in capacity for organised action, of the working classes, confronted by the concentration of capital in concerns of vast magnitude and power; to the menace of standardization that, in every calling of life—among clerks and teachers as well as manual workers—bars the way to self-expression and the free play of personality, threatening men of all orders in society—and, above all, the young—with spiritual asphyxiation; to the increased facilities, provided by applied science, for inter-communication and for the dissemination of ideas among the masses, instruments which have tended more and more to pass into the control of Governments; and, finally, to the temper of defeatism and disillusionment generated by the war. When we reflect on the effects of these various causes, and on the revolution they have brought about in the structure of society and in men's outlook upon life, we realize how grave an error of over-simplification infects the Marxian interpretation, which would explain the whole complex of changes as due primarily to economic forces. The revolt is moral rather than economic, a demand for new avenues of expression, alike in thought and action. The new faiths that have swept like wildfire over half Europe, despite all their points of difference, share two salient characters; they appeal to youth and the appeal is in the temper and with the instruments of religion. The call of Fascism and of Communism is to self-surrender and single-minded loyalty, and their watch-word is a call to arms. Like the Christian Church in its great days, they teach that life is a militia. But the foe they challenge is no longer the supernatural prince of darkness, and their reliance is no longer on the assurance of divine grace. Youth is to go forth in its own strength to vanquish a this-worldly enemy, the bourgeoisie of the traditional order, in its strongholds of Christianity, liberalism, and constitutional democracy. To this end, all the activities of the mind, all the agencies of civilization—religion, science, art, morality, economic policy—are to be enlisted in the service of the faith. It is not only liberty of speech and action that are restricted; even liberty of thought goes by the board, when, owing to the potent instruments of mass-suggestion, orthodox opinions alone are allowed to reach the mind. Children grow up perforce disciples of the creed of the great Leviathan. What chance is there, under such conditions, for historical or moral truth? The issue is as Plato pictured it in the Republic, when the self-assertive element in human nature—what he called το θυμοειδες, an element present in some degree even in those least qualified for rulership, shakes off its allegiance to the rational principle of truth and justice, and lords it as sovereign over society. Its rule is marked by unbridled ruthlessness. Let me quote Bergson in this connexion. He is speaking of the psychical “dimorphism” implanted in the human species by nature, so that each of us has, in his original make-up, something of the leader with the instinct to command and something of the subject with the instinct to obey.

“It is certain that nature, at once destructive of individuals and productive of species, must have willed the ruthless leader if she provided for leaders at all. The whole of history bears witness to this. Incredible wholesale slaughter, preceded by ghastly tortures, has been ordered in cold blood by men who have themselves handed down the record of these things, graven in stone. It may be argued that such things happened in very remote times. But if the form has changed, if Christianity has put an end to certain crimes, or at least obtained that they be not made a thing to boast of, murder has all too often remained the ratio ultima, if not prima, of politics. An abomination, no doubt, but imputable to nature as much as to man. For nature has at her disposal neither imprisonment nor exile; she knows only sentence of death.”13


What is the lesson to be drawn from these “thoughts on our present discontents”? Is no refuge to be found, save by worshipping at the altar of unreason? Philosophy had its part in framing the on rush of irrationality; can it not help to bring the world back to the path of reason?

I think it can, and in two ways. First, by discarding, once and for all, the narrow view of rational knowledge that has prevailed since Descartes; and by replacing it with a truer and more fruitful conception. The negative task has already been accomplished by those who, like Bergson and James, half a century ago, raised the banner of revolt against intellectualism. But, instead of enlarging the scope of rational activity, they appealed to intuition, to action, as to non-rational powers, distinct from intelligence—i.e., they retained the traditional limitation of intellect and reason to the field of logical inference. While they broadened the scope of knowledge and truth, they handed over the newly-acquired territory to the supra-rational. To rectify this error, which has proved so perilous for civilization, is a positive task that confronts philosophy to-day. Time was, long since, when reason, the norms of Plato and Aristotle, the intelleaus of the medieval scholastics, was taken to express, not only the halting endeavour of finite human minds groping after the clear vision of reality, but the perfected apprehension, uno intuitu, of the one in the many, the many in the one, and of the one and many alike as good, which—so, at least, thought the medievals—was the essential prerogative of God. We have to recover this enlarged outlook, if philosophy, and the world to which it speaks its message, are to be rescued from unreason.

The realm of reason is co-extensive with all knowledge. It includes the intuitive insight which, as Descartes himself recognized, conditions, initially and at each succeeding stage, the processes of discursive reasoning. It includes awareness “by acquaintance”, the revelation of men and things imparted to the mind in direct contact, as well as the knowledge “about” them that is developed by aid of general concepts. There is knowledge of the individual in its individuality, as well as of its universal characters. In personal intercourse, in moral experience, in art, and in religion, there is as veritably a revelation of truth, as in science and philosophy. Or, rather, since philosophy embraces O forms of knowledge, the fruits of these other activities of the spirit must be garnered within its treasury. The onward march of thought, even within the science of nature, points hopefully in this direction. Science has shed its temper of dogmatism; no sober physicist now upholds the concept of an all-embracing mechanical system. “What is the sense,” asks Professor Whitehead, “of talking about a mechanical explanation when you do not know what you mean by mechanics?”14 As biology and psychology have come into their own, the fact of individuality, as an ultimate feature of the real, irreducible to uniformity and general law, has won increasing recognition. But the most significant development, for our purpose, has been the justification by history of its claims to be rational knowledge. In the eyes of Descartes and his generation, history belonged to belles lettres, where truth was inextricably blended with fiction. To-day no one can dispute that historical truth as rightfully deserves to be called rational as that of science. Now the object of historical knowledge is the individual human agent; even though history interprets conceptually, its characteristic concepts are unique and unrepeatable. It is but a step further to extend the range of knowledge to an insight into reality, which is wholly of and through the individual and dispenses with concepts altogether. Such is the revelation vouchsafed in art. Philosophers are wont to interpret works of art as embodiments of the beautiful and to regard beauty as the distinctively æsthetic value. I do not gainsay this, but it does not take us far enough.

Plato, himself a consummate artist, knew better when. he measured the worth of the artist's product by the standard of reason and truth. His error lay in restricting that standard to apprehension of universals, to the conceptual truth of the scientist or the philosopher. Of course, the artist when thus tested cuts a sorry figure. Yet, why should a poetic image prove less effective as an instrument of knowledge than a “logical construction”? We say, of symphony Beethoven, for instance, that it enables us not only to feel, but in some mysterious sense to “see into the life of things”, deepening and enriching a our vision of reality. This, I grant, is vague language; the vision defies conceptual formulation; but if we deny it objectivity, what is left of the æsthetic experience? So in personal intercourse with our fellows; we come to know a man's true nature better, not worse, through the very intensity of our sympathetic emotion. Religion asserts that the same is true of man's personal intercourse with God.15 There is here no mere metaphor; truth is truth the world over, whether it be revealed by science or by art or by love of God or man. How, and in what measure, truth is reached by these diverse lines of approach is just the problem that calls for solution by philosophy. It is not to be burled by appeal to non-rational faculties, be they regarded as above or as below reason. For in the activities of art, morality, religion, love—as well as in inferential constructions—we discern principle, coherence, harmony, order—the hall-marks of rationality. It is because they display the characters of reason that these activities are powerful to bring order and principle into human life, both of individuals and of societies. Banish them from the field of reason, and no fine words such as “supra-rationality” can prevent them from degenerating into instruments of social and moral disintegration.?

In the second place, a philosophy based on this extended view of reason, if it is to help the world, must be religious. We have seen how eager is the response, on all sides, and particularly among youth, to doctrines which, though wholly secular in outlook, present themselves in the guise of religious faiths. It is no ignoble impulse that has prompted their disciples to self-surrender and sacrifice; thought it is worthy of a loftier object of devotion. Le tourment de l'infini—for it is this which moves them—is not to be assuaged by the temporal triumph of a class or race.16 In what temper must these mis-directed loyalties be met by those, philosophers and others, who are convinced of their insufficiency? Not, all events, in a temper of passive acquiescence in the established order of life. You cannot enlist devotion in the service of the status quo. Nor is it enough for those who see more clearly to point, as philosophy has ever pointed, beyond the temporal to the eternal, beyond action to rest, beyond the kingdom of man to the kingdom to God. Something more is needed than speculative vision. Remember Spinoza's teaching that “a passion cannot be restrained or destroyed, save by a passion contrary to, and stronger than, the one to be restrained”.17 Religion can only be countered by religion. Spinoza, again, taught that man's advance to the intellectual love of God was conditioned by his advance in rational knowledge. This implies that philosophy is able to find a place within its synthesis for religious faith in God. It implies also that religion once and for all renounces any pretension to access to the supra-rational. “We worship that we do know”; where there is knowledge, the activity is intellectual and is directed upon an intelligible object. The call of religion for the surrender of man's whole self-hood, of his intellect as well as of his heart and will, is in the name, not of irrationality, but of reason, perfect and entire; reason unconditioned by the limitations of which the human mind is ever more conscious, the more it thinks. A religious philosophy may be a counsel of perfection; but it is not a counsel of despair. Rooted in faith in God's eternal actuality, it proffers at once a speculative revelation to man's intellect, and an all-powerful motive for his devotion. As we look around, we see, on the one side, unbounded human energy, unbounded generosity of heart, unbounded readiness for sacrifice—above all, as I have said, in the young; and on the other side, a world drifting unsteadily but surely towards unreason and ruin; and we ask, where lies a remedy? Can any thinking man, who sits down “in a cool hour” to survey the issues of the secular humanism which has bewitched the soul of Europe for the past three centuries, regard the scene otherwise than as the reductio ad absurdum of that gospel?18 Is it not high time for philosophy to lay aside its traditional deity-shyness, and to face resolutely an alternative way of life; a way that was long since tried and not found wanting; a way that, being grounded on God as reason, offers security and freedom, security in a truth beyond the changes and chances of human history, and freedom in the “glorious liberty of the children of God”.


These reflections on the possibility of a Christian philosophy, raise questions far beyond the purview of this book. I can do no more than point, as a last word, to the larger outlook thus disclosed. If we accept the alternative just mentioned as reasonable in principle and as offering an avenue of hope in our present troubles, we must do so with our eyes open and not fall a prey to over-simplification. To establish a religious philosophy cannot be an easy task, either for religion or for metaphysics. Neither knows finality; least of all, religion, whose very faith rests on the realization of what lies beyond the bounds of human understanding. Its light shines in the darkness; and the clearer the ray, the thicker the mists that gather round it. The mystery of sin, for example, grows ever more impenetrable, the firmer our assurance that, for all its terrible vitality, it has been overruled and rendered null and void in God's eternal counsels. “As sinne is nothing, let it nowhere be.” Life, moreover, is a more serious business for the Christian than for the secularist; the knowledge that it is a state of probation greatly intensifies his responsibility. It is a hard requirement for all the aid of grace, to take up his cross and enter upon his destiny as celsa creatura in capacitate maiestatis.19 Further, there are metaphysical difficulties to be encountered, on which I have scarcely touched. Chief among these is the question of the forms of reason. I have, indeed, insisted on the scope assigned to rational activity by Greek and medieval thinkers, and, at various points in the argument, have offered evidence of the rationality of the religious way of life. But more is requisite, if the claim of religion to be rational is to be established beyond dispute. I have referred to Aquinas’ noble conception of a hierarchical order of intelligences, crowned by the infinite intellect of God, and unfolded in a continuous descending series of gradations, down to the lowest level of intelligence, that of man. No philosopher to-day, however orthodox, will share the assurance with which St. Thomas, under the guidance of the pseudo-Dionysius, ranged in order the rank of the angelic hierarchy. But in one respect, at all even is, we may draw profit from his example, if we set ourselves anew to surely the activity of the human intellect as displayed in its various modes of operation. If it be true—the assumption is, I know, a large one—that, wherever there is conscious synthesis, whether of construction or discovery, whether in speculation or in action, of the one in the many and of the many in one, there intellect is active; it follows that the sphere of its activity must be extended even beyond what was allowed to it by Aristotle or by Aquinas. In short, the philosopher will find himself confronted by a twofold task. He must, first, trace the synthetic function of intellect beyond the range of conceptual analysis and propositional statement, even beyond verbal language, into the fields of sense-perception, æsthetic creation, and personal intercourse, whether of man with man or, as in religious experience, of man with God. And, secondly, he will be called on to arrange these forms of rational activity in an intelligible order, as Hegel essayed to do in his Phenomenologie, with special reference to the relation, in the hierarchical scheme, between the non-conceptual functions of reason and those that find expression in conceptual and propositional truth. There are many who will cavil at such an enterprise, and will refuse any title to the name of knowledge, save to what is capable of formulation in verbal statements. So hard is it, even in this revolutionary age, to break with the logical tradition set by the genius of Aristotle more than two thousand years ago. Yet only if philosophers have the courage to pour their new wine into new bottles, will they succeed in grasping the full rationality of religious experience and in justifying its primacy as the guide of human life. That such an undertaking is rich in speculative interest is surely beyond question. Moreover—as I have tried to show in this concluding chapter—it will answer the needs, not only of theory, but of practice. It is not simply that it opens out a way of peace for the individual soul. A Christian philosophy has a message also for the world at large. It, and it alone, can offer a sure foundation on which to rebuild, in these troublous days, the shaken fabric of civilization.

  • 1.

    By the Way of religion, is here meant the life inspired by ivirtus infusa, as outlined above (in ch. VII). That life achieves its culmination, for man in his earthly state, in the sapientia infusa of mystic contemplation, which is in turn preparatory to, and in a real sense continuous with, the direct visio Dei granted to the redeemed in Paradise. Of these higher reaches of the religious ascent I have not spoken in detail in these lectures; the discussion lies far beyond my competence. The reader is referred to the writings of the mystics, to those of Dr. Evelyn Underhill and Dom Cuthbert Butler in this country, and to the rich literature on the subject by modern French theologians (e.g., the later chapters in M. Maritain's work, Les Degrés de Savoir).

  • 2.

    Rep. VIII, 558C–562A.

  • 3.

    Prov. xxix. 18 (R.V. “the people cast off restraint”).

  • 4.

    On this temper, see my Towards a Religious Philosophy, ch. XII.

  • 5.

    See John Burnet, Essays and Addresses, Romanes Lecture (1923) on “Ignorance”, pp. 236 ff.

  • 6.

    D. H. Lawrence is no longer a prophet in the eves of the rising generation. Mr. Aldous Huxley, in Ends and Means, tells the story of his own conversion from the gospel of desire and self-expression to that of Buddhist detachment.

  • 7.

    Allowance must, however, be made for the deep-rooted consciousness in the Roman church of the democratic mission of Christianity.

  • 8.

    Beauty and other Forms of Value, ch. XII.

  • 9.

    The Christian sacraments, and devotions to the Virgin can attest their practical efficacy. But the authorities of the church have never consented to base their claims on a pragmatist theory of truth.

  • 10.

    See Dorothy Eastwood's striking study, The Revival of Pascal (Clarendon Press, 1936).

  • 11.

    See Sorel. Réflexions sur la Violence (esp. §§ III, IV of the Introduction), a work of notable distinction, though calculated to wound academic and liberal sensibilities. Sorel was self-taught, and in his character and writings reflects something of the integrity and intransigence of Pascal, whom he admired greatly. He influenced Mussolini, in the earlier stages of his career; but his own sympathies were with Lenin and the Russian revolutionaries. “Myths”, as “expressions of will”, are sharply contrasted with “Utopias”, i.e., ideal products of intellectual reflection fashioned by theorists from observation of existing societies. Utopias stimulate to reforms, myths to revolution. Les hommes qui Participent aux grands movements sociaux, se représent leur action prochaine sous forme d'images de batailles assurant le triomphe de leur cause (p. 32). Sorel was at one with Bergson in the revolt against conceptual thinking.

  • 12.

    See Appendix II, and Maritain's criticism in Les Degrés de Savoir, pp. 570–573 note. Maritain makes it clear that the practical aspect of the Christian mystics is secondary to and derivative from contemplative theoria. Cest d'une manière encore spéculative et el avec la pure intelligence, que le théologien considère et règle les acte’ humains. Disons qu'il agit là d'un savoir spéculativement pratique (p. 622). L'action n'est jamais, chez les grands mystiques chrétiens … qu'un épanchement de la contemplation, dont la primauté paraît d'autant plus que l'union divine est plus parfait (p. 572). He refer to St. Thomas, S. Th., IIa, IIae, 19a 7.

  • 13.

    Les Deux Sources, E.T., p. 301.

  • 14.

    Science and The Modern World, p. 23.

  • 15.

    “The only true mode of speech in regard to God is in the second person, ‘Thou’; God is the supreme ‘Thou’; in addressing himself directly to God man can come into contact with the ground of the Universe and have a sense of the Reality which touches him; but the moment he makes a statement about God in the third person—even though it is that God is good—he is more or less disfiguring the truth.” Bevan, Symbolism and Belief, pp. 23–24, with reference to Karl Heim and Gabriel Marcel. A large issue is raised here , of the possibility of non-conceptual knowledge, which calls urgently for consideration by philosophers.

  • 16.

    Ce qu'il y de meilleur dans la conscience moderne est let tournament de l'infini; Sorel, op. cit., p. 39.

  • 17.

    Ethics, IV, 7.

  • 18.

    Pendant la Terreur, les hommes qui versèrent le plus de sang furent ceux qui avaient le plus vif désir de faire jouir leurs semblables de l'âge d' or qu'ils avaient rêvé, et qui avaient le plus de sympathies pour les misères humaines: optimistes, idéalistes et sensibles, ils se montraient d'autant plus inexorables qu'ils avaient une plus grande soif du bonheur universal. Sorel, op. cit., p. 17.

  • 19.

    St. Bernard in Cant. serm. 80 art. 5 (Gilson, op. cit. I. 121).