In the last chapter we used the distinction between two ambivalent modes of apperception to throw light upon two type-forms of human society. This led to a suggestion that we should use the term ‘society’ to refer to those forms of human association in which the bond of unity is negative or impersonal; and to reserve for the contrasted forms of association which have a positive personal relation as their bond the term ‘community’. A community then rests upon a positive apperception by its members of the relation which unites them as a group. It is a personal not an impersonal unity of persons.
It is to the structure of community in contrast to society that we shall now direct our attention. But before entering upon this new topic it will be well to draw attention to an ambivalence in our discussion which may seem to some to amount to a dangerous ambiguity. We have talked of modes of apperception giving rise to modes of society. But surely it may be said the mode in which we apperceive a thing can only give rise to a corresponding conception not to a modification of the thing to which we are attending. Different apperceptions of society may give rise to different ideas of what society is. Some may be false and others true; or all may be true from a certain point of view and none fully adequate. But society is what it is whether our ideas of what it is are adequate or inadequate or even false.
There is we must admit an element of truth in this criticism which we must try to elicit. But to do so the criticism itself must be radically revised. As it stands it is simply mistaken. It would be valid only if a human society were mere matter of fact. But it is not. The association of persons in a unity is constituted by practical relations; by the ways in which the associates act in relation to one another. A relation of agents can never be mere matter of fact. It must be matter of intention. For this reason the conception we have of our relations to one another determines the relations themselves; and the mode of apperception which is normal in any society determines the mode of the society's existence.
This does not mean however that the conception may not be false or inadequate. The truth of any conception lies in its reference to action; and therefore its verification is to be found in the action which it determines. In scientific verification where we are dealing with matter of fact we make an experiment to discover whether what actually happens tallies with what we expect to happen. Whether it does or not the intention of the experiment is achieved; for it is a theoretical intention. If however our intention is practical then if the conception is false the intention will not succeed. We shall achieve a result which we did not intend. The means which we adopt will not produce the result we hoped for. But if the conception is not of matter of fact but of matter of intention then if the conception is false the action it determines will be self-frustrating. For in this case the intention of the action itself will be misdirected. We may of course fail to reach our objective because we have made a mistake about the means of its achievement. But this will be a subsidiary issue. We may however be successful in attaining our goal; and then we shall find that the success was only an apparent success; that it is not what we really intended that we have been aiming at the wrong thing. The self-frustration can only be removed by changing the objective.
Now if the misconception is categorial then it makes the action inherently self-frustrating. For the error then infects the form of action in general and not its particular content as this or that particular action. In that case to change the objective will not remove the frustration. For whatever objective we aim at the attainment of it will reveal itself as only an apparent success and the end will be found to be not what we really in-tended. So long as we can believe that the error lies in our choice of objective we can try again. But this cannot continue indefinitely; the alternatives are limited. The discovery that all objectives have the same illusory character is the experience of despair. It is expressed in the judgment that human life is inherently meaningless and that all action is futile.
A categorial misconception is a misconception of one's own nature. Error in theory involves failure in practice. This is the principle on which all verification rests. If however the error lies in our conception of our own nature it must affect all our action for we shall misconceive our own reality by appearing to ourselves to be what we are not or not to be what we are. The result can only be a self-frustration based upon a self-deception. Under these conditions Kant's conclusion is correct. We know ourselves only as we appear to ourselves and not as we really are. This expresses itself in action as self-frustration. Our actions appear to be determined though they really are free. But this is only true in virtue of a negative motivation in relation to other persons. For then action is defensive and appears to be dictated by the other person against whom I must defend myself. In reality it is determined not by him but by my fear of him. Thus when two friends quarrel and are estranged each blames the other for the bad relations between them. Or to put it otherwise if my motivation is negative then I appear to myself as an isolated individual who must act for himself and achieve whatever he can achieve by his individual efforts in a world which cares nothing for his success or failure. Yet in reality my isolation is a self-isolation a withdrawal from relationships through fear of the other. This attitude which expresses the experience of frustration and despair is nothing but the sophisticated adult version of the attitude of the child whose mother refuses to give him what he wants. Its unsophisticated formula is ‘Nobody loves me.’
It may serve us best if we adopt for the moment the unsophisticated form of expression even if it is not very precise in statement. I need you to be myself. This need is for a fully positive personal relation in which because we trust one another we can think and feel and act together. Only in such a relation can we really be ourselves. If we quarrel each of us withdraws from the other into himself and the trust is replaced by fear. We can no longer be ourselves in relation to one another. We are in conflict and each of us loses his freedom and must act under constraint. There are two ways in which this situation can be met without actually breaking the relationship—which we are assuming is a necessary one. There may be a reconciliation which restores the original confidence; the negative motivation may be overcome and the positive relation re-established. Or we may agree to co-operate on conditions which impose a restraint upon each of us and which prevent the outbreak of active hostility. The negative motivation the fear of the other will remain but will be suppressed. This will make possible cooperation for such ends as each of us has an interest in achieving. But we will remain isolated individuals and the co-operation between us though it may appear to satisfy our need of one another will not really satisfy us. For what we really need is to care for one another and we are only caring for ourselves. We have achieved society but not community. We have become associates but not friends.
That the two types of society we discussed in the last chapter are not communities is clear. The categories of apperception which dictate their forms—pragmatic and contemplative alike—are expressions of a negative motivation. The Hobbesian society is based on force; Rousseau's on consent: but both are aimed only at the protection of the individual associates in the pursuit of their private interests. The debate between the two types of society concerns their efficiency for this purpose. In Hobbes this is stated explicitly: in Rousseau it is normally concealed. Yet in his formulation of the problems of a free society it is quite evident. What is required he says is ‘a form of association which will protect… the person and goods of each associate’. Both forms are for the sake of protection and presuppose fear. A community is for the sake of friendship and presupposes love. But it is only in friendship that persons are free in relation; if the relation is based on fear we are constrained in it and not free. Society is maintained by a common constraint that is to say by acting in obedience to law. This secures an appearance of freedom for it secures me from the expression of the other's animosity. But it does so by suppression of the motive which constitutes the relation. In the last analysis this law is a moral law which I impose upon myself. The constraint is then self-constraint which achieves a negative freedom through self-suppression. If the negative motive is presupposed then I must put up with the paradox that I am only free when I act not freely but under obligation; not from inclination but from duty.
In The Self as Agent when we considered the forms of reflective activity we were compelled to postpone any discussion of religion. The reason we gave was that religion cannot be understood from the standpoint of the isolated agent but only when we are considering persons in relation. We are now at the point where this omission can be remedied. For we have now collected all the material which is necessary to enable us to understand the nature of religious experience and so to define religion as a mode of personal experience. Until we understand what religion is we are in no position to ask whether it is valid or not or how if at all its claims can be verified. We are concerned therefore with religion as a form of reflective activity and with its origin in the structure of universal human experience. We are not concerned with its particular expressions in this religion or that but with religion as such as something people do as a human activity.
It must have struck some readers when we considered the personal life of the child in the family that our description of it was full of the echoes of religious phrases with which we are familiar. It would seem that our study of infancy serves to strengthen the view of religion which has been made popular by Freud though it is of older origin that it is a product of childish phantasy—the symbolic expression of a repressed wish in the adult to escape from the responsibilities and the frustrations of mature life and return to the irresponsible dependence of childhood. Religion would then be phantasy and illusion the projection upon the universe of the father or the mother image. We might notice in this connection that positivist atheism as we find it in Comte or Marx is of the same type; though since positivism is based upon a sociological analysis it refers religion to the childhood of the race rather than of the individual. It would hardly be an overstatement to say that modern atheism whether in communism or in liberal humanism has its theoretical basis in this argument. The more we grow up and the more rational we become the more we are able to lay aside childish phantasies and to treat religion as a mythology which has outlived its usefulness. The psychological and the sociological roots of this view are present together in Rousseau who combines a sentimental reverence for the child with a glorification of the noble savage. From this it might be argued that as we outgrow the sentimentality of the Romantic movement we must also outgrow the sentimentality of the social theory which has its roots in Rousseau and with it the practice of liberal democracy. Subtract the romantic sentiment from idealistic democracy and what is left is communist totalitarianism.
What then are we to say of this argument and its conclusion that religion is an illusion? Simply that the argument is an illusory argument of a kind that we have already had several occasions to reject. It is an argument which draws a philosophical conclusion from scientific premises. It rests upon the a priori analogical interpretation of personal experience through biological concepts. It assumes that we become rational in the process of growing up and that the more rational we become the more we grow out of our childish phantasies. So the further society evolves the more rational it becomes; the more mature the human race becomes the more the superstitions and mythologies of primitive life fade out. We have shown already that there is no empirical basis for this type of belief. It is indeed the characteristic myth of the twentieth century. Our superstitious belief that society is—or ought to be—organic is itself a wish for the irresponsibility of the primitive. For it is primitive society which is as nearly organic in form as a human society can be and social development moves away from the organic type—the ideal zero of human association. The more society becomes civilized the more artificial it is; that is to say the more it depends upon the artifices of a practical rationality. The institutions by which society maintains itself are not natural; they are artifacts and they are maintained by effort in order to sustain the personal life of men and women and to prevent a relapse into the barbarism of a nearly organic life. Of these institutions the family is the most primitive the most persistent and the most fundamental.
Marx's criticism of religion which he himself insists is the beginning to all social criticism is almost grotesquely unscientific and a priori. Religion is a device he thinks for taking men's minds off their present miseries by the promise of a better life in a better world. It diverts their attention from this life to another and attaches their hopes to a world beyond. So they are reconciled to their present lot and discouraged from any attempt to better it. It is ‘opium for the people’; a promise of ‘pie in the sky when you die’. It is the popular and therefore the effective form of idealism. How did he arrive at this theory? Was it by a careful objective study of the great variety of religions or the complex phenomena of religious experience in its most typical forms? There is no record of such study. When this hypothesis formed itself in his mind did he seek to verify it by finding whether it would square with all the available evidence? Obviously not. If he had he would surely have asked himself whether it accounted for the religion of his own Jewish ancestors as it is expressed in the Old Testament literature. This would have been enough to disprove the hypothesis or at least to require a drastic revision. For that religion at least is not idealistic in Marx's sense but materialist. It shows no interest in any other world but is entirely concerned with the right way to maintain a human community in this world. That some expressions of some form of religion are liable to his criticism I see every reason to believe; perhaps even it may hold generally of official Christianity in Western Europe in modern times. That would provide good ground for demanding a religious reform. But to make it the basis of a theory of religion as such even of a purely objective and scientific theory is most unscientific. And in abstaining from a critical examination of the facts and from an attempt to verify its generalization such a theory of religion surely betrays its origin in a subjective and emotional reaction probably dating from early years. Such atheism indeed strongly suggests the projection of a childish phantasy upon the universe.
Freud's view has much more to say for itself. Its primary assertion that religion is a projection of the child's experience of family life must it seems be accepted; though the term ‘projection’ is a metaphor with misleading associations. Our own account of the relation of mother and child and its development supports it strongly. But Freud's argument concludes that religion is therefore illusory and this is a complete non-sequitur. To prove this it would be necessary to show that religion as such—that is to say its form and not its content—is the product of phantasy. We have seen that the form of the child's experience is dependence on a personal Other; and that this form of experience is never outgrown but provides the ground plan of all personal experience which is constituted from start to finish by relation to the Other and communication with the Other. It is this form which finds expression in religion no doubt; but there is nothing illusory about this. The adult who endeavours to create or to discover in the context of mature experience the form of positive personal relationship which he experienced as a child is not indulging in phantasy but seeking to realize his own nature as a person. Phantasy as Freud recognizes is the result of a failure to grow up properly. It is we have seen the result of a failure to overcome the negative phase in the rhythm of withdrawal and return. The craving for the earlier expressions of the love-relation is suppressed and not abandoned. The result is a negative relation to the Other a fear and hostility which must be suppressed. For if it were not suppressed it would actively seek the destruction of the Other. The wish to destroy the father and take his place is one of the common phantasies of childhood. Would it not be as good an argument as Freud's then if we were to conclude that adult atheism was the projection upon the Universe of this childish phantasy.
The fact is that Freud's argument proves too much—so much indeed that it refutes itself. It would prove if it were valid that all the forms of reflection art and science as well as religion were projections or ‘rationalizations’ of childish phantasies and therefore illusory. All reflective activities have their psychological origin in the development of phantasy in the child. This is why the negative phase of withdrawal into the self is necessary to personal development. Any of these forms of reflection may be given an illusory content. Astrology is an illusory science astronomy a genuine one. There is plenty of illusory religion; but that does not prove that religion is illusory. Freud's argument then shows not that religion is illusory but simply that he believes in science but not in religion. The most likely reason for this since Freud is a fearless and independent thinker is that the data for his theory of religion lie in the study of abnormal human behaviour. The religious ideas of a neurotic will naturally be the expressions of his neurosis and as illusory as the childish fancies from which they derive.
The family is the original human community and the basis as well as the origin of all subsequent communities. It is therefore the norm of all community so that any community is a brotherhood. So far then as religion is a ‘projection’ of the family ideal upon the larger societies of adult life or even upon human society as a whole there is nothing illusory or fantastical about it. The more a society approximates to the family pattern the more it realizes itself as a community or as Marx called it a truly human society. What is both illusory and fantastic is the attempt to achieve it on the Hobbesian principle of the State as absolute power in the hope that the State will then vanish away and leave the completely organic society of Rousseau's romantic phantasy. What is characteristic of the family is that it is neither established by force nor maintained by a sense of duty. It is established and maintained by natural affection; by a positive motive in its members. They care for one another sufficiently to have no need to fear one another. The normal positive motivation is usually sufficient to dominate the negative motives of self-interest and individualism.
Any theory of religion which is to deserve serious attention must recognize and account for certain general facts. The first is the universality of religion in human society. No human society from the most primitive to the most completely civilized has ever existed without a religion of some kind. This can only signify that the source of religion must lie in some characteristic of human experience which is common and universal. Secondly though it is easy to find analogues of all other aspects of cultural activity—artistic technological or social—there is no analogue of religion in even the highest forms of animal life. This must mean that the universal common root of religion in human experience is definitely personal. Religion is bound up with that in our experience which makes us persons and not mere organisms. Thirdly religion has been as a matter of historical fact the matrix from which all the various aspects of culture and civilization have crystallized. In primitive society religion is the sole representative of human reflection and contains as it were in solution science and philosophy Church and State law both moral and political and art in all its forms. In the course of social development these have gained first a distinguishable form and finally a practical autonomy. Fourthly religion is in intention inclusive of all members of the society to which it refers and depends on their active co-operation to constitute it. Tribal religion requires that every member of the tribe should share in the religious practice of the tribe as a condition of membership. A universal religion is for every member of the human race. A modern national religion after the very recent and still precarious achievement of religious toleration aims at including every member of the nation. If they no longer must be members they ought to be. In this sense religion is characteristically inclusive and universal unlike art and science which require in their practitioners special talents and special qualifications.
These four characteristics of religion are prima facie distinguishing characteristics of its form. Any theory of religion which neglects them or fails to account for them is ipso facto either inadequate or erroneous. In the light of our present study these characteristics taken together suggest that religion must be concerned with the original and basic formal problem of human existence and this is the relation of persons. Since religion is certainly a reflective activity this must mean if it is true that religion has its ground and origin in the problematic of the relation of persons and reflects that problem. In that case religion is about the community of persons. We must then explore this possibility.
Any community of persons as distinct from a mere society is a group of individuals united in a common life the motivation of which is positive. Like a society a community is a group which acts together; but unlike a mere society its members are in communion with one another; they constitute a fellowship. A society whose members act together without forming a fellowship can only be constituted by a common purpose. They cooperate to achieve a purpose which each of them in his own interest desires to achieve and which can only be achieved by co-operation. The relations of its members are functional; each plays his allotted part in the achievement of the common end. The society then has an organic form: it is an organization of functions; and each member is a function of the group. A community however is a unity of persons as persons. It cannot be defined in functional terms by relation to a common purpose. It is not organic in structure and cannot be constituted or maintained by organization but only by the motives which sustain the personal relations of its members. It is constituted and maintained by a mutual affection. This can only mean that each member of the group is in positive personal relation to each of the others taken severally. The structure of a community is the nexus or network of the active relations of friendship between all possible pairs of its members.
If then we isolate one pair as the unit of personal community we can discover the basic structure of community as such. The relation between them is positively motived in each. Each then is heterocentric; the centre of interest and attention is in the other not in himself. For each therefore it is the other who is important not himself. The other is the centre of value. For himself he has no value in himself but only for the other; consequently he cares for himself only for the sake of the other. But this is mutual; the other cares for him disinterestedly in return. Each that is to say acts and therefore thinks and feels for the other and not for himself. But because the positive motive contains and subordinates its negative their unity is no fusion of selves neither is it a functional unity of differences - neither an organic nor a mechanical unity—it is a unity of persons. Each remains a distinct individual; the other remains really other. Each realizes himself in and through the other.
Such a positive unity of persons is the self-realization of the personal. For firstly they are then related as equals. This does not mean that they have as matter of fact equal abilities equal rights equal functions or any other kind of de facto equality. The equality is intentional: it is an aspect of the mutuality of the relation. If it were not an equal relation the motivation would be negative; a relation in which one was using the other as a means to his own end. Secondly they both realize their freedom as agents since in the absence of the fear for the self there is no constraint on either and each can be himself fully; neither is under obligation to act a part. Thus equality and freedom are constitutive of community; and the democratic slogan ‘Liberty equality fraternity’ is an adequate definition of community—of the self-realization of persons in relation.
We must remember however that to obtain this analysis we isolated two persons from their relation to all others. If their relation to one another is exclusive of the others then its motivation in relation to the others is negative; the two friends must defend themselves against the intrusion of the rest. Their friendship becomes a positive element in a motivation which is dominantly negative and this will destroy the realization of the exclusive relation itself. To be fully positive therefore the relation must be in principle inclusive and without limits. Only so can it constitute a community of persons. The self-realization of any individual person is only fully achieved if he is positively motived towards every other person with whom he is in relation. We can therefore formulate the inherent ideal of the personal. It is a universal community of persons in which each cares for all the others and no one for himself. This ideal of the personal is also the condition of freedom—that is of a full realization of his capacity to act—for every person. Short of this there is un-integrated and therefore suppressed negative motivation; there is unresolved fear; and fear inhibits action and destroys freedom.
But this is nothing new you may say even if it is expressed in oddly abstract and new-fangled verbiage. It is just what all the universal religions have always said in simpler and more comprehensible terms. If that is so and I see no reason to deny it—since it is not novelty but truth which we are seeking—it so far supports our hypothesis that religion is about community and that we have been following the inherent logic of the development of religion from primitive times. We must however remind ourselves that any actual religion is the religion of an actual group of persons; and that the community of any actual group is highly problematical. We must relate this ideal therefore to the problem of personal relations in actual societies.
Consider first a primitive tribal religion. This choice has the same advantage which we found in the child's experience of relatedness in an earlier phase of our discussion. It enables us to consider a form of religious behaviour that is remote from our own and we are not then so likely to take our own experience of religion as normal for it. Let us ask ‘What is it in primitive experience which makes these people behave in such odd religious ways? What function in their life as a community does religion have?’ Now a primitive tribe is a group of people who live a common life. This is matter of fact. But we have seen that any group of persons living a common life is not fully described as matter of fact. Its unity is a matter of intention. Each member of it not merely is a member but also intends his membership. The reflective aspect of this is that he not merely is a member but knows that he is a member. In virtue of this knowledge he can act in association with the others either willingly or against his will; he can be either for the community or against it. The unity of any community of persons is constituted and maintained by the will to community in its members.
Idealist philosophy accepts an aspect of this in its insistence upon self-consciousness as the characteristic which distinguishes us from the animals and so differentiates a human society from an animal group. This may be a convenient point therefore at which to say the little that requires to be said about self-consciousness. We may notice first that it fails to provide a distinction between society and community. For the self-conscious individual though he then knows that he is a member of the group is not thereby committed to willing his membership but merely to recognizing it. He has still to decide whether to leave the group or to remain in it for reasons of self-interest or to maintain it as a community by action which cares for the others rather than himself.
Secondly self-consciousness is not primary but secondary; not a positive but a negative aspect of the personal relation. My primary knowledge is knowledge of the Other. But if the Other is a person I know him as another agent. The primary problematic of the relation is whether he is for me or against me. But an agent is also a subject; and in knowing him as an agent I know him as a subject for whom I am an object. Now if I am in full fellowship with him if there is no constraint in the relationship my consciousness is centred upon him and my interest and attention have the other as their focus. If however a constraint lies upon me in the relation I fear his hostility and am to that extent thrown on the defensive against him. The reflective aspect of this is that I become self-conscious. I become conscious of myself as an object which he may value negatively as an object of possible hostile criticism. He may judge me inferior beneath his notice and I must be ready to justify myself in his eyes. This explains why in ordinary speech self-consciousness is a synonym for shyness. We may say then that self-consciousness is potential in the relation of persons at all times but becomes actual only when there is a failure of freedom in the relation so that it has to be maintained by an effort of will.
In any actual community of persons then there is not merely a common life but also a consciousness of the common life and it is this consciousness which constitutes the association a personal association or community. But all personal consciousness is problematic; so that the consciousness of the common life is ipso facto a consciousness that it may or may not be realized in action. It is the consciousness that hostility may take the place of fellowship and the unity be broken. This will happen if personal relations become negatively motived if fear of the others replaces love for the others. Thus the problem of community is the problem of overcoming fear and subordinating the negative to the positive in the motivation of persons in relation.
This problem as we recognized earlier is the basic problem of all personal life. The whole problematic of the personal has its origin here in whatever aspect it may present itself under particular circumstances or from a particular point of view. All other problems are contained in the problem of maintaining the network of positive personal relationship which constitutes a human community. If we remember that we are not talking of an object but of the living of a personal life in common we may say that any human group is a community in so far as its normal apperception is communal and is determined as to its form by a positive category.
The primary form of reflection then will be the reflection of this problem; and since this problem is the root of the whole problematic of the personal this form of reflection will be the matrix of all forms of reflection and will contain them as it were in solution. It will also be both universal in its occurrence and inclusive in its scope. These however are precisely the characteristics that we assigned to religion; and if we now say that religion is the form of reflection which relates to the problematic of community our definition of religion will meet the requirements for a theory of religion which can be taken seriously. It explains the empirical characters that are the differentiae of religion as such. We must define it by its positive character and then recognize the negative which it contains and subordinates. We must that is to say define it as the reflection of actual community and not merely of the unrealized intention of community. Religion we shall say is the reflective activity which expresses the consciousness of community; or more tersely religion is the celebration of communion.
To celebrate anything is to do something which expresses symbolically our consciousness of it and our joy in being conscious of it. To celebrate communion or fellowship must then involve a communal reflection in which all members of the community share. It must find its expression in a common activity which has a symbolic character with a reference beyond itself; an activity undertaken not for its own sake but for the sake of what it means or signifies. The celebration of communion cannot be solitary or private reflection: it must be a common activity. The members of a primitive community do in fact live a common life; but they also perform in common certain ritual activities which express their consciousness that they live a common life and their joy in the knowledge. This celebration of their fellowship is their religious activity; and since it symbolizes or expresses their common consciousness of the community life such activity is an activity of reflection. We are reminded here that the distinction between action and reflection is not a distinction between ‘material’ and ‘mental’ activity but lies in the intention of the activity. Reflective activity is symbolic and refers beyond itself for its meaning.
But now we must recognize the negative within this positive definition. The continuous possibility that hostility and enmity may break out between members of the community and destroy the fellowship is inseparable from any consciousness of it. For community is matter of intention and therefore problematical. What is celebrated is not a fact but an achievement; and the community has to be maintained in the future. Moreover the community so far achieved is imperfect and contains not merely the possibility but also the evidences of failure. In face of this problem religion is itself intentional. Its celebration of communion is also a means of strengthening the will to community. The function of religion is then to mobilize and strengthen the positive elements in the motivation of its members to overcome the negative motives where they exist to prevent the outbreak of enmity and strife to dominate the fear of the Other and subordinate the centrifugal to the centripetal tendencies in the community. If then we take into account the development of society from the small primitive family or kinship group to an ever greater inclusiveness which in our own time is approaching universality we may define the function of religion as being to create maintain and deepen the community of persons and to extend it without limit by the transformation of negative motives and by eliminating the dominance of fear in human relations. To achieve this would be to create a universal community of persons in which all personal relations were positively motived and all its members were free and equal in relation. Such a community would be the full self-realization of the personal.
The individual members of a community must however know the significance of the religious ritual in which they participate for if not it can have no significance. How then can the individual represent to himself the meaning of any religious symbolism? The formal problem of this representation lies in the representation of community itself. For what has to be represented is a relation to a personal Other; and this representation must be the same for all members of the community if it is to be valid. How can a universal mutuality of intentional and active relationship be represented symbolically? Only through the idea of a personal Other who stands in the same mutual relation to every member of the community. Without the idea of such a universal and personal Other it is impossible to represent the unity of a community of persons each in personal fellowship with all the others. This may seem to go too far unless we remember that all the members are persons that each is an agent and that this unity is a unity of action. The universal Other must be represented as a universal Agent whose action unifies the actions of every member of the community and whose continuing intention is the unity of all their several intentions. One aspect of this necessity is the need that any community has for a person as its head; a father who is the head of the family a king or a president or a chief. The necessity is not primarily for a ruler but for a ritual head a representative of the unity of the community as a personal reality so that each member can think his membership of the community through his relation to this person who represents and embodies the intention which constitutes the general fellowship.
In its full development the idea of a universal personal Other is the idea of God. There is an inherent logical necessity in this development. The ritual head of an existing family or kinship group is inadequate as a representation of the community. For the community has a history which links it with the past and this continuity with the past cannot be represented by any existing member of the group. The chief is only the temporary representative of the tribal community himself related to the representative of a unity which spans the generations. The universal Other must thus be at least the original and originating head of the community the original father of the kinship group. This explains the development of religion as ancestor-worship. But there is another kind of limitation to be noticed. The common life which is a life of co-operative action is realized only through the means of life—which in general is the non-personal aspect of the world and just as the individual must contrast himself with the community to which he belongs so the community as a whole must contrast itself with the world to which it belongs recognizing itself as part of the whole world of existence. The fear of the Other is at bottom the fear of life; and this has two aspects which are ultimately one—it is the fear of other people and the fear of Nature. Death is at once our defeat at the hand of the forces of nature and our final isolation from the community of the living. The representation of the community as a personal unity must then have two aspects—the first developing as ancestor-worship the other as Nature-worship and the function of religion is as much to transform the fear of Nature as the fear of one's fellows; to achieve the dominance of the positive over the negative in the motivation of action to whatever aspect of experience the negative motive is directed and from whatever source its dominance in human behaviour is derived. For this reason religious reflection when it is full-grown must represent the original personal author of the community as the author of the world; and the life of community as a fellowship of the world—of man with Nature as well as of man with man. Or rather it must represent the personal community as maintained through an organic harmony between man and the world. The personal must include and subordinate the non-personal for the sake of the realization of the personal.
If this basic problem of personal life could be resolved if the negative motive could finally and completely be subordinated to the positive in all personal activity the redemptive function of religion would be complete; and only its central activity would remain. Religion would then be simply the celebration of communion—of the fellowship of all things in God. Meanwhile it sustains the intention to achieve this fellowship.