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Theism and Humanism Being the Gifford Lectures Delivered at the University of Glasgow, 1914

Theism and Humanism
Being the Gifford Lectures Delivered at the University of Glasgow, 1914
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Title: Theism and Humanism Being the Gifford Lectures Delivered at the University of Glasgow, 1914
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Transcriber’s Notes

The cover was created by adding text to a plain background and isplaced in the public domain.

Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected.


THEISM AND HUMANISM

THEISM AND HUMANISM

BEING
THE GIFFORD LECTURES
Delivered at the University of Glasgow, 1914

BY THE
Rt. Hon. ARTHUR JAMES BALFOUR
M.A., F.R.S., LL.D., D.C.L.
(HON. FELLOW OF TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE)

HODDER AND STOUGHTON
LONDONNEW YORK TORONTO
MCMXV

Printed in Great Britain by Hazell, Watson & Viney, Ld.
London and Aylesbury.

TO THE PROFESSORS AND STUDENTSOF THE UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW,WHO GAVE SO KIND A RECEPTIONTO THESE LECTURES ON THEIR DELIVERYIN THE BUTE HALL, IDEDICATE THIS VOLUME.


vii

PREFACE

This volume contains the substance of theGifford Lectures delivered at the Universityof Glasgow in January and February 1914.I say the substance of the lectures, lest any ofthose who formed part of my most kindlyaudience should expect a verbal reproductionof what they then heard. No such reproductionwould have been either expedient orpossible. The lectures were not read: theywere spoken (with the aid of brief notes) insuch terms as suggested themselves at themoment; and their duration was rigidlyfixed, to suit my academic audience, so asjust to occupy the customary hour. Although,therefore, they were largely (thoughnot wholly) based upon written drafts, noneof the language, and not all the ideas andillustrations contained in the original couldbe reproduced in the spoken lectures, nordid everything in the spoken lectures representpassages in the written originals.

It is not, in these circumstances, surprisingviiithat the work has had, in large measure, tobe rewritten, though the argument itself, andthe order in which its various parts are presentedfor consideration, remains substantiallyunchanged.

I should not have troubled the reader withthis very unimportant narrative except forthe purpose of explaining the long intervalthat has elapsed between the delivery of thelectures and their publication. Literary compositionI have always found laborious andslow, even in favourable conditions. But theconditions have not been favourable. Myanxiety to make the argument easy to readfor persons who take little interest in, andhave small knowledge of, philosophical controversiesdid not make it easy to write;while external circumstances were singularlyunfavourable to rapid composition. No onewho took any part in public affairs betweenMarch 1914 and the outbreak of the war, orbetween the outbreak of the war and thepresent moment, is likely to regard thesemonths as providing convenient occasion forquiet thought and careful writing. I say this,however, not as an excuse for poor workmanship,but only as an explanation of longdelay.

ix

It may be desirable to warn the intendingreader before he embarks on these lectures,that though the basis of the argument is wide,its conclusion is narrow: and though that conclusionis religious, the discussions leading upto it are secular. I make no dialectical useof the religious sentiment; nor do I attemptany analysis of its essential character. Stillless do I deal with any doctrines outside whatis called “natural” religion; for to “natural”religion the Gifford Lecturer is expressly confined.But even themes which might well bedeemed to fall within these limits are scarcelyreferred to. For example, God, freedom, andimmortality have been treated by at leastone eminent writer as the great realitiesbeyond the world of sense. I believe in themall. But I only discuss the first—and thatonly from a limited point of view.

One other caution I must give, though it ishardly necessary. No one, I suppose, is likelyto consult this small volume in the hope offinding an historic survey, properly “documented,”of the great theistic controversy.But, if so misguided an individual exists, heis doomed to the severest disappointment.There have been, and will be, GiffordLecturers well equipped for so great anxundertaking; but most assuredly I am notamong them.

My warm thanks are due to my brother,Mr. Gerald Balfour; my sister, Mrs. Sidgwick,and my brother-in-law, Lord Rayleigh,for the trouble they have taken in readingthe proofs, and for the aid they have given mein correcting them.

In connection with a passage in the ninthlecture, Sir Oliver Lodge has been goodenough to give me an interesting note on“energy,” which appears in its proper place.

4 Carlton Gardens
May 24, 1915.


xi

CONTENTS

PART I
INTRODUCTORY
LECTURE I
PAGE
I. Introductory: Metaphysics and the “Plain Man” 3
II. “Inevitable” Beliefs and Common Sense 13
III. The Material of the Present Argument for Theism: the Character of the Theism to be established 17
IV. What the Argument is not. Some of its Limitations 23
LECTURE II
I. Design and Selection 28
II. Argument from Values. The Cognitive and the Causal Series 44xii
PART II
ÆSTHETIC AND ETHICAL VALUES
LECTURE III
ÆSTHETIC AND THEISM
I. Æsthetic described 55
II. Whence comes it? 58
III. Values and the Higher Emotions 63
IV. Natural Beauty 77
V. Æsthetic of History 81
LECTURE IV
ETHICS AND THEISM
I. Ethics described 95
II. Egoism, Altruism, and Selection 98
III. Selection and the Higher Morality 107
IV. Same subject continued 119
V. Theism and the Collision of Ends 122
xiii
PART III
INTELLECTUAL VALUES
LECTURE V
INTRODUCTION TO PART III
I. Retrospect 133
II. Reason and Causation 134
III. Leslie Stephen, and Locke’s Aphorism 136
IV. Reason and Empirical Agnosticism 145
LECTURE VI
PERCEPTION, COMMON SENSE, AND SCIENCE
I. Common Sense and the External World 149
II. Science and the External World 153
III. Primary and Secondary Qualities 156
IV. Perception as a Causal Series 160
V. Perception as a Cognitive Act 165
VI. An Irresistible Assumption 170xiv
LECTURE VII
PROBABILITY, CALCULABLE AND INTUITIVE
I. Mathematicians and Probability 175
II. Calculable Probability 178
III. Intuitive Probability 189
LECTURE VIII
UNIFORMITY AND CAUSATION
I. Habit, Expectation, Induction 192
II. Regularity, Causation 195
III. The Principle of Negligibility 199
IV. Causation and Foreknowledge 207
LECTURE IX
TENDENCIES OF SCIENTIFIC BELIEF
I. From Beliefs that we must hold toBeliefs that we are inclined to hold 217
II. Atomism. Beliefs of Conservation 220
III. Epilogue 238xv
PART IV
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
LECTURE X
I. Humanism and Theism 247
II. The Doctrine of Congruity 249
III. Is this Systematic Philosophy? 261
IV. Conclusion 268

[The paragraph headings in this Table of Contentsare not designed to give more than a very imperfect suggestionof the subjects discussed. I have put them in forthe convenience of those who, having read the book, wish torefer back to some particular passage. The headings donot appear in the text.]


1

PART I
INTRODUCTORY


3

LECTURE I

I

Those responsible for the selection of GiffordLecturers have made it clear that, in theirinterpretation of Lord Gifford’s Trust, studiesin a very wide range of subjects are relevantto the theme of Natural Religion. Giffordlectures have been devoted to such diversethemes as Comparative Religion, PrimitiveMythologies, Vitalism, Psychology of ReligiousExperiences, the History of Religious Developmentat particular Epochs. And, in additionto these, we have had expounded to us systemsof Metaphysics of more than one type, anddrawing their inspiration from more than oneschool.

When I was honoured by an invitation totake a share in the perennial debate whichcentres round what Lord Gifford described asNatural Religion, I had to consider what kindof contribution I was least unfitted to make.Perhaps if this consideration had preceded4my reply to the invitation, instead of followingit, I might have declined the perilous honour.Neither in my own opinion nor in that ofanybody else, am I qualified to contribute aspecial study of any of the scientific, psychological,anthropological, or historical problemswhich may throw light upon the central issue.This must of necessity be the work of specialists.No metaphysical system, again, am Iin a position to provide;—for reasons whichwill appear in the sequel. A merely criticalcommentary upon the systems of other peoplemight hardly meet either the expectations ofmy audience, or the wishes of those who appointedme to the post. Indeed, the enormousrange of modern philosophic literature, andthe divergent tendencies of modern philosophicthought would make the task, in any case, oneof extreme difficulty. Few, indeed, are thosewho, by the width of their reading and thequickness of their intellectual sympathy, arequalified to survey the whole field of contemporaryspeculation; and, assuredly, I amnot among them.

The vast amplitude of relevant materialdaily growing with the growth of knowledge,cannot but hamper the sincerest efforts ofthose who desire to take a comprehensive5view of the great problems which Lord Gifforddesired to solve. Most men are amateurs inall departments of activity but the one, be itscientific or practical, or artistic, to whichthey have devoted their lives. Bacon, indeed,with the magnificent audacity of youth, tookall knowledge for his province. But he didso in the sixteenth century, not in the twentieth;and even Bacon did not escape thecharge of being an amateur. No one, whilehuman faculty remains unchanged, is likelyto imitate his ambitions. More and moredoes the division and subdivision of labourbecome necessary for knowledge, as for industry.More and more have men to choosewhether they shall be dabblers in manysubjects or specialists in one. More and moredoes it become clear that, while each classhas its characteristic defects, both are requiredin the republic of knowledge.

So far as specialists are concerned, this lastproposition is self-evident. Specialists are anecessity. And it may well be that thosewho have successfully pressed forward theconquering forces of discovery along somenarrow front, careless how the struggle towardsenlightenment fared elsewhere, may bedeemed by the historian to have been not6only the happiest, but the most useful thinkersof their generation. Their achievements aredefinite. Their contributions to knowledgecan be named and catalogued. The memoryof them will remain when contemporary effortsto reach some general point of view will seemto posterity strangely ill-directed, worthlessto all but the

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