Wilfrid Richmond.

An essay on personality as a philosophical principle online

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examples enough of family life, in lands where our own
civilisation prevails, in which it would still be true to
say that the characteristic development is not given to
the dawning powers of love, and the supreme lesson
of early life is never learnt. But the family must none
the less be viewed as the social institution in which that
emotion is embodied, with which the self-conscious being,
as it emerges into self-consciousness, recognises the
source and support and sphere of his own being, and
identifies himself with it. This is the characteristic
of family affection, that the family itself is approved.



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Emotion 157

valued, appreciated, as a whole, including the self, and
the modification of the self, in virtue of which this
as a whole in which quality is attributed to it, is that
the self is absorbed. \^ ig included in this whole. This is
the sense of intimacy, of unquestioned safety, of
harbouring existence, of familiar reality, above all
of uncalculated and instinctive self-surrender which we
sum in the name of "home." And the characteristic
quality of this emotion attaches not only to the relation
of the child to the home, to the father or the mother ;
father and mother too, in their love for their child,
love it as already carrying in it their own being and
selves; and increasingly as life goes on, where the
parental relation is fully developed and undisturbed,
the life of the parent is, as we commonly say, absorbed
in that of the children. And as in earlier days the
child only thought of itself as a part of the life made
by the love of father and mother, so now father and
mother think of themselves as incidental and sub-
ordinate features in the life of the child. In this spirit
they watch the child grow up and re-enact the
mysterious drama of the self-surrender of love of which
the family is bom, under the impulse which, aiming
At the fusion of soul with soul, produces this unity
of life within which the individual comes into being.

But outside of and beyond the family life of which
he is bom, the individual finds himself the member
XL The individual of a wider Society. He Jmda himself
^ru>^Z^ tl^e member of such a society, for
.amemberofsode^, here too, as in the case of the
family, the society legitimately claims to be prior
to the individual; and society in all its forms is the



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158 An Essay on Personality

creation not of the individual, but of the collective
human spirit. Of and into family life the individual
is literally bom. We may say of the individual, as he
is launched from family life upon a wider world, that
he has already learnt instinctively to look upon an
individual as the fragment of a society, or that he
brings with him the same instinctive tendency to create
social unions of which the family is itself an example.
In any case he must say that, through whatever history
the existing forms of social union have come into being,
the impulse which maintains them is the desire for
society itself, the spirit which animates them is an
maintained by an ©niotion whose object is the relation
emotion whose object of the members of the society to one
isaoa umoni . j^^q^j^^j. Society as such, the social
character, is the final cause of the various forms of
social union. The delight in social union, this is the
emotion which we feel after, which we wish to recover
or prolong in the creation and maintenance of the
various forms of social life.

The state, the political society, comes nearest to
the family in the nature of its hold over the individual.
Into the state, as It is the embodiment of emotions of
S2JS^*SSgtL* natural piety. It is not only an in-
into life. evitable fact, existing independently of

any action of the individual in creating it, but its hold
over himself is independent of any action of the indi-
vidual in attaching himself to it. He, as he is launched
upon life, with his rights and capacities as an individual,
is a creation of the state in which he exercises these
capacities* He, as he is, owes his being to the state,
inasmuch as it is the state which makes what we call



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Emotion 159

the country, the nation, and gives to the individual
who is bom in it his national character and language
and mind To the state, again, as he comes to live
his life, he owes his support. Under the nurture and
protection of its laws the economic conditions of life
have grown up and are maintained, within which he
renders to his neighbours and receives from them the
vital services of daily existence. Patriotism and loyalty,
Patriotism and the emotions of this form of social life,

SfiTtiSTmain- ^"^^ i^*^ P^^y* ^^ ^^^^t in modem
t«w«t. days, only at rare times of urgent

collective feeling. But the civil society exists, and the
individual as a member of it, in virtue of the perpetual
play of a loyalty not less real in its effects upon life,
because it only gives birth to a passion where it is
flagrantly violated or transgressed, the loyalty through
which law is an operative and governing fact far more
than through the machinery of police and punishment.
It is in this unobtrusive emotion of sympathy with the
law, the peaceful patriotism, the latent loyalty of daily
life, that the individual identifies himself with the
society, regarding his own being as a social unit as
involved in its maintenance, regarding its order and
system as having an absolute claim upon himself.
It inspires other There are instances of more vehement
S^I^torSuticai emotion, giving birth to passion, in
p«i7- the attachments to the principles of a

political party or a social creed. But these exceptional
emotions are all rooted in and secondary to the primary
emotion of loyalty to the society itself whose traditions
or whose system we wish to maintain in some character
of it that is threatened, or to amend in some principle



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i6o An Essay an Personality

diat is ignored The same emotion, again, may give
birth to the passion for national aggrandisement — ^to
enlarge the field of national life — in which, mingled
with less worthy elements, is exemplified the instinctive
will of the emotion of patriotism to maintain and extend
the type of social life of which the individual is bom,
and in which he is absorbed. And the patriotism which
in the soldier fuses the emotions of disciplined fellow-
ship into the self-devotion of a soldier's courage owes
its life to the same original inspiration.

The emotions which are identified with social life, in
the form in which we have just been considering it, aie
In <" society "the emotions of which the society itself
flodai muoo Is more is the object, though it is the society
^^^^^ as embodying the social character, the

social relations of man with man. Loyalty is to the
state, or to its ruler as embodying the state. Patriotism
is the love of our own country. But the state, the
country, are the object of these emotions, as embodied
ideals of social life. The Englishman, in giving ex-
pression to his love for lus country, would describe it in
terms which would show that the real object of his
emotion is the ideal of social union, which has been
presented to him in the particular social life in' which
he finds himself engaged. But there are forms of social
union where the emotion of delight in social union does
not take shape in a devotion to the society itself as a
collective whole, but rather in the emotions with which
the members of the society regard some common ideal
or standard of life. " Society," in the sense in which
the word is generally used in a particular circle of our
society, is a form of social union, in which individuals.



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Emotion i6i

at the cost of no small sacrifice of individual liking, are
content to merge their own individuality, and this
devoted loyalty in such regions of practice as fall within
the range of fashion affords a signal illustration of the
principle that in this stage of social affection it is society
itself for its own sake which is the end desired. In
this case one may say that the superficial social relation
becomes an end in itself, and social relationships of this
meagre and unsatisfying quality are by no means con-
fined to the djiss which composes what is commonly
called " society." But there are emotions of a higher
i]i«<diacipiiiie''aiid order, which, in the discipline of a
in^ld^" regiment or the es^t de c(yrps of
again the eiuL a school, combine with those which

may be said to have the regiment or the school as their
object — emotions in which not the regiment but the
ideal of discipline, not the school but a certain ideal of
social life, are the element, the bond of the social
relationship which is the object of the emotion. And
there are phases of social relationship, sometimes tem-
porary phases of feeling or opinion, scarcely to be
dignified with the name of institutions, though they
may give rise to some temporary association, whose
common ideals are the object of common emotions,
communicated firom one to another very much after the
manner of fashion, though their moral and emotional
worth may be misrepresented when they are stigmatised
by such a name.

These various forms of social relationship embody
and give birth to collective emotions, where the mutual
loyalty to one another of the members of a society, or
their common loyalty to a common law or ideal, leads

M



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1 62 An Essay on Personality

to this as its result, that the individual finds himself
to be the organ of a coUective emotion, like the indi-
CoUective emotions ^^^^ soldier in the charge of a regi-
result from these ment, 01 the individual voice in tiie
the lowest to the enthusiasm of an assembly. Of these
highest collective emotions, the highest in-

stances are those which are the outcome of the religious
communion.

For religion on one side of it may be viewed as a
social bond among men, as the principle of union
In the reiigiotts com- between those who share the belief in
munion above all. the the Power that they worship. One of

emotion of social , -■ i i t •

union has been an the purposes answered by the reugious
effective power, communion has been this, that it has
given the crowning satisfaction to the instinct by which
men make for social union as in itself a good. In many
ancient societies there are facts which may be expressed

in various kinds of ^^ ^^^^g *^^* religion was utilised to
combination with give a sanction to political union, or
political association, ^j^^^ religious union found its natural

expression in political association, or that a union which
was on one side of it political was on another side of it
religioua All of these ways of viewing the facts would
alike lead us to say that the strongest degree of political
union is associated in its origin with the collective
devotion to a common object of worship. In more
modern times, when the religious and the political
union have existed side by side, it has frequently been
the case that they have coincided in the individuals of
which they were composed — sometimes, as in the Medi-
aeval Empire, almost to the point of being diflferent
aspects of a single institution. And this coincidence



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Emotion 163

or fusion has allowed the association with religion to
strengthen the bonds of political or social union, just
because the religious communion has this merely social
aspect. As a social union it is an end in itself, giving in
a common creed and practice and worship a medium of
communion, a principle of collective action among men.
-«. .., ^. •_ When the object of worship is itself

The comMnation has . . . ^

been the more effec- conceived as the spint 01 communion,
rflcJi^iSiltoS *^® alliance with it of a political union
wastheolgectof which calls for self-devotion to a
^^ ^' common cause is the more natural, and

the social force communicated by the higher inspiration
given to membership of a community is the greater.
Now that the lines of religious communion cross and
transcend the boundaries of national or political union,
it still remains true that religion, even where it is not
national, reinforces national sentiment. And religion
iflspiriiig finaUy the is in an increasing degree rendering to
collective emotioiis of mankind the higher service of inspiring
'*^'**"^* as a passion the emotions which in

promise and hope will always claim to be universal —
the emotions of humanity.

But the highest grade of that kind of emotion for
which we are taking the name of love to stand, is to be
iiL Religion as found in religion itself ; in religion, such

the love of God, as it has now learnt itself to be, where
w ere la Love, ^^ j^^^ ^£ q^^ ^^^ ^^^^^ evokes, creates,

and comprehends the love of man for Grod.

For religion itself is the emotion belonging to the
is the consummation relation of man, individual and col-
of fellowship, lective, to God; the aspiration of the

communion of collective humanity, after an author,



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164 ^n Essay on Personality

an ideal, a consummation of the fellowship of life. It
is the instinct of self-devotion to others finding its issue
in collective self-devotion to the spirit of self-devotion
itself. And the love of God is appre-
an 1 canae, hended as the source and sphere of the

whole of human life, and finally, of the love of man,
individual and collective, for Himself, concentrating in
a definite social union, devoted to this specific purpose,
the maintenance of the emotional relation of man to
God, and all the energies by which this emotion absorbs
and inspires the social life of men. But when we speak
of religion as the final form of the emotion of love,

and the relation of ^^^^ "^ *^ |*® "^^^^ ^^ ^^^ ^. *^®

love between God soul and being of social institutions,
itedf tite^^tutko^ *^® institution here is not the external
in which the emotion society or fellowship of those who in
the Church or religious communion
live in the interchange of life and love with God.
Religion itself is here the institution. There is no
longer a distinction to be drawn between an emotion
and an institution which it inspires. For the institution
is this actual living relation of humanity with Grod, the
Universal Being, in the religion of love.

We have said that the highest stage of the moral
life is where the motive of love leads a man to regard
In the moral life, the himself, and gladly to regard himself,
his:he9t motive of the as a part of a whole. This highest
SJJiJ^JJJSI^^ motive of the will receives its con-
in adf-sorrender to summation where man, the individual
the love of God, , /» 1

man, as man, as a member of col-
lective humanity, surrenders Himself to Grod, as the
source, the soul, the satisfaction of this impulse of



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Emotion 165

self-devotion. And where the love of Grod is present
andthemotiTeoftiie in this sense as a motive, the motive
totoSe^Jti^ of love passes into the emotion of
the lore of God, love, which from this standpoint is
I^JLt^'' seen to have been the original source,
also the begimimg of and to give the final satisfaction, of
menTfrom de««^ every form of volition throughout the
tfarousii duty to love, whole range of the moral life. God
Himself, the Provider, appears as the final satisfsiction
of desire, who, acting on the will, evoked the first out-
ward movement of the soul, through which, by the
inexorable logic of the moral life, we have been led to
this final point. And in every step of the progress, by
which the satisfaction of desire compels us to the control
of conscience, by which the desire of lower things grows
into the desire for righteousness, the movement, the
drawing of the will towards the further fulfilment of
the moral ideal, is felt to have been at work. In the
religious consciousness of men, civilised and savage,
these several elements appear sometimes as mere fossils,
wrecks and relics of an inchoate development of religion.
Such fossils of arrested development are to be seen in
the beliefs in a God of righteousness, existing side by
side with alien and inharmonious elements of religion,
in savage or backward races left in far-away comers of
the earth by the eddies of the stream of time.* Much
of the popular and thoughtless religion of civilised
nations is made up of beliefs in Providence, or in the
ruling righteousness of God, which have been similarly
detached from their living relation with the growing
spiritual life of mankind, and remain distorted, £rag-

* Gp. e.^., the instancee addaced m Mr. Lang's *^ Making of Religion.*'



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1 66 An Essay on Personality

mentary, isolated, discrediting the life of religion, of
which they are nevertheless the easily explicable out-
come and result. But to the generations of men who
have lived in the central stream of the history of
religion, the moral logic has been irresistible by which
the belief in God's providence identified itself with the
belief in His righteousness, and the revelation of
righteousness merged in the revelation of love. I would
not attempt here to indicate the lines of a development
which is still the task of the religion of to-day. The
living tradition of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Christian
Gospel, and the history of the Christian Church
— not least when our indignation is roused by back
eddies of reaction, such as the Calvinistic caricature
of the Divine hatred of sin — teach us increasingly
to see behind the stem, unbending righteousness the
love that will not be denied, and beyond the painful
struggles of conscience and law, the vision of that
society which God Himself shall be when through the
discipline of duty the work of love is done. The point
here to be observed is that, as a matter of fact, in the
religious experience, love as a religious motive does
pass into love as a religious emotion, and into this
and absorbs them emotion the whole moral life of desire,
into itself as regions duty, and affection is absorbed, by this

own e. emotion it is transformed and inspired,

by this emotion the moral life of men is now making
such progress as it may towards the ideal which no
doubts deny.

In the religion of love, again, the reason of humanity
finds itself, in the contemplation of the love of God,
absorbed in the one object of contemplation, which



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Emotion 167

gives to the instiiicts of the reason their supreme satis-
in the inteUectual life, faction and their rest And as the emo-

SS^IE^Jtiie *i^^^ a<^* ^i*^ ^^^^ *^® inteUect thus
reaiKMi— reaches latis- recognises its own knowledge as the
S5?eI^T outcome of the vitality of that Eternal
G<xi» Intellectual communion, which in know-

ledge it is allowed to share, as this intellectual emotion
^ . „ . passes into emotion proper, into the

and as the intellectiial * . "^ /^ t i i

emotion of contem- emotion of the love of God, the love

tite*^J^?f th^ ^^ ^^' drawing us into communion

love of God, this with itself, " the far-off Divine event "

S2£ite''^?to of all the processes of reason, is felt to

have been at work have been at work in all the growth
^^^^^c^on ttat li^ between the initial perception

through reasoned of an existence in which our own ex-

apprdiension to the • . • i i ji . -i • j i

imowiedge of the istence was mvolved, and the wide and
aT^^ ILin ^^^asoned field of the operation of the
Universal mind. Through the in-
finitely various advances of knowledge we are more
and more entering into intellectual communion with
Him, who already in and through the whole and
every part of the intelligible world has said to us,
" I am the Truth." And in the love of Grod, again
God asserts Himself to us as the one supreme inevi-
table fact, the one conceivable self-existing thing;
at once the source and sphere of every grade of
existence ; the existence which, once conceived, is seen
to warrant and yet to supersede the substantial being
which is claimed by all that is. So that as we appre-
hend this, the communion of spirit with spirit, as the
supreme intelligible existence, it may be said of the
whole substantial world and of our own substantial



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1 68 An Essay on Personality

selves that in Him, the Eternal Love, we live and move
and have our being.

And here, again, the point to be observed is that, as
a matter of fact, in the religious experience, the emotion
of the love of Grod does give to men this unique
satisfaction of the intellectual desire of man.

And of this emotion itself, the love of Grod, as the
crown of the life of emotion, it is to be said that its
In the emotional character as an emotion is this : '^ We
^^~P^ love Him because He first loved us."
mmndci'of loYeto The love of God comprehends our love
^^i^l^ for Him, in the sense that our love for
of God, Him is itself a part of the operation

of the very love which we give back. This is the
supreme example of emotion, as the delight in self-
surrender ; it is the emotion in which we dwell upon
this delight in self-surrender itself, as the life in us of
the Spirit of self-surrender, giving Himself to us, by
giving it to us as an endowment of our nature to give
ourselves to Him. This is the final emotion in which
emotion, whose nature it is to be an end to itself,
identifies itself with the core and sphere of the Uni-
versal Love, with that which is the Beginning and the
End, in the emotional act by which the soul takes it
as the very law of its being to be in love with Love.

And into this final emotion are absorbed and taken
up every fruit and result of that impulse of emotion to
the consummation of maintain itself, which in pleasure we
fJ^^^J" ^ ^*^^ ®^^ ^ ^® *^® principle of move-
of beauty. ment in the will. Through aU the

mazes of human action, through all the wayward courses
of the will, the impulses of the human spirit have been



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Emotion 169

finding or losing the way that led to their final satisfac-
tion, where the soul gives itself to be absorbed in the
bliss of the Self-Existent Life of the Eternal Love. The
glory that broke upon the soul in the first perception of
beauty is now seen as the first touch of the dawn of
this overpowering revelation of the Beauty of Love.
We have passed, as Plato said long ago, from earthly
to heavenly beauty ; but, unlike Plato, as we pass from
glory to glory we leave nothing behind, and every
sight and sound of beauty is still lovely to our eyes and
music in our ears, as we see and hear in them fragments
of the vision of the love of Gk)d, the fore-echoes and the
prelude of the song of the Eternal Day.

Once more, this emotion of the religion of love is a
fact of religious experience. Apart from its workings

The reiinon of love ^®^* ^^^ indirect, apart from its issue
thus presents as with in the effort and endeavour by which
^^i^wm^" the worst men find their one escape
hensiire, intenae from evil, and the best men do what
*'^''*"*°^ best deserves the name of good, as an

experience, it challenges attention. Apart from all
questions of its basis on historical fact or theological
doctrine, as an experience, it presents us with an ideal
of reality. It gives to life, to experience, to reality
itself, to every term by which philosophy, practical or
theoretical, attempts to describe its subject or its aim,
a vivid intensity of meaning, a hold upon the actual
facts of life, which are a prime need of a philosophy
that pretends to be in touch with experience as it is.



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CONCLUSION

In the review of experience which it has been the
purpose of the latter part of this essay to present, a
subordinate principle has been in view. We asked, as
the first question of philosophy — ^What is the reality
which is pre-eminently real ? And the answer was —
Personality, (1) as the capacity for communion, (2)
realised through the combination of the various faculties
or capacities which play their part in personal life.
The immediate object, therefore, has been to show that
each of the various faculties or capacities of personal
life reaches its development and its goal only in combi-
nation with the others. But the ultimate object has
never ceased to be to show that the development, the
goal which they reach in common, is — ^fellowship,
communion.

In attempting to exhibit the faculties of personality
in their union with and dependence on one another, it
has been unavoidable that we should glance at many


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Online LibraryWilfrid RichmondAn essay on personality as a philosophical principle → online text (page 13 of 19)