W. (William) Sanday.

Christology and personality : containing: I. Christologies ancient and modern, II. Personality in Christ and in ourselves / by William Sanday online

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that was directly to my purpose. But I have rather
the feeling that in order to appreciate the bearing of
M. Bergson's researches upon my present subject it
would be necessary to possess a more complete
grasp upon his philosophy than I have had time
to obtain.

I am left therefore more or less to my own re-
sources, and must make shift to do what I can — •
which I am afraid means entering upon philosoph-
ical ground without being a philosopher. I feel
like the two men in Bunyan's allegory whom the
pilgrim saw 'come tumbling over' a side wall of
the narrow way that led to the celestial city. Their
names were Formalist and Hypocrisy, and they

/. Personality in Ourselves 11

came to a bad end. I dare say that I too shall
come to a bad end — though I hope not exactly the
bad end that befitted those particular names. I
feel too much like them, or — shall I say.^ — like
David in Saul's armour. There is only just this to
be said: I do not trouble myself, and I do not
mean to trouble you, with the ultimate questions of
philosophy — especially the great question of Ap-
pearance and Reality. I am content to take things
at their face value. If I can satisfy myself as to
what a thing means for us men as men, I do not
ask to know what it might conceivably mean for
other beings differently constituted or in the ab-
solute standard of the universe. I speak of course
only for myself in this ; I am glad that others should
take higher flights. I leave it for the future to
determine more exactly than we can at present
what is the real meaning of Spirit and what are the
precise relations between Spirit and Matter. I
assume that man is a responsible being, i. e. that
there is something within him — however mysterious
and (as yet) indefinable that something may be —
by virtue of which he is responsible. I do not mean
by this to take him out of the chain of causation, but
only to contend that there must be an element in
his nature which furnishes substantial ground for
the practical assumption that he is responsible.
And it seems to me that this substantial ground
corresponds most nearly to the condition of which
we are conscious in ourselves. We are, or at least

12 The Problem of Personality

seem to be, conscious of a certain power of initiating
both thought and action. No doubt that power is
limited and quaUfied, the initiation is relative, and
not absolute; we do not, at the point to which
science has at present attained, know exactly what
it means. It is possible, if we will, to analyse it
away. But that is just what we refuse to do; be-
cause, by doing so, we should only be cutting away
our own foothold. We should be stultifying our-
selves; because a philosophy which by a straight
and direct course landed its adherents in gaol, what-
ever else it was, would not be the kind of philosophy
we want, viz. a guide of life.

We have such a guide, if we only take things as
we find them ; if w^e do not treat our own conscious-
ness as utterly misleading; if we start from this
apparent power that we possess of setting trains of
thought and action in motion, and of judging our-
selves and others by the way in which we exercise
that power.

This brings me to the point more especially before
me, the doctrine of the Person. I must try, if I can,
to explore that doctrine a little further. I premise
that I do so on the level of simple introspection —
but of introspection carried out upon as wide a scale
as possible. Besides the self-interrogation of the
individual there is the unconscious psychology of
the race. That unconscious psychology finds its
expression in language. And those philosophers

/. Personality in Ourselves 13

are perfectly justified who, from Socrates onwards,
have taken language, the common speech of the
people, as their starting point. In the present case
we begin by reminding ourselves of the history of
the word Person. Persona of course in the first
instance meant 'mask', the actor's mask — which
covered the head and differed according to the kind
of part played by the actor — and then a part or
character generally. In this way the word came to
denote the occupant of one character as contrasted
with another, and so passed over into the law-books
for the individual as distinguished from other
individuals, or for 'person' as opposed to 'thing'.
The slave had no legal personality. Personality as
such carried with it certain rights and certain du-
ties, the latter consisting mainly in respect for the
corresponding rights of others. In the scale of
being it marked the highest stage, at once of dignity
and of responsibility. These two senses, the dra-
matic and the legal, have really had much to do
with determining the later use of the word, even
where its origin was forgotten. They lingered on
in the background, and their presence there
affected the later philosophical meaning.

In passing over to these later phases of meaning,
w^e find ourselves brought up against a difficulty at
which I have already hinted. We are agreed, I
suppose, that Personality is spirit. But spirit as
such is indescribable; if we attempt to describe it,
we can only do so in terms of matter. We are

14 The Problem of Personality

driven back upon metaphor and symbol. We
know that we are using metaphor and symbol, and
nothing more/ And yet the extraordinary thing is
that we find we can do this. Our material language
conveys a meaning which we recognize to be a
meaning. I am going to use a metaphor which is
so homely that I feel I must prepare you for it be-
forehand. I do not profess to be a philosopher,
and therefore I may perhaps allow myself a little
more latitude than would be allowed to a philoso-
pher. I have found it conducive to clearness to

* ' I can scarcely accept the position that our conception of spirit
is wholly symbol. I tend rather to say it is indefinable — that is,
something so sui generis that while we have the "feel" of its reality
in immediate perception, we cannot state it in terms of anything else.
In the same way "good" is really indefinable (cf. that remarkably
acute book, G. E. Moore's Principia Ethica). Or once again,
Bergson arrives at the conclusion that freedom is indefinable. De-
fine it, he says, and at once you are done for; the Determinists or
the pure arbitrary Libertarians have you at their mercy' (H. R. M.).
— This is just the difference between a philosopher and one who is
not a philosopher: sui generis is a phrase that I really wanted; and
indeed I think that I can accept the whole of my friend's language as
an improvement upon my own. He is able to speak of 'spirit' in
the terms appropriate to it, where I am compelled to have recourse
to metaphor, knowing it to be metaphor. I am glad to see that in
substance he agrees with what I said above when I spoke of assuming
'that man is a responsible being', i. e. that there is something within
him — however mysterious and (as yet) indefinable that something
may be — by virtue of which he is responsible. This is the sense and
the degree in which it seems to me that freedom is really indefinable ;
there is an ultimate element in it that as yet we do not understand.
I do not suppose that philosophers will be permanently content with
this position, but it seems to mark the point at present reached.

/. Personality in Ourselves 15

state to myself what I conceive to be the chief point
in the problem of PersonaUty in some such way
as this : —

Are we to think of PersonaHty as (i) the pin-
cushion without the pins? Or are we to think of it
(ii) as the pincushion with all the pins? Or is it
(iii) a big black-headed pin standing up in the middle
of the pincushion and overtopping the other pins ?

Those are the alternative possibilities that we
must set ourselves to consider. And in doing so we
must remember, not only that we are comparing
spiritual things with material, but also that this pin-
cushion of ours and all that is in it must be thought
of as alive. We must think (as it were) of a per-
petual series of electric currents passing backwards
and forwards from pincushion to pins and from one
pin to another, including the biggest.

This vital connexion, or inter-connexion, between
all parts of the psychical mechanism is perhaps at
least part of the reason for the ambiguity in which
the discussion of Personality seems often to be in-
volved. I spoke above of Professor Wallace's essay
and I explained the disadvantages under which it
was published. It was probably owing in large
measure to these disadvantages that it seems to me
to suffer from the ambiguity that I have just
mentioned. I believe that we shall find in it the
word Person or Self used in all three senses, but
they are allowed more or less to run into each other,
and are not clearly and definitely kept apart.

16 The Problem of Personality

At the same time I think that it may be instruc-
tive, and that it may help us to clear up our own
ideas, if we make use of Prof. Wallace's essay to
illustrate the different senses of which I have been
speaking. It will be at least a gain to have them
discussed by a trained philosopher.

i. I take then, first, that way of conceiving of
personality which I have compared to the idea of a
pincushion without pins. I am inclined to think
that some such idea as this lay behind the original
use of the Greek word which came to be treated as
corresponding to the Latin persona and our ' person'.
The Greek word vTrocrrao-t? was not the first to be
used in formulating the doctrine of the Holy Trinity ;
the Latin word persona, which goes back to Tertul-
lian, came before it. But at a later stage in the dis-
cussions it was specially appropriated as a technical
term expressive of the doctrine, and of all the terms
so used (as compared with either persona or irpo-
o-oitTov) it is probably the most appropriate and the
most accurate. There is a danger that persona
should make the distinction implied too great, and
that TrpocrcDTTov should make it too little. As com-
pared with these vTToa-raa-i^i observes the happier
mean. It does not emphasize so much the idea of
'distinctness'asthat of 'special function'. The word
uTroo-racrt? meant originally 'ground of being', and
so 'ground of (individual) being'; but we are free
to lay upon the ' individuality ' so much stress as we
please, or as is right, and no more.

/. Personality in Ourselves 17

Now some of Professor Wallace's language ap-
pears to approach rather nearly to this conception
of an abstract 'ground of being'. For instance

We begin with what may be termed 'psycho-
logical personality': the 'I' which 'is not a con-
ception, but a mere consciousness that accompanies
all conceptions'. Thus the 'I think' is a concep-
tion (or judgement) which is the vehicle of all con-
cepts whatever. Or, as it is put in the Proleg.
§ 46, note, 'the "I" is no conception, but only a
designation of the object of the inner sense, so far
as we do not apprehend it under any specific
character: it is nothing but a "sense of existing"
{Gejiihl eines Daseyns) without the least conception,
and only represents to us something to which all
thinking stands in relation. ' Kant's point, it must
be observed, is that the ' I ' is not a thing or object
among other things: we cannot put it before us as
an object : if we could do so, the ' I' would cease to
be an 'I', and become a Not-I. Or, as he other-
wise puts it, the 'I' is not something of which we
have a 'standing and abiding impression', a steady
clear image {Lectures and Essays, p. 283).

Again, the following, also in paraphrase from
Kant, is much to the same effect : —

Kant then seeks to show that the Ego cannot
be treated on the same level as the mental or
physical phenomena which it observes; it cannot
be well or adequately described by such terms as
'substance', 'thinking thing', and the like. It is
the perpetual concomitant of all mental acts, but
not the single object of any: if it be made an object,
it is of a peculiar sort — a subject-object. We may

18 The Problem of Personality

to some extent consider it in abstraction from its
special phases or attachments, but we ought not to
speak of it as existing apart from them. We cannot
take the 'I' out of ourselves and put it 'there'
before us. It is true the consciousness 'I think' is
a simple and unanalysable consciousness; whenever
we go into further detail, we leave the simplicity of
the condition of consciousness and descend into the
detail of actual consciousness of this or that object.
But a simple consciousness does not entitle us to
speak of the simple nature of the subject of con-
sciousness; consciousness cannot get behind itselr
and consider its own sense or principle. The Ego
is only the ' form of apperception attached to every
experience': an epithet noting the subject condition
on which all knowledge depends. All the catego-
ries on which knowledge depends are only special
and detailed forms of this ultimate power and prin-
ciple of synthesis. Being itself the ultimate condi-
tion of all knowledge, we cannot get behind it to
see its conditions. It is an irreducible and ultimate
sentiment of reality, a feeling of being (p. 285).

These extracts, I think it will be felt, come very
near 'the pincushion without the pins'.^ They do

^ My friend demurs somewhat: he says, 'Is this (i) after all?
Wallace seems to guard himself pretty carefully. The Ego, he
says, "is the perpetual concomitant of all mental acts." That is,
there is always something else, to which the Ego is essentially rel-
ative.' — If by 'something else to which the Ego is relative' is meant
the states or faculties of the Ego, then I think I can accept this as
very much what I really intend, though it interferes with the clear-
cut — too clear-cut — trichotomy of my illustration. I am quite pre-
pared to regard this as only a temporary expedient, such as we often
use in the process of education or self -education; we make things
clearer to our minds by exaggerating distinctions, and then we come

/. Personality in Ourselves 19

not quite coincide with the use of the word Person
in the doctrine of the Trinity, but have in them more
of purely intellectual abstraction. I do not think
that we shall need this exceptional philosophical
use, and for our present purpose it may be al-
lowed to drop. We shall, however, always want
the Trinitarian sense of Person; and we may keep
this as meaning fundamentally 'ground of being',
with a suggestion of special function verging upon
individuality. 'Person', in Trinitarian usage, is
a mode of being which serves as a ground or basis
(a real ground or basis) of special function, but just
stops short of separate individuality. It implies
distinction without division.

ii. The Kantian use at the least points to some-
thing very like 'the pincushion without the pins'.
But, from a somewhat different point of view. Per-
sonality may rather be compared to ' the pincushion
with all the pins'.

Human personality is essentially a unity of op-
positions. And we may even go so far as to say
that its special appearance is in the visible and out-
ward sphere. As a person, we are primarily what
we are to our neighbours : we occupy a certain place
and discharge a certain function in the visible
world. Hence a man's personality is not his mere
intellect, but his whole being: it is more than his

back to truth by rubbing out gradually the distinctions we have
made. I willingly admit that my friend's language is more philo-
sophically correct than mine.

20 The Problem of Personality

books, more than any definite work he may have
accompHshed (p. 282).

And again:

No being can be called a person who is not cap-
able of feeling and action, as well as a mere idea of
the intellect, a mere object of apprehensive judge-
ment (p. 284).

This, too, hints at the comprehensiveness of person-
ality: it is not merely a part of the self but it in-
cludes the whole self, whether thinking or feeling
or acting. It really includes not only the conscious
acts or states of the self but the unconscious, which
once were conscious and have about them still the
potentiality of again becoming conscious.

iii. In this broad sense Personality embraces the
whole man. And yet there is a third sense in
which we should say that the whole of our indi-
vidual nature rather ministers to, than is the Person.
There is a Self within the Self. There is a some-
thing within us which is not either foot or hand or
eye, which is not either reason or emotion or will,
but which binds together all these various organs
and faculties in one. For personality we want
something more than the mere congeries of thoughts
and impulses and appetites and passions which go
to make up the individual man. Personality is not
a chaos but a cosmos; there must be present in it
a principle of order and of unity. As Professor
Wallace puts it.

/. Personality in Ourselves 21

a person must not be a mere drift of events upon
a stage, but must also possess a power of surveying
and so far controlling the stream, a power of com-
parison, unification, and initiative. We come back
very much in this to the phrase of Leibnitz : ' Per-
sona est cuius aliqua voluntas est, seu cuius datur,
cogitatio, affectus, voluptas, dolor' (p. 273).

We might say that the acts and states described in
this definition belong to the person, but do not in
themselves constitute the person. Somewhere as it
were at the centre of our being there is an imperium
in imperio, a ruling principle, which review^s, co-
ordinates, directs, and combines the different con-
stituents of our nature into a single organic whole.
This whole is built up, as we might say, in several
stages; there are subordinate unities as well as the
one dominating principle of unity; there is a unity
of the body as well as a unity of the soul and (if we
care to distinguish them by an act of mental ab-
straction) of the parts or faculties of the soul, such
as thinking and feeling and doing. The body is
unified, on its own level, by the vitality or current
of life which runs through it. Each distinct state
or faculty of the soul — thinking, feeling, and doing
— has its own unity. But these unities are diffused
and not concentrated. The real point of concen-
tration, w^hich is also the seat of reflective conscious-
ness, is the Person. We will once more go to
Professor Wallace for an impressive picture of that
ascending scale by which the Person arrives at its

22 The Problem of Personality

The body, like the soul, is an organism: a system
of parts mutually adapted, each possessing a certain
independence and proper function : which however
in a healthy state never actually rises to utter sever-
ance from the general. The whole adjustment in
its details in the body is governed by the laws of
mechanism: at no point can we say that a special
principle of life, a vital principle, steps in and directs
the interaction. The principle is one with its parts,
it is in each part and in the whole : it is the supposed
explanation of the fact that there is this solidarity,
this unity which transcends and interpenetrates the
separation of parts, tissues, and organs: it is the
principle of equality and fraternity in the body : and
also the principle of liberty. No part can encroach
on another, no part can be held less essential, no
part can be treated as separable from the others,
without in each case inducing a perturbation of the
general fabric. Each has its own province, its own
right or duty; but none can permanently act in
independence of the others; and all must practically
experience that the general law of life, of self-
maintenance of the total organism, is a principle
overriding particular rights.

It is equally so in the soul, the psychical range,
only that here something further seems to supervene
on the mere organism. The vital principle is al-
ways engrossed in its part, and can never be re-
garded as an independent agent. The unity of the
body is a unity of co-operation, the result of factors
which work in obedience to a common law. But
that common law is out of sight. In the soul, on
the contrary, the very essence of the whole move-
ment is that it rises in some degree into the light of
consciousness. And the peculiarity of conscious-
ness is that it is a whole conception or form which

/. Personality in Ourselves 23

gradually fills itself in detail with the fullness of its
partial shapes. The unity, however implicit and
potential, underlies and realizes itself in each step
towards particular manifestation. . . .

This unity of consciousness reacts, if we may say
so, upon the body. The body has other than the
merely organic movements, which follow according
to impenetrable laws of instinctive nature. The
purely animal movements are governed by an idea :
and tiie body itself is by mind transformed (1) into
a sense, (^2) into an instrument. It is in this double
capacity that the body is strictly ours, the organ of
our mind, of our intelligence and our will. The
word 'organ', indeed, covers both meanings. As
such the body is organized or articulated by the
mind: i.e. its part are differentiated in use and
function, made to some extent independent of each
other and under the direct control of each other,
and capable at the same time of co-operation in
executing a complex movement (pp. 295 f.).

That passage, I think we may say, gives us a
more adequate conception than we have hitherto
had of the sovereignty exercised by the Person, of
the organizing power which the inner Self possesses
over the outer.

We will illustrate this from another philosopher,
Professor G. F. Stout: —

The idea of the Self includes in all but its latest
and most abstract developments'the idea of the body
as the vehicle of perception and motor activity.
There is also another powerful reason why the body
should be regarded as part and parcel of the Self.
The idea of the Self essentially includes the idea of
its relation to other selves. But it can only exist

24 The Problem of Personality

for other selves in so far as it appears to them in
bodily form.

But however important the body may be, it can
never be regarded as the whole Self or even as the
most essential part of the Self. Its attitudes and
movements, so far as they differ from those of other
material things, appear to be initiated by something
inside the organism. They follow on volitions,
emotions, painful and pleasant sensations, and the
like. These experiences constitute the inner Self,
and the body, as it presents itself to the external
observer, is their instrument, used in a way more or
less analogous to that in which other material in-
struments are used. The contrast between inner
and outer Self is emphasized by the process of
ideational thinking, in which the body may be
apparently quiescent, while the mind is active
{Manual of Psychology, pp. 55^^ f.).

The writer goes on to compare the more primitive
modes of representing the existence of the inner
Self with our own:

Modern theories regard the soul as simply an im-
material substance, or identify it with the brain, or
say that it is just the continuous series of conscious
states themselves.

You will observe that these predicates are ap-
plied, not to the self but to the ' souJ '. We do some-
times no doubt use 'soul' as equivalent to 'self.
This is perhaps to some extent a survival of Biblical
usage. In Biblical times the idea of the self or
person was not yet developed; the idea of 'soul'
had made greater progress, and when a Biblical
writer wished to speak of himself, he spoke of ' his

/. Personality in Ourselves 25

soul'. There is rather a play upon the two senses
in such passages as ' whosoever would save his soul
{^vxqv) shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his
soul for my sake and the gospel's, shall save it ' (Mk.
viii. 35). To gain the higher self, we may have to
lose the lower; which is very much the same thing
as saying that to make good, or perfect, the inner
self, we may have to suffer loss in the outer self, the
self of pains and pleasures. The outer, or larger,
self includes both soul and body; the smaller, but
dominating. Self resides within the soul, and re-
presents its chief activities, but is not co-extensive
with it.

I seem to myself to have come round to some-
thing like the big black-headed pin in the middle of
the pincushion.^ We must give it its black head, so

^ Once more my friend puts in a word : ' I am less clear than I

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Online LibraryW. (William) SandayChristology and personality : containing: I. Christologies ancient and modern, II. Personality in Christ and in ourselves / by William Sanday → online text (page 15 of 18)