Analogies And Associated Feelings

In order to give an adequate account of this second aspect of the numinous, we were led to add to its original designation as ' mysterium tremendum ' that it at the same time exercises a supreme ' fascination And this its dual character, as at once an object of boundless awe and boundless wonder, quelling and yet entrancing the soul, constitutes the proper Iwsitive content of the ' mysterium ' as it manifests itself in conscious feeling. No attempt of ours to describe this harmony of contrasts in the import of the mysterium can really succeed ; but it may perhaps be adumbrated, as it were from a distance, by taking an analogy from a region belonging not to religion but to aesthetics. In the category and feeling of the sullime we have a counterpart to it, though it is true it is but a pale reflexion, and moreover involves difficulties of analysis all its own. The analogies between the consciousness of the sublime and of the numinous may be easily grasped.1 To begin with, ' the sublime like ' the numinousis in Kantian language an idea or concept ' that cannot be unfolded ' or explicated (unaus-wickelbar). Certainly we can tabulate some general' rational' signs that uniformly recur as soon as we call an object sublime; as, for instance, that it must, approach, or threaten to overpass, the bounds of our understanding by some ' dynamic' or ' mathematic' greatness, by potent manifestations of force

1 We are often prone to resort to this familiar feeling-content to fill out the negative concept' transcendent', explaining frankly God's 'transcendence' by His 'sublimity*. As a figurative analogical description this is perfectly allowable, but it would be an error if we meant it literally and in earnest. Religious feelings are not the same as aesthetic feelings, and ' the sublime' is as definitely an aesthetic term as ' the beautiful', however widely different may be the facts denoted by the words.

or magnitude in spatial extent. But these arc ob\ iously only conditions of, not the essence of. the impression of sublimity. A thing does not become sublime merely by being great. The concept itself remains unexplicated ; it lias in it something mysterious, and in this it is like that of 'the numinous'. A second point of resemblance is that the sublime exhibits the same peculiar dual character as the numinous; it is at once daunting, and yet again singularly attracting, in its impress upon the mind. It humbles and at the same time exalts us, circumscribes and extends us beyond ourselves, on the one hand releasing in us a fueling analogous to fear, and on the other rejoicing us. So the idea of the sublime is closely similar to that of the numinous, and is well adapted to excite it and to be excited by it, while each tends to pass over into the other.

The Line of the Association of Fedinga.

As these expressions 'excite' and 'pass over' will later assume importance, and as the latter in particular is hedged about with misconceptions which are prominent in the modern doctrines of Evolution and give rise to quite erroneous con elusions, we will enter at once upon a closer consideration of them.

It is a well-known and fundamental psychological law that ideas 'attract' one another, and that one will excite another and call it into consciousness, if it resembles it. An entirely similar law holds good with regard to feelings. A feeling, no less than an idea, can arouse its like in the mind ; and the presence of the one I:i my consciousness may lie the occasion for my entertaining the other at the same time. Further, just as ;n the ease of ideas the law of reproduction by similarity leads to a mistaken substitution of ideas, so that I come to entertain an idea x, when y would have been the appropriate one, so we may be led to a corresponding substitution of feelings, and I may react with a feeling x to an impression to which the feeling y would normally correspond. Finally, 1 can pass from one feeling to another by an imperceptibly gradual transition, the one feeling x d}ing away little by little, while the other, y, excited together with it, increases and strengthens in a corresponding degree. But it is important here to recognize the true account of the phenomenon. What passes over—undergoes transition—is not the feeling itself. It is not that the actual feeling gradually changes in quality or ' evolves i. e. transmutes itself into a quite different one, but rather that I pass over or make the transition from one feeling to another as my circumstances change, by the gradual decrease of the one and increase of the other. A transition of the actual feeling into another would be a real' transmutation and would be a psychological counterpart to the alchemist's production of gold by the transmutation of metals.

And yet it is this transmutation that is assumed by the modern ' Evolutionism'—more properly to be called ' Transmu-tationism'—by the introduction of the equivocal phrase, 'gradually evolve' (i.e. from a thing of a certain quality to something qualitatively different), or the no less equivocal words 1 Epigenesis', ' Heterogony',' and their like. In this way, they would have us believe, the feeling, e.g. of moral obligation, ' evolves' or develops. At first, so it is said, all that exists is the simple constraint of uniform custom, as seen in the community of the clan. Then, out of that, it is said,' arises ' the idea of a universally obligatory' ought'. How the idea can do so is not disclosed. Now such a theory misses the fact that in moral obligation we have something qualitatively quite different from constraint by custom. The finer and more penetrating psychological analysis that can apprehend differences in quality is rudely ignored and in consequence the whole problem is misconceived. Or, if something of the essential difference is felt, it is covered up and glozed over by the phrase ' gradually evolve', and the one thing is made to turn into the other ' par la durée', much as milk grows sour from standing. But ' ought' is a primary and unique meaning, as little derivable from another as blue from bitter, and there are not ' transmutations' in the psychological any more than in the

1 Neither Heterogony nor Epigenesis is genuine Evolution. They are rather just what the biologists call 'generatio equivoca', and therefore mere formation of an aggregate by addition and accumulation.

physical world. The idea 'ought is only ' evolvable' out of the spirit of man itself, and then in the sense of being ' arous-able ', because it is already potentially implanted in him. Were it not so, no ' evolution' could effect an introduction for it.

The evolutionists may be quite correct in reconstructing the kind of hi -torieal process that took place, viz. the gradual and successive entry upon the scene of different 1 moments' of feeling-consciousness in historical sequence, and the order of entry itself may have been correctly discovered. But the explanation of this process is quite different, from that which they intend ; it is, namely, the law of the excitation and arouSiug of feelings and ideas according to the measure of their resemblance. There is in point of fact a very strong analogy be tween constraint by custom and constraint by moral obligation, as both are constraints upon conduct. Consequently the former can arouse the latter in the mind if it— the latter was already potentially planted there ; the feeling of ought' may start into consciousness at the presence of the other feeling, and the man may gradually effect a transition to it from that other. But what we are concerned with i.s the replacement of the one by the other, and not the transmutation of the one into the other.

Now it is just the same with the feeling of the numinous ns with that of moral obligation. It too is not to be derived from any other feeling, and is in this sense ' unevolvable '. It is a content of feeling that is qnalitativ ely sv i generis, yet at the same time one that has numerous analogies with others, and therefore it and they may reciprocally excite or stimulate one another and cause one another to appear in the mind. Instead of framing ' epigenetic' and other fabrications of the, course the evolution of religion has taken, it is our task to inquire into these ' stimuli or ' excitations ', these elements that cause the numinous feeling to appear in consciousness, to intimate by virtue of what analogies they came to be able to do so, and so to discover the series or chain of these stimuli by whose operation the numinous feeling was awakened in us.

Such a power of stimulation characterizes the feeling of tho sublime, in accordance with the law we found, and through the analogies it bears to the numinous feeling. But this is indubitably a stimulus that only makes its appearance late in the excitation-series, and it is probable that the feeling of the sublime is itself lirst aroused and disengaged by the precedent religious feeling—not from itself, but from the rational spirit of man and its a priori capacity.


The ' Association of Ideas' does not simply cause the idea y to reappear in consciousness with the given ideaar occasionally only, it also sets up under certain circumstances lasting combinations and connexions between the two. And this is no less true of the association of feelings. Accordingly, we see religious feeling in permanent connexion with other feelings which are conjoined to it in accordance with this principle of Association. It is, indeed, more accurate to say'conjoined' than really 'connected ', for such mere conjunctions or chance connexions according to laws of purely external analogy are to be distinguished from neccesary connexions according to principles of true inward affinity and cohesion. An instance of a connexion of this latter kind—an example, indeed, of an inner a priori principle—is (following the theory of Kant) the connexion of the Category of Causality with its temporal 'schema', the temporal sequence of two successive events, which by being brought into connexion with the Category of Causality is known and recognized as a causal relation of the two. In this case analogy between the two—the category and the schema—has also a place, but it is not chance external resemblance but essential correspondence, and the fact that the two belong together is here a necessity of our reason. On the basis of such a necessity the temporal sequence ' schematizes' the category.

Now the relation of the rational to the non-rational element in the idea of the holy or sacred is just such a one of ' sehematizationand the non-rational numinous fact, schematized by the rational concepts we have suggested above, yields us the complex category of ' holy' itself, richly charged and complete and in its fullest meaning. And that the schematism is a genuine one, and not a mere combination of analogies, may be distinctly seen from the fact that it does not fall to pieces, and cannot be cut out as the development of the consciousness of religious truth proceeds onwards and upwards, but is only recognized with greater definiteness and certainty. And it is for the same reason inherently probable that there is more, too, in the combination of 'the holy' with ' the sublime ' than a mere association of feelings ; and perhaps we may say that, while as a matter of historical genesis such an association was the means whereby this combination was awakened in the mind and the occasion for it, yet the inward and lasting character of the connexion in all the higher religions docs prove that 'the sublime' too is an authentic 'scheme-' of 'the holy'.

The intimate interpénétration of tho non rational with the rational eh ments of the religious consciousness, like the inter-wid'ving of warp arid woof in a fabric, may be elucidated by taking another familiar case, in which a universal human feeling, that of personal affection, is similarly interjiene-trated by a likewise thoroughly non-rational and separate element, namely, the sex instinct. It goes without saying that this latter lies just on the opposite side of ' reason ' to the numinous consciousness; for, while this is 'above ali reason', the sex impulse is below it, an element in our instinctive life. 'The numinous' infuses the rational from above, ' the sexual' presses up from beneath, quite wholesomely and normally out of the nature which the human being shares with the general animal world, into the higher realm of the specifically humane '. But though the two things I am comparing are thus manifestly opposite extremes, they have a closely corresponding relation to that which lies between them, viz. the reason. For the quite special domain of the 'erotic' is only brought into existence as the reproductive instinct passes up out of the merely instinctive life, penetrates the higher humane life of mind and feeling, and infuses wishes, cravings, and longings i:i personal liking, friendship, and love, in song and po try and imaginative creation in general. Whatever falls w ithin the sphere of the erotic is therefore always a composite product, made up of two factors: the one something that occurs also in the general sphere of human behaviour as such, as friendship and liking, the feeling of companionship, the mood of poetic inspiration or joyful exaltation, and the like; and the other an infusion of a quite special kind, which is not to he classed with these, and of which no one can have any inkling, let alone understand it, who has not learnt from the actual inward experience of ' eros' or love. Another point in which the ' erotic' is analogous to the ' holy' is in having in the main no means of linguistic expression but terms drawn from other fields of mental life, which only cease to be ' innocuous' (i. e. only become genuinely ' erotic ' terms) when it is realized that the lover, like the orator, bard, or singer, expresses himself not so much by the actual words he uses as by the accent, tone, and imitative gesture which reinforce them.

The phrase ' he loves me' is verbally identical, whether it is said by a child of its father or by a girl of her lover. But in the second case a ' love' is meant which is at the same time ' something more' (viz. sexual love), and something more not only in quantity but in quality. So, too, the phrase ' We ought to fear, love, and trust him'1 is verbally identical, whether it refers to the relation of child to father or to that of man to God. But again in the second case these ideas are infused with a meaning of which none but the religious-minded man can have any comprehension or indeed any inkling, whose presence makes, e. g., the ' fear of God' ' something more' than any fear of a man, qualitatively, not merely quantitatively, though retaining the essence of the most genuine reverence felt by the child for its father. And Suso means in the same way to distinguish ' love' and ' love of God ', when he says :

' There was never a string so dulcet-toned but ceased to sound if stretched to a withered frame ; a heart poor in love can no more understand speech rich in love than a German can an Italian.' 2

1 Luther's amplification of the First Commandment.

There is another kind of experience in which we may find an example of the way in which rational elements in our feeling-consciousness may he thus penetrated l>y quite nonrational ones, and an example even more proximate to the complex feeling of the holy than that just described—'erotic' experience;—in so far as the non-rational element is, like the 'numinous' feeling but unüke the sexual impulse, at the same time f!//>ra-ratioij,d. I refer to the state of mind induced in us by a song set to music. The verbal text of the song expresses feelings that are 'natural homesickness perhaps, or confidence in tiníé'of danger, hope for a future good, or joy in a pres> nt possession — all concrete elements in our ' natural' human lot. and capable of being described in conceptual terms. But it is otherwise with the music, purely as music. It releases a blissful rejoicing in us, and we are conscious of a glimmering, billowy agitation occupying our minds, without Seing able to express or explain in concepts what it really is that moves us so deeply. And to say that the music is mournful or exultant, that it incites or restrains, is merely to use signs by analogy, choosing them for their resemblance to the matter in hand out of other regions of our mental life ; and at any rate we cannot say what the object or ground of this mourning or exulting may bo. Music, in short, arouses in us an experience and \ihrations of mood that are quite spccitic in kind and must simply be called ' musical'; but the rise and fall and manifold variations of this experience exhibit though again only in part—definite, if fugitive, analogies and correspondences with our ordinary non-musical emotional states, and so can call these into consciousness and blend with them. If this happens, the specific 'music-consciousness' is thereby * schematized ' and rationalized, and the resultant complex mood is, as it were, a fabric, i.i which the general human feelings and emotional states constitute the warp, and the non-rational music-feelings the woof. 1 he song in its entirety is therefore music 'rationalized'.

Now heifl i- illu-tratcd the contrast between the legitimate and the illegitimate processes of 1 rationalization '. For if the songmay be called music ' rationalized ' in the legitimate sense, e in programme-music we have a musical ' rationalism' in the bad sense. Programme-music, that is to say, misinterprets and perverts the idea of music by its implication that the inner content of music is not—as in fact it is—something unique and mysterious, but just the incidental experiences—joy and grief, expansion and repression—familiar to the human heart. And in its attempt to make of musical tones a language to recount the fortunes of men programme-music abolishes the autonomy of music, and is deceived by a mere resemblance into employing as a means what is an end and substantive content in its own right. It is just the same mistake as when the ' august ' aspect of the numinous is allowed to evaporate into the ' morally good ', instead of merely being ' schematized ' by it, or as when we let' the holy' be identified with ' the perfectly good ' will. And not only programme-music is at fault here. The ' music-drama' of Wagner, by attempting a thoroughgoing unification of the musical and the dramatic, commits the same offence against both the non-rational spirit of the former and the autonomy of either. We can only succeed in very partial and fragmentary fashion in * schematizing' the nonrational factor in music by means of the familiar incidents of human experience. And the reason is just this, that the real content of music is not drawn from the ordinary human emotions at all, and that it is in 110 way merely a second language, alongside the usual one, by which these emotions find expression, ilusical feeling is rather (like numinous feeling) something ' wholly otherwhich, while it affords analogies and here and there will run parallel to the ordinary emotions of life, cannot be made to coincide with them by a detailed point-to-point correspondence. It is, of course, from those placcs where the correspondence holds that the spell of a composed song arises by a blending of verbal and musical expression. But the very fact that we attribute to it a spell, an enchantment, points in itself to that ' woof' in the fabric of music of which we spoke, the woof of the unconceived and non-rational.1

1 This is the point of view from which to estimate both the excellent and the inadequate features of E. Hanslick's book, Vom Mustcalhch-Schunen.

But we must beware of confounding in any way the nnn-rational of music and the non-rational of the numinous itself, as Schopenhauer, for example, does. Each is something in its own right, independently of the other. We shall discuss later whether, and how far, the former may become a means of expression for the latter.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment