Imatges de pÓgina

normal moral will, such as wife, child, country, scientific knowledge, art, is the result of a blocked mental process. God or soul, as an inner reality, with no necessary correlation with the moral interests of the world, is the theological symbol of a human mind disassociated through conflict from the normal objective interests of family, state, and vocation.

When the objective end is impossible, a process of compensation, of substitution, takes place. The more the objective end is denied the more the mind is driven to find satisfaction in an inner realm which claims to be independent of objective social and political ends. Reasoning gives place to rationalization. The inner world of motive which should issue in objective ends comes to regard itself as an end in itself. Since the only realizable moral objects are those which belong to an outgrown moral order, these objects are declared to be indifferent and external to a world of will and conscience, which feels itself to be on a higher moral plane. Since the newer objectives are not immediately realizable, the mind tends to suffer an introversion. Such an introverted mind tends to identify itself with God and to reify itself into a world of absolute reality.

When a superior mind is made to develop a consciousness of inferiority because of organized power, social and political, if it is impelled by a creative ideal, it develops a sense of its own superiority in the sphere in which the ideal holds. This is what happened in the development of the empire of the inner life. The new conscience, which was inferior in regard to political power and social recognition, developed a defense

mechanism by cultivating a conscience, an inner mind, a moral will, which was superior to the world of political power. Jesus was a king, a real king, a king of hearts and wills and consciences. His kingdom will grind to powder the crumbling empire of external authority and tradition. Such a state of mind tends to explain away as external to true morality the traditional feudal régime of paganism. The cup of Socrates was becoming, for example, in Stoicism, a symbol not of death and defeat but of an intellectual new birth. The cross of Jesus became in the Pauline school a symbol of death, but it was the death of the "old man." In baptism and in the Lord's Supper the Christian experienced a new birth through the recreating spirit of the Christ. We are not stating here a theological belief; we are interpreting a chapter in the actual psychology of the western mind.

In the ancient world the instincts had not become disassociated from the will. The will had a directness, a singleness of aim, a power, an enthusiasm, unknown to us moderns. Ancient knowledge and science and art served to illumine and to spiritualize the deeper instincts, emotions, and sentiments. Life was ruled by a wisdom which knew no break between instinct and will.

Now the destruction of the state in the Exile, the loss of faith in the prophetic ideal of a righteous society to be set up on the earth, and finally the crucifixion itself, brought about such a conflict between the newer inner conscience and the old order that the western mind mistook the strategy of its own inner retreat for a permanent condition of life. The mind

thickened, deepened, until it thought of itself as an inner metaphysical "soul" over against an external unreal "world." The differentiation and reification of the inner aspect of experience was brought about by abstracting the will and the intellect from the complex of instincts, emotions, and sentiments, in which they had functioned since the dawn of the human mind.

The old loyalty to the instincts of sex and gregariousness, of workmanship and curiosity, was dying in men's hearts. Higher and more refined aspects of experience were coming to light. A new sense of personality was being developed in human experience. And this new sense of personality did not fit in with the traditional social patterns of civilization. There was a new height and depth in human personality. For example, the Stoic had taught the world that they who could think Zeus's thoughts bore the marks of divinity. These new qualities of personality might appear in a slave and be absent in those whom the old order regarded as well-born. How, then, could this new sense of personality find itself at home in a social order which was blindly loyal to the old solidarities? How could the newer sense of self, the newer virtues of the "inner" life, ever adjust themselves without a break to the old instincts, the old loyalties, the old order? The golden fullness of the life of nature was an idea that no longer gripped the will. The ideals of measure, order, harmony, integrity, were gone. Of the Greek virtues, temperance, courage, wisdom, and justice, only the first two retained their vitality and even these two had an entirely changed content.

They were transformed into virtues of the "inner" life. The virtues of faith, hope, and love expressed the vital ideals of the newer conscience. These were the virtues of a will and conscience struggling to bring forth a new world. The disassociation of the will from the patterns of action and feeling which had been established on the instincts and fostered by a long tradition produced a painful emotional stress. Newer feelings, richer sentiments, rather than clear conceptions, characterized this transition. When will and emotion are finding their way into a new world, measure, balance, proportion, are hardly to be expected. When a sense of personality is evolving which is too new to adjust itself to established patterns of conduct, there is sure to arise an appeal to some beyond, some other sphere of experience. This accounts for the air of eternity, the breath of infinity, in the newer consciousness of personality. The lack of coördination between the newer sense of personality and the moral traditions organized about the older instincts, drove the will and the reason and the higher sense of self into an inner, mystical sphere of experiWhen the Roman Government nailed to the cross on Golgotha him in whom was incarnated the newer conscience, it drove the Christian mind in on itself. Here it lived in catacombs, in monasteries, in churches, in cathedrals. Here it evolved its philosophy of the inner life.


States of mind became ends in themselves. This turning in on itself of the mind was not for greater strength in realizing itself in the normal objective interests of life, wife, husband, child, profession, science,

state. Reason was no longer an instrument for controlling the stubborn processes of life; it was an end in itself. It was a purely formal operation of the mind detached from the conflicting sensuous interests of life.

Not being able to express itself through the old objective channels of the state, the family, property, etc., the newer, inner Christian conscience became disassociated from these objective interests and became itself the end of life. In the old days there was a group of virtues, each of which symbolized the control of some objective system of behavior, according to certain socially accepted standards. But for centuries there had been developing a lack of adjustment between the newer, inner life and the old pagan instincts. And there was slowly developing a new virtue, namely, the ability to repress those instincts which directly underlay the pagan régime. This terrible self-renunciation was at the same time an affirmation of the newer Christian self. The man became differentiated from the citizen, the husband, the consumer of goods; he came to be regarded as a purely inner spiritual entity. This inner spiritual man was good or bad, not because his will was realized or was not realized in certain objective ends, such as the state, or the family, or property; he was good or bad absolutely or intrinsically. The man became synonymous with a purely interior quality of soul. This was his essential, his interior nature; the old objective ends in which the pagan instincts had found their realization were now regarded as external, worldly accidents, or encumbrances.

« AnteriorContinua »