MS 844 (1908) - A Neglected Argument - Additament

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Additament to the Article

A Neglected Argument for the Reality of God

A nest of three arguments for the Reality of God has now been sketched, though none of them could, in the limits of a single article, be fairly presented. The first is that entirely honest, sincere, and unaffected, because unprepense, meditation upon the Idea of God, into which the Play of Musement will inevitably sooner or later lead, and which by developing a deep sense of the adorability of that Idea, will produce a truly religious Belief in His Reality and His nearness. It is a reasonable argument, because it naturally results in the most intense and living determination (Bestimmung) of the soul toward shaping the Muser's whole conduct into conformity with the Hypothesis that God is Real and very near; and such a determination of the soul in regard to any proposition is the very essence of a living Belief in such proposition. This is that "humble argument," open to every honest man, which I surmise to have made more worshippers of God than any other.

The second of the nest is the argument which seems to me to have been "neglected" by writers upon natural theology, consisting in showing that the humble argument is the natural fruit of free meditation, since every heart will be ravished by the beauty and adorability of the Idea, when it is

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so pursued. Were the theologians able to perceive the force of this argument, they would make it such a presentation of universal human nature as to show that a latent tendency toward belief in God is a fundamental ingredient of the soul, and that, far from being a vicious or superstitious ingredient, it is simply the natural precipitate of meditation upon the origin of the Three Universes. Of course, it could not, any more than any other theological argumentation, have the value or the religious vitality of the "Humble Argument"; for it would only be an apology,—a vindicatory description,—of the mental operations which the Humble Argument actually and actively lives out. Though this is properly the neglected argument, yet I have sometimes used the abbreviation "the N.A." for the whole nest of three.

The third argument of the nest consists in a study of logical methodeutic, illuminated by the light of a first-hand acquaintance with genuine scientific thought,—the sort of thought whose tools literally comprise not merely Ideas of mathematical exactitude, but also the apparatus of the skilled manipulator, actually in use. The student, applying to his own trained habits of research the art of logical analysis,—an art as elaborate and methodical as that of the chemical analyst,—compares the process of thought of the Muser upon the Three Universes with certain parts of the work of scientific discovery, and finds that the "Humble

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Argument" is nothing but an instance of the first stage of all such work, the stage of observing the facts, or variously rearranging them, and of pondering them until, by their reactions with the results of previous scientific experience, there is "evolved" (as the chemists word it,) an explanatory hypothesis. He will note, however, that this instance of Retroduction, undeniable as this character is, departs widely from the ordinary run of instances, especially in three respects. In the first place, the Plausibility of the hypothesis reaches an almost unparalleled height among deliberately formed hypotheses. So hard is it to doubt God's Reality, when the Idea has sprung from Musements, that there is great danger that the investigation will stop at this first stage, owing to the indifference of the Muser to any further proof of it. At the same time, this very Plausibility is undoubtedly an argument of no small weight in favor of the truth of the hypothesis.

In the second place, although it is a chief function of an explanatory hypothesis (and some philosophers say the only one,) to excite a clear image in the mind by means of which experiential consequences of ascertainable conditions may be predicted, yet in this instance the hypothesis can only be apprehended so very obscurely that

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in exceptional cases alone can any definite and direct deduction from its ordinary abstract interpretation be made. How, for example, can we ever expect to be able to predict what the conduct would be even of any omniscient being governing no more than one poor solar system for only a million years or so? How much less if, being also omnipotent, he be thereby freed from all experience, all desire, all intention! Since God, in His essential character of Ens necessarium, is a disembodied spirit, and since there is strong reason to hold that what we call consciousness is either merely the general sensation of the brain or some part of it, or at all events some visceral or bodily sensation, God probably has no consciousness. Most of us are in the habit of thinking that consciousness and psychic life are the same thing and otherwise greatly to overrate the functions of consciousness. (See James's paper Does 'Consciousness' Exist? in Jour. Phil., Psy., and Sci. Meth. I. 477; 1904 Sep. 1. But the negative reply is, in itself, no novelty.)

The effects of the second peculiarity of the hypothesis are counteracted by a third, which consists in its commanding influence over the whole

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conduct of life of its believers. According to that logical doctrine which the present writer first formulated in 1873 and named Pragmatism, the true meaning of any product of the intellect lies in whatever unitary determination it would impart to practical conduct under any and every conceivable circumstance, supposing such conduct to be guided by reflexion carried to an ultimate limit. It appears to have been virtually the philosophy of Socrates. But although it is "an old way of thinking," in the sense that it was practiced by Spinoza, Berkeley, and Kant, I am not aware of its having been definitely formulated, whether as a maxim of logical analysis or otherwise, by anybody before my publication of it in 1878. Naturally, nobody ever heard of pragmatism. People don't care for methods: they want results. Give them all the diamonds you make, and you may have the method of making them for your own. So it was not until in 1898, Professor James took hold of the old thing, dignified it by calling it by its name in print (which I had never done even when I was in charge of the philosophical part of the Century Dictionary), furbished it up, and turned it into a philosophical doctrine, that it had any vogue at all. It did not, however, shine with its present effulgence until Professor Papini made the discovery

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