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THE EVOLUTION OF THEOLOGY IN THE GREEK PHILOSOPHERS.
The Gifford Lectures for 1900-1901 and 1901-1902 delivered in the University of Glasgow. By Edward Caird, LL. D., D. C. L., etc. 2 Vols. Glasgow : J. MacLehose & Sons, 1904.
. The ostensible aim of these volumes is to give a connected history of Greek reflection regarding the relation of man's life to the ultimate principle of reality. But partly because it is hardly possible to separate this problem from other philosophical discussions, partly because the questions of Logic, Ethics, and Psychology themselves throw light on the chief topic of the lectures, Dr. Caird widens the scope of his subject considerably beyond the main issue. The lectures are thus found in point of fact to cover the whole field of Greek philosophy. The primary purpose of the lectures makes it impossible to give equal prominence to all the philosophers of Greece, or to all the subjects dealt with by those philosophers discussed. But within these limits these lectures may be fairly regarded as a systematic exposition of the fundamental ideas in Greek philosophy from Xenophanes to Plotinus. Its special importance lies in the skilful way in which the various schools are shown to be successive attempts to answer the same question, a method of exposition which gives a peculiar value and interest to the treatment of this inexhaustible subject.
The point of view from which Dr. Caird proceeds is one which he had previously adopted in the lectures on "The Evolution of Religion.” He naturally begins, therefore, by explaining the relation of Religion to Theology. To this he devotes the first
. lecture. Theology is to religion what interpretation is to fact. The peculiarity of the relation in this case is due to the special nature of religious facts. Religion is a conscious unity of man's finite mind with the Absolute; and being universal rests on certain universal principles. Theology is likewise a conscious process, a process, namely, of reflection. Thus the difference between the two must lie in the kind of conscious attitude in each case. This Dr. Caird expresses by saying that religion relates man to the Absolute by principles of which the religious mind as such is not, at least is not necessarily, conscious; while theology seeks to bring these principles to clear consciousness; so that theology is the selfconsciousness of religion. Theology does not create religion, it presupposes religion; and while there must inevitably be a reaction of theological interpretations on religious experience, at the very best theology can never create a religion, it can merely construe it into general and, in that sense, abstract conceptions to suit the medium of thought in which its analysis is carried on.
There is, of course, always a difficulty in distinguishing phases of conscious life which seem so closely allied. For it is clear on the one hand that religion does proceed by certain ideas of which it is well aware, and yet it is equally clear that to make religion a practical deduction or "application" of ideas becomes perilously akin to evolving experience from principles previously known, evolving, in short, religion from theological ideas, since the ideas of religion are not in content different from the ideas of theology. The terms used by Dr. Caird to express the difference are not always uniformly the same in meaning. At one time he says religion is certainly not the outcome of the "activity of conscious reason," Vol. I (p. 3); the difference is that in religion we have unconscious reason, in theology conscious reason (ibid). Again the difference is between what is intuitive and what is reflective, conscious and self-conscious (ibid.), between immediate experience and reflection (p. 11). Yet a religion may be both, for he distinguishes (p. 25) between a religion which is reflective, and one which is not, and points out that the former is higher than the latter. No doubt the main principle he wishes to establish is clear enough: it is simply that there are grades of conscious life, and what is conscious at one stage may be unconscious at another, either in the history of the individual or of a society. Hence we can speak of religion being unconsciously what theology expresses consciously, or being consciously what theology expresses self-consciously, while still holding, as we must, that both theology and religion belong to the sphere of self-conscious or rational life. But it should be stated that the distinctions are always relative to one another, and to a certain stage of experience with which we are dealing. And it seems important to notice that if both religion and the philosophy of religion (or theology) belong to the self-conscious life of man, it is not altogether sufficient to say that theology is religious life made self-conscious, though this may still be true in a certain sense.
The second lecture is devoted to indicating the three stages through which theological opinion has passed in European civilization. These are the Greek and Roman period, that of the Christian era and the Reformation, and the modern period. These are what we may call the stages in the evolution of theology as a whole. Dr. Caird deals here with the first stage, and would lay every one under a debt of gratitude if he could find time to complete the survey.
Lectures III to IX are devoted to the antecedents and stages in the development of the Theology of Plato, the first systematic theologian. They consist in the main in historical exposition and running criticism on Plato's ideal theory. The ninth lecture on the later idealism of Plato is particularly valuable.
Lectures X to XIV deal in a similar way with Aristotle.
Lecture XV is devoted to the general character of postAristotelian philosophy, and prepares the way for the statement of Stoicism in Lectures XVI-XIX. The transition from Stoicism to Neo-Platonism and a discussion of Philo make up the two following lectures, while the remainder of the work, Lectures XXII-XXVII, expounds the philosophy and theology of Plotinus and his relation to succeeding theological thought,-Gnosticism and Christian theology.
There is little in the subject matter of the lectures which bears directly on ethics, and it would be out of place in this JOURNAL to consider theological problems. Such discussion of ethics as we find is introduced primarily to throw light on theological issues, and the theological views of the various systems expounded. One of the few ethical questions of general interest taken up in the lectures is that of the primacy of the practical reason discussed in Lecture XIII, where an instructive comparison is drawn between Aristotle's view of reason and that of Kant. This chapter is of special value at the present time in view of the tendency towards "pragmatism” which characterises so much current philosophical speculation. Dr. Caird's solution of the difficulty, and one which he adopts generally to solve the chief fundamental difficulties into which Greek thought was led, is to point out that the initial assumption of a sharp opposition between mind and object, on which the separation of theory from practice rests, is essentially false. The mind comes to be mind through relation to an objective world, and the world only is a world through relation to mind. The two ways in which this relation is established may be spoken of as theory and practice, but the same identity is implied and worked out in both, the identity, namely, between mind and an objective world. “Theoretical and practical consciousness are in continuity with each other" (p. 371). This certainly gets over the extreme opposition between theory and practice often asserted. But it does not either get rid of actual opposition between them in daily life, or solve the question as to which is prior for finite activity. The identity between the two is, indeed, found in the experiences of religion, or again of philosophy, in Aristotle's sense of Oswpía. But the fully realized identity is a limiting case, which is only known in certain experiences of man and, we may assume, in the active experience of a Divine Life. Between these two lie the contrasts and conflicts which make up the process of finite life and which appear in the distinctions, so characteristic of finite experiences, between suggestion and affirmation, hypothesis and law, approximate and complete truth, abstract and applicable ideas, etc. And it is here most of all that the difference between theory and practice is felt, and it is to this that the question of the primacy of the one over the other applies most pointedly.
This leads to the general remark that the way in which Dr. Caird proposes to overcome the radical dualism which characterises Greek Philosophy from first to last is, at least, not free from ambiguity. The dualism in its extreme form is that between thought and sense, man and nature, mind and "matter."
It was to connect these elements coherently that formed the task of Greek thought, and which incessantly urged it to new modes of explanation, thus giving continuity to the subject matter and the purpose of its whole history. The difference between these two in their various forms, Dr. Caird urges, rests on and presupposes an ultimate identity, a unity in which man and nature appear as diverse manifestations, a spiritual unity of which all forms of experience are revelations, and in which all oppositions, therefore, find their reconcilation. This is the identity asserted in the religious life, and the identity which philosophy seeks to bring to self-consciousness.
The ambiguity referred to lies here. On the one hand, these two, mind and object (express the differense as we may), are to begin with opposed and sharply opposed, while the unity in which they are reconciled seems to do justice to one of these elements (mind, self-consciousness) at the expense of the other. Dr. Caird urges that mind and object are inseparable, that the one is through the other. If so, the unity cannot straightway be described as a spiritual or self-conscious unity, which clearly holds more of one side than the other. Either that must be asserted or else to begin with the two are not on such a level as to justify us in saying that one is merely through the other—a position which makes the one as little (or as much) important as the other. It may be observed that it was just the insistence on the difference in value between mind and nature, subject and object, which constituted Hegel's peculiar position.
Regarding the general interpretation of Greek Philosophy which Dr. Caird adopts, many may find some difficulty in accepting his view that Plotinus' mysticism was not an expression of the despair of Greek Philosophy or the collapse of the speculative Greek spirit, but the genuine development of the philosophical tendencies at work in Plato and Aristotle and an advance upon the spiritualistic monism of preceding thought. It seems a little strange to say that the transcendence of knowledge and the renunciation of clearly conceived systematic reflection should constitute an advance in knowledge and a higher stage of philosophical insight. One feels that a similar objection should hold against the author's attempts to treat scepticism as an advance on preceding philosophy. And when Dr. Caird says (II, p. 10) that "a system of philosophy may be less rich and comprehensive and less stringent in method, and yet indicate an advance"; that "there may be a dialectic value in the absence of dialetic,” this is surely optimism at any price. It is not easy to allow that confused thinking or bad thinking or no thinking at all is a "dialetical advance" on coherent reflection merely because it succeeds it in time.
The saying attributed to Goethe on p. 4, Vol. I, is Schiller's; it occurs in the poem entitled "Die Weltweisen.”
J. B. BailLIE. UNIVERSITY OF ABERDEEN.
THE THEOLOGY AND ETHICS OF THE HEBREWS. By Archibald
Duff, Professor of Old Testament Theology in the Yorkshire United Independent College, Bradford, England. New York: Charles Scribner's Son's, 1902, pp. xvii, 304.
This volume in the “Semitic Series” edited by Professor Craig, of the University of Michigan, is intended to supplement the sketches of Hebrew history, government, and social life given by Professor Paton, Professor McCurdy, and Mr. Day by furnishing a description of the religious and moral life of the Hebrews.