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CHAPTER II

SCIENTIFIC AND RELIGIOUS MOTIVES IN

PHILOSOPHY

$1. The distinction between theory and belief is of the utmost importance, not only for the understanding of

the relation of philosophy to life, but also for The Difference between Science the understanding of the development and presand Religion, ent meaning of philosophical doctrines themand the Ambiguous selves. For philosophy, owing to its peculiar Position of

relations with science and religion, has been Philosophy

governed by both motives. There are two fundamental differences between science and religion, a difference of subject matter, and a difference of motive. Their difference of subject-matter corresponds to the difference between proximate and ultimate causes. Physical science has to do with particular interrelations and rearrangements among facts of nature; religion has to do with the general character of nature as a whole, or with whatever may lie beyond nature and still belong to the environment of life. Their difference of form corresponds to that difference between theory and belief which we have just discussed. Science is the most conspicuous example of the method and spirit of disinterested research. Its development has been marked by the purification of its theoretical motive; until, despite its ulterior usefulness, it is in its own procedure of all human activities the most indifferent to the clamor of interests. Religion, on the other hand, is essentially a plan of action. Religion is man's hope or despair of salvation. Thus while science expresses itself in neutral or indifferent terms, the interests at stake being eliminated and the application being held in reserve, in religion the application is already made. Science is a description of its subject-matter; religion is something done, something feared, or something hoped, in view of its subject-matter.

1 The subject-matter of science will be discussed in the next chapter. We have here to do primarily with its theoretical motive.

Philosophy has from the beginning served these two masters. It has attempted in the spirit of science, and with a like theoretical detachment, to carry knowledge beyond the limits of science. But it has also attempted to formulate religious belief, giving articulate expression to the religious emotions and elaborating a plan of salvation. Philosophy is thus resorted to by two classes of persons. By some it is expected to afford a rigorous theoretical solution of special problems that lie outside the range of the positive sciences, problems such as consciousness, space,''causality,”“truth,' and 'goodness. By others it is expected to furnish the age, or any hungering soul, with a summary and estimate of the world for the purposes of life. To supply the former demand, philosophy must be technical and free from ulterior motives; while to supply the latter, it must be humane and keenly alive to all the deeper needs and passions. Philosophy is thus at once a recondite investigation, and a popular oracle; dispensing logical subtleties to the learned and homely wisdom to the vulgar. And in consequence of this double office, philosophers divide among themselves, and speak a mixed language.

§ 2. Science, as we have seen, is by no means exclusively theoretical in motive. Indeed applied or popular science The Theoretical undoubtedly precedes theoretical science. The Motive in liberation of the intelligence from immediate Science

attendance upon action, and its independent exercise in its own interest, is a reward of past service, as well as an opportunity of higher service. The intelligence has had to earn its place in the economy of life. As a primitive necessity, intelligence is the capacity to do the right thing under given circumstances. The “right" act is always relative not only to circumstances, that is, to the occasion or environment, but also to some actuating interest. Its rightness consists in its so meeting or modifying circumstance as to satisfy interest. Circumstance will accordingly evoke one or the other of two types of right or intelligent response. It will be resisted or evaded, disliked or feared, on the one hand; on the other hand, welcomed, used, or desired. In this immediate relation to life, then, both causes and effects are regarded under the aspect of their maleficence or beneficence. And from this view of nature it is but a short step to animism, or the view that natural causes are governed by animus. Certain typical processes of the environment with which one is compelled to treat, are regarded as governed by a consistent friendliness or hostility. The environment is socialized; and the method of conciliation or retaliation is extended beyond the circle of human and animal associates to the wider realm of natural causes. In other words, beneficent causes are construed as benevolent, and maleficent as malevolent. Wherever effects are regarded as good or bad, and their causes as working good or working evil, this is probably always the hypothesis which is nearest at hand and most plausible. It appears, long after the development of mechanical science, in the instinctive resentment or gratitude with which one greets a turn of fortune. There thus arises a primitive science in which effects are benefits or injuries, and causes friends or enemies; in which, in short, natural events are wholly assimilated to life.

Out of this primitive science, mechanical or theoretical science has gradually developed, chiefly through the operation of two motives. In the first place, the method of conciliation and retaliation was experimentally discredited as a mode of controlling nature. For the immediate exigency, at any rate, it proved more efficacious to cultivate the soil and observe the turn of the seasons than to sacrifice to Demeter, to keep one's powder dry than to put one's trust in God. In the second place, as soon as men could breathe more easily and indulge themselves more freely in the play of their natural powers, they grew in idle curiosity. They came, in other words, to observe, regardless of their hopes and fears. Astronomy was probably the first science in the modern sense, because the stars, at once conspicuous and relatively removed from the theatre of action, have always tended to excite an apathetic curiosity. Through the operation of these two motives, effects were divested of their practical coloring, and causes of their friendly or hostile intent. This did not mean that either effects or causes lost their bearing on life, but only that that bearing was for the purpose of knowledge eliminated as accidental. Thus a physical substance has certain distinguishing properties by virtue of which it is either food or poison; and celestial bodies compose certain configurations by virtue of which man feels the light of day or the darkness of night, the warmth of summer or the blight of winter. But it is the mark of developed science that these properties and configurations are recorded without reference to the sequel, and in terms purged of the comment of passion.

The development of a purely theoretical science has, as is well known, immeasurably increased the contribution of science to life. In this case, at least, the independence of the theoretical activity is the principal condition of its usefulness. The reason for this is not obscure. In so far as knowledge is restricted to the service of existing needs, it confirms the belief in the finality of these needs; but when emancipated from such service, it becomes a source of new needs - stimulating initiative, and opening a prospect of unlimited growth. The application of knowledge is the more varied and fruitful because reserved for the unforeseen occasion. It thus becomes the function of science to accumulate that unappropriated surplus of intelligence from which life derives its resourcefulness and strategy, and by which it is enabled to carry on the constructive enterprise of civilization.

8 3. Religion, like science, is grounded in the need of doing the right thing under the given circumstance: like Religion and

science, it is a matter of adaptation. It arises the Motive of from the need of doing the right thing on the Belief

whole, in view of the totality of circumstance from the need of arriving at a final adaptation. Religion is the attempt to deal with headquarters, to obtain a hearing at the highest court, some guarantee of the favor of the over-ruling authority. As theoretical science advances and the phenomena of nature are referred to proximate causes, the ultimate causes retreat steadily into the background, and, gathered into one, become God as opposed to nature. The duality of God and nature may from thenceforth be characterized by any degree of separateness. Where God is conceived transcendently, or independently of his works, it is assumed that a man may save himself by treating with God directly, giving no heed to the course of events in the temporal world. Where, on the other hand, God is conceived in terms of the order of nature and history, as their immanent or over-arching unity, his favor may be gained only by complete adjustment to the ways of this world.

Thus religion, like science at its dawn, views the environment under the aspect of its bearing on life. The over-ruling powers are known and judged by the good or evil which they work. But whereas this is the primitive form of science, in which the scientific motive is not as yet specialized and refined, it is the final form of religion. God is the name for the over-ruling powers as sources of fortune. In so far, and only in so far, as these powers are regarded with love or dismay, with hope or fear, do they constitute the object of religion. Religion is as essentially a matter of life and passion, as is science in its developed form a matter of theoretical detachment. So that science and religion

ve come to be identified, not only with their respective

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