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power. But with man it is not so. Were man destined to a mere sensual life, the imagination would not present him with more than a kaleidoscopic series of changes of the same pleasurable sensations pictured in his mind. But it has a higher rôle. Memory exhibits to the intelligence realized facts, but imagination shoots ahead to consequences. It is a faculty which can in a measure take the place of the senses, and thus suppress the last link that subordinates the operations of the intellect to the perceptions received by means of the special apparatus of the organism. At will, it exercises the functions of sight and hearing; and by it the immaterial self can transport and fix its faculties of sight and hearing, untrammelled by the necessities of time and space, on abstract images to which it can give a fictitious being. Nothing limits, nothing restrains, this vehement faculty. It flies before realization, bearing a flaming torch to light the way, and incite the will to follow. It inspires hope, but never satiates it. It arouses inquiry, it quickens speculation; it never drops into their wake. If a spark were to fall on the representative faculty in the brute, it would start from its lethargy and rise in the scale of beings. But the beast cannot conceive an ideal, and therefore it remains stationary
With man, the attainment of his desire never altogether satisfies him. He has a craving for something beyond, and he leaves those things that are behind, and presses after his ideal image, which may be a mirage painted by a delusive faculty, but which is probably an instinct leading him to a distant perfection.
The idealizing tendency of the imagination is a continual process of selection, and therefore of judgment between the desirable and undesirable, and of discrimina
tion between perceptions of pleasure and pain. The ideal of one mind or of one race of men may not be the same as the ideal of another; but it does not follow that they are contradictory, it only shows that each is partial; and a study of human ideals will exhibit them as having a certain reciprocal appropriateness, which indicates a type to which they all tend, a perfection which will harmonize all. Thus, to one man red may seem the most perfect colour. It was the fashion in Manchester some years ago; and gowns, ties, coaches, windows, everything was scarlet. Another man, or group of men, may consider blue the perfection of colour. A Chinese makes yellow his ideal. Each only sees a portion or side of that perfection, which takes the three ideals and binds them into a glorious bow of graduated colour.
The ideal of perfection, whether of power, or of wisdom, or of justice, or of goodness, or of beauty, is always beyond man; that is, he can conceive a perfection beyond man's attainment. His idea of causation has led his intelligence to the conception of a final cause, which he calls God. Naturally his ideal adheres to this intellectual concept, and in the final cause he seeks to focus all his conceptions of perfection; and thus God comes to be regarded as allmighty, all-wise, the perfection of justice, of goodness, and of beauty.
Is the imaginative faculty illusive? Is the sense of goodness, beauty, justice, like the belief in causation, to be pronounced arbitrary and deceptive?
Sad would it be for humanity were it so. Man has in him as rooted a conviction that he has a spirit capable of growth, as that he has a body capable of growth. He has experimental certainty that it can grow, and that it tastes new pleasures at every stage of growth. Without an ideal
to move before him, like the pillar of fire that guided Israel, there would be no poets, painters, or musicians. The mightiest effort of a Michael Angelo would then be the construction of a bark wigwam, and the proudest achievement of a Shakespeare, monkey imitation.
Man has two needs, that of knowing, and that of loving. “Every religious state," says Comte," demands the continuous concurrence of two spontaneous influences : the one objective, essentially intellectual; the other subjective, purely moral. Thus, religion relates at once to the reason and to the sentiment; of these either alone would not be suitable to establish a veritable unity, either individual or collective. On one side, the intelligence makes us conceive outside of us a power sufficiently superior to demand the constant subordination of our existence. On the other side, it, is equally indispensable that one should be animated with a sentiment capable of co-ordinating all the others. These two fundamental conditions have a natural tendency to combine, since external submission necessarily seconds interior discipline—which, in turn, spontaneously disposes to external submission." Again : “The religious sentiment reposes on the permanent combination of two equally fundamental conditions, loving and believing, which, though profoundly distinct, must naturally concur. Each of these, besides its proper necessity, adds to the other a compleinent indispensable for its full efficacy."2
Religion is always the expression of an idea. Man conceives the notion of a great cause; guided by his feelings, by a process of selection he conceives an ideal, and this ideal becomes to him an object of passionate devotion.
1 Système de Politique Positive, ii. 11 ; Paris, 1852.
If reason and affection be not co-ordinated, religion resolves itself into philosophy or mysticism.
A religion which is purely speculative is no religion at all; it is a philosophy. A religion which consists of emotion only is nothing but sentimentalism, and is often gross superstition. Religious sentiment is sometimes extravagant mysticism or abject terrorism. Either form is injurious, as it is an exaggeration of one side of religion at the expense of the other. The aspirations of the heart must be controlled by the reason, and the intelligence must be humanized by the affections.
The search after a supreme cause has taken two main forms, monotheism and polytheism. The Semitic races seized on the idea of one force, the cause of every effect. The Aryan deified secondary forces manifest in nature. The Turanian cowered before force, and inquired not whence it came and where it was seated. And the Chinese proclaimed that the inquiry was futile, and of no practical importance.
The great watersheds of language have been the great watersheds of thought. In the search after the ideal these great races have taken different directions. The Turanian race, impressed with a vague and childlike sense of the mysterious, has not advanced into the idealizing stage. God, to the nomads of Northern Asia, is awful, undefined. They feel His presence about them, above them, and with dazzled and bewildered mind seek to know nothing more. The ideal of the Chinese is a perfectly organized government.
The Shemite grasped the notion of an ideal of power, and his god is the force of nature personified, the Mighty One riding on the whirlwind, touching the mountains, and lo, they smoke, uttering His voice in the thunder,
shaking the cedar-trees, dividing the seas with His breath.
The Aryan, with a rich poetic fancy, beheld everywhere an ideal of goodness; he saw beautiful Iris in the sky bearing the rain goblet, zoned with colour; foam-forms rising out of the sea radiant with beauty, lovely gliding shapes in the streams, and dreams of grace haunting the groves.
The philosophic study of the ideals of the human race, and the theories of causation it has formed, will show us what the religion of humanity must become to co-ordinate all its faculties; and thus we shall see, in Comte's expressive words, that religion was “first spontaneous, then inspired, and is finally demonstrated;" and, also what Comte did not see, that it is always the same.