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anything may be done in the way of word-building and logomachy, nothing can be done in the way of coming at truth. What is put into them at first by him who uses them may be, so often as he will, taken out of them again; but in all the process of shortening and elongating the contents no new substance of information is gained.
Should Mr. Mansel or any one else succeed in disproving the authority of the positive contents of consciousness to testify to objective truth about God, he would overthrow the rational grounds of religion. No refuge of faith would save the case ; for the act and faculty of faith must establish themselves by the very authority which has been discredited. It is not juggling with abstract terms, but faithful criticism of all the contents of the soul, which is needed in dealing with these difficulties.
The entire discussion increases our conviction that there is with man positive truth about God. To this convictionHegel while asserting a philosophy which finds the Absolute in the very process of thought itself, Mansel while denying to all philosophy the power to establish the objective validity of this process in which Hegel found the Absolute, Spencer while laying again the foundations of a philosophy in which the Absolute is known only as the Unknowable, “writ large” — all alike contribute elements of strength.
In dealing, then, with the second class of difficulties, we may begin our work of criticism with the conviction that certain positive and definite contents of consciousness correspond to all the elements in the great concept of God. The work will raise this conviction to the dignity of the postulate which really underlies all attempts at philosophical criticism of this concept.
The work is such as to demand criticism which is both metaphysical and complete — in the meanings of these adjectives which subsequent discussion will explain.
Metaphysical criticism of the difficulties of the concept of God is that which examines the concept, to find what elements of objective validity are in it which distinguishes the
accidental from the necessary, and which tests the ground upon which the so-called necessary rests.
And the criticism of this concept must be what I have called complete, as well as metaphysical. It must be such criticism as recognizes all the phenomena, and makes the self-conscious effort to adjust the relative weight to which are entitled the elements contributed by all the various parts of the soul. The soul of man is the organon of the divine self-revelation. The criticism of those difficulties of the revelation which are due to the constitution of this organon requires, then, a thorough knowledge of the human soul, so far as psychology at present furnishes the knowledge. Not only the grounds and objective validity of the soul's necessary truths must be tested ; but the activities of the soul in their manifoldness, the relations of reciprocity, harmony, and what I may call supplemental quality must be taken constantly into the account. It must not be permitted that intellect ride out of its sphere and over-ride feeling. Feeling must not be allowed to nauseate rationality by taking it upon its unsteady boat and over the disturbed seas of its changeful voyage. Yet must it be remembered that there is eternal verity in feeling, and criticism can detect it. There are truths wrapped up in the heart's embrace through all the centuries of human life, and gentle, heartfelt philosophy can disentangle them. Complete criticism will also recognize and aver the sphere of faith, and as well of freedom. It will consider how in faith the soul not only lays all the foundations of her most cherished knowledge and of her dearest convictions, but also how in faith she lifts up
herself eternally above the clouds of scepticism, the snow-capped summits of intellectualism, into the immediate sunlight of God. Complete criticism will also recognize how, even in the work of the senses, seemingly standing at the extreme from faith, there is concealed the presence of the Absolute, and how the problem of their power to testify to objective truth under the form of necessary notions and intuitions is closely interwoven with the problem of the objective validity of the concept of God.
Nor will the complete criticism of which I speak fail to recognize everywhere the dominant and yet limited power of choice in man— a power which weaves into every argument for God, and every objection to each argument, the element of choice, and which constantly calls the soul to decide between what is pleasing to the senses or to the pride of learning, and what is subject rather of spiritual trust, hope, and enlightenment. Such criticism will always aver the existence of a spiritual nature in man, of a part of the human soul which is peculiarly adapted to be the organ of the highest self-disclosure of God.
The difference between the application of barren dialectics and complete metaphysical criticism to difficulties of this kind may be illustrated by a passage from an author already quoted. In answer to Schelling, Mr. Mansel asks, in his Metaphysics (p. 273): “ Can I be conscious and not conscious, substance and accident, reality and phenomenon, personally existing and merged in the absolute, at one and the same instant, in one and the same act ?” To such barren questions we may reply either Yes, or No, according to the positive contents we have put into them. To the question, “ Can I be conscious and not conscious at one and the same instant, in one and the same act?” we may reply: Yes, I can, in a certain sense which it is very important to investigate. The activities and possibilities of my finite ego are very far from being measured by, or wholly indicated in, any individual act of consciousness. Whether I can acquire knowledge, and even go through processes of ratiocination, out of self-consciousness, or not, is certainly a question which admits of debate. My selfhood of which I have never been conscious is doubtless, as intimations derived through my conscious self inform me, decidedly the larger part of me. And as to being substance and accident, reality and phenomenon, at one and the same time, all the validity of my knowledge not only, but of my being, depends upon this being possible for me. However incomprehensible, the thing is realized in every act of self-consciousness. Even
: I am “per
18 grounded in the merged in the absolute
the last question may be answered affirmatively: I am “personally existing and merged in the absolute," my personality is grounded in the divine ; for “ in him we live, and move, and have our being."
Since, then, the existence of positive and definite contents of consciousness given in the elements of the concept and the need of thorough metaphysical criticism are apparent, we will call the second class—The Metaphysical Difficulties of the Concept of God. They are such difficulties as inhere in the nature of the organon through which the divine selfrevelation is made to man. But such difficulties are twofold, according as they concern the objective validity of the concept and the power of the organon to authenticate its concept, or concern the harmony and adjustment amongst themselves of the various elements contributed within the one organon to the one concept. Of the second or metaphysical class there are, then, two kinds of difficulties, which we will call the ontological and the psychological.
The ontological difficulties arise in the attempt to authenticate the objective validity of the concept of God. Thus far in all our discussion we have spoken only of a concept. But what about the reality? To the very word “ concept” there is attached the suggestion of unreality. That there are and have been manifold human conceptions of God there can be no doubt. But scepticism inquires whether these are not mere misconceptions, and whether there be a reality underlying them all. If such reality exists, then in the next step criticism can inquire, What is it?
Every discussion of the ontological difficulties should keep constantly in mind the following truths :
First, every inquiry into reality of whatever sort ends in ontological difficulties similar to those which lurk concealed in the concept of God. In all research we come ultimately upon the same problem, and are forced to ask ourselves : Does the concept, though resulting from clear and necessary intuition and logical correctness of reasoning, after all correspond to the reality of things?
Vol. XXXIV. No. 136.
Secondly, in no form of the inquiry can we find any guarantee which is not, directly or indirectly, given us in the process or product of thought itself. We cannot compare the concept with the reality, because we cannot have the reality giren to us in some form other than the human form of knowledge, nor see by some process other than that of comparison whether the two agree or not.
Thirdly, we find in every act and product of thought elements which reveal themselves as necessary, and which by this their form of revelation contain postulates of the reality of things. These elements of knowledge the soul grasps and holds as a veritable possession of objective truth. There is in the grasp and grip of the soul the conviction not of impotency and of being regulated, but of strength and of being made the subject of a divine self-revelation. The metaphysical limits of the human mind are not so much sources of weakness because they are limits, as sources of strength because they mark off the domain in which the mind holds sovereignty over its own subjects.
Fourthly, not only is the guarantee of objective validity to our thought given in the necessary of thought itself, but this guarantee is practically sufficient for all men, philosophically so for him who understands aright the true philosophy of human thought. Thought postulates the objective validity of its own work. In all thought, then, is involved, as the very condition of its existence, the conviction that reality is cognizable and actually known by the soul. And, to use the words of Trendelenburg, “this confidence would be a contradiction, if somewhat thinkable were not presupposed in things themselves, if truth were not presupposed in the actual.” All finite thought is the result of the interpenetration of the finite mind with real being; and to reach the case in hand we may add, All finite being is interpenetrated with divine thought. Therefore,
Fifthly, the concept of God, like every other concept containing elements of necessary truth, asserts its own objective validity in the persistence and necessity of those elements.