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deal that does not belong to it. But they are strong on
the empirical side. The influence of a steady determina-
tion on the formation of character is undeniable ; and the
phenomena of faith-healing, hypnotism, and suggestion
point to a hitherto unsuspected potency residing in the will,
and capable, at least under some conditions, of being
utilised. These obscure psychical energies have been
more studied and more exploited in America than in any
other country ; and I believe that this fact has had much
to do with the revolt against intellectualism in philosophy,
which is now so powerful in the United States. Not only
do these phenomena seem to present a practical refutation
of Spinozism, and of its modern representative the theory
of psycho-physical parallelism, but the present condition of
psychology seems to demand a modest hesitation in laying
down any limits to the possible action of mind upon matter.
It is felt that we are only at the beginning of what may be
a new epoch hi mental science, and that when our know-
ledge has been extended and systematised, the bogey of
determinism may be laid once for all, and science may be
compelled to take a much humbler attitude towards
religion and ethics.

This line of thought is very welcome to many, who have
long felt that the mechanical theory, which reduces men
and women to the condition of cunningly devised automata,
is fatal to moral freedom, to human dignity, and to religious
hope. It is also very convenient to the conservative apolo-
gist, anxious to vindicate divine interventions in history.

It will be well first to give a short historical account
of the growth of ' pragmatist ' tendencies in religious
philosophy.

The first serious attempt to exalt the will above the



146 FAITH [en.

Intellect as an instrument of religious belief was made by
the Nominalist opponents of Thomas Aquinas. With the
doctrine of the primacy of the will came the adoption of a
practical or empirical criterion of truth instead of a theo-
retical one. 1 This cleavage appeared even among the
mystics, the followers of the Platonic and Augustinian
tradition insisting on the knowledge of God as the con-
comitant or condition of spiritual progress, while there were
others who maintained that a complete dedication of the
will was sufficient. The latter teaching, with mystics, led to
quietism, while the former was accused of tending towards
speculative pantheism. The Theologia Germanica repre-
sents a moderate quietism ; Eckhart is a stronger example
of the pantheistic tendency. Among the scholastics
proper, the school of Thomas Aquinas represented the
speculative tendency, while William of Occam was
the chief champion of the will and practical reason.
Nominalism was at first suspected, but was afterwards
encouraged, when realism was seen to favour determinism
and pantheistic mysticism. Nominalism could also do a
great service to the Papacy by deciding that, since reason
cannot arrive at the truth, we ought to bow absolutely to
the authority of the Church. The doctrine of fides impli-
cita, which practically means blind obedience, was de-
veloped. But after a very short reign nominalism itself
decayed, when Plato (the real Plato this time) was redis-
covered.

Among modern philosophers before Kant who laid great
stress on the prac'ical ground of Faith, we need only
mention Spinoza. This writer sees the religious value of
dogmas not in their actual truth, but in their power of
moving to action. We are allowed and encouraged to state

1 The following brief statement of the epistemology of Nominalism will show
its close affinity with Kantianism and American pragmatism. 'Theologiu nos 1 1 a
nullatenus speculativa est, sed simpliciter practica. Theologiae objectum
non est speculabile sed operabile. <^>uidquid in Deo est practicum est respectu
nostri.' (Frassen.)



ix.] FAITH AS AN ACT OF WILL 147

our dogmas in the form which suits us best. The end of
Faith, he says, is obedience and piety. In this theory of
Faith he prepared the way for thinkers who were strongly
opposed to his philosophy as a whole.

Kant's attack upon the scholastic * proofs of God's
existence,' and upon intellectualism generally in matters
of Faith, is well known. There is, according to him, ' a
deep gulf between thought and being, which nothing can
overcome. Things in themselves are the condition of
all thought; but what exists we cannot know.' If we
say that God, or the Absolute, must be self-consistent
and all-embracing, we are told that the logical law of
contradiction 1 is concerned, not with real things, but only
with the concepts which we form about them. Logical
laws are only laws of thought, not laws which bind reality.
The result of this assumption is that he separates our
theoretical and moral judgments as they are never separ-
ated hi experience, and gives us first an abstract intellectual
scepticism in the Critique of Pure Reason, and then an
abstract moralistic deism in the Critique of Practical
Reason. But it is a pure assumption that because the law
of contradiction is a logical law, it must be only a logical
law and nothing more. Indeed it is meaningless to talk
about a law which is ' only a law of thought.' When we
say that we cannot think of A as being at once B and not
B, we are not laying down a law for psychology. Experi-
ence suggests that many people are quite capable of holding
two contradictory propositions simultaneously. What we
mean is that if we think hi this way, we are not thinking
truly, or, in other words, we are not thinking of things as
they really are. We cannot speak of ' mere logical laws '
without falling into the extreme of scepticism. If necessary
thought is no criterion of objective truth, how can we know

1 The 'law of contradiction ' is that a thing cannot at the same time be both
B and not B ; or, ' It is impossible at the same time to affirm and deny. ' Of.
Clarke, Logic, pp. 33-42.



148 FAITH [CH,

anything ? It is strange that Kant treats with neglect,
and almost with contempt, the hypothesis on which all men
.act, namely, that the forms of knowing and being corre-
spond because they are manifestations of the same
intelligent principle. 1 He did not distinguish this very
reasonable belief from the ' pre-established harmony ' of
Leibnitz, a theory which may be said to have died with its
author.

According to this philosophy, we reach solid rock only in
the moral consciousness, which Kant supposes to be given
to us immediately. This and this only is vouched for by
Faith ' I must, and therefore I can.' Morality thus con-
ceived is as empty of contents as it is inexplicable in its
origin. Kant excludes the happiness or welfare of the
subject as a legitimate motive, and but for an obvious
inconsistency would have equally excluded the happiness
and welfare of others. For we cannot morally desire for
others what we regard as indifferent for ourselves. The
motive for moral action must, according to him, be simply
reverence for moral law as such. But this is not a suffi-
cient motive for a rational being. We cannot do our life's
work like convicts at a crank, whose task is simply to
expend a prescribed quantity of muscular energy. We
act in order to produce something which we regard as
worth producing, and the empty idea of right gives us
no intelligible guidance. To make religion merely a tran-
scendental projection from morals is to invert their true
relationship. The abstract moral sense is a pure illusion.
There is no such fixed and known code of morals as Kant
postulates. There is hardly a crime or vice that has not
at some time and place been enjoined in the name of
morality and religion. Nor is morality ' unconditional,'
as Kant supposed. Apart from the question whether
pleasure and pain can be excluded from consideration,

i In the Critique of Judgment there are hints of this solution, but thej
are not developed.



ix.] FAITH AS AN ACT OF WILL 149

as Kant demands, we have already seen grounds for
believing that truth and beauty exercise a co-ordinate
authority with goodness as attributes of the divine mind,
and refuse to be subordinated to morality.

The later Kantians have for the most part modified or
abandoned the moral rigorism of their master, and they
have also allowed the rationalistic side of Kant's thought
to fall into the background. It must be remembered that
the rift which turns Kant's philosophy into a dualism is
still, according to him, a rift within the reason. If the
^practical and theoretical reason could make up their
quarrel, or rather get into contact with each other, the
problem would be solved. His philosophy is truly described
as ' critical rationalism ' ; and he cannot justly be classed
with the thorough-going voluntarists who followed him.
And yet on one side he is the father of modern anti-
intellectualism. For there is only one reason, not two ; and
the * practical reason,' when set in opposition to the theoret-
ical, and exalted above it, is after all only another name
for the irrational will. This has become clear in the
development of the neo-Kantian philosophy, in which war
is frankly declared against the theoretical or speculative
reason. Against this disruption of the human mind, which
if pressed to its logical conclusion is fatal to all scientific
knowledge, Herbert Spencer protests in language which
Christian philosophy can adopt without hesitation. ' Let
those who can, believe that there is eternal war between
our intellectual faculties and our moral obligations. I
for one can admit no such radical vice in the constitution
of things.'

My plan in this lecture is to consider first the recent
developments of voluntarism and pragmatism in philosophy
generally of course only hi bare outline and then to deal
with the influence of this tendency upon Protestant and
Catholic theology and apologetics. (It will be convenient
to take the Protestants before the Catholics, because



150 FAITH [CH.

Ritschlianism preceded in time the Modernist movement
in the Roman Church.)

Neo-Kantianism in Germany has for the most part been
either connected with the school of Protestant theology
called after Ritschl, and so falls under the second of my
three headings, or else, as with Lange, it has built on a
sceptical or despairing view of the existing world an
aesthetic superstructure, in which religion plays its part
along with poetry and the arts, as an ideal embellishment
of the actual. This latter attempt to build an imaginative
structure on a Kantian basis does not belong to our
present enquiry. We are now dealing with those who wish
to base philosophy, and with it, religious beliefs, on free
choice, directed only by the practical requirements of life hi
the world. This now popular unmetaphysical philosophy,
which is commonly called pragmatism, has far more
disciples in America than in any other country. Its pro-
tagonist is Professor William James of Harvard, who has a
group of disciples at Oxford, and a very large following
in his own land.

The word Trpay/jLariKos, from which pragmatism is de-
rived, meant in ancient Greek * practical,' or ' businesslike.*
In the political history of medieval and modern times,
a ' pragmatic sanction ' has meant an inviolable compact.
Kant uses the adjective in the sense of ' prudent,' of action
directed to a purpose. Bismarck's policy was described
as pragmatic, the meaning being that he was determined
to achieve his ends quocumque modo. Such are the ante-
cedents of the word, as now used in philosophy. Kant's
use of it has probably had most to do with determining
its present signification. In current philosophy, prag-
matism is the theory that * all our beliefs are really rules
for action ' ; and that * to develop a thought's meaning,
we need only determine what conduct it is fitted to pro-
duce ; that conduct is for us its sole significance.' 1 From

1 Professor W. James, Pragmatism, p. 46



ix.] FAITH AS AN ACT OF WILL 151

this it is made to follow that the ' true is the name of what-
ever proves itself to be good in the way of belief, and good
too for definite assignable reasons.' l

Professor James is so uncompromising an advocate of
the practical principle as the ground of Faith that he brings
all the limitations and errors of anti-intellectualism into
the light of day. His philosophy, indeed, is in parts an
admirable reductio ad dbsurdum of sceptical opportunism
as a principle of thought and action. He and his school
are so determined to safeguard human personality and the
freedom of the will that they give us a God who is ' limited
by all other beings in the universe ' a very constitutional
President in a society of free and independent spirits
(unless indeed they prefer, as some of them do, to make the
Absolute ' a society,' which is either atheism or polytheism);
they deny that there are any ' laws of nature ' within the
sphere of the will ; they refuse to acknowledge any unity
in experience, or any evidence that the universe (which
one of them suggests should be called the ' multi verse ')
is a systematic whole. 4 Not unfortunately,' says Professor
James, ' the universe is wild ; nature is miracle all.' ' We
must leave surprises even for God,' as another writer of
the same school says. This seems a high price to pay
for free-will. A * wild universe,' where anything or every-
thing may happen, and which 4|i its unaccountable be-
haviour administers a series of shocks even to its Creator,
would seem to be a fit abode only for a very wild man, the
kind of person, in fact, whom we do not permit to be at
large.

I will not discuss further this philosophy (if it deserves
the name) of personal atomism. In proclaiming the
bankruptcy of science it proclaims its own bankruptcy.
From the religious point of view it has the fatal defect of -:
denying divine immanence ; for a personal independence
which rests on exclusion forbids all communion between

1 Professor W. James, Pragmatism, p. 76.



152 FAITH [CH.

God and man, as well as between man and the world. This
objection, it seems to me, applies not only to the extreme
pragmatists, like Professor James, but to the ' personal
idealists ' who are not willing to follow him all the way.
They have proved that it is possible to pay too dearly for
the assurance of personal freedom. That freedom is not
yet ours. Personality, like all else that is imperfect and
.> an unrealised ideal, must die in order that it may live.
The way to save our ^v\rj to ' find it unto life eternal '
is not by claiming that it is lord of the creation, but
by being willing to ' lose ' it in the service of grander and
wider aspects of reality.

Nevertheless, the ethical side of religion is so important
that we cannot altogether blame those who have no eyes
for any other order of truth. They think that what they
call intellectualism or rationalism means in practice natural-
ism that is, acceptance of the mechanical order as divine,
and a Stoical worship of the blind giant Nature, who
cares only for the preservation of her types, and knows
nothing of justice or mercy. The nineteenth century
witnessed a series of reactions against the supposed tyranny
of natural law ; even Huxley, in his famous Romanes
lecture, could speak of the duty of ' resisting the cosmic
process.' But this is to accept a Manichean view of
nature. It is to admit an irreconcilable dualism, handing
over the world to some non-moral agency, while separating
man from his environment. A truer solution is, not to
discredit natural law, but to remember that science can
admit no exceptions to its sway. Natural law, from the
point of view of science, is universal, or it is nothing. It
includes the highest principles which actuate the best of
men, as well as the blind movements of inanimate things.
This consideration may lead us to find spiritual law in the
natural world, a far more satisfactory discovery than the
notion that man can successfully defy the order of the
universe. The fault, however, was largely that of some




ix.1 FAITH AS AN ACT OF WILL 153



scientists of the older generation, who wrote as if molecular
physics could prescribe rules for human action, thus ex-
plaining the highest and most complex forms of life by the
simplest and lowest. We are not powerless in the grip of
natural forces, to which we ourselves contribute. This is
a good world because it needs us to make it better. If
Bacon was right in saying that nature is only conquered by
obeying her, it is equally true that she is only obeyed by
conquering her.

The school which we are now considering also accuses
modern rationalism, and the later Greek philosophy too,
of teaching that reality is * ready made and complete from
all eternity.' This view deprives the time-process of all
value and meaning, and makes activity a delusion. Prag-
matists insist, on the other hand, that the world is
still in the making, and that to a large extent we have
the making of it. It is quite true that the dynamic
aspect of reality has been unduly neglected by some
thinkers, and we owe a debt of gratitude to those who
have revived the Aristotelian doctrine that ' the end is
an action, not a quality ' (TO reAos vr/oa^is TIS farnv ov TTOIOT^?).
Aristotle, however, never disparages the intellectual
life, as this school habitually does. In him, contem-
plation is the highest kind of action, and spiritual activity
as ' practical ' as manual labour. The pragmatists are
fond of quoting Stdvoia avrr) ovSev Kivtl (' the intellect by
itself moves nothing ') as an expression of anti-intellec-
tualism. But all that Aristotle means is that intellect
energising in vacuo is a false abstraction.

Again, we cannot but be grateful to be reminded that
the will and feelings must be constantly exercised in the
endeavour to realise facts and to work out our convictions.
The struggle for the higher life is so hard that we tend
either to leave ourselves behind, merely thinking and talking
about the truth, like those of whom Aristotle says that
they * take refuge in words and think that they are philo-



164 FAITH [CH.

sophers,' ! or we construct a premature synthesis of reality,
on the basis of our still disordered selves. The danger of
purely speculative thinking has been often exhibited, and
is not diminished by the counter warning that a mixture
of ethics and metaphysics results in a bad philosophy. The
evil effects of one-sidedness must be recognised, and also
the extreme difficulty of taking a comprehensive view
without incoherence and self-contradiction. The meta-
physician who determines to follow the argument whither-
soever it leads him, ignoring practical problems, and not
even trying to make a practical religion for himself out of
his speculations, is likely to produce a more consistent
intellectual system than one who all the time regards
metaphysics as a handmaid of ethics, and will advocate no
principles which he is not prepared to make the standard
of his own conduct. Hume is, I venture to think, far
more free from contradictions than Kant ; and Hume, as
we know from his private correspondence, protested against
the assumption that his speculative views about religion
made it more difficult for him than for believers in Chris-
tianity to bear a bereavement. c In these matters,' he
wrote, ' I do not think so differently from the rest of the
world as you imagine.' 2 Thus that fearlessly honest
thinker was obliged in practice to be faithless to his own
intellect, and to testify to the half-truth of pragmatism
as well as to the inadequacy of scepticism as a working
creed. In the case of Schopenhauer we find an equally
independent intellectual life, which apparently had no
influence in elevating his moral character. Like Circe's
human swine, his higher nature only made him miserable,
while it left him to wallow in the mire of cowardly selfishness
and sensuality. But even from the speculative stand-
point, the consistency of a philosophy which has turned its
back on experience is dearly purchased. It escapes contra-
dictions by refusing to consider some essential aspects of

l Aristotle, Ethics, ii 3. a Cf. Burton's Life, of Hume, vol. L p. 294.



ix.] FAITH AS AN ACT OF WILL 155

the problem ; and in consequence its conclusions have
only an abstract and hypothetical truth. They are not
true of the real world, or at any rate they have not been
shown to be so.

The demands of our ethical nature point to the objec-
tive existence of a hierarchy of values, and these must
be included in any intellectual system which claims to
represent the whole truth. The difficulty of harmonising
this valuation with the existential aspect of things proves
to us, not that we cannot know reality at all, but that we
know it only in part. An imperfect experience cannot
construct a consistent philosophy.

Let us now consider the results of what we may call
ethical idealism in Protestant theology. We shall find our
documents mainly in the German Ritschlian school.

The foundation of the Ritschlian teaching is the assertion
of the primacy of the ethical sense. With Lotze, whom
he greatly admired, Ritschl held that the foundation of
metaphysics is to be found in ethics : we are to seek in
what ought to be the ground of what is. Like Lotze, he
recognises in man a faculty of forming value- judgments,
which is of greater importance than the ' merely intellec-
tual ' view of the world. These ' value- judgments ' take,
in Ritschl's philosophy, the same place which Schleier-
macher gives to undifferentiated feeling. They are the
ultimate seat of authority. Both maintain that the final
court of appeal is subjective experience, which is not to be
checked by reference to the outer world of phenomena ;
but while Schleiermacher's appeal was to a vague senti-
ment, Ritschl's is narrowed and made more definite his
supreme court is the ethical demand. In order to preclude
any disputes as to the authority of this one faculty to
decide everything, ' metaphysics,' which include all
' judgments of fact,' are declared to have nothing to do
with religion. * Religion and theoretic knowledge are
distinct functions, which even when applied to the same



156 FAITH [CH.

object do not even partially coincide, but go totally
asunder.' l So harsh and intractable a dualism is only
tolerable if we resolve to treat one of the two sides as a
negligible quantity. And this is the treatment which
Ritschlianism metes out to existential truth. 2 The proper
philosophical position corresponding to this view of the
world is subjective idealism, which some have thought the
logical conclusion from Lotze's premisses.

A little more must be said about the famous doctrine of
value- judgments. According to Ritschl, the Judgments
which we form on moral and religious subjects are * in-
dependent judgments of value.' They set forth, not the
objective nature and relation of things, but only their
value for us their fitness to satisfy some want of our own
nature. Religion, therefore, has nothing to do with ob-
jective fact ; truth, in this sphere, is purely pragmatic and
teleological. Ritschl, however, shrank from the logical
conclusion which has been drawn by some of the modern
psychological school, that God Himself has no objective
existence, or that if He has, His objective existence is
irrelevant to religion. He somehow regards the existence
of God, and one or two other dogmas which he prized, to be
guaranteed by the faculty of ' value- Judging.' But this
is a manifest trespass. On his principles, Judgments of
fact and judgments of value can never come in conflict,
because they are * independent ' of each other. But to
assert the existence of God is to make a judgment of
fact, not a judgment of value. Or if we say that value
guarantees existence, that is a Judgment of fact, and the
whole character of the philosophy is changed by the
transit from idealism to realism. On Ritschl's principles,
there is no escape from pure phenomenalism and sub-

1 Quoted by Orr, p. 61.

2 The school of Ritschl has split on the theory of knowledge. Herrmann
is a Kantian ; Kaftan is an empirical positivist ; Bender was logical enough
to proclaim an uncompromising subjectivism, for which his party, after a
heated controversy, repudiated him.






tt.] FAITH AS AN ACT OF WILL 157

jectivism except by a patent inconsistency. 1 God is, on
Ritschlian principles, at best a postulate, arising from the
Judgment which the human spirit makes of its own worth.

You will gather that in my opinion the whole system is
ruined by its attempt to exclude ' judgments of being '-


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Online LibraryWilliam Ralph IngeFaith and its psychology → online text (page 13 of 21)