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Love And Will
Meditation And Recollection
Self-adjustment
The First Form Of Contemplation
The Mystical Life
The Preparation Of The Mystic
The Second Form Of Contemplation
The Third Form Of Contemplation
The World Of Reality
What Is Mysticism?
Anaximenes And The Air
Animism, Ancient And Modern
Brooks And Streams
Development And Discipline Of Intuition
Earth, Mountains, And Plains
Fire And The Sun
Heracleitus And The Cosmic Fire
Introductory
Light And Darkness
Man And Nature
Mystic Intuition And Reason
Mystic Receptivity
Mythology
Nature Mysticism And The Race
Nature Not Symbolic
Nature, And The Absolute
Poetry And Nature Mysticism
Pragmatic
Rivers And Death
Rivers And Life
Seasons, Vegetation, Animals
Springs And Wells
Still Waters
Thales
The Beautiful And The Ugly
The Charge Of Anthropomorphism
The Expanse Of Heaven--colour
The Immanent Idea
The Moon--a Special Problem
The Ocean
The Waters Under The Earth
Will And Consciousness In Nature
Winds And Clouds



The Immanent Idea








So much by way of direct answer to the formidable attack upon
the nature-mystic's position. In turning to more constructive
work, which will furnish many indirect answers, it will be
necessary to take another brief but exhilarating plunge into
metaphysics.

We found that external objects somehow, through sensations,
obtain admission into the mind, and become part of its
possessions in the form of experience. Intuition of various
grades is at the base of all mental development. Reflective
thought goes to work on the material thus provided, and weaves
certain portions of it into the structure of systematised
knowledge. Much of it, however, never emerges into clear
consciousness--it is felt rather than known--sometimes not even
felt, though it influences the mind, affects its mood or tone, and
largely moulds its character and the products of its more
conscious processes. Intuition thus contains implicitly what
reflection and reason strive to render explicit.

It will be remembered that, in the first chapter, the metaphysical
theory broadly adopted was that which may be called Ideal-Realism.
The distinctive teaching is that while Materialism stops
short at external objects which can resist, and while Subjective
Idealism stops short at the perceiving mind, Ideal-Realism
affirms the reality of objects and perceiving mind alike,
but regards them as mutually dependent, and as fused in the
activity of consciousness. Can the conclusions just summed up
and the metaphysical theory adopted be brought into helpful
connection?

Yes, if the human mind and the external world are made of the
same stuff--if the mind is invisible nature, and nature visible
mind. For Materialism cannot bridge the gap between matter
and consciousness; Subjective Idealism can never move out into
a real world. But if nature and mind are genuinely akin, as the
nature-mystic holds, there is no gap to bridge, no mind
condemned to hopeless isolation. Nature is then seen to be a
manifestation of the same mental factors which we discover
when we analyse our inner experience--namely, consciousness,
feeling, will, and reason. The nature-mystic's communion with
the external world takes its place as a valid mode of realising
the essential sameness of all forms of existences and of all
cosmic activities. Science is another such valid mode, art
another, philosophy another, religion yet another--none of them
ultimately antagonistic, but mutually supplementary. Some
mystics will say that the union of man with nature is actually at
any moment complete, but has to be brought into the light of
conscious experience. Other mystics, who hold dualistic,
pluralistic, or pragmatic views, will maintain that the union may
assume ever new forms and develop ever new potentialities. But
such differences are subsidiary, and cannot obscure the
fundamental doctrine on which all consistent nature-mystics
must be agreed, that man and nature are essentially
manifestations of the same Reality.

It is deeply significant to note that, at the very dawn of
reflective thought, a conviction of the essential sameness of all
existence seized upon the minds of the fathers of Western
philosophy, and dominated their speculations. The teaching of
these bold pioneers was inevitably coloured and limited by their
social environment; but it was also so shot through with flashes
of intuition and acute reasonings, that it anticipated many of the
latest developments of modern research. A study of its main
features will occupy us at a later stage, when _we_ come to deal
with certain of nature's most striking phenomena. The simple
fact is here emphasised that the earliest effort of human
reflective thought was to discover the _Welt-stoff_--the
substance which underlies all modes and forms of existence,
and that man was regarded as an integral and organic part of the
whole.

Greek philosophy, which started with these crude, but brilliant
speculations, had developed a wonderful variety and subtlety,
when Plato, animated by the same desire to discover the Ground
of things, introduced his doctrine of Ideas. He held that bodies
are not, in themselves, the true reality; they are manifestations
of something else. Reality, for him, is a system of real thoughts
which he calls Ideas, and the world of objects gets its reality by
participating in them or by copying them. The senses, under
such conditions, cleave to the copies, whereas the mind, in
thinking by general ideas, apprehends the true reality. These
ideas must not be regarded as mere products of the mind, but as
real existences, which, when manifested under conditions of
time and space, multiply themselves in innumerable objects. In
fact, so real are they that without them there would be no
objects at all.

Schopenhauer adopted this doctrine of Ideas, and brought it into
connection with his characteristic theory of Will as the ultimate
Ground. The Ideas, for him, represent definite forms of
existence, manifested in individual things and beings. There are
thus, he said, Ideas of the simple elementary forces of nature,
such as gravity and impenetrability; there are Ideas of the
different forms of individual things; and there are Ideas of the
different species of organic beings, including man. He followed
Plato in refusing any true reality to individual objects and
separated the Idea from its sensuous form. "By Idea, then" (he
writes), "I understand every definite and fixed grade of the
objectification of will, so far as it is a thing-in-itself, and
therefore has no multiplicity. These grades are related to
individual things as their eternal forms or prototypes." Hence,
the world known to the senses could be nothing other than mere
phenomenal appearance.

Now it is manifestly an enormous stride in the direction of
Nature Mysticism to recognise in material objects a factor, or
element, which is akin to the highest activities of the human
mind. But, as already stated, in expounding the view known as
Ideal-Realism, the nature-mystic cannot be content to stop here.
Nor indeed was Schopenhauer consistent in stopping here. If he
had been faithful to his conception of Will as the Ground of all
existence, he could not well have denied some degree of reality
to objects in their own right. This particular tree, this particular
table, this particular cloud--what are they, each in its individual
capacity, but objectifications of will?--therefore real! Each
individual object is _unique_, and fills a place of its own in the
totality of objects--each is related to all the rest in particular and
defined manners and degrees--each exhibits a special kind of
behaviour in a special environment. Why, then, deny to each
individual thing its own grade and degree of reality?

Thus there is in each object an immanent idea; but this is fused
with the sensuous form, and presents itself to conscious human
thought as an objective manifestation of the Real. There is an
organic interpenetration of the sensuous and the spiritual; and it
is by virtue of this interpenetration that the human reason can go
out into the external world and find itself there. As Emerson
well puts it--"Nature is the incarnation of thought, and turns to a
thought again, as ice becomes water and gas. The world is mind
precipitated, and the volatile essence is for ever escaping again
into the state of free thought. Hence the virtue and pungency of
the influence on the mind, of natural objects, whether inorganic
or organised."

The nature-mystic is not without authoritative support, even on
the Idealist side, in his demand that individual objects shall be
allowed some grade and measure of reality. Spinoza, for
instance, allows that each individual thing is a genuine part of
the total Idea. Hegel also grants to individual things a certain
"self-reference," which constitutes them real existences. The
nature-mystic, therefore, may be of good cheer in asserting that
even the most transient phenomenon not only "participates" in
an immanent Idea, but embodies it, gives it a concrete form and
place. He thus substantiates his claim that communion with
nature is communion with the Ground of things.





Next: Animism, Ancient And Modern

Previous: The Charge Of Anthropomorphism



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