Imatges de pÓgina
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CHAPTER XXI

INTROVERSION AS A REHEARSAL FOR A RICHER OBJECTIVE LIFE

Historical Christianity came to center about an inner, mystical, otherworldliness. But this process was only a stage in the moral evolution of the race; wherever it has been regarded as the goal of moral and religious development, the world of common life, of industry and politics has lost the ethical and human note, and the world of morality and religion has lost its earlier function as an organizing principle of the entire life, social, industrial, and political, as well as individual. Ethics, on this basis, becomes a system of abstract theories, and religion tends to center in a dogmatic theology created by speculative minds. Religion loses its old socializing function, because it loses its contact with common life; on the other hand, the life of the family, of industry, of the state, tends to become non-moral; it lacks those very values which alone can make it human and ethical.

This "internalization," this world-denying process, has quite commonly been regarded as a permanent philosophy of life. From the evolutionary point of view this is a very misleading theory. History, development, evolution, suggest another interpretation. After the passing of the Athenian state Greek philoso

phy was converted from a theory of life, in connection with the family and the state, into a disembodied, cosmopolitan inner state of mind, such as we see in Stoicism and neo-Platonism. After the Hebrew Exile the old social and political consciousness of the prophets was transformed into a priestly, sectarian spirit, or a universal non-political spirit of inner contemplation, such as we see in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. This point of view had completely conquered the western mind in the first Christian centuries. It converted the social message of the prophets, true to Hebrew life, into a mystical otherworldliness. Instead of taking this as a final point of view it would seem more historical, more in accord with the idea of evolution, to regard this philosophy of the inner life as a temporary retreat of the social and moral consciousness-as represented in Greek philosophy and early Christianity-from the life of society, controlled as it then was by force and war, and showing universal evidence of national and moral decay. Philosophical rationalism and Christian monasticism were the means through which reason and will escaped from a barbarous and disorganized society. This withdrawal of the Hebrew, Greek, and Christian consciousness from the world of social institutions means psychologically a divorce between the old social order and a newly developed moral consciousness. It means that the newer ideal, which had expressed itself in Greek philosophy, Hebrew prophecy, and New Testament Christianity, had not yet coördinated itself with the older social order. The social order rested on instinct, interpreted and reorganized by custom and tradition. In time there developed hereditary monarchy,

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centralized authority, government by force, vested in the hands of the few. Rights belonged only to the well-born, to members of patriarchal families, to those of blue blood. Kingdoms were founded on force; power was necessary to success; war was essential to life. In Greek philosophy, Hebrew prophecy, and New Testament Christianity a new set of values was recognized; instead of war, brotherhood; instead of power, service; instead of high birth, righteous conduct; instead of force in the hands of the few, love in the hearts of the best. Unable to reorganize the old order the newer conscience turned in on itself and evolved the ideal of an inner life. But we must not view the inner life as constituting a world independent of the state, the family, the world of nature. must regard the inner ideal as a protest of the reason and conscience against certain elements of the old world order. Greek philosophy, Hebrew prophecy, and New Testament Christianity introduced a new set of values; the old social order rejected these values; hence ensued a separation of the new from the old. But the Cynic's tub, the Orphic's mystery, the prophet's New Jerusalem, the monk's chastity and poverty, were a denial not of society itself, but of a type of society incompatible with these newer values. The very spirit of denial, therefore, was a prophecy of another type of society yet to come. The virtues of the inner life, reason, will, love, freedom, individual initiative, furnished a revaluation of the old social régime.

From the first century to the fourth the "inner" life, the new man, the Christian conscience, was forced to create a separate cult; it was compelled to embody

itself in a new organization, the Church, in contradistinction to the old ethnic state, which now became secular. This was a necessary defensive measure; it was a movement of retreat, a piece of spiritual strategy. But the medieval mind took this attitude of defense, a necessary but temporary "internalization" of the mind, and made it into a permanent creed. An "inner" attitude was apotheosized into absolute reality! But to take the will for the deed, to separate an attitude of mind from its realization in the world, to identify subjective mental states with the objective moral order of the world, is to convert a transitional attitude of defense into an ultimate philosophy of life. To treat one's subjective states of mind as if they were a substitute for objective reality is almost a sort of moral insanity. Indeed, Nietzsche refers to this mediæval spirituality, a spirituality which consists essentially of a process of negating the fundamental instincts of the race, as a form of volitional insanity. And surely there is something abnormal in the apotheosis of inhibition and negation. This mediæval "soul" is a selfantagonizing self-consciousness. This type of will is a process directed against its own fulfillment. The mediæval moral self is a hopelessly dual personality. Modern psychology supports Nietzsche's contention that the permanent inhibition of an instinct does not bring about its annihilation; rather there results an inward manifestation, an "internalization." The instincts respond not toward their appropriate objects; they are repressed until they find subterranean outlets. Surely this is a form of "volitional insanity." The agelong currents of the animal instincts are diabolized.

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