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_not_ conscious of it: he obtains his heart's desire, if he works hard
enough, and God sends leanness withal into his soul.]

[Footnote 406: The metaphysical problem about the reality of time in
relation to evolution is so closely bound up with speculative
Mysticism, that I have been obliged to state my own opinion upon it.
It is, of course, one of the vexed questions of philosophy at the
present time; and I could not afford the space, even if I had the
requisite knowledge and ability, to argue it. The best discussion of
it that I know is in M'Taggart's _Studies in Hegelian Dialectic_, pp.
159-202. Cf. note on p. 23.]



Definitions Of "Mysticism" And "Mystical Theology"

The following definitions are given only as specimens. The list might
be made much longer by quoting from other Roman Catholic theologians,
but their definitions for the most part agree closely enough with
those which I have transcribed from Corderius, John a Jesu Maria, and

1. _Corderius_. "Theologia mystica est sapientia experimentalis, Dei
affectiva, divinitus infusa, quæ mentem ab omni inordinatione puram
per actus supernaturales fidei spei et caritatis cum Deo intime
coniungit.... Mystica theologia, si vim nominis attendas, designat
quandam sacram et arcanam de Deo divinisque rebus notitiam."

2. _John a Jesu Maria_. "[Theologia mystica] est cælestis quædam Dei
notitia per unionem voluntatis Deo inhærentis elicita vel lumine
cælitus immisso producta."

3. _Bonaventura_ (adopted also by Gerson). "Est animi extensio in Deum
per amoris desiderium."

4. _Gerson_. "Theologia mystica est motio anagogica in Deum per amorem
fervidum et purum. Aliter sic: Theologia mystica est experimentalis
cognitio habita de Deo per amoris unitivi complexum. Aliter sic: est
sapientia, id est sapida notio habita de Deo, dum ei supremus apex
affectivæ potentiæ rationalis per amorem iungitur et unitur."

5. _Scaramelli_. "La theologia mistica esperimentale, secondo il suo
atto principale e più proprio, è una notizia pura di Dio che l' anima
d'ordinario riceve nella caligine luminosa, o per di meglio nel chiaro
oscuro d' un' alta contemplazione, insieme con un amore esperimentale
si intimo, che la fa perdere tutta a sè stessa per unirla e
transformarla in Dio."

6. _Ribet_. "La théologie mystique, au point de vue subjectif et
expérimental, nous semble pouvoir être définie: une attraction
surnaturelle et passive de l'âme vers Dieu, provenant d'une
illumination et d'un embrasement intérieurs, qui préviennent la
réflexion, surpassent l'effort humain, et pouvent avoir sur le corps
un retentissement merveilleux et irrésistible.... Au point de vue
doctrinal objectif, la mystique peut se définir: la science qui traite
des phénomènes surnaturels, qui préparent, accompagnent, et suivent
l'attraction passive des âmes vers Dieu et par Dieu, c'est à dire la
contemplation divine; qui les coordonne et les justifie par l'autorité
de l'Écriture, des docteurs et de la raison; les distingue des
phénomènes parallèles dus a l'action de Satan, et des faits analogues
purement naturels; enfin, qui trace des règles pratiques pour la
conduite des âmes dans ces ascensions sublimes mais périlleuses."

7. _L'Abbé Migne_. "La mystique est la science d'état sur naturel de
l'âme humaine manifesté dans le corps et dans l'ordre des choses
visibles par des effets également surnaturels."

In these scholastic and modern Roman Catholic definitions we may
observe (a) that the earlier definitions supplement without
contradicting each other, representing different aspects of Mysticism,
as an experimental science, as a living sacrifice of the will, as an
illumination from above, and as an exercise of ardent devotion; (b)
that symbolic or objective Mysticism is not recognised; (c) that the
sharp distinction between natural and supernatural, which is set up by
the scholastic mystics, carries with it a craving for physical
"mystical phenomena" to support the belief in supernatural
interventions. These miracles, though not mentioned in the earlier
definitions, have come to be considered an integral part of Mysticism,
so that Migne and Ribet include them in their definitions; (d)
lastly, that those who take this view of "la mystique divine" are
constrained to admit by the side of true mystical facts a parallel
class of "contrefaçons diaboliques."

8. _Von Hartmann_. "Mysticism is the filling of the consciousness with
a content (feeling, thought, desire), by an involuntary emergence of
the same out of the unconscious."

Von Hartmann's hypostasis of the Unconscious has been often and
justly criticised. But his chapter on Mysticism is of great value. He
begins by asking, "What is the _Wesen_ of Mysticism?" and shows that
it is not quietism (disproved by mystics like Böhme, and by many
active reformers), nor ecstasy (which is generally pathological), nor
asceticism, nor allegorism, nor fantastic symbolism, nor obscurity of
expression, nor religion generally, nor superstition, nor the sum of
these things. It is healthy in itself, and has been of high value to
individuals and to the race. It prepared for the Gospel of St. John,
for the revolt against arid scholasticism in the Middle Ages, for the
Reformation, and for modern German philosophy. He shows the mystical
element in Hamann, Jacobi, Fichte, and Schelling; and quotes with
approval the description of "intellectual intuition" given by the last
named. We must not speak of thought as an antithesis to experience,
"for thought (including immediate or mystical knowledge) is itself
experience." This knowledge is not derived from sense-perception, - the
conscious will has nothing to do with it, - "it can only have arisen
through inspiration from the Unconscious." He would extend the name of
mystic to "eminent art-geniuses who owe their productions to
inspirations of genius, and not to the work of their consciousness
(e.g. Phidias, Æeschylus, Raphael, Beethoven)", and even to every
"truly original" philosopher, for every high thought has been first
apprehended by the glance of genius. Moreover, the relation of the
individual to the Absolute, an essential theme of philosophy, can
_only_ be mystically apprehended. "This feeling is the content of
Mysticism [Greek: kat exochên], because it finds its existence _only_
in it." He then shows with great force how religious and philosophical
systems have full probative force only for the few who are able to
reproduce mystically in themselves their underlying suppositions, the
truth of which can only be mystically apprehended. "Hence it is that
those systems which rejoice in most adherents are just the poorest of
all and most unphilosophical (e.g. materialism and rationalistic

9. _Du Prel_. "If the self is not wholly contained in
self-consciousness, if man is a being dualised by the threshold of
sensibility, then is Mysticism possible; and if the threshold of
sensibility is movable, then Mysticism is necessary." "The mystical
phenomena of the soul-life are anticipations of the biological
process." "Soul is our spirit within the self-consciousness, spirit is
the soul beyond the self-consciousness."

This definition, with which should be compared the passage from J.P.
Ritcher, quoted in Lecture I., assumes that Mysticism may be treated
as a branch of experimental psychology. Du Prel attaches great
importance to somnambulism and other kindred psychical phenomena,
which (he thinks) give us glimpses of the inner world of our _Ego_, in
many ways different from our waking consciousness. "As the moon turns
to us only half its orb, so our Ego." He distinguishes between the Ego
and the subject. The former will perish at death. It arises from the
free act of the subject, which enters the time-process as a
discipline. "The self-conscious Ego is a projection of the
transcendental subject, and resembles it." "We should regard this
earthly existence as a transitory phenomenal form in correspondence
with our transcendental interest." "Conscience is transcendental
nature." (This last sentence suggests thoughts of great interest.) Du
Prel shows how Schopenhauer's pessimism may be made the basis of a
higher optimism. "The path of biological advance leads to the merging
of the Ego in the subject." "The biological aim for the race coincides
with the transcendental aim for the individual." "The whole content of
Ethics is that the Ego must subserve the Subject." The disillusions of
experience show that earthly life has no value for its own sake, and
is only a means to an end; it follows that to make pleasure our end is
the one fatal mistake in life. These thoughts are mixed with
speculations of much less value; for I cannot agree with Du Prel that
we shall learn much about higher and deeper modes of life by studying
abnormal and pathological states of the consciousness.

10. _Goethe_. "Mysticism is the scholastic of the heart, the dialectic
of the feelings."

11. _Noack_. "Mysticism is formless speculation."

Noack's definition is, perhaps, not very happily phrased, for the
essence of Mysticism is not speculation but intuition; and when it
begins to speculate, it is obliged at once to take to itself "forms."
Even the ultimate goal of the _via negativa_ is apprehended as "a kind
of form of formlessness." Goethe's definition regards Mysticism as a
system of religion or philosophy, and from this point of view
describes it accurately.

12. _Ewald_. "Mystical theology begins by maintaining that man is
fallen away from God, and craves to be again united with Him."

13. _Canon Overton_. "That we bear the image of God is the
starting-point, one might almost say the postulate, of all Mysticism.
The complete union of the soul with God is the goal of all Mysticism."

14. _Pfleiderer_. "Mysticism is the immediate feeling of the unity of
the self with God; it is nothing, therefore, but the fundamental
feeling of religion, the religious life at its very heart and centre.
But what makes the mystical a special tendency inside religion, is the
endeavour to fix the immediateness of the life in God as such, as
abstracted from all intervening helps and channels whatever, and find
a permanent abode in the abstract inwardness of the life of pious
feeling. In this God-intoxication, in which self and the world are
alike forgotten, the subject knows himself to be in possession of the
highest and fullest truth; but this truth is only possessed in the
quite undeveloped, simple, and bare form of monotonous feeling; what
truth the subject possesses is not filled up by any determination in
which the simple unity might unfold itself, and it lacks therefore the
clearness of knowledge, which is only attained when thought harmonises
differences with unity."

15. _Professor A. Seth_. "Mysticism is a phase of thought, or rather,
perhaps, of feeling, which from its very nature is hardly susceptible
of exact definition. It appears in connexion with the endeavour of the
human mind to grasp the Divine essence or the ultimate reality of
things, and to enjoy the blessedness of actual communion with the
highest. The first is the philosophic side of Mysticism; the second,
its religious side. The thought that is most intensely present with
the mystic is that of a supreme, all-pervading, and indwelling Power,
in whom all things are one. Hence the speculative utterances of
Mysticism are always more or less pantheistic in character. On the
practical side, Mysticism maintains the possibility of direct
intercourse with this Being of beings. God ceases to be an object, and
becomes an experience."

This carefully-worded statement of the essence of Mysticism is
followed by a hostile criticism. Professor Seth considers quietism the
true conclusion from the mystic's premisses. "It is characteristic of
Mysticism, that it does not distinguish between what is metaphorical
and what is susceptible of a literal interpretation. Hence it is prone
to treat a relation of ethical harmony as if it were one of
substantial identity or chemical fusion; and, taking the sensuous
language of religious feeling literally, it bids the individual aim at
nothing less than an interpenetration of essence. And as this goal is
unattainable while reason and the consciousness of self remain, the
mystic begins to consider these as impediments to be thrown aside....
Hence Mysticism demands a faculty above reason, by which the subject
shall be placed in immediate and complete union with the object of his
desire, a union in which the consciousness of self has disappeared,
and in which, therefore, subject and object are one." To this, I
think, the mystic might answer: "I know well that interpenetration and
absorption are words which belong to the category of space, and are
only metaphors or symbols of the relation of the soul to God; but
separateness, impenetrability, and isolation, which you affirm of the
_ego_, belong to the same category, and are no whit less metaphorical.
The question is, which of the two sets of words best expresses the
relation of the ransomed soul to its Redeemer? In my opinion, your
phrase 'ethical harmony' is altogether inadequate, while the New
Testament expressions, 'membership,' 'union,' 'indwelling,' are as
adequate as words can be." The rest of the criticism is directed
against the "negative road," which I have no wish to defend, since I
cannot admit that it follows logically from the first principles of

16. _Récéjac_. "Mysticism is the tendency to approach the Absolute
morally, and by means of symbols."

Récéjac's very interesting _Essai sur les Fondements de la
Connaissance mystique_ has the great merit of emphasising the symbolic
character of all mystical phenomena, and of putting all such
experiences in their true place, as neither hallucinations nor
invasions of the natural order, but symbols of a higher reality. "Les
apparitions et autres phénomènes mystiques n'existent que dans
l'esprit du voyant, et ne perdent rien pour cela de leur prix ni de
leur vérité.... Et alors n'y a-t-il pas au fond des symboles autant
_d'être_ que sous les phénomènes? Bien plus encore: car l'être
phénoménal, le réel, se pose dans la conscience par un enchaînement de
faits tellement successif que nous ne tenons jamais 'le même'; tandis
que sous les symboles, si nous tenons quelque chose, c'est l'identique
et le permanent." Récéjac also insists with great force that the
motive power of Mysticism is neither curiosity nor self-interest, but
love: the intrusion of alien motives is at once fatal to it. "Its
logic consists in having confidence in the rationality of the moral
consciousness and its desires." This agrees with what I have
said - that Reason is, or should be, the logic of our entire
personality, and that if Reason is so defined, it does not come into
conflict with Mysticism. Récéjac also has much to say upon Free Will
and Determinism. He says that Mysticism is an alliance between the
Practical Reason (which he identifies with "la Liberté") and
Imagination. "Determinism is the opposite, not of 'Liberty,' but of
'indifference.' Liberty, as Fouillée says, is only a higher form of
Determinism." "The modern idea of liberty, and the mystical conception
of Divine will, may be reconciled in the same way as inspiration and
reason, on condition that both are discovered in the same fact
interior to us, and that, far from being opposed to each other, they
are fused and distinguished together _dans quelque implicite
réellement présent a la conscience_." Récéjac throughout appeals to
Kant instead of to Hegel as his chief philosophical authority, in this
differing from the majority of those who are in sympathy with

17. _Bonchitté_. "Mysticism consists in giving to the spontaneity of
the intelligence a larger part than to the other faculties."

18. _Charles Kingsley_. "The great Mysticism is the belief which is
becoming every day stronger with me, that all symmetrical natural
objects are types of some spiritual truth or existence. When I walk
the fields, I am oppressed now and then with an innate feeling that
everything I see has a meaning, if I could but understand it. And this
feeling of being surrounded with truths which I cannot grasp, amounts
to indescribable awe sometimes. Everything seems to be full of God's
reflex, if we could but see it. Oh, how I have prayed to have the
mystery unfolded, at least hereafter! To see, if but for a moment, the
whole harmony of the great system! To hear once the music which the
whole universe makes as it performs His bidding! Oh, that heaven! The
thought of the first glance of creation from thence, when we know even
as we are known. And He, the glorious, the beautiful, the incarnate
Ideal shall be justified in all His doings, and in all, and through
all, and over all.... All day, glimpses from the other world, floating
motes from that inner transcendental life, have been floating across
me.... Have you not felt that your real soul was imperceptible to your
mental vision, except at a few hallowed moments? That in everyday life
the mind, looking at itself, sees only the brute intellect, grinding
and working, not the Divine particle, which is life and immortality,
and on which the Spirit of God most probably works, as being most
cognate to Deity" (_Life_, vol. i. p. 55). Again he says: "This earth
is the next greatest fact to that of God's existence."

Kingsley's review of Vaughan's _Hours with the Mystics_ shows that he
retained his sympathy with Mysticism at a later period of his life. It
would be impossible to find any consistent idealistic philosophy in
Kingsley's writings; but the sentences above quoted are interesting as
a profession of faith in Mysticism of the _objective_ type.

19. _R.L. Nettleship_. "The cure for a wrong Mysticism is to realise
the facts, not particular facts or aspects of facts, but the whole
fact: true Mysticism is the consciousness that everything that we
experience is an element, and only an element, in fact; i.e. that in
being what it is, it is symbolic of something more."

The _obiter dicta_ on Mysticism in Nettleship's _Remains_ are of great

20. _Lasson_. "The essence of Mysticism is the assertion of an
intuition which transcends the temporal categories of the
understanding, relying on speculative reason. Rationalism cannot
conduct us to the essence of things; we therefore need intellectual
vision. But Mysticism is not content with symbolic knowledge, and
aspires to see the Absolute by pure spiritual apprehension.... There
is a contradiction in regarding God as the immanent Essence of all
things, and yet as an abstraction transcending all things. But it is
inevitable. Pure immanence is unthinkable, if we are to maintain
distinctions in things.... Strict 'immanence' doctrine tends towards
the monopsychism of Averroes.... Mysticism is often associated with
pantheism, but the religious character of Mysticism views everything
from the standpoint of teleology, while pantheism generally stops at
causality.... Mysticism, again, is often allied with rationalism, but
their ground-principles are different, for rationalism is deistic, and
rests on this earth, being based on the understanding [as opposed to
the higher faculty, the reason].... Nothing can be more perverse than
to accuse Mysticism of _vagueness_. Its danger is rather an
overvaluing of reason and knowledge.... Mysticism is only religious so
long as it remembers that we can here only see through a glass darkly;
when it tries to represent the eternal _adequately_, it falls into a
new and dangerous retranslation of thought into images, or into bare
negation.... Religion is a relation of person to person, a life, which
in its form is an analogy to the earthly, while its content is pure
relation to the eternal. Dogmatic is the skeleton, Mysticism the
life-blood, of the Christian body.... Since the Reformation,
philosophy has taken over most of the work which the speculative
mystics performed in the Middle Ages" (_Essay on the Essence and Value
of Mysticism_).

21. _Nordau_. "The word Mysticism describes a state of mind in which
the subject imagines that he perceives or divines unknown and
inexplicable relations among phenomena, discerns in things hints at
mysteries, and regards them as symbols by which a dark power seeks to
unveil, or at least to indicate, all sorts of marvels.... It is always
connected with strong emotional excitement.... Nearly all our
perceptions, ideas, and conceptions are connected more or less closely
through the association of ideas. But to make the association of ideas
fulfil its function, one more thing must be added - _attention_, which
is the faculty to suppress one part of the memory-images and maintain
another part." We must select the strongest and most direct images,
those directly connected with the afferent nerves; "this Ribot calls
adaptation of the whole organism to a predominant idea.... Attention
presupposes strength of will. Unrestricted play of association, the
result of an exhausted or degenerate brain, gives rise to Mysticism.
Since the mystic cannot express his cloudy thoughts in ordinary
language, he loves mutually exclusive expressions. Mysticism blurs
outlines, and makes the transparent opaque."

The Germans have two words for what we call Mysticism - _Mystik_ and
_Mysticismus_, the latter being generally dyslogistic. The long chapter
in Nordau's _Degeneration_, entitled "Mysticism," treats it throughout
as a morbid state. It will be observed that the last sentence quoted
flatly contradicts one of the statements copied from Lasson's essay. But
Nordau is not attacking religious Mysticism, so much as that unwholesome
development of symbolic "science, falsely so called," which has usurped
the name in modern France. Those who are interested in Mysticism should
certainly study the pathological symptoms which counterfeit mystical
states, and from this point of view the essay in _Degeneration_ is
valuable. The observations of Nordau and other alienists must lead us to
suspect very strongly the following kinds of symbolical representation,
whether the symbols are borrowed from the external world, or created by
the imagination: - (a) All those which include images of a sexual
character. It is unnecessary to illustrate this. The visions of monks
and nuns are often, as we might expect, unconsciously tinged with a
morbid element of this kind. (b) Those which depend on mere verbal
resemblances or other fortuitous correspondences. Nordau shows that the
diseased brain is very ready to follow these false trains of
association. (c) Those which are connected with the sense of smell,
which seems to be morbidly developed in this kind of degeneracy. (d)
Those which in any way minister to pride or self-sufficiency.

22. _Harnack_. "Mysticism is rationalism applied to a sphere above

I have criticised this definition in my first Lecture, and have
suggested that the words "rationalism" and "reason" ought to be
transposed. Elsewhere Harnack says that the distinctions between
"Scholastic, Roman, German, Catholic, Evangelical, and Pantheistic
Mysticism" are at best superficial, and in particular that it is a
mistake to contrast "Scholasticism and Mysticism" as opposing forces
in the Middle Ages. "Mysticism," he proceeds, "is Catholic piety in
general, so far as this piety is not merely ecclesiastical obedience,
that is, _fides implicita_. The Reformation element which is ascribed
to it lies simply in this, that Mysticism, when developed in a
particular direction, is led to discern the inherent responsibility of
the soul, of which no authority can again deprive it." The conflicts
between Mysticism and Church authority, he thinks, in no way militate
against _both_ being Catholic ideals, just as asceticism and
world-supremacy are both Catholic ideals, though contradictory. The
German mystics he disparages. "I give no extracts from their
writings," he says, "because I do not wish even to seem to countenance
the error that they expressed anything that one cannot read in Origen,
Plotinus, the Areopagite, Augustine, Erigena, Bernard, and Thomas, or
that they represented religious progress." "It will never be possible
to make Mysticism Protestant without flying in the face of history and
Catholicism." "A mystic who does not become a Catholic is a

Before considering these statements, I will quote from another attack
upon Mysticism by a writer whose general views are very similar to
those of Harnack.

23. _Herrmann_ (_Verkehr des Christen mit Gott_). "The most

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