;ru

ESSAY ON THE BASES

MYSTIC KNOWLEDGE

ESSAY

OJE BASES
OF THE
II
Ba<riAfia

MYSTIC KNOWLEDGE
TOU Qeov ttnbs
i>fj.>v

fcrnv.

(Luke xvn. 21)

BY
E.

RECEJAC

DOCTOR OF LETTERS

^Translate!)

BY

SARA CARK UPTON

NEW YORK
CHARLES SCRIBNER S SONS
1899

Copyright, 1899,

BY CHARLES SCRIBXER

S

SONS.

JOHN WILSON AND Sox,

CA?.IP.I:IDOE,

U.S.A.

TRANSLATOR S NOTE.

THE

translator would say that the citations in this

work have been carefully compared with the English
originals or translations, but in quoting the titles, that
it

has seemed on the whole fairer to give the

titles

and

pages of the works as quoted by the author, instead of

changing them to the English
translations

titles or titles of

other

which he did not

use.
S. C.

U.

CONTENTS
PAGK

INTRODUCTION
JFitat

1

Part

THE ABSOLUTE
STATEMENT
7

CHAPTER FIRST
CONCERNING THE VARIOUS ATTITUDES OF MIND TOWARD THE ABSOLUTE
I.
I.

EMPIRICISM, DETERMINISM
" "

In vain do we oppose the

Simple

to the

"

Absolute."

At
II.

the basis of existence and of knowledge, there

is

an
8

Implicit

Necessity in the sense of Determinism leads to the pure to Non-Being it is One only conceivable in the Ab
:

solute as
III.

Good and Act pure
.

10
13

There

is

no law in the true sense except the moral law
II.

POSITIVISM

I.

Reason could not have come out of the Unconscious by evolution it transcends the whence it would subject be said to come
"

"

:

15 17

II.

To

"

"

objectivate
s

is
:

to

have already thought the Absolute
all

III

Spencer

opinion

conclusion that Mysticism underlies

knowledge
III.
I.

20

CRITICISM

The Kantian

definition of Being.

What Kant

dreaded was

Fanaticism, not Mysticism

22

VI

CONTENTS
PAGE

II.

The Kantian a priori (the Noumeuon, or

(the
"

mind)

calls for
")

another a priori

Absolute

into

which Mysticism
24

III.

alone dares to penetrate The work of Criticism is to correct

Reason without checking the other initiatives of the soul. The postulates of Crit icism give no intellectual standpoint unless some mystic certainty is added
IV.
RATIONALISM.
;

26

I.

II.

its object and Evidence does Thought not come from things alone. How Character influences Knowledge, specially in moral matters Dogmatism is a stiff-mindeduess opposed to the needs of Knowledge
is

not in equation with

28

32

CHAPTER SECOND
THE MYSTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
I.

INADEQUACY or THE RATIONAL ABSOLUTE
to the Necessary,

I.

The Universal must be brought back the Necessary to the Good

and
36 38

II.

No

one can conceive the Good or think the Absolute by

means

of the categories

.

II.
I.

MYSTIC SYNTHESIS
first

Mysticism declares God to be the assemblage of
"

princi

ples
II.

Known
"

of the

Heart,"

whose synthesis can only be
but God in

made symbolically The formula I live, yet not
III.

I,

me

"

.

.

.

.

40 43

SCIENCE AND MYSTICISM
.

Relations between the mystic Experience and Knowledge II. The mystic method
I.

46 53

IV.
I.

PHILOSOPHICAL MYSTICISM AND RELIGIOUS MYSTICISM
is only a vague state of conscious no moral transcendence

Philosophical mysticism
ness, having in
it

62

CONTENTS
II.

Vll

PAGE

There

is nothing of a supernatural character in Mysticism, except that it brings the realizing Sense of the Good to such a high point that a power is developed to effect in the consciousness the synthesis of Determinism and

Freedom
III.

64 68

Nature and the mystic Consciousness
V.

MYSTIC PLEASURE

I.

Ontological value of Finality.
Scientific, esthetic,

II.

The na iveness of Art and moral pleasure is the result of appre hension of the Absolute in its various relations with our
called
"
"

...

71

consciousness
III.

73
mystic
is

The pleasure properly
estedness, or

the result of direct

union with the Absolute through the power of Disinter

Love
TIIE LIMITS OF MYSTICISM

77

VI.
I.

II.

Pessimism and mystic Optimism The sure and middle ground of Mysticism
Scientific

79 81

Seconti

SYMBOLS
STATEMENT
85

CHAPTER FIRST
CONCERNING INSPIRATION
I.

STATE OF THE QUESTION
:

I.

Reason alone
verified

is

a priori

Inspiration

is

only a fact to be 86

II.

Autonomy

posteriori of the mystical consciousness

a

III.

Mystic Esotericism
is

87 88
.

IV. Inspiration
II.
I.

merely an intensified state of consciousness

90

IDENTITY OF REASON AND INSPIRATION
:

Continuous progress of Reason

Common-Sense, Genius,
92

Prophecy

Viii

CONTENTS
PAGE

Concerning Poetic Inspiration III. The aberrations of Mysticism in search of its own tran scendence IV. Reason can be determined by nothing but itself: Unity is
II.
its

93
95 98 100

act

V.

with Inspiration communicates

Reason through Evidence

.

III.

CONCERNING THE INTELLECTUAL TRANSCENDENCE
CALLED INSPIRATION

I.

II.

III.

Paul Inspiration according to Saint Theological obscurity regarding the nature of Inspiration Unanimous sentiment which attributes Inspiration to a
.

101 102

moral transcendence followed
Imagination

by

illumination

of

the

101
10G

IV. Meutal mechanism of Inspiration

IV.
I.

REASON AND THE DIVINE

WORD

II.

Identity of human Reason and the Divine Mystical conditions of the consciousness of Christ

Word

....
. .

.

III.

The hypostatic Union and the

spiritual fact

109 Ill 113
115

IV. The Personality

CHAPTER SECOND
SYMBOLISM
I.

MYSTICAL EXPRESSION
consists in the mental production

I.

The mystic function
Knowledge
is

and
119

the moral application of the symbols
II.

but

exists only through analogy a rational series of symbols
is

:

even science

itself

121

III.

Symbolism

mystical when it claims to effect communication of the ego and the non-ego in the totality of the con
sciousness
124.

IV. Wherein mysticism claims too much and what it really accomplishes V. Qualities of mystic symbolism simplicity and vivacity VI. Concerning verbal expression its inadequacy for the mystic
:

.

.

127 132 134

:

consciousness

CONTENTS
II.
I.

IX

MYSTIC INTUITION
PAGE

II.

Mystic Intuition enables us to perceive the facts of Free dom through and above the empirical consciousness, in a manner the inverse of Abstraction The mystic consciousness sees only itself covered over with
the symbols which the Infinite

138

make apparent

its

tendencies towards

III.

The mystic

act

is

incommunicable.

Mystic privilege

.

.

.

IV.

Law of symbolic communication V. The mystic symbols as mental object
III.
I.

140 143 146
148

MYSTIC ALIENATION
150

Imagination the mother of symbols
Distinction between the objectiveness of mystic and the verity of symbols

II.

phenomena
153
155

III.

Non-objectiveness of mystic phenomena IV. The various mystic phenomena: the prophetic Voices, the Stigmata, Ecstasy

Dream,
164

IV.
I.

DEGRADED FORMS or MYSTICISM
176 178 180 181

II.

Occultism Criterion of Mysticism. Perversions of Mystic Symbolism

III. Mystic infatuation IV. Pessimism and Mysticism

THE
STATEMENT

"HEART"

183

CHAPTER FIRST
THE ABSOLUTE AND FREEDOM
I.

THE MODERN IDEA

OF FREEDOM, AND THE MYSTIC CONCEPTION OF THE DIVINE WILL
"

I.

Subordination of Reason to the

Heart

"

184

II.

Reconciliation of the Kantian notion of

Freedom and the
of the

idea of the divine Will through the inwardness

Good

187

X
III.

CONTENTS
PAGE
Reconciliation of Determinism and the Necessity of choice through a positive conception of Freedom
" "

IV. Holiness and Freedom
divine comes from the V. The character of supernatural or transcendence of the intelligible ego over the empirical

191 195

ego
II.
I.

199

OF THE ABSOLUTE

IN

MORALS
204

Inadequacy of Dogmatism in Morals
Empirical morals which are the equivalent of pure Egotism
fall

II.

III.

The

to pieces before the facts part of Mysticism in morals

"

"

of Reason and

Freedom
.

IV. Determination of moral Good, divine and human together V. Twofold error of Asceticism its attempt to establish itself without reference to Experience, even the mystic ; and its
;

205 210 213

tendency to isolate
III.

man

in the Absolute

218

THE MYSTIC ESSENCE

OF COURAGE, HONOK, MODESTY, BENEVOLENCE.

I.

The Moral Organism
Courage
is

II.

a sense of the Infinite

III.

Excessive and mystic nature of
is

Honor
is

222 223 226
a mani

IV. Reverence

the impression of that Dignity which festation of the Absolute

V. Modesty, the mystic pride of Reason VI. Of the Contradictions of Benevolence
Infinite

227 228

:

Love

sensible of the
.

230

CHAPTER SECOND
THE ETHICAL FUNCTION OF SYMBOLS
I.

CONCERNING ETHICAL CONCEPTION FUNCTION OF THE INTELLIGENCE IN MORALITY
:
:

I.

The unpremeditated nature of the Good moral Inspiration. The influence of symbols is supplementary to rational

II.

The

evidence and representative of the moral object moral reconciliation of universal divine Vision
.
. .
"

235

"

:

Christianity, Rationalism, of Jacobi
III.

and Positivism.

The Mysticism
240

Analysis of moral Emotion.
representations which

Transcendence of the mental
it

accompany

245

CONTENTS
LV.

XI
PAGE

Absolute verity of the symbols given to the moral conscious ness. Their esotericism

V. The function of Grace VI. The Relations of moral and esthetic symbolism Eloquence

250 254 256

:

Concerning

II.
I.

THE MYSTIC CITY
: . . . .

II.

The social function of Disinterestedness Peace Power and Kindness the Heart the unity of the two con
:

258

cepts
III.

260

Freedom can have no other mystic object than itself. tic and social Ideal "the Free-Man IV. The Mystic City and the World. The man who can never be damned V. The integration of Souls in the Absolute VL The mystic confidence of Hope
"

Mys
261
is

:

free

263 264

267 270

CONCLUSION

INTRODUCTION
MUST we
the
believe that Mysticism
"

is

like

"

some vast ocean,

empire of illusion
is it

l

where adventurous thinkers go

astray, or

a state of direct intuition which

may be

claimed by

right, as divinely imparted ?

The question
either

presents itself to us with this alternative

:

Mysticism contains a negation of thought worse than
it

Scepticism, or
If
it

is

the most perfect activity of the mind.
is

be that Mysticism

only obstinate persistence to
first

know

the unknowable, we shall have to accept the

conclusion.

The pursuit makes them
ticism

of

the impossible

perverts

our faculties and
But, should

unfit for their natural use.

Mys

prove

to

be an experience

distinct
it

from what we

understand

by the word
if

"knowing,"

would be worth
introduced into

our while to inquire

something new

is

the consciousness, and in what ways.

Reason

is

in possession of too

much

light to be able to

remain quite at ease in the region of clear ideas, but not

enough
this

to

know

first

principles of actual knowledge.

In

penumbra who can

trace the exact limit of perceptions
in the probable,

and say where the true disappears
probable vanishes in illusion
1

where the

?

Kant, Critique de la raison pure, Barni, 1

i.

p.

304.

2

INTRODUCTION

Many

systems, under

many names have been proposed
this sense of relativity

whereby to deliver Reason from
irksome than radical incapacity.

more
any

It cannot be said that
less

have a higher value than that of more or
views.

ingenious

The work

of

knowing
is

the effort to synthesize the

world and the ego

forever recommencing.
disability,

Mysticism has often aggravated this natural
has been justly blamed for
intellectual
it.

and

Throughout the
impatience

centuries,

despair

and moral

have

provoked

doctrines and practice which have been to the last degree

wild and improbable.

The Absolute

will not

be found in any of the inspirations
Unless we search for
it

of despair and impatience.

in

some

region of our consciousness where autonomy (that reflection
of

God)

is

clearly manifested,
"the

and unless we search with the
as well as
"the

effort

which desires

better"

new,"

we

shall only
cies.

open the way to divagations and extravagant fan
is

There

no other way for

man

to rise above himself

than by Freedom.
ble limitations,

On

this side alone there are

no impassa
be

and on

this side alone

can

infinite progress

opposed to relative experience.
self as a distinct

Thought must not look on it and separate activity, but it must hold close
trust in

to

Freedom and
is

Freedom, the

sole creative

power

that

ours

:

not otherwise

may we apprehend
is

the Infinite.

In our modern consciousness there
for

an intense feeling

Freedom, as though

it

were something of our invention.

Shall

we

see the idea of the past, the mystic idea, give place

to the

forceful energies
all

which

this

sense of

Freedom has

brought into

orders of tilings,

science, industry, etc. ?

INTRODUCTION

3
to a

The Christian
life

idea, it is said,

had relegated the Ideal

beyond, but the world, aroused from these unverified
its

dreams, has set
ence, where

hopes in

itself,

here in this actual exist

Freedom

shall find

its

kingdom, which

is

the

true heaven.

Had

the Christian idea contained nothing but
it

the mystical power of Hope, perhaps even then
lived.

would have

But Freedom bears

in itself a mysticism
is

which noth

ing can take away, and this
find nothing real at the

disinterestedness.

We

shall

bottom of Freedom except disinter
it is

estedness, but possessing that,
in essence with the Absolute.

boundless, homogeneous

What
of the

is

the psychology of this act of

"

moral alienation

"

self, this

voluntary abdication of the

me?

Can the

act be freed of all mysticism

and dispense with the Absolute ?

The empirical school is working to construct a Logic of the under the name of Altruism. In our opinion no
"heart,"

such Logic

is

possible,

and when science reaches the point
(if
it

of explaining all things mechanically
"

ever does) the
a fact

heart

"

will still

be an implicit without formula,
is

beyond laws.

There

in us an

"immanent"

act or energy,

as contrasted with continuous energy, of

which none but con
a fact

tradictory notions can be given

it is

which we can
the mystics

not

know

scientifically

and which must be

left to
it.

on condition that they make
Pascal
ples
s

good use of

We
"

return to

idea,

"Love

excels

understanding."

First princi

which elude Dialectics appear to the

Heart

"

under

the form of symbols.

Mysticism
tation

lives

by symbols, the only mental represen
relative

by which the Absolute can enter into our

4.

INTRODUCTION
It
is

experience.

said that those

symbols which are the
to survive.

most

logically
will

and morally perfect are the ones

But
sal

any survive?

Are there such things
?

as

univer
all

and necessary symbols

We

stand apart from

these

shall have occasion to questions, and indeed

show that they
enough

are not to be asked.

It is our opinion, however, that

not mystic genius has been deposited in our constitution,
in

the nature of a residuum from slow ages of tradition,
all

but as a fundamental, inherent possession, to withstand
influences of non-assimilation, and that
of Reason.
this atavism

forms part

Would

it

be the

part of

good philosophy to take no

account of these elements in the study of

man?
make
or
it

The only scope
rational critique
"

of our undertaking of
"

is

to

a purely

mystic

knowledge,"

might be
a host of

better to say

mystic

experience."

From among

manifestations of this instinct, beginning with the Alexan

drian ecstasy

down

to the last novelties of occultism,

we have
touch

had to

select that
1

form

least likely to vanish at the first

of pure Reason.

The Christian mystics themselves cannot

clearly serve us as types.

Few

of

them combine the yearn
Aside
of

ings of celestial love with the real qualities of genius.

from the canonical
1

books

(the
all

marrow and substance

Were we

to

embrace in our work

the intellectual excesses done in the

name

of Mysticism

we should be
shall

led into confusion from lack of homogeneity

in the subject.

We

press on straight to the mystic

Fact, leaving

to

one side

all less direct

speculations tending to introduce the

Unknowable

into

The mystic fact is a naive and nonmethodical attempt to apprehend the Absolute it is a symbolic and not a dialectic mode of The course of this work will lead us to make the thought.
the consciousness in dialectical form.
;

distinction

still

plainer.

INTRODUCTION
Christianity),

O

and a few Fathers of the Church, very

little

remains to furnish us a basis of original and critical obser
vation.

When

it

has been necessary to refer to Christian
preference Saint Augustine and

opinion,

Saint

we have followed by Thomas Aquinas.

It is understood, therefore, that

we

are not concerned with

Christian mysticism specially, but with universal mysticism,

or in other words, with

all

transcendental methods

which

tend to actualize the desires of Freedom in experience.
This
itself.

transcendence

depends

first

of

all

upon Freedom
its

All mysticism must seek in
its

Freedom

determining

principles and

inspiration.

Afterwards
sentations.

it rises

by means of mental

"

"

symbolic

repre

We can

have no other experience of the Absolute

in this life than through symbolic representations.

Before treating of the two questions,
"

"Symbols"

and the
compare

Heart/
Mysticism
determine

we

shall

endeavor,
other

as

preliminary, to

with
its

the

methods of

knowing, and to

place in Philosophy.

FIRST PART

THE ABSOLUTE
THE
understanding
in

does not include
field

all

the

facts

of

consciousness

the

of

its

discursive

work.
to

And
widen

yet the aim of

modern philosophy has not been
all

our comprehension of

that lies in the consciousness, but
it

rather to eliminate from

as

"Unknowable"

whatever has

not yet emerged into the state of concepts.

Can

this

be

done

?

Mysticism, on the other hand, claims to be able to
the

know
per

Unknowable without help from dialectics, and suaded that, by means of love and will, it reaches
to

is

a point there in
"

which thought, unaided, cannot

attain.

What

is
"

common between
and

this state of consciousness called

mystic

definite consciousness or

knowledge?

CHAPTER FIRST
CONCEENING THE VARIOUS ATTITUDES OF MIND TOWAKD THE ABSOLUTE
I.

EMPIRICISM, DETERMINISM
"
" "

I.

to the In vain do we oppose the Simple basis of existence aud of knowledge there

Absolute."

At

the

is

an Implicit.

II.

to Necessity in the sense of Determinism leads to the pure One the Absolute it is in as Good and conceivable Non-Being only
:

Act pure.
III.

There

is

no law

in the true sense except the

moral law.

I.

ACCORDING

to the opinion of the empiricist-determinist,

an object of cognition should be separated into parts by
in vain do

we oppose
(he
"

analysis until

we reach the simple

:

they maintain

<s

P le

tothe"Abso-

that instead of trying vainly J J to find the synthesis J

thlfbasis of existence and of knowledge there is an implicit.

of

first

principles in the Absolute,

we should begin

at the lowest point. an(j

and never weary of dividing
order to understand.

gab-diyjcljn

j tl

This

method cannot be accepted, not merely because we have
not the physical means to reach the ultimate elements, but
because the

method contradicts Logic

itself.

The mind

separates things into parts to get at their inner relations,

and not for the purpose of grasping the principle

in each

by

itself.

If several terms were not presented to the
act,

mind

there
all

would be no object and no

and

all

judgment and

intuition

would be

at

an end.

EMPIRIC ISM, DETERMINISM
Saint Augustine has well defined this character of Reason
"By

9

:

an inner and

invisible
to

act, I can separate and

put

together terms
this

proposed
call

the faculty

of knowing,

and
to

faculty I
if it

my

Reason.

Now, what have we
to

separate

is

not that which we believed

be one,

and

which

is

not, or at least not so

much one as we believed?
unless
it

And what
is

does

it

mean

to put things together
so
act
it

to

make them one
the

far

as

may be

?

Therefore,

whether I perform

which

separates

or

the

act

which brings together,

is

Unity which I love always.

The

difference

seeking for
siring to

when I analyze and separate I am pure One, and when I put together I am de
is

that

find

the complete

whole.
are

By

the

first

process

I

eliminate

the

elements

that

foreign,

and

by

the

second I bring
to obtain perfect

together those

that are

common,

in order

Unity/

J

The author shows
to his

clearly

enough by these

last
"

words that
"

mind

there

is

no simple One, and that

perfect unity

can only be conceived as an Implicit.
rational consciousness, then, there is
plicable, an a priori.

At
an

the basis of the

implicit,

an inex

If

we go
its

to Mathematics,

we

find that the

mind has

to

base

logic

on an original
their

intuition.

When we
doing

construct

number, form, and
than
"recognize

laws,

we

are

much more
science of

the same in the
still

other."

The

Mechanics
crete,

is

seen to be

in progress towards the con
ideality
is

and in Dynamics the

less

pure than in
are inclined to

Mathematics.
1

Force, in whatever sense
1.

we

De

Ordine,

xi.,

ch. xviii.

Oper.,

t. i.,

p.

211, Paris, 1586.

10

ATTITUDES OF MIND TOWA11D THE ABSOLUTE
it, is

understand

a suspicious notion in the sight of Deter
shall

minism.

1

But where then
its

we

stop ?

What

ontological

principle in

simplicity shall

we oppose

to the Absolute,

whether

it

be the abstract Absolute of Rationalism or the
?

living Absolute of the Mystics
II.

The one
is

idea, perhaps, dearer
"

than

all

others to Deter-

minists
Necessity

the idea of

Law."

m

^

But what do they claim by
all

"Widcl

they have us exclude

spontaneity

Determinism
leads to the

from Being

?

confront Nature and Being as two

imve one to Non-Beonfy conceivable in the Absolute as Good and

contradictory terms?

When
ce L pt of
"

Determinism reaches

this

essential con

Law

"

it

cannot be allowed to go any J

further, for it has

begun

to

confuse two

things

which

it

desires

absolutely to distinguish,

necessity and

contingency.

The universal and the necessary
gories, the
first

are two different cate

of Avhich returns to the principle of identity,

but the second does not by any means.

The

"

"

possible
this,

answers to the universal, but being does not do
(even with greater reason) does necessity.
tant point.
If

nor,

This

is

an impor

we

let the idea of the Absolute escape us

with regard to Necessity, we shall no longer be able to grasp
it

again in Freedom.

The

"

same,"

that

is,

simple One, does not exist, and unless
" "

we quickly

resort to Saint Augustine s
it

perfect Unity
true,

the

principle of identity, while
1

would remain

would be
"

The

action

which we suppose
physics."

to take place in molecules, is a

psychic

hypothesis introduced into

FOUILLEE, Les alms de P Inconnaissable
p.

en morale.

Rev. phil. Mar. 1895,

460.

EMPIRICISM, DETERMINISM
without practical application.

11
that

But how

is

it

we may

oppose, under guarantee of identity, not the same to the same,

but the same to the other
plicit

?
is

How

are

we

to present the
"

Im

to

Reason

?

Which

equivalent to saying,
"

How

does being follow from the possible
in in

?

From
the

this first step,

the very act

of Reason which

puts
"

consciousness

possession

of

the

"

substantive

(the organic

bond

of

thought) the Absolute
the Possible itself
lies

is

presupposed.
it

There

is

nothing in
that which

whereby

becomes Being
is

:

between these two logical terms
:

no longer in logical
:

order

it is

something quite other than an abstraction

it is

a nucleus which we can only grasp in the reality of our

life

and our consciousness.
scientific

The point
is

at

which

all

analysis,
is

or logical, ends
:

the Implicit, and cannot have

for copula

identity

is

but the criterion of the abstract, the

unproductive principle of the pure possible.
stantive

The

truly sub

copula

which gives passage from the possible to
to the real
lifeless
is

being and from the abstract

the word Jiat,

something very remote from the

and uniform character

of the categories, and the word by which each one of us

expresses the most subjective part of himself,
desire.
1

motion,
in
"

life,
"

But have we not already an Absolute
nothing to be met which
is

fiat

?

There
1

is

more mystical than

this.

The

idea of force has alternated from the mechanical to the psychological

sense.
cal

To speak only of the modern world, Galileo strengthened the mechani interpretation when he identified motion and rest in a single fact, inertia.
since the time

Descartes in his mathematical Determinism had reduced the idea of Force to a

minimum, hut

when Newton
is

corrected this Determinism

by the

double proof that real motion

curvilinear and varied, not rectilinear and uni
its

form, the idea of Force has resumed
signification

which alone renders

it

conceivable.

importance, with the psychological Determinism has finally fixed

12

ATTITUDES OF MIND TOWAliD THE ABSOLUTE
It matters little

whether the

"fiat"

reason of Being has
for others

for

some of us the subjective aspect of Desire, and
:

the objective aspect of Force
of motion

it

must ever be the
to the identity

principle

and of the diverse opposed
whether
it

and immo

bility of Being,

remains adherent to consciousness

or whether

it is

separated therefrom.
to admit,
is

The Absolute, we have
complicated

only abstract being,

with an element too subjective to be defined
is

apart, but which at the same time
like being,

neither

metaphysical

nor experiential in the already objective sense of
"

the

word

Force."

The Absolute

is

not manifested in a

definition.

It needs an introspective description
it

which does

not detach

from the consciousness in some form cut out of

the consciousness and less than the whole.

Words

are only
is

a feeble attempt.

Our

first

impression of the Absolute

perhaps in that sense of material resistance
each of us with the

which comes to
grows

dawn

of Reason

:

this impression

with our growth and at
resistance

last

culminates in a feeling of ideal

which we

call

"duty,"

but which we have the
into

truly

remarkable power of

changing

Freedom and

Autonomy.
But, however
it

may

be, the Absolute alone,

and not Being,

dominates the mind and the world, and accounts, at the same
time, for things and for us

who think them.
not purely
physical nor

Necessity, therefore,

is

purely
all

metaphysical.

It resides in

an Absolute which contains

on this

definition

"

:

Force

is

the product of the mass hy the

velocity,"

tut
it

this definition, only expressing a relation,

though

it

may

be wise to accept

for practical purposes, cannot satisfy thought in all other cases.

EMPIRICISM, DETERMINISM

13

Nature and Freedom, and whose double character of active
arid

implicit
is

we have rendered by the word
and in
all

"

fiat."

This
so far
in

Absolute
as

in us

things
of
it

:

it is

spirit

and
:

life

we can become conscious
its

in ourselves

it is

God

that

effects infinitely

exceed us, immersed as we are in

universal motion and desire.
III.

Empiricism, which takes especial pride in being exact,
"

concedes that
this
"

laws are only
is

approximations."

Yet even in
say
Thereisno
true sense ex cept the moral

judgment there
"

a contradiction.

To
"

law

is

to say

invariable determination

and

consequently,
tion
"

"necessity,"

but to say

law

-

"approxima-

is

to say the opposite. or pass into the

Thus we

see that the concept

must perish

moral notion of law.

When we
ism,

scan the most scientific conclusions of Determin

we

find that empiricists have no better type of law than

the law of universal attraction.
that law.

But

there

is

no necessity in

In addition to the

fact that it is only approximate,

we may

at least think that the attraction

might take

place,

for example, inversely to the

known

law, in proportion to the

simple distance, instead of the square of the distance.

Science

would only have
disadvantage.
alone, outside

to

change

all its

formulae, which Avould be no
us, itself

Eeason therefore appears to
of any experience, as necessity.
(this
it

and

But, as we

have no consciousness of Eeason
to the Empiricists) except to

much we must concede

when
it

appears to us as applied
alone, in

some kind of matter,

must be moral matter
"laws."

default of experience, that gives rise to
turies

Three cen
language of

ago the word

itself

was not current
its

in the

scholars,

and the purity of

ancient acceptation should have

14-

ATTITUDES OF MIND TOWARD THE ABSOLUTE
Properly speaking, there are no laws but

been preserved.
"moral
laws."

Mysticism must take

its

place in Philosophy as soon as the
sufficient.

no longer found explanations of determinism are

At

that

moment

the Absolute becomes present in the rational
it

consciousness, and

must be acknowledged that

it is

present

under the form of Implicit equally with the notion of Being,
Force, and Motion.

A

second stage in Mysticism
us.

is

finality,

and thither the world of morals brings

The Absolute, however,

so far, has only presented itself

rationally to the consciousness,

and

still

belongs to the domain

of dialectics.
to the idea of

But when

there

comes the question of ascribing

God

its

inner matter, dialectics do not suffice.
for this

We

shall

go on to show that

purpose the whole

consciousness must be subsumed into a unique intuition or
representation.

Science,

Pleasure,

Duty do not meet

in

any

common

experience.

This

is

reserved for the mystic

experience.

POSITIVISM

15

II.

POSITIVISM
the Unconscious

I.

Reason could not have come out of
tion
:

it

transcends the

"

"

subject

whence

it

by evolu would be said to

come.
II.
"

To

"

objectivate
s

is
:

to have already thought the Absolute.

III.

Spencer

opinion

conclusion that

Mysticism

underlies

all

knowledge.
I.

The evolutionary

idea has been a productive one for
its

the scientific imagination, but the theory has
outside

dangers

the

field
it
is.

of to

the

natural

sciences.

In

Reason couia not have come
out of the unconscious by

psychology,
application.

say the least, difficult of

If

we take away

the opposition of
is

transcends the

Being and Becoming (which
of the

at the

bottom

evolutionary thesis) do

the basis of identity

we not destroy on which we must find support, and
-

whence it would be said tocome

means

to

organize the extremely unstable elements of
?

our

consciousness

We

are told that the first

men, seeing

their shadow, or

seeing their

own image

in a dream, conceived the idea of an

apparitional soul or ghost soul.

Whatever the

historic data

on

this subject

may

be, it is evident that the act of

Reason

which we are aware of in ourselves by experience as much
as

we

are of

"sight"

and

"touch,"

is

not reducible by any

number

of intermediary terms to such acts of duplication.

Reason, instead of being a fact of pure subjectivity, tends to
set

up things

in themselves
it

and

to objectivate

phenomena
our psy

:

and possibly

is

the fundamental condition of

chology that we are not, like animals, bound up in our

own

16

ATTITUDES OF MIND TOWAB.D THE ABSOLUTE

sensations

and

in perceptions
is

of ourselves.

From

the

mo

ment

that

man

no longer content to devise things useful
action of the
"

for his existence under the exclusive

will-to-

live/
this

the principle of Evolution has been violated.
state,

Between
which a

which

is

wholly subjective,

and that

in

man
is

finds interest for the first time in a straight line, there

a greater distance, logically, than there is between inertia
life,

and
"

than between Reason and what the Mystics
"

call

Inspiration.

The

first

step taken by the mind to sur
its

mount

the

subjectivity

of

representatives

is

the

first

step towards the Absolute.

Nothing

in the world can oppose itself to this a priori
itself distinctly
it

by
all

which the mind posits
its

and

in

advance of

perceptions.

Because
is

can thus posit

itself as a sort of
life.

Absolute, Reason
ries
is

a higher condition than

Life car
its

with

it

none of the marks of the necessary In
itself it

:

identity

only a

"fact."

has nothing to oppose logi

cally to

the attempts of those

who would bring
is

it

under

mechanical laws.

Reason, on the contrary,

posited as a

necessary identity, with power to defy Determinism, because
it

endows Determinism with

inevitability

and idea of Law,

which the
It
is

latter too often abuses.

of

no importance just here whether Reason was

posited

at the

same moment with Being or whether
Distinct, as

it

ap

peared in Time.

we have

just seen,

from the

moment

it

appeared, something

as great

and

as original as

Being began.
than
in

There
idea of

is

more Mysticism

in this

affirmation

the

Creation, which has

been

discarded
that

only through

fear of Mysticism.

If any one

believes

POSITIVISM

17
has no right to inter
contradictory
is

Eeason
pret

is

immanent

in

things, he

such immanence

in

a

manner
There

to

the

transcendence thus involved.
ing fact
in

therefore a dominat
it

our consciousness, which
as

is

impossible for
all

us to

reject

the

logical

sequence
or

of

the

others,

whether they form our
II.

"inner"

"outer"

selves.

It

may be

also

that

the

positivist

theory

of

the

identity of the mystic fact

and the

spiritual has
is

been too
To O bj ec ti.
vate
"

generally

accepted.

The Absolute

not

first

is

to

present in the

consciousness as an
it

ulterior

act.
first

or act of reflection, but
instant of mental
life.

is

there from the
this

have already thought the Absolute -

Taking
the

position,

we

are not
:

concerned further with

essence

of

the

mental fact

whether

it

consists in objectifying facts of consciousness or

in subjectifying

phenomena,

it

contains always

some strange

instinct of the Absolute.

Are we

justified in interpreting

our very slender prehis

toric discoveries in the sense of
it

an animistic belief?

Was

not truly Being or One that

man
1

first

sought in thing?,
"just

and not the Double of himself?

We

are told that

1 An experience related by some missionaries tends to show that this pre occupation with the essence of things is at least quite as constitutive of Reason as is the animist prepossession. The Cochinchinese think that the
"

spirits of the

to reason against this prejudice.

dead take their place at table and eat. The missionaries tried The Cochinchinese answered There are
:

two things

one part contains the essence and the other, the The immate quantity, quality, perfume, taste, and a host of other things. rial souls of the dead consume the essence, and find in it the immaterial
in

the food

:

element which suits the incorporeal soul
poreal senses only,
is

:

so that

what appears

to the cor

left

in the dishes, and for this purpose souls have
"

no

need of corporeal instruments.

(Borri,
p. 208.)

Relatione delta

nova missions

ddla comp. di

Gesii.

Rome, 1631,

2

18
as soon

ATTITUDES OP MIND TOWARD THE ABSOLUTE
as in

man
the

got beyond mere sensation,
supernatural, but
life,

lie

began to
merely
a

believe

as

that

was

rudiment of the intellectual
such a state of consciousness

the further he gets from

the

more

truly he

thinks"

Can

it

be really that progress has brought us to a psycho
that which

inverse to logical phase
"theological"?

Auguste Comte called
of
reflection,

May

not

the

mode

which

he designated by that name, instead of being the beginning
of

our mental

evolution,

be

the

most

naive

and

ever-

present form of thought?
If

the

intellectual
it

act
is

begins

by the impression made
is

upon us by things,

evident that the act

not

com

the things de pleted until an inverse motion has replaced

tached from the ego, in their proper sphere.
says

"Thought,"

Kant,

"is

the

act

of

referring

a

given intuition to

an

l
object."

Positivists

go so

far

as

to recount,

with more

or

less

historic accuracy,

how

primitive peoples, as they advanced
still

in

generalization

by processes of cognizing which

re

mained

"theological,"

substituted in their minds the fetish
"tree,"

"forest"

for the fetish

and gradually creating

di

vinities

of wider range as

their

powers of ideation grew,
touches
if

at

last

reached

the
"

point

which

metaphysical
leave out of

thought, namely,

monotheism."

Even

we

the question the seemingly mystical character of knowing,
it

must,

we

think,

be held
is

that

this

logical

recurrence

towards the Absolute

a universal fact, indicative of our

1

Critique de la raison pure,

t.

i.

p.

313.

POSITIVISM
intellectual

19
arrives

constitution. 1

Hamilton himself

at

the

formal conclusion in favor of a mystic need.

"When

we

become aware of our incapacity

to conceive

anything beyond

the relative and finite, a marvellous

revelation inspires us

with belief in the existence of something unconditioned which
is

beyond the sphere of
at least

"

all

2

comprehensible reality
"

He

might

have attempted to describe this

marvellous
a simple

revelation/

instead of being satisfied to
it.

make such
"relative"

statement of
"

It is true

that

the

and the
in

"

finite

have not the same limits to-day as they had
times,

prehistoric

but

although

their

boundary

lines

are

wider, nothing has been taken from the territory of the in
finite

and the unconditioned.
preclude

This being the case,

how

are

we

to

mysticism?
in

The minds of primitive men
a
tree,

fixed the Absolute

a stone,

an animal

:

others

raised their thought to a god-species,
establish the

and we could no doubt

stages

of mental progress by such

marks of

the progressive extension of mystic concepts.

But the great
3

thing to

establish
at every

is

that

man

has been in search of the
life.

Absolute
1

moment
"

of his intellectual

"Thus,"

says Berkeley,

when the

greatest

men

deal in abstractions, they
significance."

are compelled to

make

use of words which have no certain

We
still

might add that

this passage

proves that

when

the civilized

metaphysician

speaks in such terms, he goes back to the primitive conceptions which

occupy the gross minds of the natives of Siberia or Guinea.
itive Culture, p. 209.) 2 Philos. of the 8
"
"

(Tylor,

Prim
p. 66.

Unconditioned, cited in Spencer

s

First

Principles,"

Each advance made

in the physical sciences seems

marked by the aban

donment of some of these mythological terms, but new ones spring up at once. By the term molecular vibrations we suppose the ether. Ether is a
myth."

(Max

Muller,

New

Lessons in the Science of Language,

t.

ii.

pp.

344, 345.)

20
III.
"From

ATTITUDES OF MIND TOWARD THE ABSOLUTE
Spencer does
not disagree with these conclusions.

the very beginning

man
. .

has been seeking for the
.

Spencer s opinion conclusion that Mysticism underlies all
:

supernatural cause.
.

The

final result of this
.

befmn by speculation, primitive man. J r L

1

...

is

that the

knowledge.

power manifested

in the material universe is the

same power which appears in us

as consciousness.

By means

of future evolution of the intelligence, the course of things,

now comprehensible
its

only in parts

totality

.

.

.

but the absolute

may be comprehended in certainty remains to man
l
things."

that he will always find himself in presence of an infinite

and eternal energy, source of
ourselves what

all

We may

ask

ground mysticism (we do not say fanati
"future

cism)

will

have lost in that epoch of
shall be compelled, just as

evolution"

when we
ceive
things.

we are to-day,
energy"

to con

"that

eternal
it

and

infinite

source

of

all

Will

seem to us any
it

less

marvellous as

we

gradually come to objectify
it

more and more and detach

from the
"

self (if this

is

the sense of the

word

"scien

tific is

) ?

We

should be inclined to believe the contrary.
all

It

our opinion that mysticism, pure of
as science

alloy,

will

ex

pand as much
Positivism
"

and with

it.

contains
"

the contradiction
it

of preserving

the
:

Unknowable

while excluding
it

from the consciousness
while

of considering

as

a

"question"

taking away be
presented

all

the

terms

in

which

the

question

could

to

thought.
stration,

Mysticism must adapt
but
it

itself

to agnostic

demon

refuses to maintain an attitude of religious
as

respect to the

Unknowable merely
1

Unknowable

:

it

seeks

Rev.

pliil.,

January, 1884, pp. 1-14.

CRITICISM
to

21

obtain consciousness of the Absolute by means of

sym

bols,

and

this experience, for the mystic soul, is the source

of reverence

and

all

the other religious
"

sentiments.

Under the name
of the

of the

Unknowable

"

or under the

name

"Absolute,"

God

will always be present to

Reason
illu

as a Light, or if

you choose,

as

some unconquerable
Perhaps
it

sion inciting

it

to

motion and action.

is

true

that metaphysical inquiry

moves

in a circle forever return
it

ing to

itself,

.

.

.

but what does
it

matter, provided the

mind and
Is

the heart find
itself,

a means of life?

not Love

like

Thought, perpetually urged by

Illusion to

recommence, without ceasing, works which do

not endure, and yet which manifest the permanency of Being,
the power of Life?

Whether the Absolute

is

knowable or

unknowable,
the

it

is

the Absolute which thought longs for at
intelligible

bottom of

all

things,

and what but the

Absolute holds our Reason in a state of Desire leading on
to energy

and act?

III.

CRITICISM
What Kant
dreaded was

I.

The Kantian
Fanaticism,

definition of Being. not Mysticism.

II.

The Kantian a Noumenon or
to penetrate.

priori (the mind) calls for another a priori (the
"

Absolute

"

),

into which Mysticism alone dares

III.

The work
no

of Criticism

other initiatives of the soul.
intellectual

Reason without checking the The postulates of Criticism give standpoint unless some mystic certainty is
is

to correct

added.
I.

It

is

not

for

us

to

inquire

what Kant may have
took the greatest care

thought about the

Absolute.

He

22

ATTITUDES OF MIND TOWARD THE ABSOLUTE
it

not to have

known.

Nevertheless,
in

it is

well to acquaint

ourselves with the.

way

which Kant treated the notion

of Being, the ontological notion nearest to the Absolute.

In Kant
relative
The Kantian
10I

s

opinion

it is

not time and space that distinguish
uncreated existence
distinction,
:

existence from
discards this

or

rather,
all

he

and

collects

Be!ing!

what

into the single nouinenon, in the

Kant dreaded was Fanaticism, not

way

that Spinoza

attributes

it

to substance.

Kant blames Dogma-

Lsm

tism for

having piled up contradictions in the
as
infinite

doctrine of creation, such

substance and

finite

substances, determinations of existence by time and space,
etc.
1

To

his

mind

existence
"

is

one,
"

and
"

all

the distinction
"

we can make we have
which
the
at

between

finite

and

infinite

is

that

power to think
the

distinctly
all

the

unknowable,

lies

bottom

of

phenomena, although
"

without any sort of empirical determinations.
itself,"

Being

in

this is

Being which

is

both

divine

and univer

sal

:

the a priori forms of time and space are only con
of knowing,

ditions

but in no
often

wise

objective

conditions
"

of existence.

Kant

uses

such expressions as

The

supra-sensible substratum of
as in us or outside of
us."

phenomena may be considered
2

Whence

there proceeds the
if

consequence (very remarkable for us) that
in the world
3
it

anything exists

exists

as

noumenon outside of time and
itself;

space
1

on the same grounds as Being in
Raison pratique, pp. 293, 294.

and

it

also

Crit.

2 Crit.
8

du Juyement,
I say

t.

i.,

p. 58.

"When

consider

them

of beings of the sensible world that they are created I as noumena. It would be quite otherwise if the beings of the
themselves."

world existed in time as things in

(Crit.

Raison prat.,

p.

295.)

CRITICISM
follows that our whole substance belongs to the
reason, where
it

23
world of

has

its

roots in

Freedom.
left

This notion of Being, which Kant has

incomplete, will

be misleading for Pantheism, but for ourselves we only take
advantage of
it

so far as to give

body

to the symbolic intui

tions of Mysticism.

Kant

says that there

must be

"some

other intuition than sensible intuition in order to pass from
the

negative

sense of

noumena

to the

positive

sense."

l

Mystics expect to find this in symbols through which the

Absolute

is

revealed to Freedom, and

if

they find

it

there

the thought of

God

will be

on a firm foundation.

It

is

quite true that

Kant declared himself opposed

to

both Mysticism and Dogmatism, but for different reasons.
Doubtless we are radically incapable of knowing anything

beyond phenomena; but why does Kant deny the rational
character of the postulates

of Ethics

?

Why
which

does he not

demand from

Theology explanations

would

have

allowed him to find a better foundation for Freedom and

Duty than

the instincts,
?

such far-off revelations

of an

un

knowable Being

Kant feared Fanaticism.
is

He knew how
Unknown, and

quick human impatience

to rush into the

he knew that the dreams of free or orthodox beliefs are more

hazardous for pure Reason than even the audacities of the
metaphysical Eeason.
structs

In his view, Mysticism either con

God

with concepts

from the
or

relativity of
it

the ego
to

(which he

calls

superstition},

else

claims

be a

supra-sensible
1

intuition,
Critique de
la

of

equal

value
t.

with
319.

experience

Eaison pure,

i.,

p.

24

ATTITUDES OF MIND TOWARD THE ABSOLUTE
calls

(which he

fanaticism).^

He would

have the idea of

God
in

serve only to form the synthesis of happiness and duty
"

the concept of

Supreme Good/

but the synthesis

is

subjective, answers only to the needs of Ethics,

and

is

not

supposed to react upon pure Reason for an instant.
Relativity,

we

believe,

should not end in so mutilating the
efforts

mind, but
to

it

should tend simply to a division of the
results

know, that better
is

may be

obtained.
all

Conscious
:

ness

a

common

centre towards which
all

experiences tend

some of these evade

power of measurement or scientific
as a priori, or at It
is

determination: they must be considered
least,

as too

subjective to be

positively explained.

only the others which are to be considered in time and space,
and, as objects of measure, belonging to science.
II.

But what

are

we

to

do with
it

this

a priori which

is

our very mind
The Kantian
apriori(the mind) calls for

itself?

If
at

is

to

become the property
yield
in

of

Mysticism,
to

least,

we cannot

ourselves
its

every J
is

folly J

committed rashly J

name.

*n ri (the Noumenon
or Absolute),

?

e

There

nothing in Mysticism whereby to extend
:

mto which
Mone daregto
penetrate.

experience

it

adds nothing to the sensible intui-

tions nor to the categories of the understanding.

Nevertheless,
tions,

when we come

to final generaliza

and reach by natural means some abiding system,
to

we ought

be very sure that the whole content of the

consciousness has
ing.

been put into the work of systematiz
still

Should there

remain, out
real,

of us,
is

or

in

us,

a

given something, real or not
the
limits

which

not included in

of

this
1

ideal

construction,

the

mind

will

be

Critique Raison prat., p. 351.

CRITICISM
invincibly impelled to seek

25
of

new means
in

subsuming

itself,

and with
experience.

itself

all

things,

some more comprehensive

We

cannot suffer our consciousness to remain divided up

for any length of time, nor can
events, called

we

suffer a portion of

our

phenomena, to be examined with the express
one shall see those which are claimed
the impenetrable

reservation that no
to

be shut up

in

noumenon.

Not only

do we think of noumena, but they are constantly coming
into view in the field

of intellectual vision,

and the place

they occupy

is

a larger one than that of clear conceptions
Distinct vision
"

called science.
total
vision."

is

but a small
is

"portion

of

Clear consciousness
1

but a small portion

of total

consciousness."

exercise of thought, the

As no one can prevent the natural mind never ceases to substantialize

phenomena, save in exceptional cases of intense abstraction,

and

feels

no certitude unless

it

rests

on

its

sense of the

Absolute.
Science, too,
is

only one

way

of harmonizing our

mind
is

with things, and there are other ways.

Esthetics itself

an agreement between the mind and things.
clearly, in spite of the distinction

Kant saw

this

which he

tries to establish
"reflective"

between the

"determining"

judgment and the

judgment.

Another adjustment of the ego to Being,
is

still

more transcendent than pleasure and knowledge,
Mystics aspire to a
desire is to be in
full

Duty.

and perfect

life

of the soul; their
as

harmony with the Absolute under

many

relationships as the Absolute in itself has
1

modes of Being.

Ribot, Les maladies de la Personnalite, p. 122.

26

ATTITUDES OF MIND TOWARD THE ABSOLUTE
love, then, Nature, Art,
it

They

Duty
is

;

but moral Good comes
it

before everything else, and

by embracing
the other

that they
of con

enter and take possession of

all

modes

sciousness which seem exempt from relativity.
III.

Whether

Mysticism

is

to

profit

or

not
that

by the
the two

conclusions of Criticism,
The work
to correct

we must recognize

of

methods work for truth by

utterly opposite paths.

On
"*

Reason with1

one side circumspection and the fear of antii

Soother
initiatives of the soul.

nom

es
.

beset Reason at each
.,
1
.

step,

as

though
,

it

11

,

were

The postu-

impossible
* ue

to

arrive
is

at

pure

intellection
all
is

dsm

[veno"

um ess
"

imagination

withdrawn from
the
its

in-

Btendpoint unless some
tic

fluences

of desire.

On
in
all

other

side

the

er
ia

"

tafnt

greatest
is

confidence

influences.

Truth

left

to form

itself in

the

totality of

the con

sciousness instead of being strictly confined to the rational

consciousness.
intellectual

Mysticism draws away the attention from

operations to the moral quality of the desires, absolutely pure:

which
that

it

aims at rendering
of
intention
est.

the
it

belief

is

purity
:

will

bring

with

intellectual

clarity

amare videre

But
:

Criticism

proposes
itself

only

the direct discipline of Reason

and Ethics

seems to

Criticism to depend
It
is

upon

its

sifting.

not impossible, however, to bring these two methods

together for the guidance of the mind, in the same
efforts for

way

that

Freedom combine,

in the order politic, with the
to tend towards the

directing force

which leads them
There
is

good
is

of the State.

in

fact

an

intelligence which
rules,

purely

administrative,

with
is

inflexible

chiefly

pro

hibitory,

whose

first

care

to

ward

off

the initiatives of

CRITICISM

27
is

folly

and the propositions of caprice, but there
intelligence to

nothing
of

in

this

feed

upon

for

the nourishment

our

lives.

Our

lives

are fed

by the reckless courage of

genius, by the creations of art and science which the State
serves only to distribute

and

regulate.
:

Neither will modern
it

thought take

its life

from Criticism
sort

has taken from

it

only admonitions

and a

of experimental constitution

which

it

is

useful to refer to often.

But
keep

if

there

is

any

intellectual
initiatives

method which tends
and leave
free

to

alive the

soul s

access to all that

can reach us
it

through the senses, the imagination, and the Eeason,
Mysticism such as we shall show
1
valor,"

is

it

to be, true

"

faculty of

and above

all things else, free

and

disinterested.

Kant had an idea
positions which

to create a region of intellectual sup
lie

should

between Empiricism and

Dog
would
is

matism,

2

and in such a region, which belongs to no one,

the mystic consciousness would have full play.
there be to disturb
it

Who

so long as no scientific character
assertions ?

claimed for any of

its

There

is

another side,
(at least it

however, where Mysticism possesses experiences
has this conviction) for which the term
positions"

"intellectual

sup

is

not enough.

3

Although Freedom, sustained by pure Reason, may not
venture to give her aspirations more than a hypothetical
1

2 8

des Egares, ch. Maimonide, Crit. Raison pure, t. ii., p. 82.
L>vre

xviii.

Kant does not

foresee with a generous eye the use that

the hypotheses outlined in his critique: their use to
stop to contrary hypotheses.
"

him

is as

might be made of means to put a

The hypotheses have no intrinsic valve as opinion, but only as relating to contrary transcendent assertions." (Crit. R.
pure,
t. ii.,

p. 245.)

28

ATTITUDES OF MIND TOWARD THE ABSOLUTE
mystic
consciousness
believes
itself

value, the

to

possess

means of going
relations

further.

When

once

it

has entered upon
it

with the Absolute, by means of symbols, then
talk of

begins to

experience, and leaves behind the term

"postulates."

It claims then to
"

express

to itself,
"

in

the

inmost tribunal,
lates of
truth."

truths

"

and no longer desires or

postu

We

shall

examine whence mystics receive
it
"

this assurance, not a scientific assurance,

is

true,

but one

which does not content
contrary transcendent

itself

with merely

putting a stop to

assertions."

IV.
I.

EATIONALISM
;

Thought is not in equation with its object and Evidence does not come from things only. How Character influences Knowledge,
specially in moral matters.

II.

Dogmatism

is

a stiff-mindedness which

is

opposed to the needs of

Knowledge.
I.

We

come now

to

Eationalism, which also refuses to
is

receive any knowledge that
will,
Thought
on
is

not pure of every element of
definition eequaiio rei

and so interprets the

witH s
and

et

intellects.
-,

The value
i
-\

of knowledge, to the
/

object;

i-

i

Evidence does not come from

Rationalist, lies in the exclusion ot the will,

-n

when-

i

Ho^ciiar^
fluences

ever ness

it

might prove an element of iudeterminateknowledge

;

coming

from

the

inevitable

Knowledge,

mm oral

conjunction of the mind and things, we very soon
arrive,

by

this course, at the rigid formula,
doubt."

"

All

will to believe is reason to

Perhaps for

this

reason and

on account of the purely

intellectualist principle

which dogmatism has thought right

to assume,

it

is

not in a position to complete knowledge.

RATIONALISM
Neither can mysticism do
intellectual standpoint
this,

29
it

but

offers nevertheless

an

where there
is

is

more repose, and yet

where freedom of thought
Descartes stopped at
"

not abandoned.

cogito,"

and on
;

this first fact based

the whole value of our cognitions

but he saw, almost at the

same glance, that he did not yet hold the final assurance, and
that he would have to go farther and higher than the fact of

consciousness.

He

rises to the idea of the Infinite,
still

and seeks

in the divine veritable, a criterion

further back of Evi

dence.

At

this point

dogmatism

is left

behind

:

Eeason has

aspired to transcendence, and Mysticism appears at the heart
of Philosophy.

Thought has not
it

lost its character of invari

able equation with things, but
itself

has only managed to grasp

by a transcendent affirmation, and (whatever Descartes
by an
act of Will.
is
"

says)

The Evidence, which Science was
subject
"

depending upon,

itself

to

the

idea of Infinity

which our minds

postulate

rather than conceive.

The

principle aquatio rei et intellectus

must be modified

by venturing to admit that morality furthers knowledge
without introducing therein the least germ of indeterminateness. tains

Every cognition, of whatever order
an objective element which
it

it

may

be, con

is

susceptible

of

proof:

but, as

also contains over

and above some a priori element
itself, it itself,

which comes only from the subject
the

may be

said that

Demonstration never completes

and in certain

cases does not

go very

far.

The mind
in such a

of

man
that

is
it

in direct

communication with things,
act

way

receives

and motion from them

before the logical and artificial processes have had time to

30

ATTITUDES OF MIND TOWAED THE ABSOLUTE

intervene.

The mind not only
it

"

receives

"

by

this

com
that

munication, but

puts

itself

into things

so quickly

the instant which really divides the stimulus from the re
action
is

imperceptible.

The

will

comes in

at

every degree of knowing, and the

consequent

subjectivity
1

introduced
eludes

has
the

been

too

often

unrecognized.
cause
it

The

sensible

metaphysical be

contains some other thing beside the elements of

knowledge.
reason

When we
the
subject

cease
cares

to

remember that the
is

chief
life

why
them,

about things
in

to

get

from

we

are no longer
"
"

the

way

of truth.

The
and

sensible is

something

given

in relation to the subject
it

for

it,

even before we are allowed to consider

in relation

with universal Being and Becoming.
-

What
is,

does this mean,
were, an inter-

if

not that from this
of the

moment

there

as

it

penetration

subject

into

the

object,

and that an
first

element of subjectivity has mingled with our
sentations, never to leave them again.

repre

Before we have con
will

sciousness, therefore, of

any abstraction, the
it

may have
already
subject

already set the

mind
to

in motion, and

may have
of

decided

according
it

the

moral
its

qualities

the

whether

will

follow or take

stand against the things
priority

which transcend sensations.
all

The

of the will over

other facts of consciousness has been empirically estab

lished. 2

Although
assent

this

unconscious willing
as

has

as

yet

1

"

The
is

necessity,

essentially practical

which we give to such ideas and subjective

seem imposed upon us of

in nature.

We

are obliged

always to put into it a little willingness." (Brochard, De la croyance. Rev. phil., t. xviii. p. 12.) There could nothing hotter be said. * See Preyer, L dme de / enfant, pp. 190, 191.

RATIONALISM
nothing more of
its

31
than a
"

true

"

name
is

"

motion

"

it

is

true, nevertheless, that the soul

posited as an activity
its

first
it

of

all.

Thus
which

will

it

be to the end of

evolution, and

is this

gives advantage to the position of mysticism.
first

By

this

method love comes
once character
is

in relation to knowledge.

When
is

thus mingled with knowing there

no logical necessity which can separate them, and there

fore

we might

justly say that

"all

will to believe is reason

to

doubt," if

we mean by

"will"

the foregone decision of
this phrase lend
is

the senses against Reason.
itself

But does not

equally well to the contrary acceptation, and
"

not the

state of

attention/ whence proceed nearly

all

our intellectual
a moral at

differences,

an eager and earnest act of will?
it

titude,

which we find

hard to take, between the inevitable-

ness of the sensations and the subjectiveness of the desires,
so that truth, living

and immutable, may be ours
is

?

But,

above

all,

when

the question

of things touching Freedom,
limits of strictly
scientific

and when we have exceeded the
matter,

we must no longer expect
must be

light to spring

from these
In that
logical

things themselves, or at least not from
case the distinction
certainty
clearly

them

alone.

drawn between

and a mingled certainty of Eeason and morality.

As
"

Plato intimates in these words of the

Phsedms (245
2

B.)

:

H

8e

Brj
1

dirdSei^is

earai Seivois fiev aVtcrro?,

Be
o-o</>ot9

Trio-T?;,"

and as we find again in Kant.

It is not possible

in practice, as

we

see, to

hold only the things whose cer-

1

And

the proof shall he one which the wise will receive and the witling

disbelieve.
2

JOWETT.

See Crit. liaison pratique, p. 370.

32
tainty

ATTITUDES OP MIND TOWARD THE ABSOLUTE

we

arrive

at

through

dialectics

:

certain

questions

inevitably present themselves to the Reason and as illimit-

ably hide themselves from Reason, and hence their
Postulates.

name

of

We

shall perhaps never

have any certitude for

such questions, unless we agree to supply our rational in
sufficiency

by some exercise of morals.
is

The nature of

this

supplementary evidence, however,

such that far from fear
"

ing the menace of Dogmatism, that
reason to
doubt,"

all

will to believe is

we might return
believe."

it

in these

words

"

:

all

desire to doubt is reason to
II.

No

opinion should be in the least branded with con
all,

demnation, for have we not seen them
they
Dogmatism
is

contradictory as

may have

been, equally supported in turn by

de

ne^which
S

is~

tne ni S n cnarac ter of their inventors ?
it is

But here

the n eedsof knowledge.

the

method that

is

in question,

and we think

that,
lectics are

beyond the

limits of exact

knowledge, Dia

not so safe a guide as the suggestions of the moral

consciousness.

Nothing

belonging to pure Reason would

be usurped by the
the Soul, Freedom,
it

will, it
etc.,

seems to us,

if,

in questions of
left

which Reason has

undecided,

were to add in the balance, in order to draw out convic

tion,

an element of moral order, motives for the
an important point) ,
if

better.

Be

sides (and this is

good-will were not

allowed to
it.

fill

this part,
s

egoism might step in and occupy
"

Such was Pascal

opinion.

I say that the heart loves

universal being naturally and loves itself naturally, according
to

whichever

it

devotes itself:
it

and

it
1

hardens

itself

against

the one or the other as
1

chooses."

Pensees, ed. Havet.

art. xxiv., 5.

RATIONALISM

33
scientific

When we
exhausted,

reach

the
is

point
far

where

knowing
:

is

knowledge

from being complete
is

but

all

that remains to be

known, thence onward,

only for the

needs of conduct and for purely moral ends.

Our whole

power

of penetration henceforth

comes from active powers,
is

from Freedom.

Not

that all the rest

given over to in;

determinateiiess and to the waywardness of Desire
will

but the

now has

the precedence, and

must go on

to create the

good

in itself in order that the Intelligence

may

look within,

instead of looking without, for that

Good which can no longer

be

expressed

in

concepts.
see

In order to apprehend moral
eyes,

things,

we must

them done, not only under our
"
"

but in ourselves, in the identity of the

ego

which com

prehends them only because

it

produces them.

Dogmatism
being whence

is

animated by the hope of discovering original
things proceed logically and really; but,

all

so far, there have been no conclusions reached

capable of

uniting

all

minds.

No

one, perhaps, has

seemed to touch

the limit of explanations in the purely dialectical way, like

Spinoza, and
"simple"

in

no other system has the
"one-all"

illusion

of the

and the

been given, as in that Deter

minism of the divine substance.

But Reason cannot
it

live

upon

illusion,

even the most learned ;

has intuitions, which,
to us the instant

discarded for a moment,

come back

we

cease listening to the cunning voice of the sophist.
intuitions

Those
which
quickly

of

Freedom,

Causality,

Pleasure,
as
"

etc.,
"

Spinoza would have fused together

necessity

resume their

rights,

and are constantly presenting them
common-sense.
Being,

selves as distinctly to science as to

34

ATTITUDES OF MIND TOWARD THE ABSOLUTE

the foundation of all things, rebels against rigid formulae.

We

must

either give
it

up the hope of knowing
it

it,

or

we must

not press

too hard, but let

flow into us from the outside
of

through
"

all

the channels of sense,

Reason, and desire.
all

We

have no communication with being, because
is

human
and

nature
death,

always in
itself

a

state

midway between
an

birth

knowing

only

as

obscure appearance and
:

shadow, and a kind of unfixed and debile opinion

and

if

by chance a man sends
it is

his
less

thought out to grasp his being,
than

neither

more nor
:

though he

tried

to

hold

a handful of water
that which
all

the

more

tight he squeezes and presses
loses

by nature flows everywhere, the more he
hold."

he would grasp and

l

The Absolute
tures of

will not

be circumscribed any more by ven
exercise of Dialectic, but
at least, to
it is

Freedom than by

a

good

thing to

combine the two, in order,
;

augment our

intellectual satisfaction

and mystics are not wrong when they

trust

Love even a

little

more than they
is

trust pure Eeason.

In truth, the inmost depth of things
matter that
is

not composed of a
:

fixed

and definable in precise outline
life itself,

it

eludes

reason like a fluid, or rather like

which even more

perfectly than water flows everywhere.

It appears, then, that

only by adapting ourselves with

mind and

heart and the

whole soul to the various manifestations of Being, without
partiality for either science or logic, can
it.

we hope

to realize

Chiefly shall

we succeed when

the secrets of Morals and
are seeking

Freedom

are concerned and

when we

them

as

vital for life
1

and

to

make us good

in all the relations of

life.

Montaigne, Essais,

ed. Charpentier, p. 380.

RATIONALISM
There
is

35

no other means of getting possession of the Abso by adapting ourselves to
it,

lute than
first

and when once

it

has
in

taken possession of us, we acquire experience of

it

ourselves.

The

scientific

method, succeeding the

scholastic,

seems to

have subjected Reason to a rigor which was not intended for
it.

A larger

place should have been reserved for the naive

thoughts which grow, better than
mystic consciousness.
civilization

anywhere

else,

in

the

No

doubt the whole character of our
for
it.

would have been the better
lost

"Progress

in its

march has
regret,

more than one quality of the savage

which we
in

and which we try in vain to find again
of the
1
past."

some unavailing renewal
1

Tylor,

"La

civilisation

"primitive,

t. i.,

p.

139.

CHAPTER SECOND
THE MYSTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
I.

INADEQUACY OF THE KATIONAL ABSOLUTE
The Universal has
to be brought back to the Necessary, and the Necessary to the Good.

I.

II.

No

one can conceive the Good or think the Absolute by means of

the categories.
I.

Is

it

the part of pure Reason to construct the idea of
?

the

Absolute

May

there not
to

be some other way above
it

The universal
brought back to the Neces-

^eason
of
J

whereby

cognize

?

The

synthesis

the world

and the ego, of obiect and suband the mystic consciousness
There

ec ^ e l u des dialectics,

alone
is

dares

even

hazard this synthesis.

nothing but a controlled and dispassionate Mysticism,

one which acknowledges both the objective laws of know
ing,

and the transcendent nature of the Subject, which can
union of Metaphysics and Morals so much de

effect that

sired to-day

by the best minds.

Reason, in

its

aspirations

for the Absolute, finds only the Universal.

But the uni

versal

has no meaning, and
ourselves with
it

it

is

not permissible even to
except so far as

concern
possess,

separately,

we

outside

of

Space and Time,

some

basis

for the

unification of

Experience with even that which exists or
It
is

may

exist

under other conditions.

not

the

act of

INADEQUACY OF THE RATIONAL ABSOLUTE

37

Reason to seek for an empirical character general enough
to

subsume
the
to
it

in itself all data of the

senses,

but to create,

without

aid

of

experience,

a

character

dominating

enough
should

gather

into

the

Unity even the Unknowable,
in

come under our cognizance
is

some manner.

The
is

universal, which

not at the same time the necessary,

not worth defending against the negations of the most

ordinary

Empiricism.
is

Necessity,

however, as

we

have

already seen,

not found to exist within

the strict limits

of the understanding.
est

The universal and substantive copula has but one logical use, and introduces nothing new
the

into

consciousness

:

there

must be another copula

to

enable us to interpret experience in a really rational way.

We

find

it

in fiat,

which expresses

"

pure

act,"

and enables

us to pass from the possible to

being.

But

at this point

we touch on

subjective data, no longer possessing the evi
facts,

dence of empirical
with

and incapable of being brought

them

to the condition of a science.
it
"

If any interpretation of the Absolute exists,

will be

found in the union of the two terms
Indeterminate, and
"

"

the Possible

or the

the Act

"

or the Determinate, and they

present themselves to us, together, as the principle of the
intelligible

and of being.
left as

Metaphysics then would have

but two points
is

definitive basis,

namely

:

Act, which
is

the ultimate depth of consciousness, and Matter, which
"

our ultimate conception of the

outer"

or the non-ego.
willed to think

Or we might

say that to

him alone who
:

the Absolute would the

from whatever point

Good belong we see it, except

for

what

is

Matter,

the power to exist

38
at that place

THE MYSTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
where Act comes in to
raise

the possible to

the dignity of
It
is

Good

?

must be recognized, however, that speculative Reason

powerless to build a metaphysical system upon this founda

tion,

and the argument that

"

what

is,

ought to be/ brings

nothing new into the consciousness. By the aid of the categories we can think only things empirically given; but

how, then,

shall

we

find

schema whereby
it

to think the

Good,
?

and points of juncture

to fix

in

some region of the mind

We

shall see that Mysticism has no other function except

to supply this

want by means of symbols.
is

thing to observe here

that

The important the more interior and attached
God, the more firm and

to the consciousness is the idea of
solid it
is.

The

objective method could only lead us to

an Absolute without consistence, whose attributes could not
well

stand

against
is

the

antinomies

of

the

Critique.

The

rational

Absolute

nothing

but the extreme point where

we

arbitrarily

suspend causality, continuous and successive
artifice to

magnitude, nothing but an
progression of our ideas.

arrest the indefinite
is,

Rationalism

in fact, only very

imperceptibly separated from Positivism.
II.

The method

of Reflection, which

is

par

excellence the

method of mystics, has been too
those
No one
can
conceive the Good or think

severely criticised.

Have

persons

who

accuse
.

mystics of anthropofor meta-

morphism

other any *

principles to use

by mewisof

physical explanations than the original and unverifiable affirmations of the consciousness ?

What
cludes,

have the
in his

strictest

Dogmatists done?

Spinoza ex

definition of

God,

thoughts in the sense of

INADEQUACY OF THE RATIONAL ABSOLUTE
"representations/"

39

but he admits into

it

substantial
at the

Thought
basis of

with Extension.
all

In the same way we find

metaphysical systems some fact of consciousness more
It

or less elementary and fundamental.

may be

that

it

is

a destructive basis, but

it

is

none the
science

less true that every

attempt to pass beyond pure

commences with an

analogy, and implies this passage from the ego to the nonego, which,

we

are compelled to avow, Mysticism has too

guilelessly abused.

When we

say that consciousness gives,
sense of difference,

in addition to the sensations, only the

of succession, and of relations having no other reality than
sensations

themselves,

we

are

confining

ourselves
to

within
a real

the

empirical

consciousness, and refusing

make

act of reflection.

The phenomena which arrange themselves

in our mind,

and the categories which serve to conceptualize

them, are altogether nothing but forms.
in
it

The mind

carries

these forms, but they

are not the

mind

itself.

By
to

reflection

we

traverse this whole representative region of the
it is

consciousness; we go further, and

when we begin

form in ourselves such wholly

interior acts as
identity.

/ will, I ought,

I am,

that

we touch immaterial

There we are out

side of Time, outside of relations,

and although such apper
it

ception may be too subjective for representation,
itself

asserts

with as

much

persistence as
it

do the sensations.

For

the discomfiture of subjectivism

has been challenged to

express
fare.

its

discoveries in literal terms.

This

is

poor war

Are there any words whereby

to express directly the

elementary sensations?
himself the
first

It suffices that each

one can

tell

affirmations of consciousness, be they

em-

40

THE MYSTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
and only by subsequent labor can they be
In
this

pirical or moral,

compared so
depth

as to be expressed analogically.

inmost
all

of the ego, itself unthinkable, lies

the

source of

mystic experiences.
signs,

Symbols are the most intimate of all

and are analogies created spontaneously by the con
it

sciousness to enable

to express to itself the things

which

have no empirical objectivity.

11.

MYSTIC SYNTHESIS

I.

Mysticism declares God to be the assemblage of first principles Known of the Heart," whose synthesis can only be made
"

symbolically.
II.

The formula
I.

"

I

live,

yet not

I,

but God in

me."

The concept

of the Absolute, as

it

exists in the
is

con

sciousness of the pure scholar or the pure logician,
est of all in content.
Mysticism
declares God to be the as-

the poor

Not

only

is

the idea of
it

God

fu ll er

m

the mystic consciousness, but

appears to

hnjtprmci"

pies of the

Known
Heart,"

develop facts of consciousness of a nature to de-

whose synthe-

man d

special attention.

The mystic experience

is

bemadesym- neither the
bolic&lly.

work
and we

of the senses nor of the undershall get rid of
its effects, if

standing

;

much apparent
that

contradiction while estimating
it is

we remember

not concepts, to be verified objectively, which mystic syn

thesis tends to present to the consciousness, but quite another

thing.

The mental

synthesis which

it

is

the part of mysticism to

make

gives rise to symbols and not concepts, thus occupy

ing a middle ground between the idealism which logically
abstracts

God from man, and

the anthropomorphism which

MYSTIC SYNTHESIS
does not

41

make
said

sufficient distinction

between God and man.
an error of recent

Kant has

on

this

"

subject

:

It is

logicians to use the

word symbolic
is is

to designate the

mode
:

of
for

representation which

opposed

to the intuitive

mode
:

the symbolic
latter, in fact,

mode

only a species of the intuitive
divided into the schematic

The

may be
If

mode and
is,

the symbolic mode.
exhibitions.

Both

of

them are hypotyposes, that

knowledge may

already be called a simple

mode

of representation, then all

knowledge of God
it

is

simply
falls

symbolic, and the person who regards
into

as schematic

anthropomorphism, just as he who discards every species

of intuitive

mode

falls

into deism, or into that system accord

ing to which

we know

absolutely nothing of God, not even
1
view."

from the practical point of

Why

should

we
?

insist

on the relation between Mysticism
states unfortunately are rarely

and pure Science

The two

found actualized in the same consciousness, and they war from
afar without ever having seen each other.

The whole web

of

the empirical consciousness

is

made up

of original intuitions in the

given by

the senses.

Is there also
?

some given thing

mystic consciousness

Pascal seemed to think so, and he

called this other sense,
"

which has quite
Heart."

as

much
s

to reveal as

empirical intuition,

the

Only, Pascal

idea hovers

between the Eeason of the dogmatists and the intuitive Love
of the mystics.
relation

He

has, moreover, omitted to explain the
"

between the
all

Heart

"

and the senses which supply

the heart with
intuitions into
1

the material for symbols.
is

That there are

which Freedom enters
du Jugcm.
t. ii.,

the thing
334-336.

we need

Critique

trad. Barni, pp.

42

THE MYSTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
by Pascal.
impos

to retain of the opinion so succinctly expressed
"

The Heart/ he

"

says,

feels first

principles."

It is

sible to

know

Space, Life, Motion, etc., dialectically, as

meta

physicians attempt, and yet perhaps
intuitions.

Freedom

enters into these

In very truth,
first

God

is

not any one, more than

another, of these

principles,
is,

but rather the synthesis of

them

all.

minds.
venture,

The question Here again, it
think.

how

to effect this synthesis in our

is

for the

Heart only to make the

we

It is

Love which has command of the
all

whole consciousness, and which takes
the senses, the Eeason,

the spontaneities,

etc., into its service.
"

The empirical consciousness has an
see that the

object."

We

shall

mystical consciousness has an object too, and
"

that Pascal says with truth that

the

Heart

feels"

No

doubt there must remain something in

common

at the dis
;

posal of the intuitive faculties, the senses, the Eeason, etc.
the very definition of objectivity requires
it.

The

intuitions

of mysticism are not wanting in this character, as will appear,

only

we must not look
which
arise

for objectivity in the symbolic con
after the heart has
is

structions

been mystically
stable

aroused.

A

moral element exists which
all

and com
it

mon
tom

to all

men, although
;

men

are not conscious of

in

the same degree

and

it is

that element which lies at the bot

of all symbols.

To go over
and

the whole field of representa

tive consciousness,

let ourselves

be guided by analogy to
activity in

that innermost depth of

Freedom and pure
be our task.

which

the Absolute reveals

itself will

Naivete

is

as

much an element

of Mysticism as Eeason,
reflective

and

this feature distinguishes it

from the

wisdom

MYSTIC SYNTHESIS

43

which seeks for purely intellectual intuitions of the Absolute.

We

may

legitimately expect a preponderance

of

Freedom

over the understanding in Mysticism, and the term mystic

should be applied only to minds that have sought the Abso
lute in other than dialectical ways.

When,

after

long processes

of reasoning,
ligible in

we seem

to touch the confines of the purely intel

some culminating point of consciousness, we must

be careful not to mistake such rational appearance for the mystic fact.

To

give an example.

No

one ever tried more
intuition of

eagerly than Saint Augustine to obtain

some

God.

At

the term of all his efforts and
"

when he reached by

reflec

tion the

"

arbitral

act of Reason, 1 he felt himself powerless

to fix that which he believed to be focussed

on his inner gaze,
If

and in confusion

fell

back into the region of images.
it
is

mystics get beyond this point,
the imagination, about which
tine understood
it

by

a very special use of
learn.

we must

Saint

Augus

perfectly well, but his purely metaphysical
itself to this sort of experience.
"

genius did not lend
as
far,"

I got
.
.

he says,

"

as the thinking force

which

is

myself

.

I had a flashing gleam of you,
diately

sinking I

backward I
?
"

O my God, and then imme Who can go further ? said,
have tried them and have

Shall

seek visions

Many
2

found only illusions/
II.

Before any reflective act
is

is

made, the mystical con
the synthesis of
initiative
,

sciousness
principles.

impelled to effect in

itself

first

To be

sure, it has

no other

The formula

than

"the

Heart,"

and belongs
the

specially to the

LV

interior
J

kingdom

of
1.

Good, but no merely
2 Conf.
1.

Judex Ratio, Conf.

x. ch. vi. 4.

x. ch. xl.-xlii.

44
"

THE MYSTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
"

moral

good in the

rationalist sense

would be capable of
It is useless for us

satisfying its craving,
to try to isolate

which

is

for

God.

the moral consciousness and declare that the
for, if

Absolute dwells only in that region of the mind,

we

have once

felt

the Absolute in the

"

ought-to-be/
it

we expe

rience invincibly the suggestion that

must be in nature.
"

Indeed,
be,"

how could we
is

grasp the supremacy of the

ought-to-

which

the very consciousness of the Absolute, except
to ourselves in
is,

by representing

some way the subordination
less,

of All to Good, that
sis

by making, -more or

the synthe

of Determinism and Freedom, under the sovereign impress

of an identity which covers both the ego and the non-ego ?

Reason
and
it

fails

when

it

tries to

make

this synthesis unaided,

has to reject, one after another, every representation
it

which,
but,
if

would seem, might make God objectively present ;
leave free course to desire, under the single safe
is

we

guard of Good Will, the soul

uplifted,

and the empirical

consciousness and the moral consciousness unite freely in an
act

whose only purpose
"

is

to render the
Heart."

Good

subjectively

present or
born.

known

of the

In this way symbols are

What,

then,

is

the mystic consciousness but the moral con

sciousness

enriched

with

symbolic

representations ?

The

Soul, controlled by Desire,

manifests a particular

activity

which has been called
a

"

Inspiration."

Certain things which

man

ordinarily feels

in his deeper consciousness

and very

confusedly, such as the dignify of the Person, the efficacy of

Repentance, Merit and Demerit, moral Peace,

etc., etc., all

press towards recognition, and Freedom appeals direct to the

MYSTIC SYNTHESIS
imagination for more light on these things, as there
to be expected
is

45
none
pos

from Speculative Reason.
go

How

far

is it

sible for the consciousness to

in this direction ?

Will the
it is

Absolute which dwells in Freedom (and which out of

but
?

a name) allow itself to be apprehended by means of symbols

The mystic consciousness
lives

believes this in all simplicity

and
is

upon the

belief.

It

may

be alleged that

all it
it is

does

to

identify itself with this object, which, the

more

possessed

by

it,

the less

it

is

able to define.
"I

The mystic experience

ends with the words

live,

yet not I, but
is

God

in

me."

This feeling of identification, which

the last point of mystic

experience, contains a very important meaning.

In the

initial

stages the mystic consciousness feels the Absolute in opposi
tion to the ego, from without as
as Duty.
creases,

Determinism and from within

As

the mystic action goes on, the opposition de
is

and the tendency

to create a subjective greatness,

of which
different

we

will say nothing

now, except that

it is

altogether

from the negative Infinite which Rationalism pro

poses for our conception by simply taking away the limits of

continuous greatness.
reached
its

Finally,

when

the mystic activity has

term, the consciousness finds itself possessed with

the sense of a Being both in excess of the ego, and at the

same time identical with
mate enough
"

it

:

great enough to be God, inti
objectivity

to be

me.

The

might then be called
Saint

excessivity."

We

present the following words of
:

Augustine
"

s

as subject of meditation

Nee ego ipse capio totum quod sum. Ergo animus ad habendum seipsum angustus est ? Quomodo ergo non
.
. .

capit ?

Quid amo cum

Deum meum amo ?

quis est

ille

46

THE MYSTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
Quis euarrabit
?

super caput aiiimee meae ?

Quid

est illud

quod

interlucet mihi et percutet cor

meum

sine Isesione; et
dissimilis

inhorresco et inardesco.
ei

Inliorresco in
similis ei

quantum
sum.
"

sum ;

inardesco in

quantum

J

III.

SCIENCE AND MYSTICISM

I.

Relations between the mystic Experience and Knowledge.

II.
I.

The mystic method.

We

must be on our guard against believing that mys
and

ticism has anything to do towards completing science,
Relations be-

that

it
.

springs from a need to satisfy the rational
.

tween the mystic Experience and Knowledge.

consciousness in

its

restless

demand

for the

Unthe
its
:

knowable.
opinion:

Nevertheless
"Religious

Spencer

expresses
establishes

following

sentiment

transcendent beliefs with materials furnished by science
conceptions are submitted to the law of evolution.
It

its

may

not fabricate them arbitrarily, nor
ceptions of epochs of
the positive notions of

may

it

take from the con

ignorance elements which contradict

more enlightened epochs.
which
it

It has to

remember

that, the conception
it

adopts being a pure

symbol and inadequate,
with ike highest scientific

can only le valid by conformity
2

conceptions."

The

materials which
"

the mystic consciousness works with are not at all
est
its

the high
serve

scientific conceptions,"

but everything which

may

purpose of procuring consciousness of the Absolute.
is

No

one

a mystic from a feeling of helplessness, or because he

refers

the completion of knowledge to a supreme implicit,
1

Conf.

1.

x. ch. viii.

5

&

vii. 1

;

i.

xi. ix. 1.

2

Premiers principes, Intro,

p.

kxvii.

SCIENCE AND MYSTICISM
us with the deep
it

47
"

filling

respect called

"

religious

merely

because

is

Unknowable.
is

Not
advice,

to put ourselves in opposition to science

excellent

no doubt, but

it is

advice which true mysticism does
of science

not

need, since the paths
at

and mysticism never

meet

any point.

The mystic consciousness takes nothing

from the empirical consciousness but the symbolic elements.
It does aspire to

make

the synthesis of the world and the

ego, to be sure, but not in the understanding.
generalization
is

No

supreme

presented to the

mind through the symbols

which

it

constructs, but the whole object of the mystic con
is

sciousness

centred

on forming symbols
in order to

of
"

the

utmost
of the

power of suggestion,
heart/
science.

make God

known

The mystic consciousness is in no wise inferior to Indeed, were we to compare them, the former
to be

would seem
mind.
ciples.

more truly the supreme
all

activity

of the
prin

Science has no means at
"The

of

knowing

first

Heart

feels

first

principles/
ideally

Extension,

Matter,

Time, have
is

their

origin

in

Motion, and
as

Motion
There
is

actually

in

the

consciousness

only

Force.

but one Force, however, of which we have direct
is

cognizance, and that force

our own free

activity.

In this

way we

find Metaphysics

rejected

from the Understanding,

and without firm support anywhere except on the founda
tion of Morals.

The

categories

emanate from that source
:

of pure activity in which the Infinite declares itself

but as

soon as they unite with the intuitions to organize experi
ence, they

no longer belong

in the metaphysical zone of the

mind.

48

THE MYSTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
But how can the
Infinite declare itself in the conscious

ness ?

Must

there not be for this

other

intuitions,

other
?

categories, and, in short, a completely
fact, this is

new experience

In

a difficulty out of which the soul finds its
to believe in science,
it

own

way.

Without ceasing

keeps for

ever writing something on the blank page of the Absolute,

but

it

does not write in the same characters which objective
1

science uses.

The

soul can write only in symbols, and an
is

impulse of the Heart or moral desire

required to

make

them manifest.
read them.
2

Then, too, only those who write them can
yet this does not prove that there
If there were nothing in
all
is
it

And

only

subjectivity in mysticism.

But

the setting free of the mental conditions which lead
to states of defined consciousness

of us

and

to identical intuitions,

the only place for mysticism would be the inferior regions
of Freedom, amid dreams and passions.

But our

inquiries

are specially designed to examine whether the mystical con

sciousness has not certain fixed and definable psychological

conditions to rest upon.

Certain well-established facts of

consciousness exist which as yet we, as a whole, are only
just beginning to experience, because

we cannot

use for

them
is

the forms of representation of which the understanding
universally capable.

On

the other hand,
it is

when we wish

to

carry this experience further,
to the

natural for us to resort
to enter

same analogical processes and
into a symbolical state

more or

less
is

evidently
1

of

consciousness.

It

Liard,

La

Science positive et la Metaphi/siqtte, p. 357.
est
:

2

Desiderium sinus cordis

capicmus,

si

desiderium,
in

quantum possumus,
tract,
xi.

extendamus.
finem.

SAINT AUGUSTIXE, Expositio

Evang. Joan.,

ad

SCIENCE AND MYSTICISM
this twofold basis of

49
to bring out

Mysticism which we wish

into clearer light.

In actual truth the mystic consciousness has no reason
to neglect science, only it is dealing with quite another affair,

one which

it

is

fully able to cope with, unless

it

diverges

into Fanaticism or

some other degraded form of Mysticism.
soul, like the rest of the
it

Indeed,

when the mystic

world,

begins to undertake scientific investigations,
that
it

would seem

should have even a purer Reason to bring to bear
of
its

upon them because
order which
state.
"

discipline

by that sense of supreme

is

by no means a secondary factor of the mystic
"

Yet, while bending under the yoke of the

scientific

spirit

and

"

methods,"

it

never loses sight for an instant
to

of

its free

and na ive

relations

God, and

its

aspirations

are centred on a return to those relations.

The ambition
They

of mystics
desire to

is

for

moral

union with the Absolute.
love,

know, only that they may

and

their desire
is

for union with the principles of things in

God, who
is

the

sum

of

them
nor
for

all, is

founded on a feeling which

neither

curiosity
its efforts

self-interest.

The mystic

soul loves,

and

all

knowledge are in view of
is

this single need.

As
soon

soon as the object of search
as

sufficiently present, as

God

is felt,

the search

is at

an end.

To go

further would

be to step aside from the path of love, and
vision

to lose that

pure

which gives fineness of definition to the mystic gaze.
for
:

The knowledge which has been sought
has never gone deep enough into things

its

own sake
being has
desire

to feel

not been enough, and there has always been the
explain
it,

to

to master

it.

Whatever we may

do, the torments

50
of the

THE MYSTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
Unknowable
will forever

will

never cease.

The great Sphinx,

Nature,

be between the Absolute and our Heart,

and no noble

intelligence,

whether mystic or scholar, can
are too

pass her by unmoved.

We
and

much

in Nature, the
is

Mystic believes, to

know
her,

her; since to

know

to master,

we must go out from
a state towards which

see her in another aspect, as

we

are in vid. 1

Mysticism

is

not to be confounded with any of the forms
It merits our best attention, for

of agnosticism.

by

it,

states

of consciousness, which could not be procured by the ordi

nary

means

of

dialectics

and

experience,
to

are

accounted

possible.
"

We
"

must be willing

make
It
is,

a careful study of
in fact,

Inspiration

properly so called.

under

this

name

that the mystic function has, so far, concealed itself

from the investigations of psychology, and Criticism should
devote
its

closest

attention

precisely to

manifestations

of

this sort which, with

more or

less accuracy,

we

call

super

natural.
If any one should ask,

What

is

there, after

all,

in

common

between that

state of definite consciousness called

knowledge

and the mystic consciousness? we should answer in few
words
:

The mystic consciousness creates for

itself objects

not of the world, but of the ego,
_

and

the state iipon which

it

enters in identifying itself with these fictions is

rather

the contrary of that of knowledge, because knowledge calls

forth that which
trates deeper
1
xiii.

is

within us, while Mysticism only pene
the subject by singular exer1 Cor.

and deeper within

For now we
12.

see through a glass darkly, but then, face to face.

SCIENCE AND MYSTICISM
cise

51

of symbolism.

But, this being so,
is

may any one pro
purely negative, and

ceed to say that the mystic experience

without

human

or general bearing ?

It

would

first

have to

be proved that the Subject can be completely resolved into
the elements of scientific knowledge.
perceive in symbols could not be

That which mystics
into

subsumed otherwise

the consciousness; but

that

is

no reason to confound the

mystic experience with the mental constructions in which

our imagination merely expends
that

its

superfluous activity.
is

All

Kant perceived underlying Freedom
it

the appreciable

material of the mystical intuitions, and
the understanding.
real,

has no access into

The
is

material, however, is

human and

and therefore there

experience in Mysticism, and that

mystics

have the right to objectify certain facts of con
is

sciousness in order to obtain therefrom the idea of God,

simply because those facts cause in us a certain
rience which cannot be

initial

expe

had by means of

direct knowledge.

The word
according as
the mystic

"

know

"

may be understood
Science

in a triple sense,

it is

applied to Science, to pure Eeason, or to
investigates facts

Consciousness.
:

from

the outside

its
"

aim

is

to

go outside the consciousness to
is

grasp things as
its

objects,"

that

to say, freed from the ego,

imaginations and
to
this

its desires.

To know

is

the word which

responds

ideal.

Speculative Eeason endeavors to
its

bring things under modes of
tive

own

creation, to the

na

forms of the understanding, and finally to
is

"Unity."

Properly speaking, this

called
it

to

think.

But

Science,

precisely for the reason that

wishes to remain objective,

assimilates nothing,

and alone would not add anything to

52
the intelligence.

THE MYSTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
Eeason
also bears the

stamp of

relativity

and
of
it

is

powerless to penetrate into
principles.

Act pure and the region
if

first

But

there remains a function which,

exists, will help to

make

the synthesis of the ego and the

non-ego, and will help to the knowledge of things, not under

one aspect or under

another,

but in the Absolute.
"comprehend"

To

knowledge of
plied.

this sort, the

word

may be ap
intel

No
set

special

means are afforded by the purely
"to

lectual

activity

whereby we may come

comprehend."

Mystics

out with the conviction that, through Freedom,

potentially they are in possession of the Infinite,
fore they give themselves

and there
to

up with boundless confidence

the effort to imagine the Absolute.

If the symbols created

spontaneously by the mystic consciousness have in them any
thing that
is

positive, it
is

must be frankly acknowledged that

whatever

it

is,

not determinable in concepts.

The con

sciousness feels itself to be raised by these symbols above
all
its

other representations, victorious over

its

relative de

sires,

and joined

to

the "Kingdom of
is

ends,"

but

it

is
is

a
to

means whereby God
say, to each

revealed only to the Heart, that
for each one alone.

man and

Mysticism contains only a moral inspiration which must

be understood to be transcendent, and which eludes method.

But
facts,

for this reason need

we

see in
it

it

an order of irregular
study and in
It is natu

and take no account of

at all in the

the education of the
ral to

human

soul ?

Far from

it.

Freedom

to exceed all possible prevision

and to create

sane visions

in the

consciousness,

as

it

is

natural to the

understanding to

define

the

consciousness

and

to

fix

it

SCIENCE AND MYSTICISM
within the objective conditions of knowledge.
forbids us to bind

53
Reason
itself

down under laws

the naive efforts which
to attract

we

"

call

Inspiration/ and which

Freedom employs

the whole consciousness towards the Good.
II.

Nevertheless, Reason, in the broadest sense of

the

word, must command

even the mystic consciousness
is

itself.

The mystical

faculty

in reality the

moral conIts

The

m

gtic

sciousness confided to

its

own

sole initiative.

logic consists in trusting in the

moral purity of the

will,

or
the
its

in

other

terms, in

the rationality of the Desire,
its

for

assurance

even

of

intellectual

guidance.

After

highest nights, Mysticism must always return to practical

reason in order to be sure that

all
its

was not a dream.
relations to the

It

owes to
lute

itself

a rational account of

Abso
it

which have been obtained by means of symbols, and

recognizes that they are founded
to
say, that

upon analogy

only, that is

God

has appeared in the consciousness in no
to himself.

other

modes except those proper

Real mystics

therefore will never be heard to say that they have found what
all

metaphysicians are looking for, because

first

principles

do not appear to them under schemata to be used objectively ; yet on another side, if they are forced to express their expe
riences dialectically, they are able to defend the content of

those

experiences
his vision
"I

against

every

attack

of

contradiction.

From

on Mount Horeb Moses derives the great

proposition

am

that I

am."

Isaiah wakens
"

from

an
is

ecstasy bringing with him the words

Holy, Holy, Holy,

the

Lord."

Peter translates the symbol of the sheet
into the

filled

with

all

manner of animals

axiom of

"

universal

54
salvation."

THE MYSTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
Thus, when the mystic eye
is

pure

it

sees in
life

God

only such things as add to the moral and rational

of humanity, according to the degree in which the Absolute
is

infused in the consciousness.
its

In the end

it

is

Reason
In

which must give
spiration.

seal of approval to the results of

In what other way could we distinguish those
inferior suggestions

results

from the

which Desire often im

poses on the consciousness, under cover of the

Good

?

Is

it

possible to lay claim to such a thing as

"mystic

Evidence"?

The same

principles
to

which serve to found

science cannot give assurance

the mystic consciousness,

but

it

need seek no other evidence than moral Evidence.
is

Consciousness
ture
it
:

the seat of intuitions twofold in their na

it

receives sensations

from contact with things, and

feels

within itself

requirements not adapted to anything

material or objective.
life

The same Eeason which governs

this

of inner consciousness, presides over the empirical

com

binations which result in Science, as well as over the mysti
cal

constructions

whose

elements

we

draw from

in

our

Freedom.

It does not

seem to us that certitude varies with

the form of our cognitions, which
cal

may

be logical or esthetiaccording as
"empirical"

or mathematical, but

that

it

varies

the
or

intuitions
"

which serve as their matter are

moral."

For example,

in the

same way that the mathe
to empirical intuitions (un

matical sciences
less, like Pascal,

may be reduced
we

prefer to refer

them
as

to the Heart), all

mystical facts

must be considered

moral affirmations of

the consciousness.

Unless the consciousness passes to the

SCIENCE AND MYSTICISM
symbolic
state, it

55

has no other moral certainty than a few
:

axioms of very ordinary evidence

but

it

aspires, neverthe
is

less, to possess, in addition, everything

which

contained in
to be

Freedom, and

it

succeeds,

by

certain

means which are

learned, in giving to itself

new

certainties as well

grounded

as the pure and simple affirmation of Duty.

The evidence

which mystics ordinarily attribute to testimony direct from
the Absolute to the consciousness, could not carry with
it

any authority

specifically distinct

from the moral evidence,

otherwise there would have to

be a basis of intuitions of
senses
is

some unknown middle form, between the
affirmations of Freedom.

and the

Divine evidence
its

nothing more

than moral evidence, carried to
joint

highest degree under the
holiness.

influence

of

symbols

and

This

will

be

thought the right appellation by those who
nothing approaches
transcendence, yet

believe that

man
it

so near to the Absolute as

moral

is

no reason why the consciousness

should be thrown into confusion, nor

why Eeason should be
synthesis of
first

removed from
ciples as

its

sovereignty.

The

prin

made

in the mystic consciousness reaches only to a
realization of

clearer

and more intense
is

our moral transcend
is

ence than

usual in our ordinary state, and this

the reve

lation of the infinite dwelling in

our Freedom.

Anywhere

outside of this,
It

it

is

not worth more than a dream.
for

has

been

difficult

Mysticism,

which

is

perhaps

nothing but the tendency of the moral desire to possess the

whole consciousness, to respect the integrity of the human

mind by

carefully keeping apart the empirical

and the moral

affirmations of the consciousness.

By

confusing the two a

56

THE MYSTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
resulted,,

bizarre sort of subjectivity has often
scientific

barring out
its

observation.

To deprive the world of
it

objec

tive signification

would be to turn

into a vast symbol,

with no other destiny than to furnish points of departure for
the midst of such confusions Inspiration and Faith, and in

Eeason

itself

would be

imperilled.

We

have gone

to three of the chief mystical authors to

find the elements for a logic of Mysticism.

If any one will
its

consult the texts, he will see for himself that

logic is

in nothing else than a progressive leading on, culminating
ecstasy,

and that

its

first

step

is

to destroy the equilibrium
reality

between the moral verity and the objective
leave no foothold for Eeason.

and thus

Hugo
1

de

Saint- Victor,

in

De

Contemplatione

et
is

ejus
led

speciebus

sets forth

the

method by which the soul

to pure verity

to

God.

The

first

three degrees of mystical
three acts of

activity are reading, soliloquy,

and judgment,

a nature to lead us to a contempt, not merely practical but
2 speculative, of things in time.
"

Of

the highest degree of

contemplation there are three kinds which three theologians

have designated by three names.
St.

Job

calls

it

suspense,

John

silence,

and Solomon

sleep.

Of

silence there are

three kinds, the silence of the lips, the silence of thought,

and the

silence of reason.

When

the soul

is

completely
are

withdrawn
thought,
ineffable
is

into

its

inner

kingdom, the

lips

mute

;

not being able to
joy
it

comprehend

in

any way

the

receives, can say nothing, and reason too

condemned
1

to silence, for

when

the Sanctuary of thought
2 Ibid. ch.
i.,

Bibl. nat., Nos.

14366 and 14872.

ii., iii.

SCIENCE AND MYSTICISM
is

57
reason

inundated

with

divine

unction

human

has no
it

longer anything to do.
is

Intoxicated with this perfume
celestial
felicity

overcome with the sleep of

and sinks
light.
all,

into rest melting

under the kisses of the supreme

There are three kinds of sleep for the soul, because
three of
its

energies are suspended
in
blissful
it

by

the

same ravishing
of

power.

Then while

repose,

forgetful

the

world, forgetful of
throne,

self,

has a beatific vision, before the

upon

the throne of God.
of the cause of
its

The soul

s

reason sleeps,
it

because, ignorant
incapable of
its

such a happiness,

is

conceiving

origin, its

present reality, and
it is

end.

The

memory
what

sleeps

because

completely

absorbed in the enjoyment of an
recalls

ineffable satisfaction

and

nothing
it

of

it

has suffered.
that
it is

The

will

sleeps

because

does not even

know

experiencing the

delights of the indescribable intoxication.

This

is

why

the

Apostle says

He who

joins himself

to

God

becomes one

spirit with him

The

soul, thus dead to the world and

to itself, sleeps in bliss,

and

yields itself utterly to the kisses
senses."

of the spouse, in absolute repose of the
Saint Bonaventure,

1

the

most

didactic

of
3

the

mystics,

enumerates sometimes four, 2 sometimes
stages of

six,

or even seven4
all
is

mystic knowledge,
the

but through
thus
:
:

changes

of

expression

thought
the

runs

there

no

knowl
in

edge

except

of

universal

but

the

universal

re

(Nature)

and the universal post rem (Thought) are only
1

2 8 *

De

(Euvres de Saint-Victor, trad, par Haureau, pp. 140, 141. reductione artium ad Theologiam, Oper., t. vi.

Itinerarium mentis ad

Deum,

cap.

i.

De septem

gradibus contemplationis.

58
reflections of

THE MYSTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
the universal ante rem (God), and
also

the soul

must not only exceed experience, but

every

regular
is.

activity of the mind, in order to arrive at that

which

It

must not only
but
it

first

traverse

all

that
1

men

call "thought/

must take the
as
well.

leap over self

and over the world of

sense

Following the example of other mystics,
calls

Saint

Bonaventure

this

mystic

identification

of

the

2 spirit with the Absolute, synderesis, but when he attempts

to

express

something of
descriptions

it

in

comprehensible

terms,

his

psychological

contain
uplifted

nothing
to

more

positive

than
love/

"the

joy

of being

a super -intellectual

3

greater

even

than

Eeason.

The same author

is

indignant at the mention

of laws which scholars

claim to

have observed which would hold thought in
gable conditions, and his

fixed, irrefra
"

reasoning

is

as follows

:

Since

nothing except
to hold

God can
in

satisfy, there ought to be nothing
God."

me back

my

progress towards

*

We

have in the writings of Saint Theresa a third testimony

to the mystic experience, and one

which at

least has the merit

of absolute naivete.

The following

extracts are taken from
"Those

the description of the various degrees of Prayer:

who begin

to pray

may be compared
.

to persons
.
.

who draw

water from a well with great pains.
1

They have to with-

Stimulatio amoris, 2 pars, ch. vii. 2 Itinerarium mentis ad Deum, ch.
8
"

i.

Extasis

est,

deserto

exteriore homine, sui

ipsius supra

se

voluptuosa

"queedam

elevatio ad snper-intellectualem divini amoris

fontem."

(De sept em

gradibus contemp 1 adonis.)
Tollant ergo phantasias suas quibus lumen mentium nostrarum obtenebrare nituntur neque nobis Deum nostrum simulacris sestimationum suarum intersic nee sistere sepiant, quia nos sicut nee satiare potext aHqnid prater ipsum
"

*

potest aliquid usque ad

ipsum."

(In. III. Sentcntiar., dist. xvi., q. 3.)

SCIENCE AND MYSTICISM

59

draw into solitude that they may
nothing.
. .
.

see

nothing and hear

And

with

all this

pains nothing but dryuess
. . .

and

distaste will be
is

found for several days.

The second

way

the prayer of quiet.

... In

that, both the under

standing and the
will capable of

memory contribute towards rendering the but it often happens that they enjoying God
;

hamper the

will instead of helping

it,

and then

it

must not
their

consider them, for in trying to recall

them from
.
. .

wan

derings the will

goes

astray with them.
are like pigeons

The under

standing and the

memory

who, not content

with the grain given them at home, go abroad in search of

more,

.

.

.

and then return

to

the dovecote, but finding
faculties act,

none

there, sally forth again.

So do these two

in the

hope that the Will may give them some share in the
it

favors

receives from

God.

They imagine, no doubt, that
it

they can be of service to the Will by representing to

the

happiness

it

enjoys, but
.
.

it

often happens, on the contrary,
third kind of prayer
state the soul
it is

that they do harm.

.

The

like a

sleep of the three powers.

In that
.
.

no longer
is silent
:

knows what
it is

it

is

doing,

.

whether

speaks or

a blissful extravagance, a happy folly.
it.

...

I have often
it

been carried away by

I could see quite well that

was

God, but could not understand in what manner
acting in me.
1

He

was then

The fourth way

in

which the soul finds the

water with which to sprinkle this spiritual garden resembles
In this we see the real inner process of Mysticism the Will aspiring to the Absolute, struggling against the empirical consciousness at the same time
:

1

that
bols

it is

taking support from

it

symbolically, seeking even to do without

sym

and reaching, at last, a state of unconsciousness in which nothing subsists but Desire coupled with an assurance of moral purity which is equivalent to
the possession of the Absolute.

60 an abundant

THE MYSTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
rain:
.

.

.

there

is

such perfection of joy that
:

soul and body cannot express
all the powers perfect union of

it

...

if

they could the
at

would be

an end.

.

.

.

I do not well

know what
spirit

is

spirit,
:

nor what

the difference

may be between

and soul

it

seems to

me

one and the

same thing, although sometimes
soul goes out of itself in the
fire,

it

appears to

me

that the

way

that a flame goes out of a
itself
:

and

rises

impetuously above

we cannot

say that

there are two different bodies, for the
one.
. . .

fire

and the flame are
is

All that I claim to show by this

that

what the

soul feels in this divine union

makes

into

one two things

which before were separate and

distinct.

Hardly an instant

passes before one of these powers awakens from this state.

The

will is the

power that maintains

itself

the longest.
strict

There are certain authors who specially recommend the

contemplation of divinity only, with no presentation of any
thing corporeal to the imagination.

...

I acknowledge that

I cannot understand what they are thinking of to say that we

ought to turn our eyes away from

all

corporeal objects as

though we were
standing
is

angels.

.

.

.

There are persons whose under

of such a nature that this

would render them

in

capable of meditating.

And

this in

my

opinion comes from

the fact that, the purpose of meditation being to seek for

God,
itself

as soon as the soul has
to seek

found him,

it

tries to

accustom

him

thereafter through the will only, which,
all

being the most generous of

the powers, tries to do with
its

out the understanding, through

own
it

great love for God.

This

it

cannot do, however, until
it

reaches the very last

stages, because

has frequent need of the understanding to

SCIENCE AND MYSTICISM
kindle
it.

61
.

1

I do not pretend to dispute these authors,

.

.

but had I stopped as they advise, and never changed, I
should never have arrived at the place where
it

has pleased
is

God

to bring me, because in
2

my
to

opinion there

deception

in all that/
It

has

been

our

object

show,

once for

all,

what
If

mystics are able to do

when they

try for a method.

we

examine the terms
state itself,

in

which the mystic consciousness

tries to

we

find everywhere
state

two psychological elements
in

which produce the
1st
:

of

rapture

which

it

delights.

Images which have been intellectualized by prolonged

attention and which have been freely invested with esthetic

perfection

under the

action

of

intense Desire

;

2d

:

The

sentiment of a moral transcendence, expressed in ideas of a

heavenly kingdom, absolute salvation, disinterestedness,
It is exactly

etc.

what Pascal

said

"

God known

of the

Heart."

Mysticism consists simply in an alliance of Freedom and the
Imagination, and unless Freedom keeps rigidly within the

Kantian sense of
the outcome.

"

practical

Beason,"

aberration would be
of evident

But when Desire has the safeguard
soar without going astray.
itself furnishes

morals,

it

may

Then

it

may hap

pen, and secular history

examples, that deeds
spring, through the

and conceptions worthy

to endure

may

power of a good

will,

from a subject of intellectual mediocrity,

or at least from one deprived of the light of science.
1 It is

"understanding

hardly necessary to remark that the naive author means by the word the whole mental activity, and every association of images or
"

of concepts.
2

Tie de Sainte Therese, ecrite par elle-meme, ch. xxii. etsuiv.

Le Chdteau

de

I

dme, passim.

62

THE MYSTIC CONSCIOUSNESS

IV.

PHILOSOPHICAL MYSTICISM AND RELIGIOUS MYSTICISM
having in
it is merely a vague no moral transcendence.

I.

Philosophical mysticism

state of consciousness,

II.

There

is

that

it

nothing of a supernatural character in Mysticism, except brings the realizing sense of the Good to such a high

point that a power is developed to effect in the consciousness the synthesis of Determinism and Freedom.
III.
I.

Nature and the mystic Consciousness.

There

is

hardly anything in
state

common between

phil

osophical mysticism and the
describe.
Philosophi-

which we are trying to

Examples of true mysticism properly
"religious
fact"

ftJS$?"
conscious-

claiming the appellation of

are

not to be found in any of the rational intuitions of
al

n
.n 8 c

nT

God, beginning with the Ecstasy of Plotinus,
the

all

way

to Jacobi s Revelations
"

of the Heart,

The

psychology of the

religious fact

"

is

in short the object of

our attention.
Christianity,

It has manifested its

greatest
it

intensity in

and we are able to define
arrive
at

as

follows

:

a

tendency to

consciousness

of

the

Absolute by
Less strongly

means of symbols under the influence of

love.

marked forms
be included

of mysticism than the religious fact in

might

all

the

well-known

definition

"

:

Mysticism

consists in according to Spontaneity a larger place in the
intelligence than is granted to the other
faculties."

*

How

are

we

to

distinguish

this

spontaneity of the

intelligence
etc.,

from our other
etc. ?

initiatives ?

Does

it

exceed reason,

These would be embarrassing questions, but for
it
1

tunately,

is

not mysticism of this kind which

engages

Bouchitte, Diet, des sciences philosophiques, p. 189.

PHILOSOPHICAL MYSTICISM AND RELIGIOUS MYSTICISM 63
our attention.
Victor Cousin, in his definition of mysticism,

has not understood any better the true essence of the re
ligious
fact.

He

calls

"

it

the claim
it

of

knowing God,
face,"

without intermediary, and, as
goes on to say,
"in

were, face to

and

mysticism, everything that
hides

comes be
1

tween

God and

ourselves

him from

us."

Then
"

he draws a distinction between the mysticism of

"

feeling
first as

and the mysticism of
an
initiative of the

"reason."

He

considers the

sensibility, a

presentiment of the infinite

which

reacts

upon the
guide.

intelligence

without

allowing the

intelligence

to

Towards

science, the

mystic heart

considers itself as innocence to virtue, an easier and surer

way of

access to

the infinite.
is

He

is

right, however,
"

when

he says that this
chiefly
finally

not to be trusted

:

Mysticism rests
of
reason,
.

on

sentiment,

and

makes

little

.

.

attacking

Freedom, and

prescribing

self-renuncia

tion in order to be identified through love with that from

which

2

infinity

separates

us."

The

second

form,

the

mysticism of Reason, has its type in the
losophy.
"If,

Alexandrian phi

for a

moment, Reason touches the summit
dialectics,

of abstractions

by the power of
it

mysticism breaks

the ladder,, as the infinite
fusion

were, which has enabled us to
3

mount

to

essence,"

and the mind

is

thrown into con

when

it

essays to take direct hold of the essence.

The
expect
1

sanities of
it

mysticism

and the acquisitions we may

to bring to life being the object of our examination,
moderne, moderne.
t. ii. ix.

Hist, de la philos. 2 Hist, de la philos.
8 Ibid.

le^on.

In the Third Part of this work will be

seen what must be thought of the relations of the Absolute and Freedom.

64

THE MYSTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
pass by the inaccuracies which an ill-regulated
a

we need only
sensibility

and

philosophy, curious only, have too often
therefore,

produced.
testimony
"

Here
of a

we give the

direct

and instructive
de
Sales
:

famous mystic, Saint

Francis

Philosophers themselves recognize certain kinds of natural

ecstasy brought on by vehement application of the

mind

to
is

high things.

.

.

.

The sign

of a

good and holy ecstasy
in
it

that the understanding

has less part

than the

will,

which

it

fills

with

a
:

profound

affection

for
is

God,

full

of

warmth and emotion
than
tion,
it is

but

if

the ecstasy

more beautiful

good, more enlightened than touched with
loving,
it is

emo

more speculative than
l

subject

to great

doubt and

suspicion."

Having disposed

of all the usurpations of mysticism which
this defi

emotion and an over-bold Reason have occasioned,
nition seems to us the best
"

:

Mysticism

is

the tendency to
means."

draw near
II.

to

the Absolute in moral union by symbolic

The

"supernatural"

idea

is

by no means the thing
from philosophic mys
define the word.

which distinguishes the religious
There

fact

ticism, or at least,
is

we must
..
.

supernatural character in

^

ig

US ^ aS g rave an J
,

illusion to attribute
,-,

moral-

bri

Mysticism, except that it th Hrin wiM
to luch a*hich

it? to a stone as it is to think to

na tural in
is

nnd the superThe Absolute the world of phenomena.

i

,

n

-l

,.

not to be found anywhere but in the consciousan(j ft
j

point that a power is de-

velopeu to
consciousness the synthesis
is^anT"""

nesg

s

p res ent there onlv.
the

It

is

true that

theologians distinguish

modus operandi and
applying
to

tne
lom

m d us

essendi,

the

latter

the

presence of
1

God

in us
1

by way
Amour de

of grace, but
Dieu,
1.

we do

Saint Francois de Sales, Traite de

viii.,

ch. vi.

PHILOSOPHICAL MYSTICISM AND RELIGIOUS MYSTICISM
not

65

know

really
is

any other divine activity affecting us than
life,

that which

welded with our own proper

in accordance

with the theological axiom natura sequitur
reign supernaturally only in

esse.

God can
itself
:

Freedom and by Freedom
"
"

and furthermore the word

supernatural

can only signify

transcendence of the same over the same, quite the opposite
of any alteration.

On

the other side, however, the idea of
itself, if it is
;

the Absolute collapses of

confined in the moral

region of the consciousness

if it

does not include the whole

content of our minds, the idea perishes

and

God
is

remains
exactly

nothing more than a being of reason.

Here, then,

where Mysticism applies,

not to believe in the Absolute

apart in Nature and in Freedom.
" "

Supernatural

is

a word full of

difficulties.

A

sound
in

consciousness, whether mystic

or scientific,

must know

stinctively that Determinism leaves no
"new"

place

for anything

in Nature.

The source of our
is

rational vigor is in

the feeling that there

a stable

harmony between the mind

and things.
the

But, at the same time and in equal measure,
perceives

consciousness

within
is

itself

that

Duty and
These two

Freedom have a

rule

which

no

less
:

stable.
it

aspects the consciousness fuses into one
in its very
its

finds the necessity
it

Freedom

as

Reason and Duty, and then

carries

Freedom over

to Nature.

Nothing has been

so unfortu

nate for Mysticism as the dualist doctrine of the Evil-Nature

and the Supernatural Good, under any of
in Nature,
is

its

forms.

We

are

by essence and destiny, nati; and only in Nature

Good
The

possible for us and appreciable by us.

essential difference

between Christian mysticism and
5

66
naturalism

THE MYSTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
is,

that in naturalism,
value,

Freedom
is

retains

no proper
but

and

distinct

and that man

nothing therein

another bit of nature, just like the elements and the cosmic
forces.

The

illusion

by which the mind

first

gave

itself

to itself as transcending everything else is

doomed

to disap

pear with the advance of science, the naturalists say, and
religion
will
is

be perfect when
just as

finally

we

are all convinced

that there

much

divinity in a stone as there is in
is

a conscious free being,
in thought,

and that there
it

no more sacredness

however wonderful

may

appear, than in the

flight of an insect or the fall of a leaf.

According to the

naturalist,

the only

standpoint,

religious

and

scientific

at

once,

from which we can make the conquest of the true and
is

the good

that

the soul
vital

is

identical

with

all

the other

manifestations

of

and cosmic power.
such naturalism and

The place of
the

Mysticism

is

between
of

contrary
all
all

exaggerations

anthropomorphism, which
having
first

considers
it

nature under a

curse, after

deprived

of

excellence and dignity, the exclusive essence of Spirit.

We

must guard against
apart.

substantializing

Nature and Freedom

Rather than separate Good and Being, and thus lean
it

towards moral dualism,

would be
:

far better to accept the
"

following formula of positivism

That the power which
only a different form of
1

manifests itself in the consciousness

is

the power which manifests itself outside the consciousness/

It has not been difficult for the mystics least influenced

1

The

itself in

final result of speculation is ... that the power which manifests the material universe is the same power which in ourselves is mani

fested as consciousness.

SPENCER, Rev.

philos.,

t. xviii.,

p.

114.

PHILOSOPHICAL MYSTICISM AND RELIGIOUS MYSTICISM 67

by the

artificialities

of scholasticism to embrace in the

same

worship, as one God, that Power which determines phenomena

and which

also appears

self-determined in us as Freedom.

But

it is

impossible, without an act of mysticism, to actually
:

make

in one s self this synthesis of

Determinism and Freedom

;

therein consists the mysticism.

Kant believed that Reason

would be endangered by such an attempt.

But

Fichte,

coming

after

Kant, was

led,

through logic alone, to the very

place where mysticism posits itself naively and at the out
set;

although he ended by causing the non-ego to disap
Positivism proposes to

pear in a too subjective synthesis.

leap over this and to treat the world and the consciousness
as

though they were not, even from the origin or
distinct

in

any

way,

things.

In

this

way Philosophy

ceaselessly

oscillates

from one side to the other, never able to unite sub
sole identity of the concept with the
is

ject

and object by the

intelligence.

That there

more consistency

in the mystic

consciousness for the synthesis of the world and the ego,

we

may

say at once,

is

owing to the idea of Good, which makes
between the two terms.

a passage possible

Determinism

does not consist altogether in necessity, nor does Freedom
consist

altogether

of

1

contingency;

behind each of them

there

is

an active and an already concrete essence which we
as
"

are conscious of in ourselves

Force

"

and

"

Desire."

The mystic
1
"

asserts that this essence,
the false appearance to our
is

which appears to us

plus of intelligibility which

human ignorance of that sur being and which transcends our perception." So be it. The (Pouillee, Rev. philos. mai, 1875, p. 466.) mystic has no ambition to clear up the Source of being. Only agree that it is
Contingency
is

at the source of

the same for Nature and for Freedom, and that

is all

he asks.

68
as

THE MYSTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
both necessary and undetermined,
it is is

not

different

in

Nature from that which

in his
it

own

consciousness, and
is

he believes himself able to grasp

by an act which
will.

at

once love and Reason, thought and

The

link

which

binds together the empirical consciousness and the mystical
consciousness
of the Good.
is

found in the idea, or rather in the

feeling,
it

When

this feeling reaches a certain height
calls

passes the understanding, and
for

upon

the

imagination
that the con

means of
is
it

direct expression

:

and then

it is

sciousness
III.

in the mystic state,

and that symbols appear.

Is

as a consequence of all this that

we

find

among

mystics a very deep and naive feeling for Nature ?
Nature and
Conscioua-

A

cer

tain kind of Naturalism which has no * pretension to

De mystical has, indeed, been able to
poetical union with things, after
its

come

into a
;

own

fashion

but

how

far apart is

such sophisticated and self-centred poetry
as the author

from the spontaneous outpourings of such men
of the
"

Book

of

Job,"

or Francis of Assisi,

when they speak

of the soul,
1

life,

1 sorrow, or universal being.

We

should be glad to cite several instances from the

life

of that purest

of mystics, Saint Francis of Assisi, too naive not to shrink from the thought

of recording his visions for the public eye.

some idea of

this mystic personality
"

We are able, however, to form and his most remarkable state of con
"

sciousness from a little book called Fioretti in which a contemporary has handed down some of his actions and discourses for the contemplation of the centuries. We need only to read the headings of the narrations in order to

be convinced that such mystic actions are not to be confounded with anything
expressly invented for the purpose of poetic

communion with Nature

:

How

Saint Francis preached to the birds, and how the swallows were still when he tpoke. Of Saint Francis s holy miracle in converting a ferocious wolf who

was devastating the environs
is,

(.f

Gubio,

etc.

We

see

how
"

very different

it all

when we have

read Saint Francis

improvisation, the Canticle of the Sun,
:

or the following exordium from one of his discourses

Dear

birds,

my

little

PHILOSOPHICAL MYSTICISM AND RELIGIOUS MYSTICISM 69
Faith identifies mind with
reflection
its

object in a
reflect

can never do.

When we

way that artistic we find that we we

get the feelings of love, joy, being, from within, and then
picture them as belonging to
all sorts

of things

:

but in the

mystic

state, the

consciousness and the world meet directly in
in

a term which transcends them both,
contains

God, who

at

once

them and

carries the sense of their affinities to the

highest point.
Spirit

It is this
life

meeting of the inner

life

of the

and the outer
effect.

which leaves behind every kind of
artificiality,

esthetic

Without

without any abstract

duplication of the ego, the mystic soul has direct experience
of the presence of the Absolute in
itself,

through symbols.
it

Then, as necessary consequence of
almost as intensely aware as
is
it is

the presence,
itself,

becomes

of

of the outer, which

no longer

itself,

but which, like

itself,

has communication

with being and

life,

in the Absolute.

In past times, such

naive actions have followed this state of experience that our

outworn

civilization

is

tempted to

class

them

as aberrations. 1

brothers,

has made you free.

you owe a great debt of gratitude to your Creator : it is he who You can neither spin nor sew, and it is God who clothes
little ones.

you and your
love for

It

must

be, therefore, that

you
your

and you must do
praises."

all in

your power

to give

your Creator has a great him in return the

tribute of

words,

it

cannot be denied that they

Whatever estimate any one may make of such reflect a state of Soul which has no exam
faith can

ple in art or literature, and

Abbe Riche,
1

Paris
call

:

Bray

which nothing but mystic et Retaux p. 46.)

show.

(Fioretti

We

would

attention to an article on this subject in the
it

Revue des
us,

Deux Mondes, by Mme. Arvede Barine, who has understood,
better than
"

seems to

any other, perhaps, this state of consciousness of which Saint Francis of Assisi is the most complete type. Into his feelings for Nature,
entered," mingled admiration and tenderness for the universal life which produces both humanity and the blade of grass. He would stand in contemplation before a flower, ^an insect, or a bird, but the

there

says the author,

"a

70

THE MYSTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
It has been only the purest, the very flower of

Christian
:

mystics who have had

this

devout love of Nature

but we

may
a

nevertheless consider the complex sentiment which

we

define

a mental synthesis of Determinism and Freedom, as
feature of every

common

form of Mysticism.

Nothing

is

easier than to trace in antiquity itself

these two elements
fact.

which together form the essence of the mystic

The

mysticism of antiquity, before the religious conscience was

animated by other sentiments than

fear,

appeared in the tragic

form with which ^Eschylus and Sophocles clothed the marvels
of their genius.
First,

we

see

Nature with

its terrible

forces

and in

its

strange aspects; then, piercing through the appar

ent fatality of the events in which

man

is

inevitably crushed,

we
the

feel,

more than we

see, the mysterious weaving of a web,

work of a

Spirit, the logic of Justice.

What

is this

but

a synthesis of Determinism

and Freedom, according

to the

antique

?

A

conception of

Determinism had not then been
scientific sense of
"

made, except in the not very

Fate

"

;

and

Freedom, which then had

its

synonym

in

"

Justice,"

had not
It

found its true signification in the

human

consciousness.

was not

until later that

Freedom reached the sense

of Love,
still

which has been the force of Christianity,
gives
it

and which

a savor which nothing approaches.
had no place in his gaze.
its nest,

egoistic pleasure of a dilettante

He

cared that the

plant had

and that the very humblest of the manifestations of the creative force should possess in uncon
its

share of the Sun, that the bird had

scious

happiness

everything to which
t.

it

might

aspire."

(Rev. des

Deux

Mondes, Avril, 1891,

v.

p.

761.)

MYSTIC PLEASURE

71

V.
I.

MYSTIC PLEASURE
The naiveness
of Art.

Ontological value of Finality.
Scientific, esthetic

II.

and moral pleasure is of the Absolute in its various relations with our consciousness.
"

the result of apprehension

III.

The pleasure properly
love.

called

"

mystic

is

the result of direct union

with the Absolute through the power of Disinterestedness or

I The
is

"

pleasure of the Reason

"

or

"

human

pleasure/
is

the subject of esthetics, and as a thing this fact

of too

for us to great importance to the soul of a mystic

ontoiogicai value of
.

omit a thorough examination of
It
is

its

conditions.

inalit y-

Ihe naiveness

impossible to deprive our feeling for the
ontoiogicai
character, nor can
it

beautiful of its

be

con

sidered merely as the concordance of our concepts rigorously

contained within the limits
belief has

of the

consciousness.

Man

s

been so invincible that the Beautiful springs from
that he has called

a

harmony between Nature and himself
ensemble of
all

the

things

Mundus from

the

subjective

1 impressions of pleasure which things give us.

This opinion has prevailed over that of the objectiveness
of the world and the fatality of
its

causes.

So we see that

the finality, which has been said to be the fruit of our

own

concepts, has accompanied our most primitive perceptions.

This ontoiogicai and objective conception of finality must

be persistently

maintained.

Were
"

it

not in things,

the
"

world would no longer be a
"

system/
"

but merely

a

1 Nam quern Cosmos Grjeci, Equidem et consensu gentium moveor." nomine ornamenti appellavere, eum nos a perfecta absolutaque elegantia Mundum."

(Pliny, Hist.

fiat.

i. ii.

iii.

4.)

72
"

THE MYSTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
of facts, something the
1

series

mind cannot admit even

as

an hypothesis.

The deeper the mind penetrates into the facts of esthetics, the more they are perceived to be based upon an ideal
identity between the

mind

itself

and things.

At a

certain

point the
close that

harmony becomes
it

so complete

and the

finality so

gives us actual emotion.

The Beautiful then
flash, the soul rises

becomes the sublime, and, for a passing
into the true mystic state

and touches the Absolute.

It is

scarcely possible to persist in this esthetic perception with

out feeling

lifted

up by

it

above things and above ourselves

in an ontological vision

which seems to be very much the
of

same

as

the

Absolute

the

mystics.

Empiricism has
under the head
ele

striven hard to bring the facts of this kind

of

"

"

adaptations
"

of

self-interest

appertaining to the
"

mentary

life.

These

phenomena,"

says Maudsley,

wit

ness to a reciprocal adaptation between organic being and

the nature around,
returns."

it,

whence

it

is

derived and to which

it

2

No

one can help
"

feeling,

however, that the
"

word
ity,"

"

adaptation

is

not any clearer than the word

final
is

and

that,

whether we use the one or the other, there

no escape from the sense of an overmastering power, which
has borne in
itself

and possessed in common essence the
This
:

mind and

things.

original

essence could

not
it

have

been the Unconscious

it is
"

equally impossible that

should

be what we

call

our

consciousness,"

which

is

merely a

power of assimilation and nothing more.
1

It can only be the

Cf. Lachelier,

Fondements de
I

I

Induction, pp. 48, 83.

2

Physiologie de

Esprit, p. 368, trad, par Alex. Herzen.

MYSTIC PLEASURE
Absolute, the Uncreate, define
it

73
may, in his
"

as each of us

own

fashion, if

only by the positivist conclusion of

some

thing which will never respond to any questionings of the
consciousness, something which comes from very far
1
off."

The

life

of art, moreover, has a direct interest in such a

conception of Esthetics.

Art, emptied of
to create,

its

infinite object,

would not have the
mere
dilettantism.

faith

and would lapse
ourselves

into

We

could

make

naive

for a

quarter of an hour, just long enough to

amuse the mind

with pictures, but there would be nothing to sustain and
fructify genius.

Unless we are
"

willing

to

fall

into
let

ways
Posi

which are the reverse of
tivism clip our wings, bat

liberal,"

we must not

we must maintain, with deep and
is

habitual simplicity of soul, the belief that the Ideal
reflection of something other.
"

the

Serious art, whose posses

sion can be

had only

at the price of

devout

effort, is

more

and more neglected every day.

Artists of

genius are not
2

born because the times no longer need
II.
its

them."

Kant saw very well that
finality;
it

esthetics

would have to

find

definition in

but his critical method did not

allow him to carry
all

out.

We
is.

define as

esthetic

Scientific, esthetic, and

pleasure
-i
"

arising

from
that

representations which

SJSJlw
result of apprehension of

are

disinterested,

from which the

1-11

i

ele-

the Absolute

ments of

self-interest
is

have been eliminated.
i

In
not

rei adonTwkh

the animal there
1

no

r
:

esthetic

finality

is

our Consdousness.

Man cannot help feeling dimly, through these instincts of self, something of which no interrogation of self-consciousness will ever suffice to give an ade MAUDSLEY, id. quate account to him: something which cometh from afar.
p.

368.
2

Von Hartmann,

Philos. de

I

Inconscient,

t. ii.

p.

469.

74
free in a state

THE MYSTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
below that of reasoning beings, but
is

con

fined to

the practical interests of self-preservation.
is

In us
to say,

begin representations stripped of self-interest, that

those in which Reason, the originator of relations of finality,
seeks only itself and contemplates only
itself.

Taking the word

"

disinterested

"

to

mean

all

that does

not actually tend to self-preservation, we see no reason not
to include

under one and the same definition every kind of
scientific,

higher pleasure, the esthetic, properly so-called, the

and the moral.
In our opinion,
scientific

curiosity

seeks

out natural
free

relations for the purpose of esthetic pleasure,

when

from
has

any intention of the useful, and merely in so far as
itself discovered or recognized them.

it

Were

this not so,

how

could there be any
Ideal,

"

Scientific

Ideal,"

the source, like every

of emotions and undefined

desires ?

The pleasure

of the artist and the pleasure of the scholar have a
basis,

common

and

for both
all

it

is

religious.

What

is

there at the

bottom of
the
"

the conceptions of Spencer and others regarding
"

Scientific Eeligion
"

of the future ?
fill

Not

as an

"

un

knowable

could the Universal Being
love,

us with reverence

and religious

but rather in the aspect of the indefinitely

knowable and as holding up before our Reason the marvel
lous hope that
in

we may know Nature

in her furthest depths,

ways as

difficult for

us to believe possible as our scientific
to the

conquests of to-day
times.
stition,

would have been
has
its

men

of former

The
and
is

scientific Infinite
its

own

prestige of super

own mysticism,

just like any other Infinite.
this

There

besides another

most important remark upon

MYSTIC PLEASUEE

75
feel that, infinitely

subject.

The

artist

and the scholar both

varied as things are, they are

nevertheless

retained within
fact

the

limits

of a

their

essence;

now,

this

reveals

the
call

presence
"

of

force

which

outside

of
is

ourselves

we

Necessity,"

but which within us
its

present

otherwise.

Necessity in

subjective form

"

is

Order/

a primal sen

timent in us which would easily serve to effect the mutual

communion
The same

of Esthetics, Science, and Religion.
variations,

and even deeper ones than in Nature,

are apparent in the realm of

Freedom
"

:

but the marvellously

changing forms of
Ideal which

"

character

are also

dominated by an
less

demands the creation of a harmony, not

perfect than the

harmony of Nature, between
Order
in
this

all

our actions

and

all

our desires.

realm has the most

intimate effect

upon

us, because

we

are not merely spectators

of

its

production,

but

contributors

towards

it.

Moral

pleasure
esthetics
:

has
in

the highest place, above that of science and
it

must be recognized the triumph of

Finality.

Morality, more personal to us than the pleasures of the divine joys only intelligence and taste, brings to us
"

"

because
that all

it

brings us nearer to the Good, in which

we

feel

Ends meet and depend.

Finality expires in pleas
its

ures of this kind:

our Reason finds
is

term in them, and

the character of moral satisfactions
in

such that we can rest

them

definitely, so that neither fatigue

nor ulterior desires

can make us descend from them.

It
is

must be acknowledged,
the most the
secure,
it

though,
also

that while this
least
active.

pleasure

is

the

This

is

for

reason

that

we

scarcely

do more than touch

it,

while the other forms of

76
activity

THE MYSTIC CONSCIOUSNESS

among which
life,

the

sum

of oar pleasures

is

divided,

the sensible

science, art, etc., use

up our time and the

largest part of ourselves.

Moral pleasure resembles what
It is

has been

named

for the

body euphoria.

an habitual

state of well-being.
feel
it.

It is sufficient not to sin, in order to

It
:

is

of

equal mood,

and does not make

itself

noticed

but there are certain times, in moments M hen we

are strongly

moved

to acts of goodness

and morality, that
it
:

we become more
experience
that

actively

conscious
of

of

and then we
"

true
is

pleasure

the

gods,

Peace in
"

Freedom/
ness"

There

nothing worthy the name of

Happi
l

like the infinite consciousness of
"

that integral well-

being,

the Peace which passeth all understanding."

Saint Augustine, taking his inspiration from the Pytha

gorean notions of perfect unity, unites in the universal at
one
stroke the
"

notion of
is

"

"

pleasure

and the notion of
is

"finality."

Joy
the

the tendency to Unity, Sorrow
. .

the

division of

One.
I

.

Out

of

much

material

I

con

struct a house.

am

not

better

than a sparrow because

I bring together more material, but because I
of the Unity which I

am

conscious

am

producing.

.

.

.

My
it

soul passes
finds
it

on from that to moral considerations;
lamentable thing to compose verses or
life

...

a

make music when
itself
is

does

not move in cadence and when

out of

harmony, or productive of nothing but a shameful discord
of vices.

In

this

world of sense,
in

it

must be learned that
time and

if

anything
it

shocks us
fail

the

dispersion of

space,
is

is

because we

to see the All to which each thing
i

Phil. iv. 7.

MYSTIC PLEASURE
related.

77

Wisdom 1 According to the words of the book of Wisdom sJiall show herself in joy and shall come before
the uncreate
natural

them with prudence ;
of
itself

wisdom shows us

traces

even in

the
to

joys,

and knows how, by
to

corporeal forms,

bring

us

back

our own souls at

some moment when we are
the body.
attracts

to lose ourselves in just going

It

makes us
is

see that
in

that which

delights

and
;

the

sense

only

the

number of

things

it

makes us look

for the

reason of them and brings us to
that, unless

ourselves by the

thought

we have within us
nothing beautiful or

the laws of the Ideal,

we

shall

find

ugly in matter.

Free the mind of the

human

artist

and
will

turn your regard towards eternal

Number.

Wisdom
this

then be seen in her proper dwelling.
not touch your feeble gaze, turn
of the present
life,

Should

sight

it

again upon

the paths

where wisdom has already appeared to
recollect that

you with

smiles,
;

here

is

the same

wisdom

only beginning

and renew your hold upon her here with
2
purity."

more strength and more
III.
all

Mystic pleasure may be considered the synthesis of

the higher pleasures so far as they contain any sense of

the Absolute.

There
it

is,

however, one

effect,

sui
The pleasure
properly
called
"

generis, for which

is

proper to reserve chiefly J
After we possess
all

mys"

the

name
.

"

mystic

pleasure."
.

6 suit of direct

union with

that science and art can zive us, even after

we have

the Absolute, through the
fftTrestedness or love.

put ourselves practically in harmony with universal

being through morality, there
Science, art,
1

is still

something
still

more.

and even duty leave us
2

far

away

Ch.

xvii.

De

Jibero arbitrio, c. xvi.

78
from that
it still
"

THE MYSTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
moral unity with the absolute
effect
"

called Love,
all

and

remains for us to

a transformation of

these
is

relations into a feeling of intimate relation to

God.

This

what mystic

"pleasure"

really consists in,

and we

shall learn,

that very special conditions of imagination and will, which

we

must not

fear to call

an alienation in the etymological sense

of the word, are required to effect this nearness.

In order to approach the absolute, mystics must withdraw

from everything, even themselves.

The sense
self,

of emptiness

and death from

this

withdrawal from

or moral alienation,
it

when

carried

far

enough, would be crushing were

not

counterbalanced by a sense of ecstasy.

The

attractions of

pure science, of glory, of

human

love, are replaced in the
"something
other."

imagination and even in the senses by

A

sort of pleasure succeeds, so intimate, so penetrating, that

it is

preferable even to the joy of living.

There

is

a strange

experience of this kind related of the mystic of Assisi during
his forty days extraordinary fast

on Mount Alvernia, where
saint, feeling

he received the
himself

"

"

stigmata."

Meanwhile the

much weakened by

his long abstinence

and

his strug

gles with

the demon, perceived that he needed a spiritual
his soul.

nourishment to strengthen
itate

So he began

to

med

on the
life,

infinite glory, the

Happiness of the Blessed in
foretaste

eternal

and he entreated God to grant him a
suddenly,
while he was
still

of

it.

When

praying, there

appeared to him, surrounded with splendor, an angel, with
a viola in his
left

hand, and in his right a bow.

Lost in

wonder, Saint Francis gazed on the heavenly messenger,

who

drew

his

bow once

across the viola,

whence issued so suave

THE LIMITS OP MYSTICISM
a

79
it

melody that the soul of the Saint was ravished, as
lifted

were,

and he seemed

above

all

bodily sensation.

He

said to

his companions afterwards that had the angel drawn the

bow

once more across the strings, his soul would surely have

broken

its

bonds and

left

the

1
body."

Ecstatic
facts

pleasure belongs to the most complex kind of

which can be presented to the mind for study.

Such

a manifest example of mystic alienation as

we have

just read
to

demands quite another treatment, but

it

was necessary

point out at least, in this preliminary examination of mysti
cism, to what degree the Absolute can take possession of the
consciousness, and detaching
it

from

all

the other desires, can
life

change so extraordinarily the very conditions of

itself.

The pleasure which phenomena
is

is

found at the end of

this series of

mystic

is

experienced in a portion of

man

s

nature which

no longer distinguishable.

Reason and feeling seem con

founded and fused into a unique expression, which leaves the
soul either just ready to die
life.

or on the shores of a better

VI.
I.

THE LIMITS OP MYSTICISM
Pessimism and mystic Optimism.
of Mysticism.

Scientific

II.

The sure and middle ground

I.

Mysticism rejoices with the most complete and admir
it

able confidence in the spectacle of Nature, calling
Poem."

a

"

divine

It

has no hesitations in presence of the

Scientific Pes-

Absolute, and would, like a spouse, come only with
love and freedom to
its

mystfcOptl-

embrace.

Reason, which

has had

its

age of criticism, and Science, made up of de1

Fioretti, p. 170.

80
liberations

THE MYSTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
and
virile

patience, tend to produce a state of

consciousness altogether

the

opposite.
its

Shall

the
as
?

mystic
to

consciousness be so cramped in

aspirations

be

come deadened

?

Should we desire
is

this to

be so

In our

opinion a harmony

possible.

No

doubt we

shall

have to encounter
all

scientific

pessimism,

which brings forward

the apparent cruelties, monstrosities,

and contradictions of Nature, and undoes so cleverly the har

mony which
things.

other minds exaggerate in their conception of

This reaction often puts to rout the dogmatic opti
fain

mism which would
tional

make

"

a science

"

out of the conven

and the beautiful, but which

sees its conceptions falling

day by day into the rank of pure chimeras, and has nothing
to put in their place. of this kind.
ideal
it

But

the mystic indulges in no optimism

He makes no
his

claim to explain things with the

which he gets from

Freedom

:

all

he does

is to

make

his

moral rule and his esthetic

satisfaction.

The

objective-

ness which he attributes to the Absolute has nothing to fear

from the slurs of pessimism.

In

details, the reality

may come
a

short in the requirements of order, and

may be indeed
him enough

brutal contrast to the desires of perfection which the mystic

soul bears within

;

yet all this cannot trouble

to

shake his confidence.
reality is

After

all,

to find an explanation of the
;

not that for which he cares

his desire

is

to

dom

inate the reality,

by

uniting himself, in a

union of freedom, to

the Absolute, far above all the baseness of the world and the
failures of
life.

That which

is

not true in

itself is

not good for conduct,

THE LIMITS OF MYSTICISM
it

81

may be

asserted

;

that the heart has no privileges over
is

science,

and therefore mysticism

wrong.

But

no, this can

not be.

Every high and comprehensive

intelligence

knows

that even for the
to

work of cognizing, not everything has
scientific

be brought to the
to

form.

We
as

may
will
;

analyze

and separate in order

know,

as

much

we

we can
still

never escape from the conviction that the implicit

re

mains at the root of everything, and that in some universal

unknown substratum, not
affinities to

only are

all

things plastic in their

each other, but they meet with us also, in various
life,

ways, with our
self will

our

tastes,

our heart.

Metaphysics

it

not penetrate into truth any further than science,
consents to be comprehensive of every relation by

unless

it

which the mind and things are so closely bound together.

For

practical, industrial science
" "

it

may be good
"

to oppose

the term

scientific

and the term

subjective,"
;

and to

labor to grasp the bald facts outside the ego

but

man

can
all

never come to the knowledge of himself and expand in
directions
title

by

this

method.
it

If

science

lays claim

to

the

of

"knowledge,"

must

be quick to bring

back the

Idea, the Life, the Ego, into the elements which analysis has

reduced provisionally to the state of non-ego, and

it

must

come
soul.
II.

to

know them

just as the vulgar do, with the whole

In a mind where there

is

both science and judgment
fact

and where ideas are ruled by the Ideal, the mystic
not
fail

can

of accomplishment.

But

if

a

man

lack

both, he
mystic,

can supply the defect by becoming a

The sure and middle ground of Mysticism.

upon one condition however, that he goes nowhere

for

82
it

THE MYSTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
Is not this
sci let

except to the purest aspirations of the heart.
"

what Goethe meant when he
ence and art has Religion
;

said,

The man who has
has neither,

the

man who

him

"

get Eeligion

?

Too

often in history have
of
this

we had

to

remark the
mysticism.

special

absence
in

comprehensiveness in

Once lodged

some corner of the Imagination

or the Desire, according to the ideas of the time and the
taste of each land, it has not

been possible to make

it

see

or love anything else.

It gives itself over obstinately to that

which

it

has

taken for

God

without enough forethought,
life

whatever the peril of dwarfing the

or wasting the soul.

Fetishism, Magic, Gnosis, Theurgy, Asceticism, Alchemy,

Ritualism,

etc.,

and
long

still

more
of

recently,
terrible

Spiritualism

and
of

Palladism,

a

list

the

degradations

mysticism, which weighs heavily on us now, just when

we

seem almost ready

to

come

into touch with the broad and

integral life of spirit.

May
it

the

list

soon be closed

!

Mysticism ought
admirably adapted to

never to

depart from the formula so
1

by

Aristotle,

dvOpwTrevecrOai.
alto

Organic

life,

Knowledge, Esthetics, Morals make up
"

gether but one figure

man"

one and the same phase in
Since
it is

the progress of the possible towards the Infinite.

we who

are that complex and middle term of Being, our whole

perfection
actualize

must consist
it

in learning to

know Being and
and

to

integrally in the individual

in the species.

Man

will never attain for himself to Unity, to

Good

unless
all

he endeavors to

harmonize

all

his

acts,

to

bring

his

qualities into equilibrium.
1

Most

of our practical or specula-

To

play the man.

THE LIMITS OF MYSTICISM
tive errors

83
some one idea

come from the preponderance

of

or one desire, which has taken hold in the consciousness, of

an

activity

which should have been divided up and put

to

use there and elsewhere.

Mysticism has oftenest been the
;

preponderance of the spiritual activity
intelligence

and has misled the

from that

side,

and even has injured the moral

bound up with the ensemble of natural causes by organic life: we must not seek to depart from
character.

We

are

them

to learn more, nor

must we separate our conduct from

that of the things which together with us form one system.

We
calls

have,

it

is

true, a singular
:

autonomy

in

Freedom which

us to special destinies

but in order not to exaggerate

our sense of these destinies, we must remember that an atom can prevent our mind from
fulfilling
its

highest functions,
effects

and that gross stimulants often produce
consider pure and delicate.

which we

A

few grains of

coffee

have the power of stimulating the

Reason, giving spur to eloquence, and perhaps of increasing

Freedom.

Up

to

this point

we have

defined, as far as lies in our
"

power, the object of the mystic consciousness as the
knowable."

Un

By

thus naming

it

we have put
is

ourselves on

the side of agnosticism, and the agreement

not only in
this
"ex

name.
reason

No
it

one can

"

know

"

the

Absolute, and for

might have been better
instead of a
is it ?
"

to call mysticism

an

perience"

knowledge."

But what kind of

experience

Not an

experience through the senses, and

not through pure Reason.

The
"

truest expression

we can

use

seems to be Pascal

s

phrase,

God known

of the

Heart."

84
It
is

THE MYSTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
quite true that
it

is

by means of the

sensibility

(senses
lute
;

and imagination) that we are conscious
it is

of the

Abso
This

yet

a use of the sensibility unlike all others.

we

shall call
"

mental symbolism
heart
"

:

and we

shall see

that, al

though the
those of
so called.

does not furnish images distinct from
it
"

common

experience,
"

has some intuition properly

The word

heart

will serve us exactly to desig

nate the share that Freedom has in the mystic experience.

SECOND PART
SYMBOLS
THE
facts
all

which the mystic consciousness claims as
together the
in giving

its
if

own, bear

name

of Inspiration.

Now,
"

we can succeed
spiration/

some precision
in

to the idea

In
of

which
itself,

participates

the

indetermination

Freedom

we

shall find the only intellectual thing in

mysticism to be the analogical representations of the Abso
lute.

Therefore
is

the

only

thing
the

that

remains

to be

ex

plained

the presence, in

mystical

consciousness, of

the symbols.

CHAPTER FIRST
CONCEENING INSPIRATION
L
I.

STATE OF THE QUESTION
is

Reason alone
a posteriori.

a priori : Inspiration

is

only a fact to be verified

II.

Autonomy

of the mystical consciousness.

III. Mystic Esotericism.

IV. Inspiration
I.

is

merely an intensified state of consciousness.
is

INSPIRATION
notion of

a fact which requires, in order to give a
to be treated as object outside the con-

critical

it,

Reason alone

sciousness

of

rationalist,

believer,

or

positivist.

n

oniyatct
posteriori,

to

Evei7 one agrees, from
priori there
as
is

this point of view, that

a

no such thing

as Inspiration.

Just

as truly

that

a

greyhound cannot
find

leap

over

his

own
to

shadow,

Eeason

cannot

support

outside

herself

extend her intuitions.
increase of

We

have no authority to expect

knowledge by any other ways than mental evolu
This
is

tion, individual or general. tion,

not a denial of Inspira

but

if

we wish

to preserve this idea from interminable

confusion, we must not distinguish it at all essentially from the Reason of which we are humanly conscious it would
:

not be any more logical to do so than to try to prove mir
acles

a priori.
facts,

Thus mystic
"proved"

like

all

other

facts,

can

only be

according to the rules of criticism, rational or

STATE OF THE QUESTION
historical.

87

There are books whose intellectual transcendence
to postulate, or actions

we simply have

whose morality could

not be explained by mere effort of the

human
"

will alone.
"

This

is
"

all

we can look

for

under the words

Inspiration

and

Grace."

We

shall

soon discover that inspired Eeason and inspiring
to be

Reason are not

found in a relation of simple contact,

but that their reciprocal inwardness must reach an actual
identity.

The mystic

fact, it is true, consists in

an

"

aliena

tion

"

of the highest interest,

we must

allow, but the

word

does not concern, either immediately or remotely, Eeason as

a perfect whole,
in the acts or
II.
"

its

identity being never

more apparent than

phenomena under our
in

consideration.

Faith,"

the
is

ordinary sense

of

"

acceptance

of

the

mind

of

others,"

entirely foreign to our subject.
is

Any
of

interest

which Mysticism may inspire

because

it

Autonomy

asserts itself as a pre-eminently original state of

the mystical consciousness.

consciousness;

without derogation

to
it

all

that

bears

the

most respected name of authority,
a
condition
of

offers

itself

to us as
in

mind and heart
"

of

the most
besides, has

perfect
its

dependence.

The word

authority,"

deriva

tion in auctor, which signifies an augmentation.

In the sense
"

of
is

"

repressing the intellect

"

or

"

inhibiting thought

there

no such thing as authority.

As

regards the intelligence,

authority consists only in promoting a sane curiosity

and

in

securing fresh evidence.

It

is

merely a power of suggestion.
solidarity,

The

social state implies

means of protection, of

of stimulus to progress of all kinds intrusted to the hands of one or

many

;

but the creative

initiatives,

Life, Genius,

88

CONCERNING INSPIRATION

Holiness, are declared of themselves, and receive their laws
in the

Absolute only, where by nature they belong.
so apparent throughout History as this

Noth
of

ing

is

autonomy

First Principles in the conscience

where they are incarnate,

and nothing shows more
the acceptation of the

clearly
"

how

altogether relative

is

word

authority."

Mystic activity
activity,
is

is

found to be included in the universal

and in the expansive impulse of the Absolute (which
first

but the synthesis of

principles) forever going forth

to manifest itself in Life, in Reason, and in Freedom.

Every

positive acquisition

made

in

any order of facts

whatever,

comes from the eternal principles where things are true and

good in
Time.

essence, before

manifesting themselves as such in

According to Pascal

we

really

owe the reverence of
suffi

antiquity to these
ciently tried,

new things when they have been
to the opinions,
1

and not

however ancient they

may

be,

which have taken their place.

III.

Mystical books, in so far as they
is

make an

effect

upon us that
Mystic Eso-

special

and appreciable to the consciousness,

fall

under the domain of Criticism, like properly r r J
other experience

am

every

and

psychological
is,

fact.

But

there

is

one reservation permissible, which

that less

than any other class of works do they belong to every one.
Science,

Art, pure Philosophy, all have

their

esotericism,

and probably no mind has ever existed so comprehensive as
not to find
itself

unfamiliar in some region of the knowable.
soul,

In the immense region of the things of the
there be an esotericism
1

how could

more intimate and more reserved
le vide
:

Fragment d un Trait e sur

ed. class, de

E. Havet, p. 597.

STATE OF THE QUESTION
than the mystic
?

89

To

arrive at this state of consciousness,

which has given to certain men power for such distinction among all others in character and in life, requires an assem
blage of mental and moral conditions more rare than Genius
itself.

Whatever any one may think about Mysticism,
acknowledged that
nothing
is
it

it

must be
"that

exists.

It
for,
if,

is

vain

to

argue

more subjective/

though the objection
even,
it

is

true, it does not alter the fact,
its

does not heighten

The mystic sense is nearest to the soul, no doubt, and makes less demand for expression in words than the poetic
value. 1

faculty and other special tendencies of the

mind

;

and though
this

we

shall

see that terrible abuses

may lurk behind
criterion
is

sub

jectivity,

we must not think

that all

lacking.

And

without a really profound and

critical

examination no

one has a right to judge.

Moreover, has Mysticism no place in other consciences but
those which seem exclusively devoted to
is
it ?

Perhaps there

no tendency which has so wide a psychological dominion over the whole world. Mysticism has its adepts everywhere.
Besides actual mystics,
into Art, Literature,

how many

others are there

who

carry

and even into Science

itself that

pursuit

of the Infinite which constitutes a fact as
as

human,

as universal,

Reason

itself?

Much

less

than this would be enough to
is

justify
1

our researches, and to prove that there

a middle

Let a man read a chapter of Isaiah, whatever opinion he may have of it from a purely intellectual point of view, he cannot fail, if he have any harmony of soul in him, to be stirred to a high emotional tone by its lofty strain of feel ing and grandeur of conception. MAUDSLEY, Physiologic de I Esprit, trad,
par Herzen,
p.

341.

90

CONCERNING INSPIRATION

place for truth between the negations a priori of naturalism,

and a mystic intemperance which would make
divine.

all

things

IV.

It

would be too bold perhaps
judgment.

to lay

down

positive

rules of mystic
inspiration
is

Who

can say when the men-

tal

energy begins to transcend the natural powers

tensified state

of the

mind

?

What

of conscious
ness,

critical signs

can be given of

the rational transcendence of works which are called

inspired?
that

On

this question

we take

a

ground opposed to

of the

vague and isolated mystics who have leaned

towards occultism.

The transcendency

of Genius has been

shown

to consist in the union of the
"

two apparently contrary
There
is

characteristics of

originality in

universality."

no

other transcendence that can be claimed for mystical books.

From

this point of view, the best part of mystical books,
is

and

the most manifestly inspired,

by no means the part which
is

has produced opinions and sects, that

to say, not that

which

has been most pleasing to certain minds of specially similar
tastes or interests
;

but

it

has been rather

all

the pages whose

religious esotericism accords with the best wills and best

judg

ments of all countries and
have once

all

times.

When the barriers
left

of sects

fallen, there is

nothing

but that Philosophia
is

perennis, which, in its various degrees,
divine Revelation.
lasted all others
self
is

the true, sole, and

The reason why mystic books have out because they show to man things in him

which he does not know about, and because they have

helped him more than any other books to gain knowledge of
these things.
"The

word of

God,"

says

Saint Paul,

"is

quick

and

STATE OF THE QUESTION
powerful, piercing

91
asunder of soul

even

to

the

dividing

and

l
body."

Under ordinary

conditions,

man
call

has only the
"

process of artificial duplication, which

we

reflection

"

whereby to learn himself.

But

let

us suppose for one
ours,

mo

ment a Consciousness which has engendered

and which

knows

it

as a

workman knows

his works, each of

whose

ele

ments he has counted and whose essential combinations he
has thought out.

By an
"

application, not figurative but real,

to this consciousness, the archetype of our

own, the Inspired

one would

know

himself

"

eminently

according to the word

which Theology applies to God himself; he would perceive
all

details

of his structural being
to

alive

and spiritual; he
to bring unity

would know how

compare them and how

into that multitude of actions and reactions which form
selves between the

them

world and us, and which are translated, in
"

the empirical state, into such distinct facts as
"

"

ideas,"

pleas
all

ures,"

needs,"

etc.

;

he would have an active sense of
last

the

possibilities of

Freedom, and at

understand for himself

that

Good which our
hope to our
"

love can never exhaust, and which gives
desires.
etc.
;

indefinite
"

Let us
if

call it

"

Inspiration,"

Faith,"

Suggestion,"

such a thing

is

possible,

if

the

consciousness

is

able to reach

such an alienation,

and to lay hold of
act, there
is

itself

and things

in such a representative

no higher psychological hypothesis that can be

made.
i

Heb.

iv.

12.

92

CONCERNING INSPIRATION

II.

IDENTITY OP REASON AND INSPIRATION
progress
of

I.

Continuous
Prophecy.

Reason:

Common-Sense,

Genius,

II.

Concerning Poetic Inspiration.

III.

The

aberrations of Mysticism in search of

its

own

transcendence.
is its act.

IV. Reason can be determined by nothing but

itself;

Unity

V. Inspiration communicates with Reason through evidence.
I.

However

it

may be
is

as to the

autonomy

of the mystic

consciousness, there
Continuous
progress
1

nevertheless a governing principle for
"that

every sort of intellectual privilege, namely,
u

common"

the various orders of knowing must agree the one

Prophecy?

with the

other."

That there should be any

real

opposition
spiration
is
it

between Common-Sense, Genius, and even In
cannot be admitted.

itself,

Whether

the thought

ordinary or so deeply reflective as to reach the mystical,
is

always the same

spirit,

capable on
if

its

highest side of
will,

touching the secrets of the Absolute,

you

but the

law of whose

life

is

to be constant to itself,
off its

and

not, under

any pretext, to shake

own

principles.
is

The mind

is

one

;

in

it

alone

Unity, and not in things.

From

the humblest suggestions of the

Common-Sense

to Ecstasy

itself, all

way
:

is

only a progressive manifestation of the
the
"

same essence
same."

always

same

"

adding

itself

"

to

the

Common-Sense
existence.

is

Season applying

itself to

purposes of

Nevertheless,
is

among
of

all

the attributes of

Com

mon-Sense there
seeing infinite

none more important than that of fore
thinking and feeling
"some

possibilities

IDENTITY OF REASON AND INSPIRATION
other thing
"

93

above and beyond

itself

and

its

humble prac

tical functions.

On

another side, Science, Poetry,

etc.,

are joined to the

ordinary state of consciousness without derogating from the
identity
telligible

of Reason, which, cateris paribus,
to
all.

renders

all

in

All

men cannot comprehend each
divide

other,

yet the

barriers

which

us

intellectually

are

only

empirical and might be

made

to disappear

by

training.

We
to
it

will venture this

paradox (under promise of returning

later in the course of this work), that if

us types of mental evolution or of forms of

we have among genius, we must
appears to

look for their origin in that part of
us as Indetermination
II.
itself, namely, in

man which
Freedom.

Of

all

the

kinds

of mental
greater

activity

which exceed
interest
concerning
Poetic In-

Common-Sense, none
than the one we

offers

psychological

call Poetry.

Poetic genius has

more than mere
If the
is
"

relations of

8 P iratiou -

resemblance to Inspiration.
it

Vates

"

declares that

also is

"

full of

God

"

it

because poetic

toil,

more than

any other purely intellectual

effort, lifts

the whole soul, and

puts the Reason to work with the Imagination.
loves

Poetry also

and seeks the Absolute, not for

its

moral sustenance

like Religion,

but to embody reflections of the Infinite and to
life

bring more intense
inspired,"

into its

Works.

It too has

"

to be

that

is,

to

go out from phenomena and to get into

the

first

cause, although in a

manner

different

from that of

the philosopher or the mystic.

The Poet has no more than

touched the Absolute in thought when, without penetrating
the least further, he hastens back to the world of

Time

;

but

94
his

CONCERNING INSPIRATION
imagination returns thence so heightened that he sees

the universe and the soul, under the glowing colors which
reality

could never inspire.
novelist,

Taine quotes

the opinion

of

Flaubert the

showing how nearly the Poetic In

spiration can approach certain moments of mystic self-aban

donment which we

shall shortly consider.
is

"

In hallucination
:

properly so called there
feel that

always something of terror

you

your personality escapes you, you think that you are dying. In the poetic vision, on the contrary, there is
something enters in and takes possession of
it

always a joy:
you.

But

in both

is

equally true that you are no longer
l

conscious where

you

are."

Poetic activity cannot endure

it is

soon over, exhausted

by the

effort to

represent both the Infinite and the actual.

Yet that

state

of consciousness contains information for us
;

which we must consider and remember
has access to the
that
access
spirit

the

"

vates

"

also

which possesses prophets, and through
is,
"Creator."

becomes Poet, that
between the two
is

Still,

the

differences
first

states

remain

essential,

and the

and chief

that the poet

makes

poetry, nothing more.
life.

But the Mystic goes

in search of the

Absolute to obtain

2

Mysticism begins with fear
vincible ruling power,
1

fear of

some

universal, in

and becomes
60.

later a desire for

union

De V Intelligence,

t. ii., p.

The psychological resemblances of Poetry and Mysticism and that which separates them, perhaps all that separates them,

2

are very close,
is faith.

The

poet is far from identifying himself with his creations as the mystic identifies himself with his symbols. may add that both states of consciousness are

We

found together in the case of the greatest mystics. Francis of Assisi loved nothing so much as the songs of the troubadours, and Theresa of Avila was
absorbed in the romances of Spanish chivalry, before either of them had entered upon the contemplative life.

IDENTITY OF REASON AND INSPIRATION
with that which so rules
it.

95

1

When
its

full-grown, the mystic

consciousness comprehends that

only point of contact
it

with the Infinite

is

in its

Freedom, and
side.

ceases

all

at

tempt to advance

on any other

Love, in the sense of
all else,

Goodness, Morality, Duty, takes precedence of
strives to enlist all the rest

and

of

man,

his senses, his intelli

gence, and

all,

towards
is

its

ends.

Love

aspires to
it

God, and
gifts

whatever soul
powerful,
it

moved by Love, be
its

poor in

or
to

does not abdicate

original rights.

Not

pure reason, nor even to the illuminations of Genius, does

Love

attribute
"

its

discoveries, but
"

only to

itself.

In the

Infinite the

Heart

alone can find sure and firm access,

by some mystical co-operation of Imagination and Freedom,
which, to say the
learn.
least,

would be of the greatest

interest to

III.

Inspiration

must not be considered
and quite
distinct

as an experience
real
life.

outside of Eeason

from our
the aberto
/*

The most dangerous and
rations of mysticism
i*

lasting of all

The aberra
tions of

arose from yielding
establish

inordinate

A

desire

i

to

11*11 the

the ^rchTit
own
trans-

fl

fact

of

some

cendence.

conscious activity oilier than Reason imparted by
the elect only.

God

to

The ancient Gnosis, many of whose elements have been
assimilated by Christianity,
is

one of the

first

examples of
is

the confusion which

ensues

when an attempt

made

to

create distinct faculties in order to pass
state of consciousness
1

from the ordinary

to the

knowledge of the Absolute.
M. A.
Reville in let

There

is

Prolegomenes a

an excellent chapter on this subject by I Histoire des Religions.

96

CONCERNING INSPIRATION
the

The Gnosis of
principles,

Valentinians
"soul,"

in

Egypt mentions

three

"body/

"spirit,"

as distinctly realized in

men,

whom

they seem thus

to divide into three species, not

reducible
"

among
that
is

themselves. 1

Such men

as

possess
to
" "

the

spirit,"

to say, Inspiration, are

vowed

Gnosis/
soul
"

to

Perfection.
"

Those who have merely the
life,"

are

suited for

political

and possessing an average Reason,

they can neither raise themselves to Gnosis nor be lost in
matter.

The
it

third species

seems to

have nothing to dis

tinguish

greatly from pure animality.

Not

to

mention Manichsean dualism, which has repeated
so often under so

itself in
is

religious history

many

forms,

it

much

to be regretted that

many

mystics, even such refined

and discriminating ones as the Victorins of the twelfth cen
tury,

and so many other
to

orthodox writers,
is

should

have

yielded

the same tendency, which

only restrictive of

2 pure Reason to no purpose.

In their best moments these
traditions

good minds understood, contrary to the

of the

times, that thoughts of all kinds can have but one formal
cause, namely, the
called
:

Word, Eeason,

Intellect,

whatever

it

is

but, individually, they were not strong

enough

to

grasp the whole truth at one blow.

We

find, therefore, in

more than one

of Saint Augustine s
is

books, traces of great hesitation
1

when he

about to pro-

le Gnostidsme Egyptien, par E. Amelineau. For example, such terms as the following must be condemned When the soul is wholly withdrawn into its innermost place, Reason is doomed to

Eaaai aur

2

"

:

silence.

The Reason
it
is

of the soul

sleeps

because, ignorant of the cause of

such happiness,

and

its purpose."

not capable of conceiving its origin, its present reality, (Hugucs de Saint- Victor, trad, par Haureau, pp. 135-142.)

IDENTITY OF REASON AND INSPIRATION

97

nounce upon the true principles of Inspiration.
goes so far as to assert, showing that his
fused, that the
exist

Once he

mind was con
evil

Holy

Spirit

and the Genius of

could

in

the Keason

of the

same man.

"The

prediction

of things to be fulfilled after the expiration of long periods
of time, examples of

which we meet in profane writings,
Perhaps the Genii,

has been

called

Divination.

Powers

of the air, have seen
clared.

from afar the things which they de
Angels,
to

Perhaps the Holy
in

whom God

shows

his

Word, and

whom

the past and future co-exist, have

imparted their knowledge of things to men.

Perhaps some

of them have received from the Holy Spirit enough natural
elevation of soul to enable them to perceive direct, with

out

angelic mediation,

the

causality of future

things, as

they are written

down
air

in the

bosom of the universe.
mysteries
all

Eor
super-

the powers of

the

understand these

naturally or not, according as

He who

has

things under
of the pro

Him
either

judges best.

But they were not worthy
sanctos angelos]
senses, or

phetic

revelation (per

which takes place

by means of the outer
J

by images impressed
the

on the

memory."

We

desired to give an example of

confusion into which the Eeason of the best of

men

is

thrown
last

when

it

fails

to conceive its
text,

own

essential unity.

The

words of the

however, bring out the true notion of

the mystic fact which

we

desire to

exhibit.

In the

intel

lectual life there are but variations of intensity,
1

which do

To

De Trinitate, 1. iv. c. xvii.: Oper. t. iii., p. 116, ed. Paris, 1586. the mind of Saint Augustine the distinction per sanctos angelos does not
;

change the substance of the revelation
that
is

it

is

only the mode of transmission

changed.

7

98

CONCERNING INSPIRATION

not in any way change the

human and
call
"

universal
"

Eeason.
Inspira

The transcendence which mystics
tion/
as

Prophecy,"

and so
as

forth,
will,

only augments the intellectual power,

much

you

but always identically, according to
its
life

the principles which are

and

law.

"What

is it is

that
its

distinguishes one intelligence from

another

if

it

not

power of representation
tous
in

alone, the

way more or
face

less felici

which each consciousness brings

to

face the

objects

on which the Judgment must be exercised?

Great

mystics, like great geniuses, have always been extraordinary

through power of Imagination.

If

we may say

that

it is

the

Reason

itself

which

is

exalted

to the state of

Inspiration,

there appears to us to be only one criterion; one in fact

most

difficult of application,

and

it

is

the one which would

serve (were such a thing possible) to
tinction of characters.

make

the moral dis

The standard

of moral requirements

may

vary for every conscience;

there are certain desires of

Progress which the whole world does
it is

not

experience, and

on

this side that reason can exceed herself.

The Abso
"finite,"

lute is present only in the Infinite;

but in us

all is

except Freedom.

IV. There must be no attempt to divorce Inspiration and
Reason.
Reason can be determined by nothing but itself: Unity is

It

would be better for man
and
moral

to

remain without that

intellectual

addition

which mystics
.

seek in the Absolute, better for

him

to so

on

working, as best he can with the innate means at
his

disposal, for

the

extension

of his

knowledge and

his

morals, than to risk the consequences of an imaginary In
spiration

which did not have the impregnable criterion of

IDENTITY OF REASON AND INSPIRATION
Evidence and Identity.
tible

99

Reason, like Life,

is

only suscep
to
line,

of inner augmentation

by

effects

immanent

their

proper

cause;
call

both

go on always in the same
is

and

what we

"progress,"

nothing but the development

of Identity.

The
is

alteration, of life is death, the alteration

of Reason

madness.

Mystic alienation, as we shall learn,

has no characteristics which contradict this rational notion
of Progress.

An
not

hypothesis in which Reason

is

not self-determined can

be made, not even for the definition of Inspiration.

Reason has an absolutely uniform development, and can only

grow

in fulness, that

is

to say, as

it

draws more intuitions or
it,

ideas into its
"

immutable Unity.
"

Progress, for

consists in

comprehending

more things, and constantly covering other
within
itself
its

portions of the knowable, while
"

there

is

no

same,"

no

"

other,"

but only Unity.
it is

In

progress, Rea

son does not move
are forever

:

things which, as images or ideas,

moving out

of confusion and division into unity.

By

constant renewal of

its

own proper
all

act,
is

Reason does noth
not
itself,

ing but dominate more and more

that

without

mingling anything of
"

itself

or

suffering
"

any change.
the
"

The
"

diverse
"

"

aspires to return to the

same,"

manifold

to the

one,"

and

this aspiration for unity,

which seems to

exist as

much

outside of us as in us, becomes our Reason so
it.

far as

we

are conscious of

But

is

it

by becoming con
it

scious of this unity of the world that
selves ?

we absorb

into our

Has

it

not existed without us and before

we were

?

The primordial unity of things both formal and the true Reason of which we bear some reflections

creative is in our con-

100
sciousness.

CONCERNING INSPIRATION
Could we succeed completely in reducing the
it

diverse to the One, and fixing
attain the Absolute,

there firmly,
be, like

we should
act pure.

and we should

God,

There

is
"

therefore but one

and the same Reason, whether
In what, then, does
this

we

call it

natural

"

or

"

divine."

substantial identity consist

if

not in the criterion which we

use for the purpose of admitting into the mind knowledge
of
all

kinds, innate or acquired, natural or mystical ?

We

do not mean to say by

this that all the

knowledge

not to be brought within the proportions of common-sense

must be

sacrificed,

nor that

all

esotericism

must be condemned.
act,

We
us

do not arrive at truth intuitively by one single

but

by a consensus of efforts or acts of
is

many kinds, which each of
That
this consensus of

more or

less
is

capable of making.

the whole soul

most

felicitously

accomplished in the mys
;

tic consciousness,

we

are permitted to believe

and he who
the most

believes

it

cannot

fail

to recognize in Mysticism

subjective of

our experiences and also the most beautiful.
us take the greatest care not to confound
of
all

But, at
this

least, let

esotericism, so pure
"

passion, with

that

subtle

self-will called

Fanaticism."

V.
inspiration

At each

step
is

Eeason

lives
is

by Evidence.
.

Where

evidence

lacking there

nothing to put in its

communicates with Reason place, through
evidence.
j

llie

moral energies of Faith have nothing

n common

w fth

the abuses of Occultism.

CONCERNING THE INTELLECTUAL TRANSCENDENCE

101

III.

CONCERNING THE INTELLECTUAL TRAN SCENDENCE CALLED INSPIRATION

I.

Inspiration according to Saint Paul.

II.

Theological obscurity regarding the nature of Inspiration.

III.

Unanimous sentiment which

attributes Inspiration

to a moral

transcendence followed by illumination of the Imagination.

IV. Mental mechanism of Inspiration.
I.

It

would be interesting

to gather the notion of Inspira

tion

from the consciousness of Prophets themselves, or from

the nearest possible point.
fore, is
"

The

following, there:

inspiration

a text from Saint Paul on the subject

according to Saint Paul
-

God hath

revealed them unto us by the Spirit, for the Spirit
things, yea, the deep things of the

searcheth

all

Absolute.

What man knoweth
tity of consciousness

the things of a

man

save through iden
so of the things of

with him?

Even

God knoweth no man but the

Spirit of
is

God.

Now

we

have received, not the Spirit which
Spirit

of the world, but the

which

is
.

of
.
.

God.

Spiritual things

we

say only to

spiritual souls.

Man

in his natural state receiveth not
. . .

the
is

things
to

of

the spirit of God.
all
things."

The
ii.

Spiritual

man

able

judge

(1

Cor.

10-15.)

We
for us

need look no further for the moment of transcendence when
the spirit begins to call itself
that at this point there
is
"

divine."

It is

enough

nothing but augment, and not a
to
"the

change from

"the

same"

other."

Indeed,

if this

text says anything,

it

says plainly that the Inspiration takes

place through the consciousness or

by assimilation, and that

the Absolute gives intimation of himself as the same to the

same, in like manner, the author expressly says, as

if in

the

102

CONCERNING INSPIRATION

empirical order two
ness.

men

could meet in a

common
natural

conscious
"

The terms

"

spiritual

man

"

and

"

man

used
is

by Saint Paul do not

at all intend to

convey that there

any mystic power of intuition distinct from the
This mental
is

spirit itself.

affinity

with the Absolute, which not every one
its

aware

of, is

not constitutive in

nature.
If any

We
man

must look
soever will
of

to

Freedom

to find its principles.

search his

own

heart, he will always find there secrets

the transcendence which enable us to pass from the state
of nature to
II.

God.
it is

Unfortunately

impossible to find in the Christian

Fathers a satisfactory theory of Inspiration; none of their
Theological obscurity re-

theories have sufficient breadth
...
.
.

and unity to give

.

.

.

gardingthe nature of In
spiration,

us philosophical satisiaction.

Upon

tins question

exegetical reasonings have interfered with the in

telligence

of

such minds as

Saint Augustine

s

and Saint

Thomas
If

s,

of which
to the

we may soon convince
"

ourselves.
for enlightenment

we go
the

Summa

"

Theologica

upon

mental mechanism of prophecy, how far do we
in the Aris

seem from the perfect continuity so admirable
totelian

thought carried out by Albertus Magnus and Saint

Thomas.
all

We

meet here an

ill-defined Inspiration scattered

along

the whole field

of

Knowledge; the

naturalistic

genius of Solomon being taken to be as
as the
is

much

a part of

it

most marvellous of

revelations.

1

Sometimes Prophecy

represented as a perfectly conscious act, and again as an
1

Summa

Theol.,

ii

a

ii

ae .

"

Q.

ckxi.,

a.

iii.

corp.

a.

Secundus gradus
sicnt dlcltur

Prophetise est
aliqua quse

cum

aliquis

ex interiori lumine illustratur ad
:

tamen non excedunt limites natnrnKn cngnitionis
etc."

cognoscendum de

Salomone,

(Tb. q. clxxiv. a.

ii.

ad.

3 um et

a. iii.,

corp.)

CONCERNING THE INTELLECTUAL TRANSCENDENCE 103
unconscious
intelligence
fact.
1

But

especially are the essential laws of

openly

violated.

We

are

told,

for

example,

that the intellectual act has been sometimes divided
several consciousnesses, one having received

among

from one side

the the

"

"

species

or images intended for the Revelation, while

work of

intellection

was reserved for another. 2

We

are

also told

that there are cases in which the general notions
intelligible species)

(called

by Saint Thomas

divinely pre

sented to the

mind

are

not abstracted from anything, not

even from the most secret pictures of the memory. 3
it

As

if

could be admitted that

God had

created abstractions, or
!

caused light to shine with no object to shine upon

It

was

in order not to disturb received interpretations of

such

matters that the author was guilty of contradictions.
1
"Prophetia
"

But

primo
Alio

et

principaliter consistit

in

cognitione."

(Q. clxxi.,

a. i.

,

corp. a.

)

modo mens Prophetae
nescientes

instruitur per instinctum quernpatiuntur."

dam

occultissimura quern

humance mentes

(16.

a.

v, corp. a.) 2 Per
"

pertinet ad naturalem facultatem

donuin prophetise confertur aliquid humanse menti supra id quod quantum ad utruinque, scilicet, et quantum ad
et

judicium per influxum luminis intellectualis
representationem rerum, qute
fit

per aliquas species.

quantum ad acceptionem seu Lumen autem intel.

.

.

ligibile quandoque quidem imprimitur menti humanse divinitus ad judicandum ea qua ab aliis vim sunt. ... Sic igitur patet quod prophetica revelatio

quandoque quidem fit per solam luminis influentiam (q. species de novo impressas vel aliter ordinatas."
8
"

:

quandoque autem per

clxxiii., a. 2, corp. art.)

Prophetica revelatio fit ... secundo secundum immixtionem intelligibilium specierum ... per hoc quod mens prophetse illustratur intelligibile lumine nut format ur intelligibilibus speciebus." (Ib. q. clxxiii., a. iii, corp. a.)

rerum similitudines divinitus menti prophetse quan doque quidem mediante sensu quandoque antem per formas imaginarias . five etiam imprimendo species intelligibiles ipsi menti, sicut patent de his
Reprscsentantur autem
. . .
.
.

qui accipiunt scientiam vel sapientiam infusam sicut Salomon et Apostoli. (15. a. 2, est autem quod manifestatio ventatis quce ft per corp. a. )

Manifestum
rerum."

nudam contemplationem
tudine corporalium

ipsius veritatis potlor est

quam

ilia

qua fit sub

simili-

(Q. clxxi v.,

a. 2,

corp. a.)

104
it

CONCERNING INSPIRATION
only necessary to consult the Theological
first

is

Christianity

of the
tine
s,

ages, or merely certain books of Saint

Augus

to

ascertain

how very

slight a basis the reasonings

rested

on for the notion of Inspiration, already

traditional

in the fifth century. 1

They were trying to apply a method

of literal criticism to those mystical narratives whose soul of

profound and eternal truth lay concealed under the naivetes
of the
letter.

They believed that by

so doing things purely

moral which appear only under the concentrated rays of the whole conscience could be reduced to a science, and they
"
"

entered on paths without issue.
III.

But, in order to avoid digression, the important fact

to be

remembered

is

that

when

Christian opinion can be
subtilities

unanimous
sentiment

disengaged from the
accords entirely with
.

of Exegesis,

it

utesl nsp^a tion to a moral transcendence foilowed by illun the

Le

livre des Egares,
.

and

_,

.

the Ircute

ttieoloqico

politico

or

Spinoza, upon

fmSnation.

2 the nature of the prophetic act.

We

may

derive

from them a

sort of universal definition of Inspiration resting
:

upon two points
1

1st, the

moral application of Reason to the
Abraham

It ia specially well to read the interpretation of the Vision of

by the oak of
three.

Mamre

(Gen.

xviii.).

In the

literal

sense of the apparition

there are three persons

who

several times

become one, and again separate into

We
It

can well imagine

how

this

must have confused Saint Augustine, and

how much
sense.

pains and trouble he would take to explain this passage in its literal would have been so simple could he have recognized in it a purely and (V. Lib. contr. Maxim., i., vi., 2 B. Oper., symbolical vision. subjective
t.

vi. p.

2

319, 320.) In this connection we cite the following passage from Spinoza
divine
faculty
revelations

"

:

Since the
it

Prophets saw into
appear that their

through

their
far
is

imagination,

would

of perception

went
it

beyond the
possible to

limits of the

understanding
greater

;

for,

with words and images

form

a

much
all

number of

ideas than with the principles
is founded."

and notions upon which

our natural knowledge

(Traile theol. polit., p. 33.)

CONCERNING THE INTELLECTUAL TRANSCENDENCE
Absolute;
2d, the production of

105
the

mystical symbols in

Imagination.

Every mystical

fact

worthy of attention
"

is

divisible into
"

two elements, the one
the second of which
"

imaginative/ the other
first,

rational,"

is

anterior to the

at least logically.

The active Intellect flows direct only upon the rational

faculty,

and causes

it to pass to

Act ; and through the rational
imaginative faculty.
1

faculty the
the true

efflux reaches the

This

is

conception

of

Prophecy."

Had

this

principle

been recognized,

much

serious confusion would have been

spared concerning the objectivity of mystic phenomena such
as voices, apparitions,

and

so forth,

from which the best of
Augustine and Saint

Christian minds,

among them

Saint

Thomas, have not been saved.

For the explanation
Intellect,

of

this

"effusion"

of the

divine

which

is

the essential fact of Inspiration,
to

Saint

Thomas had no need
Knowledge.

renounce his doctrine of natural

He

blames either

Averroes or Avicenna for

having placed the origin of our ideas, under various heads,
in the divine Intelligence
:

but did he

really believe

the

human
the

intellect so sufficient of itself that the increate light,

Word, could remain completely
Taking
at
its is

foreign to our rational

life ?

minimum
the

signification the

words of

Saint

John

"

:

That

true light of the

Word which
our Chris

lighteneth every
tian

man

that cometh into the

world"

Doctor might

easily deny that

human
to

reason needs any
its

transcendence

when applied

naturally

own

object,

which
1

is

to

know

the world and itself; but he could never
trad, dc

Maimonidc, Livre des Egarvs,

Munk

ii

e

p., ch. xxxvii. p.

298.

106

CONCERNING INSPIRATION

have succeeded in reducing the relations of our mind with

God, since such relations
ties

exist, to

anything

less

than

affini

of

origin.

The

increate Light

would necessarily
properly
"

re

main
is,

distinct
all

from
is

all

that

is

not

thought, that
either

from

that

thought by means of
it

species:"

in

some manner we do touch
or

at

an extreme point of
to

our individual existence,
sider
it,

we ought not even
so far as

con
are

for it

would have no existence

we

concerned.

IV.

There

is

in

Philosophy a current of uninterrupted

opinion in favor of the principle, which Averroes has estabMentaimechan- lished
ism of inspira
tion.
"

more

clearly

than

any one

else,

of the

Transcendence of the intellectual
"active Intellect"

power."

The

theories of the

(and of

all

Intellectualism

in general), of Idealism, of Ontologism, etc., notwithstanding

their

original

form,

are

only

variations

on the theme of
is

Transcendence.

In

any one of these systems there

all

the mysticism needed to explain Inspiration.

For

acts of natural

knowledge, the
in things
;

intelligible is at
its

our

disposition hidden

away

we draw from
all

sources

by a

series of operations,

which range
ideas.

the way from sen

sation to the
relieve us

most general

Mystic knowledge cannot
intelligible

from the necessity of abstracting the
;

from some sensible substratum

otherwise there would be an

absorption of our spirit in the divine nature.
in

In fact only
the intellect;
:

God

does the intelligible

make but one with

in

Him

being and knowing are not distinguishable
to be

but in
intelli

us the knowing has

made; that

is

to say,

our

gence, which pre-exists in a

state of undefined

possibility,

CONCERNING THE INTELLECTUAL TRANSCENDENCE
finds itself

107

determined by objects to be known,

by

"this"

or

"

that."

Mystic knowledge

differs

from experience by

its
it

conditions of inwardness;

withdrawn from
life

phenomena,

endeavors to bring the whole mental

within the soul.

There, under the marvellous action of Desire (or Grace)

our mind

is

written over with symbolical characters.
is

The

psychological law of intelligibility
intelligence

not broken, but our
all

reads in

itself,

and not in things,
"

that

it

brings back from

with God." its communings Not merely pure Eeason, nor the imagination by

itself,

but

the whole of the

mind

is

thus raised to the mystic

state.
it

How

ever

much

the rational faculty
or a

may grow,

alone

will never

make an

"Inspired"

"Prophet"

out of a scholar or

a philosopher.

The

fact of Inspiration consists precisely in

the proportional augmentation of the imaginative power and the Eeason. 1

When

the

imaginative
it

power dominates in
very good results

an intellectual temperament,
for

may produce

Knowing, even
;

if

combined with a Reason of moderate
light suc

capacity

it

would seem that such abundance of

ceeds in

making

clear to the consciousness the subtle details

or the profounder depths imperceptible to a stronger Eeason

with less imagination.

The mind

of the thinker or scholar

has juster vision, but the
things so

man

of strong

imagination sees

much more
is

vividly that he obtains a better intu-

1

Learn that Prophecy

an emanation from God which flows, through

the intermediary of the active Intellect, upon the rational Faculty first and then upon the imaginative Faculty it is the highest degree of a man, and the term of perfection to which the species may aspire anil this state is the
; ;

highest

perfection

of

the

imaginative

Faculty.

MAIMONIDE,

Livre des

Egares, ch. xxxvi.

108
ition of

CONCERNING INSPIRATION
them, at least with regard to certain subjects which
strict

do not require too
too prolonged.
1

an attention nor a logical sequence

Perhaps there
intellectual

is

actual

opposition

between these two
seldom found

temperaments, and in

fact they are

together.

This rare combination, and the plenitude of the
find

mental

life,

fulfilment

in

the

mystic

fact.

Reason,

directed towards the Absolute, not out of curiosity, but from

purest desire, calls forth an
tellect.

emanation of the active In

When we direct

the attention towards things to grasp

them

scientifically, intellectual light

comes to us slowly and
itself is

painfully, but the

emanation from the source

most

like the wide effulgence of daylight;

and the transports of

Desire, through which the divine flood reaches us, spreading

over the whole soul, the Imagination, as well as the Reason,

becomes
light to

all activity

;

the whole consciousness

is

flooded with

unknown

depths, under the gaze of love from which

nothing escapes.
ness
"

In

this state, intensity of vision

and sure-

of
"

judgment are equal;
brings back with

and the things which the
to ordinary

Seer

him when he returns

life

are not merely partial impressions and the separate
"

knowl
which

edge of

science

"

or
life,

"

poetry/

they are

truths

embrace the world,
consciousness.
1
"

conduct, and in one word, the whole

If the emanation

flows into the imaginative Faculty only, and

if

the

rational Faculty remains

behind, either on account of original
class

structure or

from

disuse, then is constituted the

diviners.

There come to men of
.

this class, even

derful visions

.

.

similar to

prophetic

men called men of the State, when they are awake, won visions. They delight much in
of
.

.

.

them, helieving that they have acquired des Egares, ch. xxxvii.)

all

sciences

without

study."

(Livre

EEASON AND THE DIVINE WOKD

109

It is plain, therefore, that the question of Inspiration can

not be put in these terms,
consciousness
abstraction
"

"

the mystic idea reaching the

without
for

passing

through

the

side

paths of
that in
that
is

;

we should thus seem
"

to forget

no case does the idea cease to be
to say, wholly in images. for the access of
senses,

representative,"

The mystic hypothesis opens a way
on the
side of the

God

to our minds, not

but at that rational summit where our consciousness
it

tends towards him as
gives
fact

were.

It is a

moral emotion, which

momentum

to the whole

mind;

as a consequence of this

(which we

shall

endeavor to condition as far as possible),

the mystical conception begins with the
agination, and, provided
interrupt,
it is

phenomena

of

im

nothing intervenes to disturb or

1 completed by an act of powerful intellection.

IV.
I.

KEASON AND THE DIVINE WORD
human Reason and
Union and the
the divine

Identity of

Word.

II.

Mystical conditions of the consciousness of Christ.

III.

The

"

hypostatic

spiritual

fact."

IV. The Personality.
I.

In

this

study of the

"

Word

incarnate,"

no encroach
is

ment of pure Reason on the domain of Theology
Every one
will agree that

involved.

we

are not overstepping human y Reasor
6

our proper limits when they
eclectic

reflect

with what
itself

word.

freedom theological Christianity

began by draw

ing from Greek philosophy, from mystical Eastern books,
1

Cf. Saint Augustine, Epist. cxii.
litt.,
1.

"

De
iv.

videndo Deo
St.

;"

Tract, de Genesi

ad
ii

xii.

;

Tract, de Trinitate,

1.

Th. Aquinas,

Summa

Theol.,

a
,

ii

e
,

q. clxxi-clxxiv.

110

CONCERNING INSPIRATION
reflect that it

from the Gnosis, and when they
these sources that it has taken

owes

it

to

form as a didactic matter,

a

"

science."

l

The notion of the
with the notion of

"incarnate
"

Word"

may be compared
"

Creation."

The

passage from the

Absolute to phenomena/
to the
Absolute,"

or, inversely,

"from

phenomena

is

almost the whole content of both the

one and the other.

The word

"

Creation

"

answers to the
fact,

mystery of Force, and the supreme mystic
answers to the mystery of Eeason.

the Christ,

The

first

would explain

how from one came

the manifold, and the second,

how

the

manifold returns to one.
rocal becoming,

Could we comprehend
to

this recip

we should no longer need

seek for the

origin of things nor for the origin of our mind.

Being

is

divided

in

Time and developed

in

Space, but by an op

posed act, Unity tends to repossess itself in the conscious
ness,

and

to

triumph over the division and
all

instability of

phenomena; and perhaps
as well as theological,
fact.
"A

questions of origin, rational
to this double

must be brought back
reason"

subsisting
all

is

the

phrase which Avould
Saint

answer at once

these

questions.

Thomas thus

brings the notion of the
into the identity

Word and
human

the notion of Eeason
"

of

the

consciousness

:

There

is

nothing which approaches so nearly the

Incarnation of the
. . .

Word/

as the union of spirit

and body,

and

this

re

semblance would be even more complete
1

if

the Spirit were

Theology consists of two elements, the one rational and derived from psy

chological observation and every free speculation of

human

genius, the other

mystical and taken from the special and symbolical experiences of Revealers and

Prophets.

REASON AND THE DIVINE WORD
one and the same for
persons.
all

111

men, as has been claimed by some

If

we accept

this hypothesis

we should only have
its

to say that Spirit

had renewed the act of

union with that
Intellectus,

which proceeds from human conception.

Quod

pra
It
is

existens hoc modo, de novo conceptui hominis uniatur.
in this
:

sense that

we

repeat

in

the creed

of

Saint

Athanasius
as

The

divinity and the man are one
flesh are
is

sole Christ,

Reason and the

one sole

man/
:

.

.

.

But never
could unite

theless this comparison
itself to

incomplete

the

Word

our nature in an identity much more wonderful
is

than that in which the spirit

united to the body

.

.

.

because the intellectual nature already participates in the

Word
II.

in

an eminent
is

1
identity"

There

no expression which represents more vividly
the union of transcendent

the

mystic

fact

Reason with

our consciousness

than

the

words of
is

Saint

^g

3
ofthe"

"

John,

"He

who hath

the Bride

the Bride-

of Christ,

groom

:

but the friend of the bridegroom standeth near and
greatly

rejoiceth

that

he

hears
"the

the

bridegroom

s

voice/

Divine Reason, here called
once, in Time,
its

Bride,"

has consummated

union with the

spirit of

man

;

the Christ,

therefore, according to this theological formula, is at once the

fulness of the intellectual

life

and of the mystical

life.

2

All

individual Revelations are only vibrations of the

Word, heard

like an echo in the multitude of prophetic consciences.
1

St.

Th. Aq. Summ. contra Gentiles,

1.

iv., c. xli.

2

Et per creaturam mutabilem cum admonemur ad veritatem

stabilera

dueimur, ubi vere discimus,

cum stamus

et

audimus eum

propter vocem sponsi, reddentes nos unde sumus.
xi. c. viii.

gaudio gaudemus AUGUSTINE, Liber Confess.

et

CONCERNING INSPIRATION

Next
the
"

let

us note the characteristic which, together with
"

hypostatic

union, constitutes almost the whole mystic

1 psychology of Christ.

Divine Eeasou having co-existed
first

with

all
s

the rest of consciousness from the

instant of

Christ

existence, none of the mystical phenomena which
" "

constitute or

accompany

Inspiration

properly so called,

could have occurred in his person.
rience that

Seers or prophets expe
call alienatio

which religious books themselves

mentis, because they pass into

possession of the Absolute
"active

exceptionally, by an extraordinary action of the
Intellect."

But

this very Intellect

was in Christ, of ordi

nary as well as

chief

right,

by virtue of the hypostatic

union;

for him, therefore,

there could be no occasion for

"alienation"

nor for any act of

transcendence. 2

Christ

was constantly and personally actuated by the Absolute.

Although that which philosophers
1

call

"

divine thought, pure

We have in view here of course only the human nature of Christ.
:

Theology
;

distinguishes in Christ

first,

divine science

;

second, the beatific vision

third,

infused science; fourth, natural or
xii.)

"acquired"

knowledge

(St.

Th. 3 e

p. q. ix.

The last only comes in the order of our inquiry. Moreover, Theology does not seem any less attentive to the distinction of natures in Christ than to the unity of Person, and, no doubt, does not desire to see these different sorts
of

knowledge mingled in an identity of consciousness

;

such identity would be
part, therefore, is defi

sufficient to destroy the

dogma

of the distinction.

Our

comprises all which could have entered into the human nitely appointed, consciousness of Christ; we shut out by these words even those attributes which lie half way between the divinity and man and which are suited only

and

it

to the hypothetical nature of angels.
2 We acknowledge that when we come to consider some of the gospel facts they seem to have all the marks of mystic alienation. How can the three temp tations in the desert, the apparition of angels in the garden of Olives, etc., be However, upon the precise point which we interpreted in an objective sense?

have under consideration we adhere to the theological theses as
cal difficulties did not exist.

if

these exegeti-

REASON AND THE DIVINE WORD
act
"

113

1 could not occur in his consciousness,

yet, at least, all

the incalculable

resources that the

offer for the elaboration of ideas

human imagination can and for the work of know

ing were effectively employed in Christ for the service of the

Word. 2
omnia
ilia

"Anima

Christi

per scientiam acquisitatam scivit
3
agentis."

quse possunt sciri per actionem intellectus
is

Our

intellectual progress
"

subject to limits which Christ

himself,

true

man,"

did not exceed. 4
the soul of Christ

The

"

"

surplus

of

divine Reason which

could not

utilize,

remained out of Time, and was active out of Time; and on
this

account Christ, being united to this Reason more per

sonally than any

man
it

ever was, also longed

more ardently

to

reunite himself to
"

utterly

and

to return again to pure Act.

If

you loved me you would

rejoice that I
. .
."

go to the Father,
"Father,

because

thou

my Father is greater than I. me with thine own self, with the
was."

glorify

glory which I had with

thee before the world
III.

5

The mystic problem
and human Reason
itself

of the

"

incarnate

Word

"

is

rarely stated in exact terms.
for pure

That
to

it

should be possible

define itself

and

The hypoand the
"

disengage
jections
distinct
:

from logical or physiological obit

that

should take consistency as the
"

spiritual fact
-"

and dominating

fact

"

of all others which

it

ought

to be, contains the

whole matter.
if it

How
with

can transcendent Reason,
s

exists, exist in

Time,

would seem more possible that originally they are the same Reason, and that they really
It
1

man

Reason?

S.

Th. 3 e

p. q. x., a. 1.

4 5

3.

Th.

q. x., a. 2, 3.

2 S.

Th.

q. ix., a. 3,

4

;

q. xii., a. 1, 2.

John

xiv.

28;

xvii. 5.

8 16. q. xii., a. 1.

8

114

CONCERNING INSPIRATION

meet, as some of the most opposed thinkers have believed,
in
"
"

the

world

of

ideas/

in
it

the

"

intelligible/

in

the

kingdom
seem
Spirit

of ends/

however

may

be called.

This would
"

to be the
"
"

meaning
is

of the gospel passages
is spirit

:

God
"I

is

;

That which
"

born of the Spirit
1

"

;

and

my

Father are one

;

etc.

The

genesis of Reason

is

logi

cally the same fact as the mystic genesis of Christ.

It is true
"

that Christian mysticism likes better to use the idea of
sonality"

Per

than that of

"Reason/
"

and

that, as "Person/
"

something more substantial than
introduced into the world by the
ever

power

or

"

"

faculty
;

is

Word

of

God

but which

way

it is

stated the question remains the same.
as

Per

sonality
agree,

and Reason,

both philosophy and jurisprudence

form in us

but one
unity
is

and the same attribute

;

the

problem of

man

s

just as
it

much
"

that of his Reason
"

as of his Personality.
"

Now

is

Reason

or

"

Personal

ity

precisely in which lies the
to

bond which joins the divine
;

Word

our phenomenal existence

it is

that which
it

makes
in

the unity in Christ of the Infinite and man, as

makes

us the identity of
lectual.
1

all

our inner experience, physical or
of the

intel

2

The presence
iv.

Word

in Christ should cause

John
"

24

;

iii.

6

;

x.

30.

2

Sicut anima rationalis et caro uinis est

homo

ita

Deus

et
"

homo unus

est

Christus."

we

find

(Symbolum Athanasii.) Theology uses the term hypostasis," but nothing more exact for the point in question than what is conveyed
"

by the term
pretation:

Person."

Here too

is

another text in support of an inter

ordinem temporis non dicitur in mysterio IncarSed secundum ordinem nationis aliquid medium inter Deum et hominem causalitatis ipsa anima est aliqualiter causa carnis uniendae filio Dei." (3 a p.,
"Secundum
. .
.
"

q. vi. a. 1.)

Si

comparemus

intellectum, qui spiritus dicitur, ad cteteras anima:

partes

.

.

.

intellectus est superior et dignior et

Deo

similior.
;

.

.

.

Et ideo
enim
est

unitum

est carni per

medium

intellectus

Verbum Dei

intellectus

quid animae purissimum, sed et Deus est

intellectus."

(16. 16., a. 2.)

REASON AND THE DIVINE WORD
no more
difficulty in the

115

view of Determinism than the pres
;

ence of Reason in each one of us

it

does not derogate any

more from the conditions of Experience.

We
get

are,

according to Kant, both subject and lawgiver of

an intelligible world with which pure Reason, in order to

moral inspiration, comes in contact for

less

than an

instant,

and whence

it

brings back only an indefinable sense
begins, where

of Freedom.

At
"

that point where morality
practical,"

Reason becomes
have

it

can, and indeed ought to
"

transcendence
act

over

pure
infinite

Reason.

Love

"

is

this

copulative

between
its

Reason

and
is

our Reason

enclosed in to

empirical relativity, and
really

the sole cause
"

of mystical facts

worthy

of

consideration.

Every
to

nature

has

the act proper to it;

...

the

act proper
is

man

is

Reason.

...

In

God

(act pure) there
is

only the
it

tendency natural to the Good, which
self.
. . .

to

communicate
in

Now,
Union
join
1

this

tendency

reaches
there

fulfilment

the

hypostatic
the
Infinite

only,

because

the
is

created
to
say,

and
in

in

one identity,

that

Personality."

IV.

The attempts which have been made

to

obtain a

wholly empirical notion of personality are an example of
the
little

worth psychology OJ can attribute to the exr J

The Personallt y-

planations of determinism.
to unicellular life in

Were we

to descend

order to understand personality,

it

is

to be feared that such a scale of individuation

would involve

much
1

confusion,

2

and

especially
a. 1.

is

it

to be feared lest

we

Summ.

Theol. p. Ill, q. 1
is

corp.

a.

2

No

difficulty

made,

at

present, in admitting, as original elements of

116

CONCERNING INSPIRATION
the illusion that at the two extremities, below in

come under
the
"

"

cell

and above

in

"

Season,"

there

is

only the slight

est possible distance to cross, while in reality there are

two

distinctions, each
1

the

most considerable that can be im

agined.

Personality, as

we

believe, eludes the explanation
it

of empiricism.

In

its

inner sense, even,

is

more out of
freedom for

our reach than

other
it

super-empirical

facts,

example, with which

would be a mistake

to

confound
"

it.
"

That concentration of attributes which we name
is

Person

both ideal and physical;

it is

quite as

much

the centre

for all the facts accomplished in us,

under the rule of laws

called

"

Determinism," as it is

for the events apparently so

different

for which we

feel

responsible.
little

The unity

of the

human composite

has been too

understood.
;

Character
is

and Life are not in us separable things

there

perhaps

nothing more certain and also nothing more inexplicable than
this inseparability of

two things which, in the sight of our con
Personal

sciousness at least, are totally opposed to each other.
ity is

not only the strictest unity which
;

is

empirically

known
sense

to us

it is

the very fact itself from which

we take our

germ of the ego and the aggregating and disaggregating iu a hundred ways. This is to disregard the fact that the most elementary of psychological states containing at once both a sensation from without and a reaction from within,
consciousness, absolutely detached states, without a

non-ego, which

may go on

contains also, in germ, the contrast of the ego and the non-ego.
Idees, Forces,
1
"

FOUILLEE,

t. ii.

p.

400.

Unless

we

are willing to attribute a supernatural origin to the

ego/
it

we

are required to explain

how

it

originates and from

what lower form

pro

ceeds."

(Ribot, Les maladies de la Personnalite, Introd. pp. 1, 2.)

Is there

truly no middle
its

supernatural origin

ground between the empirical explanation of Personality and We would rather wait for an answer until we ?
"
"

understand better what the word

supernatural

signifies.

REASON AND THE DIVINE WORD
of unity.

117
of

Can

it

be the result in the

human composite

physical events which have their
sity
?

own

succession and diver

1 Personality evidently precedes and dominates them.

On
unity,

another hand, must we have recourse to metaphysical

and go back again, with Plotinus, to simple-one

?

But we

this dizzy abstraction is

no longer anything for
as a
"

us, since
it

can neither experience
"idea."

"

it

fact

nor conceive
in

as an

We
"

ourselves

have

no

hesitation

adopting

"

Reason

as the real

and

logical foundation of Personality.
as

Whether we consider Reason

a

fact

of

which we are
it

empirically conscious, or whether

we choose

to reject

from

Life and the world as being a mystical
Infinite, in either
"

outflow from the

way
real

it

is

Reason which makes us the
are.

One

"

living and

which we

If

there be in us

anything which

attracts to itself the diverse
it if
it

and the unstable,

and which holds

only for a moment, outside the flux of
is

pure phenomena,

that which
as

we

call the

"

spiritual,"

and which we consider
of consciousness.

"dominating"

among
:

all

the facts
live
is

By Reason man
it

subsists

he does not

by
"

it

exclusively but

is

on account of Reason that he
is

man."

The

life
"

of animals

but a momentary consensus,

a

sum

of events,

informed

"

by nothing, and related to the
Reason, on the con
informs
"

ego simply as means of conservation.
trary, transcends the individual

and

"

it

with things

1 According to Empiricism "the personality is the result of two funda mental factors two habits, . the bodily senses and the memory."
. . . .
.

(Ribot,

ib. p.

77.)

Personality

is

only the ego, which in

its

turn

"

is

only the

permanent
better.

possibility of certain events under certain
"

nent possibility

is

simply a contradiction.

perma Even an hypothesis would be

conditions."

A

"

118

CONCERNING INSPIRATION
its

which concern neither
race.

own

preservation nor that of the

By

it

we

are linked to the Absolute.

Christian mysticism lives

upon symbols which
"

are only the

development of this idea

:

the apparition of the

Word
"

of
s

God

in the

human
is

conscience."

According to Bossuet

expression, Christ
real

nothing but this apparition, only
the
others."

more

and true than
is

all

l

In us, the culminating

fact

our personality.

It

is

all

we have

of

"

divine."

Should the light of history reveal to us some Personality
animated with more Reason and Will than appeared
the
theological thesis
in Jesus,

with

all its

consequences would be

compelled logically to transfer
1

itself to

such an One.
vi. elev.

Elevation sur

les

mysieres

:

x e semaine,

CHAPTER SECOND
SYMBOLISM
I.

MYSTICAL EXPRESSION
function consists in the mental production and the

I.

The mystic
Knowledge

moral application of symbols.
II.

exists only through analogy but a rational series of symbols.

:

even science

itself is

III.

Symbolism is mystical when it claims to effect communication of the ego and the non-ego in the totality of the consciousness.

IV.

Wherein mysticism
accomplishes.

claims

too

much, and what
and

it

really

V.

Qualities of mystic symbolism

:

simplicity
its

vivacity.

VI.

Concerning verbal
consciousness.

expression

inadequacy for the mystic

I.

"

RELIGION embraces
not scientific.

all knowledge

and

all

power
of the

which

is

The unity of

this vast field
is

unknowable comes from that unique force which
the source

The mystic
sists

of

its fertility

and
"

the great mother
J

of *

function conQ the
>

mental pro-

myth and

rite,

Analogy.

It is

well not to

ttenwraUpplication of

lose sight of these few lines, for there could

be no
fact.
life

symbols,
"

better definition of the mystic or

"

"

religious

Knowl

edge not scientific

"

is

a surplus of the intellectual

which we

cannot get by application of the categories of the understand
ing to the sensible intuitions, but which seems to be, none
the less, an object of universal desire.
1
"

Power not
t. siii.

"

scientific

J.

Darmesteter, Rev, philo. Jan. 1882,

p. 76.

120
is

SYMBOLISM
"

not properly the

supernatural,"

but
call
"

it

is

Freedom, and
"

the whole order of things which
to things

we

moral

as

opposed

which can be determined or measured empirically.

In

reality, the

two

series of facts are only the
:

double aspect
"

of one

and the same evolution
is

it is

always as

immediate

"

that the Absolute

posited in the Intelligence and in Free

dom,
take

at that indeterminate place in the soul
life,

where our ideas

and where they begin to change from simple repre

sentations

and assume form
initiative

as

"

desires

"

or

"

volitions."

The mystic
act is not

belongs to Freedom

;

but the religious
is

separable into parts, and the Absolute

posited

throughout the consciousness at the same instant.

We
we

reserve for subsequent study this purely moral tran

scendence which serves as the basis of mysticism.
shall give
"

At present

our exclusive consideration to the mental con

tent of

Prophecy,"
it,

and to the

facts of representation

which

accompany

without seeking

among
"

the mystic conditions
"

that which might be called the

determining

one, and with

out inquiring whether
the appeal of Love.

God becomes

present to the soul at

The

object which appears
is

distinctly to the mystic con
;

sciousness

a symbolic representation

and in

this sense it

may be

truly said that

Analogy

is

the unique force which

renders fertile the vast field of mysticism.

The content

of

symbols cannot be indicated better in a general way and their
value cannot be better shown than by saying that
"

the

sym
"

bols have a moral power equal to the power of their meaning.
It is because

they

really

create

all

our relations with the

Absolute that they express them truly.

Among

all

signs,

MYSTICAL EXPRESSION

121

none leaves in the depths of the consciousness so much of the
very thing signified.
II.

In order to understand the analogical character of
first

mystic symbols, we must
signs
life

remind ourselves how far the
mental
exists only
al oug ^ven og y
"

which intervene
an
actual

at every step of the

Knowledge

are

part

of

that

which they

science itself

represent.

is

but a

Though the

ideal

may be more
it

stable

and nearer

rational series of B y mbols -

to being than the real, yet

never reaches us under any but

the colors of reality and by the ways (winding though they

may

be)

which we

call

the

"

senses."

Analogy, that
"

is

to
"

say, the transference of the proper sense to the

figurative

sense,
"

is

the foundation of our mental

life.

When we
;

say

I

comprehend,"

we

see the

body of a thought
itself,

but the
itself in

"

Word,"

which

is

the thought

cannot posit

the consciousness (and therefore,

of course, cannot go out
it,

from

it)

ihe same that our Reason has discovered
silent,

higher

than Reason, stable,

incorporeal.
me"

No

one has ever

used the phrase
me"

"

that strikes

or

"

that idea occurs to

except by virtue of a relation
intellect

which Reason discovers

between the

and the sensory nature. 1

No

matter

how

close

the

relation

may
a

be,

it

already constitutes an

analogy.

Identity of being and thought exists only above
in
"

our

consciousness,

Reason which

conceives

things

otherwise than by
Scientific

representation."

knowing
itself

is

only one special use of the Imagi
is

nation.

In

Reason

an immanent

act,

always the

same

"

Unity."
1

Knowledge
Vithney,

is

specialized under the Reason,
p. 115.

La

vie

du lanyage,

122
according
to

SYMBOLISM
the
different

aspects

which our ideas take
Science itself lives
calls

when they meet

in the consciousness.
it

upon symbols, and though
what are they

gravely

them

"

facts/

but our events of

consciousness considered

in another order than that of logical connection or esthetic

conventions?

Science keeps

for

itself

those facts of con

sciousness only, whose sequence seems
free activity;

least

dependent on our
in the

do what

it

will

to retain these facts

understanding in the

state

of

concepts, images

must

be

used for them which are merely anthropomorphic substitutes
for

the

purely
to

mechanical

or

mathematical

terms

which
all

ought

be used.

Space, Action, Force,

etc.,

would

vanish very quickly were we to attempt to prove them by only admitting as exact that which
"

is

in itself/

without
scholar

image and

anterior
"

to

all

representations.
quantity,"

The

creates for himself
ity,

spectres of

symbols of qual
sees things

and these are the
1

means

with

which he

scientifically.

When we
of symbols
the

pass from pure science to philosophy, the usage
is

even

more manifest.

Without mentioning
which have

myths of Plato and the

fictions of Idealism,

seemed confined
tion

to Mysticism,

we quote

here the interpreta
positivist
el

which has been given to the most ancient
probably ever existed.
"

doctrine which has
of Democritus
is

The

&wXa

nothing else than the opinion which savages

have formed of the soul of inanimate things, carried into
1 Berkeley replied to Halley, who bantered him upon his Idealism, that mathemetician is also an idealist, his ultima ratio being in reality only
"

a

ghosts of departed quantities appearing
vanished."

when the terms
ch. xi. p. 581.)

that produced

them

(La

civilisation primitive,

t. i.

MYSTICAL EXPRESSION
another realm and adapted to the
explanation
of

123
thought

phenomena.

This similitude of doctrine

...

is

an historic

transmission, trace of which

may be

discerned in the times

when
bound

the religion of the Greeks and their philosophy were
together.

Democritus explains
that

this act of perception

by the hypothesis
images,
air,
.

every

object

projects

from

itself

et SeyXa,

which, assimilating

with the

surrounding

penetrate into the soul
.

and make the object perceptible.

.

The animism

of savages or the doctrine of a

phantom
become a

of things only needed transformation in order to
"

theory of ideas.
religious
straction

1

We

find

ourselves here very close to
it.

symbolism almost without knowing
arising

The ab
2

from concepts caused Fetishism

and a

more advanced stage
should we expect

of reflection gave birth to myths. that

Why
mystic

then,

the

most

essentially

thought, the conception of the Absolute, should not require
the same
efforts

of

symbolism and should not obey the
?

universal tendency to incarnate the ideal in the sensible

This law would not be changed in any way by the in
tellectual excellence of Inspiration.

The

inspired have always

been

"

Seers

"

and

it

has always been matter of the imagina

tion which has furnished the stuff of visions and prophecies.

Says Saint Augustine,
in the production of

"Not

only do images aid thought

the spiritual from the depths of the
3

mind, but also in cases of Prophecy/
said
state

It

may even be

that

there
intense
1

is

unanimity in defining
interior
t. i.

Prophecy as a
image having

of

consciousness, the

La

civilisation primitive,
t. ii.

p.

579.

2 It. 8

pp. 316, 320.

Epist.

ci.

124

SYMBOLISM

then acquired the same intensity as the images of direct
perception.
"

After Saint Augustine

it

may

suffice to

quote

Spinoza

:

We

knew

that which

may God
is,

assert without scruple that the Prophets

revealed to

them through
i

their imagi

nation only; that

through the intermediary of words or
fantastic."

images, either true or
III.
itself

All the images in which dialectic thought
"

clothes
"

do not properly bear the name of
is

symbols

if

we

Symbolism
itcial
to

compare them with the representations by which
the Absolute shines out in the consciousness.

h

e?

The

nicationofthe ego and the 6 B toSiit yo? the
consciousness.

term

"

"

symbolic knowledge *

has been rightly re-

serve(l for the efforts
.
.

which have been made to
,
,

penetrate into the unknowable.

.,

,

may be said, symbolism, whose matter was made up
it

Ancient mythology,

consisted of one vast
of such world-events

or such soul-events as had most deeply impressed the Greek
imagination.

Mars, Venus, Minerva, and so forth, on one

side,

Phrebus, Saturn, and Neptune, on the other, were simply
suggestive symbols, the latter objective representations, the

former representations of the feelings and passions.

But the

Greek genius, the

least mystic of

any we know, had but very

few symbols intended to unite the soul and the world in one
expression.

Very

little

thought was bestowed by

this

busy

and positive people upon the means by which they might
enter into possession of the Absolute.

Their theology was
artistic.

not mystic, nor even moral, but simply

It is proper to recall here that at the root of mysticism

there

is

nothing but a tendency to make the synthesis of
1

Traite theologico-politique,

t.

ii.

p. 32.

MYSTICAL EXPEESSION

125

the ego and the non-ego, of Determinism and Freedom, in the consciousness
itself.

It is

this

which accounts for the

exuberance of the mystic consciousness.
conscious naturally of the non-ego,
it

When we become
So we

it

gives us a shock, until
try

can be explained and
it

adapted to our desires.

to approach

in

some other way.

We

make
still

the supposition

that at the root of the non-ego there is

Consciousness

and Freedom, and we aspire
conciliation

to represent to ourselves their

by symbols whence are forcibly excluded every
of

appearance

antipathy

and contradiction.

The mystical
:

character of symbols ought to be thus denned

an

effort to

conceive the Absolute in an adequate representation,
as adequate to the Absolute,

not

which

is

unknowable, but as

adequate to our proper consciousness.
All other cases of symbolism consist in the clear interpreta
tion of a fact of consciousness or a

group of

facts of

con

sciousness; thus

so forth, according as

we have symbols we wish to

for art, for science,

and

represent the esthetic or

rational connection of our sensible intuitions.

Let us take
to say,

two examples of symbolism proper; that
cases of analogy

is

two
dis

whose terms are not

at the

minimum

tance from each other, as for scientific knowledge, but at

the
1

maximum. 1

There

is

an association of feelings and
for

Analogy proper consists in an association of images which we form

the purpose of perceiving a relation existing outside of us or in another portion of our consciousness. do not think that this is a departure from any of the

We

which have been given Analogy is a reasoning infers, from a given resemblance of certain points, a resemblance of other (Rabier, Logique, p. 127.) points." "Analogy is a process of mind which
best definitions of analogy
"

:

which

results

from the observation of relations to the reason of the
les fondements

relations,"

(Cournot, Essais sur

de nos connaissances,

t. i.

p. 95.)

126
perceptions which

SYMBOLISM

we

experience every year which bears the
"

name
first

of

"

springtime

;

the soft,

balmy

air,

perfumes, the

flowering

things, etc., all

constitute

outside of us a

state of

Nature and inside of us a

state of

consciousness

which cannot possibly find any other representation than by
symbols.

Yarious kinds of them have been created.

In an

order of facts far removed from the example we have taken,
in the moral order, the idea of Justice (with
tions
all

the associa

which the

susceptibilities

and the imagination can add)
less

becomes symbolical matter which takes on more or
sive forms, such as the Scales, etc.

expres

We

have taken as example
is

two cases of symbolism where the representation
suggestive and synthesizes a great number of
sciousness.

broadly

facts of

con

Now,

the esthetic or moral analogy which these

symbols evoke might be multiplied throughout a larger or
smaller extent of consciousness, according to the receptivity
of the subjects or the
bolic
signs,

more or

less

skilful choice of

sym

yet

it

would always remain

partial or local.
itself so

Not

in

any case does analogy ask to generalize

far

as to embrace the whole consciousness, and to set in

move

ment

all its

powers.

That

is

the special property of mystical
as

symbolism.

The mystic Absolute,

we have

seen, does not

withdraw to the heights of the mind, but takes possession
of the whole soul, and in that
rational Absolute.
is
its

distinction

from the

Without considering here the question
even attributing
gestion,
all

of Inspiration, and

facts of mystic experience to auto-sug
fail

no one can
character
of

to

recognize

in

these facts

the

double

spontaneity

and

mental

profusion.

MYSTICAL EXPRESSION
According to the word which Maimonides uses,
"

127
it

is

the

"

irruption

of the Absolute

into

the

consciousness
it

;

and

how

are

we

to understand this fact, if not in that

rouses

in the consciousness the

most quick and strenuous expres
feel the

sions

that

can be imagined, in order to see and

new
spirit
is

relation

which has just established

itself

between our

and the Absolute ?

The only truly mystic expression

found in the symbols which answer to this need, and which
effect

tend to

communication between the ego and the non-

ego in the consciousness.

IV.

We

must ask ourselves the question how

it is

possi

ble to create symbols of such

power of suggestion that they

bring, in one instant, iv f v
-i

all
ii

that a
i

man
ji

is
i

capable of

wherein mysticism claims too much; and

willing,

feeling,

and thinking

to the

horizon of

e

what

it

really
-

the consciousness.

Under what

influence

may

it

accom P 1IBhes
all

happen to us to come into possession
riches of morality, intelligence,

at

once of

the

and

sensibility

which

man

can have in himself, and to rejoice in them, in one and the

same act of

life,

Reason, and freedom
it

?

If
it

it

is

to that

which mysticism tends
in feebleness

would seem that
In
fact,

must soon end
not the
are, a

and contradiction.

we have

power

to appear to ourselves

anything but what we

series of events, a

stream of vicissitudes,

sometimes joyful
the

and sometimes
whole

sad.

And,

in fine, the consciousness of

man

at

once would seem as impossible a thing as
life

the co-existence of the whole of a

in

one single

mo

ment.

And
total

yet,

however

all this

may

be,

it

is

toward just such a

and

effectual

taking hold of the whole consciousness

128
that mysticism tends.
is,

SYMBOLISM

To

obtain possession of the Absolute

in all seriousness,

no other thing.

Religious writers, after experiencing

some symbolic

vision,

have given us definitions of
nation, Love, and
to meditative

God

so abounding in

Imagi

Reason
1

as to afford never ending delight

souls.

In reading them we understand the
confusion, which
distin

exuberance, exempt however from

guishes the state of soul in question.
1

The mystic
"

writer

Here

is

an example from the

"

Confessions of St.
?

Augustine"

:

"What

is it,

then, that I love
itself ?

when

I love

my God
it

I have tried to grasp
;

in

What is he whom my soul feels above my own intelligence, above all images of

I reach that seat of being I cannot fix my back helpless into the common thoughts. I have carried away nothing from this vision but a memory full of love, and as it were a regretful longing for things whose perfume is felt but which are out of reach. What is things
gaze,

but at the
fall

moment when

and I

It is not beauty of bodies, then, that I love, O my God, when I love you ? nor the glory which passes, nor the light which our eyes love it is not the varied harmony of sweet songs, nor the aroma of perfumes and sweet flowers, nor the voluptuous joys of carnal embraces. No, it is none of these that I love
it,
;

when

I love

my God

;

and yet in

this love I find a light,

an inner voice, a

perfume, a savor, an embrace of a kind which does not leave the inmost of myself. There in the depths of the soul glows something which is not in space
:

there a word

heard which has no syllables thence there breathes a perfume which no breezes waft away there food is always savored and never eaten
is
: :
-.

there are embraces which never ask to end.

God, you create Sometimes, a state of soul in me so extraordinary, and you fill me with so intimate a joy, Who shall understand, who that, if it lasted, all life would be diiferent.
. .
.

.

.

.

shall express

God ?

What

is

it

eyes of

my

soul and

make my

by moments heart beat with fear and love ?
that comes thus

to shine into the It is

something
;

quite other than myself, and for this reason I

am

frozen with terror

it

is

something identical with myself, and therefore I
;

am

kindled with

love."

1. vii. 17; 1. x. 6, 40; 1. xi. 9.) These are the (Augustine, Conf. 1. x. 7 very ultimate terms which Saint Augustine could find in which to give a We have designedly chosen our example from him, positive definition of God.

for he is not by temperament a mystic, and for this reason his attempts heighten the evidence that the religious fact tends, by virtue of a psychological law, to produce a plenitude of consciousness by the concourse of symbols and
love.

MYSTICAL EXPRESSION
has no dialectic
explanation to
possessed, but

129
the object

make regarding
it

by which he

is

seems to be his whole

consciousness exhaling itself in cries of the heart, in terms
as synthetic as language can furnish.

Esthetic images,

first

notions of Reason, personal remembrance, ardors of desire,

moral emotions
life

are all compressed into a few lines, like a
flight,

rushing forth, a soul eager to take instant

under
it

the mystic urgence, towards the Absolute which pierces

with look and grace.
It
is

almost superfluous to observe that the state of mystic

consciousness can be only imperfectly realized, because, in our
present state of existence, one need and one act suffice to

mo

nopolize the whole psychic activity.

This kind of experience
tentative."
1

can therefore of necessity be only
true that certain of the

"

It is quite

more elevated functions of the mind

(eloquence, poetry, etc.) can occupy a large extent of con
sciousness at the same

moment, and engage the
in

senses, the

imagination, the understanding

but the mystic prerogative goes

common movement; much further than this.
a
it

When we come
so high.

to really
all

comprehend

there

is

no ambition
fain

Far above

that conditions him,

man would

unite himself to the Absolute as Force and Necessity are

united in things, and as Freedom and Life are united in
himself,
stroke,

and
to

rest therein esthetically,

put an end, by one
tyranny
death,

all

intellectual

unrest and the
effort,

of the
at
least,

passions;
1

and as crowning
as

abolish

"Not

forgetting
calling."

all

that

though I had attained (the divine union), but I follow after, and is behind I press towards the mark for the prize of the high
iii.

(Philippians

12-14.)

9

130
morally.

SYMBOLISM

The mystic

effort

could find no better rendering
nihilistic

than as the exact opposite of the

tendency which
is

Hartmann speaks

of.

According to

him

there

no other

way

to reach
;

supreme
the

satisfaction except

by return to the
on the
contrary,
its

Unconscious

mystic

consciousness,

aspires above all things after fulness of Life,

and by
its

com-

munings with
powers.
rest

the Absolute
as

to

grow beyond

natural

Opposed

these

two methods may be, they
foundation
in

perhaps
:

upon an

identical

the

moral

nature
desire.

each betrays in equal degree the insatiable nature of

The mystic ambition,

it

is

true,

is

commonly

retained

within just bounds by Eeason. height of his consciousness
of
is

Man

understands that the

Freedom, and that the height
"
"

Freedom
farthest

is

in such acts of

disinterestedness
instinct.

as

remove

him

from the passive character of

He

also
is

understands that, though limited in every other way, there
this one place in his soul

which

is

open to access, and that
itself to

here only the Absolute can manifest

him, and the

bounds of
that
is,

his relativity be broadened.
"

True mysticism

a

"

disinterested

mysticism and one free from pas

sions

will turn all its attention this way.

It is very certain that the Absolute posits itself only

mor

ally in the consciousness, and that

it

is

not any of the ele

ments which represent

it

to us symbolically.

But we may

ask, is not that itself, this moral presence of the Absolute in

the consciousness, pure illusion?
"unconditioned"

For the Absolute

is

as

as it is unknowable.

When man

touches

the Absolute through morality he must not think that he

MYSTICAL EXPRESSION
finds there

131

some divine

"

stream/ as we say in our inabil

ity to give it

other expression, nor
"

must he think that the
If

Absolute in us becomes
the Absolute posits
so in a
"human"

conditioned/
the

we may

say that
it

itself in

human

consciousness,

does

manner, and without assuming anything

of the

human

itself.
"

Will some

insist that
is

to

come under the consciousness,
"

even morally,

to be

conditioned

?

There

is

not any

consciousness here in the sense of the objection.

Between

the intellectual intuition and the sensible intuition, which are

each produced by some actual exciting cause and could not
therefore be referred to the Absolute, there is a middle term

which

is

mystic symbolism.

An

analogical representation,

called out

by Desire, reaches us, and the Divine immutable

action accompanies this appearance so closely that to us they

seem
is

to be

but one fact
is

;

but the
it

effect of this divine action

only moral ; that

to say,

does not indicate any inherent
"

causality, like that
tion."

which we receive by means of

representa
Is

At the

root of symbols

we

perceive only ourselves.

the Absolute, then, posited in contradiction to himself?

No.
it is

In the relation which begins between God and the Soul,
not the Absolute which
"

is

determined," it is
is

ourselves

;

and
is

the principle of this determination

not a motion which

produced

in the

Immutable, but

it is

rather that the soul trans

ports itself into

the Immutable, in such

way

as it can,

by a

motion no longer in Space or Time,

an act of Freedom.

We

shall see that the symbols, saving for

what they deposit
sublime

of the
errors.

new and

the better in Freedom, are only

132

SYMBOLISM

V. The part of mystic symbols seems to be to give stable
equilibrium to the consciousness, as
Qualities of

much

as to furnish

it

with representations.
.

Never, in truth, does the
to

mystic symboiism aim:

consciousness so

much need
it

be

"

fixed

as in
Infinite.

plicity

and

vivacity.

^g momen ts when

aspires

to

the

We
and

shall learn that

during the mystic state the imaginative

affective life flow to the organic centres, in order that the
to

mind may give
greater than
it.

itself the

Object of

its

search,

which

is

The analogy

of the Infinite, too vast for the

consciousness to hold, threatens at every
its

moment

to overflow

bounds unless the imagination can
it
;

fix for itself signs in

which to circumscribe

by grace of these supremely chosen

signs, however, the representation is

made

to last, the con

sciousness

is

exalted without lapsing into incoherence, and

the mystic suggestion soars, free and pure, towards the Rea
son.
still
"

Man

s

minde could never be maintained

if

it

were

floting

up and downe

in this infinite deepe of shapeless
to

conceits.

They must be framed with her
her model.

some image ac
hath in some

cording to

The majesty

of

God

sort suffered itself to be circumscribed to corporall limits.

His supernaturall and
terrestriall
condition."

celestiall
J

Sacraments bear signs of our

It is this

which explains the simplicity of the symbolical

representations.

The

greatest of mystics have not given us
as those begot

any such surcharged and inextricable visions
ten of the Romantic genius.

In an imagination stimulated

by the

passions, images pile themselves up,

and events are
are exhausted.

complicated, until
1

the

passions

themselves
p.

Montaigne, Essais, Hachette,

321.

MYSTICAL EXPRESSION

133

Under the
few signs
its

action of mystic Desire, on the contrary, a very
suffice

to put the consciousness in

possession of

object,

but these few signs join to their extreme sim Let us take as an
"

plicity

an all-powerful suggestiveness.

example the vision given to the prophet Elijah.
said to

A

voice

him
:

:

Go

forth

and stand upon the mount before

the

Lord

and, behold, the

Lord passed by, and a

great

and strong wind rent the mountains and broke in pieces
the rocks before the

Lord

:

but the Lord was not in the

wind

;

and

after the

wind an earthquake, but the Lord was
fire,

not in the earthquake; and then a not in the
hearing
it

but the Lord was

fire;

and

after the fire a still small voice,
mantle."

and

Elijah wrapped his face in his

It

would

seem that the consciousness of the Prophet, in which the
Absolute was on
several symbols,

the verge of

manifestation, were trying

and that

it

could not succeed in making

God

appear by images of

the mightiest

phenomena; but

only in a symbol of extreme simplicity, and one leading to
self-withdrawal

and mystic intimacy,

could

the

soul

of

Elijah experience that mental plentitude which proclaims the

presence of God.

To

the simplicity of

its

figurative elements, mystic

sym

bolism adds the utmost vivacity of expression.
is

Symbolism

not mystic unless

it

fulfils

the two conditions of invoking
"

the Infinite in the

of the

heart."

mind and making him living or known Metaphysicians have more than once bor
"

rowed symbolical figures from the abstract sciences to repre
sent the Infinite
;

in this

way the

"

circle

has come to be
the

taken, a

little

too

insistently perhaps,

as

symbol

of

134
Eternity.
est
this
"Deus

SYMBOLISM
est

sphsera intelligibilis, cujus
l

centrum
of

ubique
kind
:

et circumferentia

nusquam."

But symbols

fail

in one condition necessary to the mystic

sym

bol

they are not vital in the consciousness, and are more
"

like the

verbal expression

"

which appeals directly to the

Intelligence only.

VI.

Symbolism

is

a synthetic expression, the inverse of
is

verbal expression, which
Concerning
verbal expres-

always more or less analytical.
of both
is

The common function
^ac ^s

to externalize the

adequacy for the mystic
consciousness,

of consciousness,
as

and

for this
.,

reason both
.
.

or

them partake

much

ol us as ol

things, as

much

of our life itself as of objective verity.

Objects enter

into ourselves,

and do not leave again, no matter what form

of expression has been chosen, until they are impregnated

with feeling, with Reason, with freedom.

There

is

said to

be a

"

life

of language of

"

but there

is also,

with greater rea

son, a

"life

Symbols."

Verbal expression transfers the

content of our consciousness with too great analytic deliber
ation for
it

to reach others entire

and

alive,

while symbols
"

are posited in the imagination as a concrete

whole,"

and

they

"appear."

Symbolical signs have the same
:

effect as
"

direct perceptions

as soon as they have been

"

seen

within,
fills

their psychic action takes hold of the feeling

and

the

consciousness with a crowd of images and emotions which
are attracted by the force of Analogy.

Expressions of this

kind

fulfil

the exigencies of our nature.

Too many complex

things exist, at once too extended and too indivisible to be
susceptible of presentation to the consciousness
1 St.

by

dialectic

Bonaventure, Itinerarium mentis ad Deum,

c. v.

MYSTICAL EXPRESSION
processes.

135

Perhaps also there are states of soul in which

we
see

are conscious of a need to think things, feel them, and

them

all at

the same time.

We revert
fain

to symbols, there

fore, to

make up for the inadequacy ments when we feel that we would
with the whole soul
state called
;

of language and at

mo

comprehend things

by their aid only can we attain the
which
is

"mystic"

the synthesis of the heart,
is

the Reason, and the

Senses, around an object which

so

perfect as tc transport our whole being.

Let us note also that a symbol
nor a logical group of images
rather suggests.
;

is

neither a direct image
it

it

does not represent, but

We

mean

to say that the

symbol

brings to

the horizon

of the consciousness an abundance of images
less

which have a more or

strong bond of analogy and which
"object."

become
remark

for
is

us

(though not so really) an

This
is

specially significant

when mystic symbolism
object and with
:

in

question.

Around the symbolic
it

it,

all

the

sentiments relating to

reach us

there

is

an outbreak of
If the

admiration, joy, sympathy, respect, desire, and so on.

soul could pass, at this instant, from the mystical state to

the purely critical,

it

would not have

to disclaim any of its

sentiments, we
its

feel
;

sure (we are speaking of mysticism in
the perplexity would be whether
is

purest sense)

more

of

objective verity than of itself
is

contained in the object which
it
"

so transporting.

But what does

matter

?

Philosophy

does not repudiate the Gospel phrase
is

The Kingdom of God

within

you."

Besides, this
If

is

not the exclusive province
the

of

mystic symbolism.
used,
in

we consider
moral

symbols most symbols
of

commonly

the

order,

the

136
"

SYMBOLISM
of
"

Labor,"

Justice,"

of

"

Freedom," etc.
"

;

in the esthetic
"

or real order, the symbols of
"

Life,"

the

Seasons,"

the

Elements/

what are they made of ?

Are they made out

of things, or out of us ?

Mysticism
sion which
is

lives

upon symbols;
it.

this

is

the only expres

proper to

That mystic verbal expression,
does not relate to pure morals,
is

the

"

Scriptures/

when

it

only the analytical translation of symbols; they have been

produced by an overshadowing of the Absolute positing
in the

itself

consciousness in a manner at
it,

once irresistible and

indeterminate, while

the Scripture, has thought them out.

Throughout
tal
"

religious history
"

symbolism appears like a men

irruption

of the Absolute which puts the seers into a

state of alienation.

Had
"

Isaiah had a dialectic conception of
a page of philosophy

the idea of

"

Holiness

we should have

on the subject, instead of the vision in the sixth chapter of
his
l
"Prophecies."

All this

is

a symbol, which was given

to the Prophet in an intense state of consciousness,

which

is

reproduced in ours in
this
is

its

quiescent state

when we read over
Trinity,

wonderful page.

The mystic notion of the
all

which

a symbol psychological above

others, doubtless could
;

never have come into the
1
"

human

consciousness dialectically

I

saw the Lord

filled

the temple.

sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train At the highest degree, below God, stood two seraphins
: ;

each one had six wings
covered his
feet,

with twain he covered the face of God, with twain he

cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy,
I,

and they held themselves in space with other twain. And one Then said is the Lord of hosts.
;

Woe

is

me

!

not to have spoken

because I
:

am a man

of unclean

lips,

and

I

for mine eyes have seen the King, the dwell in the midst of an unclean people Lord of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphins unto me having a live coal in his hand which he had taken from off the altar, and he laid it upon my mouth."

(Isaiah

vi.

1-17.)

MYSTIC INTUITION
the vision of

137

Abraham
it

as given in the eighteenth chapter of
it

Genesis was, as
consciousness.
1

were, the first sketch of

in the mystic

Religious dogmas,

it

may be
could

said, are

only the dialectical

development of symbols which have dawned in the souls of
the great mystics.

How

it

be otherwise, there being

no more direct relation possible between our mind and the
Absolute
?

II.

MYSTIC INTUITION

I.

Mystic Intuition enables us to perceive the facts of Freedom through and above the empirical consciousness, in a manner
the inverse of Abstraction.

II.

The mystic consciousness sees only itself covered over with the symbols which make apparent its tendencies towards the Infinite. The mystic
act
is

III.

incommunicable.

Mystic privilege.

IV.

Law

of symbolic communication.

V. The mystic symbols as mental object.
I.

We
is

have seen that mystic action
put in

is

twofold

:

the imagi

nation

motion to produce symbols, and afterwards
to
it.

Reason proceeds to exercise the intuition proper
1
"

And

the Lord appeared unto

Abraham

as he sat in the door of his house
lo,

in the heat of the day.

And he

lifted

up his eyes and looked, and

three

men

and rising up he bowed himself down to adore them, and said, Lord, if now I have found favor in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from Let a little water, I thy servant. pray you, be fetched to wash your feet (of all three), and rest yourselves under the tree. And they answered, So do as thou hast said. And after had eaten said to Abraham, Where is
stood hy
:

him

.

.

.

.

.

.

Sarah thy wife

?

.

.

.

And
.
.

they he said, Behold in the house.
.

they

...

I will return

.

and Sarah shall have a son.

.

.

And (the Lord) said, And they went away
:

towards Sodom, and Abraham remained in the presence of the Lord and he drew near again to say to him (in the ruin of Sodom), Wilt thou also destroy
the righteous with the
wicked?"
all

(Gen.

xviii.

1-23).

This narration

is

in

comprehensible according to

the ordinary laws of intelligibility.

It is a

case of mystic alienation, a symbolical vision of the Divinity in three persons.

138
There
is

SYMBOLISM
never any breach of the intellectual law.
Before
is

the rational
Mystic intuius
to perceive the facts of

work begins, a sum

of representations

always

presented to the consciousness;

and we could no
in the void than

more conceive forms sculptured
an ac ^
^ intellection

throuTand
ra

without such presentation of

piricai

c<m-

mental images.
Evolution

sciousness in a manner the inverse of Ab-

It appears, then, that the mystic
in

begins

the

mind by

"species."

*

or

images, produced under a moral influence, which

we

reserve for

future explanations
"

;

these images are the

analogical representations, or

symbols."

Reason, then, works upon the symbols, but the matter to

be abstracted from them must not be confounded with any
other kind of intellectual
that

product.

We

must not forget
Knowledge,
"

we have

here, not a question of objective
direct

in the

empirical and

sense of the
its

word

object,"

but of mystic analogy, having for
tivate the

purpose to objec-

Absolute in another plane of the consciousness,

and one much more intimate and deep than the exterior
world.

Things oppose themselves to the ego only
is

;

the

Absolute
it

opposed to the ego,
it

it

is

true

:

but the more
itself

becomes apparent, the more

tends to merge
inverse of

with

the

ego

in

a
call

process exactly the
"

Abstraction.
all

"What

we

"

concepts

or

"

ideas,"

and

kinds of

abstraction, to whatever degree they

may be

carried, could

not equal
poses.

all

that

the

Reason needs for

its

mystic pur

It is not an act of intellection

which posits in the

consciousness
best

the

special

effects

which we define to the

of our

ability

as

"

our sense of religious relations
intellection is wholly con-

with the

Infinite."

The mystic

MYSTIC INTUITION
tained in the words of Pascal
"

139
the
heart"

:

God known of

The work

of intellection

is

upon the symbols, but
"of

its

in

communicable discoveries are expressed
in

the heart/

Freedom.

What

are the appreciable results of this symbolic presence

of the Absolute in the consciousness ?

What do we
"

acquire
"

from

it ?

If the results were

"

ideas

or

"

concepts

we

might

pronounce the content to
speaking there
is

be empirical or rational.
"mystic

But

strictly

no such thing as
"

knowledge."

The experience

of

"

seers

reduces

itself

to

the same elements of representation as our

common

experi
"

ence, and God does not create for their use any new
"

cate

gory
this is

to unify the understanding to a higher degree.

But
only

very far from saying

that the mystic

act

is

illusory.

By

the ordinary mental species, logical, scientific,

and esthetic communications are made between the world

and ourselves, but the mystic symbols aid us to
synthesis
in

effect

a

which the

consciousness aspires to
all

feel

that

unity which dominates

the

others,
etc.

that

creative

Love

which absorbs

in itself Science, Art,
it

After these efforts

of the mystic consciousness,

cannot be said, the least in

the world, that Eeason has gained any more ground in the

Unknowable; but the conditions which

are established in

us during this moral and analogical research after the
lute are very remarkable
:

Abso

they tend to impart the greatest

inward vigor
acter,

to the will, to the

moral principles, to the char

and

to inspire us with a realizing sense of the Infinite.

The
in a

representative action of

symbols culminates, therefore,
:

moral presence of the Absolute

and

it

reinforces, in

140

SYMBOLISM
qualities

an incomparable manner, the natural powers and the
proper to the subject.

Although the Absolute
only,

posits itself in us
"

"

"

symbolically
"

and

in such

manner that things

known

expressible

in concepts

do not properly

result, there remain, however,
"

other things, to which Pascal gave the appellation
of Charity/

the Eule

and which he held higher than any other thing,
itself.

than even existence
of science,
is

Knowledge,

in the restrictive sense

perhaps

less ourselves

than the other elements of

the consciousness.

The

practical value, for the

mass of men,

of the intuitions of Taste, moral pleasure, and certain precious
reserves of character, far surpasses that of pure science.
not, moreover, only in these conditions of the ego that
find

Is

it

we can

an answer to the question There
is

"

Is life

worth living

"

?

II.

so little objective representation in symbols

that the logic of symbolism requires, to the contrary, that
Themvstic
consciousness
sees only itself

Reason

shall detach itself
.

from apparent

covered over

The subject
Absolute
,

enters into
if
,

nearer

communion with

...

species.

mf the *3GS make
apparent tendencies towards the
its

he has not allowed himself to be
.

captivated by the perception oi the images themselves,

i

.

and when he has reserved himself

entirely

for the impressions of another nature
is

which the mystic act
penetrates, under the

to produce.

The deeper the Soul
its

suggestive action of Symbols, into

own

veritable essence,
it

which

is

pure Reason and Freedom, the more
approximately, of the
aspires to take on.

becomes

capable,

attributes of

the Absolute

which

it

But

since in that there is

no

"

representation,"

where

is

the secret of the mystic analogy, and

upon what foundation

MYSTIC INTUITION
does the construction of symbols rest
?

141
It is this.

Every

thing affecting the ego

is

posited in the
"When

consciousness by
are
of

means

of

representations.

such affections

organic or moral origin, and nothing outside the conscious
ness answers to them,

we

exert ourselves to represent

them

menially, and

not

merely

by sounds and gestures.

The

images proper are themselves entirely lacking,

and therefore

we ask

the aid of extraneous

imaginative species.

Hence

arises a case of very special analogy,

having for terms, on

one side, the subjective consciousness (the intelligible ego,
free

and

alive),

striving to

express

itself,

and on the other
non-ego,

side, the objective or reflective consciousness of the

lending

its

representation to the former.

1

Mystics, in this

respect, are not better off than the average

man who

lacks

the terms to define directly the good or the evil with which

he

feels

himself organically affected.

Mystics are aware in

themselves of certain tendencies which are excessive, accord

ing to the calculations of determinism (such as duty, instinct
Kant speaks in the following terms of this opposition of the intelligible ego and the empirical ego, which it is important not to lose sight of for a This distinction of the moment, if we wish to understand the mystic act. sensible and the empirical world applies to man himself. Empirically he
"

1

knows
which

his natnre only as

phenomenon, that

his consciousness is aifected.

is to say, according to the way in But, at the same time, above this colloca

tion of pure

to admit something else
its

phenomena which he finds in his proper subjectivity, he is forced which serves them for basis, viz. his ego, whatever
:

intimate nature

may

be

;

and consequently he
world, in

is

bound

to consider himself

as

partaking

of the

sensible

regard to the mere

perception

of

phenomena, and receptivity of sensations, and as partaking of the intelligible world, in regard to that which belongs to him as pure activity (that is to say,
as to that

senses), of

which reaches the consciousness immediately, and not through the which he knows nothing more." (Metaphysics of Morals, pp.

106, 107.)

142

SYMBOLISM

of the better, consciousness of pure Act and Being, etc.), and

which, taken altogether,
or sense
;

may be

called the

"

"

religious

fact

but nothing empirical answering to these tenden
place
in

cies, in spite of their distinct

the consciousness,

each one seeks to illuminate for himself the Absolute by
analogies proportioned to the need he feels to complete these

natural pre-notions of the
subjectivity (do

Infinite.

However, the organic
it

we even need

to say

?)

could not for any

length of time be compared with that of mystic impressions.

Who

can measure the distance between the senses

of the

body, where meet, more or

less obscurely, the organic reflexes, feel the dis

and that portion of the consciousness where we
tinct appeal of

Duty ?
and distinguish
from

When we
"facts

wish to sound to their depths these feelings, or
their Object
all

of

Season,"

the

rest

which

is

posited in

Time and Space, we may do our
meaning ; we

best to intellectualize our images, and interrogate ourselves

by words of deepest
the bottom.

interior

shall never reach

The very

efforts

we make

serve only to dilute
still

the essence of all

we

desire to grasp,

and we tend

nearer

to the indeterminate

and the unconscious.

The mystic con
itself in

sciousness, on the contrary, without exhausting
stractions,

ab

makes naive

efforts to

imagine the Absolute, under
;

the safeguard of arming itself with only the purest desire

and

in

our opinion there
"

is

no better method to have the

assurance of
III.

seeing

God."

The symbols which

arise

in

the

consciousness

of

Prophets could not be effective for every consciousness (unless
there were

some

identical

and universal supernatural action,

MYSTIC INTUITION

143

which we cannot at present consider).
sentations there are none

Of

all

mental repre

more

rebellious of fixedness

and

of being generalized as types.

Through Freedom
.

we

arrive at the Absolute,

and every time that we

,

The mystic actisincommumcabie. Mystic privilege -

are in a condition to transport ourselves thither

by an act of disinterestedness, a distinct and original sym
bolic creation will take place.

Symbols have no

efficiency

unless they are given to the
alone.

mind from within and

for

it

The symbols which
or painting

are crystallized in

the state of

narrative
sciences

can

only

live

again
fact

in

other

con

by reproduction of the mystic

which originated

them.

There

is

no greater danger for mysticism than the tendency
symbols to become objects
;

to allow the

and by

this road

it

soon degenerates into fanaticism.
cant value except at the

Symbols have no
the Absolute
is

signifi

moment when
;

posited

by
are

their

means

in the consciousness
lifeless

at all other times

they

very person who has once drawn mystic enthusiasm from them. With even more rea

empty and

to the

son they must not be invested with the same customary
function as signs of language.
too

We

cannot remind ourselves
relations

often that the mystic fact consists in

between

the Absolute and

Freedom which

are incommunicable.

We

can never know, for example, what was the state of con
sciousness of

some

citizen

of the antique world

when he

yielded himself without reserve to the inspired suggestions of

the

"sacred

Fire/

or

some other image

calling out the

Infinite.

The most
is

perfect notion of

God which

has ever
its

been conceived

"the

Being forever communicating

144

SYMBOLISM
essence
"

own

l

:

by

it

we have

authority to believe that the

symbols under which
are

God

really gives himself,

and which

more

interior than

any other sort of mental image,
consciousness.
therefore, to

may

arise in every sincere

human

It

would be
exterior

inconsistent,

wish to

stamp

certain

symbols

with the obligatory

character of
is

precepts

of the moral law.

Both of them,

it

true, tend

towards putting us into relation with the Absolute, but upon

what

different

grounds

!

The moral law has been fused with
it

the Reason, and from this identity

holds

its

universal,

a

priori value.

Symbols, however, come into the Consciousness
fulfil

a posteriori only, in order to

the relations which have
in individual

commenced between Freedom and the Absolute,
conditions of temperament and imagination.

Since

we have no

common measure but

Reason,

it

does not seem plain whence

the mystic symbols would acquire any universal obligatory
value.

Though we should
its

talk of

"

higher evidence/

the

very fact of

being higher excludes the

universality in

separable from the idea of obligation and of Moral law.

We

must

believe a priori that the symbols remain enclosed in the

strictest subjectivity.

Would

not any attempt to

make them

obligatory be, at the
fact,

same time, an attempt upon the mystic
"

M hich

is

only

sacred
? 2

"

so far as

it

is

"

secret

"

and

appertaining to Freedom
"

1 Ipsa natura Dei est essentia bonitatis boni ut se aliis communicet." (Summa Theol. 2
"We

Pertinet autem ad rationem
p. Hi., q.
i.,

a. 1.)

work, of the things themselves true and invariable which are presented to the consciousness under such infi They constitute that source of pure activity and nitely free representations.

shall treat, in the third part of this

Freedom which we

call

the Personality, where dwells the Absolute exclusively.

MYSTIC INTUITION
It is permissible to say, perhaps,

145

that morality leads to

Mysticism, but

if

we say

it,

by what variety of symbols
is

must we recognize that the Absolute
fest itself to

enabled to mani
positivist,

Freedom

?

Who

knows whether the

least

trammelled by spiritual doctrines, does not pass through

states of consciousness in

which the Absolute appears to him

under the very

least

symbolic co-efficient, that his will
;

may be
"

led to non-rational acts of disinterestedness

and who can say
of the heart
in

that

God

does not

make

himself

"

known

paths where we should least dream of meeting him?

The

mystic species which serve as symbols of the Absolute are

sunk deep

in the unconscious,

and leave

it

only at the desired

moment, strange and vivid
the Vision of the
least
all
"

as the species of the
will often

dream
fruitful

:

but

Heart

"

be most

when

looked
is

for.

These spontaneous apparitions, formed of

that

subtlest in the Imagination,

more

interior perhaps

than the visions of the dream or of ecstasy, leave nothing more
positive in the

memory than

that

we have been

lifted

morally

above ourselves and loosed for one moment from the Deter

minism of the
that by of

instincts

;

but we know that they have been, and
in the

them the Absolute has taken ground

Freedom

men

least apparently religious, as well as in consciences

avowedly devoted to the research of mystic phenomena.
high and sincere morality should be
tion, to place the
sufficient,

A
is

without excep

Heart

in contact

with God.

There

a

power

as intuitive as faith, as unitive of our Spirit with the

Infinite as faith could be.

This

is

the power of Good-Faith.

It

was of

this intuition of the heart that Pascal
:

spoke when
"

he answered himself with these words of Jesus
10

Be com-

146
forted.
!
me."

SYMBOLISM
Hadst thou not found me thou wouldest not seek

IV. In this study of ours, which

is

purely psychological,

we have no
Lawofsymbolic

desire to claim or to
ileges of Inspiration.

deny

to

any doctrine the priv-

Besides,

we would observe
is

com

munication.

once more

that the mystic object

only an en

semble of relations between the Absolute and Freedom.
records of the
else
:

The

purest Christian mysticism contain nothing
is

the fundamental symbol of the Trinity, for example,

the divine essence and the essence of our soul both fused in

one embracing pattern

2
;

and

all

other symbols are but a

system of similar relationships, as impenetrable to criticism
as the consciousness of the symbolical representations

which

have served as their basis.
Still less is it

our province to develop the question of

how

an ensemble of symbols born in the individual consciousness
of the Prophet or Seer should

come

to

assume the proportions
itself as

of a social fact or

"

a

Religion."

Taking the matter
it is

an accomplished
that Inspiration
called
"

fact,
is

without discussion,

our opinion

to Faith what the states of consciousness

"intense,"

are to the states of consciousness called
latter

weak."

In the same way that the

may be

regarded

as reflections of the former, the Absolute (according to the

theological thesis)

is

posited in the general consciousness

by

means of the same symbols which have originated
dinary
1

in extraor

ways in the prophetic consciousness.
Jesus, p. 544.

The whole

Le Mystere de

2

A

created Trinity which

God

effects

in our souls represents to us the
les
e e Mysteres, 2 semaine, 6 elev.

increate Trinity.

BOSSUET, Elevations sur

MYSTIC INTUITION
originality of
tion.

147

symbols therefore goes back to the Inspira

Faith, then, does nothing but confide itself to those

primitive symbols, or rather to those

who

present them as

from God.
Properly speaking there
education
"

is

no

such thing as

"mystic

;

there

is

nothing but moral education.

We
is

may

exhibit the symbols to others, but until the Absolute

posited in the

consciousness, beneath

all

the symbols, the

mystic intuition has

not taken place

and the symbolical
It
will

presentment remains
fatigue to the
sciences
it

uncomprehended.
if

become a

mind

persisted in, and to hesitating con

might become an obsession of images.
efforts to

Desperate

and repeated

grasp at

all

cost the representative

value of religious symbols have more than once brought on
intellectual deterioration.

If there are fixed symbols they

must not be counter
lished
;

to the principle
is

which we have just estab

the mystic intuition

always essentially conditioned

by the moral dispositions of the subject.
education,"

The term

"

mystic
limits of

therefore,

must be understood within the
:

the twofold condition

first,

the development of the moral
first place,

aptitudes of the subject in the
natural means
tion of any
to
;

and by the most

second, an infinite discretion in the presenta
It appertains only to
will

symbol whatever.
to

God and
relig

Freedom
its

meet in an embrace which

be more

ious if

pure and perfect subjectivity has remained un

troubled.

V.

The character

of

"

divine efflux

"

which certain writers

have wrongly assigned to the intellectual vision should have
been reserved for the mystic intuition.

148

SYMBOLISM
use natural signs and ordinary mental expres

When we
sions,

we

are referring

them

to

objects

already seen, and
"to

The mystic symbols as mental object.
.
. .

which we need only go to the mind
a ga j n
."

find

Words warn us

to

look for things
can
1

and that person alone teaches

me something who

show

my

eyes or
is
it

my
its

thought something to be
present
?

learned."

But who

who can

to

the mystic conscious
field of

ness the object of

search

The
:

knowing may

be divided into three regions
the ideas of Reason, and
of
all

the realities of the world,
lies

which

beyond, the object

the mystic

s

search.

Saint

Augustine takes for argu
are not of any objective

ment that the ideas of the Reason

value for this world, and believes that he can thus found
his
"

Ontology/

At the present day
.

this logical process

seems to be rather doubtful.
be approached
thought, the
it is

If there be anything not to
it is

empirically, let us not say that

pure

God

of the idealists, but rather let us say that

the infinite Being with which the mystic Consciousness

aspires to

come

into relations of all kinds

by the power of

Love.

"

What
"is

I

learn,"

says Saint Augustine in the

same

connection,

not from the
it

man who
is

speaks to

me and
me

whose knowledge I acquire ;
to seek,

what

his

words induce

and

for

which I must go direct to that Verity which
and ask.

reigns in

my understanding,
who

He whom we
is

go thus
dwells in
of God.

to consult,

and who gives knowledge,
is

Christ

who

the inner man, and

the eternal

Wisdom

Every rational man,
to each
1

it is

true, consults this inner Reason,

but

is

granted only that which he can comprehend, and his
x., xi.:

Saint Augustine, Libra de Magistro, ch.

op.

t. i.

pp. 240, 241.

MYSTIC INTUITION

149

own

good-will

is

the measure/

l

Although these are beauti

ful words, they are not

exempt from obscurity caused by not

properly distinguishing the orders of knowing.
It is not all

which the mystic has to do

"

to find again

"

by means of words that which other consciences see

like his

own

in our
"

common Season,
"

but, his imagination being in a

peculiar

symbolical

state, there is

another intuition to be
is

accomplished.

The

principle of this intuition
;

no other

than the active Intellect, no doubt

but we must not forget

that the source of all diversity in
disposition, or if
"

knowing

is

the mental

you

prefer, the correlation of the interior

species."

Unless the mystic symbols are merely play or in

coherent dreams, they will be accompanied by a corresponding
intuition.

Their exciting cause in the consciousness, as we
is

have seen,

some

act of transcendent Desire;

it

must be

then that the increate Light,
will of the recipient,

who

takes for measure the good
itself to

without ceasing

be indivisible,

illuminates these mystic signs with intensest glow,

and that

thus appear to the

spirit,

not the

scientific

order of

phenom

ena, nor the logical order of ideas, but its

own

direct and

more than speculative

relations with the Absolute to

which

the mystic consciousness truly aspires.
1

De

Magistro,

loc. cit.

150

SYMBOLISM

III.

MYSTIC ALIENATION

I.

Imagination the mother of symbols.
Distinction between the objectiveness of mystic

II.

phenomena and

the verity of symbols.
III.

Non-objectiveness of mystic phenomena.

IV. Of mystic Hallucination. V. The various mystic phenomena
the Stigmata, Ecstasy.
I.

:

the prophetic

Dream

:

Voices,

Such are the treasures of the Imagination that they
the representative stuff which could be
If

suffice to furnish all
imagination
the mother of

desired for the symbols.
} ie

we attempt

to analyze

symbols.

chimerical elements of our ordinary dreams, or

of those other dreams of which art and romance are woven,

we

find a sort

of infinity about

them and a varied energy
Besides,

of fiction beyond the power

of genius to exhaust.
if it

were their originality absolute and
in the perpetually

did not consist solely

renewed combination of mental species,

the content of visions could never be revealed.
lous,

The miracu

unimaginable creation would return to unconsciousness

and oblivion, even for the Seer himself.

The

real

soul of the

imaginative groups
is

is

in thought,

and the intensity of the thought
dence of
all

the cause of the transcen

Inspirations.
asserts that
(e

Duns Scotus
when grace
1
"

all

creatures
them."

become symbols
Accepting only
:

illuminates

him who

sees

1

In nullo Deltas intelligitur existentium quia supcrat omnia

cnm

vero

per condescensionem
inspicitur, ipsa
lis

quandam

ineffabilem
. . .

in

ea quse sunt multis obtutibus

creatura
i.

sola invenitur esse. Ideoque omnis visibilis et invisibiTheophania, id est divina operatic potest appellari." (Divisione

nature?,

iii.

19

:

oper.ed. 1838, p. 240.)

MYSTIC ALIENATION
such philosophic truth as this
that things do not

151
it

may

contain,

must be

said

range

themselves in the consciousness

under the empirical aspect only, but that they also assume
in
it

a coloring which

is

mystical, poetical, or scientific, ac

cording to the dispositions of the subject at the moment.

Moreover, symbols will never be found anyAvhere but in that
inner world which mystics carry in
reflects the

themselves

and which

other in so

many

ways.

These elements, already

assimilated in the consciousness, are the material of visions,
celestial voices, etc.

What
it

there

is

of mystical in
"

it is,

that
")

the intellectual

Power (be

called

natural

"

or

"

divine

redoubles

its

action

upon the

mind

of the Seer,

and that

the Imagination, entirely passive, offers itself to the Reason
as a very living source of elements capable of idealization.

According to common opinion, no direct influence
erted

is

ex
;

upon us from

God

except through
this

intellectual channels

but how far within us does
the point in question,
it

influence

reach?

Upon

would seem that by a sudden acces

sion of mental activity, the imaginative faculty quite as
as the rational is

much
more
If

put in motion

;

between them there
is

is

than proximity of consciousness, there

unity of act.

we

add that the mystic influence forcibly impels the mind to
self
all

fix it

upon one single object of thought, does
lie

it

not follow that
in the

the treasures of representation which
flow towards that one object?

dormant
this

memory

In

way an
ths,n

object can assume in our mind images more expressive

language could represent;
of
"

it

is

thus that the nai ve visions

believers

"

have taken more esthetic shape than could
artist

be conceived by the brain of an

under the influence of

1

52

SYMBOLISM
:

any much sought-for Ideal

in short,

it

is

thus

that

the

mystic representation, elaborated to the
energy,
is

maximum

of mental

found to be at once nearer to pure idea than to
dialectically conceived,

any expression
than any

and more

full of life

fictile efforts

of Art.
to reproduce the mystic

But no attempt must be made
apparition.

It is in the highest degree subjective,

and the

marvellous arrangement of these elements, which are them
selves

common

to every imagination,

is

not at the mercy of
consciousness
in

any exterior
which the
folded

will.

No

one

outside

the

idea, the intention, the

revealed

dogma

has un

itself,

may dream

of doing

more than
;

participate in

the intelligible consequences of the vision

possibly the con
itself,

sequences are more valuable than the vision
only the condition of intelligibility
;

which has

possibly no one could

give to himself such representations.
Is mystic vision only a natural
not, in

phenomenon ?

This can

any

case, be the sole conclusion derived

from what
itself, all

has just been said.
at once,
it

Could the human mind give to

such might of Imagination and Reason as to enable

to hold conscious

communion with
;

the Absolute in paths

beyond the
tokens
as

dialectical
this

and, above

all,

could

it

bring to us, as

of

extraordinary communication, deeds which,

Maudsley

says,

compel the admiration of

all

men

of

heart ?
II.

At

the point

we have

reached,

is

it still

worth while

to discuss the non-objectiveness of mystic symbols ?

In

such

a discussion

the

governing principle must be
"

the one established by Saint

Augustine

:

That which,

is

MYSTIC ALIENATION
divine is the thing
signified,

153
the
1
sign"

and not

It

is

peculiarly fitting that

we should take our
-T

authority from
Distinction

1,1 the
by
to

Saint Augustine, both because he was influenced
..
,

naive opinion

then

i

prevailing in regard

i

between the
objectheness
of mystic

the objective of visions, and because phenomena reality J J and the verquestion was
lty

he expresses very clearly that the

sym

completely indifferent, so far as the truth and dignity of the
Revelations

were concerned.

"

Between the supernatural

action (objective reality of the signs) and the purely mental
fact, there is this difference, that the

one provokes astonish

ment and arouses thought, while the other arouses thought
without provoking astonishment.

In both cases the thought
it
is

might be the same, but the means by which
are different.
It
is

signified

as

though we should

write the
;

name

of

the
is

Lord once with gold and once with ink
precious and
the other
is

the one matter
is

vile,

and yet that which
same.
. .

represented

remains identically
in letters of gold

the

.

Write the

name
letters

of

man

and the name of God in
perceive

of ink, and then you

will

how

little

this

difference in material matters in regard to the object itself

which concerns our
mystic phenomena

2
intelligence."

Apparitions and other

exist only in the

mind

of the Seer, but

they lose none of their truth or value on that account.

The question

of objectivity

must be

clearly stated before
it

we go any
cal

further.

We

do not understand

in

its

ontologi"

sense

of

"

existence,"

but in the sense of

somatic

reality,"

or

"corporeity."

1

De

Trinitaie, lib.

iii.

:

Oper.

t. iii.,

p. 108.

2

Ibid.

154

SYMBOLISM
is

What

the essential separation to be established between
?

the intelligible and the sensible
of
to

The fundamental
that

activity

things,

whence

comes

the

by invariable

intuitions,
"

we respond impulse and the indefinable uoumenon
analogically, are they perhaps
?

which reaches the

Heart

"

Being, together and inseparable not be as

And

hence, would there

much

of
?

"

"

being

at the root of

symbols as be
for

neath phenomena

Indeed, very
is

much more ;

phenom

enal being, the actual

posited in

the consciousness by a
"

series of facts so successive that

we never hold

the

same,"

while beneath the symbols that which
tical

we hold

is

the iden
are no

and the permanent,
"

if
"

it

is

anything.
"

We
"

longer

apprehending

facts

but

principles
to

when we
the

penetrate

through

the

symbolic appearances

con

sciousness of the

Duty and the Power which together bear
"Absolute."

the

name

of the

But we

are not just

now

considering

the

objectivity of

symbols in this sense.

In ordinary language, when we are

not dealing with abstractions

we

call

"

"

object

that which
it

remains at the disposition of our senses, after perception as

was before.

The word

is

thus synonymous with

"body."

And
to

in this sense it is

not possible to attribute objectivity
visions,

the

mystic
is

phenomena of
logical

voices,
strict,

etc.

Such

impossibility

and therefore

admitting no

mitigation.

No
us,

matter what special system
spiritualism, materialism,

may seem
etc.,

satisfactory to

monism,

there can be
:

but

three

ontological

terms in the

sight

of Reason

the

Consciousness, the World, and the Absolute.

The mystic

MYSTIC ALIENATION
thesis

155
this ontological

must not under any pretext exceed
or else principles,
it

division of first

falls

of

itself.

There

would be merely a contradiction and no miracle in saying
that that which
is

impressions

as

upon us by organic the world does; the same would be then
not
"

the world

"

acts

logically both

"object"

and

"not

object."

III.
tivity of

It seems to us idle to insist further

on the non-objec

mystic visions.

Let any one take for example the

account of the vision of

Mamre
is

-

1

as

commented on

Non-objectivenes8 of mystic

by Saint Augustine. There
in the history of religions,

none more

illustrious Phenomena.

and yet nowhere could be found

a keener feeling of the externality of the images appearing,
the seer telling us that
"
"

he walked with the
angels,"

Vision,"

that

he washed the feet of the

etc.

This Bible text

would be simply a naive defiance of
bility

all

the laws of intelligi
it

were we to persist in understanding

in its objective

sense.

But

if

we

interpret

it

according to the experiences

already abundant and
questions of
"

scientific
"

which have cleared up the

mental vision

and

"

hallucination

"

it

be

comes easy, and the religious symbolism shines forth pure and noble in these pages, whose beautiful simplicity
surpassed by
their
is

only

psychological exactness.
recital

When we

ap
is

proach
general
explains

this

same
not

from a point of view which

and

in

any wise exegetic, where

Maudsley
that

how an

idea can create such

hallucinations

automatic facts flow from them naturally, 2 we shall then be
1

Gen.

xviii.

is

movement is truly the movement in the innermost ; it the current of nervous action which when transmitted along the proper nerves
idea of the

2

The

will

become the external movement.

MAUDSLEY,

Physiologic de

V esprit,

pp. 271, 273.

156

SYMBOLISM

surrounding a mystic event with evidence, whereas, by cling
ing to the letter
it

could never be explained objectively, nor

find a place in history as such.

What

are

we

to think of a

middle

state,

half-way between

subjectiveness and objectiveness, which the Christian

com
are

mentators

have

so

often

mentioned?

"Appearances

sometimes produced by means of a special creation, and

when once

the vision

is

ended,

the

creation

vanishes."

1

Motives of exegesis only could have induced Saint Augustine,

and following him Saint Thomas, to task themselves with
such commentaries. 2
"

We
"

reject

them, not only because such

provisional

creations

are counter to scientific determinism,

but over and above
in order not to

all

on account of logical necessity, and
principle

transgress the very

of identity.
in the

That which has no existence either in the world or
consciousness
to conceive
is

neither object nor subject;

why

endeavor

some middle term between these two modes of
Mystics have been conscious in their minds of
of
"flames,"

existence?
"a

dove"

"solar

3
rays,"

etc.,

but do not
iii.

1

Saint Augustine,

De

Trinitctte,

i.,

ii.

ch.

vii.,

cf.

ib.

i.,

ch. x.

and

St.

Thomas,
2
"

Summa
Aug.
i.,

Theol., p. 1, q. clxxi.-clxxiv.
.

Non

ex nostro sensus dicimus

.

.

nee provectu mentis comprehendere

valeo."

(St.

De

Trin.,

i.,
"

ii.,

ch. vii.)

8

De
.

Trin.

ii.,

ch. vi.

Verbum

caro factum est.

.

.

.

Non

ergo

sic

assumpta
ilia.
.

est creatura in

qua apparuit Spiritus sanctus sicut assumpta est caro
Spiritus, vel ilium flatum, vel ilium
ista sicut

.

Neque enim columbam heatificavit
.
.

ignem.

.

Sed apparuerunt
. . .

opportuni apparere debuerunt creatura
et

serviente Creatori.

lumbam nee

sicut dicimus Filium et

Non possumus dicere Spirituin Sanctum Deum et hominem nee sicut

Deum

et co

dicimus Filium

Ilia Dei, Joanne Evangelista vidente Agnum occisum in Apocalypsi. quippe visio prophetica non est exhibita oculis corporeis per fonnas corporeas sed in spiritu per spiritales imagines corporum. Columbam vero illam et ignem

Agnum

oculis viderunt

quicumque viderunt

:

quanquam de igne disputare potest utrum

MYSTIC ALIENATION
all

157

such appearances reduce themselves to elements already
?

possessed by and present in the consciousness

Mystic action

addresses itself to the soul only, and has no other tendency

than to introduce

it

into certain regions of the beyond, where
free,

our nature, moral and

may have
is

interests

which are

more than contingent.
thority

There

therefore

no logical au

whereby we can

attribute objective reality to symbols,

whatever they
they

may

be and

under

whatever circumstances
;

may have been

historically

produced

on the other hand,

the whole lleason proclaims the contrary. elements, as
is

Had

the cosmic

claimed, been

set

in motion aside

from

all

natural determination, and simply for the purpose of bringing
" "

appearances

before the consciousness,
"

we should have
and
"

to

acknowledge that these
"

spiritual

bodies,"

subjective

objects

would have

interfered with the conditioned order

phenomena without introducing anything higher verities which could not have come
of

into the order of
in

through mere

imagination.

It could not be admitted that, in order to pro

cure these verities for man,

God had been

forced to

make

himself the creator of illusions in the order of reality.

Does not Saint Augustine himself use the same argument

when he

sets out to prove, against the

Manichseans, that the
"

body of Christ was material and veritable ? devil tempted Christ what was it that he said
oculis

When
"Will

the

?

you

an spiritu visus

sic

linguas divisas velut ignem, sed

Non euim ait viderunt propter verba sic posita. visse sunt eis. Non (Act. Apost. ii. 3.)
solcmus dicere
ii.,

autem sub eadem
"

significatione

visum

cst

mihi

qua dicinius

well upon what slender bases the objective interpretation of symbols rests. Exegesis which has to resort to such methods is no longer an aid to Faith, but a peri].
vidi.

(2V.

de

Trinitate,

i.,

ch. vi.)

These

last lines

show

158

SYMBOLISM

showed himself with a say that Christ
not really have one
?

human body but
!

did

Madmen

that

you are

Bather than

admit that
that

God spoke

with the Devil, you prefer to believe

If there was no real body what was it then that was manifest to human and corporeal gaze ? Was it only the apparition of a lie ? The very thought is

God

lied to the Devil ?

*

blasphemy."

This reflection,

it

seems, should have inspired
it

should have inclined exegesis long before, and
of ally to accept the subjectivity

more gener
2

mystic phenomena.
"

IV.
tion
"

We

must not be shocked by the word
"

hallucina

any more than by the word
stance
of
revelations
i}ie

alienation."

The subintegrity

ofm

stic

preserves

all

its

Hallucination.

wliatever

menta i mechanism by which revela
Mystic representations are given
in the intense state,

tions have been wrought.
to the consciousness

when

and

it is

just

that which answers to the

word

"alienation/-

The mind

does not pass regularly from the weak state of imagination
to the intense state, except

by means of presentation, that

1
8

De

diversis sermo, xvi., contra ManicJiaos, ch. ix., x.

It is only out of curiosity that

we

stop for a

moment
to

over the distinction

which Saint Augustine uses
"

that Angels could substantial appearances The without being guilty of falsehood. produce matter which they assume," says he, was not human flesh but it was true
in this
"

same connection,
"

show

"

;

because they assumed
ply entrusted to

it

in one of those to
guard."

celestial bodies

which God had sim
ib.}

them

(De

diversis

sermo,

This

property

which the Angels have in such a portion of universal matter (a conception of ages more naive than our own) is not even worth as much as the usual scho
lastic subtleties.

A

which performs the

office of substantial

moral relation of protection, or even an efficient causality form, and a matter which becomes, as

such only, the true body of the agent which gives it external motion, are in ventions which the mystic genius would never have produced had it kept itself
free

from

all

thought of things foreign to
"

infinite love,

and pure from that

spirit

afterwards called

scholastic."

MYSTIC ALIENATION
is

159
;

to

say,
this

under the stimulus of the things themselves
happens in another manner and the mind
it

when

is

firmly
itself,
it

convinced that

perceives something given only within

whatever
"

may
"

be the cause, we are compelled to see in

an

alienation

and a

certain reversal of consciousness.

We

cannot completely omit from this study, nor dwell at

any length upon, questions of physiology which are connected
with Mysticism.
Theologians as well as physiologists have
state of mystic consciousness

no hesitation in classing the

among

the facts called by the former alienatio mentis,
"

and by

the latter,

hallucinations."

:

At

the

same time every one

knows

perfectly well that the facts so qualified have not the
significance.

same pathological
alienation,

Sleep

is

a case of
is

normal

and another case of normal alienation

the state

of fixed attention or mono-ideism.

Morbid

cases

come from

disturbance of the mental vision in consequence of organic
lesions, paralysis, fevers, etc.

Saint Augustine in a similar

classification distinguishes the case of the
all
"

mystic state from
it

others,

and can

find

no other cause to assign to

than

the mingling of a spirit of good or evil with our mental
2

life."

Whatever the opinion may be of such

causality,

it

must be allowed
fined
"

that the fact itself has nevertheless been de
:

by the same author in terms which are perfectly exact
alienation takes place

The

when

purely internal images ex-

1 It is all confined to

states of consciousness

which the ego does not consider
by placing
its
it

an alienation, in the etymological sense, of certain as its own, but which it
outside
itself, ends by attributing an RIBOT, Les maladies de la per-

objectivates and finally,

actual existence independent of
sonnalite, p. 110.
2

own.

De

Genesi

ad

litteram,

1.

xii.,

ch. xii.

160

SYMBOLISM

press themselves in our minds with the

same vividness

as

though the objects themselves were present to our

eyes,

and

in such a
l

way

that

we confound them with our

sensa

tions/

In the

first

place, like Saint Augustine,

we must

limit the

mystic fact exclusively to cases of hallucination produced

under two conditions

:

first,

in a
2

waking

state

;

second, under
fact

some influence not organic.

Thus the mystic

comes

under the case of mono-ideism.

The experimental study of the nervous system has led to discoveries, which we hope will be followed by many others,
but
it

may be

said that our acquired

knowledge has so

far

only confirmed Mr.

Charles Richet

s

observation regarding

the entire possibility of the occurrence of normal hallucina
tions in perfectly sane individuals
"

:

Although we oftenest

encounter hallucinations

among

the insane (and I

am

speak

of sight, hearing, ing of complete hallucination
this psychic

and touch),

phenomenon

is

not unlikely to occur exceptionally

in the case

of the absolutely

normal.

As

classic

authors

have observed, between the mental image and complete hallu
cination there
the
is

a whole series of gradual transitions : and

mental image and a boundary line between a very strong
is

very vague hallucination

not possible

to trace.

If

we suc

ceed, then, in demonstrating that the

normal

state of

undoubt

admits of complete hallucination, edly sound minds sometimes
1

lose
is

"a

This definition has nothing to litter am, 1. xii., ch. xii. s definition of hallucination best. with the Parchappe very by comparison state of soul in which pure imaginings are reproduced spontaneously in

De

Genesi

ad

the consciousness with
2 Ibid.

all

the characteristics of the actual

sensations."

MYSTIC ALIENATION

161

we

shall

have furnished the most probable explanation of
l

apparitions."

We
"

must look,

therefore, for these

"

gradual transitions

"

which establish perfect progressive continuity between the
mental image
"

"

conceived by a sound and intelligent mind,
"

and the

hallucination

which may occur in the same mind
life.

to the great profit of

knowledge or the moral

We

have

records of the mental deterioration brought on by drunken
ness, hysteria,
force,

and other causes which lay waste our nervous
in order that

and they cannot be made too complete

we

may

learn the cure.

But there ought

to be also the history

of morally opposite cases, which yet resemble the others in
their character of taking exclusive possession of the functions

of

"

relation

"

so called.

"

Eloquence, poetic genius, and
mediocrity,
all

every faculty transcending

human
"

represent

under different names that

destructive, tyrannical

power

which brings everything under subjection and which does
not permit the reception of ideas except in one single direc
tion/
:

Now,

it

is

this

very same power which we must

unhesitatingly

regard as the productive cause of states of

consciousness properly mystic.

While the phenomena
whatever

of hallucination are taking place,

the influence that

produces

them, our

nervous

resources are drained and the organism becomes exhausted

with fatigue
physiological
1

;

but the very knowledge of the identity of
effect

enables

us
t.

to

understand

better

the

Revue Philos. septembre, 1885,
"

xx. p. 334, 335.

"From

the idea to

no greater distance than from that of the germ to complete vegetable or animal life." (De Vintelligence, t. ii. p. 25.) 2 Ribot, Psychologie de V Attention, p. 117.
hallucination,"

says Taine,

there

is

11

162
psychological opposition
hallucination.
intellectual
;

SYMBOLISM
of

the determining causes of the

Life

is

a power of cohesion, both organic and

this vital identity,

which we have attempted to
is

express in the
the mental act.

word

"

Idea-Force/

specially apparent in

The normal condition
Let
"

of

life

is

the state of

external perception.
that degree,

it

happen
"

that Life does not reach
arrested at the state of in
"Idea,"

and that the
let it

Idea

is

coherent images; or

happen that the

too intensely
its

conceutrative of the consciousness, leads
sive

it

beyond

succes

and space representations ;

in each case there will be hal

lucination.

But what
"

difference

between the two modes of

mental process

!

The one,"
the
less.

says

Mr. Eibot,
is

"

is

an evolution,

and tends towards
tends towards the

more ; the other

a dissolution, and

In hallucination through Idea, the

dominating emotion comes from the active personality, and
Reason, by means of attention, dominates the organic dis
turbances.
cinations
:

The contrary takes place
the consciousness
itself,
is

in pathological hallu

confused because Reason has

ceased to belong to
in the ego,

and has no longer any active part

but not on account of a fortuitous alienation of

mental images.
tions

The cause

of this second class of hallucina
in

must always be looked for

some

defect of personality,

some moral

alienation of the ego, either originating in the

subject or inherited.

The

various mystic

phenomena may

all

be regarded as
is

cases of mono-ideism, the processus of

which

generally

the following

:

Under a moral

influence (of which

we

shall

treat in the third part of this

work) mental representations

originate in the consciousness, and quickly

assume the active

MYSTIC ALIENATION
state of
"

163
endures, the im
state of

impressions."

If the

influence

pression

is

heightened and the subject enters upon a

normal

hallucination which
"

Mr.

Binet distinguishes from
1
(

others as being of
really
this

central

origin."

Ideas
"

"

become then

what they are etymologically,
restricted

elBrj,

visions."

But

word must not be
"

to representations purely

and

properly

visual/

for
fact,

the

whole

consciousness
is

is

occupied with the mystic

and there

not a psychic
"

element which

may
"

not
"

be contributory.
"

Thus

voices

"

are often blended with of the mystical

images

and form an integral part
the
assertion

vision,"

thus contradicting
"

that such things can be nothing but

impulses of the lan

guage

function."

2

It is well to insist in all this
distinctive

upon the
:

characteristic
reflection,

most

of mystic

mentality

it

is

and not

abstraction.

When

the

mind withdraws
itself as in

into itself for the

mystic act, instead of applying
to the extinct

the logical process

representations (for
,

no others enter into the
"

synthesis of conceptions)
all
its
strength,"

it

appeals to the Absolute,
3

with

morally, mentally,

etc.,

and everything

which appears in response to
within
itself

this appeal of love, it orders

not in concepts but living and in symbols, and

without other organic bond than the infinitely free analogies
of mystic Desire.

The symbols which

arise in this

manner

absorb the consciousness, as happens during efforts of abstrac1

Revue philos.
Dr.
"

loc. cit.

pp. 473, 474.

without the same
2

scientific precision.

Cf. Physiologic

Maudsley says the same thing, but de f esprit, p. 254.
all

Max

8

And thon

Simon, Lyon medical, 1880, Nos. 48, 49. shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with
all

thy soul, and with

thy mind, and with

all

thy

strength."

(Mark

xii.

30.)

164
tion
:

SYMBOLISM
but, in a

manner the inverse

of concepts, instead of

drawing further within to the summit of the consciousness,
they
still

occupy the imagination and the

sensibility

by acts

which

of relations, but appertain no longer to a life

which have
in the con

nevertheless an object proper to them,
sciousness.

immanent
"

This

may

still

be called

mono-ideism," if

we

choose, but under
"

"condition
1

of not forgetting that here the

Idea

"

is

the

"

Absolute."

The mystic

object

is

expressed
is suffi

analogically only in the Imagination, but
cient to imprint

its

presence

on the feelings and the

will original

impres

sions of pleasure, love, or desire, of which mystical narrations

give abundant testimony.

Y. As sequence to these general considerations, we must

speak in particular of prophetic dreams, ecstasies, and other
The various
mystic phe-

phenomena which have such an important place
the history OI MystlClSm.
1

in

,

,

.

.

PHI-

i

nomena: the
prophetic

thTsd m^tT

Dreams
natural

have often been considered as super

events.

In our opinion three natural
:

causes are responsible for the mystic importance of dreams
first,

the absolute liberty of the imagination during sleep
the
alienation

;

second,

of the personality; third,

the free

dom

of the intellectual

power from

all

organic interference.

A

dream

is,

by

definition, the purely

molecular function
of external
state,

of motion

of

the brain.

The opposition
waking

and

internal perceptions constitutes the
1
"The

and when

tendency to motion
in the

is

at its

minimum with
representative
effect

regard to abstract

ideas.

Such

ideas being representations, pure schema, the

motor element

is

weakened

same proportion
Volant e,
p.

as the

element."

(Ribot,
absolutely

Maladies de la
different.

132.)

The

of

symbols

is

MYSTIC ALIENATION
the external perception
is

165
nothing but

absent, there

is

memory
facts of

and imagination, without any sense of
duplication of the ego during dreams

reality.

The

may be

thus explained.

In a

state

of sleep

we can maintain

a dialogue with our

selves,

and assume

the part of several persons, just as

we can
In the
of

in the

waking

state,

and indeed even more

vividly.

consciousness of a person

who

is

asleep, a certain

number

sub-conscious sensations or purely internal images dominate,

and

finally reach the point
"

of constituting, with relation to as
it

the others, a

real

world

"

were

;

but at the same time

there arise from the depths of the imagination representa
tions not so vivid, in

which mingle with the dominant group,
proportion
that

about the same

images
is

mingle

with

sensations in the waking state.
to a

The subject

thus exposed

complex

alienation,

and to a duplication of the ego

several times repeated.

What
dreams?
special

shall

be

said of

the condition

of Reason during

Dreams which occur

in the depths of

slumber have
soul

importance, according

to

certain

authors, the

being at that time most set

free

from

all

organic influence,
"

and consequently the
a faculty of

intuition

more

intellectual.

Is there

perception,"

says Saint Augustine, "independent

of the senses, which, acting by means of an internal organ,
is

enabled to give us
"

completer knowledge than ordinary

experience
question.

?

1

He
this

does not venture to pronounce on the

At

deep stratum of slumber,

may

it

be that

there

is

some transcendent

state of consciousness, or rather

some unconscious
1

activity, productive of
ch. xii. Cf.

more subtle

intui-

De

Gen. ad

litt.

De immortalitate

animte, ch. xiv.

166

SYMBOLISM
by prolonged attention?
would tend
and
acquired
to give

tions than could be obtained

These

are

bold

hypotheses, which

dreams a

higher

value

than natural
built

knowledge, and

upon them might be
superstition.

a shadowy mysticism akin to

It

would remain to be learned, however, whether the moral
which we consider the principle of
of consciousness, could
all

influence,

the mystic

determinations

be exercised

during

sleep, or (which comes to the same thing) whether the will
is

not always completely inactive during the state of hypnotic
It is

alienation.

our opinion that automatic cerebration does
off all relations
"The

not go so far as to absolutely cut

between

Freedom and the dream
will,"

representations.

power of
1

says Mr. Eibot,

"

is

not always completely

suspended."

Now, however
Freedom,
it

small the part

may be which
cases

is

thus

left for

is

enough
in

to enable the Absolute to enter the
certain

consciousness, and

the

conclusions

which

are derived from the hypnotic vision are worth preserving
as moral or intellectual acquisitions.
It

would be enough

indeed by which to justify to criticism such famous mystic

dreams as have
our

lasted, the historic value of
2

which

it

is

not

affair to investigate.

Without contradicting any of the

scientific

explanations

which may have been given on the same subject, we can say
that everything
is

not entirely given over to inco-ordination

in the consciousness during the dream.

What is

the influence

that causes a general idea to return to us again
1

and again
it is

in

Psychol.de
Cf.

1

Attention, pp. 157-159.
fivre

2

Maimonide, Le

des Egares, eh. xxxvi., where
Prophecy."

said that

"dreams

are the abortive fruit of

MYSTIC ALIENATION

167

or which causes the often eloquent hypnotic representations, discussions which go on within, and the enacting of dramas

by no means devoid of epic grandeur
recognized this fact, speaks
l
mind,"

?

Maudsley, who has
plastic

of

"the

power of the

and

as he

makes an express

distinction between this
ideas, it

"power"

and the organic association of

must be
power

that the imagination remains during sleep under the of

some super-organic cause which he does not name, and which for ourselves we are unable to distinguish from
"

Keason."

In reading accounts of mystical events we notice that
Prophecy
is

often said to be

"
"

spoken

in the soul of Seers.

Are we

to understand

by

this

some other mode of commu
;

nication than
"

by Symbols ?
"

No

Mr. Egger in his work on

Inner Speech

2

distinguishes in a very subtle

manner the

vivid form which

speech sometimes assumes in the conscious

ness, very unlike the beginnings of

spoken expression which
all
is

are the automatic
tions.

accompaniment of nearly
"

our concep
as

In these cases of

vivid

"

speech,

it

though a

representation literally bursts into the consciousness, and the

author seems to

class

the

phenomenon

of

"Inspiration"

among

those events which throw the soul out of the peaceful
its

current of

thoughts.
I

He
insist
.

enumerates three cases

:

the in-

1

"

The point
. .

wish to

on
. .

is

the tendency which ideas have to

reunite in a mental representation.
ideas
.

but we

is not merely an association of have something additional to deal with, a constructive

This

power by which not only
productions."

ideas are related to each other, but give rise to
I

new

(Physiologic de

Esprit, p. 17.)

2

La

parole interieure, ch.

iii.

168
terior speech of
"

SYMBOLISM
that speech
to lips

passion,"

we

all

recognize, which

mounts with such violence
emotions are more than
speech of the

and eyes the instant the
touched;
the
interior

ordinarily

"imagination,"

which we form with

art
all

and
that

not without
is

effort, in

order to represent dramatically

susceptible of an esthetic character; and lastly, the inte
"

rior speech of

morals."

Had

the author not had in

mind

exactly what we wish

to express here by mystic
this

symbolism he

would not have given such examples of
"

kind of speech as
Arc."

the daemon of Socrates

"

and

"

the voices of Jeanne d

Voices, by themselves alone, never constitute a mystic fact;

they

are heard

in

the

soul

of

seers

at

times

when the
themselves

symbols

assume
rest

such intensity

as

to

detach

from the

of the consciousness, like distinct, dramatic

personalities.

It is easy to understand
first

why Theology has
l

assigned the
those

rank among
"

all

mystic phenomena to

which

accompany

inner

voices."

When

the mystic sense de

taches itself in so striking a
it

manner from the symbols that

seems to

re-ecJio in

the consciousness, like speech, and the

seer has only to listen to the discourse directly

spoken by
to others,

the Vision, in order to interpret

it

to himself

and

the
is

maximum

of expression and the perfection of symbolism
is

reached.

There

nothing more then to be desired, except
"

that the mystic character of the

voices,"

I

mean

their in

wardness, shall not be misunderstood, either by the seers

themselves or

by those to

whom

it

is

declared.

Would

Jeanne d Arc have been the purely Inspired one cherished
1

St.

Thomas,

Summa

Theol.

q. clxxiv., a. 3,

corp.

a.

MYSTIC ALIENATION

169

by our patriotism
candor
"

if

the voices which she called with so

much

my

voices

"

had evinced any external

signs,

and had
"?

not proceeded from the Absolute which

is "within

us only

Whence could they

spring, except from that spiritual fount,

closed to all reactions from the world of sense, where, with

out witnesses of any kind,

God and Freedom meet

?

Saint

Augustine very justly remarks that the prophet Zechariah,

when he

is

relating his angelic vision, uses the term, loque-

batur in me;
voices."

in the

same sense Jeanne d Arc
:

said,

"my

The prophet Zechariah thus speaks
It
is

Et

dixit mihi

1 qui loquebatur in me.

not to be supposed that the

words struck the auditive organ of the prophet, for he
specially says, loquebatur in me,

and not ad me.

Were

these

inner

words similar

to the

sounds which come to the im

agination

when we

realize

our ideas or when we sing within

ourselves?

Yes, similar no doubt, but with the difference

that the words seemed to

him

to issue
2

from the Angel to

whose suggestion he was

subject.
is
it

Unfortunately this case

of certainty of interpretation

only one gleam through the
rests

fogs of ancient exegesis, and

here upon a felicitous

grammatical subtlety.

The mystic consciousness has explained this phenomenon naively, as alone it knew how ; and in these accounts, we find, of critical interest to us (1) that under
is

What

Ecstasy

?

:

the mystic influence the mental representations

become more
that, in the
"

and more stripped of empirical conditions; (2)

same proportion, the mind seems
1

l

to withdraw into itself ;
2

Zech.

i.

9.

Epist.

ci.

170
(3) that the
sense
of

SYMBOLISM
externality finally
is

becomes

entirely

absent, so that the consciousness

completely wiped out in
rest of

that respect, or
subsists in the
"What

at

least,

none of the

the ecstasy

memory.
specially

we would

remark

is

the interesting struggle

between the mystic consciousness striving to accomplish itself

by grasping pure Being, and the natural conditions
ing

of

Know
do

which do not admit that the consciousness
"

shall

without

representations."

Saint Augustine makes this ob

servation in regard to the vision of

Moses in Mount
is

Sinai

l

and the rapture of Saint Paul.
divine presence
:

2

Moses

absorbed by the

and the inwardness of the Symbols becomes

so great that at a certain

moment
is

the familiarity and intimate
:

conversation seem
ificabatur
yet, at the

all

there

of the divine Being

Sic mod-

tanquam

esset

amid

loquentis
all

ad amicwm. 3

But

same time, the sense of

that remained between

the purely intelligible divine substance and the representation,
still

symbolical, manifested to

soul of the Seer that yourself that I
"

him was such anguish to the he burst forth into sighs. Show me
"

may

see

you clearly/

4

Saint Augustine adds
still

:

Moses knew

that he had then a vision that was

only

material, and he entreated to receive the

spiritual vision of

God, which

is

the true one.
it

This spoken symbol had some

thing which gave
friends.
1
"

all

the marks of intercourse between
see

But who can

God

with his bodily eyes

"

?

5

Ex. xxxiii.
2 Cor.
xii.

2
8
*

1-6.
ch. xviii.

De
"

Trin.

i. ii.

6

And he said, I beseech De Trin. loc. cit.

thee

show me thy

glory."

(Ex. xxxiii.)

MYSTIC ALIEN ATION

171

We

might explain

in the

same way, without divergence

from the Christian Doctor, but using more precise terms,
the three heavens which Saint Paul speaks
of.
1

The passage

from the ordinary

state of

consciousness (the state of ex

terior perception) to the symbolic conception is the ascent

to the second heaven.

And

if

we could succeed

in penetrating

further than the symbols of

the imagination, in the same
reality,

way that we have gotten beyond the gross forms of

we should be

in contact with that intelligible world
;

where

dwells the essence of things

but at the same time we should
the
conditions of existence;
"

be placing ourselves

outside

and nothing
shall see

is

truer than the Biblical expression
live"

:

No man
"

me and

2

Every case of ecstasy whether of
"

the Alexandrian lost in the abstraction of the
"

One

and

Being/ or of mystic

seers,

ends always alike in unconscious

ness.

The

intelligence,

having

reached the limits

of

the

defined or figured bounds of things, and already filled with
its

object, aspires to penetrate further
it

and grasp pure being;

powerless

falls

back to things below.
"

In ecstasy, as in the dream, there
organic state
is

is

alienation

"

and the

deficient.

But the conditions

of inner per

ception are not the same in the two cases.

During natural
;

sleep the vital depression comes spontaneously

and because

the conscious force, the intentio animi,
to remain tense,
it

is

not able any longer
folds,

withdraws into the cerebral

where

the images acquired during the waking state are condensed.

On

the contrary, in the state of ecstatic mono-ideism, the
1

De

Genesi ad litteram,

i.

xii.

eh.

i.

ii.

iii.

xviii. xxiv. xxxvii.

2

Ex. xxxiii. 20.

172

SYMBOLISM
tense,

mind remains

and when
it

it

withdraws from the organs

of external perception,
strata, at the

is

not to drift about in the middle
fix itself in

mercy of molecular currents, but to

the nervous centres, where the acts of

ideation are to be

accomplished.

The moment when,

in the eyes of the subject, the thought

ceases to originate in the subject announces a

change in the
is

ordinary mental process

;

it

is

the change which
"

expressed

by duplication of the personality.
me,"

This situation seems to

says

Mr. Eibot,

"

the absolute confiscation of mental
for mystics, negative for
its

activity

by one single idea (positive

empiricists), but

an idea which, from
its

high degree of
determination,

abstractness and

absence of
1
feeling."

all

limit or

excludes

all

individual

In ordinary cases of rnonoit

ideism, the personality

is

never suddenly dispossessed, as
;

often happens under the mystic influence

in such cases, in

order to produce the ecstasy the attention needs to fix itself
for a longer time,

and perhaps receive some
"

artificial
"

aid.

For

this

and other reasons the
after

alienatio mentis

spoken of

by Saint Augustine, and

him by Saint Thomas, must

not be confounded with the efforts of philosophic abstraction.
Efforts to conceive the Absolute rationally tend to suppress

imagination and feeling, rather than to heighten them

;

and

we have

learned that they lead us

to
all

an Infinite which,
our concepts.
is

qualitatively, is the

most meagre of

The
in

mystic consciousness, on the contrary,
every part of
1

set

in

motion

it

by Desire ; representations pour
la personnattte, pp. 134, 135.

in to render

Les maladies de

MYSTIC ALIENATION
the absolute present and
sense of
its
"

173
comes
to lose the

"

felt
is

;

and

if it

own

identity,

it

through an excess of imagina

tion desiring to express the Infinite
thesis of images,

by the most vivid syn

and not by slow elimination of concepts.
state,
is

In the mystic

the personality diminished

?

The

question would be whether
of
it
" "

we may not

attribute to the fact

alienation

a sense other than pathological, or whether

may

not rather be considered in the sense of something
life,

added

to

and an increase of personality.

We

think, not

only that rational progress has indefinite
that there
is
"

possibilities,

but

no absolute reason why
"

it

should not come by

means of
vital tion.

alienation

;

that

is,

by enhancement along more

and

sensitive lines than

by the ordinary modes of evolu
this subject
"

Let us be permitted to formulate on
intellectual
supposition,"

a

simple
"

in

the language

of

Kant,

without other pretensions than that of anticipating contrary

hypotheses."

Could we suddenly introduce the Reason of a
is

man
the

into the consciousness of a child,
first

there any doubt, in

place, that the effect
"

called

by physiologists and
"

Christian authors alike

alienatio mentis

would

occur,

and

in the second place, that
"

such

art

event would be looked upon
virilized,

as a

"

progress

?

The

child,

suddenly

would

feel

himself dominated by something
stronger than himself.
that
it

still himself,
fail

but also

much

Reason could not

to recognize

was greater

in the

sum

of experiences and concepts
in default of other

suddenly found in the consciousness, and

identity a very lively sense of personality

would join

"in

it

the present to the past, so closely as to form but one and
the same spirit.

We

might make the same supposition with

174
regard to character.

SYMBOLISM
Let us imagine what would occur
if

the finely susceptible moral sense of a

man

practised in all

virtue should be actualized, Avithout any preparation, in the

consciousness of a

man

steeped in falsehood and selfishness.
"

Nothing could be more appropriate than the term
tion,"

aliena

and yet no greater progress to the better could be

imagined.
of

Though changes may be very

rapid in the order

phenomena, they can never be anything but successive and
;

in mathematical continuity

but things of the moral order do

not come under this law.
they effected in Time.

They are not

in space,

nor are

Therefore the Progress which goes
laws.
It is Evolution, or

from the same

to the

same has no

the passage from the same to the other, which has laws.

The power
Life,
is

of the

soul over the body, of the Idea over
in the facts

more strikingly evident

which the history

of

Mysticism presents than in any which

we have been

studying.

The mystic

object has sometimes been expressed,

not alone in the Imagination, but in the very flesh of the
Seers.

We

shall
:

make no lengthy
nothing
is

physiological

comments

on the subject
"

more comprehensible than that
Life, while

"

unity of action

by which we may suppose that
of our cellular tissue and the

weaving the warp

web

of our

mental images, should assume, under certain influences, the
very forms of the imagination and trace them in the body
of a Seer.

But on

this subject

we

prefer to let a veritable

mystic speak for himself.

Concerning the celebrated stigmata

of Saint Francis of Assisi, a mystic writer of the same name,

MYSTIC ALIENATION
Saint Francis de
Sales,

175
"

speaks as

follows
it

:

This soul,

therefore, so touched, so softened,

and as

were melted by
all

loving sorrow

(for the Passion), was thus

disposed to
its

receive impressions
lover.

and the marks of love from

supreme

The memory was almost obliterated in the recollec tion of this divine love, and the imagination wholly bent on representing to itself the wounds and bruises which the eyes
were seeing
at that

moment

in a perfectly clear

and present

image

;

the understanding lost in the occupation of receiving

the infinitely active species which the imagination was pre

senting; and lastly, love was bending
will to

its

whole strength of Well-

comply with and conform

to the Passion of the

Beloved, so that the very soul no doubt was
into a second crucifix.

transformed

Then

the soul, as form and mistress
it

of the body, using

its

power over the body, imprinted on
its

the sorrowful

wounds which had wounded
Love
is

lover just as
it

he had suffered them.

very wonderful that

can so

sharpen the imagination as to penetrate through all to the
outermost.
It

was

love, then, that

made

the internal torments the external, and

of the great lover, Saint Francis, pass to

wounded

the body with the same piercing dart of sorrow
it

with which

had wounded the

heart."

J

We

could

ill

afford to lose such explanations as these, nor

do we need to
utmost, our

add anything

to

them.

They confirm,

to the

opinion of the subjectivity of mystic phenomena.
1

Traite de

f Amour de Dieu,

i.

vi. ch. xv.

176

SYMBOLISM

5

IV.

DEGRADED FORMS OF MYSTICISM
I.

Criterion of Mysticism.

Occultism.

II.

Perversions of Mystic Symbolism.

III.

Mystic Infatuation. IV. Pessimism and Mysticism.
itself to trust in
its

I.

The human mind cannot allow
:

mysti

cism without a triple guard
Criterion of Mysticism.

(1)

point

of

departure

must be a purely moral

desire, for

we can expect no

occultism,

transcendence over ourselves upon any other side
;

than that of Freedom

(2) the symbolic character of our

relations with the Absolute

must be honestly recognized, which
a divine
(3) noth

means that the

belief

in the direct intuition of

universal and infinite essence

must be renounced

;

ing which contradicts natural knowledge, or experience re

duced to concepts by Reason, must have expression mystically
for our

;

mind could only
by

fall

below

itself, its

instead of rising

above

itself,

negation of any of

essential principles.

Every time that a man has sought

for transcendence over his

natural knowledge or power, outside these conditions, there

has

been nothing to record but

loss for

his

Reason and
is

for his well-being.
it

The

history of such abuses

long, as

is

lamentable.
of
"

Under the name

Occultism

"

may
The

be grouped

all

the

systems which have a

common

tendency to seek in Nature
stars

for manifestations of the Absolute.

and the

birds,

removed from us

in space, have long been tempting objects

for this instinct of mystic Naturalism,

and have given

rise to

the

most obstinate forms of superstition.

A

less

gross

DEGRADED FORMS OF MYSTICISM
belief

177
outside the

has been that the psychic force dwells
life,

individual
persistent

not only as free and thinking subject, but in
of
causality

relations

and immanence with the
"
"

empirical world.

Subtle

manifestations of

spirits
it

have

been sought therefore with mystic avidity, and
lieved that the
art

was be

moment had come
with the

to popularize that strange

of

"conversing

dead."

A

certain

number

of

people of leisure

still

occupy themselves with

this pursuit;

but as yet they have not offered us any experience sufficiently
positive to justify rational criticism.

There

is

still

quite a

number

of

phenomena

(telepathic communications, cures

by

suggestion, etc.) which psychology and physiology each claim
as their

own, and which must not be too hastily interpreted
of a

in the sense

super-empirical
of occultism
?

intervention.

Do

they

come under the term

Towards

all

these events

Mysticism must keep firm to the principles we have just
enounced, but, on the other hand, Empiricism should bring
a broader Reason to bear in criticising them.

We
and

are not in
less

possession scientifically of the laws of
of the ultimate conditions of thought
"

life,

still
"

so

;

and these

psycho-

mystic

facts, these

appearances of spiritual autonomy take

place at a boundary point between the Life which
so imperfectly

we know

and Freedom, which has nothing empirical

about

it.

Should Determinism succeed in course of time

in bringing

them within the

tables of its prevision,

it

would

assuredly be the supreme triumph of science and the end

here below of

all

wonder.

But
all

the Mysticism which

we have
12

in

view has nothing at
it

in

common

with mere wonder or curiosity;

has no

178

SYMBOLISM
"the

impulse towards the Absolute to discover
its

new,"

but

impulse
is

is

to discover

"the

better."

The

true field of

Mysticism

the Infinite of Eeason and Freedom.

Our minds

carry in themselves the laws native to them of
fection, not empirical laws
;

Duty and Per

under the guarantee of absolute
its

obedience to these laws, or rather by virtue of

own moral
Mysti
"

autonomy, there
cism.
it is

is

no novelty which can astonish
"

It can

no more be

shocked

scientifically

than

susceptible of the vulgar forms of
"

wonder ; the sense of
life

the

Possible

"

which

is

the honor and

of

Eeason

is

really latent faith,

an unavowed sense of the

Infinite.

II.

Even

if

we

leave out of the question facts which have
interest, they

no mystic bearing because, instead of a moral
Perversions of

show only
s till

superstition for the

Unknown, we
its

shall

Mystic
bolism.

Sym
find that Mysticism,

though true in

ten

dencies, has often fallen below itself through error or
fect interpretation.
"

imper
:

It is this evil

which Pascal complains of
.

The Jews have

so

much

loved the things figured
J
"

.

.

that
"

they have undervalued the
are the symbols
"

reality."
"

The things figured

;

the reality

is

the object

which they

express

to the Reason,
will.

or rather the impulse which they

impress on the

It is necessary in

Symbolism to make a

precise estimate

of the value of the representative

elements.
is

In

fact,

we

have already seen that their value

null,

and that images
"

do nothing but make up for our inability to grasp things Prom the point of view of Absolute Good in themselves."

and Truth,

it

would be better
1

if

there were no symbols at

Pensees,

art. xv. 5.

DEGEADED FORMS OP MYSTICISM
all.

179
:

We

derive a twofold consequence from this principle
it is

(1) logically, that
etc.,

an error to regard Yoices, Images,
it

as objective;

(2) morally, that

is

a superstition to
is,

attribute any excellence to these figurative elements, that
to the species of the vision or of the sacrament.

Unfortunately

we do not conquer without difficulty this twofold tendency
to

remove truth and holiness from

their true seat,

and

see

them in the elements under which they appear

to us.

We

to concepts forget all the time that truth belongs exclusively

and

to propositions

which can be logically
;

stated,

and not

to the unreal

symbol

we

forget too that holiness is a state

even more fundamental than intelligence, and that phenomena
never
enter
into
it.

In

this

way

it

has

happened that

human weakness
dictory essence,

has tried unconsciously to create a contra

midway between symbols and
in
it
;

the Infinite,
"

and has persisted

as

though the character of
all

sacred

"

could thus float outside

of

subjectivity,

detached both

from the Absolute and from Freedom.
Unless we bring careful attention and some moral excel
lence into mystic acts,

we

risk falling into the disorders

which

philosophy has justly condemned under the names of

An
may

thropomorphism and Fanaticism.

Caprice and egotism

easily take the place of mystic desire, and instead of raising

our Freedom to

God

in triumphant self-abnegation, the ego

may

use perverted symbolic suggestions to exalt the self and
it

to carry

to the extremes of evil

and passion.

It has

con

stantly been observed that the mystic state is

an object of

desire

and ambition for

all

the passions.

They are them
soul,

selves intense states of the imagination

and the whole

180
and
as they seek place

SYMBOLISM
in consciousness irrationally, they

easily

adapt the mystic process by which the Absolute enters

the consciousness.
their

The passions inspire themselves after own fashion and translate themselves symbolically into
"

"

the consciousness so as to take entire possession of

it,

and

succeed thus in procuring a subtle intoxication
obtained in simple every-day
the imagination.
III.
life,

not to be

nor by the natural use of

More

frequently

it

occurs that symbols coming from

without, and
Mystic In-

not arising in the consciousness

by

direct illu
fail

mination peculiar to the subject himself, J
find adequate interpretation,

to

and in
It

this case the

intelligence

is

really

injured

thereby.

has

been said
fool.

that the

man

with none but clear ideas would be a

Certainly Mysticism could not deserve this reproach, for con
sidered in
itself, its

precise

object

is

to

procure for us at

times certain unverifiable representations in which

we

refresh

our intellectual sense of the

Infinite,

and from which our
is

Freedom drinks, with a
But on the other hand,

vital faith

which

impervious to

evil.

there
it

is

such a source of confusion in

misconceived symbols that

would be better perhaps to have
"

none but the clear ideas which content

the fool/

While

truly sane eyes always perceive a beyond to clear perceptions

and

strive to

extend the

field of
is

evidence for their

own

vision,

by that attention which
happens when minds

pure love and pure desire,
calibre

it

often

of mediocre

absorb a strong

taste for mysticism that they interpret the

symbols as pos

sessed of intrinsic virtue,
their

and thus endow them only with
and human egotism.

own poverty

of conception

The

DEGRADED FORMS OF MYSTICISM
Undefined, which
is

181

the

common burden
life

of all

who have
no

any care for things beyond their
existence for these false mystics.

of every day, has

Having

established the ulti

mate reason of things in helpless images, they are thereby
delivered from the task of seeking the better, which
is

the

very foundation and provided a

law of Freedom.

Let us add
is

that,

man

has

"

enough

heart,"

he

always secure from

being thus led astray.

The symbols

of fetishism were at first

examples of

this.

Primitive

men

(if

we

are to believe pre

historic data), before they

had the power

to explain

phenomena

or to criticise their
in all things
;

own

concepts, objectivated the Absolute

but in these free symbols some
is

men must even

then have cared for the Ideal which
edge, while others cared for

Goodness and Knowl

them

to give

more

force to their

passions and invincible consistency to their

errors.

IV. but
its
,

Pessimism may be considered

as a

mystic malady,

it is

only inspired and maintained by Mysticism as one of
forms.
.

degraded

,

takes

possession
it

ot

us

The vague feeling which when the imagination
,

p essimi3m
and Mysticism.

yields, as

were idly and without any precise reason, to the
representations
of Space and

uniform and ever unfinished

Time

is

not to be confounded with the moral desire and

active interest of Mysticism.

The

Infinite is never posited

in the consciousness symbolically or morally in response

to

researches which are

known

to be without purpose.

It is

no

doubt the long monotony of such

efforts of the imagination

and our absolute

inability to

attain

any such comprehension,
immersed, which
inflate
fill

upon the plane

in

which we are
"

ideally

the soul with sadness.

In vain do we

our concep-

182
tions to extend

SYMBOLISM
beyond
all

conceivable space
. .
.

;

we

shall only
is

bring forth atoms at the price of reality.
in infinity ?

What

a

man
1

The

eternal silence of infinite space terrifies

me."

Minds which seek
from
this

in Mysticism only an answer and diversion

crushing power of outward things will never find

the road by which

man

really approaches the Infinite.
is

The
not

Pessimism which comes from the Imagination, however,
so far

from the true mystic
is

state as

moral Pessimism.

The

weight of the Universe

crushing no doubt when we be
rise

come conscious
but to
reflect

of

it,

but in order to
"

above

it,

I have

with Pascal

that I

am

conscious of

it,"

and

through that thought comes a whole new order of things
still

infinite,

but

in

which, at

least,

I can

advance
if,

in

definitely

through Eeason and Freedom.

But
if

by mis
succeeds

fortune, this inner world falls to pieces, and

a

man

in persuading himself that thought itself, with all that de

pends on

it,

is

only the vainest of phenomena,
Infinite

all is

lost.

Eeason, imprisoned between the

which

defies

our
its

power of imagination on the

outside,

and convinced of

own
and

nothingness, no longer having the impulse to
falls prostrate.
i

rise, falters

Pascal, Penaees, a

1.

1

;

&

a xxv., 17 bis.

WE

must now inquire whence comes the mystic
is

initiative

and what

the value of

its

symbolic creations,

since

it

appears that the Absolute has no access into the understand
ing,

and that the imagination by

itself

can introduce nothing
is

positive into the consciousness.

There

but one foundation
the presence of the
first

on which to base the symbols, namely
Absolute in Freedom.
established, without

:

Unless that presence can be

any aid from mystic reasonings, as a

human and
ifestations

universal fact,

we ought not

to tolerate the

man

of consciousness except within the strict limits

of the Understanding;
futile.
"

more than
is

this

would be

false

and

But

if

the Absolute

in us as moral necessity or

Postulate/

it will still

be our duty to demonstrate, in com
it

pletion of our task,

how

is

that

Freedom

unites directly

with the Imagination in view of expressing the Absolute in
the consciousness.
It
is

this mystic activity which, following

the example of Pascal,

we

shall call

"

the

Heart."

CHAPTER FIRST
THE ABSOLUTE AND FREEDOM
L

THE MODERN IDEA OF FREEDOM, AND THE MYSTIC CONCEPTION OF THE DIVINE WILL
Subordination of the Reason to
"

I.

the

Heart."

II.

Reconciliation of the Kantian notion of

Freedom and

the Idea of

the divine Will through the inwardness of the Good.
III.

Reconciliation of

Determinism

and the Necessity

of

choice

through a positive conception of Freedom.

IV. Holiness and Freedom.

V. The character of supernatural or

"

divine

"

comes from the

transcendence of the intelligible ego over the empirical ego.
I.

WE

have asserted several
that

times,,

in

speaking of the
consciousness

mystic
Subordina6

fact,

the

Absolute

enters

the

through Freedom only, and in
terpret
Heart."

this sense

we
of
it

in-

ReLonto

Pascal

s

phrase,

"God

known

the

In order to make no mistake,
"

must

be thoroughly understood that

the Heart

"

is

nothing else
for disinter
it

than Freedom considered properly as
estedness."

"power

When we

say the Heart has intuitions,

must

not be forgotten that
tial

Freedom, whose name

recalls its essen

function, can only be determined

by

itself;

so that the

Heart, after having

acquired

such intuitions

on

its

own

account, must not think of communicating them to others
dialectically,

nor of attributing worth to

them under any

such rules as those of Logic.

Like Life, the Heart grows

THE MODERN IDEA OF FREEDOM

185

expressible

from within only, and this growth consists of things not in concepts and in acts of such a nature as

demand wholly renewed expression
Is this equivalent to putting the

for each individual.

Heart in opposition to

the Eeason, which has objective and universal expression?

By no means. The Heart is Eeason
and
it

as

much

as

it is

Freedom,

would be impossible

for

it

to be absolutely opposed

to itself in this twofold aspect.

In the judgment of mystics,

the Heart

is

two powers
the
active
all

an implicit of Eeason and Love, in which those subordinate. are Desire, which is only
really

essence

of of

Eeason, surpasses
Dialectics,

in swiftness

and
us

energy

process

and

is
1

able
It
is

to

give

intuitions

which astonish pure Eeason.

the Heart,

and never the Eeason, which leads us to the Absolute.

The mind
call,

is

aware of the meaning of the thing which we
"

without making any essential distinction,
"

the Heart

"

and

Freedom."

Between

this feeling

and our intelligence of
is

the Absolute,
lieve,

we

recognize that the distance

great

;

we be
itself

however, that the mind without going outside of

already perceives a transcendence considerable enough to en
able
it

to pass to the idea of the Absolute, without suffering

more

intellectual violence than there is

between having the
s self
"

sense of being free, and truly calling one
1

free."

The

We use the word
sec. ii.).

"

"

intuition

in the sense already fixed

ch.

ii.

Kant
"

also proclaimed the superiority of practical

upon (Second Part, Reason over
"

pure Reason, but he makes it expressly understood that it is not which is claimed for Reason, but an extension of penetrating view
"

more
use

its

in another

relation."

(Critique de la raison pratique, pp. 325-328.)
are seeking also to discover exactly

We
other

agree with him, but use of Reason
"

we

what

"

this

may

be.

In our opinion

it

consists in the production

and

interpretation of mystic symbols.

186
inner sense
tells

THE ABSOLUTE AND FREEDOM
us that we are at the same time author and
;

subject of the moral law

it is

permissible therefore to say

that we have a middle existence between beings not free and

beings

(if

there were such) completely free and not divided

like ourselves

between physical
it

subjection

and moral au
above
itself to

tonomy.

1

Reason,

is

true, dares not look

see so far as this,

but while we venture no dogmatic assertions
is

we ask

if

there

not some effectual way of approaching

nearer to pure Freedom, and reaching out to a limit of ap

proximation which we might
or
"

call
is

"

hypothetically

Perfection

"

the Absolute/
:

There

but one known way and
that

it is

this

As

it is

by moral

Law

man

experiences the fact

of his Freedom, and through experience of this fact learns
his

autonomy,

so,

by advances in morality, that

is,

by

re

peated victories of

Reason over Sense, man advances towards

a condition in which he will no longer have either to resist

or yield, but solely
of
as
"loving/

to

will in the happy and tranquil sense

A man

would in

this

way

contract a habit

it

were of reigning morally within himself, gradually be
idea,

coming more and more familiar with the
was astonishing, of
have called
"

which

at first

this
"

limit

of

approximation which we

Perfection

or

"

the Absolute/
"

Such

is

the

sense of these
1

momentous words of Kant

:

The moral Law

Whatever opinion may be professed concerning the existence of a Being

in itself Goodness and Duty, and transcending motion and desire, the action itself cannot be called contradictory. It has been expressed by Kant in very a holy will whose maxims accord of necessity with laws of autonomy (Fond, de fa Met. des Mosurs, p. 89) and he builds St. Thomas has logical foundation of Personality upon this definition. more simply, Voluntas non hunc solum habet actum, ut appetat quse
intelligible

terms

"

:

the

"

;

the
said

"

non

habet, sed etiam, ut amet quse habet et delectetur in
p.
i.,

illis."

(St.

Thomas,

q. xix., a.

i.

ad.

2 urn.)

THE MODERN IDEA OF FREEDOM
which
is

187

within us exacts from us a disinterested Reverence,

reserving the opening of a perspective, very
supra-sensible world,
active
II.

dim

truly, of the

when only such Reverence has become
this

and dominant) by The modern idea
of

means

alone."

1

of Freedom, which bears the strong

impress
divine

Kant

s

mind, and the mystic concept of the
Reconciliation

Will may be reconciled in like manner

with Inspiration
that both
fact of

and Eeason, under

condition

notion

on^e*

be found again in

one and the same

11

e ^ om anc* idea of the di

^

vine Will
6

our inward being, and that, far from being

Inwardness of

opposed, they be fused into a distinct whole in

some

implicit

actually

present

to

the

consciousness.

The middle

idea which seems to us to place itself between
is

the externality with which the divine Will

reproached, and
is

the absolute inwardness of the moral Law,
"the

the idea of

Good."

The Kantian system of Morals

gets this idea
it

of the

Good from

the outside only, and fraudulently as
it

were

;

in order to find root, however,
"

must exceed the
"

depths of

Practical

Eeason."

The idea of

the possible

"

could very well be founded on the principle of Universality,

but the idea of Duty could not.

How

in fact could the
"that

imperative spring from the simple consideration
act contrary to this imperative

the

would express a contradiction
"

were every one to do

it,"

or again

that nature has given us
"

indefinite faculties for all sorts of possibilities
1

?

2

Where

is

Crit. Crit.

2

de la R. pratique, p. 370. Kant de la R. prat., p. 61.

insists at length
Good,"

(ib.

pp.
it,

upon the
idea of
"

distinctions

which the term

"

the

carries

with

220-235) and con

cludes by rejecting this concept as a consequence, and as depending upon, the
Law."

This

is

the point which

we

venture to dispute.

188

THE ABSOLUTE AND FREEDOM

the necessity of putting into action certain faculties of which

we know nothing except that they extend to all and every Necessity, as we have seen already, is not to be thing ?
confounded with universality
;

it

only belongs to the things
is

which have

in

themselves Act, that

to say, a principle

more than formal whence originates the exigence of univer
sality.

The

universality of the possible

is

nothing and can

be nothing.

We

cannot be dispensed therefore from assign

ing as principle of the
a tendency of

Moral Law, an

"

Act,"

that

is

to say,

the Implicit to

make

itself

explicit.

Now
and

this is itself the very definition of the

Good.
to its

Sensorial being

would

limit the

Good

own

life

consumes

itself

completely in this desire.

Reasonable being
life is

conceives the
slender thread

"universal"

Good, of which

only a

yet

neither

Feeling nor Reason can posi
"

tively demonstrate any object which

is

the

Good

in

itself,"

to

which

all

the rest must relate.

Kant was altogether and
that

properly a

mystic

when he proposed
upon
its

Reason be

its

own

end, founded

proper essence, Right and Duty.

Why
men
?

does

Personality confer

upon man the

radical right,

source of

all

others, to be never taken as a

means by other
prudence

With Kant

this is neither a calculation of
;

nor a mere sentiment of moral equivalence
kind could have been the cause of this fact
able,
"

nothing of the

doubly remark

as

"

Dignity,"
"

on the one
is

side,

and on the other as

Respect
or the
1
"

;

but

it

because Kant saw only in Freedom,

"

Person,"

1 the moral sublimity of Duty.

Now,

this

It

is

not so

much

because

it

is

subject to the moral

law that the

Person has sublimity, but because it gives that law to itself, and is not subject Fond, de la Met. des Moeurs, p. 87.) to it on any other condition." (

THE MODERN IDEA OF FREEDOM

189

sentiment of Freedom appears to us mystic in the sense of

being in

"excess

of pure

Reason."
1

It

was an unacknowl

edged sense of the Absolute.

Enable a

man

to feel, in

some better way than by

dialect

ical terms, that

through Eeason he has a foothold outside of
is

Time, give him the consciousness that he
Infinite reality, then all is explained,

a part of an
"

and I understand

the
in

sublimity of

human

dignity."

The Eeason immanent
at

man

is

found to be in a relation

once of identity

witli

and

dependence on an unknowable Being, by means
another notion than the notion of
practically
" "

of

quite
is

Good."

The Good
justifies

capable
"

of

infinity,

and

by that

the

categorical

character of Duty.

Whenever we

find a cate

gorical imperative
at
if if

we have

the choice of placing ourselves
:

one extremity or the other of Existence our will decides in favor of divine desire
appetite conquers.

in the Infinite, in nothingness,

;

Here we have the idea of Duty again

appearing in the idea of the Good, and both again in the
Absolute.

In our opinion, therefore, there

is

a mental oper

ation which causes the moral law, wholly inward, to appear

in the

more striking and

less
is

subjective aspect of

"divine

Law

"

;

and the consciousness
itself,

projected to the view of the

consciousness

kindled and illumined by a radiation of
all

images which bring to light
lovely and holy.
1

that

is

in us of eternally

Kant, besides, declares of himself that

"practical

Reason

is

sovereign

over pure Reason, and that in certain cases the latter

is

forced to admit certain
its

undemonstrable propositions as something foreign and not originating on

own

ground, though sufficiently proved by practical

interests."

(Crit.

R.

prat. p. 327.)

190

THE ABSOLUTE AND FEEEDOM

The autonomy which Kant pointed out so well as lying beneath all Duty must be carefully kept pure; and the
concept of the divine Will
ficed should this

must be unhesitatingly
altered.

sacri

autonomy be thereby
is

But

in our
"Per

eyes, the divine Will
fection"

not the ontological concept of
"empty

which Kant rightly regarded as
"

and inde

terminate

;

still
"that
"

less

is

it

the theological concept, which

would be
midable,

of a will possessed of love, of glory, for
for us the divine Will
"

etc.

:

is

the Good.
it

We

prefer this term to that of

Perfection
the

"

because
of

combines

better in the consciousness

impression

subjectivity

with the objective signification which cannot be taken away

from the

"

divine

Will."

But

in the meanwhile, as

we go on
is

further to determine that

consummate Reality which

the

Good,
to its

let

us not forget that Mysticism need only be true
principles not to
fall

own

into

the

"dull

circle"

of those

who would make Good,
same way and degree

or
as

the

divine

Will, an

object, in the

we

objectivate things
is

by the aid of our empirical concepts.

The Good, which

God, appears to us only symbolically; and while we
that
it

feel

is

"ourselves,"

we

yet

feel

that

it

infinitely sur

passes

us.

Mysticism has

no other occupation than to
it

pursue this symbolic representation and to renew

so that

our

life

may be

morally broadened and lifted
to renewing with

;

its

ambition

must confine

itself

constantly increasing

vigor and certainty, the experience of these two things,

namely
it

:

that

"

the

Kingdom

of

God

is

within

us,"

and that

is

without bounds.

III.

The Kantian

notion,

it

must be confessed,

is

at

THE MODEEN IDEA OF PEEEDOM
issue with the empirical explanations of

191

Freedom ; but have
Reconciliation of Detennin^e"^"

the latter succeeded in reducing the determinations

which have heretofore been called
1

"

free/

or even

^

absolute/
relations ?

to the relativity of purely mechanical

We

ception of

do not think that they have.

Freedom.

Does the

scientific spirit

mean

that Determinism

is

to have

universal sway ?

Be

it

so,

but in that case, though the name
"

may

express the contrary of the

indifferent/
1

it

must not

express the contrary of

"Freedom."

Determinism would

not deviate unless the moral influence made violent ingress
into the world of motion

and matter, breaking each time
which renders them
intelligible

the

continuity

of

things

to us.

But

if

the

mind

insinuates itself into the series of
it,

motions, and directs without breaking
of
motion"

so that

"systems

or

"actions"

result,

science

should not be

disturbed, nor even take

it

into

account.

The source

of
in

things

is

of

no consequence to

science.

We

feel

that

the source of pure activity disorder must not prevail, any

more than

in

the
the

phenomena
spontaneities

which
that

arise

from

it,

and
or

we
"

feel

that
"

we
with

call
"

"Life"

Freedom
anarchy

cannot be synonymous
but
it

confusion
tells

"

or

"

"

is

not

science

which

us
"

this.
"

Mechanical relations have not in themselves either
or
"necessity;"

order

they are merely imputed to them by mind.
itself is

"Necessity

reduced to

nothing, for
call

it is

not even

necessary

;

and that which we

contingency, in opposi
is,

tion to a bald and blind mechanism,
1 it is

on the contrary, a
:

The Freedom which
really a higher

practice requires is compatible with Determinism

form of conscious Determinism.
phil.,

FOUILLEE, Les abus de

rinconnaissable, Rev.

mai, 1895, p. 4CO.

192
necessity

THE ABSOLUTE AND FREEDOM
of Choice, the only thing which gives a reason

to all things, because only the
reason."

Good

is

to itself

its

own

1

"To

be to
;

itself its

own end/

this is the real foundation

of

Freedom

but this belongs properly only to the Absolute,
to

and cannot apply

man

except under the empirical condi

tions of deliberation

and choice which have too often caused

us to mistake Indifference for Freedom.
is

Below man, there

nothing but Necessity in the ordinary sense of Deter
;

minism

above him, the Necessity

is

only what the mystics

understand by the term

"divine Will."

Freedom

is

mid

way between the two, and the word must be used with
to

respect

man

alone.

Scientific fatalism rests

upon a

false

conception of Free

dom.

The

"

Idea

"

is
"

considered only as a fact of conscious
"

ness and as a purely

representative
;

effect,

and one which

cannot in

its

turn become cause

but the

fact is overlooked
"

that before the

Idea posits

itself in

us as

Free
Life

Will,"

it

has affirmed
fact of the

its

efficient causality in nature.

is

but a

rule

of the

ideal,

or

if

you choose, an actual

subordination of several facts under an x of which we can

become conscious only symbolically, by analogy with the
unity which Reason imposes on our representative groups
in order to

form

ideas.

The

fact of ideal influence
it

cannot be

disputed by empiricism, although

does not

fall

under the
:

consciousness from the outside by means of perception

now,
real

we do not claim
than
this.
1

for

Freedom any transcendence more
is

Freedom, like Life,
Lachelier,

only Finality
Induction, p. 95.

put into

Du Fondement

de

/

THE MODERN IDEA OF FREEDOM
practice,
"conscious"
"

193
this

Finality no

doubt, but
"

most

important attribute of
science in the least.

the conscious

does

not

concern

Will some one say that
not, obeys
definite

Life, compli

cated

with

finality or
it

laws,

and that

therefore although
at least
it

may

be hidden from the ken of Science,
it

sets

up against

no destructive contradiction
It
is

?

But Freedom
that

itself

has even surer laws.

quite true

man

departs from these laws perhaps as often as he

conforms to them, but such moral rejection does not weaken
the reality of free-will any

more than death
is

invalidates the
fails

laws of

life.

Life itself also
effort

an end which

in every at

thing living, and an

which recommences
is

every
It

moment.

Freedom

in

man

only trying

its

wings.

cannot win complete victory or undisputed dominion while
the will works under empirical conditions.
asserts its existence in those sublime laws

Nevertheless

it

which our Reason

contemplates in the intelligible world, and which our good
will brings into the
in
"

kingdom

of

Time and renders
it is

visible

actions."

In regard to pure Freedom,

fused into

one with pure Good.
as

God

is

the Being

who
all

rests
is

wholly

end in Himself, but towards
desire.
state

whom

else

drawn

through

In the actual

of our knowledge

it

is

not possible
in

any longer to consider Freedom as an
this

"indifference;"

sense

it

can

no longer be defended.

It

would

not,

indeed, be worth the trouble of defending, were there noth

ing more to gain from the negations of Determinism or from
the restrictions of Authority than a sense of moral instabil
ity

and a power of mental inco-ordinations.
18

In our opinion

194

THE ABSOLUTE AND FREEDOM

the attribute of free-will which ends and crowns all our facts
of consciousness should be called
"a

force of

attraction,"

rather than an

"

indifference,"

thus by no means interfering
"

with the
"

essence
"

of

Freedom.

Indetermiuateness

"

and

contingence

are not negative terms, but express

rather
all

a very positive thing, the setting free of the will from
pressure of sense
exterior

and of the
is

will

of others.

Absence of

predeterminations
to

one of the conditions which
to act,

enable us
state

pass

from power
force."

and

is

for us

the

of

"available

Consequently,

if

I

am

a line

traced beforehand, no longer in the net-work of the forces

which impress me organically, but in that region of ideas

whose influence

is

limited to

"appearing

to

me,"

can any

one assert that these predeterminations of Duty resemble
the predeterminations of

Becoming?

And

because

my

Free

dom
it

follows the sense of these ideal predeterminations, will

have suffered a diminution which could have been avoided
it

had

followed a contrary sense ?

No

one thinks

it.

1

And

lastly, if

my

heart
life

is

so fixed that

Duty almost always pre
is

vails

in

my

over

the

senses,

there any

reason to

assimilate this constancy to that of the contrary habits
deteriorate the Will ?

which

Is the

man who

fixes

his heart in

the opposite direction more

"free"?

Under empirical
other, can only be

conditions,

moral

activity,

like

every

an Evolution.

When

"conduct"

happens
another

to fall within the uniformity of the instincts,
1

it

is

J.-J.

Rousseau

felt

in the

own master
i., iv.,

because I

am

same way. Does it follow that I not master to he another than myself ?
"

am
"

not

my

(f,mile,

ed. Charpentier, p. 314.)

THE MODERN IDEA OP FREEDOM
sort of activity than the

195
itself. is

moral which manifests

Free
called

dom

only holds itself towards a fixed ideal which
7

"Duty/

and does not allow

itself to

be

felt in

any other way.

Gradually, as personality emerges from our actions and char
acter
asserts
itself,
;

it

is

very

true

that the

facilities

for
it

Good augment
is it

but although this
"

may become habitual,
as

not in the sense of
is,

passivity,"

Determinism
is

insists

;

on the contrary, because the Will

augmented and

the Person approaches nearer to a transcendent condition in

which he would be constantly and without reservation
compos."

"

sui

This state we regard as a

"necessary hypothesis;"

it

is

an attribute of the Absolute which mystics

call
"the

divine
divine

Will.
Will,"

We

have no hesitation in applying to

these words of

Kant

"

s,

It is a supposition necessary

to

Reason in a being who believes himself conscious of
1
will."

a

IV.

Kant did not dare

trust himself to mysticism.

He

feared lest

human

indiscretion should bring
Ends,"

God down from
"that

the

"Kingdom of
exists,"

where we know

_
Holiness and

he

without knowing more, and place him
interior events

among our

which belong

as

much

to passion

and imagination as they do to pure Reason.

We

have,

however, a sufficiently pure and solid foundation in the Con
sciousness to give us the hope that there

we may meet with

the Absolute.

The whole

difficulty in the
is,

way

of reaching

this place, the very

inmost of ourselves,

that after

we have

been led to the threshold by the imagination and the feelings,

we must detach ourselves from the symbols by
1

attention,

and

Fond, de la met. des mceurs,

p.

119.

196

THE ABSOLUTE AND FREEDOM

conquer the subtlety of the passions by the purity of our dis
interestedness.

The

"

outward,"

upon which we

live, so

fills

up

the consciousness that
its

we

ourselves are driven out, and

the heteronomy of

principles is

imposed on

us.

Instead

of merely witnessing

all

the changes of Becoming, apart and

withdrawn

in

our

free

Eeason, we immerse ourselves in them,
hold again of our Freedom.
to recall

and with great
mystic

difficulty get

All

efforts are

merely meant
plain to

man more

within

himself and to

make

him

principles deeper

and more
his
"

profound than he had at
carelessness or egotism.

first

perceived,

by reason of
of
"

Under

the

name

divine Will

nothing different to this should be sought

for.

Unless the notion of the Absolute

is

to fall into decay, the
to rule in
"

two ideas of Duty and Freedom must be allowed
in equal proportion.
"
"

it,

"

Duty
the

and

"

"

Freedom,"
1

Holy

and

Free

"

mean one and

same
is

thing.
"

The

attribute which
duty."

unites us to the Absolute

the

power of

If a

man

were holy, he would never hesitate when placed between
;

Sense and Eeason
the world

but no matter what happens, nothing in
in

must come

between the two, as being of any
If there did,
it
it

interest higher than

Freedom.

would only be

to trouble the pureness of Duty, and

would not be Duty
"

which ruled, but some other thing which
turn."

made

the machine

Intimations of

Duty must reach

us, without

excep
is

tion of any kind, through

personal Eeason.

There

no
if

myitic a priori which can prevail over

this necessity,

and

any were insisted on

it

would become the object of

senti

ments quite the contrary of Eeverence.
1
i
"

Now

the Lord

is

that Spirit
iii.

,

and where the Spirit of the Lord

it,

there

Liberty."

(2 Cor.

17.)

THE MODERN IDEA OF FREEDOM
There
cal,
is

197

no outside power

in existence, mystical or politi
"
"

which can confer upon
is

iny

actions any significance

which

valid for

"

"

my

consciousness.

Xot only

is

it

me

that

is

to say, the impersonal

Reason of which I partake

essentially

which confers, from within, morality to
but
it

my

indi

vidual

acts,

is

among

the functions

of that
"

same

Reason to constitute powers outside of
powers."

itself as

legislative

When

these powers, once constituted, are found

to be in opposition to

my

sensible desires, they

must be able

to justify this opposition

which Reason alone has the power to
Authority
is

exercise against the senses.

born only of Free
this notion that
society."

dom, or
it

else

we

so

weaken the meaning of
"

becomes merely

the defensive force of

The Absolute does not
less
it

leave the consciousness.

Neverthe

could not be claimed that, when once the Absolute has
it

been conceived each one preserves

in himself;

far

from

it.

The Good (and we know
for the Absolute),

that this

word may be substituted
it

from whatever angle

has been perceived,
all its

whether positively or mystically, could not assume
ural proportions in the consciousness, without
stantly to leave
it
;

nat
in

demanding
it

only

it

knows,

if it is

pure, that

cannot

communicate

itself in

any other

way than that of Freedom,
seeks
first,

without being destroyed.
the
self, to

Good

in the limits of

actualize itself as

much

as the individual energies
infinite,

will permit,

but regarding

itself as

and

its

proper
it

form being

lost if the consciousness of this infinity is lost,
itself in

never comes to the end of expressing

us.

In this

way the moral stimulus

still

continues after the subject thinks

that he has attained for himself Happiness, Science, etc.

The

198

THE ABSOLUTE AND FREEDOM
therefore reveals itself as Force and as Idea
;

Good

it
"

is

this

twofold function which
"Wherever

we render

in the one

word

Ideal."

the

Good
is

is

present,

it is

expansive, and when once
it is

the consciousness
itself

filledyW/ of God,

carried outside of
is

by a sublime alienation whose tendency
life, etc.,

to bring joy,

knowledge,
find room.

wherever this divine expansiveness can
the sense in which Maimonides speaks of
"

This

is

the

"

Faculty of Confidence
faculties,

inherent in Prophecy

"

:

These

two

Confidence and Imagination, must of necessity

be very strong in the Prophets.

This Faculty of Confidence

seems to

me
J

to answer to the Expulsive

among

the physical

faculties."

The same notion
it

is

found in

all theories of

In

spiration
to

;

and

must be confessed that

it is

neither contrary

Reason nor Freedom.
It

would be a moral Fanaticism

to objectivate practical

Reason outside of man, to create a

will in the Absolute, free motions.

un
is

knowable and yet the director of our
our duty to maintain stoutly the
the
"Person"

It

modern and Kantian idea
and
to insist
"that

of

against this danger,
means."

the

Person shall never be a
raised to the nth power.

The Absolute
is

is

Person

But

as the Absolute

Knowable

only in the degree in

which we

possess

it

morally within us,
into

no attempt must be made

to introduce
"

some imperative

Freedom, under the name of
puerile dread of the
It
self
is

divine Will/

based only on a

unknown.

the part of Reason only, to
itself

work out

perfection in

it

and to suggest to

a wider imperative, in proportion

as

it

advances in moral growth.
1

The moral increment which
xxviii.

Livre des Egares, ch.

THE MODERN IDEA OF FREEDOM
the

199
is

mind

receives

through the channels of mysticism
less

neither

more nor
;

subjective
in

than

all

other

kinds of

progress

there

must be seen
or

it,

as in the vital act, only

an intussusception

even a more

perfect identity which

causes the Infinite to communicate only with itself in Free

dom. 1

We

shall see that as a consequence of this mystic or

merely moral growth, the
a

human Person becomes
has

capable of
sufficiently

deed the

originality of which
this is
"

not

been

recognized, and

Disinterestedness."

Its originality

consists in extending the rights of practical
senses, further than mere Duty.

Reason over the
it is

But unless

the per

sonal Eeason which thus immolates a portion of
right to a
"
"

its

natural
if

free

good,

known

only mystically, and

some

other thing than the moral transcendence worthy to be called
"

heroism

"

mingles with suggestions of this kind, nothing

is

left

but fanaticism and immorality.

V.

The moral
;

law, wholly a priori,

makes one with the

mind
of

and

this innate character

seems to forbid our speaking
also

its
.,

supernatural essence.
.,

Kant

looked

upon the
likely to

divine Will

j.

.

TTT-n

a

as a

dangerous concept,
is

The character of supernatural or "divine" comes from the

weaken the self-determination, that

to

SSJ85SL
ble epo over the empirical ego
.

say, the very essence, of a good will.

It is quite

certain that

"

if

the supernatural
attacks
its

"

tends only to externalize

the moral

Law,

it

essence.

Even

in its boldest

plans of perfection mysticism

must never dream of transcend

ing Reason on any other side than that of Freedom, and that

1

of

"

The mysticism of Christianity owes its greatness to these characteristics inwardness and withdrawal into self." Only, its formula should
"

"

always consist in the words of Isaiah,

"

Redite ad

cor."

(Isaiah xlvi. 8.)

200
would

THE ABSOLUTE AND FEEEDOM
be, never to let

go of Season.

Not even

the symbolic

suggestions by which alone mysticism has real opportunities
of transcendence, can escape this absolute rule.

Let us place Duty upon the same foundations as Nature.
Spencer was
not wrong

when he

wrote,

"This

notion that

such and such actions are made respectively good and bad
simply by divine injunction
is

tantamount to the notion that

such and such actions have not in the nature of things such

and such kinds of
of causation, there

effects.
is

If there

is

not an unconsciousness
l

an ignoring of
"

it."

We

do not believe
"

that

Duty can be based upon
if

consciousness of causation

;

but on another hand,

there

is

any opposition in the con
"

sciousness between the

sentiment of

causation"

and the

sentiment of duty

it

must be surmounted.

For

this object,

mysticism seems to us to succeed best.

If mysticism pro
is,

posed a divine injunction dogmatically, that
the

apart from
it

symbols which

arise

with

it

in the consciousness,

would be an attack on both the inward nature and the
rational

nature

of

Duty;

but, in the

same way that the

symbolical character of mystic

knowledge does not admit

the synthesis of the ego and the non-ego, except in the con

sciousness where the symbols have arisen, and for

it

alone, in
"

the same way, on practical grounds, there cannot be any
junction"

in

except for the will which lives by the symbols given

to its consciousness.

Upon

these conditions the

synthesis

of Determinism and

Freedom can be made
is

in the conscious

ness and the soul will feel that there

not only harmony

but identity between the free desires of the Ideal and the
1

Les Baset de la morale

volutionniste, p. 43.

THE MODERN IDEA OP FREEDOM
forces

201
all

which lead

it

empirically whither

tend

things

with

it.

Kant

s

scruples

and the

objections

of

empiricism

are

directed against a Mysticism assuming to play the part of

pure Reason.

In our opinion, no attempt should be made

to suggest the desires of the divine Will,

unaccompanied by
its

the symbols, into the consciousness open to

influx,

nor

under any pretext to

steal in

from the outside between Reason
it is

and the Absolute.

Perhaps
arise

from that cause that so
rela

many misunderstandings
tive

between the partisans of

morals and of Absolute morals.

There

is

some psycho

logical factor,

we

think, the subjectivity of which has been

able to cause general illusion, and which creates in the depths

of the consciousness the apparitions of

Duty which can be

referred neither to the relativity of the other facts of con

sciousness nor to the dialectical rigor of moral maxims.

As
it

we
is

see

it,

Duty

is

no more determinable

scientifically

than

communicable through mystic channels.
in each consciousness
;

It
it

must be created
in this

and posited

and

is

Act of
flight

Love and of Freedom that the
beyond Life and Time.

spirit takes its

mystic

Modern philosophy has done
by proving that Eeason
is

great service to future mystics

capable of the same infinity as

Freedom, for they can no longer claim for themselves intui
tions

by divine

favor, or

some new

"

"

syndesis

by which

to

penetrate the secret desires of Heaven.

God Himself
Mysteries/
"

has

nothing more exquisite enveloped in
thing
sacred
"

"

nor any
profane,"

to set over against all the rest,

than the laws

of

Holiness

and moral perfection.

Other

202

THE ABSOLUTE AND FEEEDOM

and Eeason has only mysteries have no existence any more,
to purify itself morally in order to be freed intellectually
("Cor

purum
is

penetrat coelum et

infernum"

1

).

There
with

no doubt that Kant opened Heaven to Eeason
caution; but
it

infinite
it

is

enough that Reason could
feel that it is truly

touch
selves

for

an instant for us to
able to reach

our

who were
it

so far.

We

have learned that

whether
whether
it

brings us
is

mere counsels of common-sense, or

it

clothed in the majesty of the divine
all

Name,
needed

is

ever and always Reason, and that

that

is

to reach the Absolute is

a generous singleness of effort on

our part.
fail

Many

mystics, contemptuous of

common Reason,

to

remember

even Saint Augustine himself when he
all
"

presumed that the author of from the
essential

things

had to detach

Reason which approaches us to God
out of which he formed
the
practical

some grosser
Reason,
after

part,

the
of

same fashion

in

which Eve was taken
grandeur
to all

from

the

side

Adam

"

2

the
is

and
men.

simple

beauty of that Duty which

common

The

ancients, on the contrary, understood that the moral func

tion gives

Reason a place above everything

else.

The notion

of

"supernatural"

which was so confused to the Greets

and so contrary
their

to their genius, only

comes to light when
of

poets
of

or

philosophers
3

discourse

Duty and

the

marvels
1

Holiness.

8

De Imita. Christi, 1. ii. c. iv. 2. May I always preserve in my
in
is

2

De

Trin.

1.

xi. c. iii.

whose sublime laws dwell

words and actions that august Holiness the heavens where they took birth, laws of which

Olympus alone
will never

the father, which
;

men have
a

not made, and which oblivion
of might forever untouched by

wipe out

in

them breathes
v. 863.

God

age.

SOPHOCLE, Edipe Roi,

THE MODERN IDEA OF FREEDOM

203
"

Whence comes
"

the universal

inclination
all

to

supernatu-

ralize

the moral law, which yet
Is
it

the time forms part

of ourselves?
opposition

solely

fear

which inspires the ideal
the

called

"Duty/

and
at

matchless

pangs of

Remorse which seem
soul?
It is quite as

gnaw much love, we

to

the very essence of the
think,

and the

delicate

joys which the spirit feels in the urgings of the moral law,
as

endearing on one side

as

they

are forbidding

on the
it

other.
itself in

To

the dominating voice of
all

Duty when

posits

us categorically, true for

time, the consciousness

can only answer by acquiescence.
acquiescence
threats

From
love,

the

moment

of

change into

and divine
;

resist

ance

is

transformed into marvellous

identity

whence we
as all-per

receive the

knowledge

of

an
of

"inner

kingdom/

vading as the opposition

Duty has seemed

absolute.

Man

needs only to

make

unfaltering response to the divine
state will

desires of

Reason and the

become confirmed, and
life

he will find consolation for everything in

and death
us with

by the

ineffable
"

joys of

Freedom which

identify

the Absolute.
ful

The Heart, which

is terrified

by the fear
is

power

of the

Law

which no mortal can
it

resist,

open

to the divine will, which

recognizes

as the true essence

of its

own
l

will,

and thus

it

finds reconciliation with

the

Divinity."
1

Lange, Hist, du materialisme,

t. ii.

p.

581.

204

THE ABSOLUTE AND

1

REEDOM

II.

OE THE ABSOLUTE IN MORALS

I.

Inadequacy of Dogmatism in Morals.
Empirical morals, which are tantamount to pure Egotism, facts of Reason and Freedom. pieces before the
" "

II.

fall to

III.

The

part of Mysticism in morals.

IV. Determination of moral Good, divine and human together.
V. Twofold error of Asceticism
its attempt to establish itself with out reference to Experience, even the mystic ; and its ten dency to isolate man in the Absolute.
:

I.

No

system of

morals can be sound which

is

not

supported by the autonomy or the inwardness of Duty
inadequacy of Dogmatism in
Morals.

;

but

the character of objectivity

must

also

accompany

^he autonomy.
it

"When

comes to the question of making the Good
is

objective, there

danger

lest

it

should lose, when pro

jected outside the consciousness, that absolute value which

we recognize
the

in its interior

and universal form.
positively

What

is

Good which may be determined

and which
"Rever

can inspire us with the quasi mystic feeling of
ence"?

Empirical criticism has brought so

much
that,

science

and

sincerity to bear
it

upon

traditional

Morals

we must
its

confess,

will

not be easy for Dogmatism to maintain

of the future. legislative power over the morals

Of
the

all

the rational principles which
day,
to

have served, up to
morally and to

present

qualify
of

human

acts

establish

doctrines

Disinterestedness,

none

are

secure

from charges of lack of science and good
the
attacks of

faith, or from

more

interested

scepticism.

For example,

OF THE ABSOLUTE IN MORALS
the
idea of Perfection

205

may be

allowed to enter into judg

ments of Taste, but not to furnish principles of conduct;
adaptations

which do not concern the material being and
satisfaction of the thinking subject
"

which are only for the
cannot be called
Morals.
practice,
"

ends

in

the strict
"

sense

required

by

The
it
"

Aristotelian notion of
true,
"

the

Good,"

nearer in

is

does

not confer a sufficiently original
:

mark

of

morality

upon our actions
its

an Object

is

wanting

which should impress
redescend
to the

stamp on Freedom, unless we
Eudernonisin of Epi

more

characteristic

curus from that of Aristotle.
their side,
"

The Dogmatist-Mystics, on

do not furnish an adequate definition of the
"

Beatitude

which they would substitute for human hap

piness as term of our desires.
as

The dangers

of Asceticism

a scheme of Conduct will soon be apparent to us.

All
to

the

other

theories

of
this
if

Duty can

be easily

attributed

Utilitarianism, and
II.

one to Empiricism.

Nevertheless,

we choose Empiricism we must

re

nounce the transcendency of duty.

A

Will which consents to
life

an action that does not exalt the sensory
the individual and the species would be
"

for
"

Em pi ri cai
re the equi-

immoral
it,

according to this doctrine.

According to
us
to

the

valentofpure g f p|ecTsbe"facto"

mental complications which lead
certain actions,

consider

of

which are directly disagreeable to
"

Reason and Freedom "

the person doing them, as

"

good

and even

"

obligatory

are simply the devices which Life employs against the mis

deeds of egotism
adaptability of

;

and having reached the high degree of
is

which Humanity

capable,
is,

it is felt

that Life

can no longer go on progressing, that

becoming broader

206

THE ABSOLUTE AND FREEDOM

and longer, without further and further idealization ; and that
here
is all
1

there

is,

of anything

more

in

Duty than

in thirst or

sleep.

There

is

no mistaking such an

idealization.

In morals

Empiricism leads us direct to Egotism, just as in ontology
it

claims to lead us back to the Simple.
is

But Egotism by
is

itself

not Duty,

any more than the Simple
"Will,

Being.

Empiricism looks for the essence of

as for the essence of

Knowledge, in the nearest organic

fact to

motion that

it

can

find; while really the vital act does not

become Knowledge
until
it

and Will until

it is

supplemented, that

is,

takes from

the subject a supplementary act which issues from itself alone

and not

at all

from things.

It

is

this

wholly subjective ele

ment which Empiricism constantly
in morals,

neglects to take account of

though
is

it

appears to do so under various names.
"

Egoism
life,

the

"

tendency to endure

which

is

the root of
in the

and the whole empirical system of morals consists

development of this tendency
Instinct

by

adding to the resources of
is

those

of

Reflection.

What

meant when they

speak of
"

"expanding" life,
"

not only in length but also in

breadth

?

Either this additional progress tends only to

combine empirical causes so as to increase the quantity of
facts of consciousness, or
it

tends to bring the complication of

something else into Life.

We

assume the

latter hypothesis as
"

more favorable
.

to

Empiricism.

To

"

expand

Life, then,

1 self preservation has been increased by the overruling Throughout of presentative feelings by representative feelings, and representative feelings by re-representative feelings as life has advanced the accompanying sentiency
.
. ;

has become increasingly
niste, p.

ideal.

SPENCER, Les bases de

la morale Evolution-

93.

OP THE ABSOLUTE IN MORALS

207
is

means

to idealize

it

;

but this ideal element which
"

supposed

to be added to Life cannot be strictly called a
tion,"

re-representa

that

is

to say, the very distant repercussion of the ner

vous shock upon the innermost depth of the organism.

The

moral element of Life
desire,

is

more than transformation of

sensible

because

it

gives a value to Life which our conscious
all

ness perceives, absolutely apart from

the

rest.

If the
it

moral law were nothing but a derivation from experience,

would not happen that man would hold even more to

his

own
tions

conservation
"

"in

this

manner and under these condi
"

than empirically and simply.

To be

"

living

is
is
J

not
pre

even the
ferred to
"

minimum
Life,
"

of morality

;

until something else
"

no one commences to be

a

man."

In

expanding

itself,

Life could not go to this length, for an
is

act superior to Life

asserting itself in our Freedom.
is

That

the rational being prefers nothingness to sinfulness

much

more than an
cation that

accidental fact
it

;

it

has so important a signifi

we can use

as

an aid to discern between con
is

tingency and necessity, between phenomenal being which
Life,

and pure being, or being raised to the power of the
This inward fact of the moral alienation of the
its

ought-to-be.

ego, and the completeness of

opposition to the search for
"

nothingness pure and simple, or
in

despair,"

must be retained

our minds as one of those crucial

facts

which show us the

way when,
1

the guide of experience failing,

we

find

it

neces-

and yet nevertheless does emancipate
triumphs over
Life,

In the same way that Life appears to be a resistance to physical forces itself under certain conditions, Freedom
not by opposing
itself,

which may go
independent.

so far as to render the

but by superposing itself by acts two principles completely separate and

208
sary to attain

THE ABSOLUTE AND FREEDOM
knowledge by the promptings of the conscious

ness

alone.

Nothing but Duty can give us entrance to

Being.

Empiricism

feels itself

strong as

it

sees

how

helpless
;

Dog
if it
is

matism
is

is

to point out

where Absolute morals lead

but

a fixed fact that within the limits of Experience there

no

individual

Good which
since
it

fits

the measure of a morally great

man, and

is

in such a

man

that

we must seek

the

model of our
pirical
"

species,

we

are compelled to look

beyond em
fact.

matter for the explanation of the moral
"

The
all

Sage

does not ask to
it
;

know

the Absolute as he

knows
it

the rest, to possess
be,

he does require, however, that

shall

and he needs

at least to feel
its

through and beyond fleeting
disinterestedness.
;

symbols that Reason loves

The Good

of

Eeason

is

not Life
"

it

asserts itself in the
else."

reflecting consciousness as

something
to

Not

only

is

the

mind unable,

after

reflection,
is

stop at materialistic

Eudemonism, because sensation
often repeated destroys
itself,

but momentary and too

but Ataraxy even, we cannot

say

it

too often, would not

suffice.
it

For the most

part, those

who

content themselves with
is

cannot
1

resist the weariness of

a happiness which
is

purely negative.

Life

is

not static

;

it

dynamic throughout, and hence we need

to be quickened,

not from the outside alone, but also with a moral stimulation

which might be named
have
1

"

the

sentiency of Reason/

We
feel;
"

as

much need

to will as

we have
"

to see

and to

We may
1.

meet the man Horace
i. ),

(Od.

iii.

ode

desiderantem quod satis est but such a state would be the very triumph of moral ambi
describes,
"
" "

tion over empirical desire.
minded"

man who

moderateLet us not forget that it was this Non omnis moriar ( 1. iii. ode xxx.). cried out,

OF THE ABSOLUTE IN MORALS
all of

209

them together make up
1

living.

Direct observation of
is

facts teaches us

that moral ambition

not, as

it

has been

called, a disease of

Freedom.

Its pathology consists less in
its

the infinity of desire than in the abdication of

infinity

;

and
as

this is the cause of

Pessimism.

Life asserts itself in us

Freedom,

seeking, in the

good things which follow each

other, that
resist this

Being of which they are only appearances.

We
mod
But
which

by choosing
is really

to place
"

Wisdom

in a practical
useful."

eration which

only

the sense of the

Reason
the

will not allow itself to be
life

brought to this place

animal

already holds, and Freedom, unrecognized
itself in

and misunderstood, avenges
ness,

an overwhelming sad

inexplicable and intimate,

like the Fate of the ancient

maenads. 2

Moral Pessimism has been defined

in
"

such a
a state

way

as to

show

at once the evil

and the remedy

:

1 It cannot be denied that a natural defect of

discontent and brings a

man
"

moral vigor often engenders down below his Reason and his Duty. The
"

mind

of

man,"

says

Hume,

is

subject to certain unaccountable terrors pro

ceeding either from the unhappy situation of private or public affairs, from ill health, from a gloomy or melancholy disposition. ... It is also subject to un
accountable elevation and presumption proceeding from prosperous success, from
luxuriant health, from strong spirits, or from a bold and confident disposition.

ceptions, to

In such a state of mind, the imagination swells with great but confused con which no sublunary Beauties or enjoyments can correspond."

But if many men well-endowed (Essais moraux et pohtiques, I2e essai.} both in character and fortune have been subject to these phenomena, we are com
pelled to maintain the
species
2
is

commonplace of

"human sadness,"

which

for the

whole

nothing but want offaith in that Freedom where the Absolute dwells. The man who adapts the purpose of his life to external conditions will

have to redesceud successively every stage of being, and bend to, submit to, and From that time he identify himself with the things whose shock he dreads.
will see only evils in the

moral consciousness, in the intelligence, in the
to consider absolute annihilation as the

feeling,

in existence itself; for all these things are contradicted by the outside world,

and

at last he will

come

supreme good

E.

BOUTROUX, De

la contingence des lois de la Nature, 2 e ed. p. 127.

14

210

THE ABSOLUTE AND FREEDOM

of emotional egotism in which the soul seems to have re

tained the power to suffer while
itself/
l

it

has lost the power to give

Freedom

is really

the

"

power

to give one s self/

taken no

longer for an indifference, but in as positive a sense as
"

we

"

say
in
it

life

or

"

thought/

Seen in

this light,

Freedom has
is

the element

of the mystical.

Nothing

more un

scientific

than this phenomenon of the moral alienation of

the ego.
III.

What

are the exact relations between the moral con

sciousness and Mysticism ?
The part of
Mysticism in
morals.

Before answering this question,
in

it

must be borne

mind

that the mystic

fact

originates from the need of a synthesis between the
;

Mind and Nature

it

has been and always will be an aspira

tion to unite ourselves to
tially

some Being which contains substan
it

the world and the ego while

dominates them.

In

order to

know

if
it

the moral idea partakes of this need and

this aspiration,

must

first

be examined, as we have pro

ceeded to do, as to whether this idea admits or excludes the
Absolute.
prived of
of
all

In the negative hypothesis, the mystic

fact,

de

moral significance, would be confined to the order
;

Knowing

and on

this exclusive

ground

it

has no objective
to

value,

and would be nothing more than a means by which

get rid of the never completed character of our thoughts, a

kind of

"false start"

into the

Unknowable.

Subjectively

we
the

should be relieved of Mystery and Fatality by a

God

all

more gentle because we make Him in our own image ; but On the of positive acquisitions there would be none at all.
1

Paul Bourget, Discours de reception a V Academic Franpaiae.

OF THE ABSOLUTE IN MORALS

211

contrary, if the moral idea will not be enclosed in the limits

of Life,

it

is

because the Absolute demands entrance into
into Conduct,

Knowledge and thence

by a necessity which
fact enters the

is

even stronger than Logic.
consciousness
rule there.

The mystic
opening,

whole

through

this

and holds legitimate

Does

this identity, or at least

we may

say this close affin
?

ity, of Mysticism and Morals appear in history

It does not

properly belong to our task to examine, but
theless remark, in a very general

we must never

manner, that religions have
of morals at the epoch,
"

always contained

all

that was

known

and

in the

country where they originated.
are told,
"

Morals and

reli

gion,"

we

have no relation, or at best only very
civilization.

rudimentary ones, with lower stages of

Savage

animism
to

is

almost

devoid of that ethical element which

the

educated moral
1
"

mind

is

the
"

very

mainspring of

practical

religion."

Eudimentary
all

relations, it
life

may

be,

but the savage put into them

the moral

that he

had ; and by degrees, as

civilization

brought order into the
etc.,

practical notions of Justice, Kindness,

the mystic con

sciousness incorporated the
chief of its
over,
if

new
itself

data,

and made them the

means to unite
is

with the Absolute.

More
is

the question

one of constituted religions there

no longer any occasion for us to defend our

thesis against

such historical statements, our object being the essentially

inward

"

mystic

fact."

"We

ourselves have tried to explain
effects of

by what psychological corruption the
generate into infatuation and passion.
1

symbols de

It

is

not surprising

Tylor, Primitive

Region,

t.

ii.

pp. 464-406.

212
that

THE ABSOLUTE AND FREEDOM
the egotism of the
ruling classes should

have occa

sionally

made sad havoc with

the mystic tendencies of our

nature; but

among

the masses

who have

suffered religious

oppression Freedom also

has

made forward bounds which

have brought them to the knowledge of the good and true

God, and there have been souls in which the Ideal was
strong

enough

to

pierce

through

veils of

forms to shine

forth in the light of the most pure symbols.

Were Mysticism
"

to be understood in the sense of to the

"

Knowl

edge

and

"

metaphysical explanations/
its

exclusion

of moral progress,

highest expression would be nothing

more than a learned Fetishism, and there would be nothing left for us but to condemn it radically. But it is, in fact,
the exact contrary.

The Heart takes
synthesis

the
of

place

of

pure
the

Reason to

effect

the moral
to
effect

the ego and

non-ego, but not
call
"Knowledge."

that other synthesis which
in

we

Our minds when

the mystic state

do not discover any new empirical

fact,

nor perceive any
;

new
all

association of concepts, logical

or mathematical, etc.

the

mind does

is

to create for itself

symbols which give

us consciousness of Freedom and of things not expressible
in concepts, such as the Dignity of Person, the Infinity of

Reason,

etc.,

which are contained

in

Freedom.

When, under
in us

the influence of symbolic suggestion,

Wisdom assumes

the proportions of enthusiasm, or takes the active form of
"Love/

the mystic fact

is

accomplished;
of

that is to say,

at

that

moment an

alienation
as

the
state

ego takes place in
of the imagination
act of Disinterested-

our Freedom,

as mystic

the

during Inspiration or Prophecy.

The

OP THE ABSOLUTE IN MORALS
so

213
it

ness,

cold
life

and calm
into

in its sublimity

that

seems to

send the
its

the extremities rather than
is

recall it to

organic centres,

the thing
it

we

find in the mystic

act

pure and true;

and

is

this

fact

of

moral alienation
the mystic alien

which
ation,

gives

nobility to

all
it

the

rest of

and which makes
state

at the

same time the most true
It
will

and most perfect
derstood that such

of

consciousness.

be un

a

fact

must be immediately preceded

by an act of intelligence in the highest degree suggestive
or
"

representative."

Thought then animates
itself,

itself

and
said
love,

endeavors
that
it

to

inspire

or

rather,

it

should

be

receives

from the Absolute an affirmation of

an impression of eternity,
the

some Grace,
sense and

in short

(we use

word

in

the

natural

not the theological),

which places Freedom in communion with creative Good.
Otherwise, thought could not go so far as these effects of
alienation nor give
practical

Reason
Life.

sufficient

impetus to

arouse

it

from the embraces of
is

IV. What, then, really
mystics strive
ity of
?

the pure

Good

for

which the

We

have said many times that the original
;

Mysticism consists only in Disinterestedness

Detemina* 011

but

it

must be confessed

that Disinterestedness

T-v

ra l

is
it

Good, divine

and human
to s ether -

only a condition or form of our volitions, and

might always be asked what there
disinterested will, until
at
least

is

at

the root of the

some

intelligible

End,

if

not some positively desirable Object, has been discovered.

Though
strated

this

End

has a place in Life,

it

cannot be demon
it

by any
therein.

force of reasoning

that

is

wholly con
real

tained

Pure Good appears to us both

and

214
desirable

THE ABSOLUTE AND FREEDOM
under the words
this
:

the

salvation

of humanity.

1

The Mystics give
place
it

a place outside of time and others
this

in

time, but in

connection

it

matters

little.

There are qualities to be developed, and joys to be diffused
just
for

as

much

in

the
call
"

interests

proper to
salvation."

human

life

as

what Mystics

eternal

When

once the

supreme

benefits of Dignity, Culture,

and Humanity, which

have no other limits than the limits of Freedom, are agreed
upon,
of our
it

remains to be

known whether

the empirical conditions

Knowledge and Will

suffice to preserve
is

and give them

constant value.

The mystic claim

this

:

to

become so con

scious of the Absolute that Life will be idealized according to

the aim of Eeason.

The claim

is

valid provided the

Reason

cannot

by

its

own

means reach

some
it

sovereign
is

Good

whence to bring back an Ideal strong as
effectual guide for Conduct.

pure, and an

It does not

seem

to us possible that the Ideal can be
intelligible,

made

concrete, or the

Good
"

by

rationalist processes.
"

The expressions
"the

Impersonal

Eeason,"

the

Beautiful,"

Good,"
"

have not even so

much
of

objectiveness as the
it

"

Ideas

of Plato.

To speak

them

must by

be, as

we

speak of First Principles, Life, Force, etc.,

directing the

mind

to the results

by which we recognize them.

But on
etc.,

another hand, these effects of the Good, the Beautiful,

which we
1

call in

one word

"

facts of

Eeason,"

are too inward

Kant says that the determining cause of the will ought not to be the rep resentation of an object, for the Supreme Good would thus be brought into the empirical sphere. agree with him in that we propose to Freedom no other end than itself (human deliverance). Its symbols are not like the

We

representations
p. 157.)

which Kant blames

as empirical.

(Crit.

de la raison pratique,

OP THE ABSOLUTE IN MORALS
for us to be able to

215
and what are

make them

intelligible;
"

we
of

to

do

"

to assimilate to our
to

mind

(for this is the sense

the

word

know)

the

very
it

things

which constitute
the

the mind.

We

have seen that

belongs to

mystic

consciousness alone not only to be present at those depths

where

"

First Principles are felt/

but above

all to

recognize,
"

through and beyond the symbols,
sivity."

their character of

exces-

It

is

this excessive character

of the First Principles

which constitutes for us mortals the whole objectiveness of
the Absolute.

Every other attempt by intuition or reasoning, and to

to think the
fix

noumenon
upon our
In

the ideal

mobile consciousness seems to us doomed to
the full light of criticism the mind
realizes

failure.
it

that

holds

nothing but empirical constructions, and turns

away from

them

as

from

idle

dreams, because the Heart has added to

them nothing of

itself.
it

Nevertheless the Ideal, from whatever heights
us, is for the purposes of Life,

comes to

and has no other matter to

inform with
formations;

itself.

Is Life, then, susceptible of these trans
it

and towards what heavens does
it is

aspire

to

remove

?

Let us note here that

not the mystic nature

of Disinterestedness to cause a

man,

in fact

and quocumque

modo, to submit to a loss which will serve for the Good
of others,

but to make

him
bids

resolve

on such action out
the worldly

of true generosity which

defiance to all

maxims

of

La Rochefoucauld.
it

If there

is

any place morally

for Mysticism,

is

because others, taken in the broadest

sense as humanity, have not empirically the slightest right or
quality for the sake

of which I

must deprive myself of

a

216
particle of

THE ABSOLUTE AND FREEDOM

my
me

Happiness or iny Life on their account ; only

when I

cease to consider them in that light do others begin

to impress

with the grandeur of Reverence and

moral

Love, and only when I draw these sentiments from deeper
sources than Experience and pure Eeason.

The Absolute
men, potentially
and I must

must appear to me as it is to be found at least, and so to speak, seeking after
be able to
feel that Infinite

in

itself;

which moves in Freedom and

which labors for expression

in every thinking being.

Every

man

is

mystic after his

own

fashion as soon as he becomes

conscious of this more than empirical potency, whether he

deems
a
"

"

it
"

Person"

in Time, or

whether he regards

it

as

Soul

for

Heaven.
Disinterestedness, therefore,
is

The Act

of

accompanied

by symbols which bring the Absolute before the Imagina tion, whence it flows into the Eeason, and lastly shows
itself to

Freedom.

It has thus a better foundation than in

the rational things

Eeason,

which knows only how to compare
ever
creating

logically,
;

without
in
his

any new relation
creator

between them

turn
this

man becomes
mystical

only
the

when

the

Heart

effects

meeting

with

Absolute.

When

such a meeting has once taken place, our
feelings
:

Eeason retains possession of two
habitually
possible
;

first,

that

it

is

second,

that nothing

is

more

desir

able; and from that time forth,

man

has entered upon the

road of moral Progress.

He

will seek henceforth to live

beyond things
Life,

relative

;

not by cutting off anything from

that perfectly

organic

work

in

the midst of which
all

we

find ourselves engaged, together with

things,

but he

OF THE ABSOLUTE IN MORALS
will seek to
it

217

make

it,

so far as he is able, universally good, as
all
;

and rational above appears to us in God, free
no other Good except the moral or human.
" "

there

is

really

If

any one

wishes to call

it

mystic

the word adds nothing objective

and only

recalls to

mind

the means by which the

Good

is

in the consciousness. posited actually and completely

Here we must be
the

careful.

Good

is

not for us to

The mystic consciousness of delight in, as in the most exquisite
Life itself
its
is

of pleasures, but as an
for

End which
all

seeking,

and

which

it

aspires through

ascending adaptations

towards Humanity.
for myself,
it

When

I have idealized

my own

life

my

heart feels within (no matter what doctrine
it is

has absorbed, provided

good) that

it

should extend

the benefit to others, and begins to consider itself as under
the obligation of Loving-kindness to others.
Is
it

possible,

moreover, that I should thus consent to give up a part of

my
see

life,
it,

my

time,

my

pleasures for the sake of the
it

Good

as I

and not derive from

some happiness much greater

than any empirical satisfaction, some wider joy which seems
to

come from the

Infinite?
"

Or does
"

Science warn

me

to

consider this feeling as

excessive

?

In view of counteracting Mysticism, perhaps, the empirical
school
itself

has often pushed the principle of Disinterested
It seems to us that

ness too far.

when a man has become
interest,

aware of a Good greater than any personal
ready to renounce even Life in order that
it

and

is

may be

realized

in the general consciousness of humanity, if he

still

has a
it,

sense of pleasure from all that he accomplishes towards
there
is

not the least reason

why

he should disquiet his

218
soul and

THE ABSOLUTE AND FREEDOM
reproach
himself as
of fraud

though such purely moral

delight were a sort

upon Duty.

To warn him

merely that

if

he gives a chief place to these sensations,

they will substitute themselves for the moral purpose and
vitiate

the

Disinterestedness,

should be enough.

Do we
and
an

desire to see the

man who succumbs

in an act of free
feels

pure heroism reproach himself in dying that he

emotion of patriotism, of religion, a moral recognition of

humanity which mingles with the noblest pulsations of the
heart?

Whether mystic or

stoic or empiric,
is

Morals must

always be human.

Mystic pleasure

not one of the least
life.

remarkable phenomena of

man

s

inner

Its claim to be
itself.

diffused is not inferior to that of Disinterestedness

Y.

Asceticism

is

a

moral system which cannot stand
;

against the reasonings of Empiricism
Twofold error
of Asceticism
esta^ifsh
:

it

tends to displace
it

the axis of Conduct, and remove

to a sphere of

hsdf fictitious interests

where our
T

will cannot act.
>

The

without reference to Experience, even the a d

tll Absolute
desires

.

./,

is

manifested to us unmistakably in the

tendecy to isc
late

and imperatives of the Consciousness only,
,

man

in

the Absolute,
"

and the moral matter which
"

....

i

is

to

be

T

i

divinely

informed

is

life

itself,

and especially

social life.

Mystic
in

acts

designed

to

obtain consciousness of the Absolute

order to augment the Absolute, either objectively or sub
jectively,

would be nothing but absurdity
Practically

in the first case,

and egotism in the second.
there
is

and

definitively

no apparition of the Absolute except in the human
Let us not forget that the mystic experience
to

Personality.

does not tend

create

an object heterogeneous to the
is

world

and to the ego, that

to

say,

an entity

all

the

OF THE ABSOLUTE IN MORALS

219
but that
it

more negative
tends to
all

as

we endeavor

to enlarge

it,

make

us aware of the Infinite in ourselves, above

our successive events and the empirical ego.

God

is,

then,

practically and
"surplus,"

theoretically, only that infinite and intelligible
first

the

fruits

of which

we

find

in

ourselves

and
find

in every reasoniug
this

creature.

The man who

seeks

to

surplus

outside of

himself, by means of

direct
is

knowledge, would be applying himself to something that
not,

and the man most desirous

to attach himself to realities

would practically be lost in chimeras.

Such Religion, Saint

John

says, is not sincere.

1

Mysticism risks leading the

affections astray,

if,

after

be

from

coming aware of its Object, it desires this life, and under pretext of

to

remove

it

altogether

infinity tries to

escape

the empirical exigencies which bind us with inferior beings.

Nature suggests to
the naive forms of

us,

in

the interest of Life, and under

"instincts,"

laws

"which

of themselves

combine with those of the best Ethics.
recognized by Mysticism.
It
is

This unity must be

the same Absolute impressed
state

upon

all

evolution

in

the

mobile

of

"becoming,"

which also appears in the consciousness in the immutable
form of Duty.
It is impossible that it should be

opposed
divided

to itself in Life

and

in

Freedom

;

or man, thus

between two principles both claiming to govern irrevocably,

would
"

find

himself essentially

doomed

to Evil. 2

1 If any man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar. For he that loveth not his brother whom he seeth, how can he love God whom he

seeth

not?"

(1

John

iv.

20-21.)

Although Love

as well as

Reason may
its

take a ground outside of experience in order to give a species of infinity to
motives, yet
2
"

its

object
still

Men

are

never displaced the object must always be in Life. to be found," says Spencer, "who regard voluntary sufferis
;

220

THE ABSOLUTE AND FREEDOM
itself as prohibitive of

Whenever Reason manifests
action,

a certain
is

we may be
;

certain that

some condition of existence
itself as

being protected
perative,
it is

and whenever Reason manifests
fact relating to
is

im

because an ideal

Freedom, and

not one of the empirical conditions of Life,
us.

being set before

But, as Freedom in spite of

its

transcendence appears in
Life
is

us

under empirical conditions only, and as
it

really

the ensemble of those conditions,

could be said that Freedom
its

by opposing Life would be working for
It is permissible
its

own

destruction.

to

think that everything

which finds

way

to us positively, either

through mystic channels or
only to greater
of
solidarity

mere Reason, tends,

practically,
all

among men, and that
practically
this

purposes

the

Absolute are

contained

in

the

word

Loving-kindness.
gives
solidarity
is

But
to

fruitful

disinterestedness

which

humanity in the Absolute, both for Life and beyond,
found
at the

not

root of Asceticism.

Too

often

it

has leaned
"

towards the practical negations of
all

pessimism.

We

shall

die

"

alone,"

says

Pascal,
1

therefore
it is

we must

live

as

though we were alone/
a

But

a purer mysticism
life

when
were

man throws

himself into action and
it

as

though

it

forever,

and does

simply, without attempts to be alone and

isolated with the Absolute out of Time.

Empirical morals
this

and mysticism
"to

might find reconciliation in
to have
2
body."

thought

be a

member ...

no

life

except by the spirit

of the body, and for the

Life, in the empirical sense,
(Les Bases de la morale evolutionlogical affinities except

ing as a means of securing divine
niste, p.

favor."

Such perverted mysticism has no the wicked theory of an Evil Creator."
203.)
"

with

1

Pensees,

art. xiv.

1.

2

Id., art. xxiv.

59

his.

OF THE ABSOLUTE IN MORALS
does not have this quality of
"

221

Spirit"

which allows love to
egotism
is

be universalized.

For

this
it

reason
in

its

brutal

;

it

individualizes, and we see

Nature triumphing the most
strongest.

when

individualization

is

the

On

another

side

Asceticism has too often led astray minds bent so

sternly

on

the

spiritual

as
it

to

conceive

of

Spirit

in

moral op
always, as

position

to

Life;
it

should have

been

called

Pascal calls
rious
efforts

here, the Spirit

of

the body,

and such labo

to
to

conceive

the

Good

outside of

Humanity

ought never

have been made.

Not even

the Stoics suc
its

ceeded in replacing universal and abstract Reason in
natural centre, where
it

appears as

"

Human/ and

as such

belongs to us.
the Stoics, any
It is a

God

could not have his social reign under
rigors of Asceticism.
"

more than under the

moral necessity that
is
it
it

God

should

humanize himself/ and

What good
to

to us to seek the Absolute in itself,

surround

with impossible desires not in Time.
is
it.

The

Absolute for us
life

only a reflection

which
it

falls

upon our
Every one

and

idealizes

Whence

does

come?

answers this question for himself by an act of the Heart,

which has the power to evoke symbols of the

Infinite.

But

when we speak

of

the Absolute altogether,
it

we must not

attribute substance to

anywhere but in Freedom.

222

THE ABSOLUTE AND FREEDOM

III.

THE MYSTIC ESSENCE OF COURAGE, HONOE, MODESTY, BENEVOLENCE
is

I.

The Moral Organism.
Courage
a sense of the
Infinite.

II.

III. Excessive

and mystic nature of Honor.
is

IV. Reverence

the impression of that Dignity which

is

a manifesta

tion of the Absolute.

VI. The contradictions of Benevolence
I.

V. Modesty, the mystic pride of Reason. Love
:

sensible of the Infinite.

The moral

activity does not apply itself to one species

of effects only.
The Moral

"We

may

say that

its

functions are as distinct
as well as the

as those

f the senses.

The Will,

Sensibility, manifests itself in aspects whose origi

nality is only to be looked for in the subject

itself.

Accord

ing to circumstances, and sometimes occasioned by the same
objects, the will constrains itself to resist, or lends to adapt
itself

to Love, or

recoils at

an apprehension of Modesty,

contracts in an impulse of Envy, braces itself to give

Com

mands, lows to receive them,

etc.

What

is

the principle of

these familiar differentiations so poorly expressed

by images

of

Motion ?
is

Perhaps

this is

our opportunity to learn exactly
it

what

the force that rules in Freedom, whether

is

the

Will-to-live or something else.

Morality resolves

itself

by

the most important of which, analysis into various feelings,

or at least those which appear to the consciousness as the

most

original,

are

:

Sincerity, Courage,

Honor, Reverence,

Modesty, and Benevolence.

Now, we

find that each one of
it

these moral functions of the soul has in
"

a tendency which

is

excessive

"

to Life.

COURAGE, HONOR, MODESTY, BENEVOLENCE

223

We
cerity.

readily grant that there

is

nothing mystical in sin
principle

This virtue

is

like

the

of

identity
is

in

Morals, as important and
Logic.
ing,

primary as that principle our actions
is

in

Without

sincerity the soul of
virtues,

want

and the
called

loveliest
"

when they lack
become

the moral
the

identity

purity

of

intention,"

most

immoral.
is

An

habitually double intention, or

"Duplicity,"

destructive of all morality, which

must express the inner
Neverthe
of
it

unity of character by outward unity of conduct.
less,
if

we

carry

to

the

last

degree the assimilation

sincerity to
is

the principle of identity,
entirely formal
it

we

shall see

that

an unfruitful and
itself,

moral quality, producing

nothing of

and that

is

the general condition of our

virtues rather than a principle of energy of the will.
fore

There

we need look
;

neither to Empiricism nor to Mysticism

for its origin

it

has no existence apart, but
is

is

simply to

the

Good

that which evidence

to the True,

a fundamental

condition for the assimilation of the consciousness.
II.

What

better definition of

Courage can be given than
?

as

the

contrary

of

"

violence

"

Violence

being

only a
is

passional excitement of the soul, Courage must be

courage

a

the dominion of Eeason over
all

all

our desires and

sense of the infinite,

our emotions, the serene triumph of Freedom.

There

could be

no

such thing explicable by Empiricism as an
effect.

energy permanent in form and limitless in
science, the

To pure
is

Will emerges from the temperament, and
its

noth

ing but the clearly defined result of

component elements.

Courage
and
it

is

no longer anything but a matter of equilibrium,

is

exactly this consequence which warns us to look

224
for
is

THE ABSOLUTE AND FREEDOM
other
principles.

Whatever may have been
to
it

said,
it

it

quite

as

impossible

measure
is

Freedom

as

is

to

assign a purpose to it;

something

in excess

of

life.

We

may perhaps

succeed

in

measuring

the

intensity
it,

of

sentient desire

and the emotions which accompany

and

we may succeed

in predicting the recurrence of the
this

same

phenomena, but in
regulative factor.

order of facts the will

is

only a

Its influence does not consist in the co

ordination of energies for the preservation of the empirical
ego, as does that of Life, but
its office
"

is

to unify the facts

of consciousness, intellectually as
"

concepts/ or morally as

actions

"

;

so that the complete ego, intelligible
call
"

and empir
In order
tendency

ical,

which we

a

Character,"

is

constituted.
is

to

convince ourselves that the will
excess
of
life,

really this

in

we must observe
in

that

it

is

something

generally experienced
life,

the

most ordinary conditions of
advanced and transformed by

and not alone

in a state

culture.

Conduct bears the marks of Mysticism, even though
should try to remain positive and withdraw
idea
of
itself

it

from

all

the
is

Absolute

;

the

presence

of the

Absolute in

Freedom
Conduct.

something impossible to be gotten rid of in

It almost always occurs that
its

when we take away
it

from the moral Imperative
itself to

Absolute character,

transfers

the sensibility, and Desire resumes on that side the

categorical form which

we have refused
state

to

allow to Duty.
is

Although disorder ensues and the
logical one, inasmuch as the

induced
is

a patho

sensibility
is

not susceptible

of

the categorical form, and

averse to the Infinite, yet

COURAGE, HONOR, MODESTY, BENEVOLENCE
facts
is

225
Suicide

of this

kind are none the

less instructive.

a general evidence that
its

when

the will has turned aside
successive desires

from the Absolute,
have no hold upon
it.

own

limited and

Life has only to appear to us plainly

in its irremedial contingency, for us to feel such hatred of

the contingency that
to kill ourselves.

we have no wish
is

to live,

and are ready

This

an act proper to man, and takes

the place in the Eeason of the idea of the Absolute.
will-to-live
is,

The

in fact,

categorical
lie

after

its

own manner,
Con
not in

and

life

would be giving the
itself

to itself,

unless something
it

other than

should have

place with

in It

the
is

sciousness, thus rendering a conflict possible.

the power of an animal to
himself,

commit
this

suicide.

When
negation

man, of
of

seeks

extinction,

practical

the

Absolute

testifies

that

we have
it.

in our
if

Freedom the power
you choose,
is

also to practically affirm

Courage,

only

a quality which moderates and forms the balance between
all

our other powers, but

it

is

one which

itself

can find

only ideal support.
Is not this deviation of
itself

Freedom

into

desires less than

the

explanation

of

that Mysticism

which

is

preva

lent in

epochs

of literary decadence, affecting the morally

degenerate, and

manifesting

itself

in

false

appearances of

Love and other passions?
exactly with

Such a corruption coincides

the mental

corruption of symbols which

we

have already mentioned. 1

There

is

no better symptom of

force in peoples or individuals than a mystic sobriety, that
is,

the

dominion of Eeason over the whole of man,
1

his

Cf.

Second Part, ch. 15

ii.

sec. iv.

226
senses,
his

THE ABSOLUTE AND FREEDOM
literature,

and even

his

Keligion.

Mysticism,

according to an expression of Saint Francis
its

de Sales, has

seat at the

"

pinnacle and summit of the

mind

in order

to moderate, and not to

debauch

"

all

our powers.

The

will appeals to the Absolute.

Whenever
some object

it

has been

able to give to itself the Absolute in

practically

inexhaustible
of
its

if

not

infinite, it
it

is

born anew in each instant
completely in each
themselves limited,
it

own

activity;

actualizes itself
in

of its actions,
it

upon which, although
1

confers the infinity of its intention, and at the last

comes

even to identify pain with love.
live

Courage, or the power to
all

like

a man, with simplicity and nobility through

vicissitudes, is
in

no other than the presence of the Absolute

Freedom.
III.

If

an objective
call it
"

definition of

Honor may be

allowed,

we might
Excessive ana mystic nature of Honor.

the exterior of the

Consciousness."

Sub-

jectively

Honor

is

the feeling which thus maniIt seems to us impossible

fes t s itself externally.

to

resolve

into

empirical

elements a feeling
2
If,
is

which

is

at

once so simple and so dominating.
the moral transcendence of
1
"

on the other hand,

Honor

granted, the value of

cere.
.
.

.

.

Amor ex Deo natus est nee potest nisi in Deo, super omnia creata quiesAmor leve facit omne onerosum et fert sequaliter omne insequale. Amor plus affectat quam etc. (De Imit. Christi, 1. iii., ch. v.)
.
.

valet,"

2

The

following empirical explanation of honor seems to us entirely below
:

the reality
"

Suppose a

man
is

is

calumniated

;

there

is

a hindrance to the carrying

on

of life-sustaining activities, for the loss of character detrimentally aifects his
business.

Nor

this all

:

the mental depression
of
calumny."

.

.

.

may bring on

ill

health.

Hence the

flagitiousness

(Spencer,

Les Bases de la morale

evolutionniste, p. 50.)

COURAGE, HONOR, MODESTY, BENEVOLENCE
the

227
is is

Person, which
all

is

the whole foundation

of

Honor,
it

beyond
"

parallel,

and we must simply say that
it

excessive/

Therefore

is

but

logical not
itself.
"

to

exchange
the basis

this

good

for the

good
is

of

even Life

At

of duelling there

an error, namely, that
is

blood redeems

from contempt/ but there

also the mystic sense of

Honor
It has

as one of the manifestations of the Absolute in us.

been said that the mystical character of Honor

is

due entirely
;

to the superstitions of the middle ages, but this is not true
it

has always had the same value as something worth more
itself,

than Life

and

as proof of this

we need only

the fact

of the existence of the

Oath

at every

epoch of history.

The

Oath

is

founded upon the same implicit judgment as Honor,
its

and we need not exaggerate
rely

religious character.
will

We

upon

the assurance

"

that
;

man
"

put nothing on a

par with the Absolute of duty

and the solemnity of the
evoking the Abso
not always asso

Oath

consists precisely

and

solely in thus

lute, which, in the usual state of

mind,

is

ciated with the idea of Duty.

IV.
"

Kant placed the notion
Reason,"

of Respect in the feeling of
is

impersonal

and
it

it

well

that

it

should be
ig

kept
.

there.
,

Nevertheless,
-,-r

must always be
impress
in case

said Reverence
i

*

,

that
it
,

the

i

moral
as

Law
"

cannot
"

us
of

unless
its
,

the impression of that
inty

which

pa

is

appears
i

a

fact

as

real
ft
,

l*^*
Absolute.
"

triumph over our

TTT

senses.

We

experience
"

it first

in ourselves, and immediately the sense of

Dignity

springs

from

it.

When

others appear to us invested with dignity
is,

in their turn, that

when we

believe that they, like our

selves, have taken Duty as motive of their material exist-

228
ence,
it

THE ABSOLUTE AND FREEDOM
is

only the

same impression of our own dignity
of the moral

reflected in

them.

identity

of

The common recognition Eespect and Dignity appears in

the

general
:

acceptance of the very expressive definition of immorality
"

a

man who

respects

nothing."

But what
?

is

Respect,

when

taken in this sense, but a mystic fact
experience of which

We

have here an

we

are the subjects, but which has no

object in the empirical consciousness.
in the very
are

Eespect has

its

birth

same
:

act

by which our

first

sentiments of duty
to our Reason,

formed

it

is

the Absolute appearing

thence reacting upon the senses, spreading the moral emotion

over the entire consciousness.

It

would be the part of pure
if it

Reason

to

give an account of Respect
;

dwelt in the

region of concepts
surpasses
abstract
in

but
all

it

is

a fact of consciousness which
representations.

extent

possible

All

the

ideas

we could form could

not

possibly

bring

before us this apparition of duty, greater than being, which

has no

means of access

to

us

except under the guise of

symbols created by Freedom.

V.

Modesty
it

is

even

less explicable if

we

insist

on exclud

ing from
Modesty the
mystic pride of Reason.

any a priori quality of Morals.

The empirical

matter which constitutes this sentiment, generation,
an(j a \\ that

accompanies

it,

has no need of justi

fication before the

moral Law.

It is an assemblage of facts,

just as simply dependent on
tion.
it

Determinism as heat or vegeta
in science.

Modesty has no existence

How,

then, has

been able to introduce

itself into

the consciousness ?
as

The

prehistoric data

which have been proposed
it

explanation

are not in place here, but

is

curious to note that both

COURAGE, HONOE, MODESTY, BENEVOLENCE
the

229
in
is

mystic

Consciousness

and empirical Morals agree

considering the sentiment as an error, the cause of which
indicated
differently
it

in

the

two systems.

According

to

Empiricism

is

because primitive ignorance or

barbarism

has not yet been able to give way on this point.
believe,
fall

The mystics

on the contrary, that Eeason has had a precipitous

from some sublime

Kingdom which

they

name

"the

state of Innocence."

It is

worthy of special note that these

two opposite interpretations both agree, nevertheless, in a
similar faith in the fundamental
in a creative

excellence

of things

and

Beneficence.

That holiness of things which

we
the

call

Naivete, which disappeared with

man

s first

sin,

say

mystics, partakes, on the contrary, of the evolutionist

Ideal.

They

rely

upon Progress

to do

away with the in

explicable

perturbations

of modesty, together with all the

other prejudices from which the

human

consciousness suffers,
state

and

they

believe
will

that
its

the

mystic

dream of a

of

Innocence

find

actual accomplishment in

Humanity.
here

The

scientific

stage would be reached.

But

just

we
The

are not concerned with these contradictory hypotheses.

psychological fact of Modesty consists in an aspiring instinct
of Eeason, which
is

endeavoring to assert
;

its

transcendence
this instinct

over a group of empirical facts

and although

(which must not be confounded with temperance) has only
the practical result of disguising nature,
in us as invincible as
it

it is

found to exist

is

useless.

The

susceptibilities

of

Modesty have been regarded
at
least

as

pathological

phenomena;

they cannot be justified.

No

explanation can be found for them,

we

believe, unless it

230
is

THE ABSOLUTE AND FREEDOM
Rea

the acknowledgment that they are a superb effort of
rise

son to
is

above the empirical conditions under which she
Ideal in essence and formed
all

forced to act here below.
"to

only

rule,"

Reason

finds

servitude

irksome, and

specially

dislikes

anything which disturbs the serenity of

her inmost empire.
pressions of
pride,

She

is

not the mistress of these im
to maintain,

and

strives

by stratagems

of Modesty, the appearance of a dominion over the senses

which she does not

effectively possess.

It will be perceived

that this notion does not contradict either of the supposi
tions that
its

we have mentioned, and

that

it

completely retains

mystical character.

VI.

Benevolence,
is

still

less susceptible of

definition than

Modesty,
The
contradic-

found to exist in the consciousness, in opposi^-

^ on

a^ determinations, supposed or conceived

oience: Love sensible of the
infinite.

dialectically.

In benevolence we touch, at the
of Freedom,

foundation

upon that thing which
"

must be regarded, under the name of
proper act and the

Heart,"

as its

own
the

triumph of our autonomy.

But

Benevolence which enters the consciousness as a religious
function claims to be seized in
is
its

pure essence

;

that which

ordinarily

experienced, mingled

with other things
is

and

enveloped

with other

absorbing motives,

not the moral
that

essence which

we

are seeking to find.

Even admitting
of

men
or

are

rarely

good,
it

except hypocritically, out
still

pride

self-interest,

is

more

rare

to

find Benevolence

without at least some admixture of that alloy which causes
it

to lose

something of the universal form and fundamental

disinterestedness

which would

make

the

true

"Kingdom

COURAGE, HONOR, MODESTY, BENEVOLENCE
of

231

God

"

here

below.

Benevolence consists in a contra

diction, or at least an implicit, as difficult to explain as the

concept of Cause, Substance,
here
as
it

etc.

It is perhaps the

same

is

in

Logic from the outset;

an idea could

never spring into the consciousness from the principle of
identity pure

and simple, and such a thing as a disinterested
"

choice, or an impulse of the

gift of

one

"

s

self

so-called,

actions containing the strongest assertion

of

our Freedom,

could never be

made from

rational principles of Duty.
is

In the

sight of Reason
relation of

more than one ego

opposed to another in a

moral equality, and

this is the source of Duties,

the Law.

Now, we

venture to assert that from the nega
its

tion of this moral

axiom Benevolence has

origin.

The

ego, instead of opposing itself to others as an equal value

which claims to subsist apart, desires only to see

itself

con

founded with others in an identity which seems to us not
only moral but mystical.

In what other view than the mystical could we alienate
that which has received from empirical Eeason the
"Law,"

name

of

and

violate at its
"

own

expense the strict principle
life,

of

(

cuique suum

and in short transfer our own

time,

liberty,

and happiness to others?

Empiricism will never
its

succeed in showing Benevolence in

pure essence; and

Altruism,

its

rational

short at expression, will forever stop

the place just where Egotism would have
to gain
;

more

to lose than
;

of instinct

these are its sacred limits

and of

in

stinct also,

Benevolence passes beyond.
call
"the

must not exaggerate, however, what we The acts of moral contradictions, of Benevolence/

We

alienation

232

THE ABSOLUTE AND FREEDOM
its

which Reason cannot justify by the help of
principles, it
justifies

empirical
"

in

some other manner.

The

ego,"

which

is

not wholly in

Experience nor in Time, ceases to

appear before

itself empirically,

and has no longer any con

cern except with the essence of happiness, science, freedom,
etc.
1

It feels

them

first in

itself,

but very soon also
limits.

it feels

them outside of

itself,

as

an object without

In

this

way

it

succeeds in escaping from the tyrannical judgments

of Egotism.

The

sense

of

the

divine, or the

immutable

Good comes

to light in the ego,

and

it

conquers the opposi

tion of the senses all the better because of the unconquerable

assurance, which dwells
this

down deep

in the consciousness, that

Good always remains wholly belonging to the ego outside of Time, in common with all the other reasoning beings to whom
it

may
"

devote

itself.
"

We

are able therefore to replace the
"

word

contradiction

by that of

transcendence."

The

mysticism of Benevolence consists in veritable inspirations,
that
is

to say, in such representations as the understanding

does not
it

know how
said that

to construct,

and in which, nevertheless,
to a very consider

must be

Reason participates
"

able degree.

Not
2

only

a fool

has

not

enough

stuff

in

him

to be

good,"
"

but Genius

itself is specially

manifest in

the kind of

thoughts which come from the
last recesses

Heart."

We

touch here the
1

of the soul, beyond which not

We

recognize that this intuition could not take place by means of abstrac

tions and concepts, nor could it be obtained by ordinary reflection. To obtain for one s self that effectual vision of attributes which renders man distinct in the

order of empirical things, a more advanced condition of reflection and one which places the consciousness in a symbolic state is necessary. Thence comes
the mystic nature of Benevolence.
2

La Rochefoucauld, Maxime

ccclxxxvii.

COURAGE, HONOR, MODESTY, BENEVOLENCE
even Mysticism
is

233

permitted to pass in search of the divine.

Courage

is

really the
it

triumph of Freedom within

itself;

as

Benevolence,

reigns also without; not in that empirical
it is

outer world which

unable to enter substantially, but in

that inner world of souls which has for Space only the indi
visible

Good everywhere
all

diffused.

It

is

of this

Kingdom,

in

which

spirits

together have dominion and
of
all,

which adds
Blessed are

only to the freedom

that Jesus said
"

"

:

the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

L

The pure and
to the

true gift of the self is the act which reveals

God

Heart

and
this,

to
it

Reason

at

first

sight

;

when
degree

a soul
of

is

capable of
life

possesses

the
is

highest

mental
at

and
in

moral
all

life.

There

nothing to

wonder
;

any more

the creations of Genius or

Freedom
of the

whatever they
same, because

may
it is

be, the soul feels itself capable
in

God.

2

The moral transcendence

is

accomplished, and

God

gives

us his ultimate manifestation here below in that fine form of

Benevolence which
life

is

called

"

love of souls/
is less

To

transfer

and happiness from
;

self to

another

than to transfer

the Reason

and

if

the gift of self can take on anything of
Ave give it as

Infinity, it is

when

such, in view of increasing

the Personality and

Freedom of

others.

When

once a man has
soul

had the intuitions of the germs of

infinity within the

ready to awaken and grow, the energies are intensified and
1

Matth.

v. 5.

principle of intellectual creation, like that of every other kind, is con tained in the magnanimous and unreasoning The genius of the . gift of self. .
.

2

The

artist, like all

the other great things of the world

is

an act of faith and love.

P.

BOUEGET, Disconrs de

reception a I Acad. Fr.

234

THE ABSOLUTE AND FREEDOM

attach themselves to the object presented, with feelings of

reverence as well as the most intimate satisfaction.

The man
Life,

who

carries

views like

these
is

into

the

work of

of

Apostleship, or even Politics,
"

in contact with an order of

"

mystical

affections.

In

this

case Benevolence

depends
itself

no longer on anything here below, and Christianity
could never have introduced anything better into the
consciousness.
of
this

human

If

we were

to give a

name

to the emotions

kind which take possession of the consciousness
it,

without disturbing

and which only augment
it

its

inner
call it

empire while drawing
"

outside of

itself,

we should

a love which has sense of the

Infinite."

CHAPTER SECOND
THE ETHICAL FUNCTION OF SYMBOLS
I.

THE ETHICAL CONCEPTION. FUNCTION OF THE INTELLIGENCE IN MORALITY
The unpremeditated nature
of the

I.

Good

:

moral inspiration.

The
and

influence of symbols is supplementary to rational evidence representative of the moral object.
II.

The universal

"

divine Vision

"

:

moral reconciliation of Chris

tianity, Rationalism,

and Positivism.
:

The Mysticism of

Jacobi.

III.

Analysis of moral Emotion
sentations which

transcendence of the mental repre
it.

accompany

IV. Absolute verity of the symbols given to the moral consciousness. Their esotericism.
V. The function of Grace.
VI. The Relations of moral and esthetic symbolism.
Eloquence.
I.

Concerning

The Absolute, by

this time, is

no longer, in our eyes,

an abstraction, or
bally the

limit, as it were,

with which to define ver
it is

bounds of the knowable;

the supreme The
first

unpre
of
e

meditated na-

Unity which implies substantially
ciples,

all

prin- g

d

m

rai

and which

is,

in its wholly active essence, ThTinlSce
of symbols
is

Life, Reason,

and Freedom.
all

It is the Absolute supplemen
tary to ra6

which creates us and
in the

things with us.
is
it is

Now,
of ever

andrepreseutative of the

same way that Life
initiative,

made up

moral object.

renewed
it

and as

impossible to foresee what
it

will

do to-morrow, or what unknown organs
its

will create

jtp

extend

functions,

we may

say that the Absolute seeks

236
in

THE ETHICAL FUNCTION OP SYMBOLS
for broader forms

human Freedom
means

of

Good

only,

and

for

to realize the

Good more
it is

fully within the limits

of

life itself.

Essentially
to

to please that the Ideal is

con
be

stantly

aspiring

renew

its

youth.

If

it

were to

arrested in forms so fixed that neither enthusiasm nor dis

interestedness could

occur, the Ideal

would be

at an end,

and

it

would

also be the

end of Freedom, which has nothing

more

essential than these acts.

Will any one ask us to define exactly the psychological pro
cesses

by which the Absolute, always immutable and always
?

new, never ceases to be pleasing to Freedom
as well ask

They might
has gone on,
to outside

how

it

has been in the past that

life

constantly creating organs
things,
eye,

more and more adapted
it

and from what design
it

has modelled the ear and the
itself to see
is

which they allege

has given

and hear with.

The

Ideal, of which scientific

Knowledge
effort,

merely a condi

tion, exists in

us as a state of

and the symbols under

which

it

seeks for itself in the consciousness have nothing

fixed about
shall

them except

their purpose,

which

is

that

man

become free morally and physically.

If

we recog
precisely

nize the presence of the Absolute in Freedom,

it is

because

this

kind of

activity

escapes

the

calculations

of

Determinism, and appears to us simply as a creative power.

When

the Absolute encounters certain favorable conditions
as a
" "

which are described

good

or

"

generous

will,"

it

posits itself there, as for Life, with its essentially inventive

energy, in infinitely varied modes.

It

would be foolish to

ask the aid of
directly to

dialectics,

when

it

is

a question of speaking
it

Freedom and of leading

morally beyond the

THE ETHICAL CONCEPTION
by
"

237

"ego"

effective love of the
"

Good.
;

It is a

moment when

ordinary
tion. 1

speech

is

not enough
"

there

must be Inspira
for

The Absolute
"

appears/
Heart."

vividly and only

one

instant, manifest

to the

If in that there is
it

any

mechanism

to be demonstrated scientifically,

seems to us to

be that of Hallucination.
sciousness in this
sent to
it

The images which reach the con manner and which unite together to repre
all

an object which demands moral supremacy over

the other representations, could be nothing but
that
is

symbolic

;

to say, they are expressly given to the individual for

him

alone,

and they elude the

curiosity of others in very

much

the same

way

that Life eludes the researches of vivisection.
"

Should such symbols be called any rate, a mysticism which
is

"

mystical

?

It is not, at

confined to the consciousness
;

of Eevealers or Mystics properly so called

every soul which

has

"

created

"

something in the moral order, and whose
originality
called

works are stamped with that mark of
"

inspiration,"

partakes

of

it.

Even

in

the obscure and

uneventful

life,

of which every

man

should acquit himself as

though

it

were a moral task,

it is

certain that the mystic fact

1 Kant is far too abstract in his Typique de la raison pure pratique. would not be possible for the moral conception to realize itself under the Rationalism of Judgment." conditions which he sums up in the expression it requires representations (See Crit. de la raison pratique, p. 238-244)

It

"

;

;

and

as these representations

s apprehensions. There they will be symbolical. is nothing so difficult and dangerous as the symbolic conception of the Abso

must not be empirical We quite understand Kant
its

(in this

Kant

is

right),

lute.

But the Heart

"

has

reasons

"

and

its

methods, and there

is

a

mys
tri

ticism which, by mere superiority of desire, has kept free of fanaticism and
self-contradiction.

No

one can deny that symbolic thought has had

its

umph

in such states of consciousness as those of Francis of Assisi and Joan

of Arc.

238

THE ETHICAL FUNCTION OF SYMBOLS

has opportunities for accomplishment

many times

over.

Any

sharp conflict between the demands of duty and the desires
of the senses, in

which the

will is

thrown out of

itself, is

quite

enough

to call it forth,

and to suggest an appeal to

some quicker measures than those of reasoning.
It is very true that
it

would be dangerous
and to refuse

to to

abandon

Duty

to impulses of the Heart,

know

it

otherwise than by analogies formed freely in the Imagina
tion.

The

legislative
its

character of

power of Reason, and the axiomatic judgments, therefore, must be preserved above

everything

else.

The mystic

influence

of symbols has no

weight against that natural evidence, which illustrates a priori
certain

maxims, and imposes them upon

all

men

as rules of

conduct.
ineffectual

But although such
unless
it

influence

as

we speak

of

is

is
it

in

accordance with these

common

maxims, and unless

strengthens them mentally, this aid
is

from Inspiration, in our opinion,

a necessary thing, Ideal

ism

itself

not being able to furnish us the secrets of moral

obligation,

and above
true.

all

unable to lead us to disinterested
consistent

ness pure and

The most

notions of our
"

understanding, those which come nearest to the
be,"

ought to

are

merely schemata, and can do nothing except to
If
it

adapt themselves to things empirically.
there
it

is

true that

is

some firmer and purer a priori
it,

in the understanding,

has nothing representative about
it.

and consequently we can
it,

not think

In order to obtain consciousness of

we

are

forced to plunge into the depths of the intelligible ego, where

analogy alone, as we have seen, really can take us.
Object which manifests
itself to

The moral

us effectively, and so as to

THE ETHICAL CONCEPTION

239

win our consent, could not, then, be a positive idea, a notion.
It is
itself,

an unreal type, created in every part by the subject
while drawing from
its

unthinkable depth appearances
etc.,

of Freedom, Eternity, Perfection,

which

partially

con

ceal the contingency of the objects

which must guide our
in
itself

conduct.

It

is

true that

Reason contains

every

motive for action, even the most heroic, but we are not con
scious of these motives unless

we unfold them out

of our

own

essence, and unless we tear ourselves forcibly away from the

tyranny of empirical affirmations, to use them only symboli
cally) that is to say, as representations,

imaginary in them
It is in
this

selves as they are sublime in their

effects.

sense

that

we venture

to say that

Rationalism

and even

Idealism

itself are

not sufficient to create a moral obligation,
it

strong and all-powerful as
senses.

must needs be to master the

To

press the study of the

"

moral

"

fact

further than the

rational explanation of

Duty

is

no indiscreet prying into the

consciousness

;

this fact is

accompanied in the imagination

and the
signs,

sensibilities

with precise expressions and individual
less

which are important for Morals no

than
is,

for

Psychology.
itself

What

a

man

wills,

and what a man

shows

in

every inner vibration which accompanies

the act
it

of volition, and not in the one act of decision in which
terminates.

Of

the

mystic

symbols,

may we
as

truly

say,

"Expression is

no longer looked upon

something detach
less far off,
1
history."

able

from

the fact expressed

and more or

but

as an integral part of such fact or of its
1

Fouillee, Idees, Forces,

t. i.,

p. 141.

240
II.

THE ETHICAL FUNCTION OF SYMBOLS
According to Christian doctrine there
is

a close rela

tion of causality between acts of disinterestedness
The universal
V ne Bion moral reconciliation of Christianity,
"

and the

of mystic symbols. production l
*
"

That the Abso-

:

lute
i

is

invisible

is

only

because of the moral
hearts.

obstructions in our

own
be

No
the
for

other

in-

Rationalism,

TheKS&terpretation should
"

given

to

beatitude

Blessed are the pure in

heart, as

they shall

see

God."

Although

it

has

served

the

fundamental

axiom of a

rigid Asceticism, it
"

may be

regarded also, in the
as the moral

truer and broader sense of

disinterestedness,"

canon of
Let
it

all

mystical occurrences, voices,

apparitions, etc.

suffice

on

this point to

quote Saint Augustine,
this text

who

seemed to divine the meaning of

even better than his

wont, so that he penetrated to this
stance of which

moral reason, the sub

many have allowed to escape them for the

shadow of the words. 1
the words
"

What
"

is it

that is here glorified
"

by
and

pure in heart

except

disinterestedness,"
is

not that mere corporeal integrity which
1
"

incapable of the

How

foolish are those

who

seek

God with

the bodily eyes, since he can

Now this is what we are to understand by only he seen by the pure in heart. a pure heart Its purity is easily sullied even by namely, a simple heart. our good actions themselves. The eye is pure when it has learned to look
;

beyond human opinion straight to God, who appears only in the consciousness." (De Serm. in monte, 1. i., t. iv., p. 131, et 1. ii., p. 345.) "God seeks that inward purity by which everything in us becomes pure, without as well as But within. ... He himself has said, Give, and all shall be pure to you. is not to give essentially an act of the heart ? If the hand opens to give, and not the heart, it is nothing, and if the heart opens though the hand has no alms to dispense, before God it is all one. The Pharisee who understood
material purity only, and who had bidden the Saviour as his guest, would have sent the sinful woman away, with indignation of heart, had she approached

him.

But the Saviour perceived the woman
cxxv.)

s

thoughts."

(Enarratio in

Psalmum

THE ETHICAL CONCEPTION
real transcendence
all

241
is

by which alone the heart
fact that nature has
instincts

freed

from

egotism

?

The
its

been attacked in the
really

stronghold
indicates,

of

by

this

gospel precept
alienation
is

a parte potion, the integral
this

of

the

ego, and shows that only on

condition

there in

flux into the soul of the mystical species

under which the

Absolute appears.

Nor must

the question be solved other
" "

wise outside of Christianity.

would take the place of
other difference.

The expression divine vision the word Ideal." There is no
"

Certain
"Ethics

theories

have

been

collocated

under the term

of

Feeling,"

which have succeeded in proving the

practical inadequacy of

Dogmatism, rather than

in establish

ing Ethics upon the basis of any deep psychological observa
tion of their own.

To

trust simply in the moral inspirations

of the
is

"

Heart,"

as higher instincts of

sympathy and

justice,

to give

up

all

science of Conduct, unless

we consent
instincts.

to

go to Mysticism for the explanation of those
mental form of the sought for
;

The

"inspirations

of the

Heart"

must be
con

and

as they are proclaimed superior to the

cepts rationally

worked out by the consciousness, a reason
for this transcendence.

must be found

Thus we

are led to

recognize the existence of the
in themselves
solute,

symbols under which objects

empirical assume all the aspects of the
practically raised

Ab
to

and are

from the transitory con
"ought

dition of
be."

phenomena
is

to

the importance of the
of the
heart"

What
?

that

"light

of which Jacobi

speaks

The

representative element which accompanies and

sustains the sentiments of the upright

man must

at all cost

242
be set free
;

THE ETHICAL FUNCTION OF SYMBOLS
and
as this element cannot be

brought to the
it

concepts of the understanding, we are admonished that

must belong

to

some other part

of the mental

life.

These

symbols which elude the power of Criticism, these appari
tions

which become extinct in the consciousness the moment
to

we endeavor

make them

pass out of the Heart, where they

arose, into the light of a curious

and investigating Reason,

are facts of

life

rather than representations, creations of the

ego rather than reproductions of empirical being.
nation furnishes
its

Imagi

brilliant,

chimerical, exhaustless matter

to these substantial apparitions,

and Freedom breathes
alive,

into
it

them her divine
is

breath.

Thus they become

and

not strange that

our Reason does not recognize them,

for they remain never the same.

Had
their

the philosophers of
theories

whom we

speak not restricted

own

by the

critical

and destructive part of other
in

theories of Duty, they

would have found themselves

com

plete accord with Mysticism.

The only separation between
In
fact,

the

two explanations

is

the mystic idea of Grace.

according to the Mystic theory, morality leads the
the borders of the Absolute and even gives
enter therein
of pure
;

mind

to

it

an impulsion to

this is

not enough, however, and the impulse
is

Freedom cannot succeed, unless there

a correspond

ing impulse in the Absolute.

This difference, however, does

not seem to us irreconcilable.

Must not

the Absolute, of

necessity, appear to every consciousness

which complies with

certain conditions of morality ?

To

assert the contrary

would

be to attribute to the Absolute a gratuitous resistance, a

Freedom

of caprice merely, and in the end, possibilities of

THE ETHICAL CONCEPTION
"infinite
Evil."

243

Mystic esotericism cannot, under pretext

of

"

Predestination/ go so far as to introduce fatalism into

Love, from which the idea of

God

has obtained pure form.

The Absolute, according

to

the mystic hypothesis,
;

makes

answer to the appeals of moral Desire
lute itself which is posited,

and

it

is

the Abso

by means of Grace, under purer
it

and better chosen symbols than
for

would have been possible

Freedom

to

have given to

herself.

But

if

we admit

this hypothesis
it futile.

we must not

restrict it so far as to render

Every time that human reason soars

into the pure act

regions of Duty, and every time that
of disinterestedness, tably in the paths

Freedom makes the

we must

believe that

God

enters inevi

of Grace, and that
single instant.

we do not precede
is

the infinite

Love by a

There
of

nothing but
desire

human

imperfection

or

the

inconstancy

human

that can cause delay and thus put obstacles in the

way

of

the supernatural communications.

The moral function
certain

of

symbols, then,
of

is

not limited to

individual

cases

temperament or culture; even
utmost to exclude the Absolute
in
practice,

those persons

who do

their

from their minds,
empirical

lift

themselves
of

above

all

determinations

consciousness,

and enter the
not
only

Absolute

through

Disinterestedness,
itself.

surpassing

Egotism, but even Altruism

Whether we
it,

will or not,

under whatever form we embrace
Divine Will,
etc.,

as Progress,

Freedom,

we must go
is

into a region of the conscious
rela

ness where there

no longer empirical succession or

tivity to obtain the

pure Good.

But

in thus

going aside from

the things which are properly our own, to love, in itself that

244

THE ETHICAL FUNCTION OF SYMBOLS
in
its

Good which
we

purity resists every snare laid by Egotism,

are mystics whether

we know

it

or not.

This

is

the
;

price

which has to be paid for the act of Disinterestedness
it

and how often has

been done, with a mysticism even purer
!

for having been unconscious

Have we not

seen Positivism
it

turn into a religion
cere,

?

for the simple reason that

was

sin

and the Absolute, driven out of the system
it

logically,

re-enters

by another door, morally.
all

That holy thing, en
in

thusiasm, which
finds

generous souls have

common,

forever
of
it.

new means

of reproduction and
its

life.

The positivism

Auguste Comte had

symbolism and did not conceal
fall

Since that time pains have been taken not to

openly

into such unexpected results, where extreme ideas meet by
affecting the

same mystical expressions ; but
consciousness
there

in the inmost

depths of the

has been no change in
in

the processes of the Ideal.
itself that

The mind
unknowable.

vain declares to
it

the Absolute

is

In vain

flies

to

abstractions to inspire itself morally without images, without

emotions, by direct and irreproachable rules of Conduct
is

;

it
"

not in our power to change the

"

Seasons of the Heart

into mathematical rules.
to be

It does not appertain to us

men

in a state

of impassible love
it

without representations

of any kind, even though

should be a purely moral Love.
cuts loose from reflection and
itself for

In

its

best

moments the mind
at once
life

proceeds

all

to

remake the synthesis of

purposes of
there

and

action.

Without

analysis

and

reflection

would be no
for
life

science,
for

but to content ourselves with
inevitably

them

and

Freedom would

lead to

unconsciousness and death.

Whatever kind of Ideal man

THE ETHICAL CONCEPTION

245
order to love

may have
it

chosen, he must
live

symbolize

it

in

and to

from

it.

We

are well aware, moreover, that

it

is

not a question of
intellectual

exterior symbols, socially agreed upon.
force an individual has, the

The more

more

right have

we

to think that

the symbolic traits under which the Absolute appears to
will be interior

him
it is

and personal.

We

might even add that

important in moments of practical Inspiration to reduce the
imaginative species to their

minimum

of representation, and

the Ideal will thus gain in moral greatness just as
loses in the

much

as

it

mind

of

its

empirical matter.
all,

But

in the end, as

in order to appear to us at

the invisible
;

Good must
to say,
it

sume some shape
be symbolized.
III.

in the consciousness

that

is

must

Whenever a

serious question

comes up between the
in the consciousness
is

senses

and Duty something takes place
is

which

called

"

moral

Emotion."

It

properly

Analysis of

moral Emo-

in such states of consciousness as these that the

gc^^eof
repraentations

Absolute reveals

himself symbolically.

Outside

which
it.

of ourselves the moral object does not exist; the accompany

man

.without

power to create

it

in himself

would be reduced
"

to purely empirical acts, not

worthy the name of

actions,"

and would

fall morally to the rank of the brutes.

With the
"

latter, the principle of

Conduct which

is

called

"

instinct

is

a real power of mental construction, not properly to be con
sidered as creations, since they never vary, but nevertheless
constituting an inward
cessive
"

"

object

;

they are images, not suc

and

isolated,

but a practical design forming in the

animal consciousness a systematic group of representations.

246

THE ETHICAL FUNCTION OF SYMBOLS
"

In order that Conduct should be
originate every
sentations,

moral

"

there

must

also

moment

in the free subject co-ordinate repre
itself

and the consciousness must give to
it

the

objects which

is

to

embrace

practically.

Now
:

there are
that the

two signs which distinguish moral conduct
"

(1)

practical"

object

is

not so positively like the object which
a

appears in the inspirations of instinct,

mark

all

the

more

important because the autonomy of the Will consists precisely
in this liberal intention of our actions, not strictly useful to
life;

(2) that this

same object originating

in

Freedom ap

pears in representations as varied as those of the instinct are

unchanging.
It will be
is

granted that

if

there are degrees in moral

life, it

only on condition that this twofold psychological law of our
is

actions

applicable progressively also
is

;

that

is

to say,

upon

condition that the intention
liberal or super-empirical,

manifested as more and more
arise

and that the symbolic creations

in the

mind more
felt

distinct, expressing the

Good

in

some

relation

not before

or understood.
it

It is

no

less legitimate to say

that there are, as

were, degrees of intensity in

Duty

;

not

that the moral obligation ever fails to manifest itself categori
cally,

but there are situations which demand such exertion of
will are

moral energy that the imagination and the
into a state of hyperesthesia,

brought

and are so much wrought upon

as to

make

the state seem like a real case of hallucination.
critical
all

In the midst of some such morally
that we have needed to evoke, with

moment, we know

our force, the practical

object concerned (our country, Justice, our oath, etc.); that
is

to say,

it

has been necessary to form in the mind an instan-

THE ETHICAL CONCEPTION

247

taneous and faithful representation capable of inspiring and

holding in check the suggestions of the senses and of egotism.
This dispassionate and sublime enthusiasm takes possession of
the whole soul;
act of death. 1
it is

a true act of alienation, and morally an

Either we must not be afraid to say that in

such acts (which a

man

should be able to perform at least
life, if

once in the course of his
"

he would deserve to be called
;

a

man

of heart

")

the intelligence has no share

or else

we

must grant

that the mental conditions of Disinterestedness

elude all the rules and predictions of Methods.
" "

We

call

mystic symbols
to-be
if it is

the representations under which the ought-

posited in the consciousness as transcending being, or

be preferred, the Ideal, as transcending Experience.

From

the practical point of view, therefore, two cases of mental
activity
1

may be

considered.

The

oftenest

it

is

only a ques-

The

act of disinterestedness consists in

appetite

by

associated mental representations.

crowding out the suggestions of If the moral effort tends only

to restrain the sensible desires within the limits of prudence
it

and

social justice,

causes only a slight alienation of the ego

;

and the practical judgments,
suffice.

always present in the background of the consciousness,
cases, the alienation of the

But

in other

ego

is

total

;

for example, rather than violate his
sets

deepest convictions or give up some

Good which he

beyond

all

price, a

moments, if the non-ego triumphs morally over the ego, it can only be in two ways either the man thus led to the borders of Annihilation is prevented from draw
life,
:

man must abandon

himself, his

his possessions.

Now,

at such

ing back by a sense of Honor or some other extrinsic motive, and inspires himself with a sort of delirium of intoxication in order to rush on without
seeing anything
;

or else he appeals to mental representations, as transcendent

as the decision he is called

upon
is

to

make, and he takes heart and inspires

himself morally, so that his freedom and his love remain in a state of intense
consciousness, as long as there
a pulsation of
;

life left.

The term
life,

"

"

ideas

no longer applies to these representations
pure
a

the mental
a

in

such acts of

Disinterestedness,

man

normal condition, and suc-h has ceased to think empirically under the schemata of Time and
is

henceforth not in

Space.

248
tion of to a

THE ETHICAL FUNCTION OF SYMBOLS
making our plan which we
;

actions agree with each other, according
find developed inwardly in our practical

Eeason

in which case the
;

work

of the understanding
dialectically, in

is

only

discursive

our concepts combine

an order

corresponding to that which

our desires borrow from the

moral Law, and we can express to ourselves Duty by means
of the ordinary inner speech.

But
call

there
"

is

another extraor
"

dinary process which we shall
bolic,"

emotional

or

"

sym

which

is

enjoined under the circumstances we have
state, the

pointed out.
is
it

In an emotional

whole consciousness

taken possession of at once; the moral object comes before
too suddenly or too overwhelmingly to allow us to appeal

to

words and concepts in order to express
case, there is
is
"
"

it

to

ourselves.

In such

representation

to be sure, but the

representation

synthetic and not discursive, symbolic and

not dialectic.

Of

course,

it

is

not a

question

here of the passional

emotions, which have nothing of the ideal about them, and

whose limit

is

their

power to

excite our senses pleasurably
to

or painfully, while yet

we

are not able

translate

into

language these grosser experiences.
tion

But

in the

moral emo

which occupies our consideration, feeling by no means

dulls the ideas or

makes

attention impossible, but

is

closely
in

united with the representations which express the
the consciousness, and
is

Good

uplifted in proportion as they are
it

ennobled.

Let

us look at

a

little

nearer

:

what

will

be, in such cases of emotion, the ideal expression so trans-

porting as to lead the soul to enthusiasm and heroic deci
sions?

As we have

seen,

inward

"

speech"

is

not sufficient

THE ETHICAL CONCEPTION
to

249

do

this,

and nothing
but
the

is

posited analytically in the con
is

sciousness;
totality,

moral Object

posited

in

us as a

by means of a synthesis of images, both powerful
;

and unforeseen

it

is

therefore a fact of symbolism.

All

the other intellectual operations

may

be

summed up
called
"

in the

word
It
states

"Thought,"

but this

is

"Vision."

must be acknowledged
"

that

what are

intense

of consciousness do not proceed the oftenest from
it

our moral activity;

would seem rather the contrary, in

that the passions have very different affinities for the sensi
bility

than Eeason has.

But when the

will succeeds in gain
is

ing admission to the imagination, and the attention

fixed

upon a moral object, such a case of mono-ideism becomes the most noble of hallucinations. The nature of the facts
in
this case admits

a prolonged attention

;

for the moral

object, far

from being exhausted like objects of sense in
it

one single intuition, extends and increases the longer
dwelt on.

is

Such an object
generous enough

will express itself, in the

mind

which
under

is

to

give

it

persistent attention,

symbols
soul,

which
all

become

more

and
is

more

intense,

until the

absorbed in them,
to
itself

sublimely halluci
enthusiasm,

nated,

and returns

full

of eloquence,

and courage.

The power

to take possession of the imagi

nation and the senses, as strongly as do the passions, must

be accorded

the

moral

idea;

but the

power does not

belong to a merely representative idea,

and there must be

added to

it

an element of Freedom which transforms the

Idea into Ideal.

In the esthetic or moral order, the idea
it

may be

called objective, because

is

still

a fact of repre-

250
sentation
;

THE ETHICAL FUNCTION OF SYMBOLS
but we have already seen
l

that the objectivity
its

proper
"

of

the Ideal comes only from

character of an

excess/ which declares
facts of

itself in certain
"

experiences called
as,

"

Reason

"

or of

Freedom."

And

on the other

hand, the idea cannot exalt the consciousness except in so
far as it manifests itself with the

utmost intensity of expres

sion, it results therefrom that the

moral

activity, in order

to raise itself to the state of emotion,

becomes truly mystic,
virtue
of symbols,

that

is,

productive of symbols.
has
efforts

By

moral

love

a

marvellous

susceptibility

of

increase.

Unless the

of the will yield under the resistance of
its

Egotism, the moral emotion and
effects

accompanying symbolic

will

go on augmenting until they have complete pos

session of the field of consciousness.

IV.

When we
* ne y

assert that, although the

phenomena

of In

themselves from the criticism of science, spiration withhold
Absolute

y 6* carrv
1

w ^h them

the

maximum

of

truth

Jymbois given
to the moral consciousness, Their esoteri-

which man can hope for here below, we do not
believe that

we hazard views

of too exceptional a
title

nature.
to everything
else,

We

may even

cede the

of

"

"realities

yet Being manifests itself only in those

analogies which spring forth spontaneously from contact be

tween the empirical consciousness and Freedom.
at

The mind

such moments reaches heights whereon another light suc
;

ceeds to the light of experience

and thither

it is fitting

that

we should allow

ourselves to be conducted by faith.

What

is

there to fear on this point* from the Imagination
"The

elsewhere so deceptive?
1

passage of the Imagination
ii.,

First Part,

cli.

sec.

ii.

THE ETHICAL CONCEPTION
from the possible to the real/
under the mastery of
1
"

251
is

says Renouvier,

made

some vivid emotion, some ardent

passion."

But

is

this passage never
?

made under

a legiti

mate influence of Desire
born of Freedom equally
This
is

and are

all

the representations

futile in the eyes of the

Thinker
find

?

a question of supreme importance, and

we

no

criterion
"

on the subject in the positive domain of method.

If/

as the

same author expresses

"

it,

the reflective and

will functions are null or of a very

low order/

I should
easily

distrust this creation of internal objects,

which might

be only the
sion.

"

mental whirl

"

of a

mind inflamed with pas
and
if

But should the
disinterested

case be quite different,
will

an

evidently the of
for

and an extraordinary love of
symbolical effects

Good have been
the

the cause of these

imagination, ought I not to examine

them

freely in

their

precious

meanings,

which,

though

irrational

the
for

sight of

"pure

Reason/
as

have
as
"

an incalculable value
the

the

intelligence

well
:

for

Conduct

?

M.

Eenouvier

says

very justly
sentiments

The

origin

and

intrinsic

worth

of

the

which

have

possession

of

the
his

consciousness of a Revealer, and constrain
assertions, strictly speaking,

him

to

make

might depend upon certain higher
2
"We

laws which are

unknown

in the order of the world/ of
"

are not speaking just

now
"

Revealers,"

but
"

it

seems to

us that this appeal to

certain higher laws

remains good

for all consciences, under certain conditions of rarely perfect

morality.

It is our opinion that the place of these higher

laws

is
1

in

Freedom, to which the Absolute has access at
t. ii.,

2e Essal de critique generate,

p. 12.

2 Ibid.

252

THE ETHICAL FUNCTION OP SYMBOLS
itself in

every instant, positing

new modes, but how

it

is

done eludes our inquiry.
"

Phenomena

"

or the empirical forms of Being are one
"

thing,

and the glimpses of the

Ought-to-be,"

in

which the

Good

really imparts itself to those

who

are capable in their

Hearts of endless desire, are another.
the Heart

These choices which

makes, rationally inconceivable and emanating
in the

from the moral charm of the apparitions of the Good

breast of Freedom, form the very fact which the mystics call
"divine
Love,"

and we are so bold

as to say of this love

the same that has been said of

human

love

"

:

The choice
"We

which

is

opposed to Reason comes to us from Reason.

have made the god of love blind because he has better eyes
than we have and sees things which we cannot
l

perceive."

Mystic symbols must not be required to explain them
selves

on leaving the consciousness wherein they are formed.

The ordinary moral matter which Eeason or introspection
furnishes us with
is

ours from which to compose treatises

on Morals

;

but symbolic matter has a totally different use,
exclusively practical and personal.

one that

is

When

once

the Heart, by grace of education and habit, has attained such

a morality that

it

is

devoted to the desires of the Better,

it

exerts a marvellous influence

upon the imagination

;

but the

symbolic forms which

it

gets from

this inexhaustible source,

though undoubtedly gifted with

esthetic value, are excellent

only as far as they serve the needs of the subject, and so
far as they are unconscious of the attention of others.

In

order to

know them
1

they must be taken by
Smile,
1.

surprise from
230.

J.-J. Rousseau,

iv., ed.

Gamier,

p.

THE ETHICAL CONCEPTION
the naivete of souls which are mystic without

253
knowing
it.

Genuine apparitions of the Absolute, instead of

calling for

direct expression, ask only to be translated practically into

Deeds
tially

;

this it is

which distinguishes the Goodness essen

"

Creation

"

and

"

Genius

"

from

activities of all other

kinds upon which we bestow the same names,
thing
itself

while

the

remains infinitely above them.
at least to say

May we be permitted
subject to
differences

what forms mystic
by
desire,

symbolism assumes most readily?

Suggested

no laws but those of Analogy, for which external no longer
exist, the

symbolic representations arise

from the most unexpected coming together of any empirical
object,

or even

a

fact

of

consciousness,

and the

fact
"

of

Freedom which demands
ing
bush,"

to express itself in us.
voice,"

A

burn

a

"still

small

etc.,

have

afforded the

Prophets an apparition of God
lend
its

;

the

mind, therefore, can
of

infinity

to

the

least

gleams

the

empirical

consciousness.

Yet the symbolic form which

prevails over all others, if

we may

believe the testimony

of

mystic narrative,
?

is

the

human

form.

How

could
is

it

be otherwise

Let us not

forget that the mystic fact

only the enlargement, or better

perhaps, the development in the direction of truth, of our
tendencies towards infinity
;

let

us not forget that

it is

only

the manifestation of the self to the self for the purposes of
this source of activity

and of Freedom which cannot find direct
it

expression.

And
known

surely

is

the face which

is

the most

natural expression of the soul, and reflects things too

com
is

plex to be

dialectically

;

and in the face

it

the

254
look.

THE ETHICAL FUNCTION OF SYMBOLS
For
this reason the face is the

most familiar symbol

of Mysticism.

Any

one who has read

many

mystical authors

becomes convinced that the depth into which the imagination
of Seers plunges, in order to see God,
is

some human ap

pearance, not merely idealized as Art can do, but vivified by
the power of Faith stronger than Art.

Oftentimes mystics

have held focussed by their own interior gaze nothing but
another
look,

a symbol scarcely material, but yet
to

all

the

more

active

and able

open the imagination to vision of
support mystic thought finds
itself,
still

the Infinite.

Upon

this slight

foot-hold;

the soul can

then see

through the

imagination, but with such
it is

minimum
itself in

of representation that
its

very near to perceiving

essence in

continuity

of Cause and Substance with the Absolute.

Y. Practically, mystic appeals
rare.

to the

Absolute must be

Symbolic representations cannot
ness
^

last in the conscious-

The function

n

^s

ordinary

state.

Reason and habit are

sufficient to

maintain conduct under the influence

of Duty.

Moreover the

abuse of

Mysticism

is

a

most

serious danger to morality of conduct.

The requirements
virtual presence

of

life

do not often need more than a
order
to

of

the Absolute in

keep under

our tendencies to Egotism.

A

healthy soul has no trouble
life,

to distinguish the positive character of

and without for

a

moment withdrawing

itself

from that moral transcendence
it

which claims to stamp our intentions,
call of

holds itself at the
it is

Duty, in cheerful confidence
is

"

that

not hostile to
life

Being, and that the Good
itself."

at

the very source of

Mystic appeals to

God

are only the reserve force of

THE ETHICAL CONCEPTION
our moral
in
is

255

life.

It is not

our task to measure the degree
It

which we may have recourse to mystic channels.

no easy thing for any individual man to know whether
is

there

a balance between the difficulties which nature

some

times piles up in our Life and the resources which, on the
other hand, she gives us in Freedom.
ticism
cases
;

In any event, mys
conception
in

shows us

her

most original
is

such

and besides, she
full

at

her very best when the idea with

of Grace finds

reconciliation

Freedom.

Grace

can

only be

an extremely subjective and incommunicable

apparition of God.

When
make

a

man

finds nothing in his

own

heart with which to other

the Absolute present to him, no
to
it.

man can

help him

In such
is

states

of moral

anguish and impotence, the soul
to cling to the symbols which

less

inclined than

ever

come from without.
itself

Never
or to

has the consciousness so great a need to rest in
reveal itself to

God

only.

That force which

is

able to call

forth supernatural characteristics, as interior to the soul as

they are to

the
;

ego,

will

act

in

a

manner contrary

to

mystic illusions
in ourselves,

its symbolic creations will seem to originate

and

will precede very slightly (if they precede
It is in this slight interval

at all) the decisions of the Will.

of distance, imperceptible to us, between the symbols which
are striving for expression in the consciousness, and the act
of

Freedom which terminates the moral
"

crisis

favorably, that

the mystic hypothesis of

Grace

"

places

itself.

The

infinite
;

Goodness intervenes

at this

moment

of sharpest anguish

a

divine insight comes to strengthen our vision of the
lute,

Abso

and to determine our

relish for

Duty.

It is quite true

256
that there

THE ETHICAL FUNCTION OF SYMBOLS
is

no hypothesis
is

less

capable of proof, and yet

none can be imagined which
VI.
It
is

1 morally more worthy of respect.

only under certain moral conditions that the

mystic fact occurs effectively.
The Relations of moral and
botism!
don"

There are other

facts, it is

true,

not

properly belonging to the

moral coninte;

sciousness,

which cannot do without the same which we have called symbols

quence.

rior apparitions

but

we

shall not

be able to speak of them at any length.

When

practical decisions are

no longer in question, but
of enthusiasm so

esthetic effects,

we cannot speak
except

and

"

appari
are

tions of the

Absolute,"

far as such

effects

conjoined to Freedom.

In

this

respect dramatic

Art and

Eloquence have a great
Mysticism.

affinity of

psychologic process with
is

In both of these Arts there
afflux of the

much

possibility

of mystic suggestion and

whole consciousness

about the Object which

is

found good and beautiful.
effect

But

even here enthusiasm does not
as moral emotion
;

such important results

there

is

nothing but a pleasurable expe
it

rience soon exhausted by contemplation, leaving behind

no such traces as respect, remorse, kindness,
1

etc.

difficult to explain religious function that the distinction of the two terms thus brought into rela psychologically tion incurs the risk of vanishing, and the notion of Person the risk of being lost
is

The thing which renders the

"

"

in the Absolute.

A

for the doctrine of Grace, of
"

very solid basis of individuation and freedom is demanded which Saint Paul s mind was full when he wrote,

/ live, no longer I who live, but Christ who liveth in me." Von Hartmann theism starts from the dogmatic a priori that God and man complains that are two conscious personalities of different essence! (llev. phil. Oct. 1883,
"

pp.

414-416.)

In

fact

sonality
subsist

might remain

inalienable

something should be designated by which our per and by which individual Reason could still
itself

when

it

has gone out of Time to unite
far.

with the pure

Intelligible.

Our

subject docs not take us so

THE ETHICAL CONCEPTION
It is

257

Eloquence which obtains

its

best and truest effects

from mystic symbolism.
of eloquence,
it

In giving a psychological definition
first

must be noticed,

of
;

all,

that

it is

not con

fined to the effects of logical persuasion
est

otherwise our inter

would be excited more

readily

by a book than by a

discourse.

The

orator

feels

a

moral emotion from some
"

object which appeals to the Heart,
"

his

"

country/
"

prog
at the

ress/

a fireside to protect/
in
his

"

a soul to save

;

and

very

moment

discourse

when

his soul

seems to us

ready to leave everything for this object, his emotion arouses

us;

it

does not kindle ours until he seems to have
his

first

alienated

own

personal desires for the benefit of some
is

higher Good.

Eloquence

really only the fact of this
1

moral

transmission of disinterestedness and enthusiasm.

Now we
and of

must note well the condition of the soul
his hearers during that state
;

of the orator

we must take by

surprise the

images which follow each other in the minds carried away,

and which

realize

an object far removed from the senses so

intensely that they are ready at that
1

moment

to

pay for

it

By way

of contrast
"

we might
The
If

derive from these words of

Hume

a true defi

nition of Eloquence.
"

decline of Eloquence

may

be

attributed,"

he says,

you banish the pathetic from public discourses you reduce the speakers merely to modern Eloquence, that is, to Good Sense
Sense.
delivered in proper
expressions."

to our

Good

...

(Essais
a genuine
"

moraux

et politiques,

16e Essai,
calls

(Euvres

t. vi.,

pp. 230-231.)

As

Englishman,
Sense."

Hume
It

no doubt

the practical faculty of prudence and skill

Good
"

must be acknowl
"

edged that this Disinterestedness has only negative relations with the Good Sense which triumphs by proper expressions alone, and in this light modern It would remain to be Eloquence" has nothing in common with Mysticism.
"

seen whether that which was

left in a speech deprived of all pathos, would be Eloquence, and whether we ought to retain that word for the practical Evi dence which would apply to business matters, or reserve it for a higher Evi

dence which we never receive without having
17

"

"

transports

aroused in Freedom.

THE ETHICAL FUNCTION OP SYMBOLS
with
their

blood.

These

representations,

possibly

uncon

scious, are symbols, all the

more mystic because they rouse a

greater extent of consciousness and carry away

more strongly

on

their side the

Reason against the

senses.

But

shall \ve

ever have graphic processes which are sufficiently introspective
to

grasp and preserve

these marvellous

visions

which the

Heart understands how to create in the interest of the objects
to be brought before the

Eeason and into the

will of others ?

II.
I.

THE MYSTIC CITY
:

The

social function of Disinterestedness
:

Peace.

II.

Power aud Kindness
social Ideal
"

the Heart the unity of the two concepts.
object than
itself.

III.

Freedom can have no other mystic
:

Mystic and
can never

the

Free-Man."

IV. The Mystic City and the World. be damned.

The man who

is

free

V. The integration

of Souls in the Absolute.

VI. The mystic confidence of Hope.
I.

The mystic Consciousness
Peace;
its

loves nothing so
is

much

as

Disinterestedness: Peace,

oociety living in Ui der

CI-.LV-

supreme vision
r\
i

a perfectly organic
))
1

IT and Love.

No
it is

one can deny that Disinterestedness makes for Peace

;

hardly necessary to connect the

two ideas by a middle
founded

term.

But what

is less

easy, is to conceive a Society
Urbs Jerusalem
visio,

Coelestis

;

Eeata Pacis

Quse celsa de viventibus
Saxis ad astra tolleris
;

Sponsseque ritu cingeris
Mille Angelorum millibus.

(Breviarium Roman, Hymn. ad. Vesp. iii Fcsto Dedications Ecclesiaruin.)

THE MYSTIC CITY
on Disinterestedness.
Life

259
conflict,
is

triumphs through

and

becomes dull and sluggish when the struggle

relaxed.

The

epigenesis cannot be accomplished and the living thing

issue forth unless certain cells prevail in the organic

mass and

form into centres of energy around which
group
like

all

the other cells

some blind and passive
endure
unless

multitude.

Neither

could Society
other,

the

unities
"

strove with each
leaders
"

and unless some of them became

dominat

ing the others.

Any

conception of the Absolute tending to do away with
retard this emulation, which
is

or even to

vital,

would be

anti-scientific.

Must

the idea of the Good, then, be brought

within the limits of Life, and must Disinterestedness be con
fined within the restrictions of rights prescribed

by Eeason ?

By
lute

so doing

we renounce

at the

same time both the Abso
is

and Disinterestedness.
;

In Time there
Absolute

no room for

anything but deeds
therein.

and the

finds
if

no

place

And
it it

with regard to disinterestedness,

we choose
prescribed

to see in

only the facts

of moral alienation
to

by law,
the

would no longer belong
that
is,

the Heart,

but to
it

Sword;

it

would be no use to speak about

any more.

What

part

is

it is
it

proper to assign to disinterestedness in

a society which

formed

first

and foremost upon Law?
all

In our opinion

should be recognized as having
it is

the

marks of a

social postulate ;

a fact which

sociology

demands
ditions.

as sternly as it is helpless
It could
itself
"

to pronounce its con

not

be
"

conceived that a society would
empirically under the organic and

condemn

to live

260

THE ETHICAL FUNCTION OF SYMBOLS

protective action of laws, deprived of any ideal order of interest

and action such as belong to the very nature of man.
need of Freedom
is

Our
and

a consequence of our need of

Life,,

for this reason, doubtless,

we

find

no example in history of
itself

any society which has completely withdrawn
Ideal.

from the

Even
armed
state

in the

present

day,

when

the

World seems

better
pacific

for
in

life,

we

agree to define Civilization as a
efforts

which
is

all

are

directed

towards

the extension, that
life

to

say,

towards the idealization of
recurs
in
all

universally.
political

Thus
projects

there

liberal
"

and
the

sound

the

"

Vision

of

Peace

of

Mystics.
II.

We

shall

go on to understand better and better that
is

the concept of Force
Power and
Kindness the Heart the unity of the two
:

not opposed to that of Kindness.
that
.

In

the same

way
.

we

learn to believe,

when we
i

look deep into things,

n
tliat

they

all

sliare in

a

concepts.

common
Desire

source of activity, and that the Soul of

the world

can only triumph over the division of

matter by persistently following some unique and supreme
end,

we

are also

forced to think that Desire increases in
in
call

the

same way when there appears
transcendence

our Freedom that
the
"

ultimate
"

which

we

Heart

"

or

Kindness."

In order that the Will should detach
it

itself
its

morally from the ego,
active

is

necessary that the Good, in
reflected in the

form of Force should be

world once

again, and should perform an act of independence, all the

more remarkable
ness.

in that

it

constitutes a state of conscious

When

the soul has reached that point, laws cease to
far

have any existence so

as

it

is

concerned.

It

enters

THE MYSTIC CITY
under the
direct dominion, or rather into direct
is its

261

communion,
empirical

with the Good, which

own
is

law.

In
it

this

world, however, into which

man

born,

must be acknowl

edged that the Good rarely triumphs to such a degree, and

when

it

does

it is

as it were
;

by
it

surprise.

No

such supreme

effort is

necessary for Life

employs

its

power of willing
;

for useful purposes, that is to

say, egotistically

it

does not

create

things
it

that

are

"good,"

and even ignores them. and opinion Good

Hence
ness
is

arises that to the general habit

an

exotic.

But does

this matter ?

The

ultra positive

conception of Life, supported even by force of the instincts,

ought not to prevail over laws of Freedom and moral Prog
ress

which are inscribed in the very foundation of the mind.
for Society to

It

is

arm

itself

morally, and see to

it

that none

prevail over others except for the
lic

Good

of

all,

and that pub

affairs fall
"

only into the hands of the

lest, in the sense
its seat

of the

disinterested."

Power

in

man

should have
Tyrants.

in the Heart.
III.

Mere mastery engenders

But we have learned

also that disinterestedness does

not find support in universal symbols such as the principles
of

Duty; and

that,

on the contrary,
is

its

symbols are

Freedom can
have no other
6*

formed from
free.

all

that

most personal to us and most
"

gjfj^lSJ?
sociandeai
"the
:

To dream

of a

mystic

Citv,"

would

be,

Free"

therefore, to circumscribe ourselves within contra-

Man

dictory aspirations of a sort which could never pass into
fact

except

by violating the idea
all

of

"Freedom,"

which

must sustain

the others in this matter.

No

social part

can be assigned to mystic Symbolism.
of

In default, however,

common

symbols, a universal, and in some sort religious

262
object
tions
;

THE ETHICAL FUNCTION OF SYMBOLS
must be presented
this object is

to souls capable of social aspira
itself,

Freedom

which renders us sus
its

ceptible to

Mysticism and guarantees

purity.

We

have

already learned that in the inmost of ourselves, exclusively,

do we perceive the

Infinite,

and that the true Heaven

is

there, in those inherent

powers for Good, which nothing
it

empirical

limits.

And, moreover,

is

a practical object,
irrational

beyond which there could be only an
pursued

Absolute

by the imagination of

false

mystics, throughout

every corner of space and dream.

It is in the heart

that
it

God
us.
is

lives,

manifests himself, calls for love, and gives
;

to

He
much

does not exist for us anywhere else
is

but there, he

as accessible as he

infinite,

and claims our generosity on our adoration.
is

as

as he imposes himself
" "

Man
"

is

not so
ing"

much a
himself

free

being as he

a being

who

is

free

slowly,

through Science, Labor, Kindness,
still

Reason, from the many things which

oppress his soul

and burden

his

life.

There

is,

then, such a thing as an ideal
at the expense of everything

man, who must be developed
else.

We
Holy
they

have seen that
"

it

is
"

one and the same thing to

be

"

and
say

to be

"

Free

;

and the mystics are right
other
evil

when

that

there

is

no

than

"

sin."

And what
Freedom ?
lute?

is

sin except everything

which

entails a loss

of

What

other Avay

is

there of offending the

Abso
full

Disinterestedness
itself

thus finds

firm footing

and

scope to exercise

without end.

Every kind of Mysti

cism must yield

itself into

the hands of that

God who

is

before all things, and

who

yet asks to manifest himself in

man.

THE MYSTIC CITY
IV.

263

When
man

Saint Augustine, together with all Christian

mystics, and according to the gospel,
sion

makes a moral
"

divi

of

into

two incompatible

Cities.

the The

Mystic
6

City and the

City of God, and the
perceive in
it

World/

1
.

we cannot but
,
,

JS^
be damned,

one

n

.

.

free can never

ot

those profoundly discerned

moral truths which, however, become absurdities
to their logical extreme.

if

pushed

Since Society
for

is

but the organic
of Life,

assemblage
could
there

of all

men

the maintenance
at

how
fact ?

be an Antinomy

the root

of this
will

The

rational

and Christian concept of Freedom
to

come

more and more
Manichseans.

replace
life
is

the

mystical

Dualism of the

Human
in

not embarked either in the

Good
call
"

or the Bad, but in that indetermiuateness which

we

Freedom/
The
will,

which moral movement alone

is

pos

sible.

doubtless, never ceases to advance, either

in

the

sense

of

duty

or the

opposite

;

but so long as

habit

and

heredity

produce organic

effects,

no

men man

are

absolutely good, or absolutely bad.

There can be no place
loses

assigned in the evolution of character at which a
that which

makes him

"

man,"

namely, Freedom.

Whenever

a rational representation or act of judgment can take place
in us,

Freedom

is

there present and one with

it.

A
;

whole
it is,

moral order

may

arise in one instant of free

Reason

indeed, the whole order of Grace which becomes a renewed
possibility.

Logically, therefore, in this

life

there are only

the

"

wretched,"

and absolutely to doom those who are conscilicet,

1

"

Fecerunt itaque civitates dims amores duo, terrenam

amor

sui

usque ad contemptum Dei, ccelestem vero, amor Dei usque ad contemptum

sui."

(Le

Civitate Dei,

1.

xiv. c. ixviii.)

264

THE ETHICAL FUNCTION OF SYMBOLS
or opinion
is

demned by law
immorality.
that

might

be, perhaps, the height of

There

always enough of personality and of

human

essence which

Kant

calls

"

"

Dignity * O
/

about the
venture to

very worst of
refuse

men

for us to be careful

how we

them our
is

respect.

In the Mysticism of the gospel
principle,

there

no better established

no deeper sentiment
it

than this.

We

cannot but believe that

is this

quality of

respecting love, and of perfect equality in regard to what
the gospel religiously calls a soul, this mystical indulgence
for
sin

on the part of the holy Being, which has kept
an ever triumphant actuality throughout the

Christianity
centuries.

V.
it

The empirical

life is

a

power of

selection,

and as such
it

triumphs in the individual and in the species;
the best of things.

assirn-

The integration ilates
of Souls in the Absolute.

Must we acknowledge
its

that this effort of Being contradicts itself in
is

highest manifestation, or else that morality
of Being inferior to Life?

a manifestation

Freedom
it

either has nothing sure
life,

and

solid in it at

all,

or else
fittest.

tends, like

to the

triumph

and survival of the
full

Those Beings who reach that
is

development of Freedom, which

Goodness, cannot be

eliminated from existence; they are already predestined to

form part of the Absolute.

The

integration of good-wills

in the Absolute is precisely the mystic City of

which Saint

Augustine spoke, and which

it is

well not to ignore here
it is

below in the

social hurly-burly, as

also well to desire

of Time. individually with all our strength its fulfilment out

If the Absolute exists

how could

this City not exist ?
it is

How

could

it

be otherwise, since by definition

the Alpha and

THE MYSTIC CITY
the

265
is

Omega

of things, and since desire, which

the principle

of existence, can only expire in possession, since the act can

only finish in the

Good

?

Is nothing to remain of all the
is

manifold ways in which Being
order to
is

unfolded in the world in
?

embosom

itself in

the consciousness

If anything
;

to remain, it cannot exist in a state of dispersion

it

will

return within and to a centre, in a stable unify whence issues

Power, and whither tends Desire.
themselves
to

The things which adapt
tenacity to

the

Good with

sufficient

enable

them

to survive, namely, good-wills, place themselves, even
life,

in this

in the perfect
is

and

final

Order which

is

Love,

than which there

no higher way of bringing back multi

plicity into unity.

From

the affective point of view no other conclusion could
If
it

be reached.
experience of

is

true

that Goodness,

in

the general

life, is

an exoticism, persons mystic enough to
will

embrace

it

practically
it

be enough so to admit that in
This does not

some manner

triumphs in the Absolute.

mean

that

we

are
;

good

in this

in the Absolute

for that

life, happy would be destructive of the very

only in order to be

essence of Goodness.
of appearances, there

Only, when mystics assert that, in spite
is

some moral integration of things

in

the Absolute, they in their turn are
against the obsession of nothingness.

defending themselves

With nothing

to

hope
they
ele

from sensible Happiness, owing to the standard of
have chosen, as
difficult of

life

attainment as

it

is

morally

vated, they soothe the
rebellions of the heart,

repinings of the senses and even the

by promises

of the ultimate

triumph

of Justice and Kindness.

The mystic

City, in the vision of

266
Hope,
is

THE ETHICAL FUNCTION OP SYMBOLS
built

up on such

perfect laws of justice

and com

pensation that each loss of sensible happiness here below re

appears

in

it

as

an embellishment or sumptuous
1

detail of

celestial architecture.

Why
"

should we go on speaking about
"

"

selection
?

"

and
not

exoticism

with regard to these moral things
is

Why
is

say that hope

universal,
is

and that so
?

is

Goodness, and that
such
the state
it

the Mystic City
of supreme

without walls

At

least

desire.

Whatever the

facts

may

be,

must

be maintained that every
conditions of that
as light

man

bears

within

himself the

Mysticism

which accompanies Freedom
are predestined
;

follows
of the

the sun.

We

by Eeason

members

kingdom

of Ends, all of us

not only those

who

receive a mystic baptism in the unfathomable regions

of the soul,

but those who

bear about in the flesh that

capacity of emotion and kindness which
of like nature with the Absolute.

makes us

creators,

The moral
sidered.
is

significance

of our actions

is

also

to

be con

Since no such significance exists in Nature, which
it

altogether in phenomena,
it

has to be conceded to her to
is

express

otherwise,

by a word which

not explicatory, and

which only serves to identify us with the Absolute beyond
time.

The

free being does not fulfil in
1

Time the

acts

which

Scalpri salubris ictibus

Et tunsione plurima

Hanc

Fabri polita malleo, saxa molein construunt

;

Aptisque juncta nexibus Locantur in fastigio.
(Brev. Rom. Hymn. ad. Vesp. In Festo Dedicationis Ecclesiaruin.)

THE X MYSTIC CITY
are proper to
is
it
;

267

that which appears of

them on the outside
;

but an empirical translation of this transcendent activity
itself

but
this

does not go forth from the intelligible world.
life

In
all

way our moral

escapes the nothingness in which

our actions perish empirically.
with regard to the free being ;

Kant thus expresses himself in him no act would be born

and no
first

act

would perish. 1

Now

mystics
"

believe, in

the
"

place, with Kant, that the acts which

do not perish

become integrated
"

in a personal
"

whole which they name
"

indifferently

soul

or

character ;

but after this they

proceed so far as to think that the souls come in their turn
into union with the Absolute.

VI.

Lastly, let us remark that mysticism rests

upon no

faltering

hope of the future

life,

as

upon a postulate; and
Mystic
The mystic

herein

is its

advantage over pure Reason.
Absolute,
after

Eeason apprehends the

having

H

confidence of

Pe

-

made of

it

an interior

object

by means proper to

itself,

in a

vivid intuition, analogous to that of the senses

in

appre

hending phenomena.
mystic
with
feels

Thus, back of the symbols where the
also feels his soul identified in

God, he

union

God ; and

thence he obtains knowledge of his

immor
It
is

tality,

without recourse to any other considerations.
fill

not solely to

up

practically the immense hiatus which

separates our Heart from the Absolute or to construct logi
cally the idea of sovereign

Good which

causes the mystic con

sciousness to maintain such confident Hope.

From

its

own
part

intimate experience

it

believes itself to be an integral
it

of the Absolute, and
1

desires future
R. pure,
t.
ii.

life,

as the

bud de-

Grit.

p.

140.

268
sires

THE ETHICAL FUNCTION OF SYMBOLS
to

unclose and the embryo to be born. 1
of the

What

will

become

personality of souls in this
?

mystery which

Reason cannot fathom

The mystic asks

for

no complicated
unfailing

explanations; he trusts God, he trusts an

Love

more than he

trusts reasonings.

After having alienated the

ego, with purity of intention, he has no further thought of

resuming
to-live."

it

again witli

all

the persistent desires of the

"

will-

Moreover, no one can lose himself in the Good

without the actual consciousness of finding himself again,

more

alive

and more complete.

An

act

so

vital as

this

carries with it

no impression of death and extinction.
it is

Even

here below the soul feels that

divine

;

that,
;

though con
will partalce
it

ditions change, its essence does not change

it

of the interests of the Absolute, as distinctly as

once par

took

of

its

Reason,

free

at

last

to participate therein

directly and without symbols.

The mystic Activity
where
all sensible
;

is

thus

completed.

At the point

experience ends,

we have

seen that Reason

hesitates

it

can only hazard an assumption in regard to the

future

life,

similar to that in regard to the existence of

God

;

a postulate only.

How

in fact could

we proceed

to construct
it

such a concept, and what could be put into

but our

dreams
its

?

Thus Faith, the mystic
function, and
it

intuition, claims this as
"

own proper
1

has been defined

the power

of the Sons of
delivered

For the earnest expectation of the creature waits God here below all is subject to vanity
:

for the manifestations
.
.

.

but there

all shall
.

be
. .

from that bondage. Meanwhile creation groaneth and travaileth and ourselves also, which have already in us a beginning of God, we groan
within ourselves, waiting for the
viii.

final adoption.

PAUL, Ep.

to the

Romans,

19-23.

THE MYSTIC CITY
to give substance to things

269
still

which are

only in the state

of

desires."

1

Mystic Hope, in order to give a body to that
less

which has even

than the objects of the moral conscious

ness, asks support for the last time from symbols; but in

our opinion, every great soul, whatever his intellectual bent,

whoever in

this

world has the power of Kindness, will find

within himself enough mysticism to give consistency to his

dreams of Heaven.
to the very end

In him the Absolute

will

posit itself

under consonant symbols while waiting for
succeed to Hope.
for."

the intuitions which are to
1
"

The substance of things hoped

(Hebrews

xi. 1.)

CONCLUSION
IF

modem

thought has cast

off the

fetters

of religious

dogma

only to

make another prison-house
if

of the empirical

consciousness, and

every mental combination which does

not reflect the necessity of causal succession has to be relin
quished, the second bondage will be no better than the one
just ended.

Science,

we

recognize the
;

fact,

is

sovereign
"

in

the ex

perimental order of things
stand, broadly,
all

and by

Science

"

we under
:

that

Kaut placed

in pure

Eeason

the

principles of the understanding with those of the sensibility.

We
"

do not deny, in the name of a higher
to

interest, or attach

ment

ideas
"

believed

indestructible,

any portion of the

knowable

to this broad field of the activity of the con

sciousness.

Everything which
side,

"

"

is

Object

belongs to

it.

But on another

the

"Subject"

completely

eludes

Science, and we use the word with such

sufficient strictness

that no one can deny

it

to us in our turn.

We

still

regard

as exterior, facts of direct representation, or the objective

appearance called

"phenomena,"

and we willingly admit,

if

desired, that the intelligence which confines itself to their

interpretation

is
"

itself
me,"

outside of that pure identity which
it is

must be

called

for

only an intuition of relations

inevitably consecutive to the images that are impressed on us
empirically.

The

Subject, in our opinion,

commences beyond
same time

these facts of consciousness, which are not at the

CONCLUSION
facts of
"

271
terms

pure autonomy
is

;

and we
us,

set over against the

that which

done without

and which

exists outside

of

us,"

which define empiric being,
"

this simple notion of

sub

jective being,

that which is done by us

and which remains

within

us"

It is this occult

background of subjectivity
with the images

which, by mingling

itself indiscriminately

and affirmations of Experience, has been the source of the

many

errors

which have

cast, as it were, the

shadow of bar

barism over times which are under a ban of discredit as
"

mystical."

It

is

not at

all

that

the

subject

subsists

apart

from

things, and intervenes

like a spectator in the

midst of the
it

universal mechanism, ready to go in or out of

at pleasure.

We

are born

into,

and developed wholly
it,

in

Experience

;

were we to try to go out from
loss of

the result would be the

our most original intuitions, and of that Freedom
permit
itself to

which

will not

be enclosed in exact formula,

like the series of empirical facts.

Outside these conditions
since
it

the subject could

not exist, but
itself

does exist,

why

wish

it

to

deny

by

consenting to be

brought under

the principles of Motion and Life solely ?

Although we are

subject to things, not only in order to live, but also in order
to think,

we have

at the

same time reason to believe that
as conditions,

we

are subject to

them only

and that
"

all

the

facts

which can be assembled under the term
"

empirical

consciousness

bear the same relation to the subject that the
life.

chemical conditions of matter bear to
at every degree, escapes exact

Activity
science

itself,

knowledge

but

it

would be of paramount

interest to learn to understand that

272

CONCLUSION

ultimate phase of Activity whence proceed the development
of character

and our whole moral history

;

we would gladly

give a large part of science in exchange for an adequate and
clear

knowledge of our Freedom.
to seek repose in cour

The empirical school counsels us

ageous intellectual abnegation, and candidly to consign the

unknowable to the same rank

as

non-being.

But

this is

putting too high a price on peace of mind.
religions,

Not

only would

not only would Metaphysics

cease to be, if

we

were to refuse to go further than positive and
experience, but the noblest
activities
is

scientific

of

the consciousness

would come
life

to an end.

There

a natural Faith which gives

alike to

Art and Morals, and which must never be

sacrificed.
it,

Man

needs must adorn his

life,

or even cheer

with these sublime illusions, whose principles are within

himself only.
into an

Above

all

things, lest his

Freedom degenerate
requirement

overwhelming burden, he

feels it a real

to be morally inspired,

and

to invest the contingency of his

actions

with some assured importance, so

that

he cannot
the
is

consent to repudiate that Faith which
subject

creates within

an unreal world, the contemplation

of

which

life-giving.

The mind has but one means of conferring upon its esthetic and religious creations sufficient truth to make them
enduring, and this
of
itself.
is,

not to endeavor to place them outside

The

objectivity which

mystics

have too

often

attributed to their apparitions has

been only illusory, and

contrary to the interests of Mysticism.
is

Man
of

s

understanding

not

formed

for

the

construction

the

immutable

CONCLUSION

273

being that our faith adores, or for the unattainable beauty

which our fancy covets.

It

is

only

formed to apprehend,
our senses
present
to

under fixed .schemata, that which
us
all

in the

constant

mobility of the

becoming.
of
faith

Certainly,

that

we hold through

the insights

and fancy

rnay be called objects, in the sense of positive existence and
truth,

but

let it

be candidly recognized that we must neither

appeal to authority of experience in their behalf, nor to any
of the principles
in

which allow us to posit certain affirmations
authorizes

common.

Freedom alone
;

us

to

objectivate

intuitions of this kind
"

but

is it

not a flagrant contradiction
"

to

assume to extend knowledge from Freedom
call

?

Would

it

not be better to

such intuitions, which are for each
"

person alone, by

their true

"

name,

beliefs

?

All things are not in Experience, but whatever more there

may

be,

only one single notion of
like

common

usage
of,

among
namely,
"In

minds made

ours

remains to be spoken

the notion of existence.
"

Let us not bring the word
a very excellent

spiration
its place,

into this connection,

word

in

but having naught to do with Knowledge properly
Inspiration does not enter into the understanding
;

so called.
it

illuminates

a

deeper, and there

is
its

no doubt, a more
inspiring
influence,

admirable part of the ego.
to whatever principles
it

Under

may

belong, the wonderful mirrors

of the imagination are diverted from the speculative under

standing towards more active powers, which would
in unconsciousness Avere
it

remain

not for the aid of empirical rep

resentations

:

but as soon as the imaginative species reach
is

us, our Freedom employs them as symbols, and we begin

274
to perceive a

CONCLUSION
whole order of things which only needed light

in order to appear.

The

Infinite, the first

promises of which

at least
scious,

we bear within
and
is

us,

comes forth from the uncon
which enchant us and

manifested

in forms
life,

in facts

from which we get
"

as

much

as

we do from

those called

empirical."

Rational criticism of the

Idea of

God

has in our days
experience

departed

too
call

far
"

from

this

intimate

personal

which we

mystical,"

and has too much neglected,
of appreciation, to collect the

either out of respect or lack
esoteric information

from actual religions which could alone
with
its

illumine

the subject
at each

true

light.

We

need only

remember
fitly,

moment,

if

we would

enter this

domain
is

that

God

has the power to give himself, because he
is

God, but that he

not

to be taken

"

hold

of, as

we take
in this

hold of things when we desire to
spirit

know them.
?

Done

what nobler work could there be
"

And what
if

can be

more communicable than these
be,

short

paths,"

such there
?

between the Supreme Being and our Freedom

To deny
is

empirical subjectivity to the creations of Faith

not in any way to diminish their truth or their worth.
"

There are two ways of being
identical

object,"

if

the

word

is

to be
itself

with

"

true

"

;

that which

will

not

detach
in

from us externally may detach manner as to permit it to be
"

itself

from us
"

such

a

called

excessivity"

The

exterior

"

object
;

has
it

preceded our sensations

and even

our consciousness
bility of the

remains after us as a permanent possi

same

sensations.

The

"interior"

object,

it

is

true, reaches our consciousness only under forms as variable

CONCLUSION
as those of the Character for

275
it

which

is

specially created

;

but can we say that there

is

not also an indwelling perma
?

nent possibility under the symbolic appearances

even more,

an active power
direction?

for inspiration

ever renewed in the same
special

Nevertheless,

we do not make the
this

ob

jectivity of the

symbols to consist in

power

to repro
;

duce the same facts (or similar facts) in
it

all

free subjects

lies

specially in their signification.
is

That which symbolic
in excess
"

representations affirm

a character

"

of all our
;

natural

tendencies,

and of

notions

acquired

empirically

they are postulates which seem to us evidently never-ending

;

and the evolution of the mystic
dence of this beyond
sciousness.
all

fact is only additional evi

the other affirmations of the con
"

This character of

excessivity,"

which belongs

not

only to the precepts of Duty, but

to certain of our

attributes, such as Personality and Freedom, and even to

sundry judgments constituting Taste, has no resemblance to
the speculative universality of the principles of the under
standing.
selves

They

are postulates which do not proclaim

them
here,

necessary

unless

they are practical ;

we

face

therefore, a positive for us
is

and not a speculative necessity, which

a true apparition of the Infinite.

Are we wrong

in saying that the facts

by which we gain consciousness of
excessive

these objects and

of their

nature constitute an

inward experience of quite as great importance as Experience
properly so called
?

There

is

no

fear, then, that the divine substance, declared

absent from the empirical world, should return to only to be lost there.

Freedom
is

The

objectivity of this

world

but

276

CONCLUSION
comparison with the super-

contingent and ephemeral in

empirical truths which exist in the characteristics of Duty,
in

the legitimately non-satiable desires of Keason, in the

effects

which render our hearts subjugate to Beauty.

Our

only care must be to
source

take these interior objects from the
subsist,

where they really

and to put behind us

with courage the empirical elements of the symbols which

do not show us the face of God, but merely acquaint us
that he
is

present in the very least aspirations of our Free

dom.
lost,

It has

been believed that the idea of
to perceive that
it it

God would

be

should

man come

contains only that

which he has brought to
quite the contrary,
first

of his own.

To our mind

it

is

and the idea can only be preserved by
it

deserting the fields of mystery where
in

has too long

tarried

company with the dreams of Occultism, under

condition of returning to the region of mystery again

when

we
it

shall

have attained the consciousness of

all

that is in
filled

of positive and

human.

A man

cannot be

with

God
use

except so far as he recognizes,
of his

by

a full and generous

own

facts

of consciousness,

the Infinite which

declares itself in Freedom.

Should God, then, be only our

own Heart
ourselves to

raised to the nth power,

and should we attach

him

in

no other way, he could not be angry with

us that we did not adore him beyond what we

know

of him.

Such a

religion, besides,

seems to us to be both exhaustless

and founded positively upon the very attributes by which we
live.

In very truth, when we reduce to their
discoveries of Inspiration derived

last

term the

from the subjectivity of

CONCLUSION
Prophets and Seers, many lovely and revered
their aspect,
recitals

277
change

and only a moral matter
to
profit.

is

left

which Freedom

alone can turn

But

it

is

enough.

For minds

narrowly wedded to the

letter of the mystical

books, a whole

world, half empirical, half celestial, crumbles into dust under
the

new

religious Criticism, a world of ethereal space, hardly
light, its hosts of visionary beauty,
all

more concrete than the
and
ality
its

events floating outside of Time, freed from
possible.

caus
If

and the laws of the

But

let

us be honest.

modern thought

forces the supernatural into those regions of
it

the consciousness where alone
will faith lose thereby ?

can dwell securely, what
lost a

Have we

single idea

worth

retaining since the scholastic

entities

were

banished
lose

from

discussion ?

The mystic Heaven may indeed

some of

the empirical creations with which the naivete of preceding ages had
filled it,

but the Heart loses nothing of

its

depths
ours,

and

its

power

of moral creation; this

Heaven remains
all

untouched, true and desirable above
bewilder science or tempt the senses.

the objects which

Pure Mysticism does not refuse
jectivity
;

to continue in this sub

it

even accepts the position that the Ideal, having

issued from man, tends only towards
servation and of moral progress.

human

efforts

of con

What

other

End

could

oppose

itself to

that ?

Obstinately to persist in something
verified

which could be neither
morally, would be
to
;

empirically nor

justified

descend from mystic heights to an

ordinary fanaticism
religion,

it

would no longer be a defence of
But, on

but the tenacious clinging to a passion.
is

the other hand, there

nothing firmer and

more secure than

278
that
"

CONCLUSION
Excess
in
"

of being, of love, and of happiness, mystically

present

the consciousness
its

when

it

looks

into

its

own

depths and appeals in

helplessness to moral Inspiration

and the aid of symbols.
existence of that which

Nothing forbids us to

affirm the

we thus

experience, although possibly

we cannot bring
under the laws of
positive

it

under the conditions of experience, nor
and motion
;

life

for being

is

not any less

when

it is

good, and desirable, than when real and
is

possessed.

Possession
is

but the fulfilment of Desire

;

pos
is

session, therefore,

necessary in the degree that Desire

legitimate.

But

to maintain securely this serene

position,

must check every attempt to complete the knowledge of God by the ordinary means of the under
mystic Positivism
standing and the senses;

means, good-faith,

love,

must appeal wholly to other loyalty, means which permit the
it

assimilaton of the Infinite, far better than the world can be
assimilated

by knowing.
society

The moral conditions of
possible

which make Faith humanly
Desire, which keeps
in

must

also

be regarded.

the

world

alive,

can never find
it

repose

anything

but the

Absolute, when once

takes possession of itself in Free
activity of the
if

The images which occupy the incessant consciousness must not be torn away from it
dom.
;

the term of

the empirical
limits that

life

is

made

to appear to

it

with such fixed
folly, it

to imagine anything further

would be

will desire to confine itself within that precise circle of inter
ests

and actions

;

but in that case, the Absolute, immanent

in

Freedom

will only

change

its

sphere.

The

will for

imme

diate possession,

and in the end a homicidal absolutism of

CONCLUSION

279

the passions will succeed to the purity and everlastingness of
the mystic desires.
faith

Should every one

lose that

purifying

which enables us to turn our unbounded desires towards
as vast as our

some object

Freedom, there would be no more

counting upon the coalition of the strongest to preserve the
relativity of the functions indispensable to the social body.

In the absence of the bond of Kindness, so well named

Humanitas, there

is

no regulating power in Nature which
All

can apply to our collective humanity.

Desire

would

thenceforth tend to dispersion and would only triumph by
sheer intensity.
the social
nature.
life

Faith, as a

power of disinterestedness,
is

is

to

what empirical desire

to

all

the rest

of

Were

there no reaction against Mysticism except the pur

pose of diverting us from the pursuit of ends exterior to

humanity, there would be nothing to
object, if not

fear.

The mystic
least

wholly within
is

man,

offers

at

nothing

practical to the
"

outside, and there

something

to give fulfilment

excess

"

of

human

desire in the Ideal of universal

solidarity

and Freedom.

But

in

order that

man

s

good

should thus remain a function of the pure Good, and in order
that disinterestedness should be possible,

we must

leave every
is
"

consciousness to form for itself this conviction, which
"

ex

cessive
is

to Science,

"

namely

:

that a

man, in himself alone,
tilings."

worth the whole order of empirical
Saint Francis de Sales,
it

In the words

of
"

suffices that

such a principle
"

dwell in the pinnacle and summit of the mind

for the

mys

tic fact to be produced, with all the conditions of imagination

and

will

which accompany

it.

If,

then,

man

has only to clear

280

CONCLUSION
in order to gain consciousness of

away ancient conceptions
his

Freedom with

all

this

power of meaning, we may

trust

ourselves to

modern

ideas.

The

active

and exacting human
itself

ego that we are would have only to preserve
side,

on one

from the grasp of empirical Determinism, and on the
from the reasons ingeniously brought together by the
;

other,

partisans of the freedom of indifference

it

would no longer

be conscious of any but a wholly positive Freedom, appro
priate to its needs.

Nothing then would hinder
to all peoples, the

its

course

towards a

God common
of our

infinity of

our

own goodness and
to think really

own

happiness.

Let men help us

and

assuredly that each one of us, instead of
is

being
of

lost in

space and morally imponderable,

the issue

first

principles, as Person, very

much more
is

than things of

mere contingence ; that the Absolute
the mind has taken
is,

but the matrix whence

its

forms and

its

free energy,

and that

it

in short,

nothing but our formal identity with

God which

prevents us from determining
as

him

to ourselves scientifically,

we do

all

the rest

;

thus will be saved the essence of Reli

gion of which all special symbols are but the free develop ment.
all

We

shall realize, with this capital integrally preserved,

the fruits of loving-kindness, of morality, of contentment,
to the

and even of holiness, which have seemed to keep close
mystic consciousness as on their

own

native
all

soil.

In spite of Fate which we blame for

ills,

treasures of

goodness and happiness are stored up in every

human

soul

;

the elements are always there ready to produce sane insights

which have the power to beautify

life

and ennoble character.
if

But the insights remain

unrealized, or

undertaken in

criti-

CONCLUSION
cal

281
its

moments they miscarry, because the imagination by
self

unaided
tion

can furnish only their matter.
its

To

the imagina
its

must be joined Faith with
faith

assurance and

creative

power,

which can alone associate the images in such a

manner

in our

minds that

flashes of

freedom and impressions

of happiness spring therefrom, in the same

way

that Life

with her all-powerful

art, builds

up

active unities

from the

elements which in matter only clash with each other.

Man

has gone too far afield from himself.

Since

we have

found out that even the study of Nature enables us to pene
trate certain secrets of the ego,

and that our mental associa
strictly to objective

tions gain in usefulness
relations,

by conforming
to esteem

we have come

too lightly,

under the

term a priori, a
press to us

series of facts of consciousness

which ex

more

directly the laws of happiness

and of duty.

Doubtless man, absorbed in the events proper to him, has in

former times deprived himself of positive information which

might have added to
that all

his

Freedom

;

but

it

is

sufficient

proof

was not pure dream

in these visions of faith, that
life,

man
more

has been able to return from them into practical
sober,

more

active,

more strong

to

keep

his

word and
so, let

his resolves.

He

would have been much more

us

grant,

if

the mystic consciousness, throughout the centuries
little,

which knew Freedom too
with
faith.

had not often burdened

itself

preoccupations

which concerned neither science nor

Faith

embraces

all

the

first
it

principles

which

Science
"

renounces as unknowable while
suit of facts
"

devotes itself to the

pur

and their laws.

Man

has not vet succeeded in

282

CONCLUSION

obtaining consciousness of himself in those inmost depths of
the
still
"
"

subject

where direct representations cease, since there

remains unexplored that source of activity and of sub

jective laws

which cannot be treated as moral
left

fictions.

Noth

ing, then,

is

to

man

but to

summon

the Invisible by

solicitations visible

of Desire,

and to procure for himself the In

by a

series of expressions destined to

become

extinct

as soon as

we

learn symbolically

what we are capable of and

what we
tions
cease.

are.

Under

these conditions of nature the inspira

of

faith

are found indispensable.
of

They must never

The essence

man, Reason, Person, or Freedom,
it, is

however you choose to
that
is

call

a true

"

Absolute in

time,"

to

say

an

Implicit

forever

unfolding

itself.

In

order for the aspirations of Freedom to be

fulfilled,

and for
freed

the Desires of Reason to find perpetual repose,
ideally and physically from
all

life,

that oppresses

it,

must be

come

for all

men, without exception, so bountiful that not

a tear nor a sin shall remain on the earth.

Moreover, we have nothing to fear from the changes which

may

arise in the scientific conception of things.

In

spite of

them,

God

will still continue to appear to us morally,

and

the vision

of faith will continue

to

be renewed in
soul.

every

thinking (we might almost say suffering]

What we

have to do

is

not to abandon ourselves, but to remain loyal

to the intrinsic truth of our

own nature by
to desire the

pressing for

ward with our whole strength

things which
die

are greater than the empirical ego,

and which do not

with

it.

Even

a

man

s

country, Liberty, and other objects

equally vast, will not

be absolutely needed

to

give

form

CONCLUSION
to our visions and food for moral inspiration.

283
Are not
all

the

joys

and

all

the sorrows which

are

born anew with
objects to be
is

every

man who comes

into the world so

many

mystically presented to the consciousness,

which the heart
(such

impelled to
interpretation

represent to

itself,

not

dialectically

an

would not be adequate
?

for the objects),

but in
the

an inner vision of loving-kindness
place of the greatest
is

However humble

number

in the social body, each person

invested with functions which appeal at times to the nonlife.

egotistical view of

Arid which of us

is

not often placed

by circumstances

at

some point of view where he discovers

the eternity of the good things which our reasonable nature

bears about with
care for and
conflict

it ?

It is enougli
of,

to have

some child
to relieve,

to

make

a

man

some misfortune

some

between our moral dignity and our senses, to give us
"

the opportunity to

inspire ourselves

"

morally.

There

is

nothing in fact but Faith

which can place such objects truly

in the field of our mental vision,

and cause

to rise

from the

Heart into the Imagination those marvellous symbols which
hallucinate us and lead us gently to the altar of sacrifice.

What

reasons can Truth and Science have to forbid us to

seek any longer for intuitions beyond experience through
paths of imagination and desire
?

We

know

very well that

they

are

not objective, these representations in which
endeavors
to

our

weakness

apprehend

the
is

Absolute

;

never

theless faith

must

subsist, since nothing
in

in itself so
this

much,

and nothing
to-be
"

exists

higher degree than
itself

"ought-

which conceals

from the understanding, but
If

which appears before lleason

as the antecedent of being.

284
our interior symbols

CONCLUSION
are

defective

as

representations,

we

know

assuredly that

it is

not because they are too beautiful

or too touching, for, on the contrary, they are far less so than
their object.
"

When

Saint Paul, following in the steps of

Isaiah, said,

prepared for those

Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, what God has who love him," 1 he was beginning to pass

beyond the region of symbols and to enter upon those deeps
of the spirit where love refuses to express itself in images

and

appeals to other

means of

vision.

But every man has enough

on which to base the humblest aspirations of his heart in the
evidence which accompanies Kindness and the testimony that

Freedom renders
ness.

to itself as the highest function of conscious

No

one ever doubts that he will always be right to

procure for himself insights which will

make him

a better

man.
It has

been
of

said, in

more senses than
Although
in

one, that

"

there are

the

laws

Truth."

the

Absolute,

Truth

can only form one with the Good, and as we

may
of

consider
Being,"

them together
the
first

"

one

and the

same

reflection

of these concepts will

always be wanting in that

indispensable

quality
to

of

universality
all

which would enable

us

practically

make
will

the

rest

depend
certain

upon

it.

Without doubt there
will aspire to

always

be

minds that
will

truth through

science,

and others that

seek for

it

in

more

vivid and intimate ways

by means of

symbols.

We

can hardly indulge the hope that some day
notions
will

evidence of

common

extend be
all

to

all

parts

of

Knowledge, or that we

shall finally
1 1

identified in

some

Cor.

xi. 9.

CONCLUSION
centre of intellectual
will

285
very different influence

unity.

Some

bring

consciences

together,
in

and neither science nor
the

symbols must put premely desirable

themselves

way

of

such su

results.
is

Gradually, as

man

advances in
is

Freedom, a

clarity

produced in himself which

purer

than evidence, and there comes a peace between fellow-men
surer than any to be obtained by the intellectual fusion of
souls. It

matters

little

where

each

one goes

to

obtain

Loving-kindness, that attribute which alone should be called
"

divine."

It is

enough that

it

exists.

To

define its pre

cise conditions

would perhaps be unwise, and no one would
it

wish to compress
consciousness

into formulae

less
it
-

broad than
"

human
yet
it is

itself.

We
"

have called
fact,"

divine,"

also pre-eminently the

human
it

humanitea.
"\vorks,

Were
distinct

we

required to
all

describe

by

its

essential

from

other facts,

we could

find nothing better than this

positive

term

"

:

Kindness

is the

fulfilment of

Freedom."

But

if

Freedom

leads to Loving-kindness, that
it

is

to say,

to a moral alienation, let us not forget that subsists only

begins and
is
1

by

acts of intellectual
"

autonomy.

Mysticism

no other thing than

absolute spontaneity of the

mind."

When
of
as
its

Mysticism,
acquisitions,

is

reproached for the individual character
forget that such subjectivity
spontaneity,"

we

is

a term

positive as

"absolute

and that knowledge
character of univer

properly so called, owes, after
sality to
"

all,

its

"

objective

laws which are restrictive to the same
those

degree.
of Desire
1

The mystic experience has no other laws than
:

therefore

its activity is

boundless

;

and moreover,

Lachelier, Psychologic et Metaphysique, Rev. Phil., Mar. 1885,

286
as
it

CONCLUSION
offers to it inexhaustible

Analogy

means of representation,
it

can go forward in the exploration of the ego, until

has

encountered the Absolute, or at
"

least, the spiritual fact, that

last point

of support for all truth
its

and

all

existence

"

J

;

which takes

place.
is

Since the Absolute

in
it

us,

and
us,

since

it

is

this

very

inwardness which conceals

from

what can Metaphysics
its

do unless
acts of

it

pushes the freedom of

method

as far as

mystic spontaneity

even to Inspiration?

But

if

Mysticism were called to replace
see

Metaphysics we should

more and more that

its

relations with science are only
activity there

negative.
is

Between these two kinds of mental
a distinction as

as sharp

between the ego and the nonof consciousness,

ego which serves as the
cisely for this reason

basis

and pre
of

we must not by any means speak

opposition.

How

could Science, which lives upon clearness

and evidence, be

hostile to the spiritual

autonomy which
believe,

is

the essential fact of Mysticism ?
trary,

We

on the con

that

scientific

disinterestedness

and mystic naivete

hide the same moral origin under very different features.

Heteronomy cannot reach the mind, except by non-ideal
influence, that
is,

by an intrusion of purely external symbols,

taking the place of the clear ideas which nourish Freedom.
"

Science or Inspiration
If

"

:

we do not

fear to hazard the

alternative.

human

life

has spiritual needs which science
itself;
it

cannot

satisfy,

then Desire must count only upon

must
it

act in the direction of its

most naive tendencies, and
arise

must

fasten

upon the apparitions which
1

from the

Lachelier, loc.

cit.

CONCLUSION
Heart, that
sciousness.
is,

287
"

the

"

Absolute spontaneity

of

the

Con
pres

The highest

intellectual satisfaction, the

ence of the Absolute, will never be the result of an ideal
synthesis;
osity,
it

exacts a

more energetic

initiative

than curi

and

it

requires intuitions no less naive than those of

the

senses.

Since

it

is

our condition of

"

"

free

being

which creates in us the evident excess of Desire over the
Intelligence, there
spiritual
sin,

must

also be in

Freedom
;

reserves of the

to re-establish the

balance

otherwise

we should

we alone

in the Universe,

would be

sinful in our very

essence.

To

these priceless reserve forces

we have given the

name

of Inspiration.
fills

The Absolute eludes the Consciousness, but the Good
it

completely.
s

We

need only to love
"

it,

and the truth of
of the
Heart."

Pascal

sentence

is fulfilled

:

God known

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