Friedrich Hügel.

The German soul in its attitude towards ethics and Christianity online

. (page 1 of 12)
Online LibraryFriedrich HügelThe German soul in its attitude towards ethics and Christianity → online text (page 1 of 12)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook



" A man's earnestness should be so attempered as to
become a gentle longing, not a bitter vehemence.'

" Let a man continually paint within liis heart Thine
image, O Lord Jesus — of Thee, eternal sunshine — how
Thou didst always bear Thyself with a gentle, genial
and benign earnestness."

Instructions of Brother David of Augsburg to the
first German Franciscan Novices, about a.d. 1250.

(From Pfeiffer's Deutsche Mystiker,
vol. i. 1845, pp. 319, 345-)








Author of " The Mystical Element of Religion*^
and " Eternal Life "



All rights reserved


The following little book consists substan-
tially of two distinct Studies, as these appeared,
the first in The Church Quarterly Review for
January 1915, and the second, in two instal-
ments, in The Quest for April 191 5 and January
1 91 6. I have here to thank the respective
editors for their kind permissions thus to
reprint those articles in book form — in the
case of the last article, at so short a distance
of time.

I have learnt not a little from various
criticisms, public and private, and from my
own further observation and study, since the
earlier of these Papers was written. I have
here attempted to incorporate the chief
results, by means of many small, and of three
or four large, omissions, insertions, or changes.
Thus I have dropped the story of Margarete
Peter, at the end of the first stage of The
German Soul and the Great War, because three
mutually independent competent readers failed
to find it truly pertinent or fair. And I




have added a section on the latest Troeltsch
publications (pp. 74-107) ; I have amplified
the argument that finds a quite undesigned
but powerful connection between the early
Protestant Puritanism and our present-day
gigantic Capitalism and Industrialism (pp.
180-184); and I have now insisted, before the
four things as to which we can act or hope
as regards Germany's self-regeneration, upon
the two things which I consider we ought
most carefully to avoid (pp. 189-193).

An indication of the precise circumstances
which occasioned and moulded these essays
may possibly add something to their interest.

It was only in July 191 3 that I first studied
Naumann's booklet — ^his Brieje uher Religion,
The thing struck and stimulated, indeed stung
me, greatly; and I waited thenceforth for
an opportunity to publish an analysis, and
allocation, of what aroused in me my large
admiration for so much in the man, and my
profound dissent from the pathetically abso-
lute dualism exhibited by this most charac-
teristic latter-day German soul. Professor
Arthur Headlam gave me my chance by his
invitation to treat, in The Church Quarterly^
the general question of the relations between
Christianity and War. The resulting Paper


was first read by me to a private society for
the study of religious questions in December
1 9 14, and could thus benefit by various
criticisms and endorsements before appearing
in public, during the following month.

It was, some half-year further back, only
a few days before the outbreak of the war,
that I received a long letter from a still young,
highly cultivated. South German scholar and
lecturer — a man who knew English and
England well, ever since his student days
(of some ten years before) when he had
already been immersed in English subjects;
a delicately religious spirit, whose Protes-
tantism was greatly softened and suffused
by large Catholic sympathies. It was a long,
touchingly earnest, plea in favour of the
justice of the German claims, especially of a
cultural kind, and centred in the strange
assertion and argument that German culture
had by now, as a sheer matter of fact, fully
assimilated all that deserved to live in the
several civilisations of Greece and Rome,
Italy, France, and England; and hence that
the spreading and the substitution, by means
even of the force of arms, of this German
culture, now thus become the legitimate
heir (because the actual quintessence) of all


those other cultures, was both no more than
justice on the part of Germany towards her-
self, and no kind of loss, but rather a great
gain in fruitful concentration, for Europe
and humanity at large.

Another long letter reached me, after the
war had lasted some three months, from a
distinguished British professor of Philosophy
who, for many a year a distinguished inter-
preter of Hegel, found himself dismayed and
bereft of his bearings at what he felt to be the
barbarous excesses of the German mentality
now at work. He wanted especially to know
how English and German could ever come
together again, if one after another of the
professed exponents of the higher German
mind voiced thus a passionate unreason ?
And did not all these violences even suggest
that the human mind, its laws and needs,
is, after all, not one and the same throughout
mankind ?

Probably the worst, certainly the longest,
of such repulsive shouts of sheer passion on
the part of German professors of high standing,
has, however, occurred only during these last
months. Professor Eduard Meyer's England,
— 7he Development of its State and Policy
and the War against Germany (Stuttgart)


consists of over two hundred pages of the
kind of vituperation which, before the war, we
could hear, most assuredly unmoved, from
the lips of the least educated of Hyde Park
orators, against anything or everything that
happened to rouse the shouter's bile. But
here it is one of the most esteemed of specialists
in ancient history who thus loses all sense of
proportion, of cause and effect, indeed of
fact and of the educated man's responsibility.
Several of the more important German news-
papers have, indeed, warmly protested against
this sorry exhibition.

It was Mr. G. R. S. Mead who gave me the
means of attempting a public answer to these
two private letters, by his request to furnish
J he Quest with a study of the present mentality
of Germany — as to where and how its strength
and its weakness helped and hindered an
eventual change and mutual understanding.
A sad family trouble produced a break of
nine months between the composition of the
two parts of this Study. Yet it happened that
well-nigh half a year of this time (March 8 to
August 26, 191 5) had to be spent in Rome;
and there I had constant opportunities of
studying the mentality of " Real-PoHtik,"
as this had been re-awakened and confirmed


by Germany, during these last fifty years,
amongst a people that (no doubt largely
because of the political miseries of Italy in
those distant times) itself produced, four
centuries ago, the cold, contracted Machia-
velli as truly as, some sixty years since, it
gave to mankind the warm, world-embracing
Mazzini. And it is doubtless due to the close,
largely poignant, experiences of that time
that the second stage of this, my second
Study, owes whatever it may have of patience,
penetration, and pensiveness more adequate
to the great theme than appears in the first

I have taken care to mention the articles
which have helped me on particular points,
in these Studies themselves where I reach
those points. But it may be well to give here
together the exact titles of the books and
papers that have done most towards stimulat-
ing or articulating within me the problems or
convictions that run throughout this little
book. Busy as I specially was with the
comparison of the German and English
mentalities in these fundamental matters,
it is only natural that it was German and
English works that particularly helped me,
even though I was much attracted by the


three finely tempered articles on the war by
M. Emile Boutroux; and again by such
striking close reasoning as Guilielmo Ferrero's
study of the last days of July 1914.

The books and papers, then, which have
most helped me, taken roughly in the order
of their first publication, are as follows :

Otto (von) Gierke, " Die Staats- und Kor-
porationslehre des Alterthums und des
Mittelalters und ihre Aufnahme in Deutsch-
land " (vol. iii. of his Das Deutsche Genos-
senschaftsrecht)^ Berlin, 1881. Especially pp.

Von Gierke, Political Theories of the Middle
Ages (the English translation of these pages),
with Introduction by F. W. Maitland, Cam-
bridge, 191 3. A magnificent pioneer work,
deeply learned, yet utterly alive with thought,
and thoroughly original yet free from all
eccentricity. Maitland's Introduction is not
unworthy of it.

J. N. Figgis, Studies in Political Thought :
From Gerson to Grotius, Cambridge, 1907.
Still the richest of this author's remarkable
studies in Canon Law and political theory.
The later chapters especially have aided
me much.

A. L. Smith, Church and State in the Middle


Ages, Oxford, 191 3 (the text dates from 1908).
Even more than Figgis inspired by Gierke
and Maitland — a nobly generous book that
only fails in its judgment as to the inevitable-
ness, for the papal system, of the great abuse
so vividly chronicled and so rightly condemned.
Such pages as the description of the Bene-
dictine chronicler Matthew Paris are a sheer
delight even after a dozen readings.

Bernard Bosanquet, 7he Philosophical
Theory of the State, London, 1910. This
admirable demonstration of the State, as
other and more than the simple sum-total of
its members, suffers only slightly by occa-
sional statements, quite contrary to the
deliberate intention of the book, indicative
of the State as, after all, essentially charac-
terised by force and constraint.

Ernst Troeltsch, Grundprohleme der Ethik,
Tubingen, 1902 (reprinted in his Gesammelte
Schriften, vol. ii., Tubingen, 1913, pp. 552-672).

Ernst Troeltsch, Die Soziallehren der Christli-
chen Kirchen und Gruppen, Tubingen, 191 2.
Especially pp. 178-430 (the " Mediaeval Social
Doctrines ") and pp. 965-986 (" Outlook
and Conclusion ").

I have attempted to give some account of
the astonishing mastery and penetration of


these deeply religious works in The Construc-
tive Quarterly^ New York and Oxford, for
March and December 1914: " On the Specific
Genius and Capacity of Christianity, studied
in connection with the works of Professor
Ernst Troeltsch."

Ernst Troeltsch, " Die deutsche Idee von
der Freiheit" and " Privatmoral und Staats-
moral," two papers in Die Neue Rundschau,
Berlin, January and February 191 6. These
articles are considered here, pp. 74-107.

Friedrich Naumann, Briefe uher Religion,
13-15, Tausend, Berlin-Schoneberg, Buch-
handlung der Eilje, 19 10. This is discussed
at length in my first Study here.

Of the older literature, it is the great sections
of the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas
Aquinas especially given to Law, the Law and
the Gospel, Nature and Supernature, Church
and State, which, in these last years, in spite
of a form almost as repellent as Spinoza's,
have taught me magnificent facts and cate-
gories, still only imperfectly apprehended in
most modern works. And the Enchiridion
Symbolorum, Definitionum et Declarationum
de Rebus Fidei et Morum of Denziger, Frei-
burg, ed. 191 3, gives in full the noble Encyclical
Im^nortale Dei of Pope Leo XI IL


And here I would gratefully thank the
many friends who have so largely helped me
with these Studies, especially Professor F. C.
Burkitt and Mr. Edwyn Bevan — the latter
also by loans of the most recent German
works, accessible only through such a worker
for Government.

And finally, a word as to the precise subject
matter and point of the following Studies,
and as to the spirit and aim that inform them.
I have been grappling, now for some eighteen
months, not with Germany's claims to terri-
torial expansion, whether in Europe or outside
of it; nor again with Ethics or with Chris-
tianity, or with the State or with War, any
or all of these forces taken separately. True,
I very sincerely believe that territorial expan-
sion in Europe, of any one distinct race over
any other markedly different one, has become,
for the present day, a moral wrong and a
political mistake; and, again, that territorial
expansion, for any European power, outside
of Europe, is justifiable nowadays only by
the conferment of sterling and large benefits,
not necessarily upon the races thus subjecting,
but upon the races thus subjected. I am
uncertain whether official Germany is finally


determined upon expansion in Europe of the
kind described, but I am very sure she is
mistaken and to be resisted in so far as, and
for as long as ever, she is thus determined.
And I am certain, as to any further great
colonial territorial expansion (over and above
the colonies she possessed in August 1914,
amounting in area to five times the entire
German Empire), both that official Germany
is fully determined to achieve it, and that she
has never shown any aptitude to rule natives
with advantage to those natives, nor indeed
any serious perception of the need for such
results as the sole decisive justification of such
expansion. Yet, even if I be wrong in both
these matters of specially German fact, the
full point and poignancy of my central
problems would remain — as to what are the
relations, in the actual nature of things,
between General Ethics and Christianity;
and again and especially, between such
General Ethics and Christianity on the one
hand, and the State and War on the other
hand; and whether, in sober earnest, the
" mixed " answer is sheer hypocrisy, and the
" pure " solution (now so dominant in Ger-
many) is alone the sad indeed, yet final,
truth. I have found the problem to present.


whilst I was thus immersed in it, precisely
those characteristics which always show them-
selves where the human spirit pursues, or
rather is pursued by, not simple theory but
rich reality, not its own sorry fancies but the
inexorable fact and law of life as it is in its
depths and interconnections. For during the
days or weeks of weariness the entire problem
would (except for the presence, all the same,
of a dull yet obstinate sense of underlying
reality) readily seem a, sentimental phantom;
but after persistence in the toil indicated as
fruitful during the past moments of light, it
would, in the moments of the light's return,
reappear, with unconquerable resiHency, as
inextricably bound up with all that makes
human life worth living to a would-be human
being at all, and as rich with various, quite
unexpected, applications. And even if the
practice of all us poor mortals fell equally
short of the noblest requirements of our souls,
that would only render such studies and
conclusions all the more necessary : we should
then merely have to strive after a repentance
in ourselves as great as we now hope for it
in the others.

After all, the Tu quoque argument is never
much more than an adjournment of serious


investigation. Better far, if we labour to
attain to a vivid perception of the intrinsic
nature of Ethics and of Christianity, and of
the State and War — of the interrelations
between these three great complexes and
forces; and if we then examine how, where,
and why these realities are rightly or wrongly
apprehended by the German and the English
mentalities. May these Studies help on, in
spite of their limitations, faults, and repeti-
tions, such a penetration, and thus give us,
during these strenuous, most costly times, a
still fuller sincerity of conviction, a rock-firm
steadfastness of will, and a wise and warm
faith in the special and essential contribution
which our race and country are destined to
make towards the development of such a
universally ethical outlook and practice and
of the consequent happiness of mankind.


March i, 191 6.



Christianity in Face of War: The "Realist"

AND THE True Solutions OF THE Problem . . 29

Introduction : The general sense of uneasiness, indica-
tive of the reality and difficulty of the problem.
Limitation of following inquiry. To be conducted
in three stages ....... 29

I. Leading sayings, temper and practice of Jesus and of
the primitive Christians in face of the State,
Patriotism, War; and spirit of Roman rule and
average West European present-day conception
of same things . . . . . • 3 1

1. The teaching and practice of Jesus . . .31

(a) The three main stages of Israelitish and Jewish
beliefs as to War. The religious and political
parties in Our Lord's own day. The practice
of John the Baptist.

(6) The attitude of Our Lord Himself: combat, but
of a spiritual kind. One single saying of
apparently contrary import. He is assuredly
neither Zealot nor Essene. He does not
shrink from using force Himself. His love of
physical nature and of the human complexes.
His intense abstraction from all things tem-
porary and earthly, free from any gnostic or
anarchist instincts concerning them.

(c) Practice of the Apostolic times. Characteristics
of their missionary work. First Christian com-
munity at Jerusalem, and its withdrawal to
Pella in a.d. 70. The Christians' attitude
during and after the revolt of Bar Kochba.
The Revelation of St. John: its various ele-
ments — warlike Messianism, and tender
respect for the abiding variety of nations,
each requiring the other even before God.

2. Main definitions and conceptions of the State and

War, in Western Europe, from Roman times

to now . . . . . '43




(a) Cicero's definition of the State, as approved by
St. Augustine.

(6) The development under Roman Empire, upon
the whole unfavourable to true personalistic
conception of the State.

(c) The specifically Mediaeval System, organic
throughout, with each wider complex respect-
ful of the narrower. Aquinas and Dante.

{d) The Roman Canonists Sinibaldo Fieschi and
Johannes Andreae revert to the non-personal-
istic conception of the State. But no such
conception defined as of faith by Roman
Church. Slow but sure growth of sense, at
least in Anglo-Saxon countries, of belief in
reality of " national sins," " national con-
science." The noble Encyclical Immortale
Dei of Pope Leo XIII. The central affirma-
tions of the Roman Catholic Church imply
and require a personalistic conception.

{e) The conception of War always follows that of
the State, Mr. Hilaire Belloc's definition of

II. Confrontation of career and teachings of Friedrich
Naumann with facts and doctrines reached in
Stage 1 48

1. Friedrich Naumann's antecedents, career, and

general attitude ..... 48

2. Passages from his Brief e iiber Religion (1910) in

illustration of how he combines a thing-
conception of the State with a personalistic
conception of God and Man, the Family and
the Church ...... 50

3. Reinsistence upon, and fuller articulation and

defence of, the personalistic conception of
the State, in form of a critical analysis of
Naumann's arguments . . . • S9

(i) Introductory observations as to the three in-
fluences struggling each with the others
within Naumann's mind .... 59

(2) More detailed examination of Naumann's

arguments ...... 60

(a) The Darwinism here, undiscriminating and



(b) No stage or side of man's life, and no human
complex, simply pre-human, non-moral.

(c) Biblical criticism and Our Lord's teaching.
The Golden Rule, and the specifically
Christian Ethics, not identical or co-
extensive ; only the former directly con-
cerns the State.

III. Analysis of the two war-articles of Professor Ernst
Troeltsch, in further elucidation of positions
reached here ......


1. Troeltsch's article, "The German Idea of Freedom,'

January 1916 .....

( 1 ) His irritation against what he feels as the hypo

crisy of the Idealism professed by the Allies
Yet he ends himself with the noblest idealism
also for the State . .... 76

(2) Points on which Troeltsch finds an objective

difference between the Western Allies and the

Central Empires:
(a) Aestheticism against development of sheer

force ;
(6) Political constitutionalism against political

bureaucracy ...... 78

(3) Two quite different points held in these Studies

to be dominant, if object sought be the
regaining by Germany of friends amongst
the Allies : a point of sheer fact, and a point
of method.

(a) The point of fact: the incurably " mixed "
attitude of the Englishman to the State,
illustrated by Lord Cromer's instinct and by
a pioneer Governor's test of his own work.

(6) The point as to method : the State, if taken
as simply thing and force at beginning, cannot
be found personal istic and ethical at the end. 79

2. Troeltsch's article, " Personal and State Morality,"

February 191 6. Strange prejudices as to large
happenings in this war, but deep penetration
into the great questions of principle involved. 87
(i) His main positions:

(a) Two different valuations, ethical and non-
ethical, of State represented in both camps.

(b) Distinction between defensive and aggressive
wars unsatisfactory.



(c) Solution found in distinction, as elaborated
by the great German philosophers and
historians, between Private Morality and
State Morality.

(d) These two Moralities not identical, for four

(e) Yet State Morality, a real Morality; in what
this Morality consists.

(/) Resemblances between the two Moralities.

ig) Practical application of principles thus
gained: general application; application to
the great groups of contemporary European
world — the Imperialists, the Democrats,
the Conservatives ..... 88

(2) Four counter-currents operative amongst sup-

porters of Troeltsch's main contentions, found
to have been passed over or even endorsed by
Troeltsch :

(a) The Chauvinist minor premise added, e.g.,
by Fichte, to the richly comprehensive major
premise propounded by himself.

(b) Strict limitation by Ranke of all recognition
of other States by European States, to States
of European system only.

(c) Strangely close parallelism assumed by Fichte
and Ranke between political and military
power, and cultural and spiritual worth.

{d) These exclusivenesses and hardnesses ren-
dered incurable through their proclamation,
by Hegel, as direct self-manifestations of the
Divine Life ...... 96

(3) Troeltsch at his deepest and best : Christianity,

its intrinsic nature and perennial power ;
hopes as to religious effects of the war; the
three abiding constituents of all genuinely
moral conceptions of the State . . .105

IV. Rules and Conclusions . . . . .107

I. Three practical rules that flow from conclusions

reached ....... 107

(i) Necessity and reality of other life. Elimination
of all cynicism as to partial, halting heroisms
really discoverable in human life . .108

(2) Possibility and desirableness of a growing in-
fusion of even some supernatural morality



into State, already in itself a complex ani-
mated by a natural" Ethic . . .108
(3) Necessity, nature, duty, danger of Church-
complex: importance of careful insistence
upon its double function — the other-worldly
function being always kept primary . .109

2. Twofold implications and affinities of Our Lord's
teaching. Its metaphysical basis. Transcend-
ence and Immanence. Polarity of the soul's
life. The Church, the exponent of the specific-
ally Christian life; but the State also essen-
tially though differently ethical — the warder
of the Golden Rule . . . . -113

The German Soul AND THE Great War . . .118

Introduction: Much brilliant writing already extant
on War and its causes. Massive existence and
peculiar character of present German Real-Politik
now fully proved and illustrated. Restriction of
this Study to vivid elucidation and analysis (by
means of generally German half of the writer's own
blood and mentality) of general German charac-
teristics that have permitted or favoured the large
domination of the Prussian spirit; and of the
other general German characteristics which, we
can trust, will eventually overcome that spirit. The
Study to consist of four Sections, with pause and
* recapitulation between second and third . . 118

I. Qualifications of writer. Paternal ancestors. Personal

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Online LibraryFriedrich HügelThe German soul in its attitude towards ethics and Christianity → online text (page 1 of 12)