Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

on

cause it is the only one on which I can ducible from a combination of these and not concur with Lord Blachford's mas similar truths. The antitheist will of terly paper. I cannot agree with him, course deny that they are truths. Mr. that the doctrine of human immortality Greg, who has himself 'arrived at no fails of being supported by conclusive conviction on the subject of immortalireasoning.' I do not, of course, mean ty, yet says that considerations of the that the dogma of the Beatific Vision is same kind as those which I have enumediscoverable apart from Revelation; but rated 'must be decisive' in favor of imI do account it a truth cognisable with mortality 'to all to whose spirits commucertitude by reason, that the human soul nion with their Father is the most absois naturally immortal, and that retribu- lute of verities.'*

lute of verities.'* Nor have I any reation of one kind or another will be son to think that even Mr. Huxley and awarded us hereafter, according to what Mr. Harrison, if they could concede my our conduct has been in this our state of premisses, would demur to my concluprobation. Here, however, I must ex sion. plain myself. When theists make this

Mr. FREDERIC HARRISON. statement, sometimes they are thought to allege that human immortality is suffi [I have now, not so much to close a ciently proved by phenomena; and some- symposium, or general discussion, as to times they are thought to allege that it reply to the convergent fire of nine sepis almost intuitively evident. For my- arate papers, extending over more than self, however, I make neither of these fifty pages. Neither time, nor space, nor allegations. I hold that the truth in

the indulgence of the reader, would enaquestion is conclusively established by ble me to do justice to the weight of this help of certain premisses; and that these array of criticism, which reaches me in premisses themselves can previously be fragments whilst I am otherwise occupied known with absolute certitude, abroad. I will ask those critics, whom grounds of reason or experience.

I have not been able to notice, to believe They are such as these : (1) There that I have duly considered the powerful exists that Personal Being, infinite in all appeals they have addressed to me. And perfections, whom we call God. (2) He I will ask those who are interested in has implanted in His rational creatures this question, to refer to the original the sense of right and wrong; the know papers in which my views were stated. ledge that a deliberate perpetration of And I will only add, by way of reply, the certain acts intrinsically merits penal following remarks which were, for the retribution. (3) Correlatively, He has most part, written and printed, whilst I conferred freedom on the human will; had nothing before me but the first three or, in other words, has made acts of the papers in this discussion. They contain human will exceptions to that law of uni what I have to say on the theological, form sequence, which otherwise prevails the metaphysical, and the materialist asthroughout the phenomenal world.* (4) pect of this question. For the rest, I By the habit of prayer to God we can could only repeat what I have already obtain augmented strength for moral ac- said in the two original essays.] tion, in a degree which would have been Whether the preceding discussion has quite incredible antecedently to experi- given much new strength to the doctrine ence. (5) Various portions of our di of man's immaterial Soul and Future exvinely given nature clearly point to an istence I will not pretend to decide. eternal destiny. (6) The conscious self But I cannot feel that it has shaken the or ego is entirely heterogeneous to the reality of man's posthumous influence, material world : entirely heterogeneous, my chief and immediate theme. It therefore, to that palpable body of ours, seemed to me that 'the time had come, which is dissolved at the period of death. when, seeing how vague and hesitating

I do not think any one will account it were the prevalent beliefs on this subextravagant to hold, that the doctrine of ject, it was most important to remember human immortality is legitimately de- that, from a purely earthly point of view,

* I shall not, of course, be understood to deny the existence and frequency of miracles.

New SERIES.- Vol. XXVI., No. 6

* See his letter in the Spectator of August 25.

42

man had a spiritual nature, and could 3. The moral facts of human life, the look forward after death to something laws of man's mental, moral, and affectthat marked him off from the beasts that ive nature, must consequently be studperish. I cannot see that what I urged ied, as they have always been studied, by has been in substance displaced ; though direct observation of these facts; yet the much criticism (and some of it of a ver- correspondences, specially discovered by bal kind) has been directed at the lan- biological science between man's mind guage which I used of others. My ob- and his body, must always be kept in ject was to try if this life could not be view. They are an indispensable, insepmade richer; not to destroy the dreams arable, but subordinate part of moral of another. But has the old doctrine of philosophy. a future life been in any way strength- 4. We do not diminish the supreme ened ? Mr. Hutton, it is true, has a place of the spiritual facts in life and in personal wish' for a perpetuity of voli- philosophy by admitting these spiritual tion. Lord Blachford believes because facts to have (a relation with molecular he is told.' And Professor Huxley and organic facts in the human organknows of no evidence that 'such a soul ism-provided that we never forget how and a future life exist;' and he seems small and dependent is the part which not to believe in them at all.

the study of the molecular and organic Philosophical discussion must languish phenomena must play in moral and soa, little, if, when we ask for the philo- cial science. sophical grounds for a certain belief, we 5. Those whose minds have been find one philosopher believing because trained in the modern philosophy of law he has a 'personal wish' for it, and an- cannot understand what is meant by senother believing because he is told.' sation, thought, and energy, existing Mr. Hutton says that, as far as he knows, without any basis of molecular change ; 'the thoughts, affections, and volitions and to talk to them of sensation, thought, are not likely to perish with his body.' and energy, continuing in the absence of Professor Huxley seems to think it just any molecules whatever, is precisely such as likely that they should. Arguments a contradiction in terms as to suppose are called for to enable us to decide be- that civilisation will continue in the abtween these two authorities. And the sence of any men whatever. only argument we have hitherto got is 6. Yet man is so constituted as a social Mr. Hutton's 'personal wish,' and Lord being, that the energies which he puts Blachford's ita scriptum est. I confess out in life mould the minds, characters, myself unable to continue an argument and habits of his fellow-men; so that which runs into believing because I am each man's life is, in effect, indefinitely told.' It is for this reason that the laz- prolonged in human society. This is a zarone at Naples believes in the blood phenomenon quite peculiar to man and of St. Januarius.

to human society, and of course depends My original propositions may be stated on there being men in active association thus.

with each other. Physics and biology 1. Philosophy as a whole (I do not can teach us nothing about it; and physsay specially biological science) has es- icists and biologists may very easily fortablished a functional relation to exist get its importance. It can be learnt between every fact of thinking, willing, only by long and refined observations in or feeling, on the one side, and some moral and mental philosophy as a whole, molecular change in the body on the and in the history of civilisation as a other side.

whole. 2. This relation is simply one of cor- 7. Lastly, as a corollary, it may be userespondence between moral and physical ful to retain the words Soul and Future facts, not one of assimilation. The Life for their associations; provided we moral fact does not become a physical make it clear that we mean by Soul the fact, is not adequately explained by it, combined faculties of the living organand must be mainly studied as a moral ism, and by future life the subjective fact, by methods applicable to inorals- effect of each man's objective life on the not as a physical fact, by methods appli- actual lives of his fellow-men. cable to physics.

I. Now I find in Mr. Hutton's paper hardly any attempt to disprove the first told.' But it so happens that he is not six of these propositions. He is em- told this, at any rate in the creeds and ployed for the most part in asserting that formularies of orthodox faith. If this his hypothesis of a future state is a more view of future life is to rest entirely on agreeable one than mine, and in earnest revelation, it is a very singular thing that complaints that I should call his view of the Bible is silent on the matter. Whata future state a selfish or personal hope. ever kind of future ecstasy may be sugAs to the first, I will only remark that it gested in some texts, certain it is that is scarcely a question whether his notion such a glorified energy as Lord Blachof immortality is beautiful or not, but ford paints in glowing colors is nowhere whether it is true. If there is no ration- described in the Bible. There is a conal ground for expecting such immortality stant practice nowadays, when the poputo be a solid fact, it is to little purpose lar religion is criticised, that earnest deto show us what a sublime idea it would fenders of it come forward exclaiming : be if there were anything in it. As to 'Oh! that is only the vulgar notion of the second, I will only say that I do not our religion, My idea of the doctrine is call his notion of a future existence a so and so,' something which the speaker selfish or personal hope. In the last has invented without countenance from paragraph of my second paper I speak official authority. For my part I hold with respect of the opinion of those who Christianity to be what is taught in averlook forward to a future of moral devel- age churches and chapels to the millions opment instead of to an idle eternity of of professing Christians. And I say it is psalm-singing. My language as to the a very serious fact when philosophical selfishness of the vulgar ideas of salvation defenders of religion begin by repudiatwas directed to those who insist that un- ing that which is taught in average pulless they are to feel a continuance of pits. pleasure they do not care for any contin- Perhaps a little more attention to my uance of their influence at all. The vul- actual words might have rendered ungar are apt to say that what they desire necessary the complaints in all these pais the sense of personal satisfaction, and pers as to my language about the hopes. if they cannot have this they care for which men cherish for the future. In nothing else. This, I maintain, is a sel- the first place I freely admit that the fish and debasing idea. It is the com- hopes of a grander energy in heaven are mon notion of the popular religion, and not open to the charge of vulgar selfishits tendency to concentrate the mind on ness. I said that they are unintelligible, a merely personal salvation does exert not that they are unworthy. They are an evil effect on practical conduct. I unintelligible to those who are continualonce heard a Scotch preacher, dilating ly alive to the fact I have placed as my on the narrowness of the gate, &c., ex- first propositionthat every moral phenoclaim, 'O dear brethren, who would care menon is in functional relation with some to be saved in a crowd?'

physical phenomenon. To those who deny I do not say this of the life of grander or ignore this truth, there is doubtless no activity in which Mr. Hutton believes, incoherence in all the ideals so eloquentand which Lord Blachford so eloquent- ly described in the papers of Mr. Hutly describes. This is no doubt a fine ton and Lord Blachford. But once get ideal, and I will not say other than an this conception as the substratum of elevating hope. But on what does it your entire mental and moral philosorest ? Why this ideal rather than any phy, and it is as incoherent to talk to us other ? Each of us may imagine, as I of your immaterial development as it said at the outset, his own Elysian fields, would be to talk of obtaining redness or his own mystic rose. But is this phi- without any red thing. losophy? Is it even religion ? Besides, I will try to explain fully why this idea there is this other objection to it. It is of a glorified activity implies a contranot Christianity, but Neo-Christianity. diction in terms to those who are imbued It is a fantasia with variations on the or with the sense of correspondence bethodox creed. There is not a word of tween physical and moral facts. When the kind in the Bible. Lord Blachford we conceive any process of thinking, we says he believes in it, because he is call up before us a complex train of con

use.

ditions ; objective facts outside of us or and activity possible, all that makes life the revived impression of such facts; the really noble. molecular effect of these facts upon cer A mystical and inane ecstasy is an aptain parts of our organism, the associa- propriate ideal for this paradise of negation of these with similar facts recalled tions, and this is the orthodox view; but by memory, an elaborate mechanism to it is not a high view. A glorified existcorrelate these impressions, an unknown ence of greater activity and development to be made known, and a difficulty to be may be a high view, but it is a contradicovercome. All systematic thought im- tion in terms; exactly, I say, as if you plies relations with the external world were to talk of a higher civilisation withpresent or recalled, and it also implies out any human beings. But this is simsome shortcoming in our powers of per- ply a metaphysical afterthought to escape fecting those relations. When we medi- from a moral dilemma. Mr. Hutton is tate, it is on a basis of facts which we surely mistaken in saying that Positivists are observing, or have observed and are have forgotten that Christians ever had now recalling, and with a view to get at any meaning in their hopes of a 'beatific some result which baffles our direct ob- vision.' He must know that Dante and servation and hinders some practical Thomas à Kempis form the religious purpose.

books of Positivists, and they are, with The same holds good of our moral some other manuals of Catholic theology, energy. Ecstasy and mere adoration amongst the small number of volumes exclude energy of action. Moral devel. which Comte recommended for constant opment implies difficulties to be over We can see in the celestial ' viscome, qualities balanced against one an- ions' of a mystical and unscientific age other under opposing conditions, this or much that was beautiful in its time, that appetite tempted, this or that in- though not the highest product even of stinct tested by proof. Moral develop- theology. But in our day these visions ment does not grow like a fungus; it is of paradise have lost what moral value a continual struggle in surrounding con- they had, whilst the progress of philosoditions of a specific kind, and an active phy has made them incompatible with putting forth of a variety of practical our modern canons of thought. faculties in the midst of real obstacles. Mr. Hution supposes me to object to

So, too, of the affections, they equally any continuance of sensation as an evil imply conditions. "Sympathy does not in itself. My objection was not that spurt up like a fountain in the air; it consciousness should be prolonged in implies beings in need of help, evils to be immortality, but that nothing else but alleviated, a fellowship of giving and consciousness should be prolonged. All taking, the sense of protecting and being real human life, energy, thought, and acprotected, a pity for suffering, an admir- tive affection, are to be made impossible ation of power, goodness, and truth. All in your celestial paradise, but you insist of these imply an external worid to act on retaining consciousness. To retain in, human beings as objects, and human the power of feeling, whilst all means life under human conditions.

and object are taken away from thinkNow all these conditions are eliminat- ing, all power of acting, all opportunity ed from the orthodox ideal of a future of cultivating the faculties of sympathy state. There are to be no physical im are stifled : this seems to me something pressions, no material difficulties, no else than a good. It would seem to me, evil, no toil, no struggle, no human be- that simply to be conscious, and yet to ings and no human objects. The only lie thoughtless, inactive, irresponsive, condition is a complete absence of all with every faculty of a man paralysed conditions, or all conditions of which we within you, as if by that villanous drug have any experience. And we say, we which produces torpor whilst it intensicannot imagine what you mean by your fies sensation : such a consciousness as intensified sympathy, your broader this must be a very place of torment. thought, your infinitely varied activity, I think some contradictions which when you begin by postulating the ab- Mr. Hutton supposes he detects in my sence of all that makes sympathy, thought, paper are not very hard to reconcile. I

rea

admitted that Death is an evil, it seems; once supposed to be substances. We but I spoke of our posthumous activity now very usefully retain these words for as a higher kind of influence. We might a set of observed conditions or qualities. imagine, of course, a Utopia with neither I agree with Mr. Spencer that the unisuffering, waste, nor loss; and compared ty of the social organism is quite as comwith such a world, the world, as we know plete as that of the individual organism. it, is full of evils, of which Death is ob- I do not confuse the two kinds of unity; viously one. But relatively, in such a but I say that man is in no important world as alone we know, Death becomes sense a unit that society is not also a simply a law of organised nature, from unit. which we draw some of our guiding mo- With regard to the percipient' and tives of conduct. In precisely the same the 'perceptible 'I cannot follow Lord way the necessity of toil is an evil in Blachford. He speaks a tongue that I itself ; but, with man and his life as we do not understand. I have no means o know them, we draw from it some of our dividing the universe into ' percipients highest moral energies. The grandest and “perceptibles.' I know no qualities of human nature, such as we son why a 'percipient'should not be know it at least, would become for ever a perceptible,' none why I should not impossible, if Labor and Death were be

be perceptible,' and none why benot the law of life.

ings about me should not be 'percepMr. Hutton again takes but a pessim- tible.' I think we are all perfectly ist view of life when he insists how ‘perceptible'-indeed some of us are much of our activity is evil, and how more perceptible’ than 'percipient'questionable is the future of the race. though I cannot say that Lord BlachI am no pessimist, and I believe in a ford is always perceptible' to me. And providential control over all human ac- how does my being 'perceptible,' or not tions by the great Power of Humanity, being ' perceptible,' prove that I have an which indeed brings good out of evil, immortal soul? Is a dog' perceptible,' and assures, at least for some thousands is he 'percipient'? Has he not some of centuries, a certain progress towards of the qualities of a ' percipient,' and if the higher state. Pessimism as to the so, has he an immortal soul? Is an ant, essential dignity of man and the steady a tree, a bacterium, percipient, and has development of his race, is one of the any of these an immortal soul; for I find surest marks of the enervating influence Lord Blachford declaring there is an of this dream of a celestial glory. If I 'ineradicable difference between the mocalled it as wild a desire as to go roving tions of a material and the sensations of through space in a comet, it is because I a living being,' as if the animal world can attach no meaning to a human life were percipient, and the inorganic perto be prolonged without a human frame ceptible ? But surely in the sensations and a human world; and it seems to me of a living being the animal world must as rational to talk of becoming an angel be included. Where does the vegetable as to talk of becoming an ellipse. world come in?

By 'duties' of the world beyond the I used the word 'organism' advisedly, grave, I meant the duties which are im- when I said that will, thought, and affecposed on us in life, by the certainty that tion, are functions of a living organism. our action must continue to have an in- I decline exactly to localise the organ of definite effect. The phrase may be in- any function of mind or will. When I elegant, but I do not think the meaning am asked, What are we? I reply we are is obscure.

When I am asked, Are we our II. I cannot agree with Lord Blach- bodies ? I say no, nor are we our minds. ford that I have fallen into any confu- Have we no sense of personality, of unision between a substance and an attri- ty? I am asked. I say certainly; it is. bute. I am quite aware that the word an acquired result of our nervous organSoul has been hitherto used for some isation, liable to be interrupted by decenturies as an entity. And I proposed rangements of that nervous organisation. to retain the term for an attribute. It is What is it that makes us think and feel ? a very common process in the history of The facts of our human nature ; I canthought. Electricity, Life, Heat, were not get behind this, and I need no fur

men.

« ПредишнаНапред »