I

from the other process—which begins at an early stage— by which it is ' rationalized ' and ' moralized i. e. filled with rational and ethical meaning. Taking this non-rational process of development first, we have seen how the ' daemonic dread ', after itself passing through various gradations, rises to the level of 1 fear of the gods and thence to ' fear of God The SaifiovLov or daemonic power becomes the 6uov or divine power:' dread' becomes worship ; out of a confusion of inchoate emotions and bewildered palpitations of feeling grows ' religio and out of' shudder' a holy awe. The feelings of dependence upon and beatitude in the numen, from being relative, become absolute. The false analogies and fortuitous associations are gradually dispelled or frankly rejected. The numen becomes God and Deity. It is then to God and Deity, as ' numen' rendered absolute, that the attribute denoted by the terms qciddsh, sanctus, aytos, holy, pertains, in the first and directest sense of the words. It is the culmination of a development which works itself out purely in the sphere of the nonrational. This development constitutes the first central fact of religious study, and it is the task of religious history and psychology to trace its course.

Next, secondary and subsidiary to this, is the task of tracing the course of the process of rationalization and moralization on the basis (¡/the numinous consciousness. It nearly, if not quite, synchronizes and keeps pace with the stages of the purely numinous development, and, like that, it can be traced in its different gradations in the most widely different regions of religious history. Almost everywhere we find the numinous attracting and appropriating meanings derived from social and individual ideals of obligation, justice, and goodness. These become the ' will' of the numen, and the numen their guardian, ordainer, and author. More and more these ideas come to enter into the very essence of the numen and charge the term with ethical content. ' Holy ' becomes ' good and' good' from that very fact in turn becomes ' holy',' Sacrosanct'; until there results a thenceforth indissoluble synthesis of the two elements, and the final outcome is thus the fuller, more complex sense of ' holyin which it is at once good and sacrosanct.

The greatest distinction of the religion of ancient Israel, at least from Ainos onwards, is precisely the intimate coalescence of both elements. No God is like the God of Israel : for He is the absolutely Holy One (= perfectly good). And, on the other hand, no law is like Yalnveh's Law, for it is not merely good, but also at the same time ' holy ' (= sacrosanct).

And this process of rationalization and moraiization of the numinou . as it grows ever more clear and more potent, is in fact the most essential part of what we call 'the History of Salvation ' and prize as the ever-grow ing self-revelation of the divine. Put at the eanie time it should be clear to us that this process of the 'moraiization of the idea of God', often enough represented to us as a principal problem, setting the main line for inquiry into the hi tory of religion, is in no wise a suppression of the numinous or its supersession by something else—w hich would re-ult not in a God, but a God substitute—but rather the completion and charging of it with a new content. That is to say, the ' moraiization ' process assumes the numinous and is only completed upon tins as basis.

THE HOLY AS AX A PRIORI CATEGORY Part I

It follows from what has been said that the ' holy' in the fullest sense of the word is a combined, complex category, the combining elements being its rational and non-rational components. But in both—and the assertion must be strictly maintained against all Sensationalism and Naturalism—it is a purely a 'priori category.

The rational ideas of Absoluteness, Completion,Necessity.and Substantiality, and no less so those of the good as an objective value, objectively binding and valid, are not to be' evolved' from any sort of sense-perception. And the notions of ' epigenesis ', ' heterogony ', or whatever other expression we may choose to denote our compromise and perplexity, only serve to conceal the problem, the tendency to take refuge in a Greek terminology being here, as so often, nothing but an avowal of one's own insufficiency. Rather, seeking to account for the ideas in question, we are referred away from all sense-experience back to an original and underivable capacity of the mind implanted in the ' pure reason ' independently of all perception.

But in the case of the non-rational elements of our category of the Holy we are referred back to something still deeper than the ' pure reason', at least as this is usually understood, namely to that which Mysticism has rightly named the' fundus animae', the ' bottom' or' ground of the soul' (Seelengrund). The ideas of the numinous and the feelings that correspond to them are, quite as much as the rational ideas and feelings, absolutely ' pure', and the criteria which Kant suggests for the ' pure ' concept and the ' pure' feeling of respect are most precisely applicable to them. In the famous opening words of the 'Critique of Pure Reason' he says:—

' That all our knowledge begins with experience there can be no doubt. For how is it possible that the faculty of cognition should be awakened into exercise otherwise than by means of objects which affect our senses ? ... But, though all our knowledge begins v/ith experience, it by no means follows that all arises oat of experience.'

And, referring to empirical knowledge, he distinguishes that part which we receive through impressions and that which our own faculty of cognition supplies from itself, sense-impressions giving merely the occasion.

The numinous is of the latter kind. It issues from the deepest foundation of cogni'ive apprehension that the soul possesses, and, though it of course conies into being in and amid the sensory data and empirical material of the natural world and cannot anticipate or dispense with those, jet it does not arise out of them, but only try their means. They are the incitement, the stimulus, and the ' occasion ' for the numinous experience to become astir, and, in so doing, to begin—at first with a naive immediacy of reaction—to be interfused and interwoven with the present world of sensuous experience, until, becoming gradually purer, it disengages itself from this and takes its stand in ab.-olute contrast to it. The proof that in the numinous we have to deal with purely a priori cognitive elements is to be reached by introspection and a critical examination of reason such as Kant instituted. We find, that is involved in the numinous experience, beliefs and feelings qualitatively different from anything that 'natural' sense-perception i: capable of giving us. 'lhcy are themselves not perceptions at all, but peculiar interpretations and valuations, at first of perceptual data, and then—at a higher level—of posited objects and entities, which themselves no longer belong to the perceptual world, but are thought of as supplementing and transcending it. Ami as they are not themselves sense-perceptions, so neither are they any sort of ' transmutation ' of sense-perceptions. The only ' transmutation ' possible in respect to sense-perception is the transformation of the intuitively given concrete percept, of whatever sort, into the corresponding concept ; there is never any question of the transformation of one class of percepts into a class of entities qualitatively other. The facts of the numinous consciousness point therefore—as likewise do also the 'pure concepts of the understanding' of

Kant and the ideas and value-judgements of ethics or aesthetics —to a hidden substantive source, from which the religious ideas and feelings are formed, which lies in the mind independently of sense-experience ; a ' pure reason ' in the profoundest sense, which, because of the surpassingness of its content, must be distinguished from both the pure theoretical and the pure practical reason of Kant, as something yet higher or deeper than they.

The justification of the ' evolutionist' theory of to-day stands or falls with its claim to ' explain ' the phenomenon of religion. That is in truth the real task of the psychology of religion. But in order to explain we must have the data from which an explanation may be forthcoming ; out of nothing nothing can be explained. Nature can only be explained by an investigation into the ultimate fundamental forces of nature and their laws : it is meaningless to propose to go further and explain these laws themselves, for in terms of what are they to be explained 1 But in the domain of spirit the corresponding principle from which an explanation is derived is just the spirit itself, the reasonable spirit of man, with its predispositions, capacities, and its own inherent laws. This has to be presupposed : it cannot itself be explained. None can say how mind or spirit 'is made'—though this is in effect just what the theory of Epigénesis is fain to attempt. The history of humanity begins with man, and we have to presuppose man, to take him for granted as he is, in order that from him we may understand his history. That is, we must presuppose man as a being analogous to ourselves in natural propensities and capacities. It is a hopeless business to seek to lower ourselves into the mental life of a j'ithecahith^ms erectus\ and, even if it were not, we should still need to start from man as he is, since we can only interpret the psychical and emotional life of animals regressively by clumsy analogies drawn from the developed human mind. To try, on the other hand, to understand and deduce the human from the sub-human or brute mind is to try to fit the lock to the key instead of vice versa; it is to seek to illuminate light by darkness. In the first appearance of conscious life on dead unconscious matter we have a simple, irreducible, inexplicable datum. Rut that which here appears is already a manifold of qualities, and we can only interpret it as a seed of potentiality, out of which issue continually maturer powers and capacities, as the organization of the body increases in stability and complexity. And the only way wo can throw any light upon the whole region of sub-human psychical life is by interpreting it once again as a sort of ' predisposition' (Anlage) at a second remove, i.e. a predisposition to form the predi- positions or faculties of the actual developed mind, and standing in relation to this as an embryo to the full grown organism. Rut we are not completely in the dark as to the meaning of this word 'predisposition'. For in our own awakening and growth to mental and spiritual maturity we trace in ourselves in some sort the evolution by which the seed develops into the tree—the very opposite of ' transformation ' and ' epigenesis ' by successive addition.1

We call the source of growth a hidden ' predisposition ' ot the human spirit which awakens when aroused by divers excitations. That there are 'predispositions' of this sort i'i individuals no one can deny v, ho lias given serious study to the history of religion. They are seen as propensities, 'predestining' the individual to religion, and they may grow spontaneously to quasi-instinctive presentiments, uneasy seeking and groping, yearning and longing, and become a religious impulsion, that only finds peace when it has become clear to itself and attained its goal. From them arise the states of

1 Th<> physical analogue to these spiritual or mental relationships in the relation of potential to kinetic energy. The assumption of Kiel a rela tion in tlic world of mind (i.e. a relation between potential and kinetic mind I is, of course, only to be expccted from one who is prepared to accept as the hnal cause of all min i in the world as a whole the absolute mind M'pare actuality' whose ellamgatio or effulgence (in Liibnie's phrase) all other mind is. For all that is potential presupposes an actual a.* thfl ground of its possibility, fu Aristotle long ago showed. IS.it indeed how can we adYrd to reject such a I pure actuality ''? It is an inconsequent proceeding to postulate actuality, as is done, for a starting point for the physical world, as a system of stored-up energy, whose transference to kini tic energy constitutes the ' ru h of worlds and wheel of systems', and yet to reject the analogous assumption in the world of mind and spirit.

mind of ' prevenient gracedescribed in masterly fashion by Suso:—

* Loving, tender Lord! My mind has from the days of my childhood sought something with an earnest thirst of longing, Lord, and what that is have I not yet perfectly apprehended. Lord, I have now for many a year been in hot pursuit of it, and never yet have I been able to succeed, for I know not aright what it is. And yet it is something that draws my heart and my soul after it, and without which I can never attain to full repose. Lord, I was fain in the earliest days of my childhood to seek it among created things, as I saw others before me do. And the more I sought, the less I found it; and the nearer I went, the further I wandered from it Now my heart rages for it, for fain would I possess it. . . . Woe is me ! .. . What is this, or how is it fashioned, that plays within me in such hidden wise ? '1

These are manifestations of a predisposition becoming a search and a driving impulsion. But here, if nowhere else, the ' fundamental biogenetic law' really does hold good, which uses the stages and phases in the growth of the individual to throw light upon the corresponding stages in the growth of his species. The predisposition which the human reason brought with it when the species Man entered history became long ago, not merely for individuals but for the species as a whole, a religious impulsion, to which incitements from without and pressure from within the mind both contributed. It begins in undirected, groping emotion, a seeking and shaping of representations, and goes on, by a continual onward striving, to generate ideas, till its nature is self-illumined and made clear by an explication of the obscure a priori foundation of thought itself, out of which it originated.2 And this emotion, this searching, this generation and explication of ideas, gives the warp of the fabric of religious evolution, whose woof we are to discuss later.3

* The reader may compare what Kant says in his Lectures on Psychology (Leipsic ed., 1889, p. 11) of 'the treasure buried in the field of obscure ideas, constituting the deep abyss of human knowledge, which we cannot sound.' This 'deep abyss' is just the 'fundus animae' that is aroused in Suso. s Cf. pp. ISO, 181.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment