Popular Science Monthly/Volume 25/August 1884/Retrogressive Religion
By HERBERT SPENCER.
IN days when dueling was common, and its code of ceremonial well elaborated, a deadly encounter was preceded by a polite salute. Having by his obeisance professed to be his antagonist's very humble servant, each forthwith did his best to run him through the body.
This usage is recalled to me by the contrast between the compliment with which Mr. Harrison begins his article, "The Ghost of Religion," and the efforts he afterward makes to destroy, in the brilliant style habitual with him, all but the negative part of that which he applauds. After speaking with too-flattering eulogy of the mode in which I have dealt with current theological doctrines, he does his best, amid the flashes of wit coming from its polished surface, to pass the sword of his logic through the ribs of my argument, and let out its vital principle—that element in it which is derived from the religious ideas and sentiments that have grown up along with human evolution, but which is inconsistent with the creed Mr. Harrison preaches.
So misleading was the professed agreement with which he commenced his article, that, as I read on, I was some time in awakening to the fact that I had before me not a friend, but, controversially speaking, a determined enemy, who was seeking to reduce, as he would say to a ghostly form, that surviving element of religion which, as I had contended, Agnosticism contains. Even when this dawned on me, the suavity of Mr. Harrison's first manner continued so influential that I entertained no thought of defending myself. It was only after perceiving that what he modestly calls "a rider" was described by one journal as "a criticism keen, trenchant, destructive," while by some other journals kindred estimates of it were formed, that I decided to make a reply as soon as pending engagements allowed.
Recognizing, then, the substance of Mr. Harrison's article as being an unsparing assault on the essential part of that doctrine which I have set forth, I shall here not scruple to defend it in the most effective way I can: not allowing the laudation with which Mr. Harrison prefaces his ridicule, to negative such rejoinders, incisive as I can make them, as will best serve my purpose.
A critic who, in a recent number of the "Edinburgh Review," tells the world in very plain language what he thinks about a book of mine, and who has been taken to task by the editor of "Knowledge" for his injustice, refers to Mr. Harrison (whom he describes in felicitous phrase as looking at me from "a very opposite pole") as being, on one
point, in agreement with him. But for this reference it would not have occurred to me to associate in thought Mr. Harrison's criticisms with those of the Edinburgh Reviewer; but now that comparison is suggested, I am struck by the fact that Mr. Harrison's representations of my views diverge from the realities no less widely than those of a critic whose antagonism is unqualified, and whose animus is displayed in his first paragraph.
So anxious is Mr. Harrison to show that the doctrine he would discredit has no kinship to the doctrines called religious, that he will not allow me, without protest, to use the language needed for conveying my meaning. The expression "an Infinite and Eternal Energy from which all things proceed," he objects to as being "perhaps a rather equivocal reversion to the theologic type;" and he says this because "in the Athanasian Creed the Third Person 'proceeds' from the First and the Second." It is hard that I should be debarred from thus using the word by this preceding use. Perhaps Mr. Harrison will be surprised to learn that, as originally written, the expression ran—"an Infinite and Eternal Energy by which all things are created and sustained; "and that in the proof I struck out the last clause because, though the words did not express more than I meant, the ideas associated with them might mislead, and there might result such an insinuation as that which Mr. Harrison makes. The substituted expression, which embodies my thought in the most colorless way, I can not relinquish because he does not like it—or rather, indeed, because he does not like the thought itself. It is not convenient to him that the Unknowable, which he repeatedly speaks of as a pure negation, should be represented as that through which all things exist. And, indeed, it would be inconvenient for him to recognize this; since the recognition would prevent him from asserting that "none of the positive attributes which have ever been predicated of God can be used of this Energy."
Not only does he, as in the last sentence, negatively misdescribe the character of this Energy, but he positively misdescribes it. He says—"It remains always Energy, Force: nothing anthropomorphic; such as electricity, or anything else that we might conceive as the ultimate basis of all the physical forces." Now, on page 9 of the essay Mr. Harrison criticises, there occurs the sentence—"The final outcome of that speculation commenced by the primitive man, is that, the Power manifested throughout the Universe distinguished as material, is the same power which in ourselves wells up under the form of consciousness;" and on page 11 it is said that "this necessity we are under, to think of the external energy in terms of the internal energy, gives rather a spiritualistic than a materialistic aspect to the Universe." Does he really think that the meaning of these sentences is conveyed by comparing the ultimate energy to "electricity"? And does he think this in face of the statement on page 11 that "phenomenal manifestations of this ultimate energy can in no wise show us what it is?" Surely that which is described as the substratum at once of material and mental existence, bears toward us and toward the Universe, a relation utterly unlike that which electricity bears to the other physical forces.
Persistent thinking along defined grooves, causes inability to get out of them; and Mr. Harrison, in more than one way, illustrates this. So completely is his thought molded to that form of phenomenalism entertained by M. Comte, that, in spite of repeated denials of it, he ascribes it to me; and does this in face of the various presentations of an opposed phenomenalism, which I have given in the article he criticises and elsewhere. Speaking after his lively manner of the Unknown Cause as "an ever-present conundrum to be everlastingly given up," he asks—"How does the man of science approach the All-Nothingness?" Now M. Comte describes Positivism as becoming perfect when it reaches the power to "se représenter tous les divers phénomènes observables comme des cas particuliers d'un seul fait général...considérant comme absolument inaccessible, et vide de sens pour nous, la recherche de ce qu'on appelle les causes, soit premières, soit finales;" and in pursuance of this view the Comtean system limits itself to phenomena, and deliberately ignores the existence of anything implied by the phenomena. But though M. Comte thus exhibits to us a doctrine which, performing "the happy dispatch," eviscerates things and leaves a shell of appearances with no reality inside; yet I have in more than one place, and in the most emphatic way, declined thus to commit intellectual suicide. So far from regarding that which transcends phenomena as the "All-Nothingness," I regard it as the All-Being. Everywhere I have spoken of the Unknowable as the Ultimate Reality—the sole existence: all things present to consciousness being but shows of it. Mr. Harrison entirely inverts our relative positions. As I understand the case, the "All-Nothingness" is that phenomenal existence in which M. Comte and his disciples profess to dwell—profess, I say, because in their ordinary thoughts they recognize an existence transcending phenomena just as much as other people do.
That the opposition between the view actually held by me and the view ascribed to me by Mr. Harrison, is absolute, will be most clearly seen on observing the contrast he draws between my view and the view of the late Dean Mansel. He says:—
Of all modern theologians, the Dean came the nearest to the evolution negation. But there is a gulf which separates even his all-negative deity from Mr. Spencer's impersonal, uncouscious, unthinking, and unthinkable energy.
It is quite true that there exists this gulf. But then the propositions forming the two sides of the gulf are the opposites of those which Mr. Harrison represents. For whereas, in common with his teacher Sir William Hamilton, Dean Mansel alleged that our consciousness of the Absolute is merely "a negation of conceivability;" I have, over a space of ten pages, contended that our consciousness of the Absolute is not negative but positive, and is the one indestructible element of consciousness "which persists at all times, under all circumstances, and can not cease until consciousness ceases"—have argued that while the Power which transcends phenomena can not be brought within the forms of our finite thought, yet that, as being a necessary datum of every thought, belief in its existence has, among our beliefs, the highest validity of any; is not, as Sir W. Hamilton alleges, a belief with which we are supernaturally "inspired," but is a normal deliverance of consciousness. Thus, as represented by Mr. Harrison, Dean Mansel's views and my own are exactly transposed. Misrepresentation could not, I think, go further.
The conception I have everywhere expressed and implied, of the relation between human life and the Ultimate Cause, if not diametrically opposed with like distinctness to the conception Mr. Harrison ascribes to me, is yet thus opposed in an unmistakable way. After suggesting that (xn) would be an appropriate symbol "for the religion of the Infinite Unknowable," and amusing himself and his readers by imaginary prayers made to (xn); after making a subsequent elaboration of his jeu d'esprit by suggesting that (nx) would serve for the formula of certain modern Theisms, he says of these:—
The Neo-Theisms have all the same mortal weakness that the Unknowable has. They offer no kinship, sympathy, or relation whatever between worshiper and worshiped. They, too, are logical formulas begotten in controversy, dwelling apart from man and the world.
Now, considering that in the article he has before him there is in various ways implied the view that "the power which manifests itself in consciousness is but a differently conditioned form of the power which manifests itself beyond consciousness"—considering that here and everywhere throughout my books the implication is that our lives, alike physical and mental, in common with all the activities, organic and inorganic, amid which we live, are but the workings of this Power, it is not a little astonishing to find it described as simply a "logical formula begotten in controversy." Does Mr. Harrison really think that he represents the facts when he describes as "dwelling apart from man and the world," that Power of which man and the world are regarded products, and which is manifested through man and the world from instant to instant?
Did I not need the space for other topics, I might at much greater length contrast Mr. Harrison's erroneous versions with the true ones. I might enlarge on the fact that, though the name Agnosticism fitly expresses the confessed inability to know or conceive the nature of the Power manifested through phenomena, it fails to indicate the confessed ability to recognize the existence of that Power as of all things the most certain. I might make clear the contrast between that Comtean Agnosticism which says that "Theology and ontology alike end in the Everlasting No with which science confronts all their assertions," and the Agnosticism set forth in "First Principles," which, along with its denials, emphatically utters an Everlasting Yes. And I might show in detail that Mr. Harrison is wrong in implying that Agnosticism, as I hold it, is anything more than silent with respect to the question of personality; since, though the attributes of personality, as we know it, can not be conceived by us as attributes of the Unknown Cause of things, yet "duty requires us neither to affirm nor deny personality," but "to submit ourselves with all humility to the established limits of our intelligence" in the conviction that the choice is not "between personality and something lower than personality," but "between personality and something higher," and that "the Ultimate Power is no more representable in terms of human consciousness than human consciousness is representable in terms of a plant's functions."
But without further evidence, what I have said sufficiently proves that Mr. Harrison's "criticism keen, trenchant, destructive," as it was called, is destructive, not of an actual doctrine, but simply of an imaginary one. I should hardly have expected that Mr. Harrison, in common with the "Edinburgh Reviewer," would have taken the course, so frequent with critics, of demolishing a simulacrum and walking off in triumph as though the reality had been demolished. Adopting his own figure, I may say that he has with ease passed his weapon through and through "The Ghost of Religion;" but then it is only the ghost: the reality stands unscathed.
Before passing to the consideration of that alternative doctrine which Mr. Harrison would have us accept, it will be well briefly to deal with certain of his subordinate propositions.
After re-stating in a succinct way, the hypothesis that from the conception of the ghost originated the conceptions of supernatural beings in general, including the highest, and after saying that "one can hardly suppose that Mr. Spencer would limit himself to that," Mr. Harrison describes what he alleges to be a prior, and, indeed, the primordial, form of religion. He says:—
The attitude of discipleship is not favorable to inquiry; and, as fanatical Christians show us, inquiry is sometimes thought sinful and likely to bring punishment. I do not suppose that Mr. Harrison's reverence for M. Comte has gone this length; but still it has gone far enough not only to cause his continued adherence to a doctrine espoused by M. Comte which has been disproved, but also to make him tacitly assume that this doctrine is accepted by one whose rejection of it was long ago set forth. In the "Descriptive Sociology" there are classified and tabulated statements concerning some eighty peoples; and besides these I have had before me masses of facts, since collected, concerning many other peoples. An induction based on over a hundred examples, warrants me in saying that there has never existed anywhere such a religion as that which Mr. Harrison ascribes to "countless millions of men" during "countless centuries of time." A chapter on "Idol-worship and Fetich-worship "in the "Principles of Sociology," gives proof that in the absence of a developed ghost-theory, fetichism is absent. I have shown that, whereas among the lowest races, such as the Juangs, Andamanese, Fuegians, Australians, Tasmanians, and Bushmen, there is no fetichism; fetichism reaches its greatest height in considerably-advanced societies, like those of ancient Peru and modern India: in which last place, as Sir Alfred Lyall tells us, "not only does the husbandman pray to his plow, the fisher to his net, the weaver to his loom, but the scribe adores his pen, and the banker his account-books. And I have remarked that, "had fetichism been conspicuous among the lowest races, and inconspicuous among the higher, the statement that it was primordial might have been held proved; but that as the facts happen to be exactly the opposite, the statement is conclusively disproved."
Similarly with Nature-worship: regarding this as being partially distinguished from Fetichism by the relatively imposing character of its objects. In a subsequent chapter I have shown that this also, is an aberrant development of ghost-worship. Among all the many tribes and nations, remote in place and unlike in type, whose superstitions I have examined, I have found no case in which any great natural appearance or power, feared and propitiated, was not identified with a human or quasi-human personality. I am not aware that Professor Max Müller, or any adherent of his, has been able to produce a single case in which there exists worship of the great natural objects themselves, pure and simple—the heavens, the sun, the moon, the dawn, etc.: objects which, according to the mythologists, become personalized by "a disease of language." Personalization exists at the outset; and the worship is in all cases the worship of an indwelling ghost-derived being.
That these conclusions are necessitated by an exhaustive examination of the evidence, is shown by the fact that they have been forced on Dr. E. B. Tylor notwithstanding his original enunciation of other conclusions. In a lecture "On Traces of the Early Mental Condition of Man," delivered at the Royal Institution on the 15th of March, 1867, he said:—
It is well known that the lower races of mankind account for the facts and events of the outer world by ascribing a sort of human life and personality to animals, and even to plants, rocks, streams, winds, the sun and stars, and so on through the phenomena of nature.... It would probably add to the clearness of our conception of the state of mind which thus sees in all nature the action of animated life and the presence of innumerable spiritual beings, if we gave it the name of Animism instead of Fetichism.
Here, having first noted that the conception of Fetichism derived by Dr. Tylor from multitudinous facts, is not like that of Mr. Harrison, who conceives Fetichism to be a worship of the objects themselves, and not a worship of their indwelling spirits, we further note that Dr. Tylor regards this ascription of souls to all objects, inanimate as well as animate, which he proposes to call Animism rather than Fetichism, as being primordial. In the earlier part of his "Primitive Culture," published in 1871, we find a re-statement of this view; but further on we observe a modification of it, as instance the following sentence in vol. ii, p. 100.
It seems as though the conception of a human soul, when once attained to by man, served as a type or model on which he framed not only his ideas of other souls of lower grade, but also his ideas of spiritual beings in general, from the tiniest elf that sports in the long grass, up to the heavenly Creator and Ruler of the world, the Great Spirit.
And then, in articles published in "Mind" for April and for July, 1877, Dr. Tylor represented himself as holding a doctrine identical with that set forth by me in the "Principles of Sociology"; namely, that the belief in a human ghost is original, and that the beliefs in spirits inhabiting inanimate objects, giving rise to Fetichism and Nature-worship, are derived beliefs.
An emphatic negative is thus given to Mr. Harrison's assertion that "Nothing is more certain than that man everywhere started with a simple worship of natural objects." And if he holds that "the bearing of this on the future of religion is decisive"—if, as he says, "the religion of man in the vast cycles of primitive ages was reverence for nature as influencing Man," and if, as he infers, "the religion of man in the vast cycles that are to come will be the reverence for Humanity as supported by Nature"—if, as it thus seems, primitive religion as conceived by him is a basis for what he conceives to be the religion of the future; then his conception of the religion of the future is, in so far, baseless.
And now I come to the chief purpose of this article—an examination of that alternative faith which Mr. Harrison has on sundry occasions set forth with so much eloquence. As originally designed, the essay, "Religion: a Retrospect and Prospect," was to include a section in which, before considering what the future of religion was likely to be, I proposed to consider what its future was not likely to be; and the topic to be dealt with in this section was the so-called Religion of Humanity. After collecting materials and writing ten pages, I began to perceive that, besides being not needful for my purpose, this section would form too large an excrescence. A further feeling came into play. Though I had for many years looked forward to the time when an examination of the Positivist creed would fall within the lines of my work, yet when I began to put on paper that which I had frequently thought, it seemed to me that I was making an uncalled-for attack on men whom I had every reason to admire for their high characters and their unwearying efforts for human welfare. The result was that I put aside what I had written, and gave up my long-cherished intention. Now, however, that Mr. Harrison has thrown down the gauntlet, I take it up, at once willingly and unwillingly—willingly in so far as acceptance of the challenge is concerned, unwillingly because I feel some reluctance in dealing hard blows at a personal friend.
Surprise has been the feeling habitually produced in me on observing the incongruity between the astounding claims made by the propounder of this new creed, and the great intelligence of disciples whose faith appears proof against the shock which these astounding claims produce on ordinary minds. Those who, from a broad view of human progress, have gained the general impression that "The individual withers, and the world is more and more," must be disinclined to believe that in the future any one individual will impose on the world a government like that sought to be imposed by M. Comte; who, unable to influence any considerable number of men while he lived, consoled himself with the thought of absolutely ruling all men after his death. Met, as he complained, by "a conspiracy of silence," he was nevertheless confident that, very shortly becoming converts, mankind at large would hereafter live and move and have their being within his elaborated formulas. Papal assumption is modest compared with the assumption of "the founder of the religion of Humanity." A single pope may canonize a saint or two; but M. Comte undertook the canonization of all those men recorded in history whom he thought specially worthy of worship. And such a canonization!—days assigned for the remembrance with honor of mythical personages like Hercules and Orpheus, and writers such as Terence and Juvenal; other days on which honors, like in degree, are given to Kant and to Robertson, to Bernard de Palissy and to Schiller, to Copernicus and to Dollond, to Otway and to Racine, to Locke and to Fréret, to Froissart and to Dalton, to Cyrus and to Penn—such a canonization! in which these selected men who are the Positivist saints for ordinary days, are headed by greater saints for Sundays; with the result that Socrates and Godfrey are thus placed on a par; that while a day is dedicated to Kepler, a week is dedicated to Gall; Tasso has a week assigned to him, and Goethe a day; Mozart presides over a week, and a day is presided over by Beethoven; a week is made sacred to Louis the Eleventh, and a day to Washington—such a canonization! under which the greatest men, giving their names to months, are so selected that Frederic the Second and St. Paul alike bear this distinction; Gutemberg and Shakespeare head adjacent months; and while Bichat gives his name to a month, Newton gives his name to a week! This, which recalls the saints' calendar of the Babylonians, among whom, as Professor Sayce shows, "each day of the year had been assigned to its particular deity or patron saint," exemplifies in but one way M. Comte's consuming passion for regulating posterity, and the colossal vanity which led him to believe that mankind would hereafter perform their daily actions as he dictated. He not only settles the hierarchy of saints who are above others to be worshiped, but he prescribes the forms of worship in minute detail. Nine sacraments are specified; prayer is to be made thrice a day; for the "daily expression of their emotions both in public and private" it is suggested that future men should use Italian; and it is a recommended "rule of worship" of the person you adore, that "a precise idea of the place, next of the seat or the attitude, and, lastly, of the dress, appropriate to each particular case," should be summoned before the mind. Add to which that in the elaborate rubric the sacred sign (replacing the sign of the cross) and derived "from our cerebral theory" (he had a phrenology of his own) consists in placing "our hand in succession on the three chief organs—those of love, order, and progress." Of banners used in "solemn processions," it is directed that "on their white side will be the holy image; on their green, the sacred formula of Positivism;"and "the symbol of our Divinity will always be a woman of the age of thirty, with her son in her arms." Nor was M. Comte's devouring desire to rule the future satisfied with thus elaborating the observances of his cult. He undertook to control the secular culture of men, as well as that culture which, I suppose, he distinguished as sacred. There is "a Positivist library for the nineteenth century," consisting of 150 volumes: the list being compiled for the purpose "of guiding the more thoughtful minds." So that M. Comte's tastes and judgments in poetry, science, history, etc., are to be the standards for future generations. And the numerous regulations of these kinds are in addition to the other multitudinous regulations contained in those parts of the highly elaborated "System of Positive Polity," in which M. Comte prescribes the social organization, under the arrangements of which "the affective, speculative, patrician, and plebeian" classes are to carry on the business of their lives.
It is, I say, not a little remarkable that a height of assumption exceeding that ever before displayed by a human being—a self-deification along with the deification of Humanity—should not have negatived belief in the general doctrines set forth by him. One might have thought that by exhibiting a lack of mental balance unparalleled among sane people, he would have wholly discredited his speculations. However, recognizing the fact that this is not so, and assuming that M. Comte's disciples discover in the Religion of Humanity propounded by him, a truth which survives recognition of his—eccentricities, let us call them—we will now go on to consider this proposed creed.
To those who have studied that natural genesis of religion summarized in the article Mr. Harrison criticises, it will appear anomalous that a proposed new and higher religion should be, in large measure, a rehabilitation of the religion with which mankind commenced, and from which they have been insensibly diverging, until the more advanced among them have quite lost sight of it. After an era during which worship of the dead was practiced all the world over, alike by savages and by the progenitors of the civilized—after an era of slow emergence from this primitive religion, during which the propitiation of ghosts completely human was replaced by the propitiation of comparatively few superhuman ghosts or spirits, and finally by the propitiation of a spirit infinitely transcending humanity, and from which human attributes have been gradually dropped, leaving only the most abstract which are themselves fading; we are told by the Positivists that there is coming an era in which the Universal Power men have come to believe in, will be ignored; and human individualities, regarded now singly and now in their aggregate, will again be the objects of religious feeling. If the worship of the dead is not to be completely resuscitated, still the proposal is to resuscitate it in a form but partially transfigured. Though there is no direction to offer at graves food and drink for ghosts, yet public worship of the so-called "Great Being Humanity," "must be performed in the midst of the tombs of the more eminent dead, which tombs are surrounded by a sacred grove, the scene of the homage paid by their family and their fellow-citizens;" while "at times within each consecrated tomb, the priesthood will" superintend the honoring of the good man or woman: proposed usages analogous to those of many ancestor-worshiping peoples. Moreover, again taking a lesson from various races of pagans, past and present, there is to be "a domestic altar," at which, in kneeling attitude, adoration is to be paid to "our own personal patrons, our guardian angels, or household gods:" these being persons living or dead. And as exemplified by M. Comte's worship of Clotilde de Vaux, the praying to a beloved person or wife may be continued for years; recalling the customs of multitudinous peoples who invoke departed members of their families, as instance the Balonda, among whom if the "spot where a favorite wife has died,"... "is revisited, it is to pray to her."
Now omitting for the present all thought about the worthiness of these objects of worship, and considering only the general nature of the system, there arises the question—How happens it that while in other respects M. Comte delineates human evolution as progressive, he, in this respect, delineates it as retrogressive? Beyond all question civilization has been a gradual divergence from primitive savagery. According to his own account, the advance in social organization, in knowledge, in science, in art, presents a certain general continuity. Even in speculative thought, M. Comte's formula of the three stages, the theological, the metaphysical, and the positive, tacitly asserts movements in the same direction toward a final theory. How happens it, then, that with an advancing change in other things, there is to occur a retreating change in one thing?—along with progression in all else, retrogression in religion?
This retrogressive character of the Comtean religion is shown in sundry other ways—being, indeed, sometimes distinctly admitted or avowed. Thus we are told that "the domain of the priesthood must be reconstituted in its integrity; medicine must again become a part of it," as from savage life upward it was until modern times. Again, education has been slowly emancipating itself from ecclesiasticism; but in M. Comte's scheme, after the sacrament of initiation, the child passes "from its unsystematic training under the eye of its mother to the systematic education given by the priesthood;" just as, after a parallel ceremony, the child does among the Congo people, and as it did among the ancient Mexicans. And knowingly or unknowingly, M. Comte followed the lead of the Egyptians who had a formal judging of the dead by the living: honorable burial was allowed by them only in the absence of accusations against the deceased proved before judges; and by M. Comte it is provided that after a prescribed interval, the priesthood shall decide whether the remains shall be transferred from their probationary resting-place to "the sacred wood" reserved for the "sanctified." Most remarkable of all, however, is the reversion to an early type of religious belief in the prescribed worship of objects, animate and inanimate. In "Table A, System of Sociolatry," there are times named for the "Festival of the Animals," "Festival of Fire," "Festival of the Sun," "Festival of Iron," etc.
But now, passing over M. Comte's eccentricities and inconsistencies, let us consider on its merits the creed he enunciated. In addition to private worship of guardian angels or household gods, there is to be a public worship of the "Great Being Humanity." How are we to conceive this Great Being? Various conceptions of it are possible; and more or less unlike conceptions are at one time or other presented to us. Let us look at them in succession.
By M. Comte himself, at page 74 of the "Catechism of Positive Religion," we are told that we must—
define Humanity as the whole of human beings, past, present, and future. The word whole points out clearly that you must not take in all men, but those only who are really capable of assimilation, in virtue of a real co-operation on their part in furthering the common good.
On which the first comment suggesting itself is that the word "whole points out clearly" not limitation, but absence of limitation. Passing over this, however, and agreeing to exclude, as is intended, criminals, paupers, beggars, and all who "remain in the parasitic state," it seems that we are to include in the aggregate object of our worship, all who have aided, now aid, and will hereafter aid, social growth and development. Though elsewhere it is limited to those who "co-operate willingly," yet since "the animals which voluntarily aid man" are recognized as "integral portions of the Great Being," and since the co-operation of slaves is as "voluntary" as that of horses, we seem compelled to include, not the superior men and classes only, but even those who, under a coercion such as is used to domestic animals, have helped to subdue the Earth and further the material progress of Humanity. And since the progress of Humanity has been largely aided by the spread of the higher races and accompanying extermination of the lower races, we must comprehend in our conception of this worshipful Great Being all those who, from the earliest savage times, have, as leading warriors and common soldiers, helped by their victories to replace inferior societies by superior ones; not only bloodthirsty conquerors like Sesostris (who is duly sanctified in the calendar) but even such cannibals as the Aztecs, who laid the basis of the Mexican civilization.
So far from seeing in the "Great Being Humanity," as thus defined, anything worshipful, it seems to me that contemplation of it is calculated to excite feelings which it is best to keep out of consciousness.
But now, not to take the doctrine at a disadvantage, let us conceive the object of the Positivist's adoration under a better aspect. Let us consider what claims to godhood may be made for the Humanity immediately known to us. Unquestionably M. Comte's own doctrine, that there has been going on an evolution of mankind, implies that such portion of the "Great Being Humanity" as is formed by our own generation, is better than the average of those portions which have heretofore lived and died. What then shall we say of this better portion?
Of course we must keep out of thought all the bad conduct going on around—the prevailing dishonesty shown in adulteration by retailers and production of debased goods by manufacturers, the inefficient and dawdling work of artisans, the many fraudulent transactions of which a few are daily disclosed at trials; though why we are to exclude the blameworthy from our conception of Humanity, I do not understand. But not dwelling on this, let us contemplate first the intellectual traits, and then the moral traits, of the people who remain after leaving out the worse.
Those whose mental appetites are daily satisfied by table talk almost wholly personal, by gossiping books and novels, and by newspapers the contents of which are usually enjoyed the more in proportion as there is in them much of the scandalous or the horrible—those who, on Sunday, never working out their own beliefs, receive the weekly dole of thought called for by their state of spiritual pauperism—those who, to the ideas they received during education, add only such as are supplied by daily journals and weekly sermons, with now and then a few from books, having none of their own worth speaking of; we may be content to class as respectable in the conventional sense, though scarcely in any higher sense—still less to include them as chief components in a body exciting reverence. Even if we limit attention to those of highest culture, including all who are concerned in regulative functions, political, ecclesiastical, educational, or other, the displays of intelligence do not call forth such an emotion as that which M. Comte's theory requires us to entertain. What shall we say of the wisdom of those, including nearly all who occupy influential positions, who persist in thinking that preparation for successful and complete living (which is the purpose of rational education) is best effected by learning to speak and write after the manner of two extinct peoples, and by gaining knowledge of their chief men, their superstitions, their deeds of war, etc.—who, in their leading school, devote two hours per week to getting some ideas about the constitution of the world they are born into, and thirty-six hours per week to construing Latin and Greek and making verses, nonsensical or other; and who, in the competitive examinations they devise, give to knowledge of words double the number of marks which they give to knowledge of things? That, it seems to me, is not a very worshipful degree of intelligence which fails to recognize the obvious truth that there is an Order of Nature, pervading alike the actions going on within us and without us, to which, from moment to moment, our lives must conform under penalty of one or other evil; and that therefore our first business must be to study this Order of Nature. Nor is estimation of this intelligence raised on contemplating the outcome of this established culture, as seen in Parliament; where any proposal to judge a question by reference to general laws, or "abstract principles" as they are called, is pooh-poohed, with the tacit implication that in social affairs there is no natural law; and where, as we lately saw, 300 select spokesmen of the nation cheered frantically when it was decided that they should continue to vow before God that they would maintain certain arrangements prescribed for them by their great, great, great, etc. grandfathers.
On turning to the moral manifestations, we find still less that is calculated to excite the required religious feeling. When multitudes of citizens belonging to the classes distinguished as "the better," make a hero of a politician whose sole aim throughout life was success, regardless of principle, and have even established an annual commemoration of him, we are obliged to infer that the prevailing sentiments are not of a very high order. Nothing approaching to adoration is called forth by those who, on the death of a youth who went to help in killing Zulus, with whom he had no quarrel, and all that he might increase his chance of playing despot over the French, thought him worthy of high funeral honors—would, many of them, indeed, have given him the highest. No feeling of reverence arises in one's mind on thinking of people who looked on with approval or tolerance when a sailor of fortune, who has hired himself out to an eastern tyrant to slay at the word of command, was honored here by a banquet. A public opinion which recognizes no criminality in wholesale homicide so long as it is committed by a constituted political authority, no matter how vile, or by its foreign hired agent who is indifferent to the right or wrong of the question at issue, is a public opinion which excites, in some at any rate, an emotion nearer to contempt than to adoration.
This emotion is not changed on looking abroad and contemplating the implied natures of those who guide, and the implied natures of those who accept the guidance. When, among a people professing that religion of peace preached to them generation after generation by tens of thousands of priests, an assembly receives with enthusiasm, as lately at the Gambetta dinner, the toast, "The French army, the highest embodiment of the French nation"—when, along with nominal acceptance of forgiveness as a Christian duty, there goes intense determination to retaliate; we are obliged to reprobate either the feeling which they actually think proper, or the hypocrisy with which they profess that the opposite feeling is proper. On finding in another advanced society that the seats of highest culture are seats of discipline in barbarism, where the test of manhood is the giving and taking of wounds in fights arising from trivial causes or none at all, and where, last year, a single day witnessed twenty-one such encounters in one university; we are reminded more of North American Indians, among whom tortures constitute the initiation of young men, than of civilized people taught for a thousand years to do good even to enemies. Or when we see, as lately in a nation akin to the last, that an officer who declined to break at once the law of his country and the law of his religion by fighting a duel, was expelled the army; we are obliged to admit that profession of a creed which forbids revenge, by those whose deeds emphatically assert revenge to be a duty (almost as emphatically as do the lowest races of men), presents Humanity under an aspect not at all of the kind which we look for in "the adorable Great Being." Not reverence, not admiration, scarcely even respect, is caused by the sight of a hundred million Pagans masquerading as Christians.
I am told that by certain of M. Comte's disciples (though not by those Mr. Harrison represents) prayer is addressed to "holy" Humanity. Had I to choose an epithet, I think "holy" is about the last which would occur to me.
"But it is only the select human beings—those more especially who are sanctified in the Comtist calendar—who are to form the object of worship; and, for the worship of such, there is the reason that they are the benefactors to whom we owe everything."
On the first of these statements, made by some adherents of M. Comte, one remark must be that it is at variance with M. Comte's own definition of the object of worship, as quoted above; and another remark must be that, admitting such select persons to be worshipful (and I do not admit it), there is no more reason for worshiping Humanity as a whole on the strength of these best samples, than there is for worshiping an ordinary individual, or even a criminal, on the strength of the few good actions which qualified the multitudinous indifferent actions and bad actions he committed. The second of these statements, that Humanity, either as the whole defined by M. Comte or as represented by these select persons, must be adored as being the producer of everything which civilization has brought us, and, in a measure, even the creator of our higher powers of thought and action, we will now consider. Let us hear M. Comte himself on this point:
Thus each step of sound training in positive thought awakens perpetual feelings of veneration and gratitude; which rise often into enthusiastic admiration of the Great Being, who is the author of all these conquests, he they in thought, or be they in action.
What may have been the conceptions of "veneration and gratitude" entertained by M. Comte, we can not, of course, say; but if any one not a disciple will examine his consciousness, he will, I think, quickly perceive that veneration or gratitude felt toward any being, implies belief in the conscious action of that being—implies ascription of a prompting motive of a high kind, and deeds resulting from it: gratitude can not be entertained toward something which is unconscious. So that the "Great Being Humanity" must be conceived as having in its incorporated form, ideas, feelings, and volitions. Naturally there follows the inquiry—"Where is its seat of consciousness?" Is it diffused throughout mankind at large? That can not be; for consciousness is an organized combination of mental states, implying instantaneous communications such as certainly do not exist throughout Humanity. Where, then, must be its center of consciousness? In France, of course, which, in the Comtean system, is to be the leading State; and naturally in Paris, to which all the major axes of the temples of Humanity are to point. Any one with adequate humor might raise amusing questions respecting the constitution of that consciousness of the Great Being supposed to be thus localized. But, preserving our gravity, we have simply to recognize the obvious truth that Humanity has no corporate consciousness whatever. Consciousness, known to each as existing in himself, is ascribed by him to other beings like himself, and, in a measure, to inferior beings; and there is not the slightest reason for supposing that there ever was, is now, or ever will be, any consciousness among men save that which exists in them individually. If, then, "the Great Being, who is the Author of all these conquests," is unconscious, the emotions of veneration and gratitude are absolutely irrelevant.
It will doubtless seem a paradox to say that human evolution with all its marvels, is to be credited neither to Humanity as an aggregate, nor to its component individuals; but the paradox will not be difficult to justify: especially if we set out with some analogies. An apt one is supplied by that "thing of beauty," the Euplectella or "Venus' flower-basket," now not uncommon as a drawing-room ornament. This fragile piece of animal architecture is not a product of any conscious creature, or of any combination of conscious creatures. It is the framework unknowingly elaborated by innumerable ciliated monads—each a simple nucleated cell, with a whip-like appendage which serves, by its waving movements, to aid the drawing in and sending out of sea-water, from which nutritive matter is obtained; and it is simply by the proclivities which these monads have toward certain modes of growth and secretion, that they form, without the consciousness of any one, or of all, this complicated city they inhabit. Again, take the case of a coral island. By it we are shown that a multitude of insignificant individuals may, by their separate actions carried on without concert, generate a structure imposing by its size and stability. One of these palm-covered atolls standing up out of vast depths in the Pacific, has been slowly built up by coral-polyps, while, through successive small stages, the ocean-bottom has subsided. The mass produced by these brainless and almost nerveless animals—each by its tentacles slowly drawing in such food as the water occasionally brings, and at intervals budding out, plant-like, a new individual—is a mass exceeding in vastness any built by men, and defies the waves in a way which their best breakwaters fail to do: the whole structure being entirely undesigned, and, indeed, absolutely unknown to its producers, individually or in their aggregate.
Prepared by these analogies, every one will see what is meant by the paradox that civilization, whether contemplated in its great organized societies or in their material and mental products, can be credited neither to any ideal "Great Being Humanity," nor to the real beings summed up under that abstract name. Though we can not in this case say that neither the aggregate nor its units have had any consciousness of the results wrought out, yet we may say that only after considerable advances of civilization, has this consciousness existed on the part of a few. Communities have grown and organized themselves through the attainment of private ends, mostly pursued with entire selfishness, and in utter ignorance of any social effects produced. If we begin with those early stages in which, among hostile tribes, one more numerous or better led than the rest, conquers them, and, consolidating them into a larger society, at the same time stops inter-tribal wars; we are shown that this step in advance is made, not only without thought of any advantage to Humanity, but often under the promptings of the basest motives in the mind of the most atrocious savage. And so onward. It needs but to glance at such wall-paintings as those of the conquering Rameses at Karnac, or to read the inscriptions in which Assyrian kings proudly narrated their great deeds, to see that personal ambitions were pursued with absolute disregard of human welfare. But for that admiration of military glory with which classical culture imbues each rising generation, it would be felt that whatever benefits these kings unknowingly wrought, their self-praising records have brought them not much more honor than has been brought to the Fijian king Tanoa by the row of nine hundred stones recording the number of victims he devoured. And though the outcome of those struggles for supremacy in which, during European history, so many millions have been sacrificed, has been the formation of great nations fitted for the highest types of structure; yet when, hereafter, opinion is no longer swayed by public-school ethics, it will be seen that the men who effected these unions did so from desires which should class them with criminals rather than with the benefactors of mankind. With governmental organizations it was the same as with social consolidations: they arose not to secure the blessings of order, but to maintain the ruler's power. As the original motive for preventing quarrels among soldiers was that the army might not be rendered inefficient before the enemy, so, throughout the militant society at large, the motive for suppressing conflicts was partly that of preventing hindrance to the king's wars, and partly that of asserting his authority. Administration of justice, as we know it, grew up incidentally; and began with bribing the ruling man to interfere on behalf of the complainant. Not wishes for the public weal, but wishes for private profit and power, originated the regulative organizations of societies. So has it been, too, with their industrial organizations. Acts of barter between primitive men were not prompted by thoughts of benefits to Humanity, to be eventually achieved by division of labor. When, as among various peoples, on occasions of assembling to make sacrifices at sacred places, some of the devotees took with them commodities likely to be wanted by others who would be there, and from whom needful supplies could be got in exchange, they never dreamed that they were making the first steps toward establishment of fairs, and eventually of markets: purely selfish desires prompted them. Nor on the part of the peddlers who, supplying themselves wholesale at these gatherings, traveled about selling retail, was there any beneficent intention of initiating that vast and elaborate distributing system which now exists. Neither they nor any men of their time had imagined such a system. And the like holds of improved arts, of inventions, and, in large measure, of discoveries. It was not philanthropy which prompted the clearing of wild lands for the purpose of growing food; it was not philanthropy which little by little improved the breeds of animals, and adapted them to human use; it was not philanthropy which in the course of time changed the primitive plow into the finished modern plow. Wishes for private satisfactions were the exclusive stimuli. The successive patents taken out by Watt, and his lawsuits in defense of them, show that though he doubtless foresaw some of the benefits which the steam-engine would confer on mankind, yet foresight of these was not the prime mover of his acts. The long concealment of the method of fluxions by Newton, as well as the Newton-Leibnitz controversy which subsequently arose, show us that while there was perception of the benefits to science, and indirectly to Humanity, from the discoveries made by these mathematicians, yet that desires to confer these benefits were secondary to other desires—largely the love of scientific exploration itself, and, in a considerable degree, "the last infirmity of noble minds." Nor has it been otherwise with literature. Entirely dissenting, though I do, from the dictum of Johnson, that "No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money," and knowing perfectly well that many books have been written by others than "blockheads," not only without expectation of profit, but with the certainty of loss; yet I hold it clear that the majority of authors do not differ from other men to the extent that the desire to confer public benefit predominates over the desire to reap private benefit; in the shape of satisfied ambition if not in the shape of pecuniary return. And it is the same with the delights given to mankind by artistic products. The mind of the artist, whether composer, painter, or sculptor, has always been in a much greater degree occupied by the pleasure of creation and the thoughts of reward, material or mental, than by the wish to add to men's gratifications.
But we are most clearly shown how little either any aims of an ideal "Great Being," or any philanthropic aims of individuals, have had to do with civilization, by an instance which M. Comte himself refers to as proving our indebtedness. He says: "Language alone might suffice to recall to the mind of every one how completely every creation of man, is the result of a vast combination of efforts, equally extended over time and space." Now nothing is more manifest than that language has been produced neither by the conscious efforts of the imagined "Great Being, who is the Author of all these conquests," nor by the conscious efforts of individual men. Passing over that intentional coining of words which occurs during the later stages of linguistic progress, it is undeniable that during those earlier stages which gave to languages their essential structures and vocabularies, the evolutionary process went on without the intention of those who were instrumental to it. The man who first, when discussing a probability, said give (i.e. grant, or admit), so-and-so, and such and such follows, had no idea that by his metaphorical give (which became gif and then if) he was helping to initiate a grammatical form. The original application of the word orange to some object like an orange in color, was made without consciousness that the act would presently lead to enrichment of the language by an additional adjective. And so throughout. The minute additions and modifications which have, in thousands of years, given to human speech its present perfection, arose as random changes without thought of improvement; and the good ones insensibly spread as serving better the purposes of those who adopted them.
Thus, accepting M. Comte's typical instance of the obligations under which Humanity during the past has placed individuals at present, we must say that language, having been evolved during men's intercourse without the least design on their parts of conferring benefits, and without the faintest consciousness of what they were doing, affords no reason whatever for regarding them with that "veneration and gratitude" which he thinks due.
"But surely 'veneration and gratitude' are due somewhere. Surely civilized society, with its complex arrangements and involved processes, its multitudinous material products and almost magical instruments, its language, science, literature, art, must be credited to some agency or other. If the 'Great Being, Humanity,' considered as a whole, has not created it for us—if the individuals who have co-operated in producing it have done so while pursuing their private ends, mostly without consciousness that they were either furthering or hindering human progress, how happens it that such benefits have been achieved, and to what shall we attribute achievement of them?"
To Mr. Harrison, if his allegiance to his master is unqualified, no answer which he will think satisfactory can be given; for M. Comte negatives the recognition of any cause for the existence of human beings and the "Great Being" composed of them. It was one of his strange inconsistencies that, though he held it legitimate to inquire into the evolution of the Solar System (as is shown by his acceptance of the nebular hypothesis), and though he treats of human society as a product of evolution, yet all that region lying between the formation of planets and the origin of primitive man, was interdicted by him. To those, however, who accept the doctrine of organic evolution, either with or without the doctrine of evolution at large, the obvious answer to the above question will be that if "veneration and gratitude" are due at all, they are due to that Ultimate Cause from which Humanity, individually and as a whole, in common with all other things, has proceeded. There is nothing in embodied Humanity but what results from the properties of its units—properties mainly prehistoric, and in a small measure generated by social life. If we ask whence come these properties—these structures and functions, bodily and mental—we must go for our answer to the slow operation of those processes of modification and complication through which, with the aid of surrounding conditions, ever themselves growing more involved, there have been produced the multitudinous organic types, up to the highest. If we persist in putting question beyond question, we are carried back to those more general causes which determined the structure and composition of the Earth during its concentration; and eventually we are carried back to the nebulous mass in which there existed, undistinguished into those concrete forms we now know, the forces out of which all things contained in the Solar System have come, and in which there must have been, as Professor Tyndall expresses it, "the promise and potency of all terrestrial life." Whether we contemplate such external changes as those of stars moving ten miles per second, and those which now in hours, now in years, now in centuries, arrange molecules into a crystal; or whether we contemplate internal changes, arising in us as ideas and feelings, and arising also in the chick which but a few weeks since was a viscid, we are compelled to recognize everywhere an Energy capable of all forms and which has been ever assuming new forms, from the remotest time to which science carries us back down to the passing moment. If we take the highest product of evolution, civilized human society, and ask to what agency all its marvels must be credited, the inevitable answer is—To that Unknown Cause of which the entire Cosmos is a manifestation.
A spectator who, seeing a bubble floating on a great river, had his attention so absorbed by the bubble that he ignored the river—nay, even ridiculed any one who thought that the river out of which the bubble arose and into which it would presently elapse, deserved recognition, would fitly typify a disciple of M. Comte, who, centering all his higher sentiments on Humanity, holds it absurd to let either thought or feeling be occupied with that great stream of Creative Power, unlimited in Space or in Time, of which Humanity is a transitory product. Even if, instead of being the dull leaden-hued thing it is, the bubble Humanity had reached that stage of iridescence of which, happily, a high sample of man or woman sometimes shows us a beginning, it would still owe whatever there was in it of beauty to that Infinite and Eternal Energy out of which Humanity has quite recently emerged, and into which it must, in course of time, subside. As with thousands of lower types of creatures which have severally illustrated the truth that the life and death of the individual prefigure in brief space the life and death of the race, so with this highest type of creature, Man: a beginning and end to Humanity are no less certain than the beginning and end to each human being. And to suppose that this relatively-evanescent form of existence ought to occupy our minds so exclusively as to leave no space for a consciousness of that Ultimate Existence of which it is but one form out of multitudes—an Ultimate Existence which was manifested in infinitely-varied ways before Humanity arose, and will be manifested in infinitely-varied other ways when Humanity has ceased to be, seems very strange—to me, indeed, amazing.
And here this contrast between the positivist view and my own view, equally marked now as it was at first, leads me to ask in what respects the criticisms passed on the article—"Religion: a Retrospect and Prospect" have affected its argument. Many years ago, as also by implication in that article, I contended that while Science shows that we can know phenomena only, its arguments involve no denial of an Existence beyond phenomena. In common with leading scientific men whose opinions are known to me, I hold that it does not bring us to an ultimate negation, as the presentations of my view made by Mr. Harrison and Sir James Stephen imply; and they have done nothing to show that its outcome is negative. Contrariwise, the thesis many years ago maintained by me against thinkers classed as orthodox, and reasserted after this long interval, is that though the nature of the Reality transcending appearances can not be known, yet that its existence is necessarily implied by all we do know—that though no conception of this Reality can be framed by us, yet that an indestructible consciousness of it is the very basis of our intelligence; and I do not find, either in Mr. Harrison's criticisms or in those of Sir James Stephen, any endeavor to prove the untruth of this thesis. Moreover, as originally elaborated and as recently restated, my argument was that in the discovery by Science that it could not do more than ascertain the order among phenomena, there was involved a tacit confession of impotence in presence of the Mystery of Things—a confession which brought Science into sympathy with Religion; and that in their joint recognition of an Unknowable Cause for all the effects constituting the knowable world. Religion and Science would reach a truth common to the two. I do not see that anything said by my critics has shaken this position. I held at the outset, and continue to hold, that this Inscrutable Existence which Science, in the last resort, is compelled to recognize as unreached by its deepest analyses of matter, motion, thought, and feeling, stands toward our general conception of things, in substantially the same relation as does the Creative Power asserted by Theology; and that when Theology, which has already dropped many of the anthropomorphic traits ascribed, eventually drops the last of them, the foundation-beliefs of the two must become identical. So far as I see, no endeavor has been made to show that this is not the case. Further I have contended, originally and in the article named, that this Reality transcending appearance (which is not simply unknown as Mr. Harrison thinks it should be called, but is proved by analysis of the form of our intelligence to be unknowable), standing toward the Universe and toward ourselves in the same relation as an anthropomorphic Creator was supposed to stand, bears a like relation with it not only to human thought but to human feeling: the gradual replacement of a Power allied to humanity in certain traits, by a Power which we can not say is thus allied, leaves unchanged certain of the sentiments comprehended under the name religious. Though I have argued that in ascribing to the Unknowable Cause of things such human attributes as emotion, will, and intelligence, we are using words which, when thus applied, have no corresponding ideas; yet I have also argued that we are just as much debarred from denying as we are from affirming such attributes; since, as ultimate analysis brings us everywhere to alternative impossibilities of thought, we are shown that beyond the phenomenal order of things, our ideas of possible and impossible are irrelevant. Nothing has been said which requires me to change this view: neither Mr. Harrison's statement that "to make a religion out of the Unknowable is far more extravagant than to make it out of the Equator," nor Sir James Stephen's description of the Unknowable as "like a gigantic soap-bubble not burst but blown thinner and thinner till it has become absolutely imperceptible," seems to me applicable. One who says that because the Infinite and Eternal Energy from which all things proceed, can not in any way be brought within the limits of human consciousness it therefore approaches to a nonentity, seems to me like one who says of a vast number that because it passes all possibility of enumeration it is like nothing, which is also innumerable. Once more when implying that the Infinite and Eternal Energy manifested alike within us and without us, and to which we must ascribe not only the manifestations themselves but the law of their order, will hereafter continue to be, under its transfigured form, an object of religious sentiment; I have implied that whatever components of this sentiment disappear, there must ever survive those which are appropriate to the consciousness of a Mystery that can not be fathomed and a Power that is omnipresent. Mr. Harrison and Sir James Stephen have said nothing to invalidate this position. Lastly, let me point out that I am not concerned to show what effect religious sentiment, as hereafter thus modified, will have as a moral agent; though Mr. Harrison, by ridiculing the supposition that it will make good men and women, seems to imply that I have argued, or am bound to argue, that it will do this. If he will refer to the "Data of Ethics" and other books of mine, he will find that modification of human nature, past and future, I ascribe in the main to the continuous operation of surrounding social conditions and entailed habits of life; though past forms of the religious consciousness have exercised, and future forms will I believe exercise, co-operative influences.
How, then, does the case stand? Under "Retrospect," I aimed to show how the religious consciousness arose; and under "Prospect" what of this consciousness must remain when criticism has done its utmost. My opponents would have succeeded had they shown (1) that it did not arise as alleged; or (2) that some other consciousness would remain; or (3) that no consciousness would remain. They have done none of these things. Looking at the general results, it seems to me that while the things I have said have not been disproved, the things which have been disproved are things I have not said.
- Excepting its last section, this article had been written, and part of it sent to the printers, by the 30th of May; and, consequently, before I saw the article of Sir James Stephen, published in the "Nineteenth Century" for June, 1884. Hence the fact that only in its last section have I been able (without undue interruption of my argument) to refer to points in Sir James Stephen's criticism. Concerning his criticism generally, I may remark that it shows me how dangerous it is to present separately, in brief space, conclusions which it has taken a large space to justify. Unhappily, twelve pages do not suffice for adequate exposition of a philosophical system, or even of its bases; and misapprehension is pretty certain to occur if a statement contained in twelve pages is regarded as more than a rude outline. If Sir James Stephen will refer to §§ 49-207 of the "Principles of Sociology," occupying 350 pages, I fancy that instead of seeming to him "weak," the evidence there given of the origin of religious ideas will seem to him very strong; and I venture also to think that if he will refer to "First Principles," §§ 24-26, § 50, §§ 58-61, § 194, and to the "Principles of Psychology," §§ 347-351, he may find that what he thinks "an unmeaning playing with words" has more meaning than appears at first sight.
- "Knowledge," March 14, 1884.
- "Système de Philosophic Positive," vol. i, pp. 5, 14.
- "First Principles," § 26.
- Harrison, loc. cit., p. 497.
- "First Principles," § 81.
- "Essays," vol. iii, p. 251.
- "Religion of an Indian Province."
- "Principles of Sociology," § 162.
- "Records of the Past," vol. vii, p. 157.
- "System of Positive Polity," vol. iv, p. 85.
- "Catechism," p. 100.
- "Catechism of Positivism," pp. 142, 143
- Ibid., p. 88.
- And set forth at length in "The Principles of Sociology," Part I.
- "Positive Polity," vol. iv, p. 139.
- "Catechism," p. 137.
- "Positive Polity," vol. iv, pp. 100, 101.
- Livingstone, "South Africa," p. 314.
- "Catechism," p. 60.
- "Catechism," p. 129.
- Bastian (A.), "Africanische Reisen," p. 85.
- Torquemada (Juan de), "Monarquia Indiana," book ix, chaps, xi to xiii.
- "Catechism," p. 427.
- "System of Positive Polity," vol. ii, p. 45.
- "Positive Polity," vol. ii, p. 48.
- "First Principles," § 26.
- Sir James Stephen, who appears perplexed by the distinction between a conception and a consciousness, will find an explanation of it in "First Principles," § 26.
- "First Principles," Part I, chapter iv.
- "First Principles," § 31.
- "Data of Ethics," § 62.