Anthropological Religion

  • Friedrich Max Müller
1888 to 1892
University of Glasgow

Anthropological Religion, F. Max Müller’s third course of Gifford Lectures, concerns the study of that historical manifestation of natural religion founded upon the nature of man; more precisely, upon the discovery of some divine or infinite character within man, beyond the material body. Through the comparative study of conceptions of the soul and the afterlife, Müller considers instances of ancestor worship as likely the earliest indication of humankind’s recognition of something not merely human, something not far removed from the divine, in man.

The Principle of Individuality and Value

  • Bernard Bosanquet
1910 to 1912
University of Edinburgh

Bernard Bosanquet follows Plato in arguing that human life is a ‘finite’ expression of an infinite Mind underlying all of reality. The ‘world’ is a community of experiences, all of which point to a transcendent Mind within which we can expect to find our complete existence fulfilled. We get a hint of this through science, which seeks to establish ‘general rules’ governing many particular instances. Those general rules indicate that our ‘experience’ constantly tends toward the ‘universal’. The same goes for religious experience. Bosanquet theorizes that religion, or ‘religious consciousness’, as he calls it, cannot ‘prove’ the existence of God, but it can direct our minds toward the ‘infinite’. Even in ‘evil’ and ‘pain’ we can find something of the Absolute. Pain and evil are necessarily a part of our finite beings because they help us to realise the ‘good’ by contrasting with it. For Bosanquet, the ‘good’ is perfection and harmony within the universe, and human life is most valuable when we seek this ‘perfection’ intellectually and spiritually. ‘Evils’ and ‘suffering’ are the phenomena and sentiments that lead us away from this harmony. By resisting such pains, we come closer to harmony with the Absolute, and move away from the material satisfaction we are often led to pursue in our hedonistic lives.

The Idea of Immortality

  • Andrew Seth Pringle-Pattison
1921 to 1923
University of Edinburgh

In this volume, Pringle-Pattison gives a historical review of how the idea of immortality is expressed in different ages, and examines the corresponding foundation for the hope of immortality for each period. He defines ‘eternal life’ as experienced through the participation in the being of Christ; it is a spiritual attitude intended for the here and now.

The Human Situation

  • William McNeile Dixon
1935 to 1937
University of Glasgow

Delivered in Glasgow from 1935–1937, Dixon’s course of Gifford Lectures, entitled The Human Situation, explores the life of the human soul and contrasts a rationalist/scientific understanding of the world with Dixon’s own poetic/spiritualist understanding. Alongside Plotinus and Leibniz, he asserts that all nature is animate with endless congeries of monads that are ever in pursuit of becoming.

Subscribe to RSS - Soul