TRANSACTIONS Number Three
The foregoing was written in 1910. Professor Hite's supplementary essay, written in 1936, develops his subsequent reflections on the theme; it appears for the first time in these Transactions.
In the above metaphysical treatment of Love as an end-cause-effect process, we have had to neglect very many important features of the Philosophy of Love. We have toward the close referred to creation as the characteristic and universal activity of love. It would be too much of a task to attempt in this supplement even a brief sketch of the philosophy of creation, but perhaps it would be well to summarize what might be further said from this new point of view.
If we recall Swedenborg's doctrine that the inmost essence of love is its existence in others created from itself, we get the direct clue to understanding the creative act. Although in our common-sense social experience the notion of other is perfectly familiar, for Idealistic metaphysics and for the Philosophy of Love, it is one of the most difficult in the whole range of reflective thought. This is exemplified in the history of philosophy. Idealism has had constant difficulty in avoiding solipsism ; in other words it has had difficulty in defining what is other than the subject and its states. On the other hand, the Ego of Idealism passed easily into the absolute Ego of German Romanticism, where the subject excluded what is other than itself. Then again, according to the Aristotelian doctrine, the subject contains all its predicates, contains all the states or qualities which are predicated of it ; and so whatever is contained in the subject belongs to it, and cannot be other. This difficulty about the notion of other is solved by an insight into the nature of love.
The only thing that is other than love is what love makes other, and the things which love makes other are the self-projected states which it makes self-representative recipient organs. The projected state is made to be other than the love which projects it, and is seen by the love to be other. This projective activity is exemplified in the workings of our own minds, and in the processes of life generally. We have referred to the behaviour of unicellular organisms, and to animal movements, as cases of this type.
It is therefore through the process of self-projection that the existence of what is other is brought about. Self-projection involves becoming aware of emerging states, which thereby become objects of attention, and are thus set apart from other states and from the love of which they are states. In these processes the projected states are made other than the love which projects them.
The above examples suggest the universality of love's self-projective, self-representative, and self- realizing activity. To grasp the complete range of this activity, we have the help of Swedenborg's doctrine that the created universe consists of two mutually corresponding divisions ; the spiritual world and the natural, or material, world. The spiritual world is constituted of the spiritual sun, the spiritual atmospheres, and the various orders of angels and spirits together with their external environment ; the natural world consists of the sun, the atmosphere and the bodies of the planets, of the plants, and of the animals. To understand this whole system of the two worlds, we must see in it the eternal processes of self-projection, self-representation, and self-realization. First of all, the spiritual sun is the product of these activities. More specifically, the spiritual sun is the self-projected, self-representative, and self-realizing state of Infinite Love, which the Lord Himself is. This means that the spiritual sun is that projected state of Infinite Love which is the love of creating, and the perpetual love of the created universe. The spiritual sun, as this love, is itself a self-projective, self-representative, and self-realizing activity, and through its activities it produces the spiritual atmospheres, which are three : the atmosphere in which the spirits feel and think ; the atmosphere in which they see ; and the atmosphere in which they breathe and hear. All the details of the outward scenery of the spiritual world are the self- projected, self-representative, and self-realizing states of the spirits, as recipients of the atmospheres. The spirits themselves and the souls of men are particularized projections of the atmospheres, which are more comprehensive and more universal loves.
This very meagre sketch of the progress of creation needs to be filled in with the details of fuller exposition. But it reaches the point where we must pass on to some suggestions as to the creation of the natural world. Philosophy has always been baffled by the existence and behaviour of material bodies". Idealism and Realism come to their sharpest issue in the attempt to interpret our experience of bodies. The Atomism of Early Greek Philosophy made bodies aggregates of atoms, themselves exceedingly small hard bodies, changeless, homogeneous, continuous, without beginning or end in time. But it had to give these bodies the utterly foreign property of motion. This made the existence of bodies inexplicable, because of the contradictory properties attributed to them. As a consequence, philosophy has rejected the atomic theory, notably at the hands of Plato and Leibniz. Idealistic philosophy has, in the light of Berkeley's analysis, transformed bodies into groups of ideas, states of mind, more specifically, in our language, projected mental states. The common-sense of mankind, or at least the common-sense of philosophers, has rejected this conclusion, but it has not been able to refute the logic. Furthermore, scientific and metaphysical analysis has forced a transformation of our notions of matter and bodies. For science, bodies are groups of immeasurably small particles, in exceedingly rapid motion. Nothing is further from our common experience of bodies, and yet when this experience is systematically analysed, it is found not to be what we have ordinarily taken it to be. In fact, we know bodies" in terms of their properties and their behaviour ; but on scientific investigation, these properties are found to be not really properties of the bodies, but qualities of our sensations, not qualities of apples, grass, rocks, chairs, snow, or the sky. This inevitable conclusion makes it necessary to correct our notions of bodies and to conceive them as products of experience. If now we recall the conclusion that all experience is the experience of love in one or another of its degrees, we are prepared to view all bodies, not only as the Idealists hold, as more remote forms of experience, but also as projected states and products of love. This then is our philosophy of bodies barely sketched. Now we may resume the story of creation in general outline.
We have seen that in Swedenborg's philosophy, the spiritual sun, the spiritual atmospheres, and the souls of men and spirits, are progressive states, more and more specific projections of love. We now see that all the outer objects of our knowledge, viz., the bodies of the material world, are also projected states and products of love. These states may be further characterized as relatively fixed, stable, and permanent. The stability and behaviour of these states involve space and time ; bodies exist and behave in space and time. From the point of view of common-sense and common thinking it seems strangely absurd to speak of such objects as houses, tables, trees, mountains, rivers, lakes and seas, as projections of love. It is clear however that in one sense houses and tables are products of thought, and so of love. We can also see without much stretch of the imagination a correspondence between the growth of a tree and the development of thought. But it seems both absurd and meaningless to speak of rocks, suns, and planets as projected states of love. Swedenborg, apparently for convenience, speaks of two suns, the natural and the spiritual, as joint agencies in creation, seeming to imply that there is only one natural sun, the sun of this world ; but he knew as well as we do that there are innumerable suns in the stellar universe. He even thought that there are other stellar universes, besides this one which we call the milky way, or galaxy, and modern astronomy verifies this view. It is therefore not the sun of this world, but innumerable natural suns, that we have to take into account, when we try to follow the process of creation. We get help from a somewhat radical suggestion. For convenience, and also in the light of modern physics, we may think of the sun as a huge mass of particles in extremely rapid motion, and of the planets and other physical bodies in the same way, but with less rapid motion. So also the entire physical universe may be thought of as one mass of exceedingly small particles in rapid motion. The innumerable suns, then, are centres of the most rapid motion, the planets of less, and the intervening spaces (the atmospheres) of intermediate motion. If now the bodies of our immediate environment are in reality projected states of love, then it is entirely consistent to think of the bodies of the physical universe at large as projections of an all-comprehending love. This view may be made more acceptable, if we reflect that the bodies of our immediate environment are " forms of use " ; for example, houses, trees, lumber, rocks, soil, etc. This means that these things express a purpose, or end in view. In other words, they have their place in the end-cause-effect series as the process of love. If we generalize this character, we may think of all the bodies of the physical universe as fulfilling a purpose and serving a use, and thus having place in the end-cause-effect series. This series in the largest sense is : The Divine, the spiritual, the natural ; the Divine being the end, the spiritual world the cause, and the entire natural world the effect. This series is really the successive stages, or degrees of love ; and in this sense, the universe as a whole is love, a conclusion which we have otherwise reached.
This philosophy of love gives us not only a new metaphysics, but a new theology, a theology which is both Christian and rational. That God is Love is a familiar Christian doctrine, but this doctrine has always been taken to mean in strictness that love is an attribute of God. The same thought is expressed by the phrase the love of God, which is equivalent to saying that God loves. But none of these expressions go further than the general acknowledgment which all religions imply. None of them go so far as to identify love with God. When however we think of love as the Ultimate Reality, the phrase God is Love means that love, all-comprehensive, infinite love, is God. The principle that love is the life of man, which Swedenborg demonstrates in Arcana Coelestia, No. 33, and in Divine Love and Wisdom, No. 1, when expanded to the doctrine that love is life itself, leads to the fundamental and transforming truth that love is personal in its nature and constitution. We recall that St. Augustine out of the mere fact of doubt developed all the intellectual functions and the whole nature of personality. In fact, the functions of personality are so intimately bound together that any one involves all the rest. When, therefore, we reflect upon the nature of love, and analyse its activities, we see at once that love in its complete nature is identical with what we mean by a person. In view of this identity, we can think of all-comprehensive, infinite, love as the original and supreme Person. This conclusion not only brings the theistic habit of thought of all ages and of all religions into harmony with the philosophy of love, but it gives the philosophic basis and the philosophic explanation of the religious doctrine that God is the supreme Person. Moreover, it transforms the doctrine from a mystery into a rational principle.
The Christian doctrine that God is the supreme Person was from the beginning held as a religious postulate ; but with the development of rationalism and naturalism in eighteenth-century science and philosophy, the difficulties inherent in the idea of a personal God for naturalistic and rationalistic thought were signalized and systematized in the deistic movement. The outcome of Deism was a transition from theism to atheism. Although Deism professed to believe in a personal God, it became involved in universalistic difficulties. God's omnipresence and omnipotence have always been difficult attributes to make consistent with personality, for the assumed limitations of personality have seemed incompatible with the infinity of God. As a result, the modern tendency has been to universalize the idea of God, and to substitute for a personal God an all-pervading force, or an all-pervading substance. And so the idea of person is utterly rejected, and this universalistic idea leads to materialism and atheism.
But the idea of God as Love avoids this universalistic materialism, and is thoroughly consistent with the idea of person. It also removes limitations from personality ; and includes the attributes of omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. For all-comprehensive love is at once omniscient and omnipresent. Love exerts power obviously in proportion to its concentration and its intensity. We have all experienced and observed, in all sorts of instances, the extraordinary power which unusually concentrated and intensified love gives to the animal frame which of itself is moveless. Think then of the immense power all-comprehensive love gives to the body of the universe. The physicists say that there is enough power stored up in an immeasurably small atom to shatter the largest building, or even a great city. It would seem then that we should have no difficulty in ascribing omnipotence to God as Love and as Person. The omnipresence and omniscience of God, though uniformly ascribed to Him by Christian doctrine from the beginning, are really unintelligible for the natural thought which has been characteristic of Christian thought of God. Christians have worshipped God in Christ as the natural body which dwelt among men, or as the Resurrection Body, still apprehended by natural thought. Christian writing, Christian preaching, and especially Christian hymns, abundantly testify this. In all cases, Christ has been worshipped as a natural body possessed of Divine attributes. But we are taught that God is Spirit, and must be worshipped in spirit and in truth. When we think of God as the Person of Divine Love, and of Jesus Christ glorified, that is, made one with Divine Love, we rise above natural thought into the light of the spirit, and look within, not into distant space, for the nature and person of the Love which is God. This view is confirmed by the fact of Christian experience. In Christian experience, we have, no doubt, the Lord's presence and guidance. Christian history abounds in distinguished examples of such experience, and this experience has been the constant support of Christian doctrine and of the Christian religion throughout the ages. But this experience, though referred to the Lord's presence and operation, has been unintelligible to traditional natural thought about God. There could be no intelligible connection between this experience and the object of Christian worship, the object of natural thought. So that for the rationalistic psychologist, as Stanley Jones said, this experience is nothing but the man's own psychical experience, the product of his own feeling and emotion, the idea of God being totally irrelevant. This interpretation has haunted devout Christian thought ever since rationalistic psychology has held sway in professional circles. When, however, we think of the Lord Jesus Christ glorified as the person of Divine Love, then we have an intelligible community between the love which man is and the Divine Love which the Lord is, and so Christian experience becomes intelligible, religious, and authoritative. We can then feel and understand real personal relations with the Lord, look to Him for life and all its blessings, and pray to Him as the all-wise, ever present, and all-powerful Giver of all good.
This is the religion and the theology which the Philosophy of Love gives us, and it is a new religion and a new theology, religion and philosophy raised to the spiritual level. It is the religion and the theology which the Lord gives us in His Second Coming in the Spiritual Sense of His Word. In the light of this Philosophy of Love we are able to understand the Spiritual Sense of the Word, and the spiritual meaning of life. According to Swedenborg, It is now permitted to understand the mysteries of faith.
The Philosophy of Love throws new light on the conduct of life as well as on thought about life. It gives us a new ethics, and by furnishing a universal standard, it gives us a stable morality. All conduct, energy, and motive have their source and explanation in the nature of love. We have abundant experience of love as the supreme ethical principle, when we observe it in the selection and pursuit of its objects. We have seen that in the last analysis love creates the ends it chooses and the means of reaching them. In fact, means are ends to further ends ; in other words, means are mediate ends. Houses are mediate ends to homes, trees are mediate ends to lumber, rocks are mediate ends to walls, etc. From another point of view, rocks and trees are mediate ends by virtue of their relations in the cosmos. The moral life is a life of purpose, a life with a deliberate and chosen end in view. The moral life is raised or lowered according to the ends it constitutes, keeps in view, and strives to attain. The distinction between high and low ends may be described in one way by the words of Plato : the end of education is to learn to like and dislike the right things, that is, to like the things we ought to like, and dislike the things we ought to dislike. To this extent, therefore, the moral life is a question of likes and dislikes, a question of the quality of the love we choose to cultivate. The " we " is the ruling love, and the love we choose is a subordinate love. Swedenborg teaches that human love has one or the other of two opposite qualities, viz., the love of self, or the love of others. The love of self expands into the love of the world for the sake of self. The love of self is fundamentally the love of expanding the feeling of being one's self absolutely at the expense of all others, which in the concrete is the love of ruling, and of possessing what others have and enjoy. The love of others expands into the love of the neighbour, for the sake of his welfare and usefulness to the community. The fundamental love is the love we receive from the Lord, who is Love Itself and the source of all derived loves. The Lord loves each of us for our own sakes, and He loves all through each. The two opposite qualities of human love arise from the fact that when we receive the Lord's love we may by the exercise of freedom and rationality give it either of two opposite directions ; we may pervert it by directing it to self to the exclusion of others, or we may take it in its original intent as the love of others, and use it for the good of others. The choice between these alternatives is the essence and the origin of freedom and rationality.
When we define others as the neighbour, we may distinguish various degrees of comprehensiveness both of love and of its objects ; somewhat after the manner of Aristotle in the first paragraph of the Nicomachean Ethics where he arranges ends in an ascending series to the Supreme Good. According to Swedenborg's scale of the " degrees of the neighbour," we have, bearing in mind that real love of the neighbour is the Lord's love of others received and transmitted by us, with knowledge and acknowledgement of its source and quality, first, and in the narrowest sense, one's own body, when it is cared for to secure the welfare of the mind. The mind is the neighbour in the next degree and in a larger sense, when its welfare is cherished for the sake of a useful life. So also one's immediate family and household is the neighbour in a larger degree when its use in the community is kept in view. As still larger and higher degrees of the neighbour, we have the circle of relatives and friends, the community in which we live, the city, the state, humanity at large, the Church as a whole, the Lord's universal kingdom, and highest of all the Lord Himself, Whose love constitutes all degrees of the neighbour and Who is the supreme object of human love. It is pathetically true that no one loves any of these several objects to the full extent of his capacity, but presumably many, if not most, civilized and Christian people love them to some degree. The love, in thought and conduct, of any one or more of these graded objects as a chosen and regulative end constitutes a moral life ; and the elevated quality of the moral life is exhibited in the ascending degrees of the neighbour. We have in this ascending scale the standard with reference to which the moral life is constituted and judged ; in this way its stability is maintained.
The Philosophy of Love has never been systematically applied either to religion or to ethics, but it has been more or less distinctly involved in systems of metaphysics. As an outstanding example, it may be said that the philosophy of Plotinus is implicitly a philosophy of love. Plotinus, of course, gets his clue from Plato. Although Plato does not make love fundamental in his metaphysics, he does give it in the " Symposium," especially in the speech of Socrates, a primary function in arriving at the idea of absolute Beauty. And the same might be said of love in the process of arriving at the idea of absolute Good, or of absolute Truth. While it is true that Plotinus in his book on Love treats it mythologically, not metaphysically, nevertheless, if we interpret his ultimate reality in terms of concrete experience, and ask what experience it is that is meant by " The One," we have to answer that it is undifferentiated and undefinable feeling. The " Ecstasy " in which absorption in " The One " is realized is a state of exalted feeling, and this feeling is central in all mystic philosophy. Furthermore, for Plotinus the absolute Good is identical with " The One." Now inasmuch as feeling is a quality of love and good the object of love, we may very properly say that the philosophy of Plotinus is a philosophy of love. This conclusion is of primary metaphysical and historical importance, for Plotinus was a metaphysical genius of the highest order, and his insight is traceable in all the great systems of subsequent metaphysics. In mediaeval philosophy, the issue between Thomas Aquinas and Duns Scotus as to the primacy of the intellect or will involved the nature of love, for it is obvious that the will is the organ of love. In the rationalism of Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz, the function of reason is made supreme. Yet, in Spinoza and Leibniz we have, if not some recognition, at least an implied primacy of Love. With Leibniz, this is seen in his definition and development of the Monad. The impulse to change is recognizable as a fundamental property of love; and the development of the Monad is the process of love, acquiring differentiation, specification, and comprehensiveness. There is, however, an antipodal difference between the method of Leibniz and that of Swedenborg. Leibniz begins with the least atom of experience and enlarges its dimensions. Swedenborg begins with the all-embracing whole of experience, and proceeds by differentiation and specification from the universal to the particular and the individual. Leibniz took the atomic theory as his model, freeing the atom of its material characteristics. Swedenborg took as his model the process of distinction within the whole, and proceeded with the development of the particulars out of the whole, somewhat after the manner of the mediaeval metaphysical and corresponding logical hierarchy. With Leibniz the whole was reason, with Swedenborg the whole was love. Later we have the naturalistic sensationalism before and after Berkeley, which would require drastic transformation to fit it into the philosophy of love. The extraordinary development of Romanticism at the hands of Rousseau, and more extravagantly at the hands of Fichte and Schelling, was obviously a philosophy of feeling, emotion, and sentiment, and these are merely expressions of love. Schopenhauer's The World as Will and Idea is an indirect reference to love as the ultimate metaphysical reality ; for as we have said, the will is the organ of love, it is that through which love operates to reach its ends. More recently we have in the anti-intellectualism of Bergson and James a very deliberate acceptance of Voluntarism. This is radically asserted in James's Will to Believe. The recent development of voluntaristic psychology is a signal evidence of the fundamental position of love in human experience. In F. H. Bradley's epoch-making Appearance and Reality, we see a transition from intellectualism to mysticism. Bradley's ultimate reality is "a whole of experience transcendent for thought.' This is akin to the transcendent " One " of Plotinus. But the most systematic development of the metaphysics of love is Royce's The World and the Individual. For him, ultimate reality is fulfilment of purpose ; and, as we have attempted to show, all purpose is the purpose of love. Royce also defines the individual as that which love chooses, and thereby makes to be an individual. It seems, then, that with very slight transformation Royce's metaphysics could be interpreted as a metaphysics of love. This is deeply significant, for the reason that it may be said that Royce's philosophy is the culmination of modern metaphysics.
This rapid survey goes to show that the history of philosophy when fundamentally interpreted involves a philosophy of love, and supports the thesis that Love is the Ultimate Reality.