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

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cause of their influence upon the genesis of my own
thought. If I referred to F. W. H. Myers, it was
not that I considered him a philosopher in the strict
sense at all; I did not think of him in that light
any more than I should think of myself; but he had
a share in setting me upon the track which I fol-
lowed. Professor William James would count for



64 The Problem of Personality

rather more than this. But, if I were pressed, I do
not think that I expected more help from him than
such as his name might give me in asking for a
hearing. I gather that my reviewer would criticise
Professor James almost as much as he would me.
But I quite agree that anything either of us might
have to say must stand strictly upon its own merits.

One little flaw which the reviewer notes in my
book I believe to have been taken over from Myers
or James. He points out that the phrase ' sublimi-
nal consciousness' is self-contradictory; so far as
the state is subliminal it is not conscious. I was
really, I think, alive to this (see Christologies, p.
138 n.). I have not looked very carefully, but I
believe that the phrase * subliminal consciousness'
only occurs twice in my book — once in a quotation
from James, and once in what is practically a para-
phrase of Myers. In any case it is a survival, and
ought to be corrected; the 'subliminal self is, I
should say, all right, but * subliminal consciousness '
is a contradiction.

On all these points I do not feel that the criticism
goes very deep. There remain two which I recog-
nise as more serious. The consideration of these
two carries me on to another review from the side
of philosophy, which appeared in the Hibbert
Journal for January, 1911, from the pen of Dr.
C. F. D'Arcy, Bishop of Ossory [now Bishop-Elect
of Down, Connor, and Dromore]. Here again, al-
though the criticism is adverse, I have every reason



///. Retrospect 65

to thank the Bishop for treating my book so serious-
ly and so kindly. The two reviews — this and that
in the Oxford Magazine — really turn upon the same
fundamental points, and I may perhaps be allowed
to take them together.

One of these points is that of which I have
already spoken — the tendency which my book
betrayed to exalt the sub- and unconscious states
above the conscious. I admit that the charge is
not quite without foundation so far as the book is
concerned. I admit that my language in several
places naturally suggested the criticism. At the
same time I have explained that, so far as it did so,
it did not represent my real intention, and I have
tried in the preceding lectures and in this chapter
to make clear what my full intention really was.
I hope that at this stage I need not say more.

The other objection cuts deeper; indeed it is the
one objection that I confess really comes home to
me. This is the objection to the use that I have
made of metaphor, and especially (in Dr. D 'Arcy's
words) of 'spatial and material' metaphor.

Dr. D'Arcy presents this objection in what I can-
not but think is a rather extreme form. His net
includes, as will be seen, not only me but many
others besides me — and notably Professor James.
He writes as follows: —

Mental facts of all kinds, feelings, thoughts,
impulses, volitions, are not in space. They are in
time only. The stream of consciousness, as we call



66 The Problem of Personality

it, has no place, no locus. If the subconscious be
mental in its nature, how, then, does it exist ?

It is startHng to reflect that all the language
which psychologists have allowed themselves to use
in connexion with this subject is daringly, almost
outrageously, spatial and material. The same
statement may be made of their account of normal
psychical experiences. They speak of the field of
consciousness, of the centre and of the margin. But
there is no field, no centre, no margin in conscious-
ness. These images are all spatial, and, in relation
to consciousness, there is nothing so important
about them as their utter unfitness to express the
facts. (H. J., p. 242.)

This is sweeping indeed. But how far is it true ?
' Mental facts of all kinds, feelings, thoughts, im-
pulses, volitions, are not in space.' But surely they
are ours, and we are in space; we carry them about
with us; they are where we are, and they are not
where we are not. How then can they help being
in space ?

And further, the language criticised is very widely
current ; people use it, and it conveys a meaning to
them. If it were so utterly remote from reality,
how does it come to have the vogue that it has ?

I will venture to say that it is impossible to avoid
using spatial and material metaphor in contexts of
this kind. Dr. D ' Arcy himself shall be my witness.
Here, for instance, are three consecutive sentences
of his: —

It would seem, then, that the contents of
consciousness are, in truth, inexhaustible. Every



///. Retrospect 67

change in experience adds a new quality, and all
past experiences have in some way contributed to
the whole. Thus our conscious experience con-
tains, in addition to elements which are clear and
obvious, others which are extremely subtle and
evasive, but which can, in fitting circumstances,
become the means of wonderful constructions and
reconstructions (p. 244).

I should have thought that these sentences liter-
ally bristled with spatial and material metaphors.
Why should it be any worse to speak of the ' field
of consciousness ' than of the ' contents of conscious-
ness ' ? Why is it wrong to speak of it as having
centre or margin, but right to speak of it as contain-
ing or receiving additions, of its elements clear and
evasive, of its constructions and reconstructions.''
There is perhaps a little difference in degree, but
none in kind.

In our present experience the soul is confined
within the body. It is in some mysterious way
related to the body; it acts upon the body, and the
body reacts upon it. The nature of this action and
reaction is at the present time being keenly investi-
gated; and, as the investigation progresses, the use
of language may be expected to become more ac-
curate. But as things stand at present we cannot
afford to suppress our instincts; we cannot debar
ourselves from employing the only means we have
of expressing our thoughts and communicating
them to others. So long as our meaning is in-
telligible to others and recognized by them as cor-



68 The Problem of Personality

responding to experiences of their own, our lan-
guage fulfils a legitimate purpose.

The Bishop of Ossory has another passage which
is an even more direct negation of the position
taken up in the preceding lectures : —

It is the symbolical representation of the self as
a mathematical point or material atom occupying
a central position in the midst of its experiences,
instead of, as it truly is, the concrete synthesis of
them all, and their containing principle, which has
misled thought on this subject. Or, rather, it is
this false view of the self, together with the whole
range of symbolical spatial representations by
means of which we are in the habit of examining
our mental states (p. 244).

If our mental processes are not in space at all, no
doubt there is an end of the matter. But I should
have thought that there was just as much an end of
' the concrete synthesis and containing principle ' as
of the ' mathematical point or material atom '. The
question rather seems to me to be which of these
two modes of expression corresponds best with the
facts and is the most helpful in discussion. I had
not, of course, exactly used the phrase 'a mathe-
matical point or material atom ' ; but the metaphors
I had used were practically equivalent to these, and
I am quite willing to accept them as representing
my views. More strictly, I should say that they
represent half my views; for I do not really feel
called upon to deny the alternative. I had in fact
been led to think that the common use of language



///. Retrospect 69

obliges us to recognize two distinct senses of the
word Self, a larger and a smaller, an inner and an
outer. The larger self may well correspond to the
* synthesis of experiences ' ; it is not only a synthesis
of experiences but a synthesis of faculties; it in-
cludes the whole man, body and soul. But when
we come to the 'containing principle', there seems
to me to be some ambiguity. The word ' principle '
suggests something very like what I have in my
mind; but 'synthesis' and 'containing' do not seem
to go well with this. We want to distinguish
between the unity and that which unifies. My
reason for marking off an inner or smaller self was
precisely in order to explain, or describe more
exactly, what it is that causes the unity.

We are conscious within ourselves of a number of
faculties which are distinct from each other and to
which we give separate names, such as thinking,
feeling, and willing. We have as good reason, or
nearly as good reason, for distinguishing these as we
have for distinguishing the bodily organs, foot and
hand and eye. The difference is that the latter are
visible and tangible, whereas the former are not.
So far the bodily organs have an advantage in con-
creteness and definiteness over the mental. But if
instead of looking at them from the side of appeal
to the senses, we look at them rather from the side
of diversity of function, in this respect they are on
the same level. We must therefore think of them
as separate though they are not physically separate.



70 The Problem of Personality

The will-function, the thought-function, and the
feeling-function are as distinct from each other as
hearing, seeing, and smelling.

Now the organs of the body are at once separate
and inter-connected ; apart from the inter-connexion
and that which causes the inter-connexion, they
would be so much inert matter. But then the
principle of life runs through them, and makes them
act together or cease from acting; and they do this,
under normal conditions, in complete harmony, not
in the least clashing or colliding with each other.
And the same holds good of the mental faculties;
they too are at once functionally distinct and yet
vitally inter-connected.

But then, above the parts or organs of the body
and above the parts or faculties of the mind, there
is as it were enthroned at the centre— it is of course
a purely figurative mode of speaking to describe it
in these terms, but the figure comes so spontane-
ously and naturally that we can hardly help having
recourse to it — a something which governs and con-
trols all these inferior agencies. It is its special
function to govern, control and unify. And that
function is so important that it seems to deserve
a separate and special name. That is why I sub-
mit that we need the conception of a smaller and
inner self. It is distinct from the organs and facul-
ties. The hand is not included in it, though it
moves the hand ; the thinking process is not included
in it, though it sets in motion the thought. It causes



///. Retrospect 71

to act, or to cease from acting, every part of the
larger self. There is nothing in a name, and it does
not matter what this commanding principle is called
— whether an inner self or anything else; but I do
contend that it deserves, and ought to have, a name
of its own. This usage is at least clear and unmis-
takable, whereas to speak of a ' synthesis or contain-
ing principle' is at once inadequate and lends itself
to confusion. It is inadequate, because it does not
express, and hardly even suggests, that active com-
mand and control, that unifying and organizing
power, which is an essential element in the self. And
it is misleading, because it is ambiguous and at-
tempts to make a single phrase cover distinct things.
I cannot help asking myself what the result
would be if the Bishop of Ossory were to try to
paraphrase the passage that I quoted from Othello
in terms of his philosophy. The passage is one
that is perfectly intelligible to the plain man; he
recognizes at once its fitness to describe the pro-
cesses of which he is conscious. He understands
what is meant both by the 'gardener' and the
' garden '. And if we paraphrase these as the ' inner '
and 'outer' self, still he would understand, and I
think that he would find a certain amount of light
thrown upon the workings of his own mind. But
if for the 'gardener' we substitute a 'synthesis and
containing principle of experiences', we have indeed
an impressive phrase, but one that is somewhat
cumbrous to manipulate and that only tends to



72 The Problem of Personality

obscure the distinction, which should certainly be
observed, between the gardener and the garden.
For the garden is the experiences, and the gardener
is the sum or synthesis of the experiences — which
does not carry us much further. A 'sum' or
* synthesis ' could hardly be said to ' plant, or weed
up, nettles or lettuce or thyme'.

This is w hat I should have to say in reply to that
part of Bishop D 'Arcy's criticism which is concerned
(by anticipation) with that theory of the Self which I
have just been expounding. But I must add a few
words upon the effect of his and other criticisms on
the original thesis which has led to this discussion.

It was perhaps a bolder hypothesis than I at first
realised to speak of a locus of the operations of the
Holy Spirit or of the Divine in man. I have not
indeed seen my way to agree with Dr. D'Arcy in
the broad proposition that * mental processes are not
in space'. Under present conditions at least they
are in space; they are so bound up with the body
that they cannot be wholly detached from it. The
common language and experience of mankind so
associates the workings of the mind with ideas of
locality that we cannot afford to dispense with them.
They point to something distinctive in the expe-
rience which at present it seems difficult to express
in any other way. We must wait until philosophers
have analysed these local ideas more closely. At
the same time I am ready to admit that they have
to be discounted, and the local element in them in



///. Retrospect 73

particular has to be discounted. What precisely
remains after this has been done is perhaps an
open question.

And yet, while I should agree that the local ele-
ment in this symbolic language of locality has to be
discounted, and although I should maintain that
abstention from the use of this symbolic language
carried with it a certain loss, I still believe that it is
possible to restate the main proposition that I had
laid down without bringing in the idea of locality;
and I still believe that the psychology which lays
stress upon the subconscious and the unconscious
has matter of value to contribute to us.

I do not say that the conscious processes of the
human mind are inferior to the sub- and uncon-
scious. On the contrary, I believe that in the part
w^hich they play in the formation of character they
are distinctly higher. The conscious processes may
be said to constitute the continuous thread of the
man's self in a sense in which nothing else about
him constitutes it. But, none the less, the sub-
and unconscious processes play an important part
of their own — a part much more important than
(to the best of my belief) had been recognised
until a short time ago.

The point at which I suppose this will be most
clearly seen is in the fact that these sub- and uncon-
scious states contain the whole deposit of the man's
past. 'Deposit' is another material metaphor, and
as such it too has to be discounted, but I do not see



74 The Problem of Personality

that we can help using it. And it is, I conceive,
another important thing to reaHse, that all this
accumulated deposit, no less than the conscious
states, is and (throughout the life of the individual
in whom it is found) always has been alive.

The proof that it is so lies in the fact that these
past experiences, when they return into conscious-
ness, always return with a certain amount of altera-
tion. A process of decomposition and recomposi-
tion has taken place in them ; they never come back
to consciousness in the precise form in which they
left it. They have been as much affected by the
other contents of that dark storehouse as they are by
the other contents of consciousness which meet them
in the full light of day.

That is one important condition which has to be
remembered. And another is, that within these
same states of sub- and unconsciousness spiritual
forces are at work just as much as in the waking
man. Some kinds of spiritual influence seem to be
even more active under these unknown conditions
than they are under those that are known.

I have always taken as typical of these the
answers that we receive to prayer. These answers
appear to me to work, in great part if not altogether,
through channels and in ways that the reflective
consciousness cannot follow. I would go further,
and say that under the same dim conditions a whole
life is lived which, although it is seen only in its
effects, forms a most important part of religious



///. Retrospect 15

experience. In the case of the Christian it is, if not
all, yet a main constituent in that hfe which St.
Paul describes as 'hid with Christ in God'.

That, I say, is the experience of the Christian.
And must there not have been something analogous
to it in the incarnate experience of Christ Himself ?
It was on this analogy that I took my stand and
from which I tried to draw some inferences in
a tentative way.

My philosophy has been criticised ; and I am free
to confess that, if I could have my time over again, I
should write — or try to write — somewhat differently.
I should not deal so freely in metaphor. Not that I
can altogether repent even of this ; for to have passed
through this metaphorical stage, I believe has been
a help to me, whatever it might be to others. I can-
not help thinking that there are some gaps and weak
points in the philosophical position. I have ventured
to indicate some of these. And nothing would re-
joice me more than if the philosophers themselves,
or some of our own philosophically-minded theo-
logians, would take up and work out in their own
better way, these problems that I have clumsily ad-
umbrated.^ Theology, perhaps more than any other
science, needs to receive contributions from all sides.

^ I welcome very warmly the assistance and (in a measure) sup-
port that is given me by Dr. Caldecott in his contribution to the
April number of the Hihhert Journal, 1911, pp. 641-644. I can
avail myself of this help the more freely because I should answer all
the interrogatories put to me in the sense desired.





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