Possibility And Scope Of The Psychology Of Religion
( Originally Published 1910 )
SINCE the investigation of religious experiences and religious practices is even yet a comparatively new line of psychological inquiry, it seems not inappropriate to introduce the studies which follow with a general discussion of the nature and the extent of the subject-matter and with an inquiry into the presuppositions necessary to such a treatment. We shall therefore inquire briefly into the nature of the material, the extent to which it is susceptible of a psychological statement, and, finally, into the relation of such a treatment of religious phenomena to the problems of practical religion, to theology, and to the philosophy of religion.
In the first place, then, what is the material with which the psychology of religion may properly deal? In what respect, if at all, is it distinguishable from the material of general psychology : or does, indeed, the psychology of religion have any valid status as a field of investigation apart from the content of general psychology? If it can be differentiated, shall it be on the side of content or on the side of the functions served by certain contents which appear in other relations as well as in those which are recognized as religious? Different investigators have already taken up various specific phases of the subject with but slight recognition of the necessity of answering these questions before attempting to deal adequately with particular problems.
For instance, certain emotional states have been studied very thoroughly, experiences such as the exaltation or the ecstasy of the mystic, the trance state and other kindred phenomena, all of which are clearly paralleled by much that is well known to students of abnormal psychology.' Many striking religious experiences have been examined, more or less carefully, and their organization and mode of development have been stated in ordinary psychological terms. A notable instance, of many that might be mentioned, is Royce's study of John Bunyan, published some years ago. Other students have investigated the phenomena of 'con-version.' These phenomena have been examined with reference to their character, the manner and time of their appearance, and the attempt has been made, with some success, to connect them with various periods of mental and physical development, to correlate them, if possible, with other recognized aspects of the life-process. Some psychologists have traced here and there a recognized law of mental operation in these same religious states; as, for example, that of suggestion as the cause of conversion.' Moreover, the religious attitude, as such, has been examined in itself, apart from the conventionalities of recognized creeds, the aim being to determine its essential content and then to trace its manifestations in all the variations that come with age, sex, time, and race Manifestly, such attempts to isolate the characteristic elements of the religious attitude mark important advance steps in the psychology of religion. In no case, however, to our knowledge, has the question of the nature of the material itself been raised with sufficient definiteness. In the first investigations the beginnings of a method are suggested, but the question is not raised as to how far that method may be generalized, or as to how far its implications can be carried out to their logical conclusion. In fact, some students suggest that the psychology of religion, while it possesses a certain value, has important limitations, that beyond a certain point religious phenomena cannot be psychologized.' The net outcome of much that has been written is that certain extreme aspects of religious experience seem to fall definitely within the domain of abnormal psychology; that there is apparently a correlation of many religious phenomena with other psychical and physical facts; that the same laws are valid, in many cases, both for religious and non-religious phenomena; and lastly, that there are distinct manifestations marked off very definitely in many people, manifestations which deserve scientific investigation as aspects of human consciousness.
On the basis of the above results, we now turn to the further question as to whether all the phenomena of religion, the normal as well as the abnormal, on the side of actual content,' fall legitimately within the domain of the psychological sciences, or whether there is a certain portion, general or restricted, that, while correlated to some extent with the facts of ordinary experience, and even subject to the same laws, yet remains qualitatively distinct from them and within a sphere of its own. We say, then, that the nature of the material, or content, of the religious consciousness should be carefully examined. If the facts with which we are to deal are different from the other facts of consciousness, will it be possible to state exactly the nature of the difference? For instance, are religious states produced by supernatural influences, whereas apparently similar states outside the pale of religion are built up and organized according to mechanical laws of association? Or shall we say that, though the actual psychical elements are different, they appear to be controlled by the same laws that govern other mental states? If it should be found that there is no difference in content or in origin, the question still presents itself as to whether there may be a difference in the functions of religious and non-religious states of consciousness. Are they distinguishable on the ground that they have a peculiar function in the life of the individual or of the race? If so, how have the ends or ideals which seem to be subserved by these states of consciousness been developed, and what, if any, has been the influence of these ends upon the psychic elements involved in realizing them?
Let us see what can be said of the view that the psychical elements are different from other conscious states, that the contents of the religious consciousness are in some sense peculiar or unique? On first thought it may seem that they are unique. Mental states they certainly are, but can they be said to be of the same genus as other mental states ? This question has seldom been raised by the religious person himself, because the significance, or meaning, of his experiences has appealed to him as of such transcendent importance that the content of those experiences, if it had anything originally in common with the rest of his psychic life, has at least been so modified by its reference to `higher things' as to have become qualitatively different from his other experiences. This supposition of difference of content has been further strengthened by the implicit assumption that in their manner of coming to consciousness, in their manner of growth, and in their modes of expression, religious experiences are not subject to the laws according to which the rest of the mental life manifests itself. In other words, it is often assumed that experiences of the religious type contain some sort of superhuman or mystical elements which, of necessity, fall outside the pale of human investigation. Hence, even though the mental states themselves are not different from other mental states, they become so by being intertwined with forces coming from outside the individual's experience. We shall presently consider the logical consequences for the psychology of religion of this assumption. Let us here examine for a moment the experiences them-selves. Are they, on their face, different in kind from other mental states ? They do not appear to be so. The experiences thought to be religious have varied greatly with time and place. There seems to be a constant flux of ordinary mental states into and out of the sphere of religious meanings. It is true that religious feelings, for instance, have in many cases names of their own, but this cannot be taken to mean that they are intrinsically different from other feelings. Thus there is the `sense of sin,' of forgiveness, of `imperfection'; so also we have religious fear, love for the deity, states of peace, of joy, resignation. In fact, it would be hard to find a single determinable feeling or emotion in the entire gamut of human experience that has not had at some time and for some per-sons a religious meaning. The same may be said of religious ideas, judgments, choices, and acts of will. In fine, as every student of comparative religion must feel, there is not a single aspect of the conscious life which conceivably, if not actually, may not have formed a part of some religious attitude.
Nor is it easier to discover objects in the external world which have not in some shape or form had value for some religious mind. There seem, in fact, to be no aspects of the religious consciousness, as far as its content goes, that clearly differentiate it from other phases of experience; hence we are driven to the conclusion that, with the possible exception of supernatural causation, the religious attitude can be differentiated only with reference to its end, function, or meaning. If there are superhuman factors involved, they must appear merely as causes of experiences which, when they have come to light, bear all the marks of ordinary conscious states and appear to be governed by the same laws.
Still, leaving out of account the possibility of a difference in content due to supernatural influences acting in the manner suggested above, it would seem, from the foregoing discussion, that there is no ground on which to establish a distinctive subject-matter for the psychology of religion unless it can be done on the side of end or function. If there can be shown to be an end or process that may be called religious, in contra-distinction to other ends or processes, there must, then, be a distinctive material, of which it will be legitimate to inquire whether it may or may not be subjected to psychological treatment. When we attempt, however, to determine this possible end, there appears, at first glance, to be as little chance of satisfactory definition as in the case of the religious content. There is as great a variety of religious ends as there is of religious contents. We may, however, offer a purely tentative suggestion as to a possible end and see how it will work out. In general, it seems to be true that a person in a religious frame of mind regards his experiences as referring to something most fundamental, either to his own welfare or to that of others whom he feels are intimately bound up with himself. The religious attitude may be said to be a peculiar organization of mental processes about the final meanings of life as they are conceived by the individual or the social group.' This ultimate meaning may be interpreted in large measure by a deity or deities, or by spirits, good or bad, conceived as having some vital relation to human activity or human needs. It may even find expression in no unseen force of any kind, but simply in an ideal, a state or condition, in something, however, that is felt to have fundamental importance and with reference to which present activity and modes of thought are modified and directed. The purpose of the psychology of religion, then, would seem to be the investigation of such problems as these : How and why has the consciousness of these ultimate values arisen? By what means does this consciousness find expression? Granted a more or less continuous appreciation of these ultimate values, why have the reactions to them varied with time, place, and individual? What is the significance of the apparent absence of this attitude in many individuals, especially in modern times ?
It shall be our object, then, to examine a certain body of material, or content, if we please to call it such, with reference to its end, or significance, in a larger process. If this content of conscious states and activities is the same as that content which is operative in other phases of experience, and yet different in the functions which it subserves, we have a fairly definite starting-point from which to trace its natural history. If the material with which we are to deal were different more or less from the ordinary contents of consciousness, we should lack an important leverage that identity of content would give us. Knowledge of a given content, as it exists in some other context, subserving other ends, may contribute largely to the understanding of that content in another sphere. So much, then, as to the nature of the problem, if the relational method of treatment is adopted. To the present writer, it seems impossible to mark off any distinctive field for the psychology of religion on the basis of the particular experiences taken in themselves. Only when we come to consider them in relation to some assumed end can we admit that we have a distinctive and legitimate problem. Of course we have not as yet fully considered the possibility of an actual difference of content due to the operation of preternatural forces. These, as was stated above, if they are to be taken into ac-count at all, must be regarded as causes of mental states which, as far as observation can extend, appear not unlike the con-tent of the rest of experience. It might also be held that these external forces determined in some subtle way the form and organization of the religious experience.
The only possible way to deal with this problem is from the logical side, and from this point of view we may ask : Are the various reactions which fall within the religious category to be regarded as complete, or are they on the human side incomplete, requiring that various superhuman elements be joined in some way with the disjecta membra of the human experience that the statement on the existential side may be complete? If the latter alternative is the true one, we may say at once that we do not believe there can be a psychology of religion in any proper sense of the word. If the content of the religious consciousness is subject to a different organization from that of other known psychic states, and if, above all, it is not susceptible of a complete statement within itself, but requires the interpolation of some `spiritual' elements to fill it out, it would clearly be vain to seek for any more than disconnected statements of variously isolated or partially related elements, elements which could be completely stated only through the speculations of theologian and philosopher. From a scientific point of view, nothing definite could ever be established about these reactions, since it would be as impossible for psychology to determine its own limitations in dealing with them as it would be for it to try to subject the so-called `spiritual' elements of the experience in question to a scientific examination. The difficulty confronting psychology, under these circumstances, would be identical with that which one experiences in trying to conceive an end to space. It makes no difference whether space is finite or infinite; the non-spacial can never be represented as bounding the spacial. The two cannot be related in terms of contiguity, for that would amount to describing the non-spacial in terms of the spacial. To put the problem in Kantian terms, it is that of the relation of phenomena to noumena. There may be noumena or there may not be noumena; the whole question of their existence is absolutely indifferent to the rational description of phenomena. If a noumenon were to stand between two phenomena and condition the passage from one to the other, it would mean either that the noumenon was a phenomenon or nothing at all, as far as knowledge goes.
No science can be built upon the assumption of an inter-action between two unlike worlds, one of which is knowable, and the other either unknowable or subject to different laws and categories from the first. There may be, and in fact are, many unexplained gaps in the known world, but the scientist does not dare to call in a noumenon to bridge the gap. He must work upon the assumption either that there are no gaps, or that, with increase of knowledge, they will eventually be filled in and explained in phenomenal terms. Many philosophers have laid great stress upon the fragmentary character of science, pointing out, to use the figure of Ward's,' that instead of its being a great sphere that is gradually enlarging its diameter by its encroachments upon the unknown beyond, it is really only a patchwork with vast rifts of the unknown penetrating to its very core, the various parts of the patchwork not even fitting together. Points of view such as this are susceptible of two interpretations : either these lacunce in our knowledge will gradually disappear before the explorer, or they offer an eternal barrier to the progress of finite knowledge. Every scientist would be obliged to take the first of these alternatives, at least as a working hypothesis. If there are unbridgable chasms in the sphere of the `known,' he cannot know of them. The assertion that they exist is merely a play upon words. If they exist, he cannot locate them, nor can he think of them or image them in any way, and so for him they are non-existent. The scientist is perfectly safe in assuming that his realms may finally be extended so as to include every-thing, for there could be no science on any other assumption. The mere possibility of elements not subject to the categories of science scattered through the world of phenomena would vitiate the entire work of the scientist. If there are preterrational elements, there is at least no danger that they may ever intrude to spoil the structure of reason. Every known element must be susceptible of some sort of an explanation in terms of the rest of the world.' This is the condition of its being known. It may seem that there has been an undue insistence upon this point, but the ordinary looseness of thought regarding the nature and possibility of the science of religion is proof that it has not been sufficiently recognized. It is, in fact, a general tendency of all na´ve thinkers to insist on the presence of non-rationalizable elements in whatever is esteemed of great worth, as if the presence of such would make these values more worthy of respect. Thus, it is common to postulate some inner entity or soul, and to insist that the psychological concept of stimulus and response is not a sufficient basis upon which to explain conscious phenomena. It may be true that this particular conception is not adequate, but the point of those who usually object to it is that neither this nor any other concept will answer the purpose, that there will always be a non-explainable something; that if there were not, the integrity of personality would be menaced.
The facts of religious experience, no matter how different from those of ordinary life, the elements of a religious consciousness, no matter how unique, from the very fact of their existence as data of knowledge, are susceptible, or ought to be susceptible, of a scientific treatment. And such a treatment can with perfect consistence ignore all supersensible elements and insist that its statement is or can be made absolutely as complete as that made by the physicist or by the psychologist who deals with ordinary experience. A scientific statement has no meaning except within a closed system of definite relations. This system is not necessarily all of reality, but each new fact discovered is recognized solely because of its ability to enter the existing system either as a new member of that system or as a reorganizer of it. There may easily be realities that will always fall outside any rational system that we can construct, but as such they can never be known, and hence can never destroy the equilibrium of the system of the known. It is not maintained that every fact must appeal to every one as rational, but rather that every step is taken on the assumption that it is, or will be found to be, rational, if time enough is given for searching it out and utilizing it. Neither the supersensible nor the irrational can enter into relationship with the sensible and the rational in a way that can be conceived or described.
In the science of religion, therefore, we do not need to discuss the question as to whether there may be a connection between the natural and the supernatural. There may be a connection, but the categories of experience are not capable of describing it. The scientific examination of religion cannot, of course, deny the reality of supernatural elements in the various contents and processes of the religious consciousness. It simply holds that the relation of one to the other is such as cannot be described in phenomenal terms. It is, moreover, entirely admissible for the practical religionist to symbolize his feeling of the ultimate worthfulness of his religious experiences by holding that they are of divine origin. His assumption is, however, a purely practical expedient. The statements he makes are not existential but practical. They are ways of stating to one's self the meaning of particular experiences for one's life, or they may be said to be indices of a certain attitude in the person rather than descriptions of external existence. Thus, the highest religious concept, that of the deity, is an expression of personal attitude rather than a statement of an existence of some sort which may reveal itself by various interpolations within the natural order of phenomena.
The relationship of God to the world was once conceived in spacial and causal terms. But every advance of science has made such connections more remote. The endeavor to maintain the status of the divine through miracles and special providences, or to make it the first cause, are special aspects of this conception. Some persons have thought, since the farthest reaches of telescopic vision do not reveal God in space, and since science and the doctrine of chances explain away the miracles and special providences, that his existence is thereby disproved, whereas the only thing that is done by these advances of science is to illustrate the futility of attempting to describe God as a phenomenon, and hence his relation to the world and to conscious minds in phenomenal categories.
The point of interest in this passage is the recognition of the fact that the relation of the world of rational and rationalizable things and experiences to any supernatural world is not to be stated in terms of ordinary knowledge. It also presents an attempt at a schematic statement of the nature of the relation. The latter may or may not be a proper question for philosophy; it is manifestly not one that concerns the psychologist.
Before passing from the question discussed above, we should not fail to note an attempt to deal with it in terms of existential and valuational judgments. It is held that the content of a religious experience is to be rigidly distinguished from its value, and that each should receive separate treatment. The content is regarded as the appropriate subject-matter for science, while the meaning, or value, of this content is more or less ultra-rational. Now, while such a separation may be made, we should hold that it is purely one for convenience in describing the experience, and does not imply qualitatively different sets of facts, one of which is rationalizable and one irrational or superrational. The basis of the view just criticised seems to be an acceptance at their face value of the estimates set upon these experiences by the religious person himself. That the religious mind deals with supposedly preternatural values is not to be taken by the scientist as an indication that this worthfulness is incapable of rationalistic treatment. He has as much right to inquire into what facts of experience religious valuations deal with as he has to de-scribe the content of the experience. In a final philosophy of the universe it may be found to be true that the valuational reference of the religious experience will be a valid statement of an order of existence beyond human experience. But the scientist cannot presuppose any such considerations and remain a scientist. He must find in these valuations attempts to deal with some phase of the actual content of experience. In general, he will see in the supernatural reference attributed by the religious mind to its experiences a symbolic method of stating those values which seem to it to be greatest and most abiding. In other words, if it be granted that the supernatural reference of the religious judgment is to be interpreted as a method of symbolizing certain aspects of experience, it would seem that religious valuations should possess just such a natural history as do ordinary types of value. Thus, while we should admit that it may be desirable to distinguish between existence and meaning, this does not of itself lend any weight to the assumption that the meaning of an experience transcends scientific analysis or description.
If the peculiar differentia of the religious consciousness lies on the side of the functions served rather than on that of intrinsic psychic content, it would seem to be impossible to leave meaning and value out of account in treating of religion, for no function can be intelligibly discussed out of connection with the end to which it is adjusted. As was stated in the preceding paragraph, it does not follow that the end or value to be considered can be taken in just the sense in which the religionist states it for himself. There is no doubt of our right to abstract from his estimates of the meaning of his experiences. All his predications of value are themselves facts to be explained along with his other experiences. The values and ends for the psychologist are probably quite different from those conceived by the possessor of the experience. The two different senses of value or end, and hence of function, may be illustrated in the field of Šsthetics. The functional relations of certain Šsthetic stimuli may, on the one hand, be said to be the succeeding states of consciousness caused by these stimuli, or perhaps, more generally, the psychological process, or context, in which they occur. To the recipient of these stimuli, however, their function is not the psychological setting, but something more objective. The na´ve mind is not concerned with conscious states, but with an objective world. In so far as the conscious states come to attention, they are interpreted with reference to the conceived objective order. The Šsthetic stimuli may perhaps be conceived as agencies for bringing him into contact with existences or experiences that lie more or less remote from his immediate self. As such thy bear a direct relation to these remote values, to this objective order that they mediate.
From these two points of view the function of the impressions produced by a great painting may be stated in terms of the actually resulting psychic experiences of pleasure or pain in all their subtle ramifications and combinations, or it may be stated more objectively, as the means of heightening the recipient's sense of duty in some specific way, or of making him feel more keenly some truth or some aspiration, or of bringing him into more intimate contact with some objective reality, so called.
The case of religion is precisely analogous to the above. Here there are certain states of consciousness that are regarded as valuable by the individual; they mean to him a heightening of his sense of `divine presence,' a strengthening of his natural powers by ` supernatural' agencies. These states of mind bring him consolation, peace, fear, self-condemnation, and the like. The functional statement from this point of view may be almost anything that individual caprice can imagine. But for psychology, this hypothetical objective context itself needs explanation, and it is the task of psychology to seek a more general setting of other mental states and processes. Questions such as the following, psychology must ask concerning the objective world which has been constructed by the religious person : How has he acquired the consciousness of this or that end or value ? How does it come that he has sought to gain these conditions of rapport with superior powers ? How have certain conscious states acquired a significance for this purpose under certain conditions, while, under other conditions, the same mental elements occur without these evaluations? How also do the selected conscious states fulfil their peculiar function of producing in the individual these value judgments? It is with questions of this type that we are concerned in these studies.
The question of the validity of the individual's experience, that is, whether it is worth what he claims for it or not, may or may not be touched by the psychological statement. The inquiry that is here proposed should, however, give us a certain amount of presupposition for or against such validity. The examination of the origin and development of a content cannot, in other words, be absolutely cut off from its present efficiency or lack of efficiency. "An inquiry into the origin of a fact is by no means an attempt to prejudice its present value. It is rather undertaken that we may understand the present value more adequately. . . . No effects can be evaluated out of relation to the conditions with reference to which they have occurred." 1 The value-judgment is not applied to a content as a thing that exists in and of itself, but with reference to some end. The way in which the end is met certainly throws light upon the means. The nature of the make-up of a carpenter's tool, its origin and content, will be definitely related to its value for the carpenter's work. Any discussion of the merit or demerit of the particular tool will have no direct bearing upon the validity of the trade in which it is used. If, however, it should be found that the tools as a whole used by the carpenter were decidedly inferior in material and workmanship to the tools of other trades, there would be a suspicion aroused that either the carpenter's trade was itself an inferior one, or else that it failed to come up to its own possibilities. Likewise, in the psychology of religion, not only are contents to be distinguished functionally, but the functions themselves are to be in a measure criticised through the contents. This is possible because the contents come to us from other contexts with a certain natural history. We can thus say of them that, as far as structure goes, they are good or bad, a fact that must be taken into account when they are examined with reference to their functions in the new sphere.
It seems strange that so many have considered it necessary to limit the scientific study of religion to its bare content or toits `existential' aspects, excluding the sphere of meaning as something too sacred or subtle to be thus desecrated. But it is certainly as legitimate to seek within the circle of the life-process the origin of all values, together with their inter-relationships, as it is to seek to interpret the so-called contents of experience in these terms. The psychologist can admit nothing into his statement that comes from without this process, and all within it he considers as the legitimate object of his research. He does not need, however, to ignore the fact that to some of his material there is attributed an external reference of some sort. His position should simply be that the fact of an outside reference requires to be stated in terms of the life-process itself. The matter of an outside reference is itself a fact of no little interest and, in so far as it is an aspect of the religious consciousness, it becomes a problem for the psychologist.
On logical grounds, at any rate, then, it seems necessary to assume that every phase of the religious experience is legitimate material for the psychologist. There is no danger of preternatural elements ever appearing and rendering the psychologist's descriptions inadequate. Every element of experience, conscious or subconscious, is definitely related to other elements of experience or to the biological processes of the physical organism. The system is complete. If preternatural causation were possible through the subconscious regions of the mind, there could be no psychology of religion. All of the accounts of it which we might be able to give would be hopelessly confused, for we would never know when we had a strictly natural fact and when a supernatural one, and further, there would be no criterion for determining which was which. This alone is the basis on which a psychology of religion can be constructed, and it is a basis in perfect accord with the presuppositions of every science. The only question is as to whether we must necessarily make these presuppositions. The very fact of the existence and triumph of science in the modern world is itself an answer absolutely in the affirmative.
If it is true that a psychological statement of the religious consciousness is possible, it would seem that such a statement should be a conditio sine qua non for all other theoretical inquiries into the nature of religion. It is such a prerequisite because in this way only can the material as such be clearly conceived. It is possible, of course, to state the subject-matter of any conceptual system in many different ways, each intrinsically of equal worth. One statement is better than another only as we take into account other existing systems of knowledge. If it be granted that the elements of the religious consciousness are first of all psychic phenomena, it would seem to be indispensable to all further treatment of them to know them definitely first of all as psychic phenomena. This should be a vital need, at least for theology. The theologian uses, in the main, terms that came into use long before a science of religion was possible. The dogmatic concepts of the religious life, in other words, rest upon unevaluated experience, or rather, they are the outgrowth of an evaluation of experience that belongs to an earlier stage of culture. The terms are, in the main, figurative, as were all scientific terms originally. But in the case of religious concepts it is peculiarly needful that there be a reconstruction with reference to the psychological terms that have been built up independently and which yet refer to the same content. Thus only can they be freed from their connotation derived wholly from ages whose methods of thought were totally different from our own. The necessity for this analysis and reconstruction has not been felt because the experiences in question have been supposed to be ultimately valid and immediately known by some inner sense so as to render the assistance of reflective thought superfluous. As a result of this general attitude, each interpreter of the religious life na´vely makes his terms mean anything he chooses. He consequently finds in them merely a reflection of his own predispositions and prejudices. If, on the other hand, it were known and recognized in theology exactly what psychic phenomena the `new birth,' `the baptism of the Holy Ghost,' `the old man " the sense of sin,' and the like terms stand for, it would be possible eventually to build up a consistent and useful body of doctrine. If the religious attitude is one that it is desirable to cultivate, the possibility of doing it would be greatly increased by such a scientific knowledge of its content and relationships. Such a knowledge would also furnish a basis of control for the development of the religious consciousness in the race. The concepts of the religionist are, of course, to him relatively fixed affairs. We shall try presently to get a psychological statement for the conservatism of religion; for the present it may be taken for granted. From the stand-point of his conservatism the religionist feels that the values with which he deals are fixed for all time. Different concepts of value held by others are thought to be due to wilful blindness or lack of ` light.' The historical and comparative study of religion proves, however, that this fixity is only apparent, or at the most pertains merely to the formal aspects of expression and practice. From the standpoint of emphasis and reference, the content of religion is constantly shifting. To get the full significance of these changes, we need to know something of the functional relations in the life-process of such processes as feeling and emotion, of cognition and volition. The purely historical study of religion must be supplemented by a genetic account of the development of consciousness. All this should prepare the way for definite answers to various questions regarding current religious practice and belief. The distinctive value of this genetic-psychological study consists in the light it throws upon the origin of the present religious attitude and the possible future course of development of that attitude.
If the practical religionist needs the data and presuppositions of his faith examined, the philosopher of religion stands in an equal need. The great variety of definitions of religion that philosophers have given us is in itself evidence of the desirability of a preliminary analysis of the subject-matter in terms of general psychology. The philosopher uses psychological terms in his discussions, but usually unanalyzed ones. A psychological term cannot, however, be used offhand. It is meaningless to say that religion is chiefly emotion. Emotion itself needs to be defined. A typical definition from this point of view is that of Pfleiderer. " In the religious consciousness all sides of the whole personality participate. Of course we must recognize that knowing and willing are here not ends in themselves, as in science and morality, . . . but rather subordinated to feeling as the real centre of religious consciousness." Entirely aside from the question as to the truth or falsity of this definition, it is evident that feeling, knowing, and willing are here taken as given elements, by a proper mixture of which the religious consciousness is produced. The definition seems to be constructed entirely aside from any inquiry into the interrelations of these aspects of mental process in experience as a whole, and this relationship can be determined only by a study of consciousness from the genetic point of view. This definition is typical of what the philosopher attempts to do with religion by manipulating psychological concepts. These stand for so many static elements that he arranges to suit the a priori idea of the religious consciousness or of religious evolution. For the psychologist, however, religious phenomena are primarily reactions of a certain kind and, as such, have some sort of a setting within the life-process of the individual or at least of the race. By treating them as reactions of a particular type, we have at least a starting-point for some perfectly definite inquiries, a basis on which a really scientific investigation is possible. The old method of trying to determine the essential qualities of the religious consciousness, whether emotional, volitional, or intellectual, by an analysis of religion in and of itself is scarcely more profitable than the scholastic explication of concepts. In the psychological study proposed we do not seek to draw a line around some definite content that we shall choose to call religious; our inquiry is as to the sort of mental contents that will emerge and become organized, if a reaction toward certain ends is admitted as a fact.
The lack of a psychological basis is evident in practically all discussions of religious phenomena. In some way or other nearly all are one-sided on account of the failure to take account of the implications of the reaction as the fundamental psychic unit. Thus the accounts that we receive of the religious practices of the natural races usually go no farther than descriptions of the overt activities, with perhaps their objective significance to the people concerned. Now, the interpretations by the people themselves are not of direct psychological value. They are facts, also, as we said above, that need explanation. The psychological problem is why there is such and such an attitude, and why it finds expression in this or that sort of practice; and further, what are its functions along with other attitudes and reactions. These questions are raised entirely aside from what the religious consciousness itself assumes that it expresses or refers to. Similarly, the more subjective types of religion are not dealt with psychologically by giving simply the significance of the states to those who possess them. The religionist sees in various practices and conscious states the expression, true or false, of a religious attitude, instinct, or intuition. The philosopher traces in the various practices the gradual unfolding, or perhaps perversion, of certain truths, ideas, or a priori notions. The psychologist, we may be permitted to repeat, should attempt to treat the acts and states of consciousness with reference to their setting and function in the general life-process.