Bibliothèque de l'Eglise apostolique arménienne - Paris - SETH PRINGLE-PATTISON , Andrew     Retour à l'Index des auteurs en anglais    Accueil des catalogues en ligne

Bibliothèque de l'Église apostolique arménienne - Paris
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( 1856 - 1931 )

Andrew SETH PRINGLE-PATTISON --- Cliquer pour agrandir

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 The Spirit, God and His relation to man considered from the standpoint of philosophy, psychology and art
Titre : The Spirit, God and His relation to man considered from the standpoint of philosophy, psychology and art / auteur(s) : Andrew SETH PRINGLE-PATTISON - A. Seth Pringle-Pattison, Lily Dougall, J. Arthur Hadfield, C. A. Anderson Scott, Cyril W. Emmet, A. Clutton-Brock and B H. Streeter
Editeur : Macmillan and Co, London
Année : 1928
Imprimeur/Fabricant : R. and R. Clark, Edinburgh, Great-Britain
Description : 14,5 x 2 cm, 392 pages
Collection :
Notes :
Autres auteurs :
Sujets : Religion -- Philosophy
Lecture On-line : non disponible

Commentaire :


If the advance of knowledge has long ago made bankrupt the crude supernaturalism of traditional Christianity, it seems well on the way towards discrediting no less completely the crude materialism of Victorian science. Supported by the prestige of men justly famed for epoch-making discoveries, the philosophical system known as Scientific Materialism could for a long while, in the popular view, hold its own against a stream of continual protest from the side of Metaphysics, Ethics, and Aesthetics. But now that these protests are being reinforced by the latest investigations in Biology, Physiology, and especially Psychology, the case is altered. The idea that mechanism is an adequate explanation of life and that consciousness is a bye-product of the dance of atoms, is one intrinsically so incredible that it could secure general acceptance only if supported by a consensus of the leaders of thought. Accordingly of recent years the mind of the age has been moving towards a more vitalistic conception of the nature of the Power behind phenomena—a conception of which, perhaps, the happiest expression is Boutroux's vague but impressive formula "THE BEYOND THAT is WITHIN." There are few, however, who pause to consider how far this is identical, how far diverse, from that conception of the SPIRIT as the active indwelling of the transcendent Divine in whom " we live and move and have our being " which dazzled the minds of a St. Paul or a St. John.

Essentially the two conceptions are the same—but with one important difference. The early Christian is more vivid, more vital, more definite. But this definite-ness is precisely the element in it which modern thought regards as unwarranted—and up to a point the objection is well founded. The definiteness which traditional Theology has given to the concept of the Spirit is a definiteness of the wrong kind. On the one hand, the Holy Ghost of the classical theology is a scholastic abstraction. On the other, if we turn from that to popular Christianity of the evangelical type, we find indeed a conception of the Spirit which, through its connection with a moving religious experience, is indeed the reverse of abstract, but which is still definite with a definiteness of the wrong kind. For only certain types of experience are given spiritual significance, and no attempt is made to relate this experience to a thought-out philosophy of the universe. It is not therefore surprising that it should sometimes lead to narrowness of outlook and a tendency to value religious emotion for its own sake.

In religious discussions the question is often raised whether " definiteness of the wrong kind" may not after all be better than a " general vagueness." The question is purely academic. Practical men do not waste time in debating which of two evils is the worse, unless and until it has -become clear that another and a more satisfactory alternative is not forthcoming. When definiteness of the right kind is in sight it is folly to rest content until it is attained. And it can be attained. The relation of religion and the creative thought of the day is quite different now from what it was fifty, or even fifteen, years ago. On the one side, the spirit of scientific inquiry has—it must be confessed, only after a hard struggle—firmly established itself in Christian Theology ; on the other, the leaders of the world's thought have discovered that no philosophy can hold water which has not sympathetically studied, and in its system found a place for, the historical and psychological phenomena in which religion has found expression. After centuries of bickering, Religion and Science at last have shaken hands—and if only they would go a step farther and become fast friends, they could, by pooling their resources, regenerate the world.

The Scholastic Theology, considered in relation to its own age and the social and intellectual developments of its own time, is one of the greatest monuments of human genius. But the survival of what is really, though often unconsciously, the Scholastic standpoint has forced upon the Church a timid and defensive attitude towards all new discovery. Worse still, it has erected an artificial barrier which has fenced off modern thinkers from the greatest spiritual tradition in the world's history. It is not sufficiently realised that the divorce between the Church and the living thought of the day has impoverished Philosophy as much as it has enfeebled the Church.

The promise of a way out of the present impasse would seem to lie in a re-examination of the conception of the Spirit—considered as God in action—in the light alike of the religious experience and theological reflection of the Christian Church throughout the ages, and of present-day movements in Philosophy, Psychology, and Art. In the way, however, of such an enterprise is one outstanding difficulty. Nobody can reasonably hope to produce work of any degree of originality in any subject unless he has devoted to it the concentrated study of many years ; and no one person can have done this to all the subjects vitally connected with the present quest. Accordingly the method of investigation pursued has been the same as that used in the preparation of the books Foundations, Concerning Prayer, and Immortality.1 A series of conference-retreats, which the majority of contributors were able to attend, supplemented by individual discussion for mutual criticism and information, has made it possible gradually to focus or a single point the results of a first-hand study, not only of Philosophy, Psychology, and the theory of Art, but of the relevant branches of modern scientific Theology. It should perhaps be added that the Holy Spirit formed the subject of discussion at a joint retreat of the Anglican and Free Church Fellowships at Easter 1917, at which several of the contributors to this volume were present, and some read papers. And this book owes not a little to that discussion, and still more to the insight into the meaning and possibilities of spiritual fellowship gained at this and at similar gatherings.

The Essays form a continuous series the order of which is self-explanatory—with one exception. The Essay on " Spirit and Matter" by Mr. Clutton-Brock opens with an argument for the existence of spirit directed against the materialistic affirmation that matter is the only reality. Logically this argument should have come very early in the book. But the Essay in which it occurs and the Essay by the same author which precedes it present, if taken together, a constructive discussion of Spirit from the standpoint of Aesthetics which seems most appropriately placed in the later position.

To sum up, this volume is an attempt to put forward a conception of the Spirit of God which is definite but not scholastic, and which is capable of affording an intellectual basis both for a coherent Philosophy of the universe and for a Religion passionate and ethical, mystical and practical. Of the success of the attempt it is not for the authors to judge ; but even to fail in a great task is to make the way easier for those who follow.

B. H. S.

CUTTS END, CUMNOR, September 9, 1919.

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