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THE INTERPRETATION

OF

RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE

THE GIFFORD LECTURES

DELIVERED IN THE UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW

IN THE YEARS 1910-12

BY

JOHN WATSON, LL.D.

PROFESSOR OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY IN QOEEN's UNIVERSITY KINGSTON, CANADA

PART FIRST. HISTORICAL

A

u y

GLASGOW JAMES MACLEHOSE AND SONS

PUBLISHERS TO THE UNIVERSITY

I9I2

Iprescntcl5 to

of tbe

i;ilniver6it^ of ^Toronto

Bertram 1R. 2)a\>i0

from tbc boohs of

the late Xionel Bavie, Ik.C.

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PUBLISHED BV

JAMES MACLEHOSE AND SONS, GLASGOW,

^ublielura to the finibereitD.

MACMILLAN AND CO., LTD., LONDON.

New Vorkf - Toronto,

London,

Edinburg;h,

Sydney,

The Macmillan Co. The Maonillan Co. of Canada.

Sitnpkin, Hamilton and Co.

Bowes and Bowes.

Douglas II nd Foulis.

Angus and Robertson.

PREFACE

Anyone who attempts to construct

rehgion at the present time is met by two difficulties : he finds, on the one hand, that popular theology contains many ideas that have not been subjected to criticism, and, on the other hand, that there is no recognized philosophy

a philosophy of

which he can apply in criticism of them. These difficulties

seem less formidable, however, when we reflect that our ideas have come to us as the result of a long process of

development, and that, if we have faith in the essential

rationality of man, we must conclude that neither in his

ordinary religious consciousness nor in his reflective for-

mulation of its contents can he have fallen into absolute

error. It would thus seem that any attempt to interpret

our religious experience must be based upon a critical

estimate of the results

and in its

of experience, both in its direct

To ignore the process by

reflective forms.

which ideas have come to be what they are, must result

in an abstract and one-sided theory. No doubt one may

have made an historical study of the development of

experience, and, having in this way reached conclusions

satisfactory to himself, he may not think it necessary to

trouble the reader with an account of the process through

but this method, while it

which he has himself passed ;

may be satisfactory to oneself, can hardly be convincing

to others.

In any case a neglect of the historical method

vi

PREFACE

seems to me to explain to some extent the inadequate

results reached by some recent thinkers.

Instead of

adopting and consistently following out an evolutionist

point of view, a number of discordant facts of the religious

consciousness are gathered together, without any attempt

being made to consider them in the hght of the stage of

historical evolution in which they appear. It is therefore

not surprising that anything hke a system of theology is

held to be beyond our reach.

The same method is also

applied to the study of philosophy itself. The speculations

of Plato and Aristotle, of Descartes, Spinoza and Leibnitz,

of Locke, Berkeley and Hume, of Kant and Hegel, are

ignored, and an attempt is made to begin from immediate

experienceas if there were any element of our experience that is not saturated with the thought of the past. Con-

vinced that no fruitful results can in this way be secured,

I have endeavoured to follow with a critical eye the main

current of reflection upon religion, and especially upon

Christianity, with the idea that in this way some assured

It will of course be evident to

> anyone familiar with the subject that in the constructive

part of the undertaking I have found in Hegel, and in his

English exponents, the most suggestive ideas for my

but I think it well to add that I do not accept

the doctrine presented as Hegelian in the works of some

Enghsh and German exponents and critics. If the philo- sophy of Hegel, as Lotze holds, is simply a pan-logism ;

or if its fundamental principle is an abstract and indeter-

minate Absolute ; or if it denies all freedom to man, and

regards him as but the passive organ of an underlying

Something-not-ourselves ;

purpose ;

result might be obtained.

then anyone who reads

the

following pages will see that it is widely different from the

view I have tried to express.

But this is not my reading

of Hegel, as I have explained in various parts of this book,

PREFACE

vii

and more particularly in the ninth and tenth lectures ; on

the contrary, what seems to me most valuable in him is

his insistence upon the essentially concrete character of

the Absolute, as summing up and manifesting, but never

abohshing, all that we mean by self-conscious reason.

No

doubt Hegel denies such one-sided doctrines as that of

Lotze and his followers ; but he does so, I conceive, because

the separation of the world, man and God from one another

must result in the logical annihilation of all three.

Hegel

was perhaps too ready to claim for his philosophy the sup- port of popular theology ; but I think he was right in

maintaining that the doctrine of the Holy Spirit constitutes

the essence of Christian theology ; and that doctrine

recognizes that without the response of the human soul to the spirit of God, as actually operative in it, and not

beyond it, there can be no religion. Not to recognize the

importance of this principle seems to me the main defect

in much recent theological speculation. Nor does the

claim to superior originahty, advanced by the exponents

of Radical Empiricism, the New Reahsm and Personal

Idealism, seem to me justified. Radical Empiricism is still

infected with the vice of the older Empiricism, the vice of denying the real identity of the mind and therefore logically resolving it into fragments ; while I am unable to see that

the New Reahsm has added anything essential to the

or Personal Ideahsm to those of

principles of Locke,

Berkeley and Leibnitz. The form of Ideahsm for which

I contend may be untenable, but it is not fairly open to

the objection that it has been superseded by systems which in principle belong to an earher stage of thought. With

the Absolutism of Dr. Bradley, as I need hardly say, I

have the greatest sympathy ;

but I do not think that

it successfully avoids in all cases the vice of Spinozism

of

though,

in insisting upon

the idea

of

" degrees

viii

PREFACE

reality," it seems to me to come very near to an abandon-

ment of the abstract Absolutism elsewhere apparently

contended for.

I am unable to say how far my discussion of theological and philosophical writers in the first course of lectures has

been coloured by the various books read by me in the

course of their preparation. I may, however, make special reference to Edward Caird's Evolution of Theology in the Greek Philosophers, Dr. Karl Marti's Geschichte der Israeli- tischen Religion, Loofs' Leitfaden der Dogmengeschichte,

Harnack's Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte, Mr. T. R,

Glover's Conflict of Religions in the Roman Empire, Dr. Bigg's The Christian Platonists of Alexandria, Dean Inge's

Christian Mysticism, and Leslie Stephen's English Thought in the Eighteenth Century. In preparing the second course

of lectures I have received much assistance from the late Principal Caird's Fundamental Ideas of Christianity, Pro-

fessor J. B. Baillie's Idealistic Construction of Experience, Dr. R. Otto's Naturalism and Religion, Signor Varisco's

I Massimi Problemi, M. Henri Bergson's Essai sur les

donnees immidiates de la conscience and L' Evolution crea-

trice, Dr. W. McDougall's Body and Mind, the late Pro-

fessor W. Wallace's Life of Schopenhauer , Professor J.

Ward's Naturalism and Agnosticism, and his Gifford Lec-

tures on The Realm of Ends.

I am also indebted to Mr.

H. H. Joachim's The Nature of Truth and Dr. Hastings

Rashdall's Philosophy and Religion, and to articles by

Professor J. Arthur Thomson, Dr. F. H. Bradley, Mr. H. W. B. Josephs, and Professors J. S. Mackenzie, Sir Henry

Jones and J. H. Muirhead, which appeared in Mind, The

Philosophical Review, The International fournal of Ethics and The Hihhert Journal. Dr. Bosanquet's Essays and

Reviews I also found suggestive, but I have not been able

to profit sufficiently by his recent very important work on

PREFACE

ix

The Principle of Individuality, having only received it after ^

my lectures were in shape for the press.

I ought to add, '^

however, that to his various other works, as well as to those of Dr. Bradley and the late Dr. Edward Caird, I owe more

than I can well estimate.

With

the numerous books on biblical or historical

criticism published within the last fifty years, I cannot

pretend to have the detailed acquaintance of an expert. In such matters I am only too glad to avail myself of the

invaluable labours of a long line of scholars from Spinoza

in the sixteenth century to such accomplished writers of

our own days as my colleagues, the Rev. W. G. Jordan, M.A. (Lond.), D.D. (Queen's Univ. Can.), and Dr. Ernest

Scott, M.A. (Glasg.), LL.D. (St. Andrews), whose names are

famiUar to students of theology and philosophy on both

sides of the Atlantic. Intercourse with men of this type

for some forty years has made it possible for me to speak

with some authority, even on the problems with which it

is their business to deal. The same remark applies to the

discussions on scientific subjects, including the principles

of physics, chemistry, biology, and medicine.

To my nephew, Mr. W. W. Henderson, M.A., I am much

indebted for the extreme care he has exercised in reading

the proofs.

Queen's University,

Kingston, Canada,

2fid September, 19 1 2.

JOHN WATSON.

CONTENTS

PART FIRST. HISTORICAL

LECTURE FIRST

DEVELOPMENT OF GREEK RELIGION AND THEOLOGY

Object of first course of lectures to trace the influence of philosophy upon the evolution of Christianity. The supreme principle and the three aspects

of religion. The problem of theology. Development of Greek religion

and philosophy. The theology of Plato. Critical estimate of Plato's

theology. The philosophy of Aristotle.

theology.

philosophy

The theologj' of the

Stoics.

Critical estimate of Aristotle's

Opposite tendencies in Greek

I

LECTURE SECOND

PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY AND ITS EXPONENTS

Development of the Hebrew religion. The religion of Jesus. Early Christian theology. Conflict of Christianity with Judaism. Conflict with

paganism. Gnosticism. The theology of Marcion. The early Apologists. The epistle of Diognetus and Justin Martyr. Critical account of the

theology of Clement of Alexandria

25

LECTURE THIRD

FROM ORIGEN TO THOMAS AQUINAS

Theology of Origen. Arius, Athanasius and the Nicene Creed. The theology of Augustine. Critical estimate of Augustine's theology. History

xii

CONTENTS

Theology of Anseltn.

of the Roman Church.

Abelard. The Mysticism of Bernard of Clairvaulx.

Aquinas

The Rationalism of

Theology of Thomas

57

LECTURE FOURTH

DANTE'S THEOLOGY AND POLITICS

General character of the Middle Ages.

Dante's relation to his time.

His

opposition of faith and reason.

world.

Differentia of Man.

Conception of God in his relation to the Original sin, freedom, responsibility and

redemption. The Virgin Mary. Natural and theological virtues. The Politics of Dante based on the idea of one Emperor, one Pope, one God.

His arguments in support of this idea inconclusive. His reasons for holding that the Empire must be Roman equally inconclusive. State and

Church held to be of co-equal authority.

A universal Empire and a

universal Church an unrealizable and undesirable ideal -

-

-

99

LECTURE FIFTH

ECKHART, DESCARTES AND SPINOZA

The Mysticism of Eckhart and his successors. The Renaissance and the

Reformation. The philosophy of Descartes not completely "critical."

Method of philosophy. Meaning of the Cogito ergo sum. Proofs of the

being of God.

Reality of the external world.

The three

kinds of

Substance.

Greater consistency of

the philosophy of Spinoza. God and his Attributes. Spinoza's criticism of the Cartesians. The infinite modes. Body and soul. The three phases

Spinoza's

of the intellectual life. The three phases of the moral life.

Criticism of the Cartesian philosophy.

conception of immortality.

Critical remarks

on

the

philosophy of

Spinoza

148

LECTURE SIXTH

LEIBNITZ, LOCKE AND THE ENGLISH DEISTS

Leibnitz' criticism of Cartesianism.

The Monads and the Pre-established

Harmony. The theory of knowledge. Will and freedom. God and the

Contrast of Spinoza and

world. Metaphysical, physical and moral evil.

CONTENTS

xiii

Leibnitz. The nature of religion. Critical estimate of Leibnitz. Locke's denial of innate ideas. Truth and falsehood. Meaning of "substance."

The nature of knowledge. Certainty of the idea of God. estimate of Locke's theological ideas. The English deists -

General

190

-

LECTURE SEVENTH

BERKELEY AND HUME

Various senses of the term " mind." Locke's confusion of the feeling of

touch with solidity. Berkeley's denial of an independent "matter." His

reference of ideas of sensation to God as their cause. His doctrine leads to Nominalism. Distinction between Berkeley's Idealism and Objective Idealism. Criticism of his theory of knowledge. His conception of the

self and of God untenable. Hume reduces consciousness to impressions

His reply

His

233

and ideas. Reiects all arguments for the existence of God.

to Butler's arguments in favour of providence and a fiiture state.

Natural History of Religion. Transition to Kant -

-

-

-

LECTURE EIGHTH

THE CRITICAL PHILOSOPHY

Kant's relation to Leibnitz and Hume.

How the a priori sjTithetic

judgments of mathematics and physics are possible. No independent

self an object of knowledge. A self-complete world equally unknowable. No valid theoretical proofs of the existence of God. Freedom, immortality and God based upon the moral consciousness. The regulative idea of purpose as connecting link of the sensible and the supersensible. This

idea essential in the explanation of living beings and involved in the

aesthetic ideas of beauty and sublimity.

theology.

faith and the Church as interpreted by Kant

Moral teleology the basis of

The doctrines of sin, salvation, the incarnation, justification by

260

LECTURE NINTH

HEGEL'S RELATION TO KANT

Hegel's denial of the opposition of phenomena and noumena.

His

criticism of Kant's view of the categories.

Importance of the doctrine of

the "transcendental unity of self-consciousness." The "transcendental

xiv

CONTENTS

judgment" suggestive of a truth deeper than Kant has formulated.

Contrast of understanding and reason in Kant and Hegel. The critical

Solution of

the Paralogisms.

Solution of the Antinomies. Defence of proofs of God's

problems of the soul, the world and

God not insoluble.

existence.

Criticism of Kant's ethical doctrine.

The postulates of God,

freedom and immortality really demonstrable Principles. The idea of

286

purpose not merely " regulative "

LECTURE TENTH

HEGEL'S PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION

General character of the Hegelian pliilosophy. Religion the self-

Christianity as the "revealed" religion. Hegel's

reinterpretation of the idea of creation. The permanent and the transitory

Kingdom of the Father : the speculative idea

of God as expressed in the doctrine of the Trinity. Kingdom of the Son :

God as manifested in the spiritual nature of Man : Evil and its Atonement. Kingdom of the Spirit : the invisible Church. The Sacraments. Relations

in Historical Christianity.

consciousness of God.

of Church and State. The philosophy of Religion

-

-

-

330

Index

362

PART FIRST. HISTORICAL.

LECTURE FIRST.

DEVELOPMENT OF GREEK RELIGION AND

THEOLOGY.

The main object of the following lectures is to determine

whether, and how far, a reconstruction of rehgious ideeis may be necessary in view of the long process of develop-

ment through which the human spirit has passed. An

enquiry into the origin and development of Christianity

will first be made ; but, in the course of that enquiry, par- ticular attention will be devoted to the systematic formula-

tion of religious experience in theology, and especially to

the influence of philosophy in determining the form that theology has successively assumed. This will cover the

ground dealt with in the first course of lectures ; while the second course will endeavour to give such an interpretation

of religious ideas as may seem to be required by the greater

complexity and comprehensiveness of modern thought.

So far as he is rehgious, man is raised above the divisions and distractions of his ordinary consciousness, and attains

to peacefulness and serenity. No doubt rehgion means

much or httle according to the stage of development that

has been reached, but, in its earliest as in its latest form, the whole being of the religious man is filled with the divine

as it appears to him, and therefore in religion he feels that

2

GREEK RELIGION AND THEOLOGY

he is in perfect unity with himself and with the deeper nature of the universe. The possibihty of rehgion is bound

up with the essential nature of man as a rational and spiritual being, and rationality or spirituality presupposes

as its primary condition the consciousness of a unity which

embraces aU distinctions, and more particularly the funda-

So far as

mental distinction of the world and the self.

he has merely immediate presentations or feelings, man is but potentially rational ; it is only as these are Ufted out

of the flux of immediacy, and grasped in their relation to the world as a rational sj^stem, that he realizes his birth-

right as a self-conscious inteUigence. It is in vdrtue of this inalienable capacity that he creates arts, sciences and

political institutions, all of which imply the elevation of

what immediately presents itself to the rank of an intel-

ligible object. That object is possible at all only because of

the self-activity which is implied in the power of turning

immediate things into the means of expressing the will.

Now, when man, as a rational subject, finds, or believes

that he finds, the world to be a cosmos and human life

intelligible, and refers both object and subject to a supreme

Thus religion

principle, he adopts the attitude of religion.

is not one sphere alongside of others, but the single all-

embracing sphere in which all distinctions are but elements

that have no reality or meaning when they are severed

from the single principle upon which they depend. Re-

ligion cannot be subordinated to any higher form of con-

sciousness ;

it is not a means to something else, but all

else is a means to it. No doubt there are various forms of religion, but in all of them man has the consciousness of having grasped the inner truth of things and attained to the completion of his being. Whether the divine is believed

to be immediately present or to be far off, there is never

any doubt of its absolute reality

RELIGION AND THEOLOGY

3

Religion, then, in all its forms implies a belief in some

power higher than man, the source of all that is best and

noblest in his Ufe, and the object of his reverence and worship. Variously as this power may be conceived, it is

always regarded as distinct both from man himself and

from any particular object in the world around him.

But,

though this beHef in what may be called " divine " is

involved in religion, and indeed is its indispensable con-

dition, it does not of itself constitute religion.

Animism,

for example, is a very early form of belief, but it is a mistake

to say that the belief in spirits is a form of religion.

For

there is a belief in spirits that does not call forth any religious emotion, but is rather the source of fear and

repulsion ; and such a belief is manifestly independent of

religion. The beHef in a higher power, in fact, is simply a

very early form of theologyif we may apply so august a

title to so undeveloped a form of consciousnessand may

therefore be held independently of religion. But, though

it is thus capable of separation from religion, animism at

the stage when it arises is the sine qua non of religion. What is required to transform this belief into a religion is

that the spirits believed to exist should bear a special

Nor is it true

relation to those who have faith in them.

that any relation whatever to the individual which affects

his life is entitled to be called religion.

No less a thinker

than Goethe has said that the

adequate to fear, but not to reverence, and this view has

been frequently repeated, and indeed is held by some con-

temporary writers.

Unless I am mistaken, religion never

has its source in fear, but always in a lower or higher degree

of reverence. No doubt primitive man fears certain spirits ; but his dread of these is not religious ; on the contrary, it

excludes religion. For the spirits that he dreads are those

which are beyond the circle of humanity, whereas the

" ethnic "

religions are

4 GREEK RELIGION AND THEOLOGY

spirits that he reverences are those with which he enters

It is true that a

into sympathetic and friendly relations.

more developed form of religion may contain an element of

fear as well as of reverence, but this is due to the inclusion

within the objects of worship of spirits that had formerly

been regarded as unfriendly " demons," and had not yet

been entirely transformed into " gods."

As the first element in religion is beUef, so the second

element is worship. For religion implies not only a beHef

in powers that are able and willing to help man, but some

form of worship through which his reverence is expressed.

And there is a third element, which is found in the lowest

as well as in the highest religion.

Not only is there a belief

in some power higher than man, not only is this power an

object of worship, but religion involves a conformation of the life to what is believed to be the will of the divine

being. Thus religion is a hfe, as well as a creed and a ritual.

I am aware that the connection of religion and morality

has been questioned, and indeed is expressly denied by

some modern thinkers, but the facts seem to show that

religion in all its forms inevitably carries with it an influence

upon the whole conduct of those who beUeve in it.

What has been said may help us to avoid certain fallacies.

Thus it is sometimes held that religion is entirely inde-

pendent of theology, and, in fact, is the enemy of theology ;

and we are asked to abandon all efforts to imprison it

within the iron framework of theological abstractions.

Such a view seems to rest upon a false idea both of rehgion

and of theology.

It is true enough that a reUgion may

contain elements that are not formulated in the theology

which claims to represent it ; but, when this is the case, a

discrepancy arises, which can only be overcome by a recon-

stitution of the theology.

history of religion theology has failed to embody the

Over and over again in the

RELIGION AND THEOLOGY

5

higher truth to which reUgion had attained. But the true

inference surely is that, as rehgion develops, theology must

also develop. Moreover, it is just as true that theology may

be in advance of rehgion, as that religion may be in advance

of theology. When Plato had developed a monotheistic

theology of a pure and lofty kind, the religion of Greece

as it existed in the popular consciousness was still steeped

in the inconsistencies and superstitions of an earlier faith. What should be shown therefore is not that there is a

discrepancy between the religion and the theology of a

particular age, but that a reUgion can exist without any

theological ideas whatever. But this proposition is

obviously absurd, unless we identify theological ideas with

the systematic exposition of rehgious belief. To remove

from rehgion all beliefs, and thus to identify