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IMMORTALITY AND THE
George A. Gordon, D. D.
to

NEW THEODICY.
i6mo, $i.oo.
1896.

By

HUMAN IMMORTALITY. Two
the

Doctrine.
1897.

By

Professor

supposed Objections William James.
Faith
^i.oo.

i6mo, $1.00.

DIONYSOS AND IMMORTALITY: The Greek
in Immortality as aSected

by the rise of Individualism.

By

President

Benjamin Ide Wheeler. i6mo,

1898.

THE CONCEPTION OF IMMORTALITY. By
RoYCE.
i6mo, $1.00.
1899.

Josiah

HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN &
Boston and

CO.,

New

York.

t^e JdngersoU JLmttre, 1899

THE CONCEPTION OF
IMMORTALITY
BY

JOSIAH ROYCE
PROFESSOR OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY AT HARVARD UNIVERSITY AND INGERSOLL LECTURER FOR 1899

m>\\\'iii:i\'i4ifm

BOSTON AND NEW YORK HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY
1900

COPYRIGHT,

1900,

BY JOSIAH ROYCE

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

TO
K. R.
I

DEDICATE THIS BOOK

THE INGERSOLL LECTURESHIP
Extract from the -will of Miss Caroline Haskell Ingersoll, who died in Keene, County of Cheshire^ New Hampshire^ Jan. 2b, i8gj.

In carrying out the wishes of my late First. beloved father, George Goldthwait Ingersoll, as declared by him in his last will and testament, I give and bequeath to Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., where my late father was graduated, and which he always held in love and honor, the sum of Five thousand dollars ($5,000) as a fund for the establishment of a Lectureship on a plan somewhat similar to that of the Dudleian lecture, that is one lecture to be delivered each year, on any convenient day between the last day of May and the first day of December, on this subject, "the Immortality of Man," said lecture not to form a part of the usual college course, nor to be delivered by any Professor or Tutor as part of his usual routine of instruction, though any such Professor or Tutor may be appointed to such service. The choice of said lecturer is not to be limited to any one religious denomination, nor to any one profession, but may be that of either clergyman or layman, the appoint-

to take place at least six months before the delivery of said lecture. The above sum to be safely invested and three fourths of the annual interest thereof to be paid to the lecturer for his services and the remaining fourth to be expended in the pubhshment and gratuitous distribution of the lecture, a copy of which is always to be furnished by the lecturer for such purpose. The same lecture to be named and known as " the Ingersoll lecture on the Immortality of Man."

ment

THE CONCEPTION OF IMMORTALITY

MAY
sion

as well begin this discus-

by pointing out where, to
lies

my
In

mind,

the most central pro-

blem concerning man's immortality.

the real world in which our common-sense

metaphysic believes, some things are obviously transient, and others,
as, for

instance,

matter and the laws of nature, are more
enduring, and perhaps (so

common
are
is

sense

would nowadays
permanent.
sorts.

tell

us),

absolutely
of

But permanence

two

A type may be permanent, — a law,
Thus the Binomial Theotrue
hill
;

a relationship.

rem remains always tinues to run down

and water conit

just as

did dur-

ing the earliest geological periods.

Or

2
that
call

The Conception of Immortality

may be permanent which we
an individual being.
as,

usually

This particle of

matter,

for instance, an individual atom,

or again, the individual whole called the
entire

mass

of matter of the universe,

may

be permanent.

Now when we
it

ask about
the perma-

the Immortality of Man,

is

nence of the Individual

Man

concerning
pri-

which we mean to

inquire,

and not

marily the permanence of the
as such, nor the

human
of

type,

permanence

any other

system of laws or relationships.
then, as
issue, I

So

far

to

the mere statement of our
all

suppose that we are

agreed.
of

But

in philosophy

we who study any

these fundamental problems are unwilling
to assert anything about a given subject,

unless

we

first

understand what we mean
Philosophy turns
alto-

by that

subject.

gether upon trying to find out what our
various fundamental
ideas

mean.

Thus,

when

in practical

life,

you act

dutifully,

you

may not be wholly

clear as to just

what you

mean by your duty; but when you study

The Conception of Immortality

^
is,
?

Moral Philosophy, your primal question

What

does the very Idea of Duty
precisely so, in case of the

mean

Now

Immor-

tality of the Individual Man, the question

What do we mean when we talk of an individual man at all ? But this quesarises.
tion, to

my mind, is

not a mere preliminary

to
it

an inquiry concerning immortality, but
includes by far the larger part of just
itself.

that inquiry

For unless we know
is,

what an individual man
immortal.

we have no

busi-

ness even to raise the question whether he
is

But, on the other hand,

if

we can

discover what

we mean by an

indi-

vidual man, the very answer to that question will take us so far into the heart of
things, and will imply so

much

as to our

views about God, the World, and Man's
place in the world, that the question about

the immortality of
great

man

will

become, in
in

measure, a mere incident

the

course of this deeper discussion.

Accordingly,

I shall

here

raise,

and for

the larger part of this lecture shall pursue,

4

The Conception of Immortality

an inquiry concerning what
Individual Man.

we mean by an
of
clearly to see

Only towards the end

this discussion shall

we come

that

in defining the Individual

Man, we

J

have indeed been defining his Immortality.

The
vidual

question as to the nature of an indi-

man

is at

once a problem of logic
life.

and an issue of

I shall

have to conIn the

sider the matter in both aspects.
first

aspect our question becomes identical

with the problem,

What

is it
1

that

makes

any
tion

real
is

being an individual

This ques-

a very ancient, and
one,

if

you choose

commonplace
from

which has been studied
I

time to time ever since Aristotle.

can give you small insight, in
time, into its complications
;

my

brief
I

and what

needs must say about
formal and dreary.
tral

it

may appear

very

But

like all the cen-

problems of Logic, this one really
all

pulsates with

the mystery of
I shall

life

;

and

before

I

am

done,

hope to give you a
is true.

glimpse of the sense in which this

Such a glimpse

will

become

possible as

The Conception of Immortality

5

soon as

I

apply the logical question about

individuals to the case of the individual

man.

That

all

men

including yourself are

more
you

or less mysterious beings to you,

you

are already aware.
is is

What

I

want

to

show
any

^

that the chief mystery about

man
he
to
is

precisely the mystery of his indii.

vidual nature,
this

e.,

of the nature

whereby
I

man and no

other man.

want

show you that the only solution
lies in

of this

mystery

conceiving every

man

as so
life

related to the world and to the very

of
at

God, that
all

in order to

be an individual

a

man

has to be very

much

nearer to
life

the Eternal than in our present

we

are

accustomed to observe.

So much

then for

an outline
its

of our enterprise.

And now for

inevitably complicated details.^

II

E

all

naturally believe that the real

world about us contains individual things.

And

if

you ask what
this,

we
first

naturally
reply,

mean by

believing

I

apart from any

more formal

definition of individuality,

by saying that
ultimately dif-

we

believe our world to consist of facts,

of realities,

which are

all

ferent from one another,

and unlike one

another, by virtue of precisely what constitutes their
realities.

very existence as facts or as

Things may resemble one an-

other as

much

as

you

will.

But deeper

than their resemblance has to be, according to our common-sense view, the fact
that they are
still

somehow

individually

or numerically different beings.
lights,

Yonder

for
all

instance, are in your present
of

opinion

them

different

from one an-

The Conception of Immortality

7

other, despite their resemblances as lumi-

nous objects.
are different
difference, as

You and your beings. And such
you

neighbors
individual

hold, enters very deeply

into your inmost constitution, or into the

constitution of any person or thing in the
universe.
ple,

No

matter

how much two
still

peo-

say twins, look alike, talk alike, think

alike, or feel alike,

we
;

hold that they

are different beings
that this difference

and we naturally hold
lies

somehow deeper
of

than do
outer.

all

their resemblances, inner or

For that each one
is

them

is,

or

that he

this

being, depends upon and
is

implies the fact that he

nobody

else;

and just as neither of the twins could have

any appearance, or
feelings at all unless
so, too,

voice, or thoughts, or

he

first

existed

;

just

neither of them, as the individual
is,

that he

could exist at

all

unless he were

this person,

and not the

other.

So that

to

exist implies, as

we

usually hold, to be dif-

ferent from the rest of the world of existences.

And

since I

must

exist

if

I

am

to

8

The Conception of Immortality
I

have any qualities whereby

can resemble
all

another being, and must differ from
other beings
if

I

am

to exist,

it

naturally

seems that
of

my

difference from
is,

all

the rest

the world

in a sense, the

deepest
I

truth about me.

However

little

may

know about
that I

myself,

common
and so

sense there-

fore supposes

me
else.

to

be at least very sure

am nobody

else,

am

different

from anybody

By an

individual,

then,

we mean an

y

essentially unique being, or a being such

that there exists, and can exist, but one
of the type constituted

by

this individual

being.

An

easy task

it is

then, although indeed
tell
if

a very dry and abstract task, to

what

in

general constitutes individuality^

we

take

the term simply as an abstract noun.
the beings of the world are
uals

For

made

individ-

by whatever

truly serves to distinguish
all

each of them from
them, as
Being.
it

the rest, to keep

were, seemingly apart in their
if

But now,

we

leave this barely

The Conception of Immortality
abstract statement, and
facts of
life, I

g

come

closer to the
if

may

next point out that,
is

individuahty in general

easily defined,
it

this individual^ precisely in so far as

is

an unique being,

is

from the nature of

the case pecuharly hard to characterize, or
to

explain, or

to

conceive, or to define,

or to observe, or in any other way to know.

In

fact,

that our

when we look closer we soon see human thought is able to define
is

only types of beings, and never individuals,
so that this individual
definable.

always for us

in-

On

the other hand our

human

sense experience shows us only kinds of

sensory impressions, and never unique objects as unique.

For now there comes to our attention
a very commonplace, but important fact,

regarding the process of our knowledge.

We
that

have so far accepted the natural view
the differences of various existent
lie at

things

the basis, so to speak, of

all

resemblances.
anything,

But

whenever

we know

we

are dependent upon taking

10

The Conception of Immortality
act, of

account at once, and in one
likenesses

both

and

differences.

These
but

two

aspects of facts are

somewhat
;

differently

related to our consciousness
really

we never

come

to

know
it

a difference without

in

some wise

either reducing to or conto

sciously relating

a likeness.

One

of

the lights that you see differs, to your

mind, from another light in
ness, or in place.

size, in

bright-

Yet

just

because you

see

them thus

differing, all of

them

for

that very reason are seen as in the
larger place,
in all
viz.,

same
hav-

in this room, or as alike
all

being bright, or as alike in

ing

size.

Thus, whenever you

clearly see

wherein they are
ness, size, place,
this

different, say in bright-

you

also see

how, in just
differ,

same respect
This

in

which they

they also have some resemblances to one
another.
fact, that

you always know
once, or in
sift

likenesses and differences at

one
in

act,

makes

it

impossible to
all

out

your knowledge

the resemblances of

your world, and to put them in one place

1

ne
put
all

Conception of Immortality
in

1

by themselves,

your mind, while you

the differences in another place.
stick to the differences,

For the likenesses
you try
to analyze

and always come away with them, when
your world, even in the
Just as

most abstract thinking process.

some

of the miner's gold

washes away in
of

the tailings, and just as

some

the actries

companying substances that a chemist
to

remove by a particular process

of dis-

tillation

may

distill

over with whatever

was

to be separated

from them, so

too,

when, in your discriminating observation,
or in your abstract thinking, you try, for

the purposes of your analysis, to wash the

resemblances out of the
the differences, or to

facts,

and to keep
off

distill

the indi-

viduality of the different things,

you find

that always resemblance stubbornly clings
to difference,

and vice versa.

Nor do our
distillations

figures of the tailings

and the

give quite an adequate idea of the actual

hopelessness of trying to separate in our
consciousness, for purposes of analysis, the

;

12
like

The Conception of Immortality

and the different aspects of our obFor, in our knowledge, the
likeness and

served world.

consciousness of

the con-

sciousness of difference help each other

and therefore
the more

in a measure,

it

is

true that

we

get of one of them, before our

knowledge, the more we get of the other.

So they decline altogether
separately.
ilar

to

be known

Thus, only pretty closely sim-

objects can

seem

to us to stand,

from

our point of view, in an observably sharp
contrast to one another.
contrast only
similarity.

We
it is

can see the

when we

also see the close

For instance,

much
it

easier

to be aware of a definite difference or contrast

between two poets than

is

to

be

conscious of the difference or contrast be-

tween a poet and a blackberry or a parabola.

difference
ness,

Whenever we clearly see what a is, there we also observe a likelikeness,

and the difference and the

as seen, always relate to the
of the objects.

same aspects

This being the fashion of our know-

ne
ledge,

Conception of Immortality
it

i^

one sees at once how hard

must

be for knowledge either to find in the impressions of sense, or to define by thought,
just

wherein one thing ultimately
all

differs

from
as

other things.
seen,
is

An individual
different

being,

we have

thought by our

common
from any

sense to be,
other being.
see wherein
tutes

first of all,

We
it

try either to say or to
differs, or

thus

what

consti-

its individuality.

Forthwith we only

the more clearly see and state and conceive
points wherein
it

not only differs from

all

other objects, but also, and at the
time, resembles them.

same

This

is

the fate of

our knowing process, and therefore, whenever

we observe
to

closely,

all

individuality

seems

be conceived and observed by us
Individuality
is

as merely relative.
to us

known

only as an aspect inseparable from
is

what

not individuality.

But

just because
is

a thing, according to our natural view,

to

be an individual to the very heart and core
of its existence,
it

seems

that,

if

we are

to

be

able to see or to express this individuality,

14

The Conception of Immortality
to be able to find or

we ought somewhere
as a fact

to conceive the individuality of each thing

by

itself,

— as a

difference, deeper

than

all

resemblances, ideally separable

from them, and not merely bound up in
this inseparable

way with them, or dependent upon them. Hence we always fail when we try to describe any individual
exhaustively.

Moreover,

still

another aspect of our
our minds, and
is is

difficulty often occurs to

especially baffling.

Anything
it

an

indi-

vidual in so far as

genuinely differs not

only from any other existent being, but

from any other being that
possible or

is

genuinely

that

is
if

rightly

conceivable.
real individ-

You, for instance,
ual, are

you are a

such that nobody

else,

whether

actual or possible, could ever share your

individual nature, or be rightly confounded

with you.
serve,
ceive,

we oband no matter how carefully we cona thing, we at best only observe or
Now, however
closely

conceive actual likenesses and differences

The Conception of Immortality

75

between

this thing

and other present or

remembered
that

things.

We

can never either

see or abstractly think just
it

how

or

why
they

is

no other possible thing could
characters,

possess
are,

the

whatever

which we have once noticed or have
Sup-

actually found this thing to possess.

pose, for instance, that I see the color of

an object.

So

far I in

no sense see why

other objects might not possess just that
color.

In general other objects do.

So
I

colors are not purely individual characteristics of things.

Suppose, however, that

see a hundred

autumn

leaves,

and sorting

them, find indeed that no two of them are
precisely alike in shading
coloring.

and

in detail of

In that case
is

I at first

seem

to

be finding what

individual in each
far I

leaf.

But

no.

For so

have only seen
;

ac-

tual likenesses

and differences

and so

far

only

my

present autumn leaves are indeed

seen to be different.

But

I

have not seen

why

there might not be in the world, un-

seen as yet by me, other autumn leaves

16

The Conception of Immortality

precisely like any particular one of these

leaves in every detail of coloring

that

I

have noticed.
note, in

Hence
leaf,

I

have not yet taken
such as

any

of a coloring

could not possibly be repeated somewhere
else in the forest;

and therefore
it

I
is

have
that

not yet actually observed what
constitutes
of

the truly individual existence
of the leaves.

any one

For whatever

is

a truly individual character of any existent

thing

is

a character that simply could not
;

be shared by another thing

and whatever
being

makes you an
forbids

existent
else,

individual

anybody

whether actual or

possible, to

be possessed of precisely your

individual characteristics.

Historians and biographers try to

tell

us

about individuals.

Do

they ever actually

succeed in getting before us the adequate
description of any one individual as such
?

No.

Man

you can define

;

but the true

essence of any man, say, for instance, of

y

Abraham
elusive

Lincoln, remains the endlessly
of the bio-

and mysterious object

The Conception of Immortality

17

grapher's interest, of the historian's com-

ments, of popular legend, and of patriotic
devotion.

There

is

no adequate definition
just in

or description of
so far as he

Abraham Lincoln
is

was the unique
I

individual.
this so
?

And

why,

once more ask,
tell all
is
}

Why

can you not

that constitutes

the individual what he
insist, lies just

One

answer, I

here.

Suppose that you

had overcome

all

the other limitations that
the historian

hinder the biographer or

from knowing the facts about his hero.

Suppose that you had a description or
definition

say of

Abraham
this

Lincoln, and
definition

suppose you assumed

or

description to be an exact and exhaustive
one.

The

definition

would mention, per-

haps, the physical appearance and bearing
of Lincoln, the traits of his character, the

secrets of his success,

and whatever

else

you may choose
of him.
ished.

to

regard as characteristic

Well, suppose the definition fin-

The
Is
it

question might be raised, at
possible,
is
it

once.

conceivable.

1

8

The Conception of Immortality

'

that the world should contain another

man

who embodied just that now defined type, who looked, spoke, thought, felt, com-

manded, and succeeded as Lincoln the

War " No
of

President
;

did

?

If

you

answer,

"

then

we may

at

once

retort,

How
Have
man's

can you

know

that only one

man

of this or
?

any once defined type can
of creation
(to
?

exist

you the secret

Is every

mould shattered
phor)

use the famihar meta-

when the man is made ? And if so, how come you to be aware of the fact ? But if you answer, " Yes more than one man of this defined type is at least possi;

ble,

or

conceivable;"

then equally well

we may

point out that hereby you merely

admit that you have not yet defined what

makes Abraham Lincoln
any and from
sible.
all

different

from

other men, actual or pos-

For

if

the possible men, fashioned

after the likeness that

your definition has

expounded, were to come into existence,

no one of these other men would

be, in

your opinion, Abraham Lincoln himself, or

The Conception of Immortality

ig

be

entitled

to his
differ

honors or his merits.

They would

from him by precisely

the whole breadth of their individuality.

They would have no
no

right to his property,

share in his individual

fame, and no

hope, so to speak, of becoming worthy to

take his place upon the Judgment Day.
Yet, by hypothesis, they would conform to

whatever definition of him you had once
given as an adequate characterization of
his type.

You may
saying that

here interpose,

if

you

will,

by

all

such idle suppositions about

the possible reduplications of the type of

Abraham Lincoln

are worthless, since the
is

practically interesting question

whether
being

men whose

identity runs

any

risk of

confounded with that of the great President exist or are to be found; and this
question, according to our
is

common

view,

easily to

be answered in the negative.

But

my

present interest, in mentioning

the possible cases of other representatives
of Lincoln's once defined type, lies merely

20
in

TJje

Conception of Immortality

showing that whatever the individualanything really
is, we men never know wherein it con-

ity of

adequately come to
sists,

and so

I

here point out that while

you are doubtless somehow quite sure of
Lincoln's individuality, of his unexampled

uniqueness,

you have not positively deand
indivi-

fined wherein that uniqueness

duality consists, until your definition has
actually expressed why, or at least
is

how

it

that there can be no other

man

of his

type. to

So long

as

you merely appeal then
is

human

experience to show that there

no other such man to be found, our present

argument remains untouched.
But even
if

experience to

once more, as

we passed back again to help us, we should still find we found in case of the auno experience can show

tumn

leaves, that

us the unique.

The

facts of

sense are

essentially sorts of
ters, types,

experience,

— characUniqueI

— fashions of
is

feelings.

ness as such

thus precisely what

can

never directly find present to

my

senses.

The Conception of Immortality

21

When
is

you

first

learn from the logic text-

books or from Aristotle that the individual
the indefinable, you are indeed fain with

Aristotle to turn back to experience, as
just attempted to do in case of

we Abraham

Lincoln.

You
is

are

disposed to say that

the individual

the proper object of sense.
to

But Aristotle himself knew better than
rest content in this view.

As he

already

saw, sense also, in

its

own way,

brings to

our consciousness only the more or less

vaguely general, or at best the typical,
not the unique.^

The very young
earliest

children

trust

their

senses for guidance, in the use of their

language at the time when they
object by
its

name every
type.

vaguely observed

So,

perhaps,

they

name

all

men

alike "papa," or for a while they call all

animals " dogs," or identify cows as "cats,"
or use any other of the delightful confusions that characterize

the

first

year of

speech.

Sense and

feeling, taken as di-

rectly present experience, supply us only

22

The Conception of Immortality

with general types, and, apart from other
motives, guide us only to general ideas,

never to a direct knowledge of individuals.

You

see then, in sum, that our

human

type of knowledge never shows us exist-

ent individuals as being truly individual.
Sense, taken by
itself,

shows us merely
sounds, odors,
characters.

sense qualities,
tastes.

colors,

These

are

general

Abstract

thinking defines for us types.
of

A discriminating comparison
leaves, or

many

pre-

sent objects of experience, such as

autumn

human

faces, or handwritings,

shows us manifold differences, but always
along with and subject to the presence of
likenesses, so that

we never find what comall

mon

sense assumes to exist, namely, such

a difference between any individual and the rest of the world as
lies

deeper than
if

every resemblance.

And

even

by com-

parisons and discriminations

we had found

how one being appears to differ from all other now existent beings, we should not
yet have seen what
it is

that distinguishes

The Conception of Immortality

2^

each individual
beings.

being from

all

possible
all

Yet such a
is

difference from

possible beings

presupposed when you

talk, for instance, of
ity.

your own individual-

Ill

ET
it

us now, however, pass to a
If

new

aspect of the matter.
is

indeed

true that you do not define

in

your thought, or empirically observe

through

any direct

experience

of

your

senses, that the world consists of unique

individual

beings, then

posed to say that the

we are next disdogma of common
is

sense upon this subject

the result of

some very recondite
experience.

interpretation of your

But

if

we ask whence we
must
call
life

came by

this

interpretation, I

your attention to that region of your

where you are indeed
viduality of the
facts,

surest of the indi-

and most familiar
is

with

its

meaning.

This region

that of

your intimate human relationships.

Your
in-

family and your nearest friends are

deed for your human faith and loyalty

The Conception of Immortality

2^
are

through and through individuals.
sure of their uniqueness.

You

You

resist

most

decidedly the hypothesis that what for you
constitutes the essence of their individuality could conceivably

be shared,

like the

characters of a mere type, by other beings
in the world.

"There
child,

is

no other child
other love quite
like

quite like
like

my

— no

my

love,

this friend,

possible
familiar

— no other friend wholly — no other home the precise substitute home — how
for this
"
are.

and human such assertions
affirmation of

Now
of

this

the uniqueness

our own, and of those to

whom
it

our
that

hearts belong, has something about

obviously goes beyond
abstract

both

sense and
itself
it

thinking.

It

expresses

in quite absolute
is

terms.

Meanwhile
vital

much warmer and more

than the

before-mentioned colorless assumption that
all

the real beings in the world are in some
is

wise unique beings, or that the universe

made up of individuals. Yet this present and more vital assertion seems to express

26

The Conception of Immortality

the very inmost spirit of intimacy of personal loyalty.

And meanwhile

it is,

in its
is

implications, quite as

metaphysical as

the most general theory of any philosopher.

For

I

must

still insist,

— not
friends,

even in case

of our

most trusted

after years of closest intimacy,

— not even — no, not
lies

even in the instance of Being that
nearest to each one of us,

— not
men
as

even in

the consciousness that each one of us has
of his

own

Self,

— can we

we now

are either define in thought or find directly

presented in our experience the individual
beings

whom we most
all

of all love

and

trust,

or most of

presuppose and regard, as

somehow

certainly real.

For even within
you attempt
it

the circle of your closest intimacies our

former rule holds true, that,
to define

if

by your thought the unique,
itself into

transforms
straction,

an unsatisfactory ab-

— a type
of

and not a person,

—a
And

mere fashion

possible existence, that

might as well be shared by a legion as confined to the case of a single being.

Tlje

Conception of Immortality

2y

just so, too, the other previous result obtains,

namely, that

when you

try to find the

certainly unique even in your
hold,
is
it

own houseit

eludes your direct observation, for

a form of Being that belongs to a far higher

sphere than that of any merely immediate
experience.
It is just for this

reason that

the individual object of your oldest friendship
is

not merely a psychological problem

to you, but also a metaphysical mystery.

The

real presence of

your friend you

may

indeed love with an exclusive affection that
forbids

you to believe that any other could
but you meet this

take his unique place anywhere in the

whole realm of Being
real

;

presence of an individual never at any

time as a fact of sense.

Your

doctrine
re-

about this real presence of your friend

mains
as
if

in
it

common life a dogma just as truly were a dogma of a supernatural
with the individual of daily

faith.
life

It is

as with the lady of Browning's lyric,

for

whom

the

lover

searches

through

"room

after

room"
:

" inhabit together

"

of

the house they

;

28
And

The Conception of Immortality

" Yet the day wears,

door succeeds door

I try the fresh fortune


wing to the centre
I enter
!

Range
Still

the wide house from the

the

same chance

!

She goes out as

"

And

now,

if

you ask why this lady

is

thus
indi-

elusive, I answer, because she is
vidual.

an

And

an individual

is

a being that

no

finite

search can find.

As

for yourself,
is,

you notoriously are such
and
is

that the Self

a real individual.
his abstract

But who amongst us defines by

statement of his own type, or finds by
dwelling upon his familiar masses of mere

organic sensation, what his
Self

may be

}

own unique who amongst us conOr

ceives himself in his uniqueness except as

the remote goal of some ideal process of

coming

to himself

and of awakening to the
life
?

truth about his

own

Only an
I

infinite

process can show

me who

am.
dwell upon
vital in-

On

the other hand,
lie

when we

these cases that
terests,

nearest to our

we do indeed begin

to find out the

The Conception of Immortality

29

deeper meaning of something that in the
instances formerly mentioned

seemed

to

be a matter for cold and curious logical
inquiry.

We

begin to find out, namely,

the deeper meaning of this our so fixed,

and yet

at first sight so arbitrary

assump-

tion that our real world, despite the imper-

fections of our conception

and the vague

generality of our direct experience, does
consist of individuals.

For

in case of the

objects of our nearer and of our
sciously exclusive affections, well aware

more conare often

we

how

arbitrary our

mere speech

about the experienced or defined uniqueness of these objects of affection must

seem

to

any external observer.

We
;

rec-

ognize this apparent arbitrariness of our
description of the unique object

but

we

even glory therein.
not
tell

We confess that we canis

wherein our friend

so individual.

We

emphasize the confession.

We make
art.

it

a deliberate topic of portrayal in

And
are

what we

feel,

as

we do

this, is that this aris

bitrary speech of ours

a sign that

we

50

37?^

Conception of Immortality

pursuing a very precious secret, which no-

body else has the

right to share.

Herein we
view of the

find a hint also of a certain ideal

innermost nature of Being,

— a view which

simply cannot be translated into the lan-

guage

of abstract description, or adequately in the materials of present sensais all

embodied
tion
;

but a view which

the truer for

that very reason.
is

For

this

view the Real

indeed something beyond our present

human sense and our descriptive science. The individuals are, as we are sure, the
most
is

real facts of our world.

But yet there
something

for us, as for Browning's lover,

endlessly fascinating about our hopeless

human

inability to

show

to

anybody

else,

or to verify by even our
perience, just in what
individual.
its

own immediate exway they are thus so
finite

This our

situation has

own
it

perplexing and beautiful irony.
as

We rise above our helplessness even
confess
;

we

for this helplessness hints to us
is

that our real world

behind the
the true

veil.

The

inner nature,

Being

of

The Conception of Immortality
th.es e

5/

beloved individuals about us and of
individuality within, thus consti-

our

own

tutes, so to speak, the genuinely

and whole-

somely occult aspect of our most commonplace
life.

That we are

really in the

most

intimate relations with this so familiar, and
precious,

and yet so occult world, where

in

truth our

most intimate friends and our

actual selves even

now

dwell,

we

are sure.

But that the gates seem barred whenever

we

try to penetrate or to reveal the truth

of this very world,

this is

something so
in a

baffling, so stimulating,

and yet

way

so absurd, that in our lighter
find our

moments we
endlessly

own

incapacity to

make our world
vision

manifest to

our

human

amusing.

And
is,

the play with these myste-

ries constitutes a great part of the poetic
arts.

It

I

must

insist,

merely a concrete

instance of the fundamental logical and

metaphysical problem as to

how

the world

can consist of individuals.

To mention

a familiar instance.

All the

world loves a lover, and, in a sense, loves

52
in

The Conception of Immortality

sympathy with him.
.

Yet nearly

all

the

faithful

lovers

are

certain profoundly to
as to the

disagree with

him

most central
indi-

article of his faith.

For he loves an

vidual, unique, without a peer,
is

— one who
They,
one of

most lovable just because she occupies

a place that no other could take.

— the other
them

faithful lovers,

— each

also loves a peerless individual.
all

And

therefore they

have to use indeed very

nearly the same formulas whenever they
try to
tell

why they

love.

But they

all

disagree,

just

because

they apply their

creeds to different objects.
scribe essentially the

They

all

de-

same

type, namely,

the perfect
identity.

woman. They

differ

about her

Or if they do

not thus disagree
is

then, to be sure, a tragedy
ing.

in the

mak-

In the endless disagreement of the

lovers lies their only

hope

of

harmony.

Now

the problem as to the worthy obis

ject of love

precisely, and, as I myself

maintain,

philosophically,

identical

with

the logical problem as to what constitutes

ne
love

Conception of Immortality

^j

an individual being.^
?

Whom

shall

one
shall

The unique

object.

There

be no other like the beloved.

But

for

what characters
loved
.-*

shall

one choose the befor

For mere uniqueness,
such
}

mere oddifor ex-

ties as

No.

For perfections,

cellencies, for ideally valuable qualities, is

the beloved rightly chosen, and not otherwise.

Be
is

it

so,

then.

The
all

lover,

if

justi-

fied in his love, believes not only that his

beloved

different
is

from
in

other beings,
ex-

but also that she
cellent than
if

some wise more
This great

all

others.

faith,

sincere, longs for expression.
;

One must
is

praise the beloved

or

if

one

no poet,

one must look abroad to find the already
written words with which to praise her.

But

in

what language
.?

shall the praise

be

human speech of general meaning, known and understood by all
expressed In

men.
in his

But the

qualities that the lover finds

pressed in this

own unique beloved, when once excommon speech of men,
in

become

large

measure

identical with

^4

TJoe

Conception of Immortality
all

the qualities that

the beloved

women

of the world have been said,

by the poets

and the

lovers, to possess.

Of course there
which have to do

are those well

known

differences in types

of recognized perfection,

with color of eyes, and with other features,

but on the whole, the lover in expressing,
in defining, if

you

will,

the perfections of

his love, has merely described with

minor

variations

one type,

— and, thank Heaven,
all

an extremely general and universally well

known

type,

— the type of

the beloved

women.

In other words, he has set forth

every real or apparent noble quality of his

beloved except precisely what makes her
unique.
sists that

Yet
that

his loyalty

still

earnestly in-

he loves her for nothing so much
she
is

as

for

unique, and
all

is

even

thereby quite unlike

the other beloved

women.

Hereupon the
little

logician

must become a

suspicious of the lover.

The

lover

says that he loves but One.

Yet when

he

tells

about her he describes a type.

The Conception of Immortality

^^
?

Ooes he then
eral.

really love only the type

For, alas, his poetic accounts are but genJust

when he

describes his love

"So

careful of the type

he seems,

— so
True
sin-

careless of the single life."

But

no, this

thought
love
gle
is

is

an insult to loyal

love.

indeed essentially careful of the

life.

Yet

is it

then truly the unique
}

being that one loves

Alas

!

if

this is true,

why then does the lover's halting speech, when it praises, describe absolutely nothing
whatever but the type
logically disposed,
?

The

beloved,

if

pathetic irony of our

might have said

may even notice this, the human loyalty. " You all this," she may retort,
all

— "you
you."

might have said

this to

any

other woman who merely happened to please

Now

in vain

would the lover attempt
is in-

adequately to reply that the beloved
deed, as a matter of

mere experience,

suffi-

ciently different in face
all

and carriage from

the other observable people to be capa-

ble of what

we

usually call identification,

^6

The Conception of Immortality

so that, for instance, the
teller at

postman or the
and practically
else.

the bank also no doubt recognizes
it,

her face when he sees

confuses her with nobody

For the
to

ground

of loyal love is not

meant

be sim-

ply the same as this practical ground that

we use
tion.

for purposes of ordinary identifica-

The
is

lover does not

mean

that his

beloved
fied.

merely capable of being identithese facts of experi-

It is true that

ence, these observed differences of face and

manner, become, from the

first,

lighted
all

up
the

for the lover's appreciation

with

beauty of devotion, and so blend in his
experience of affection with his sense of
loyalty.

That

is

so far as

it

should be.

He

loves indeed also the face

and the

voice,

but for the sake of their unique owner.

Yet the very question that before seemed
to us a very formal matter of logic

would

become,

if

once raised, a very practical
I

question for love.
to raise
it

do not advise anybody
case.
:

in

any particular

But, as

a mere matter

now of theory

If

there were

The Conception of Immortality

^7

found in the world another with just such
a face, voice, bearing, and other outward

seeming and inward sentiment as the beloved,

would the lover not merely by chance

confuse the two, through his mortal ignorance, but actually
of

and knowingly love both
?

them

at

once and equally

If

he must

answer, " Yes," then indeed, whatever his
protestations, he loves not the real individual.

There

is

then no true loyalty in his

love.

He
if

is

fond of a mere type.
in-

But

he loves the individual, then

deed he could bear the easy test
the

that, in

Hindu poem

of

Nala and Damayanti,

the gods apply to the princess of the story.

For when,

in that story, the princess,

by

virtue of the privilege
rank,
is

belonging to her

about to choose her lover from
suitors,

amongst the

assembled upon a

solemn occasion to hear her decision, four
of the gods, to please their high caprice,

stand beside the real lover,
cess

whom
heart

the princhosen.

has

already in her

Each god assumes

precisely the real lov-

j8

The Conception of Immortality

er's guise

and seeming.
five

The
men,

princess finds
all

then before her
alike,

absolutely
is

and
of

all

fashioned exactly as

the

man

her heart.
brief

In her perplexity she
;

wonders a

moment
in

but then, perwiles,

ceiving in her

mind the heavenly

she

lifts

up her voice

humble prayer

that those of the group
right one

who

are not the
little

may be

pleased to behave a

more

like

clearly to
lent,

may see more choose her own. The gods regods, that she

and obey.

But the princess, as she

thus finds her mortal lover, hereby shows us also somewhat more clearly what our
loyal consciousness of the nature of

an

in-

dividual
Will,
ill

means.

It

means that

for our

however sense deceives, and however

thought defines, there shall be none pre-

cisely like the beloved.

And

just herein,

namely, in this voluntary choice, in this active postulate, lies our essential conscious-

ness of the true nature of individuality.
Individuality
is

something that we demand

of our world, but that, in this present realm

TJoe

Conception of Immortality

59

of experience,

we never

find.

It is the ob-

ject of our purposes, but not

now
our

of our

attainment; of our intentions, but not of
their present fulfillment
;

of

will,

but

not of our sense nor yet of our abstract

thought

;

of our rational appreciation, but
;

not of our description
of

of our love, but not

our verbal confession.

We

pursue

it

with the instruments of a thought and of

an art that can define only types, and of a

form of experience that can show us only
instances
eludes us
ideal of
it
;

and generalities.
yet

The unique
faithful to the

we remain

;

and

in spite of sense
it

and

of

our

merely abstract thinking,

becomes for

us the most real thing in the actual world,

although for us
infinite quest.*

it is

the elusive goal of an

And

therefore

it

is

that the lovers join
of all

in reporting the

same things

whom

they love

;

yet in meaning, nevertheless,

wholly different beings by their speech.

Therefore

it

is

that the soldiers in Baylyric, as

ard Taylor's Sebastopol

they sing

40

The Conception of Immortality

in the trenches, before they storm the fort,

try to confess each the tearful secret of
his

own
of

heart, as

he thinks

of

home, but

they do so in words that are the same for
all

them
"

:


recalled a different name,

Each heart
But
all

sang Annie Laurie."

The

true individuals are thus not seen by

us, not described

by

us.

But

in our

more

intimate

life

we

love individuals,
to

we

will to

pursue them and

be loyal to them.

Love and

loyalty never directly find their
to

unique objects, but remain faithful
although unseen.

them

IV

E

have so far dealt both with

vari-

ous negative aspects of this idea
of individuality

and
life.

also with its

positive

significance

for

We

must

now

ask, Is there
?

any truth
in

in this idea of

individuality

Are we

any sense right
one where there

in regarding our world as

are

these

unique

individuals

whom we

mortals can define only in terms of our
will to

seek them, and can conceive only
?

as the goal of an essentially ideal process

The adequate answer
to the real

to this question as

Being of an individual would
have confessed from the very

involve, as I

outset,

an entire system of philosophy.
I

Shall

venture here merely to hint the
I

grounds upon which

think that

we have

a right at least to attempt just such primal

problems

?

This idea of the individuality

42
of
all

The Conception of Immortality

things

is,

in

my own
also
all

opinion, an idea

not merely of the emotional interest
illustrated.
It
is

now
im-

an idea without
is

which, in the end,
possible.

serious science
too,

For science
is itself

although not

sentimental,

a loyal expression of
final,
i.

an essentially practical interest in
in individual truth.

e.,

Science,

if

unable to

describe or to find the unique, everywhere
postulates
its

existence as the goal of a

process of inquiry.
individual
is

And

this idea of the
all

an idea that directs

con-

duct of our intellect in the presence of our
experience.
ine reality

To
is

believe

anywhere

in genu-

to believe in individuality.

In every special science that deals with
either nature or
if

man, you

will find, then,

you look

closer, that in

some form the

concept and the problem of the individual
enters in a fashion less sentimental indeed

than

is

the lover's problem, but quite as
baffling,

insistent, quite as

both for our

empirical search and for our abstract definitions,

and quite as suggestive that

if

our

The Conception of Immortality

4^

world has

reality, this reality is

one which

no

finite

process of finding and defining

can exhaust.

Quite impossible

is it,

how-

ever, to decline to face this problem upon

the supposed grounds that the ultimate

nature of real things

is

once for

all

un-

The conception of reality itself is precisely as much an expression of our human needs and purposes, as is the conknowable.
ception of a steam engine or of a political

party

;

and

if

the conception so far baffles

us, that is

because

we have

not yet looked

deeply enough into the
this

life

out of which

very conception of the real world of

individuals springs.

Let us then inquire

a

little

more

searchingly.

To be

sure, for

this inquiry there is here
I

no adequate space.

can give only a bare hint of an idealistic
of

interpretation

the real world.

Else-

where

I

have tried to state in explicit form

the argument

now

to be barely indicated.
if

Regard what
mary.

follows,

you

will,

not as

any attempt at proof, but as a mere sum-

44

The Conception of Immortality

We

have up to

this point

spoken of the

relation of the concept of the individual to

the direct experience of sense, and to the
abstract definitions of

the intellect.

We
fur-

have found that neither of these could

nish to us an adequate expression of the

nature of an individual.
seen, in speaking of the
of our problem, that

We

have also

more

vital aspects
if

an individual,

not

describable,

is

still

sincerely intended or

willed as the object of a devotion that, in
us,

can only express

itself as

the endless

pursuit of a goal.

The

natural statement
:

of our problem becomes then this

Do

these endless pursuits of ideal goals, in

terms of which we define our relation to
the undefinable individual beings
love, or

whom we
to

whom

in science

we seek

know,

— do these
to a truth

ideal pursuits, I say, correspond
?

anywhere expressed beyond us

Is reality in its

wholeness a realm of Pur-

pose,

rather

than merely of observable
of abstractly definable char-

finite facts

and

acters

}

Tl)e

Conception of Immortality

45
this

As

to the

most general answer to
first

question, I

must indeed

respond that,
hold the

for the reasons

now

illustrated, I

concept of individuality to

be not merely
itself,

from our human point of view, but in
essentially

and altogether, a teleological
concept

concept,
facts of

—a

implying

that the
really are

any world where there

individuals express will and purpose.

Sup-

pose a being not
as far above our
life life

now

a man, but a being
of conscious

mere poverty

as

you

please, yet a being

whose whole

consists merely of sense contents, or

of

mere

facts

of

immediate

feeling,


ob-

colors,

forms,

tastes, touches,

pleasures,

and pains.
serve.

Such a being could indeed

But he would never observe

indi-

viduals as individuals.

On

the other hand,

suppose any purely intelligent being, whose

mind was

full of

mere

ideas,

i.

e.,

of pat-

terns, types, definitions. in his

schemes, class conceptions,

Such a being, however wise
could never

own way,

know

individ-

ual facts as such.

He

might know laws,

46

The Conception of Immortality

orders of truth, systems of necessary validity
;

but

if

his

world contained individual

facts,

he would never know this to be true.
be, for instance,

He
just

would

by our hypo-

thesis, himself

an individual, for
;

we have

spoken of him as such

but he would

never be able to
vidual.

know

himself as this indi-

With the

proverbial absent-mind-

edness of the abstractly wise, this

supposed

pure intelligence would be quite unaware
that he himself, or that anybody else, pos-

sessed individuality.
to

He

would be loyal

no individual
for

objects.

His world would
disembodied

be

him a

collection of

theorems, and of mere possibilities.

And
of

now, even

if

you suppose the being
just be-

mere experience with whom we
all

gan, to acquire

the wisdom of the other
;

being, the supposed abstract thinker

still,

even

this resulting being,

who would be an
would

observer of ideal laws and of immediate
experiences,
in
this

combination

nevertheless not yet find true individuality
in his world.

His world would now be one

The Conception of Immortality

47
;

where there were types and feelings
still

but

not one where unique beings were
real.

observed to be

But next suppose a being whose world
not merely shows him contents of feeling

and types
will,

of law, but also expresses his
this will,

and not merely expresses
it.

but

satisfies

Suppose that

this

being finds

in his world, namely, all that his love
all

and
will

that his

wisdom

seek.

This being

observe his world as embodiment of his
plans,
his will

as

an exhaustive

presentation of
this

and purpose.

Now

being can
is

indeed say: **This world and no other

my
my

world, for these facts and no others are
I

what

want, just because in these facts

purposes are satisfied."

For the

satis-

fied will is precisely the will that seeks

no

other embodiment.

Now

such a being,

and such a being

only,

would be aware of

the uniqueness of his facts, and so would

know individuals as individuals. The very conception, then, of an

individit is

ual as a real being, precisely because

48

The Conception of Immortality
is

no abstract conception, but

rather the
is

conception of a unique being,

one that

no pure thought or experience can express,
but
is

a conception expressible only in
of a satisfied will.

terms

An

individual

is

a being that adequately expresses a purpose.

Or

again,

an individual so expresses

a purpose that no other being can take the
place of this individual as an expression of
this purpose.

And

the sole test of this

sort of uniqueness lies in the fact that in
this individual being, just in so far as its

type gets expression at

all,

the will or pur-

pose which
it,

it

expresses rests content with
will

desires
I

no other,

have no other.
that
if

conclude then, so

far,

this

world

contains real individuals at
logical world,

all, it is

a teleo-

and a world that not only

expresses purpose, but completely and adequately expresses a purpose precisely in so
far as
it

contains real individuals.
this

Nor need

result

be

interpreted

merely with reference to the more senti-

mental illustrations used a moment

since.

The Conception of Immortality

^p

The purposes which various individuals express may be those of science, or those of those of our warmer pashuman love,

sions, or

those

of

our calmer reason,


of

those of man, or those of God.
these various purposes, or
once,
all

Any
them

of

at

may win
is

a place in Being.

My

whole

case so far

that whether you talk of
if

angels or atoms, your individual beings,
real at
all,

are real only as unique embodi-

ments

of purpose.

And
is

their uniqueness

can only depend upon the fact that in each
of

them some

will

so satisfied that

it

seeks and will have no other.
it is

Therefore
love
is in

indeed that loyal

human

us

the best example of an individuating principle.

The

love that will have no other
is

than this beloved

our best hint of the
fulfilled in
all.

sense in which purpose must be
the world,
if

individuals are to be real at
this:
.?

Our question then becomes
the real world express will
?

Does
it

fulfill

purposes
it

Does

Does

embody

ideals in
.?

unique and satisfactory fulfillment

But

50

The Conception of Immortality

this question at

once raises the most cenIn what sense
is

tral issue of philosophy.

there any real world

?

What

are
^

its ulti-

mate

What is Reality ? facts ? The answer to these questions must

be,

like the questions,

founded upon a desire

to deal with first principles for their
sake.

own

For the issue upon which depends

every philosophical problem about the general order of the world
is

raised
is

when one
fact.^^

asks the question.

What

a

We
facts,

have said that the most significant

even of the world of

common
human

sense and of

science, have aspects that transcend the
limits of our direct

consciousness.
facts

But we have not said that such
no
relation
rience, but only that our

have

whatever to our own expe-

human type
them

of

experience

is

very inadequate to exhaust
in their

their meaning, or to present

wholeness.

In

truth,

our whole search

after facts, our

whole

belief in the reality

of the world,

depends upon a recognition
is

that

our experience

inadequate to ex-

The Conception of Immortality

5/

press the conscious purposes that
in

we have
contains.
will

mind even when we
itself, to

scrutinize this our
it

experience

see what

And our own
the whole Purpose.

philosophical

argument

hold that in consequence you must define
Reality of things in terms of

At any
life,

thinking

moment

of

your human

you

inquire,

you

find yourself ignorant,
investigate.

you doubt, you wonder, or you

Now

as

you do

this

you have present to
called, in the

your consciousness what are

narrower sense of that term, ideas,
is,

— that
to you,

ideas of objects not
of objects that,

now present
settle

and

if

present, would an-

swer your questions,

your doubts,

accomplish the end of your investigations.

Now

your ideas, as such, mean precisely

certain thoughtful processes that are

more

or less consciously present in your
tary state of

momenBut the you

mind

as

you

inquire.

objects concerning which you inquire are,

by hypothesis, not wholly present

to

at

the instant of your doubt or wonder.

For

52

The Conception of Immortality

were they present, your inquiries would be
answered.

They are viewed
call

as absent
it

;

and

you

also

them, taken, as
call

were, in
say,

themselves, — you
facts
in

them,

I

the

the case.

You

conceive them,
of

usually, as in large

measure independent

your

ideas.

And

yet the facts and your

ideas cannot be in truth wholly independ-

ent of each other as ordinary Realism as-

sumes

;

for

were they without any mutual

dependence whatever, how could the ideas
really

have the facts as their objects
it

}

Or
in-

how
tent

could

make any
of

difference to the

ideas, as conscious

processes, with an
their

or purpose

own, whether

the wholly independent facts agreed with

them, or not

?

Or

yet again, to put the
in another form, the

same consideration
ideas,
if

they have any bearing upon facts
if

at

all,

even

they simply express ignofacts,

rance of the facts, or doubt about the
or error regarding facts,
delusion,

or

blunder, or

— yet

still

doubt, or error, or de-

lusion about facts, which are really their

TJje

Conception of Immortality
ideas,
I

5^
any

objects,

— the

say,

must

in

such case stand in that seemingly so mysterious relation to the facts
ViThich is

implied

are such as

beyond them when we say, The ideas gemdiiely to mean the facts.
you

Even
or

in

your conscious ignorance, in doubt,
if

in error, in delusion,
err,

really doubt,

or are deluded, your ideas, however
tie of

fragmentary, are thus linked by the
objectively genuine
facts,

meaning

to the outer

however

lofty or remote,

concerning
in

which you think and are therefore

one

Whole

of Meaning with those facts.

Now

what does

this

genuine

tie,

called

the meaning of an idea, this link by which
the idea
is

bound

to its

seemingly external

object, called the outer fact,

— what,
is

I ask,

does this link imply

?

What
is

the true
object
?

union between any idea and

its

The

question as stated

absolutely gen-

eral, is

involved in every inquiry, in any

sort of fact,

and

is

therefore at issue when-

ever you consider the relation of any of

your

ideas,

and so

of yourself as the person

^4

The Conception of Immortality

having these ideas, to facts whether physical

or spiritual, to facts whether in a

laboratory or in the eternal world, to facts

whether

in this

room

or in the remotest

ages of time, to facts about your next
friend, or to facts of

God's mind or of im-

mortality.

If,

for instance, I

now have
I

a

genuine idea of your minds while
to you, or
if

speak

you have any idea

really re-

ferring to

my own
of mutual

mind, then our minds

are actually and metaphysically linked by

the

ties

meaning.

In other

words,
beings.

we

are then not wholly sundered are
if

We

somehow more whole
you now think of

of

meaning.

And

Sirius,
if

or of the universe, then your idea,
really

it

means anything whatever
is

that

is

objective,

in the

same whole

of

meaning

with your object.
this

But what constitutes
.-*

whole of meaning
question has

The

its

especial difficulty

in the fact that, in speaking of an idea
its object, just in

and

so far as

you sunder the

two, and view

them

as mutually independ-

The Conception of Immortality

^^

ent entities, you
scious idea can

fail

to see

how
and

the con-

make any

real reference to
it,

that entity yonder, beyond

different

from

it.

For how should anybody,

or

how

should anybody's ideas, consciously refer
to an object that
is still

in

no sense a part

of the consciousness

which possesses the
if

idea?

On
own

the other hand,
is

the object to
itself

which our ideas refer
of our

simply

one

ideas, or is

simply a fact preif,

sent to our experience,
idea and object are


in

in other words,

my own
we

unity of

consciousness together, then

how

should

an idea be able to
find our

err, as

constantly

objects

?

own ideas How, in

erring, regarding their
brief,

should ignorance
?

and error be

at all possible

To
ence,

bring our whole problem then to a
:

single focus
I

When

I

think of outer exist-

think of something as not wholly

and

just
I

now

consciously present to

me

;

and yet

think of myself as meaning this

something.
in
t

My

object

is

somehow

here,

my

consciousness,

— genuinely

here

;

iy6

The Conception of Immortality
I

and yet somehow not here, since

inquire

and perhaps
thus

err about

mean

to refer to

Now how can I more than my object
it.

now
still,

present to

my

consciousness, while
all, I

in order thus to refer at

must
pre-

fix

my

attention

upon some
?

fact

now

sent in

my mind

To
to

all

these fundamental questions phi:

losophy, as I hold, must answer

I

can refer

any object beyond

me
of

solely

by observ-

ing the inadequacy

my
its

present and

passing conscious idea to
purpose.
I

own

conscious

cannot directly look beyond
;

my own consciousness but I pass beyond my present solely by virtue of my will, my But this very intent, my dissatisfaction. will and dissatisfaction have my own present imperfection and inadequacy as their
direct object.

object

itself,

And consequently, by the by my real world, I can mean
in the end, despite
finite misfor-

nothing but that which
all

my

ignorance or error or

tune,
will.

somehow adequately Thus the very idea

fulfills

my whole

of a real being

The Conception of Immortality
is^the idea of

^y
a pur-

something that
is

fulfills
is

pose.

What

thus thought of

indeed

conceived as the outer object of an idea,

and so as a

fact

beyond the

idea,

and

yet meant by the idea.

This relation of

being beyond an idea, and yet meant by
that idea,
is,

however, a possible relation, a

relation that has

any sense whatever only
an inadequate
consciousfar,

in so far, first, as the idea is

expression in our present

human

ness of

its

own

purpose, and in so

secondly, as

the object meant stands re-

lated to the idea as that

which

fulfills

the

whole intent which
pressed in the idea.
say, as

now partially exAnd so we can indeed
is

Schopenhauer

said,

although not
is

wholly in his sense.
Will.

The

real world

my

^

In other words, to be, to
fact, to

exist, to

be

real,

— any one
that

be a

of these expres-

sions simply means, to express in wholeness

the
ideas,

meaning
such as

imperfect

conscious

partially

we mortals have, now express. To be, or to be a

only
fact,

5<5

The Conception of Immortality
then, not to be independent of finite

means

ideas, but to

accomplish fully and

finally

what they only intend,

to present in whole-

ness what they only find in fragment, to

be one with their purpose, but free from
their inadequacy, to
fulfill

what they only
will.

propose, to attain what they only

In

saying this

I in

no sense mean that

reality
ca-

meets
prices.

all

your momentary wishes and

For your momentary wishes and
are simply unconscious of their
;

caprices

own whole meaning
order to be satisfied.
trine does

and therefore they

very generally have to be transformed in

But what

my

doc-

mean

is

that a world of onto-

logical fragments, of facts that are not in

one whole of meaning together,
to

is

never

be found.

There are no ideas sundered
Ontologically speakis,

from their objects.
ing,
also.

where the idea

there

is

the object
is

Only the momentary human idea

the object imperfectly brought to a finite
consciousness.
idea and fact
is

The apparent sundering of
therefore simply an illusion

The Conception of Immortality
of our

^g

own

finitude.

Nor do

the ideas
first exist

mysteriously refer to objects that

beyond them and then are somehow the
topics
of
this

reference.

No, the true
is

relation of idea
ous.
It
is

and object

not mysteri-

merely the very relation so

familiar to

any of
in

us,

the relation which

you have now
that

mind when you observe
fully present

you have not
self

to your

momentary

the fulfillment of your

own
full

present conscious purposes, nor yet a

consciousness even of what those purposes

themselves mean.

In

fact, just in

so far

as you lack anything, or in so far as

you

know not wholly what you mean, or have not now what you all the while consciously
seek, just in so far

you define your object
of

as

beyond you.

The incompleteness

your present self-expression of your own

meaning

is

then the sole warrant that you
is

have for asserting that there

a world

beyond you.

And

this incompleteness, so
it,

far as you are conscious of

gives in

its

turn the only possible meaning to the ex-

6o

The Conception of Immortality

ternality ascribed to the complete expres-

sion

of

your

present

meaning.

Thus

while you indeed expect reality to defeat

your caprices, and to refute your

errors,

you

still

rightly

demand

that reality should

adequately express your whole true meaning.

In consequence, merely by reading this
result
in

the reverse order you have at

once a definition of the deepest essence of
the existent world.
in
its

What

is real is

simply,

wholeness, that which consciously
the very

completes or finally expresses

meaning
your
complete.

that, in you, is at this instant of

human

experience

consciously
of

inviz.,

That meaning

yours,

the world, the reality, the whole, yes the
absolute,
is

now

in

its

very being really

although inadequately present to you passing consciousness
is
;

but your

finite defect

that

you know not consciously,

just now,

the whole of what you even

now

genuinely
at

mean.

Or again

:

you have not now

once both wholly and consciously present

Tloe

Conception of Immortality

61
will.

the complete expression of your

own

But
and

this

complete expression, with you

in essence in

you

really,

even now, but

not consciously present to you now, this

whole

will

and

life of

yours

is

the world.

That complete expression, as the Hindoos
said,

— that

is

the Reality ^

that

is

the

Soul, that art Thou.
is teleological.

The

real

world then

It

does express a purpose.

It

does express this purpose rationally,

wholly, finally.

And

this

purpose

is

the

very purpose
ing
thrill of

now

hinted in your
of longing.

own

pass-

hope and

UT now, after listening to this mere
sketch of the general theory of the ultimate
idealistic
reality, after

hearing this interpretation of the essential

nature of the world order in

its

wholeness,
is

you may well ask how,

in case there

this

essential relation of every finite idea to the

whole meaning of the world, there

is

any
dis-

room

left for finite individuality as

any
I

tinguishable fact.
just sketched
is

The

doctrine that

have

indeed obviously a version

of a doctrine about

God

as

an Absolute

Being, and about his relation to every finite
conscious
seeing
its
life

just in so far as

that
is

life,

own

imperfections,
itself.

seeking

for truth

beyond

No

one can seek

for a truth

beyond
is

his present self, unless

the seeker

already in his inmost purpose
in

one with the Absolute Life

which

all

The Conception of Immortality
truth
is

6j

expressed.

But on the other hand,
and of
finite

this oneness of divine
is

purpose

in

some sense sure
finite life
;

to exist in case of
life is

every

for

all

an expresits

sion of the one universal Will, and in

turn

is

in

the most intimate relation to

that one

will.

Ignorance and error as well
as such, and in

as evil are,

when viewed

their separation from the whole, imperfect
self-expressions of the Absolute that can

only appear within the limits of a finite

fragment of the whole, such as any one of
us

now

is.

No

finite idea

can

fail,

even in

the lowest depths of
this

its finitude,

to intend

oneness with the Absolute upon which,
all

according to our account,

knowledge

and

all
if

truth depend.
all reality is

But on the other

hand,
is

one and for One, and

the expression of a single purpose, so

that

God
all,

is

immanent,
life,

is

everywhere nigh

to the finite

and

is

everywhere meant
indeed to have

by us

— then we seem
is real

found that the world expresses one absolute
purpose, and

only as accomplishing

64

The Conception of Immortality

that purpose.
also that at

And we seem

to

have found

any instant what we consciously
our finite strivings,
is

intend, in

all

oneness
ask, has

with God.

But what, you may

become

of our individuality, in

so far as

we were
else
}

to be just ourselves,

and nobody

I reply, first,

that in referring to reality
fulfill-

in these idealistic terms, as the final

ment

of a united purpose,

— as
is

the com-

plete carrying out of

what

all finite

purposes

more or

less blindly intend,

— we have at
attained

least pointed out

where there

something which no abstract description
of finite facts could

show

us,

namely, the

uniqueness of the Divine Life, and of the
real

world

in

which

this life is expressed.
life

A

will satisfied
its goal,

has in God's whole
other.
I

found

and seeks no

do

not indeed conceive the Absolute as finding his goal at any one point in what
call

we
all

time.

Now we
all
life,

wait and suffer and
all

seek.

And

striving,

and

science are efforts to win ultimately this

The Conception of Immortality
absolute meaning, which
is

65
will

our
it is

own
it is

completely expressed.

But

the whole
that

world of past, present, and future,
totality of life

and

of experience

which our

every

moment

of conscious life implies
fulfilled

and

seeks, which

is

in the Absolute.^

Now

neither abstract thought nor immedi-

ate experience, taken
find or define

merely as we

men

them, can describe or discover

the unique.

Only the complete

fulfillment

of purpose can leave no other fact beyond

to

be sought

;

and primarily, for

this

very

reason, only the Absolute Life can
entirely whole
individual.

be an
is

God, then,

indeed the primary individual.
his
life,

His world,

his expression taken in its whole-

ness,
I

is

that individual fact which you and
all

are at

times trying to

find, to win, to finite

see, to describe, to attain.

As

beings

we

fail at

every moment.

It is

our failure

that

we

try to correct

by our science or by
vision

our prudence.

By no mystic
our whole true

can

we win
toil.

our union with him.
is

We
in

must

But he

life,

whom

66

The Conception of Immortality
live

we
in

and move and have our being, and
attain,

him we triumph and

— not

now,

not here in time and amidst the blind
strivings of this instant, but in that

which

our strivings always intend, and pursue,

and
as
t/

love.

For

" restless are our

souls,"

Augustine

in the familiar passage said,

"until they rest,

O

God, in thee."

But now, on the other hand, consider
the consequences of
all

this for ourselves.

The two
are,
it

deepest facts about the real world
this ideaUstic point of view, that

from

is

everywhere the expression, more or

less partial

and fragmentary,
Therefore
it

of

meaning

and

of purpose.

makes our
viewed

science and

our practical work possible,
us.

and demands them of
as a whole
it is

But

if

an unique fulfillment of purof the

pose,
Will.

— the only begotten son
It is

Divine

such then, in

its

wholeness as

a God's world, that nothing else could take
its

place consistently with the will which

the whole freely expresses, carries out, and
fulfills.

But now of an unique whole, every

TJje

Conception of Immortality

67
its

fjagment and aspect, just by virtue of
relation to the whole, is

inevitably unique.

Were
were

the world essentially unfinished, and
it

not the expression of a purpose,

then the uniqueness or individuality of any of its parts or aspects would remain a
fact

nowhere present
if

to anybody's insight.

But

the absolute knowledge sees the

whole as a complete fulfillment of purpose,
then every fact in the world occupies
unique place in the world.
fact
its

Were

just that

changed, the meaning

of the

whole

would be

just in so far altered,

and another

world would take the place of the present
one.

Just

as, in

case a given cathedral
its

is

unique, and has not

equal in

all

the

world of being, then every stone and every
arch and every carving in that cathedral
unique, by having
its
is

one place in that
if

whole, just so too, in the universe,

the

whole

is

the expression of the single
will,

and

absolute

every fragment of

life

therein

has

its

unique place in the divine

life,

—a

place that no other fragment of
fill.7

life

could

68

The Conception of Immortality

And

so,

although you can never see,
define,

and can never abstractly

your own

unique or individual place in the world, or

your character as
unique and

this individual,

you are
life

therefore individual in your

and meaning, just because you have your
place in the divine
life,

and that

life is

one.

And
and
its

therefore

it is

true that in this
life

same

realm of the single divine
chooses this

which loves

world as the fulfillment of

own

purpose, and will have no other,
life

your

friend's

glows with just

that

unique portion
other
life

of the divine will that

no

in all the

world expresses.

We

finite beings then are unique and individ-

ual

in our differences,
all

from one another

and from

possible beings, just because

we

share in the very uniqueness of God's

individuality and purpose.

We borrow

our

variety from our various relations to his
unity.

And
of Will

thus the claims of Knowledge and
are from the

absolute point

of

view reconciled.

For knowledge recog-

The Conception of Immortality
iiizes

6g

no diversity except upon the ground

of an identity.

And

this is true of us
is

all,

— namely, that
upon the
ness unique.
fied

our very variety

based

fact that the absolute life

and

its

world form one whole and are

in their one-

For

just because the satis-

divine purpose permits

no other to
its

take the place of this world, in
ness, just so each

whole-

one of us has his own

distinct place in this unique whole.

But

on the other hand Will primarily seeks
that which
jects,
is

different

from

all

other ob-

— namely, the
is

individual, the finality,

the single fulfillment of striving.

And
its

just

such a fact
fore
is

the whole world, and there-

every part thereof unique in

own

kind and degree of being.

VI

O

far,
all,

then, as

we

live

and strive

at

our lives are various, are

needed for the whole, and are
unique.

No

one of these
for

lives

can be

substituted
finite

another.

No

one of us
place.

beings

can take

another's

And
verse

all this is true just because the
is

Uni-

one significant whole.

That follows from our general doctrine
concerning our unique relation, as various
finite expressions

taking place within the
life.

single whole of the divine

But now,

with this result in mind,
to the
finite

let

us return again

realms, and descend from our
life

glimpse of the divine

to the

dim shad-

ows and

to the wilderness of this world,
:

and ask afresh

But what
just

is
.-*

the unique

meaning
do
I
fill

of

my

life

now

What

place

in

God's world that nobody else
fill ?

either

fills

or can

TJje

Conception of Immortality
is

7/
still

^How
again in

disheartening in one sense
I state

the inevitable answer.
all its

that answer
I reply

negative harshness.
I

simply

:

For myself,

do not now know in

any concrete human terms wherein
individuality
consists.

my

In

my

present

human form
not
tell.

of consciousness I simply can-

If I

look to see what I ever did

that, for all I

might not
to

now know, some other man have done, I am utterly unable
the
certainly
I

discover
I

unique

deed.

When
models
never

was a child
I

learned by imitation

as the rest did.
in

have gone on copying
I

my

poor way ever since.

felt

a feeling that I

knew

or could

know

to

be unlike the feelings of other
I

people.

never consciously thought, ex-

cept after patterns that the world or
fellows set for me.
this life to

my
in

Of

myself, I

seem

be nothing but a mere meeting-

place in this stream of time where a mass
of the driftwood from the ages has collected.
I

only

know

that I have always
else.

tried to be myself

and nobody

This

;

72

The Conception of Immortality
I

mere aim
is
all.

indeed have observed, but that
for you,

As

my

beloved friend,
;

I

loyally

believe in

your uniqueness

but
con-

whenever
sists,

I try to tell

you wherein

it

I

helplessly describe only a type.

That type may be uncommon.
not you.

But

it

is
it

For

as

soon as described,

might have other examples.
alone.

But you are
what you
are.

Yet

I

never

tell

And

if

your face lights up

my

world as no
too,

other can

well, this feeling

when

viewed as the mere psychologist has to view
it,

appears to be simply what

all

the other
It is
is

friends report about their friends.
old story, this life of ours.

an
no-

There

new under our sun. Nothing new, for us, as we now feel and think. When we imagine that we have seen or
thing
that
is,

defined uniqueness and novelty,
feel a little

we soon

later

the illusion.

We

live

thus, in

one sense, so lonesomely here.
;

For we love individuals

we

trust in
;

them

we honor and pursue them we glorify them and hope to know them. But after

The Comeption of Immortality

7^

we have once become keenly critical and worldly wise, we know, if we are sufficiently thoughtful, that we men can never either
find

them with our
;

eyes, or define

them

in

our minds

and that hopelessness

of finding

what we most love makes some of us cynical,

and turns others

of us into lovers of
still

barren abstractions, and renders
of

others
that

us

slaves

to

monotonous

affairs

have

lost for us

the true individual mean-

ing and novelty that
in

we had hoped

to find

them.

Ah, one

of the deepest tragedies

of this

human

existence of ours lies in this
critics of

very loneliness of the awakened
life.

We
lo,

seek true individuality and the

true individuals.

But we

find

them

not.

For

we

mortals
;

see what our

poor

eyes can see
uals,

and they, the true

individ-

— they

belong not to this world of
sense and thought.
to this

our merely

human

They belong not
as our sense
this

worlds in so far

and our thought now show us

world

!

Ah, therein,

just therein lies

the very proof that they even

now belong

y4

The Conception of Immortality

to a higher

and to a richer realm than

ours.

Herein

lies

the very sign of their true im-

mortality.
individuals.

For they are indeed

real,

these

We

know

this, first,

because

we mean them and seek them.
this,

We

know

secondly, because, in this very longing

of ours,

God
life

too longs
itself,

;

and because the
in our

Absolute
life,

which dwells

and inspires these very longings, posis

sesses the true world, and

that world.
all life

For the Absolute,
is

as

we now know,
what
is

individual, but

is

individual as expressing

a meaning.

Precisely

unexpressed

here, then, in our world of mortal glimpses
of truth, precisely
for,

what

is

sought and longed

but never

won

in this our
is

human form
interpreted,
is

of consciousness, just that
is

developed into

its

true wholeness,
is

won
all

in its fitting form,

and

expressed, in

the rich variety of individual meaning
love here seeks, but cannot
find,

that
is

and

expressed too as a portion, unique, conscious,

and individual, of an Absolute Life

that even

now

pulsates in every one of our

The Conception of Immortality
desires for the ideal

y^

and for the

individual.

We all
eyes.

even now really dwell in this realm

of a reality that is not visible to

We dwell
all

there as individuals.

human The
and

oneness of the Absolute Will

lives in

through

this variety of life

and love and

longing that
in

now
all

is

ours, but cannot live

and through

without working out to
pur-

the

full precisely that individuality of

pose, that will to choose

and to love the

unique, which

is

in all of us the deepest
ideal.

expression of the

Just because, then,

God
life.

is

One,

all

our lives have various and

unique places in the harmony of the divine

And

just

because

God

attains
all

and

wins and finds this uniqueness,

our lives
individu-

win
ality

in our union with

him the

which

is

essential to their true

mean-

ing.

And

just because individuals

whose

lives have uniqueness of meaning are here

only objects of pursuit, the attainment of
this very individuality, since
real,
it

is

indeed

occurs not in our present form of con-

sciousness, but in a life that

now we

see

y6

The Conception of Immortality

not, yet in a life
is

whose genuine meaning

continuous with our
far

own human

life,

however
form
that

from our present flickering

of disappointed
life of

human

consciousness

the final individuality
life,

may

be.

Of

this

our true individual

our present

life is

a glimpse, a fragment, a hint, and

in its best

moments

a visible beginning.

That

this individual life of all of us is not
in its

something limited
sion to the
life

temporal expresexperience,
fol-

that

now we

lows from the very fact that here nothing
final or individual is

found expressed.

VII

HAVE had time thus only to
at

hint

what

to

my mind

is

the true

basis of a rational

conception of

Immortality.

I

do not wish to have the
of

concrete

definiteness

the
this

prophecies

which can be based upon
in

conception

the least overrated.
seek.

Individuality

we
(/

mean and

That, in God,

we win
also

and consciously win, and
not this present mortal

in a life that is

life.

But we

seek pleasure, riches, joys.
as they are

Those, so far

mere types

of facts,

we

as indi-

viduals have no right to expect to win,
either here or elsewhere, in the form in

which we now seek them.

How, when,

where, in what particular higher form of
finite

consciousness our various individual
their final

meanings get
sion, I also in

and unique expresto

no wise pretend

know

or

jS

The Conception of Immortality

to guess.
of

The confidence of the student philosophy when he speaks of the Absoarouses a curiously false impression
that he supposes himself
all

lute,

in

some minds

yJ
able to pierce further into

the other

mysteries of the world than others do.
that
is

But

a mistake.

I

have had no time here

to give even to

my

argument for

my

con-

ception of the Absolute any sort of exact

statement or defense.

I well

know how

vague
been.
of

my
I

hints of general idealism have

can only say that for that aspect
I

my
The

argument

have tried to give, in a

proper place, a

fitting defense.

case, however, for the present appli-

cation of

my

argument

to the

problem of

Human

Immortality
:

lies
(i)

simply in these

plain considerations
rational whole, a

The world

is

a

life,

wherein the divine
(2)

Will

is

uniquely expressed.

Every

as-

pect of the Absolute Life must therefore

be unique with the uniqueness of the
whole, and must

mean something

that can
(3)

only get an individual expression.

But

The Conception of Immortality
in^ this

79

present

life,

while

we

constantly

intend and

mean

to be

and to love and
our pre-

know

individuals, there are, for

sent form of consciousness, no true individuals to be found
or expressed with the

conscious materials
(4)

now

at our disposal.

Yet our

life,

by virtue

of its unity with

the Divine Life, must receive in the end a

genuinely individual and significant expression.
(5)

We

men, therefore, to ourselves,

as

we

feel our

own

strivings within us,

and
one

to one another as

we

strive to find

another, and to express ourselves to one

another, are hints of a real and various
individuality that
us,
is

not

now

revealed to
in

and that cannot be revealed

any

life

which merely assumes our present form of
consciousness, or which
is

limited

by what

we observe between our
(6)

birth

and death.

And

so, finally,

the various and genu-

ine individuality which

we

are

now

loyally

meaning

to express gets,

from the Abso-

lute point of view, its final

and conscious
such
conscious, and

expression in a

life that, like all life
is

as Idealism recognizes,

8o

The Conception of Immortality
its

that in

meaning, although not at
is

all

necessarily in time or in space,

contin-

uous with the fragmentary and flickering
existence wherein

we now

see through a

glass darkly our relations to

God and

to

the
I

final truth.

know not
our

in the least, I pretend not to
this individuality

guess, by
of

what processes
life
is

human

further expressed,

whether through many tribulations as here,
or whether by a

more

direct road to indiI

vidual fulfillment and peace.

know only

that our various meanings, through what-

ever vicissitudes of fortune,

consciously

come

to

what we

individually,

and God

in

V

whom

alone

we

are individuals, shall to-

gether regard as the attainment of our

unique place, and of our true relationships both to other individuals and to the
clusive Individual,
into the occult
it

all in-

God
is

himself.

Further

not the business of
nearest friends are

philosophy to go.
already, as

My

we have

seen, occult

enough

for

me.

I

wait until this mortal shall put on

Individuality.

NOTES
Note
i,

Page

5.

The
to state
in the

discussion of the problem of individuality in

this lecture

summarizes views that
to

I

have attempted
viz.,

and

defend at length in two places,
called
I

volume

The Conception of God

(a

discussion in which

took part with Prof. George

H. Howison, Prof. Joseph LeConte, and Prof. Sidney E. Mezes
:

New

York, The Macmillan Com-

pany, 1897; in particular, in the Supplementary

Essay, op.
Series of
sity of

cit.,

pp. 217-326);

and

in

the

First

my

Gifford Lectures before the Univer-

Aberdeen {The World aiid the Itidividual.
:

First Series

especially in lectures

The Four Conceptions of Being; VII and X). The last menpublished by the Macmillan Com-

tioned volume

is

pany

(1900).

Note
See
in this

2,

Page
I, i.

21.

Aristotle's P^j.yzVj",

Aristotle mentions
illus-

passage the language of children as

trating his view.

%5<^^%

82

Notes

Note
The

3,

Page

33.

technical justification for this assertion is

only hinted later in the course of the present discourse, but
cited in
object
is

set forth at length in the discussions
i.

Note

T/te individual is essentially the
ijtterest
:

of an exclusive

this is the thesis of

the Sicpplementary

Essay in The
is

Conceptioti of God.

All completely real Being
of the fact that
it is
:

individual by virtue
deter77iinate expres-

a finally

sion of a purpose

this is the doctrine
{loc,
cit.).

defended in
of

the Gifford Lectures
the lover
is,

The problem

therefore, to

my
is

mind, as technically

metaphysical a problem as

that of any theologian.

His " exclusive interest

"

is

a typical instance of the

true principle of individuation.

Note
lecture the

4,

Page

39.

In this and in one or two other passages of the
relation of the

problem of the

indi-

vidual to the concept of the actual or completed
Infinite is indicated.

This aspect of the problem,

involving as

it

does both mathematical and meta-

physical issues, has received a

somewhat

detailed

discussion in a Suppiemetitary Essay published

along with the

first

series of the Gifford Lectures,

and
It

entitled
is

The One, the Many, and
connection that

the Infinite.
of

in

this

my own way

Notes
stating the

8^

problem of individuality brings me into

decided opposition to some well-known views, both
of Fichte

and of Hegel, regarding the nature of

individuality
Infinite.
is

and regarding the concept of the
" elusive goal " the individual indeed

An

for

any temporal search.

Yet that

in itself

it is

(in

one sense, and that the most real sense) a com-

pleted whole, and not a merely unfinished process,
is

a central thesis of

my

whole argument.

On

the

other hand,
is

my

concept of the completed Infinite

Hot that of Hegel, but rather that of Dedekind

and Cantor.

Note
The more
follows, apart

5,

Page

50.

general statement of Idealism which

from
is

its

application to the case of

the individual,

identical in substance with the

argument

set forth in

my

Religious Aspect of Phi-

losophy (Boston, Riverside Press, 1885), and in

my

Spirit of

Modern Philosophy
by Idealism,
is

(Id. 1892).

In the

Gifford Lectures the relation of the concept of
Reality, as defined
to the conceptions

of Will and of Purpose,

more

carefully consid-

ered than in the earlier discussions, and an attempt
is

made

to

show the

precise grounds for the

faile.

ure of the opposing conceptions of Being,

g.,

Realism.

84

Notes

Note
The

6,

Page

6$.

text here implies a doctrine about the

meanIn the

ing of that much-abused term, Eternity.

forthcoming second course of Gifford Lectures,
already delivered but not yet printed,
I

have found

the opportunity to state at length this doctrine,

which

is

not new, but which has been far too

much

neglected in philosophical discussion.
the matter

The

gist of

may here be summed up
listens appreciatively to

in a

few words.

Whoever

a melody, or to

a sequence of chords of music, or even to a mere

rhythm of drum-taps, or

to the

words of a speaker,

has a twofold consciousness as to the way in which
the facts to which he listens are present to him.
(i)

Each
is
it

tone, or chord, or drum-tap, or

spoken

word,
far as

present^ as this

member

of its series, in so

follows some sounds and precedes others,
it

so that when, or in so far as, in this sense,
present, the preceding notes of the

is

melody or taps
past, while

of the

rhythm are no longer or are

the succeeding notes are not yet or are future.
this sense of the

In

term present^ the present excludes
its

past and future from

own temporal

place in the

sequence.

(2)

But now the appreciative hstener
totum simul, to use
of a brief but

also grasps at once (or, as a

the phrase of St.
still

Thomas) the whole

considerable sequence of tones or of taps or

Notes
of words.

Z^

In this second sense he

may be

said to

find present to

him the whole sequence.

How

much he can
interest,

thus grasp at once depends upon his

his

temperament, and his training, but

above

all

upon the characteristic time-spa^t of

human

consciousness, or upon the length of what

Professor James has, with others, called the " specious present."

This length

is,

for

us men, an

arbitrary fact, varying
limits.
It

more or

less,

but within close

determines one aspect of what

called the peculiar "

I have form " of our human conscious-

ness.

What happens

in periods too long or too

short for this time-span of our consciousness es-

capes our direct observation.

There

is,

however,

no conceptual
**

difficulty in the

way

of imagining a

form of consciousness " whose " specious pre-

sent" should be limited in span to the time of
vibration of a hydrogen molecule, or, on the other

hand, should be extended to include in one glance,
or at once, the events of a billion years.

Such

other forms of consciousness would be in no more
arbitrary relations to time than our

own

conscious-

ness

now now

is.

How we

come

to

be able to grasp at

once the events of say two or three seconds,

we

can-

not

say.

That we can do so

is

evidenced by

every case in which

we

catch, as a presented fact,

the interest of a whole musical or rhythmic or

spoken phrase. might have vastly

Other forms of
different span.

consciousness

86
But
in so far as

Notes

we grasp af

once a whole series

of facts, however long or however short, this series
is

present, in the second sense of the term present,
it

to the consciousness that observes

as in any

way
pre-

a whole.

Yet the temporal

facts

which make up
its

the whole sequence follow each one after
decessors.

Let the sequence be

a, b,

c.

Then, in
is

OMXfirst sense of the ttxm present, when b a
is

present,

no longer, and

c is

notyet.

And this fact makes
But
in the second

the temporal sequence what

it is.

sense of the term present,
perfectly genuine
lojiger

a, b,

and

c,

despite this

but

relative

difference of

no

and not

yet, or of

past and future, are all

present as a totum simul to the consciousness
that grasps the entire sequence.
of the

These two senses

term present are perfectly distinguishable,

and they involve no contradiction.
Since, however, the length of a " specious pre-

sent "

is

an arbitrary

fact, there is

tradiction in supposing a " for

no sort of conform of consciousness "
Silu-

which the events of the Archaean and of the

rian and of later geological periods should be pre-

sent at once, together with the facts of to-day's history.

Such a consciousness would merely exceed,
years, our time-span
;

by many millions of
is

but what

for us

no

lojiger

would

be, to such a conscious-

ness, in our second ^tTi.%% of the iQ.vm present, a fact

of

its

own

present consciousness.

(On the time-

Notes
span, see also

87
in

my discussion

my

Studies of

and Evil,
1898,

published by Appleton and
essay entitled

Good Company in

in the

Self-Coiiscious7iess,

Social Consciousness
If all limitations of

and Nature).
time-span are to be conceived

as arbitrary, the question whether a consciousness
is

possible which should have present to

it

at once

(in

our second sense of the term present) the whole
tiine^

of

or the whole of what, from this

moment

outwards,
to this

we now view

as antecedent or as sequent

moment, becomes simply the question. In
totality of

what sense can the

temporal events be
all ?

regarded as any determinate whole at

This
:

question involves, to be sure, the further questions

In what sense

is

the temporal sequence of the

world's events an endless sequence or an infinite
series
ries,
?

and, In what sense can this temporal seif infinite,

even

be defined as a determinate or
?

as a really complete whole
far

These questions

lie

beyond the

limits of this note.

But, as a fact,

in the above-cited essay, at the conclusion of the

Gifford Lectures, on
Infinite, I

The One,
to

the

Many, and

the

have endeavored

show

that an infinite

series

can be a perfectly determinate and individ-

ual whole, every

member

of which could conceiv-

ably be

known at

once by a single consciousness.

For reasons

that will be explained

more

fully in

the second series of the Gifford Lectures, but that

88

Notes
first series, I

are already indicated in the

also hold

that the temporal series of the world's events constitutes

such a whole,

infinite,

and yet present ai

once to the Absolute (in our second sense of the

term present).

But a consciousness whose span embraces the
whole of
ti7ne is precisely

Eternal Consciousness.

what I mean by the term And what is present at
viz.,

once to such a consciousness,

the whole of

what happens

in time, taken together with all the

distinctions of past

and of future that hold within

the series of temporal events,
constitutes Eternity.
It is

— this whole,
we

I

say,
I

in these senses that

here use these two terms.

The

type of an eternal consciousness

ourselves

empirically possess precisely in so far as

we grasp

at once the sequent events of any melody or rhythm
or series of words.

This our possession of what

may be
limited

called the eternal type of consciousness is

by the arbitrary span of our human form

of

consciousness.
lutely

To

conceive this limitation abso-

removed, without any confusion resulting,

imphes, to be sure, the conception of the determinately infinite whole
;

but this conception, although

abstruse, is (as I have tried to

show

in the essay

cited) a conception quite free from contradiction.
If

once we form this conception, then

it

becomes

easy to see that to suppose the whole of time

Notes
present at once to an eternal consciousness

8g
is in

no wise a meaningless supposition.

Nor does

this

supposition conflict with the temporal truth that
also express

we

when we say

that,

from the point of
(if

view of any one present event in time
present
is

the term

taken in our

first sense), all
7io

future events
longer.

are not yet^

and

all

past events are

The

two propositions express different aspects of the
world, but are mutually consistent.
It
is

in

view of these considerations that the

text speaks of the Absolute as possessing, in its

conscious fulfillment, "the whole world of past and
future."
i. e.,

If

one

retorts, "

How
is

can the future now^
fact to the
I

at the present

moment, be present

Absolute when the future
insist

not yet f " then

simply

upon distinguishing the two foregoing mean-

ings of the
"

word

" present."

It is as if

one asked,

How can

the listener grasp at once as present the
if

whole of his brief musical sequence,

the tones

or chords so follow in time that all but one are
either past or future,

and are not present when

that

one sounds?"

Whoever

listens

to

music

with appreciation answers the latter question.

The
if

answer to the former involves no

new

principle,

once you grant the definable reality of an
time.

infinite

The
way
in

usual confusion of ideas as to this twofold

which the facts of a sequence can be called

po
present
is

Notes
responsible for the familiar problem as

to the divine

"foreknowledge" and

its

relation to

freedom.

then

God has the future present to him, he must now (viz., to-day, or at this temporal
" If

instant) _/br<?know

the future."

So a frequently

urged argument presupposes.

The only

fair

com-

ment

is

:

God, viewed
if

in his wholeness,

does not

now
to-

foreknow anything,

by now you mean merely

day or at

this mo7nent.

For whoever now looks
7iot yet, is

forward to the future merely as
being, temporally determined,
his

a

finite

and not yet come

to

own

fulfillment in
is

God.

Divine knowledge of
It

what
is

to us

future

is

no mere foreknowledge.

eternal knowledge.

Note
I

7,

Page

6^.

am

well aware of the difficulty that this pas-

sage leaves wholly untouched regarding the sense
in

which there can be any freedom, any individual
any ethical spontaneity, belonging to the

initiative,

individuals

whose variety and uniqueness,

despite,
is

or even because of, their unity with and in God,

here asserted.
I

The problem of

individual freedom

have treated in the Conception of

God

(pp.

289-

315),

and

in Lecture

X

of the

first series

of Gifford

Lectures.

See also The Spirit of Modern PhiloFuller

sophy

^

pp. 428-434.

discussions

of

the

same problem, already prepared

in manuscript, will

;

Notes
appear in the second series of Gifford Lectures.

gi
I

can "bnly say that the figure of the cathedral
in the text

is

used

with a

full
is

consciousness of

its

inadelife

quacy.

The world
lives.

no cathedral, but a

of

many

Nor

are the true individuals

mere

stones or carvings in an edifice, nor yet mere parts
in a quantitative whole.

In

God

their lives inter-

penetrate without losing their contrasts, and are
free despite their oneness.

Their freedom involves

the fact that the future temporal processes of the

world have a certain measure of causal indeterminateness, despite that other, or ontological deter-

minateness, that, as individual events, they possess

and that every temporal instant brings
novelties with
is
it.

its

own
But

The completeness

of their lives

a fact only from the eternal point of view.
is

a lecture on immortality
aspect of
life

limited to the

mere
It

and truth suggested by

its title.

cannot justly express a system of metaphysics.
It

can only hint the nature of such a system.

PRINTED BY H. O. HOUGHTON & CAMBRIDGE, MASS.
U.S.A.

CO.

cP^^'

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