3.

WALSH
PHILOSOPHY COLLECTION
PRESENTED
LIBRARIES

to the

of the

UNIVERSITY o/TORONTO

JOHN

M. \V.\TKINS

THE ESSEX HALL LECTURE

T
:

T

\i* ^

'

I

f!

THE
PHILOSOPHY OF PLOTINUS AND SOME MODERN PHILOSOPHIES OF RELIGION
RELIGIOUS

BY

W.

R.

INGE, D.D.

IMIJI

LONDON
5

&&

ESSEX STREET, STRAND, W.C.

THL-LIND5LYPRL33

PRINTED BY ELSOM AND

CO.

MARKET

PLACE,

HULL

PUBLISHER'S NOTE
IN establishing the Essex Hall Lecture the British and Foreign Unitarian Association had no intention of making it a manifesto of a denomination or sect, but simply desired that it should be the free utterance of the lecturer

on some

religious

The
on
'

first

subject of general interest. lecture was delivered in 1893 by

the Rev. Stopford A. Brooke,

who

discoursed
'

The Development of Theology as illustrated in English Poetry from 1780 to 1830.' The Relation of Jesus to his Age and our own,' by Dr. The Idea and Reality of J. Estlin Carpenter The Revelation/ by Professor H. H. Wendt Immortality of the Soul in the Poems of Tennyson and Browning,' by Sir Henry Jones Religion and Life,' by Professor Rudolf Eucken Heresy, its Ancient Wrongs and Modern Rights,' by the Rev. Alexander Gordon these are a few of the subjects and lecturers in past years. The lecture by the Dean of St. Paul's on The Religious Philosophy of Plotinus and some modern
v ;
'

;

'

;

'

;

'

Philosophies of Religion interest on the occasion of

'

aroused widespread its delivery at Essex

Hall, 3 June, 1914, and its publication has been eagerly looked for by many people.

LONDON, 30 June,

1914.

THE RELIGIOUS PHILOSOPHY OF PLOTINUS AND SOME MODERN
PHILOSOPHIES OF RELIGION.

TN
-*

an age when knowledge
specialized that there

is

so

much

is

a danger

lest its votaries, like the builders of the

Tower
other

of Babel, lose contact

with each

by not understanding each other's language, we are apt to underestimate
the

interdependence

of

the

various

branches of intellectual activity.
read histories
of

We
of

philosophy,

and
left

scientific progress,

and we are

to

suppose that these studies go on their

way

quite unaffected

by the

fluctuations
Poli-

of social

and

political

movements.

8
tical
little

PLOTINUS AND MODERN
history, in the

same way, takes

account of philosophical theory
scientific investigation.

and
in

But even
more
in

natural science,
ethics,

and and

still

philosophy,

religion,

men
see.

only see what they have eyes to

The wish

is

often father to the thought,
of rare

even with persons
honesty.

intellectual

We

pay
us
;

close

attention
follow

to

what

interests

we

paths

which promise to lead us whither we wish to go. The desire to reach acceptable conclusions
physics,
is

apparent in metain
ethics,

unmistakable

and

almost barefaced in systematic theology.

Even

naturalists

are

but children

of

their age.

The theory
It

of progress first

arose in France in the generation before

the Revolution.

was the creed

of

the Encyclopaedists and Physiocrats, of

PHILOSOPHIES OF RELIGION

9
itself.

Rousseau and

of the

Revolution

It is expressed for history

by

Cordorcet,

for

biology
to

by

Lamarck.

When

it

England, it characteristically took the form of faith in boundless Its litanies were industrial expansion.
trade statistics,
its

crossed

goal the world- wide

supremacy

of

British

commerce.
in

It

may

be studied to advantage

the

smug and

self-complacent philosophy of

Macaulay's English History.

Darwin's
is

doctrine of the Survival of the Fittest

no

less closely

connected with the domipolitical tendencies of
'

nant social and
his day.

Just as
'

La

carriere ouverte

aux
'

talents

is

pure Lamarckism, so

The

devil take the

hindmost

'

is

pure

Darwinism.

Determinism

in

philo-

sophy and Calvinism in religion are naturally in favour chiefly with those

10

PLOTINUS AND MODERN
are fairly well
it is,

who

content with the

world as

and who hold the comfort-

able theory that progress, being a law
of nature,
itself.

may

be

left to

take care of

The English mind had turned

with horror from the results of un-

checked emotion and sentiment, as seen
in

the

French

Revolution,

and

the

Romanticists were not strong enough to

stem the

tide of

hard rationalism, often

passing into materialism.

Now we

see a counter-revolt against

Darwinism, against determinism, against
intellectualism, in full blast.
of all these

The root

new movements, whether

they

call

themselves neo-Lamarckism,

Vitalism, Activism, Voluntarism, Prag-

matism, or what not,

is

the

new

faith in

the almost unlimited power of purposive
effort, to

ameliorate

human

conditions.

PHILOSOPHIES OF RELIGION
Inspired

II

by

it,

biologists

began to notice

what looked

like

spontaneous adapta-

tions of living creatures to their environ-

ment, and welcomed signs of a wild and
playful exuberance in the creative forces
of nature
;

philosophers began to in-

terpret reality in terms not of substance

or idea, but of

life

and

activity

;

some
till

exalted the freedom of the will

it

seemed as
of

if,

for

them, even the laws
malleable
to

nature
;

were

human

desires

others disparaged intellectual

concepts as mere counters, and talked of
4

the will-world as the only real world

' ;

others maintained that the
structs its pictures of

mind con-

an external world

purely for

its

own

convenience, and that
is

only that can be called true which

proved to be a good working hypothesis. The gates of the future are open.' So
'

12

PLOTINUS AND MODERN
said,

Bergson has
in epigram.

with his usual
is

felicity

That

tion wishes to
social

what our generabelieve in politics and
it

reform

;

and

has welcomed with

open arms the French, or rather Jewish
philosopher,

who has
to

told

us exactly

what we wanted
light

hear.

Our detold

was increased when we were
is

that the intellect

only one, and not
;

the best, line of progress

that someis

thing called instinct, which at any rate

not an intellectual process, often provides a short cut to the point which

we
;

want

Thinking is hard work what a joy to hear that it is mostly waste of time
to reach.
!

There are other factors

also, besides

those which I have mentioned, which

add strength
is

to the revolt against

what

now

called intellectualism.

Democ-

PHILOSOPHIES OF RELIGION
racy finds

13

very half-hearted support from science and philosophy. If we can

lump together

all

students

who do not
of
'

think with one finger on the popular
pulse under the derisive
lectuals,'

name

intel-

any rate discover that they are few and weak, and is not this much the same, for all good demoshall at
crats, as

we

proving that they are wrong
there
are

?

Then too

the

conservative

forces of religious orthodoxy,

which were
convinced

half-silenced

but not at

all

during
science.

the

heyday
'

of

materialistic

Supernaturalism,

which

was

long ago called

Faith's dearest child,'

can

lift

shelter
is

up her head again under the Not only of the new philosophy.

but the primitive spiritism of the savage can come forth unabashed from its lurking-places
free-will rehabilitated,

14
in

PLOTINUS AND MODERN
the

minds

of

the

half -educated.

Ghosts once more walk abroad,
are

and

patronized

by the highly
and
'

respect-

able gentlemen
'

ladies

who study
medicine-

psychical

research.'

The
'

man

reappears as a

faith-healer,'

and

makes a good income. Christian Science churches, and hotels at Lourdes,
'

do a roaring trade.

Priests of the baser

sort are overjoyed at the unexpected

boom

in their earliest line of business.
of

The pride

the

'

intellectuals

'

has

indeed received a blow.

They have

learned that the ingrained mental habits

thousand years are not to be destroyed by the labours of a few uniof fifty

versity professors.
If this revolt of

the natural barbarian

in civilized

man

takes form as a philo-

sophical system, that system will have

PHILOSOPHIES OF RELIGION
to be a form of dualism.

15

Already in

Lotze we had a sharp distinction be-

tween persons and things have separated will and
istically.

;

while others

intellect dualrift

In Kant the
If

was

still

within the reason.

the practical and

the theoretical reason could come into

contact with each other, the problem

would be solved.

But

in his successors,

war

has

been

declared

against

the

theoretical or speculative reason

itself.

Herbert Spencer already saw the danger, and protested against it. Let those
'

who

can, believe that there

is

eternal

war between our
and our moral

intellectual faculties
I for

obligations.

one can

admit no such radical vice in the constitution of things.'
is is

But Herbert Spencer
*

out of fashion.

Practical reason

'

no longer

for our contemporaries

what

l6
it

PLOTINUS AND MODERN
for

was

Kant.

It is

almost an equiva-

lent for irrational will.

And

since will

can hardly exist in an atmosphere where
reason
'

is

excluded,
still

practical reason

'

has suffered a

further degradation,

and

confounded with hysterical sentiment. Our extreme dislike of the
is

eighteenth century, and our tendency to
vilify this period

and

all its

works, are
cen-

very symptomatic.

The eighteenth

tury believed in reason, and disliked

moods
The

of excitement.

position of physical science in the
is

midst of this strange movement
curious.

very

Such philosophies as those of William James and Bergson might seem
to

be

absolutely
sciences.

destructive

of

the

natural

A

'

wild

universe,'
its

which administers shocks even to
Creator
(as

William James suggests)

PHILOSOPHIES OF RELIGION

IJ

would

be

the

despair
historian

of

biologist,

physicist,

and

alike.
if

And
under-

Bergson's theory of time,

I

stand
able

it

rightly, introduces

an

incalcul-

and confusing element into every scientific calculation except pure mathematics.
fright

A few men of science have taken
lost their
;

and

tempers over the

new philosophy
simply ignores

but science as a whole
except that vitalistic

it,

theories in biology
ful

now receive

a respect-

attention

which they would not
In
all

have won thirty years ago.
ways, science
the
is

other

entirely untroubled

by

new

dualism, and will remain un-

troubled

by
In

it,

as long as its
its

own

results

continue to confirm
theses.
fact,

working hypothe whole movement

which

I

have described seems to
It
is

me

rather superficial.

popular with

18

PLOTINUS AND MODERN

certain classes, for reasons which are
fairly

obvious

;

but in a general way,
that

unless

we have some prejudice to defend,
as our fathers did,
is

we assume,
nature
It

uniform and continuous.

remains to speak of the results of
in religion.

the

new movement
was

During

the tyranny of the mechanical theory,
religion

in the painful position of
Its

being driven from pillar to post.

dogmas had been formed
or occasional intervention,

to suit the

hypothesis of supranaturalistic dualism

the so-called Ages of
*

and during Faith it was re-

garded as certain that the world consists
of

two

Orders,' the natural

and the

supernatural.

Miracles were believed to

be frequent
natural
in

and the obscene superwitchcraft was as much in
;

evidence as the

*

:

mystical phenomena

PHILOSOPHIES OF RELIGION

which stamped the approval of heaven upon the macerations and devotions of
the cloister.
ology,

In
is

Roman
still

Catholic the-

a line

drawn between

natural and supernatural phenomena,

and between natural and supernatural virtues. Lecky, in his History of Rationalism, has

shown how the domain

of

the supernatural began to shrink with

the beginning of the modern period, and

how, in the countries which have enjoyed
the most advanced civilization, rational-

ism has gradually captured one stronghold of supernaturalism after another,
till

the defenders of the older world-view

were driven to take refuge in the gaps still unfilled by science, gaps which were
filling

so rapidly that those

who

hid in

them began
tight place.

to find themselves in a very

For most

religious persons,

20
the

PLOTINUS AND MODERN

new

attacks

upon

scientific

deter-

minism were very welcome, and I think But in the Modernist justifiably so.

movement

Christian

apologetics

took

another turn, which promised a complete deliverance

from the attacks

of

science

and
in

criticism.

The movement
where
issues

began

the

Latin countries,

controversies on the

most serious

are conducted with a fearless logic which

few in England or Germany care to apply to them. The Modernists declare
that
forced
their

philosophical

theory was

upon them by the

results of their

historical criticism.

This criticism led

them

to see in organized Christianity a

which owed quite as much to the beliefs and practices
syncretistic religion
of the
it

European peoples among
its

whom

won

chief

triumphs, as to the

PHILOSOPHIES OF RELIGION
teaching
of
life

21

its

Founder.

In dealing
of the hisall

with the

and teaching

torical Christ,

they brushed aside

that the piety of

German

scholars

had

done to bring his life and teaching into connexion with modern problems and
ideals.

They
in

stripped

the

figure

of

Christ of all that Christians have loved
to
see

him, and

left

us only an

enthusiastic peasant, obsessed with the

Messianic expectations which were com-

mon

at the time in Palestine.
'

Thus

it

became necessary to distinguish comme deux Christs,' the one the historical
prophet,

who had few

claims on the

reverence of posterity, and the other the
object of the Church's worship, a nonhistorical
It

dying and rising Saviour-God.

was

this latter idea of Christ which,

in the opinion

of this school,

formed

22
the

PLOTINUS AND MODERN
centre
it

of

the

Christian

religion,

and

was something
that
of a
it
'

of a historical
itself

accident
the

attached
'

to

name

Messiah

who

shared
first

the fate of other Messiahs in the

century of our era.
Christian origins
in this harsh
qualifications
is,
;

This theory of
untenable

I think,

form
it is

but with necessary a theory which is likely
to

to

commend

itself

many who do

not

believe in the Christian revelation.

But

the Modernists were not in this position.

They
;

were, or wished to be, loyal

Catholics

many

of

them were, and

wished to remain, priests of the Roman Catholic Church. How were they to
reconcile
their

love

for

the

Catholic
their

cultus

and

discipline

with

ex-

tremely subversive opinions in historical
criticism
?

How

could they worship a

PHILOSOPHIES OF RELIGION
Christ

23

whose

historical career
it

was what
?

they believed

to
is

have been

Christ-

ianity after all

a religion based on events which are supposed to be historical.

It

always

felt

itself

to be a

religion of a different type
religions of the

from the other

Empire, in which the

worship, through sacraments and dra-

matic representations, of a dying and
rising

God, was quite familiar. The Catholic Church would never come to

any terms with these
to

religions.

It

was

therefore necessary for the Modernists

maintain

that

in

accepting

the

Church's creeds, which ascribe the attributes of Deity to Jesus Christ, they were

somehow speaking the
'

truth.

Thus the

two Christs

'

are affirmed

by two kinds

of truth.

Historical criticism deals with

truths of fact, while religion deals with

24

PLOTINUS AND MODERN

truths of faith.
retical
'

The former
'

are

'

theo'

truths, the latter are

practical

truths.

And
lies

the philosophy of prag-

matism

ready to hand, offering to

prove that practical truths are

much

more important, and much more true, than theoretical truths. Thus the question whether an event ever happened is,
any rate for religion, almost The only important question
belief

at

frivolous.
is,

has the value of truth
lex credendi.

What for me ?

Lex orandi,
'

All the terms

of religion belong to the sphere of faith.

The

'

historian,' says Loisy,

does not

need to remove God from history, for he never encounters Him there.'

Here

is

indeed

a

radical

dualism,

which can only escape from the charge of cutting the world in two with a
'

hatchet

'

by reducing

the

world

of

PHILOSOPHIES OF RELIGION
*

25

brute fact
is,

'

to

an unsubstantial shadow.
hardly

It

I

think,

worth taking
expedient

seriously.
of

It is the desperate

men who wish

to remain Catholics

after they

have ceased to be Christians.

Incidentally, they have done Catholicism

the fatal disservice of explaining

it,

showing how large an element of the despised intellectualist would
'

by what
call

make-believe
value,

'

is

retained for
is

its

prag-

matic

and

notwithstanding

presented as belonging to the order of
historical fact.
tive

Such a method

is effec-

and innocuous so long as it naive and unconscious but no
;

is

quite

longer.

If

the

'

two kinds

of truth

'

are kept

wholly apart, their pragmatical value
is

gone.

If

they are deliberately allowed
is

to exchange values, moral sincerity
fatally

compromised.

26

PLOTINUS AND MODERN

Such seems to me to be the position The stiff determinism of nineto-day.
teenth century science has been really

undermined.

The mechanical theory of the nineteenth century was not sufficient
to explain the

phenomena

of

life.

It

was a working hypothesis

for investi;

gating the laws of inorganic matter

and

Christian apologists were quite justified
in protesting against its application to

beings endowed with conscious or
conscious
life.

self-

So much heavy

artillery

has been turned upon the crude metaphysics of naturalism that
it is

hardly

necessary to recapitulate the arguments.

The mechanical explanation of life and mind is a hypothesis which does not
account for observed facts
to explain everything
;

it

attempts

out

of,

whereas the

by what it grew truer method is that

PHILOSOPHIES OF RELIGION
of
Aristotle,

27
nature
of

to

discover
in
;

the
its
it

(<t>v<ri<s)

of everything

state

completed

development

ignores

time and denies change
process
of

since

every
is

evolution or involution
;

theoretically reversible

it

attempts to

describe the world as containing exist-

ence without valuation, thereby setting

up an abstract view of reality as ultimate truth and nevertheless fails egregiously to eliminate values from
its

pur-

view

;

it

takes the world as an indeobjectively
existing

pendent,

system,

and ignores the part played by the All these and other perceiving mind.
objections are familiar to
all of us,

and

most

of

them
yet

are unanswerable.

And

we cannot accept
ethics

dualism.
science

In a world divided against

itself,

and rational

would be

alike im-

28

PLOTINUS AND MODERN

possible,

instinct

and our strongest philosophical We seem to revolts against it.

be threatened with an impasse, such as

has befallen philosophy more than once
before
terialist

in

its

long history.

The mait

philosophy, unsatisfactory as

was, presented a clear-cut scheme which
professed
to

explain everything.

We
or

seem to be
back

in danger of being driven
illogical

upon

eclecticism,

scepticism.

Can we get any help from the
sophical mystics
?

philo-

It is

my

belief that

They at least think that they have found what we want to find. They
can.
are
absolutists

we

that

is

to

say,

they

believe that a knowledge of ultimate
reality
is

possible to
their

man

;

they are
is

monists

whole quest
all

for the

One

in

whom

contradictions

are

PHILOSOPHIES OF RELIGION
reconciled
their

29
only

;

faith

is

not

thought out but lived out their highest achievement is a beatific vision seen in
direct experience
ligious,
;

they are deeply

re-

and

their devotion is blended

with
'

their

speculation,

so
'

that

the

intellectual love of
for

God

is

no mere
the

phrase

them.

And

finally,

strange uniformity of their system in

widely different ages and countries seems
to indicate that this type of thought
belief is less influenced

and

by temporary
Let us then

currents than most others.

sketch very briefly the kind of

way

in

which a

disciple of Plotinus,

whom we
of

may

take as by far the greatest thinker

of this school,

would deal with some

the questions which are agitating the

minds
It

of our generation.

may be

taken as certain that neither

30

PLOTINUS AND MODERN

idealism in the

modern sense

(the doc-

trine that all reality is mental) nor the

opposite theory of naive realism, which

makes mind only an epiphenomenon,
ought to satisfy
us.

For the philois

sophical mystic reality
is

spiritual

it

constituted

by the unity
perceives.

in duality
spiritual
'

of the perceiving spirit

and the

world which
is

it

Thus heaven

'

something much more than the place where God lives.
for this philosophy
It is the outer side of his life

the

whole content of

and being his mind and
it.

entirely inseparable

from

It is

not

a place but an order of being

the only

mode

of being

which

is

fully

and com-

pletely real.

This spiritual world con-

tains every thought in the

mind

of

God,

every purpose in his

will.

Every person

has there a distinct, though not exactly

PHILOSOPHIES OF RELIGION
a separate
there
existence.

31
are

All

values

preserved

inviolable.

We may

say with Plotinus that nothing which truly is, can ever perish. This perfect
spiritual

world

is

not static and imIt is

mobile, like a marble statue.
*

not

faultily faultless, icily regular, splendidly
null.'

It is essentially life

and

activity.

And though we cannot
is

allow that there

any development in the life and mind of God himself, he enjoys a higher kind of activity, in which change and
stationariness,

movement and
The
life

rest, are

transcended.

of

Spirit

and

of spirits, for in that

world we retain
;

our individuality
eternity
is

is

eternal

but this
series

not

an endless
off at
it is

of

moments, snipped
not at the other
;

one end but
of existis

a

mode

ence, of which indestructibility

one

32

PLOTINUS AND MODERN
It is

of the attributes.

wholly above

time and place, which belong, not to the world of Spirit, but to what Plotinus
calls the

world of Soul, which

is

created

by
fect

Spirit.

For although Spirit is perin itself, and needs nothing outside

itself for its
its

own

fullness of

life, it is

in

nature
of

creative.

By an
it

inner neces-

sity

its

nature,
its

must produce a

world after
the Author
sense,

likeness.

God
in

is

thus

of

Nature,
in

the

same

nearly,

which a

man might

be said to be the author of his own
photograph.
This
is

indeed the sense in

which many early Christian theologians
used the phrase.

God

is

immanent

in

the world, not in the sense that he lives
his

own

visible

and by means of the universe, but because the unilife

in

verse derives

its

being from him, reflects

PHILOSOPHIES OF RELIGION
his

33

thoughts

and

purposes,

exhibits

everywhere footprints of His Wisdom,
Goodness, and Beauty, and in various
degrees of conscious desire, strives to

be reunited with him.
difficult

It is

not at

all

to

bring
into

this

philosophical

world-view

correspondence

with

the Logos-theology of Greek Christianity,

which indeed in

its

later

phases,

as

developed by Basil and the two Gregorys,

owed a great deal

to Plotinus.

It is

im-

portant to recognize that this philo-

sophy draws no hard
field of
it

lines across the

existence

;

those

who have called
it

dualistic

have misunderstood
There
is

from

top to bottom.

no barrier

between Soul and Spirit the spiritual world is the true home of spirits, a home
to which they all hope to return one day.

God

'

sent the souls

down

'

in order to

34

PLOTINUS AND MODERN

guide and give rational and moral form
to

what

is

below Soul;

for Soul re-

sembles the higher principle in being
irresistibly impelled to create

to create
'

See image of its own Creator. that thou make all things according to
after the

the pattern showed thee in the mount,'
is

the

Spirit

command given by to each human soul.

the Divine

One

great advantage which this philois

sophy has over many others
recognizes that
as
*

that

it

what we

loosely regard
'

the world

known

to science

is

no

simple self-existing cosmos, independent
of us

who

perceive

it,

nor yet a mere

subjective creation of our minds, but
is

an unstable projection
life

of the average

psychic

a

conglomerate
soul

of

the

forms which the

has

impressed
'

upon that nebulous abstraction

Matter.'

PHILOSOPHIES OF RELIGION
Matter in Plotinus
is

35
it

is

not material

;

not the

name

of

ponderable and exthat which hypoleft
if

tended

stuff.

It is

thetically

would be

we could
them
which

abstract from objects all that gives

form and meaning

all,

in fact,

makes them

possible objects of thought.

The world

of science is

demonstrably not

the objects perceived
is

by the
for

senses

;

it

rather a system of laws which the Soul the
real-

both makes and finds

idealism of his doctrine of

God

deter-

mines our philosopher's view of soul-life also. The laws which the scientist
thinks that he finds in Nature are the

work

of his

own mind, which
itself

notwithobjects

standing finds

in those

which are

its

own

image,
its

and more

remotely the image of Soul and its world are

own Author.
though on

real,

36
the

PLOTINUS AND MODERN
lower
confines
of
reality.

This

world resembles the spiritual world as far as it can but in it reality is polarized
;

and

split

up

;

the very conditions of

soul-life forbid it to

be as perfect as

its

archetype.
of

In our world, every idea
as a purpose in process

God appears

of realization.

Our world

consists of a
all finite,

vast complex of such purposes,

with a beginning, middle, and end, interlacing with each other, wheels within

wheels,

and only to be recognized as

divine ideas
in their full
tion.

when they

are gathered

up

development and compleTime is the form of purpose, and
all

accordingly

our experience

is

set in
is

the framework of Time.

Space too

a
;

necessary condition of our experience

though Plotinus, rightly I think, gives Space a lower position than Time. Ideas

PHILOSOPHIES OF RELIGION
of space are the clearest, of our ideas.

37

but the poorest, The reality of our world
its

then consists in

power

of expressing,

under the form of processes in Space and

Time, the ideas and purposes of the Divine mind. The truest view of the
world
of
is

that which sees in
not,

it

a system

law

however, in the limited

sense in which naturalists talk of natural

law, but as a system of harmonious
values,

which

may

be

classified

under

three heads

the Good, the True, and

the Beautiful.
is

Our world

as

it

really

is,

the sphere in which these three divine

attributes are exhibited under the form
of purposes in process of realization.

A

deep and subtle network of sympathies and therepervades the whole system
;

fore it is that the Soul

must never be
isolated, im-

wrapped up

in itself.

The

38

PLOTINUS AND MODERN
self is

penetrable
it

a dangerous delusion

;

has no existence.
itself

The Soul can only

save

by

losing itself
'

by forgetting
'

the distinction between
I
' ;

I

and

'

Not-

by reaching out

in all directions

after fuller experience, wider activity,

richer affections.

There
;

is

no natural
the Soul
is

limit

to

its

expansion

potentially all-embracing.
its

In knowing
itself,

world

it

comes to know

and
;

in

the knowing itself it knows its world two processes are interdependent and The Soul creates in knowreally one.

and knows by creating it stamps itself on Matter, and is reflected in
ing,
;

Matter.
world,

But the Soul
are

itself,

and

its

wholly dependent on that

great spiritual world of eternal existence

and eternal

activity,

which

are

the

object of the Soul's worship, the source

PHILOSOPHIES OF RELIGION

39

from which

it

flowed,

and the goal to
a form of Abso-

which

it

strives to return.
is

This philosophy
lutism, in that
reality
it

makes the ultimate
is

something which Spirit

not
is

free to construct for itself,

and which
needs

not

contingent
It is a

on

human

or

knowable and unchangeable system of values and existences, which is itself the source of all that
desires.

happens
lute
is

in space

and time.

The Abso-

not to be identified with the

Spiritual

World

here the philosophy of

mysticism parts company with Hegel

and Bosanquet and others who up to this point have strong affinities with it. The
Spiritual

World cannot be the Absolute,
it

because in

the subject-object relation,

though harmonized, is not transcended. The whole world of existence is per-

40

PLOTINUS AND MODERN

meated with and indeed constituted by this duality in unity. We can form no
notions of anything whatsoever without
leaving the Absolute standpoint.
determinatio est negatio.

Omnis
yet our

And

theory of the relations of subject and
object necessarily implies an Absolute in

which

this distinction is transcended.

Only
says,

this Absolute
'

must

be, as Plotinus

beyond

existence.'
It

This

does

not

mean

non-existent.

only means

that the forms of our thought which deal

with

finite existences are

demonstrably

inadequate to conceive or describe the
Absolute.
of
it

We

are justified in speaking
;

as the Source of all Being
justified

and we
as

are

in

regarding

it

the

ineffable

Unity towards which the mind
all

turns as the resolution of
dictions, the ineffable

contra-

Goodness towards

PHILOSOPHIES OF RELIGION

4!

which the moral

will turns as the final

victory over all evil and imperfection,

the ineffable Beauty which satisfies the
love-longings
of

the

Soul.

Even

in

heaven,
is

we may say, the
In the

beatified Spirit

able to look upwards, to love,

and to
is

aspire.

human

soul,

which

a

microcosm, having

affinities

with every

grade of existence from top to bottom,

an unknowable, super-existential element, by which we may at rare
there
is

moments

enter

into

immediate

rela-

tions with the Absolute, the
It is

Godhead.
wholly
in-

an experience which

is

describable.
scribe it

We may
feeling,

attempt to deit is

by negatives
not

not thought,

not

will,

and so on.
it is

But

in

so saying the mystic means,
of thought, of will,

the goal

and

of feeling

a

state in

which our

faculties, in gaining

42
all for

PLOTINUS AND MODERN

which they

exist,

transcend the

conditions of their

own

activities.

HowThe

ever, this vision of the

One

is

no neceslife.

sary

part
is

of

the

spiritual

Absolute

the necessary background
;

of this philosophy

but

it

need not be

an object

of experience,

which indeed,

strictly speaking, it

hardly can be.
is

The

mystical state, which
this vision,

not confined to

but in a sense awaits us at

every step above our empirical selves, does not add anything to our knowledge.
It rather enables us to feel

and

see

what
is

we already know

but knowledge true knowledge until it is seen and
;

not

felt

until, that is to say,

we have made

our-

selves one with

it

and with

its object.

Now how
All Nature
is

does this philosophy affect

the question of the uniformity of Nature ?
the

work

of creative Spirit,

PHILOSOPHIES OF RELIGION
acting freely.

43

There

is

external

compulsion.
in

no question of The regularity
is

which we observe

Nature
if

what we

should expect to find,
is

our hypothesis
are,
If

true.

For order and limitation
tells us,

Plotinus

divine attributes.

do nothing, it is because he does everything. The observed unito

God seems

formity of Nature in no

way

supports

the theory of mechanical determinism.
It

does not oblige us to reduce

intelli-

gence to mechanism.
are sharply contrasted

These two things
;

and our theory

mechanism throughout. In a machine, all movements are transacdenies
tions between one part

and another part;
accordance

they

take

place
;

in

with

constant laws
there
is

and

in such transactions

no unity, nor anything new. For Plotinus, the view of Nature as a

44

PLOTINUS AND MODERN
is

mechanism

an abstraction, useful

for

certain purposes, but
final

by no means the
'

truth.

The

'

laws

of
;

which

it

speaks are the imprint of Soul not belong to Matter.

they do

And we

cannot

express the truth, even about external

Nature, in merely quantitative categories,

which

is

attempts to
tive

what the mechanical theory Much less do quantitado.
to account for
spirit.
life

categories suffice

the operations of

and

In the

higher forms of existence, intelligence
operates with far more apparent freedom.

We are here in a region where mechanical
laws do not apply.

There

is

no

fixed

quantity of spiritual energy in the world.

We

can acquire more of
a

it

without

abstracting

corresponding
else.

amount

from some one

The good things

of the Spirit are increased

by

sharing.

PHILOSOPHIES OF RELIGION

45

Nor

are spirits forbidden to penetrate

each other by any material laws.
laughs at metaphysical, no
physical
barriers.
less

Love

than at
cate-

Quantitative

gories, in a

word,

fail

where value comes

and value cannot be kept out. It is not a question of freedom versus deterin
;

minism.

Psychical

facts

may
if

be

as

orderly as physical.

And

they are be deterjust as

not orderly, they

may

still

mined by some higher power,
the
orderly

sequences

of

inanimate

Nature

may

be determined by some

higher power.

But psychical

facts can-

not be explained in terms of physical
attraction
velocity.

and repulsion,
It is

of weight
if

and
get

something

we can

this admitted.

Mr. Bosanquet indeed

thinks that

all

phenomena, including

psychical, are theoretically capable of a

46

PLOTINUS AND MODERN

mechanical explanation.

But the me-

chanical system would have to be very
seriously modified in order to account
for psychical

phenomena

;

and

I

should

dispute the assertion that the mechanical

theory can explain anything.
;

It

can

note invariable sequence

but causality,
action,
is

which

implies

creative
it is

a

category which

debarred from using.

Vitalism, then, to
intelligence as against

my

mind, asserts
;

mechanism

and

so far

it is

right.

When it seeks to carry
and

war into the enemy's country,
of science,

brings confusion into the orderly field
it is

wrong.

The votary

of

human freedom has no need to postulate a wild universe, with W. James nor
'

'

;

would

his position be helped in
so.

any way
because

by doing
its

The world
;

is free,

Creator

is free

it is

orderly, because

PHILOSOPHIES OF RELIGION
his

47

method

of ruling

it is

not habitual
of

inattention

varied
interest.

by

ebullitions

spasmodic
forms of
value,
life

What really happens is that the higher
life

exhibit higher grades of

and approach more nearly to the

of

God

(or Spirit) himself.

A new

organ, consciousness, has been evolved

gradually for this purpose.

Conscious-

ness perhaps belongs to a state of unstable equilibrium,

when

the

mind has
and

to adjust itself to

new

conditions,

to form

new
to

habits.

It is for consciouslife exist.

ness that finite foci of

I

am
in

disposed

agree

with

Plotinus,

opposition to most

modern

philosophers,

in refusing to attribute a central

and

absolute value to consciousness, or to

what modern philosophers
consciousness.'
Strictly,

'

call

self-

there can be

48

PLOTINUS AND MODERN

no such thing as self-consciousness until we rise quite above the empirical self.
In the ordinary
its

soul-life,

the

mind and

object are never the

same when we
And, as
things
'

try to think about ourselves.

Plotinus observes,

we do most

Selfbadly when we are self-conscious. consciousness makes us at once pain'

fully

aware of a

not-self,

and incapable
it.

of attending properly to

Consciousness

is

only one of the

gifts

which the soul acquires during its ascent. It receives an illumination which transforms
gether.
itself

and
in

its

environment

to-

Soul,
is

the

terminology of

Plotinus,

irradiated

by
is,
'

Spirit,

and

becomes
a
'

Spirit.

This

of course, not

merely intellectual gain. I agree with Mr. Bosanquet (i. 348) that the
are presence of adequate ideas which

PHILOSOPHIES OF RELIGION
inoperative in moral matters
is

49

greatly

exaggerated.
the

Ideas which are part of
of the

main structure

mind must'be
saw

operative, as a light cannot help shining.

The highest goodness,
clearly,
is

as Plotinus

of

this

spontaneous order.

It is those

who

set

God always

before

them who help
effectually.

their

brother-man most

And

here at last
I

we come

to Eucken,

whom
there

is

have not yet named, although not much that I have said about

Plotinus that does not apply to him.

The
of

'

New

Birth

'

is

the central doctrine

Eucken's philosophy.

He

is

never

tired of insisting that salvation consists

in a definite transition

from the comto a

mon
of

experience of

life

new and
life

higher sphere, which he calls the
Spirit.

The doubt which

I

have

50

PLOTINUS AND MODERN
about Eucken's philowhether he does not contrast
felt

frequently

sophy is the two

lives too dualist ically.

Some-

times he seems anxious to smash his

neighbour Haeckel's universe as well

up his own. I do not forget that the same sharp contrasts occur in
as to build

some

of the best Christian philosophy,

e.g., in

that which underlies the Fourth

Gospel.

But

while

ethics

may

be

frankly dualistic, since
in the radical antithesis

morality lives

and

evil,

between good metaphysics must beware of
Admission into the
a matter of

being persuaded by ethics to draw the

world in silhouette.
spiritual
life

is

after all

degree,

and

I

am

jealous of the rich

spiritual treasure

which resides in the

study and knowledge of Nature and
its

laws.

PHILOSOPHIES OF RELIGION

51

But
whose

I
'

find

that

Mr. Tudor Jones,
of

Interpretation
'

Eucken's

Philosophy

pleases

me

better than

any

other books about the great teacher of Jena, does not understand Eucken to

maintain this sharp severance between
the

higher

and

the

lower

life.

He

brings
'

Eucken very near to Plotinus. Eucken would insist (he says) that
spiritual

the mental and

are present

from the very beginning, and bring to a mental focus the impressions of
the
senses.

In

the

interpretation
several

of

Eucken's

philosophy

writers

have missed the author's meaning here. They have conceived of spiritual life as
something entirely different from the mental life. It is different, but only
as the
it

bud

is

different

from the blossom

;

means

at the religious level a greater

52

PLOTINUS AND MODERN
life

unfolding of a

which has been present
Mr. Jones goes on
the community,

at every stage in the history of civilization

and

culture.'

to

show how the

life of

with the effort and
entails

sacrifice
'

which
calls

it

on the individual,
still

into

activity a

deeper, reserved energy of
soul

the soul.

The

now

recognizes a

value beyond the values of culture and
civilization.

The Good, the True, and
which everything that taken as complete in itself,
illusion.

the Beautiful appear as the sole realities

by the

side of
if

preceded,

appears as a great shadow or
.

.

.

Life

is

now viewed
...

as consisting
after these

in a great
religious

and constant quest
ideals.

A

break
;

takes

place with the natural self
life

the mental

though necessary, is now and life is now seen to be insufficient
of concepts,
;

PHILOSOPHIES OF RELIGION

53

viewed as having a pearl of great price before its gaze. Here the Siirb und
werde
of

Paul

and

Goethe

becomes

necessary.

The

real education of
life

man

now

becomes guided and governed by norms whose limits cannot be discovered, and which have
begins.

His

never been realized in their wholeness

on the face of our earth.
these

What

can

mean

?

They cannot be

delusions

or illusions, for they answer too deep a

need of the soul to be reduced to that
level.

When
they

the soul concentrates

its

deepest attention on these norms or
ideals,

fascinate

it,

they

draw

hidden energies into activity, they give Is it not far inklings of immortality.

more conceivable that such a vision

of

meaning, of beauty, and of enchantment
is

a

new kind

of reality

cosmic in

its

54

PLOTINUS AND MODERN
its

nature, and eternal in

duration

'

?

Such, according to his able interpreter,
is

the gist of Eucken's message about the
life.

spiritual

with

his

Those who are acquainted own books will admit the

justice of the

summary. Are the

affirma-

tions of the illuminated soul tragic illu-

sions or cosmic realities

?

That

is

the

question

;

and

if

we

follow Plotinus

and

Eucken we
the answer.

shall be in

no doubt about
life

The higher

has already

been lived by very many. They agree in what they tell us about it. They
speak that they do know, and testify that they have seen. Why should we
not receive their witness
?

The great popularity
writings both in

of

Eucken's

Germany and England
is

shows that our generation
this

ripe for

kind of religion.

It is

a very good

PHILOSOPHIES OF RELIGION
if it is

55

sign,
life

so.

For

this

philosophy of
scientific or

has nothing to fear from
It
is

historical criticism.

broad-based

on personal experience, and buttressed by sound metaphysics. Its morality is
pure and elevated
;

it

cares nothing for
;

denominational barriers

it

finds

ample

room
both
it
;

for

science

and

art,

honouring
with which
gives us a
life,

and

like Christianity,

has so

much

in

common,

it

valuation of the good and evil of

and

is

so a guide to practical wisdom.

I will

not speak of

'

the religion of the

future,' for there will

be as many religions
;

in the future as in the past

but that

this is the true line of progress in religion

as well

as

in

philosophy,

I

have no

doubt whatever.

THE ESSEX HALL LECTURES
ONE SHILLING EACH NET
1893.

The Development

of Theology, as illustrated in

1

894.

English Poetry from 1780 to 1830, by Stopford A. Brooke, M.A., LL.D. Unitarians and the Future, by Mrs. Humphry Ward.

1895. 1897.

The Relation of Jesus to his Age and our own, by J. Estlin Carpenter, M.A., D.D., D.Litt. The Significance of the Teaching of Jesus, by
Richard Acland Armstrong, B.A. The Religion of Time and the Religion of Eternity. Relations between Mediaeval and Modern Thought, by Philip H. Wicksteed, M.A. Some Thoughts on Christology, by James Drummond, M.A., LL.D., Litt.D., D.D. A Study of his Life and Influence, Emerson the Rt. Hon. Augustine Birrell, K.C. by The Idea and Reality of Revelation, by Prof. H. H. Wendt, Ph.D., D.D.
:

1899.

1902.
1903.

1904. 1905. 1906.
1908.

The Immortality
The Making

of

the Soul in the
Sir

Poems
Jones.

of

Tennyson and Browning, by
of Religion,

Henry Samuel M. Crothers, by

1909.

1910.
1911.

D.D., Cambridge, U.S.A. Dogma and History, by Prof. Dr. Gustav Kruger, University of Giessen, The Bearings of the Darwinian Theory of Evolution on Moral and Religious Progress, by Prof. F. E. Weiss, D.Sc., F.L.S. The Story and Significance of the Unitarian Movement, by W. G. Tarrant, B.A. Religion and Life, by Professor Rudolf Eucken.

1913.
1914.

Ancient Wrongs and Modern Rights Kingdoms, by Alexander Gordon, M.A. The Religious Philosophy of Plotinus, and Modern Philosophies of Religion, by W. R. Inge, D.D.

Heresy

:

its

in these

LINDSEY PRESS,

5,

ESSEX STREET, STRAND, W.C.

It

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