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unless the hours of labour, or the nervous strain, exceed the powers of
the worker. More monotonous work is not costly to the worker if the
day's labour is fairly short, or if some variety can be introduced. The
human cost is greatly increased if the worker thinks that his labour is
useless, or that it will only benefit those who do not deserve the
enjoyment of its fruits. Work which only produces frivolous luxuries is
and ought to be unwelcome to the producer, even if he is well paid. It
must also be emphasised that worry and anxiety take the heart out of a
man more than anything else. Security of employment greatly reduces the
'human cost' of labour. These considerations are comparatively new in
political economy. They change it from a highly abstract science into a
study of the conditions of human welfare as affected by social
organisation. The change is a victory for the ideas of Buskin and
Morris, though not necessarily for the practical remedies for social
maladjustments which they propounded. It brings political economy into
close relations with ethics and religion, and should induce economists
to consider carefully the contribution which Christianity makes to the
solution of the whole problem. For Christianity has its remedy to
propose, and it is a solution of the problem of war, not less than of
industrial evils.

Christianity gives the world a new and characteristic standard of
values. It diminishes greatly the values which can accrue from
competition, and enhances immeasurably the non-competitive values. 'A
man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he
possesseth.' 'Is not the life more than meat, and the body than
raiment?' 'The Kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness
and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.' Passages like these are found in
every part of the New Testament. This Christian idealism has a direct
bearing on the doctrine of 'human costs.' Work is irksome, not only when
it is excessive or ill-paid, but when the worker is lazy, selfish,
envious or discontented. There is one thing which can make almost any
work welcome. If it is done from love or unselfish affection, the human
cost is almost _nil_, because it is not counted or consciously felt.
This is no exaggeration when it is applied to the devoted labour of the
mother and the nurse, or to that of the evangelist conscious of a divine
vocation. But in all useful work the keen desire to render social
service, or to do God's will, diminishes to an incalculable extent the
'human cost' of labour. This principle introduces a deep cleavage
between the Christian remedy and that of political socialism, which
fosters discontent and indignation as a lever for social amelioration.
Men are made unhappy in order that they may be urged to claim a larger
share of the world's wealth. Christianity considers that, measured by
human costs, the remedy is worse than the disease. The adoption of a
truer standard of value would tear up the lust of accumulation by the
roots, and would thus effect a real cure. It would also stop the
grudging and deliberately bad work which at present seriously diminishes
the national wealth.

The Christian cure is the only real cure. It is the fashion to assume
that militarism and cupidity are vices of the privileged classes, and
that democracies may be trusted neither to plunder the minority at home
nor to seek foreign adventures by unjust wars. There is not the
slightest reason to accept either of these views. Political power is
always abused; an unrepresented class is always plundered. Nor are
democracies pacific, except by accident. At present they do not wish to
see the capital which they regard as their prospective prey dissipated
in war; and for this reason their influence in our time will probably be
on the side of peace. But, as soon as the competition of cheap Asiatic
labour becomes acute, we may expect to see the democracies bellicose and
the employing class pacific. This is not guess-work; we already see how
the democracies of California and Australia behave towards immigrants
from Asia. Readers of Anatole France will remember his description of
the economic wars decreed by the Senate of the great republic, at the
end of 'L'Île des Pingouins.' It would, indeed, be difficult to prove
that the expansion of the United States has differed much, in methods
and morals, from that of the European monarchies; and the methods of
trade-unions are the methods of pitiless belligerency. Democracy and
socialism are broken reeds for the lover of peace to lean upon.

In conclusion, our answer to the indictment against Christianity is
that institutional religion does not represent the Gospel of Christ, but
the opinions of a mass of nominal Christians. It cannot be expected to
do much more than look after its own interests and reflect the moral
ideas of its supporters. The real Gospel, if it were accepted, would
pull up by the roots not only militarism but its analogue in civil life,
the desire to exploit other people for private gain. But it is not
accepted. We have seen that the Founder of Christianity had no illusions
as to the reception which His message of redemption would meet with. The
'Prince of this World' is not Christ, but the Devil. Nevertheless, He
did speak of the 'whole lump' being gradually leavened, and we shall not
exceed the limits of a reasonable and justifiable optimism if we hope
that the accumulated experience of humanity, and perhaps a real though
very slow modification for the better of human nature itself, may at
last eliminate the wickedest and most insane of our maleficent
institutions. The human race has probably hundreds of thousands of years
to live, whereas our so-called civilisation cannot be traced back for
more than a few thousand years. The time when 'nation shall not lift up
sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more,' will
probably come at last, though no one can predict what the conditions
will be which will make such a change possible.

The signs are not very favourable at present for internationalism. The
great nations, bankrupt and honey-combed with social unrest, will be
obliged after the war to organise themselves as units, with governments
strong enough to put down revolutions, and directed by men of the
highest mercantile ability, whose main function will be to increase
productiveness and stop waste. We may even see Germany mobilised as one
gigantic trust for capturing markets and regulating prices. A
combination so formidable would compel other nations, and our own
certainly among the number, to adopt a similar organisation. This would,
of course, mean a complete victory for bureaucratic state-socialism, and
the defeat of democracy and trade-union syndicalism. Such a change,
which few would just now welcome, will occur if no other form of state
is able to survive; and this is what we may live to see. But there is
no finality about any experiments in government. A period of
internationalism may follow the intense nationalism which historical
critics foresee for the twentieth century. Or perhaps the international
labour-organisations may be too strong for the centralising forces. It
is just possible that Labour, by a concerted movement during the violent
reaction against militarism which will probably follow the war, will
forbid any further military or naval preparations to be made.

Whatever forms reconstruction may take, Christianity will have its part
to play in making the new Europe. It will be able to point to the
terrible vindication of its doctrines in the misery and ruin which have
overtaken a world which has rejected its valuations and scorned its
precepts. It is not Christianity which has been judged and condemned at
the bar of civilisation; it is civilisation which has destroyed itself
because it has honoured Christ with its lips, while its heart has been
far from Him. But a spiritual religion can win a victory only within its
own sphere. It can promise no Deuteronomic catalogue of blessings and
cursings to those who obey or disobey its principles. Social happiness
and peace would certainly follow a whole-hearted acceptance of Christian
principles; but they would not certainly bring wealth or empire.
'Philosophy,' said Hegel, 'will bake no man's bread'; and it is only in
a spiritual sense that the meek-spirited can expect to possess the
earth. Nevertheless, it is a mistake to suppose that a Christian nation
would be unable to hold its own in the struggle for existence. A nation
in which every citizen endeavoured to pay his way and to help his
neighbour would be in no danger of servitude or extinction. The mills of
God grind slowly, but the future does not belong to lawless violence. In
the long run, the wisdom that is from above will be justified in her



The recrudescence of superstition in England was plain to all observers
many years before the war; it was perhaps most noticeable among the
half-educated rich. Several causes contributed to this phenomenon. The
craving for the supernatural, a very ancient and deeply rooted
thought-habit, had been suppressed and driven underground by the
arrogant dominance of a materialistic philosophy, and by the absorption
of society in the pursuit of gain and pleasure. Modern miracles were
laughed out of court. But materialism has supernaturalism for its
nemesis. An abstract science, erecting itself into a false philosophy,
leaves half our nature unsatisfied, and becomes morally bankrupt before
its intellectual errors are exposed. Supernaturalism is the refuge of
the materialist who wishes to make room for ideal values without
abandoning the presuppositions of materialism. By dovetailing acts of
God into the order of nature, he materialises the spiritual, but brings
the Divine will into the world of experience, from which it had been
expelled, and produces a rough scheme of providential government, by
which he can live.

The revolt against scientific materialism was made much easier by the
disintegration of the mechanical theory itself. Biology found itself
cramped by the categories of inorganic science, and claimed its
autonomy. The result was a fatal breach in the defences of materialism,
for biology is being driven to accept final causes, and would be glad to
adopt some theory of vitalism, if it could do so without falling back
into the old error of a mysterious 'vital force.' Biological truth, it
is plain, cannot be reduced to the purely quantitative categories of
mathematics and physics. Then psychology aspired to be a philosophy of
real existence, and attacked both absolutism and materialism. The
pretensions of psychology rehabilitated subjectivism and founded
pragmatism, till reactionary theology took heart of grace and defended
crude supernaturalism, with the whole apparatus of sacerdotal magic, as
the 'Gospel for human needs.' All protection against the grossest
superstitions was thus swept away. With no fixed standard of reference
to distinguish fact from fiction, it was possible to argue that
'whatever suits souls is true.'

In this atmosphere many old habits of thought reasserted themselves.
While we enjoyed peace and prosperity, the credulity of the public found
its chief outlet in various systems of faith-healing and in the
time-honoured pretensions of priest-craft. But the devastation which the
war has brought into countless loving families has turned the current of
superstition strongly towards necromancy. The 'will to believe,' no
longer inhibited and suspected as a reason for doubt, has been allowed
to create its own logic. A few highly educated men, who have long been
playing with occultism and gratifying their intellectual curiosity by
exploring the dark places of perverted mysticism, have been swept off
their feet by it, and their authority, as 'men of science,' has
dispelled the hesitation of many more to accept what they dearly wished
to believe. The longing of the bereaved has created for itself a
spurious and dreary satisfaction.

One cause of this strange movement cannot be emphasised too strongly. It
proves that the Christian hope of immortality burns very dimly among us.
Those who study the utterances of our religious guides must admit that
it is so. References to the future life had, before the war, become rare
even in the pulpit. The topic was mainly reserved for letters of
condolence, and was then handled gingerly, as if it would not bear much
pressure. Working-class audiences and congregations listened eagerly to
the wildest promises of an earthly utopia the day after tomorrow, but
cooled down at once when they were reminded that 'if in this life only
we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.' Accordingly,
the clerical demagogue showed more interest in the unemployed than in
the unconverted. Christianity, which began as a revolutionary idealism,
had sunk into heralding materialistic revolution. Such teachers have no
message of hope and comfort for those who have lost their dearest. And
they have, in fact, been deserted. Their secularised Christianity was
received with half-contemptuous approval by trade unions, but far deeper
hopes, fears, and longings have now been stirred, which concern all men
and women alike, and on the answers to which the whole value of
existence is now seen to depend. Christianity can answer them, but not
the Churches through the mouths of their accredited representatives. And
so, instead of 'the blessed hope of everlasting life,' the bereaved have
been driven to this pathetic and miserable substitute, the barbaric
belief in ghosts and dæmons, which was old before Christianity was
young. And what a starveling hope it is that necromancy offers us! An
existence as poor and unsubstantial as that of Homer's Hades, which the
shade of Achilles would have been glad to exchange for serfdom to the
poorest farmer, and with no guarantee of permanence, even if the power
of comforting or terrifying surviving relations is supposed to persist
for a few years. Such a prospect would add a new terror to death; and
none would desire it for himself. It is plainly the dream of an aching
heart, which cannot bear to be left alone.

But, it will be said, there is scientific evidence for survival. This
claim is now made. Cases are reported, with much parade of scientific
language and method, and those who reject the stories with contemptuous
incredulity are accused of mere prejudice. Nevertheless, I cannot help
being convinced that if communications between the dead and the living
were part of the nature of things, they would have been established long
ago beyond cavil. For there are few things which men have wished more
eagerly to believe. It is no doubt just possible that among the
vibrations of the fundamental ingredients of our world - those attenuated
forms of matter which are said to be not even 'material,' there may be
some which act as vehicles for psychical interchange. If such psychic
waves exist, the discovery is wholly in favour of materialism. It would
tend to rehabilitate those notions of spirit as the most rarefied form
of matter - an ultra-gaseous condition of it - which Stoicism and the
Christian Stoic Tertullian postulated. The meaning of 'God is Spirit'
could not be understood till this insidious residue of materialism had
been got rid of. It is a retrograde theory which we are asked to
re-examine and perhaps accept. The moment we are asked to accept
'scientific evidence' for spiritual truth, the alleged spiritual truth
becomes for us neither spiritual nor true. It is degraded into an event
in the phenomenal world, and when so degraded it cannot be
substantiated. Psychical research is trying to prove that eternal values
are temporal facts, which they can never be.

The case for necromancy is no better if we leave 'scientific proof'
alone, and appeal to the relativist metaphysics of the psychological
school. Intercourse with the dead is, we are told, a real psychical
experience, and we need not worry ourselves with the question whether it
has any 'objective truth.' But we cannot allow psychology to have the
last word in determining the truth or falsehood of religious or
spiritual experience. The extravagant claims of this science to take the
place of philosophy must be abated.

Psychology is the science which describes mental states, as physical
science describes the behaviour of matter in motion. Both are abstract
sciences. Physical science treats nature as the totality of things
conceived of as independent of any subject; psychology treats inner
experience as independent of any object. Both are outside any idea of
value, though it is needless to say that the votaries of both sciences
trespass habitually, and often unconsciously. Both are dualisms with one
side ignored or suppressed. When psychology meddles with ontological
problems - when, for instance it denies the existence of an Absolute, or
says that reality cannot be known - it is taking too much upon itself,
and has fallen into the same error as the materialism of the last
century. On such questions as the immortality of the soul it must remain

Faith in human immortality stands or falls with the belief in _absolute
values_. The interest of consciousness, as Professor Pringle-Pattison
has said in his admirable Gifford Lectures, lies in the ideal values of
which it is the bearer, not in its mere existence as a more refined kind
of fact. Idealism is most satisfactorily defined as the interpretation
of the world according to a scale of value, or, in Plato's phrase, by
the Idea of the Good. The highest values in this scale are absolute,
eternal, and super-individual, and lower values are assigned their place
in virtue of their correspondence to or participation in these absolute
values. I agree with Münsterberg that the conditional and subjective
values of the pragmatist have no meaning unless we have acknowledged
beforehand the independent value of truth. If the proof of the merely
individual significance of truth has itself only individual importance,
it cannot claim any general meaning. If, on the other hand, it demands
to be taken as generally valid, the possibility of a general truth is
acknowledged from the start. If this one exception is granted, the whole
illusory universe of relativism is overthrown. To deny any thought which
is more than relative is to deprive even scepticism itself of the
presuppositions on which it rests. The logical sceptic has no _ego_ to
doubt with. 'Every doubt of absolute values destroys itself. As thought
it contradicts itself; as doubt it denies itself; as belief it despairs
of itself.' It is not necessary or desirable to follow Münsterberg in
identifying valuation with will. He talks of the will judging; but the
will cannot judge. In contemplating existence we use our will to fix our
attention, and then try conscientiously to prevent it from influencing
the verdict. But this illegitimate use of the word 'will' does not
impair the force of the argument for absolute values.

Now, valuation arranges experience in a different manner from natural
science. The attributes of reality, in our world of values, are
Goodness, Truth, and Beauty. And we assert that we have as good reason
to claim objective reality for these Ideas as for anything in the world
revealed to our senses. 'All claims on man's behalf,' says Professor
Pringle-Pattison, 'must be based on the objectivity of the values
revealed in his experience, and brokenly realised there. Man does not
make values any more than he makes reality.' Our contention is that the
world of values, which forms the content of idealistic thought and
aspiration, is the real world; and in this world we find our own

But there could be no greater error than to leave the two worlds, or the
two 'judgments,' that of existence and that of value, contrasted with
each other, or treated as unrelated in our experience. A value-judgment
which is not also a judgment of existence is in the air; it is the
baseless fabric of a vision. Existence is itself a value, and an
ingredient in every valuation; that which has no existence has no value.
And, on the other side, it is a delusion to suppose that any science can
dispense with valuation. Even mathematics admits that there is a right
and a wrong way of solving a problem, though by confining itself to
quantitative measurements it can assert no more than a hypothetical
reality for its world. It is quite certain that we can think of no
existing world without valuation.

'The ultimate identity of existence and value is the venture of faith to
which mysticism and speculative idealism are committed.'[93] It is
indeed the presupposition of all philosophy and all religion; without
this faith there can, properly speaking, be no belief in God. But the
difference between naturalism and idealism may, I think, be better
stated otherwise than by emphasising the contrast between existence and
value, which it is impossible for either side to maintain. Naturalism
seeks to interpret the world by investigation of origins; idealism by
investigation of ends. The one finds the explanation of evolution in
that from which it started, the other in that to which it tends. The one
explains the higher by the lower; the other the lower by the higher.
This is a plain issue; either the world shows a teleology or it does
not. If it does, the philosophy based on the inorganic sciences is
wrong. And the attempt to explain the higher by the lower becomes
mischievous or impossible when we pass from one _order_ to another. In
speaking of different 'orders,' we do not commit ourselves to any sudden
breaks or leaps in evolution. The organic may be linked to the
inorganic, soul to the lower forms of life, spirit to soul. But whether
the 'scale of perfection' is a ladder or an inclined plane, new
categories are necessary as we ascend it. And unless we admit an inner
teleology as a determining factor in growth, many facts even in
physiology are hard to explain.

If the basis of our faith in the world-order is the conviction that the
Ideas of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful are fully real and fully
operative, we must try to form some clear notion of what these Ideas
mean, and how they are related to each other. The goal of Truth, as an
absolute value, is unity, which in the outer world means harmony, in the
intercourse of spirit with spirit, love; and in the inner world, peace
or happiness. The goal of Goodness as an absolute value is the
realisation of the ought-to-be in victorious moral effort. Beauty is the
self-recognition of creative Spirit in its own works; it is the
expression of Nature's own deepest character. Beauty gives neither
information nor advice; but it satisfies a part of our nature which is
not less Divine than that which pays homage to Truth and Goodness.

Now, these absolute values are supra-temporal. If the soul were in time,
no value could arise; for time is always hurling its own products into
nothingness, and the present is an unextended point, dividing an unreal
past from an unreal future. The soul is not in time; time is rather in
the soul. Values are eternal and indestructible. When Plotinus says that
'nothing that really _is_ can ever perish' (hapolehitai ohyden thôn
hontôn), and when Höffding says that 'no value perishes out of the
world,' they are saying the same thing. In so far as we can identify
ourselves in thought and mind with the absolute values, we are sure of
our immortality.

But it will be said that in the first place this promise of immortality
carries with it no guarantee of survival in time, and in the second
place that it offers us, at last, only an impersonal immortality. Let us
take these two objections in turn, though they are in reality closely

We must not regard time as an external, inhuman, unconscious process.
Time is the frame of soul-life; outside this it has no existence. The
entire cosmic process is the life-frame of the universal Soul, the
Divine Logos. With this life we are vitally connected, however brief and
unimportant the span and the task of an individual career may seem to
us. If my particular life-meaning passes out of activity, it will be
because the larger life, to which I belong, no longer needs that form of
expression. My death, like my birth, will have a teleological
justification, to which my supra-temporal self will consent. When a good
man's work in this world is done, when he is able to say, without
forgetting his many failures, 'I have finished the work that Thou gavest
me to do,' surely his last word will be, 'Lord, now lettest Thou Thy

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Online LibraryWilliam Ralph IngeOutspoken Essays → online text (page 24 of 25)