A powerful and wealthy king, having lost his wife, was so inconsolable, that he shut himself up for eight entire days, in a little cabinet, where he spent his time in knocking his head against the wall, until the courtiers were afraid he woul... Read more of The Blue Bird at Children Stories.caInformational Site Network Informational

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Activity Of Consciousness
Aim And Method Of Naturalism
Autonomy Of Spirit
Consciousness Of The Ego
Constructive Criticism
Contrast Between Darwinian And Post-darwinian Views
Creative Power Of Consciousness
Criticisms Of The Mechanistic Theory Of Life
Crities Of Darwinism
Darwinish In General
Darwinism And Teleology
Darwinism In The Strict Sense
De Vries's Mutation-theory
Differences Of Opinion As To The Factors In Evolution
Eimer's Orthogenesis
Evolution And New Beginnings
Feeling Individuality Genius And Mysticism
Freedom Of Spirit
Fundamental Principles Of Naturalism
Goethe's Attitude To Naturalism
Haeckel's Evolutionist Position
How All This Affects The Religious Outlook
How The Religious And The Naturalistic Outlooks Conflict
Individual Development
Intuitions Of Reality
Is There Ageing Of The Mind?
Lamarckism And Neo-lamarckism
Machnical Theories Criticism
Mind And Spirit The Human And The Animal Soul
Mystery : Dependence : Purpose
Natural Selection
Naturalistic Attacks On The Autonomy Of The Spiritual
No Parallelism
Other Instances Of Dissatisfaction With The Theory Of Descent
Pre-eminence Of Consciousness
Preyer's Position
Religion And The Theory Of Descent
Spontaneous Generation
Teleological And Scientific Interpretations Are Alike Necessary
The Antimony Of Our Conception Of Space
The Antimony Of Our Conception Of Time
The Antimony Of The Conditioned And The Unconditioned
The Characteristic Features Of Darwinism
The Conservation Of Matter And Energy
The Constructive Work Of Driesch
The Contingency Of The World
The Dependence Of The Order Of Nature
The Development Of Darwinism
The Ego
The Fundamental Answer
The Law Of The Conservation Of Energy
The Mechanics Of Development
The Mystery Of Existence Remains Unexplained
The Organic And The Inorganic
The Position Of Bunge And Other Physiologists
The Problema Continui
The Real World
The Recognition Of Purpose
The Religious Interpretation Of The World
The Spontaneous Activity Of The Organism
The Supremacy Of Mind
The Theory Of Descent
The True Naturalism
The Two Kinds Of Naturalism
The Unconscious
The Unity Of Consciousness
The Views Of Albrecht And Schneider
The Views Of Botanists Illustrated
The World And God
Theory Of Definite Variation
Theory Of Life
Various Forms Of Darwinism
Virchow's Caution
Virchow's Position
Weismann's Evolutionist Position
What Is Distinctive In The Naturalistic Outlook
What Is Distinctive In The Religious Outlook

The Recognition Of Purpose

(6.) We must now turn to the question of "teleology." Only now, not
because it is a subordinate matter, for it is in reality the main one, but
because it is the culminating point, not the starting point, of our
argument. If the world be from God and of God, it and all that it contains
must be for some definite purpose and for special ends. It must be swayed
by eternal ideas, and must be subject to divine providence and guidance.
But naturalism, and even, it appears, natural science, declares: Neither
purposes nor ideas are of necessity to be assumed in nature. They do not
occur either in the details or in the whole. The whole is an absolutely
closed continuity of causes, a causal but blind machinery, in regard to
which we cannot ask, What is meant to be produced by this? but only, What
causes have produced what exists? This opposition goes deep and raises
difficulties. And in all vindication or defence of religion it ought
rightly to be kept in the foreground of attention, although the points we
have already insisted on have been wrongly overlooked. The opposition
concentrates itself to-day almost entirely around two theories of
naturalism, which do not, indeed, set forth the whole case, but which are
certainly typical examples, so that, if we analyse them, we shall have
arrived at an orientation of the fundamental points at issue. The two
doctrines are Darwinism and the mechanical theory of life, and it is to
these that we must now turn our attention. And since the best elucidation
and criticism of both theories is to be found in their own history, and in
the present state of opinion within their own school, we shall have to
combine our study of their fundamental principles with that of their

We can here set forth, however, only the chief point of view, the gist of
the matter, which will continue to exist and hold good however the
analysis of details may turn out. For the kernel of the question may be
discussed independently, without involving the particular interests of
zoology or biology, though we shall constantly come across particular and
concrete cases of the main problem in our more detailed study.

The struggle against, and the aversion to ideas and purposes on the part
of the nature-interpreters is not in itself directed against religion. It
does not arise from any antagonism of natural science to the religious
conception of the world, but is primarily an antagonism of one school of
science to another, the modern against the mediaeval-Aristotelian. The
latter, again, was not in itself a religious world-outlook, it was simply
an attempt at an interpretation of the processes of nature, and especially
of evolution, which might be quite neutral towards religion, or might be
purely naturalistic. It was the theory of Entelechies and formae
substaniales. In order to explain how a thing had come to be, it taught
that the idea of the finished thing, the "form," was implicit in it from
the very beginning, and determined the course of its development. This
"form," the end aimed at in development, was "potentially," "ideally," or
"virtually" implicit in the thing from the beginning, was the causa
finalis, the ultimate cause which determined the development. Modern
natural science objects to this theory that it offers no explanation, but
merely gives a name to what has to be explained. The aim of science, it
tells us, is to elucidate the play of causes which brought about a
particular result. The hypothetical causa finalis it regards as a mere
asylum ignorantiae, and as the problem itself not as its solution. For
instance, if we inquire into the present form and aspect of the earth,
nothing is advanced by stating that the "form," the primitive model of the
evolving earth was implicit in it from the beginning, and that it
gradually determined the phases and transition-stages of its evolution,
until the ultimate state, the end aimed at, was attained. The task of
science is, through geology, geognosy, mineralogy, geodesy, physical
geography, meteorology, and other sciences to discover the physical,
chemical, and mechanical causes of the earth's evolution and their laws,
and from the co-operation of these to interpret everything in detail and
as a whole.

Whether modern natural science is right in this or not, whether or not it
has neglected an element of truth in the old theory of Entelechies which
it cannot dispense with, especially in regard to living organisms, it is
beyond dispute that, from the most general point of view, and in
particular with reference to teleology, religion does not need to concern
itself in the least about this opposition. "Purposes," "ideas," "guidance"
in the religious sense, are quite unaffected by the manner in which the
result is realised; everything depends upon the special and particular
value of what has been attained or realised. If a concatenation of causes
and stages of development lead to results in which we suddenly discern a
special and particular value, then, and not till then, have we a reason
and criterion for our assumption that it is not simply a result of a play
of chances, but that it has been brought about by purposeful thought, by
higher intervention and guidance of things. Certainly not before then.
Thus we can only speak of purposes, aims, guidance, and creation in so far
as we have within us the capacity for feeling and recognising the value,
meaning and significance of things. But natural science itself cannot
estimate these. It can or will only examine how everything has come about,
but whether this result has a higher value than another, or has a lower,
or none at all, it can neither assert nor deny. That lies quite outside of
its province.

Let us try to make this clear by taking at once the highest example--man
and his origin. Let it be assumed that natural science could discover all
the causes and factors which, operating for many thousands of years, have
produced man and human existence. Even if these causes and factors had
actually been pure "ideas," formae substantiales and the like, that would
in no way determine whether the whole process was really subject to a
divine idea of purpose or not. If we had not gained, from a different
source, an insight into the supreme and incomparable worth of human
existence, spiritual, rational, and free, with its capacity for morality,
religion, art and science, we should be compelled to regard man, along
with every other natural result, as the insignificant product of a blind
play of nature. But, on the other hand, if we have once felt and
recognised this value of human existence, its highest dignity, the
knowledge that man has been produced through a play of highly complex
natural processes, fulfilling themselves in absolute obedience to law, in
no way prevents our regarding him as a "purpose," as the realisation of a
divine idea, in accordance with which nature in its orderliness was
planned. In fact, this consideration leads us to discover and admire
eternal plan and divine guidance in nature.

For it does not rest with natural science either to discover or to deny
"purpose" in the religious sense in nature; it belongs to quite a
different order of experience, an entirely inward one. Just in proportion
as I become aware of, and acknowledge in the domain of my inward
experience and through my capacity of estimating values, the worth of the
spiritual and moral life of man, so, with the confidence of this peculiar
mode of conviction, I subordinate the concatenations of events and causes
on which the possibility and the occurrence of the spiritual and moral
life depend, to an eternal teleology, and see the order of the world that
leads to this illuminated by everlasting meaning and by providence.

Next: Teleological And Scientific Interpretations Are Alike Necessary

Previous: Intuitions Of Reality

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