TRANSACTIONS Number Three
ULTIMATE REALITY is the proper designation of the subject about which philosophy is peculiarly concerned.
In assigning me this subject, therefore, the Congress is asking that I present my views on the central theme of metaphysics, and yet I am not sure that this effort would be the natural response to the present occasion.
I presume there is on the part of this assembly a general agreement as to what ultimate reality is ; and accordingly I am expected to make some comments on what we all have more or less definitely in mind. In other words, I take it for granted that among students of Swedenborg there is complete agreement as to the doctrine that God is the only really existing and self-subsisting being in the universe. So, then, we may say at once, God is the ultimate reality, and our thoughts thus pass from the realm of philosophy to that of theology.
But I do not interpret my task as identical with that of dogmatic or even systematic theology, and I am sure you would all be disappointed if I should content myself with merely reciting Swedenborg's familiar doctrines about the nature of God and the world.
Indeed, the mere recital of these doctrines would raise questions of interpretation of the most profound and far-reaching kind. If, for instance, we should say God is love and wisdom and add that love and wisdom are the very and only substance and form, we make an assertion that goes to the very bottom of metaphysics. If, now, we note that the point of this doctrine is philosophically that substance and form are love and wisdom rather than that love and wisdom are substance and form, we see that it presents a new view of substance and form. So, too, if we affirm that God is love we merely repeat Christian tradition, but if we assert that love is God we announce the fundamental thesis of a new revelation, a thesis which gives new significance to the word love, and transforms the theological doctrine that God is the ultimate reality to the philosophical statement that the ultimate reality is love. It seems inevitable, then, that I must, with what light I have from our doctrines and from history in general, undertake to say what ultimate reality is as I conceive it. First, then, let us glance at history.
From the days of the early Greeks, all down through the ages to the present time, the intellectual energies of the master minds of our race have been directed to the underlying problems of existence and of life. The human mind is so constituted that the facts of ordinary experience inevitably suggest deeper meanings ; but the practical exigencies of daily life also demand a knowledge of the relations and connections of things sufficient to ensure the success of foresight, purpose, and method. In this way the intellectual and the practical needs of mankind have combined in infinitely various fashion to bring order and system into the field of raw experience. Success and failure, trial and error, furnish the workshop for sharpening wits and acquiring skill. The fit and the unfit, the deceptive and the certain, the changing and the permanent, the varying and the constant, the apparent and the known, tend to fall into familiar and convenient groups which henceforth serve the purposes of both practical and intellectual control and progress. Under these circumstances, as the inevitable outcome of practical and rational intelligence, the distinction between appearance and reality was established, and the notion of ultimate reality gradually came to be defined. Ordinary practical life is satisfied with relative stability and permanence in the objects with which it has to do. The timber and stones, the bricks and mortar, the iron and steel with which we build our houses, keep their shape and stay where they are put sufficiently to ensure the correctness of calculations made generations and centuries before. On the other hand, trees and plants, and especially animals, exhibit changes of growth, decay and movement such that no certain prediction about their future condition at any given time is possible. To-day the grass is in the field, to-morrow it is cast into the oven. The very predicate of existence, when we press it too hard, becomes ambiguous and uncertain. We cannot say is and keep to it. The " is " passes inevitably and almost instantaneously into " was." The predicate of existence, under such stress and strain, becomes infected with change and variety, so that it seems, superficially at any rate, impossible to assert existence without qualification in any case whatsoever. The granite rocks and the everlasting hills appear to the eye of the geologist as momentary aspects of all-pervading change. Panta chorei kai ouden menei, as the wise men of old said. All things are in a flux ; nothing is. Thus we see that the practical stability of things becomes, on further acquaintance, merely relative. But relative stability suggests degrees, while practical convenience forces the task of distinguishing the more from the less stable, thus setting up a serial arrangement which would, upon the supervening of intellectual motives, be carried back to the least and forward to the greatest degree of stability. Such a scheme of things occasions the rational demand for absolute stability on the one hand, and the entire lack of stability on the other. These demands are satisfied by that which is changeless from any and every point of view, and that which is ever changing. The motives herein concerned are genuine and constant human motives, ever operative and ever effective. They lead in one direction to the conception of the real as that which is absolutely abiding, superior to all change and yet the ground of all change. In the other direction they lead to the conception of a universal, ceaseless flux.
These motives were conspicuously present in early Greek philosophy. The world of humanity was already very, very old when the Greek race first appeared upon the stage of history. General views of the world and of life had become common property, so as to be motives and subjects for literary treatment. Intellectual interests had begun to stir the minds of men with larger and deeper questions than those which the needs of ordinary practical life made urgent. This was the situation when Early Greek philosophy entered upon its unique and brilliant career. In the older mythologies and cosmogonies, the world of phenomena had been partially reduced to order and system. 2, and the eldest of the gods, Eros appear as representing the beginning. Thence follows the generation and order of things down to the present world of ordinary observation. Here that which is original, the beginner and the begetter, appears as the ultimate reality. The prime source of things and the powers of begetting, or production, are looked to for explanation of the actual world, and in mythological language a complete explanation was given. But such explanations did not go very far in accounting for the actual present behaviour of things. Attention was accordingly more and more directed to the existing order, and interest was transferred from questions of origin to questions as to the present. The question, What the world was at the beginning? was changed to, What the world is now? as it stands. When, therefore, Thales, 600 years B.C., declared that all things came from water, he gave expression to a new view of the world. For when Anaximenes said the world was mist, when Anaximander said it was the boundless, when Heraclitus said it was fire, and Empedocles that it was earth, air, fire and water, and Anaxagoras that it was a mixture of an infinite number of infinitely small elements or seeds, they all gave substantially the same answer, namely, that the world is a single homogeneous body, or a mixture of such bodies, and all things are made out of this body or mixture. Reflection upon these various answers, and criticism of them, led to the recognition of other general features of the world besides background and things. Heraclitus directed attention to all-pervading change. For him the world is a process, and fire is the body which constitutes this process. Fire is the reality ; the things which we observe are mere stages and appearances which this ever-living fire undergoes and presents. The philosophy of Heraclitus makes the fact of change central, fundamental, and real. Parmenides, on the other hand, directed attention to the fact of permanence. To ordinary observation, things abide and also change. But, said Heraclitus, look a little closer and you will see that everything changes. Nothing really remains the same from moment to moment. In the upward movement of the flame and the unceasing motion of the flowing river, we have the true types of the real nature of things.
Parmenides, however, insisted that if you look still closer you will see that change is mere appearance and presupposes the permanent. A thing must persist through its changes if it is to exhibit change at all. That which persists in and through change is the real in things. The real world, then, is a changeless, homogeneous, continuous body, without beginning or end in time.
These two views of the world recognize and emphasize two fundamental characters of experience, and they have maintained themselves in all subsequent metaphysics. The effort to reconcile them forced early Greek philosophy to its final position. It was seen that the real world must be in some sense abiding ; it was also seen that variety and change must in some way belong to it. The issue between permanence and change, oneness and variety, was definitely sharpened by the conflict between the uncompromising monism of Parmenides and the thoroughgoing Pythagorean pluralism. According to the latter doctrine, the world is number, and things are made out of numbers, not, of course, abstract, but concrete numbers. But, if things are made up of a number of parts, then the parts themselves would be made up of still smaller parts, and so on ad infinitum. In other words, anything, however small, would be made up of an infinite number of parts, and it would follow that if these parts have any magnitude whatsoever the thing would be infinitely large ; if no magnitude, the thing would be nothing. So that everything would be at once so small as to be nothing at all, or so large as to be infinitely large. It was these consequences which the famous undying paradoxes of Zeno brought out with inexorable logic and precision. From Zeno's criticism it was seen to be practically necessary to put a stop to division, and to assume real bodies so small as to be no longer capable of natural division. It was in this way that early Greek thought reached the atomic theory. Taken separately, these invisible and indivisible bodies had all the properties of the Parmenidean " One," and could be real in the Parmenidean sense ; taken together, they provide for change and variety by their movements and combinations. This theory forces Heraclitus, Pythagoras, and Parmenides to terms, and in a way satisfies their demands. The world, for this theory, consists of atoms, motion, and void. Solid bodies moving in empty space, give us, by their combinations, the many and various things of the actual world. The real world, then, is matter in motion. This is the answer which early Greek philosophy gave, and for scientific purposes it is the most definite and satisfactory answer that has ever been given.
We are left in the dark as to the fate of the atomic theory during the transition period from early Greek philosophy to that of Plato and Aristotle, but the penetrating analysis of sense perception, summed up in the dictum of Protagoras, " Man is the measure of all things," laid the basis for a new departure, and gave rise to the problem of knowledge which has held the centre of the stage in philosophy ever since. Protagoras left philosophy with the simple question, If in sense perception we know directly only our sensations, has knowledge a real object, and what is that object ? This question cannot be answered in terms of the atomic theory, for the atom is clearly but a minimized object of sense perception, and so is, strictly speaking, a sensation, no more real than any other sensation. Like other sensations, its existence depends on the state of the perceiver, and, therefore, it has no independent reality. This seems to be the course of thought which led the classic age of Greek philosophy to the prompt and final rejection of the atomic theory and to the search for reality in another direction.
Socrates emphasized the practical certainty of knowledge as presupposed in conduct. Man is characteristically and essentially a moral being, whose real nature consists in expressing purposes. But a purpose is, from one point of view, an ideal, or a concept. The business of the moral life, therefore, is to form clear concepts and express them in conduct. Plato lifted such concepts into a purely abstract realm and gave them an independent existence. The doctrine of ideas was thus substituted in philosophy for the atomic theory. The real world is now the world of independent ideas, rather than independent atoms. The world as it is for thought takes the place of the world as it is for sense. In this way the search for the abiding, for that which is ever one and the same, was ended, since it is the very nature of a concept to be unalterable, to persist in all its applications, and to furnish the eternal standard by which all expressions and embodiments of it are to be tested. It is the eternal truth. The logical and epistemological grounds of this doctrine are so firm, and so deeply embedded in human experience, that it has occupied the field of philosophy ever since as the only successful rival of materialism, and as the mainstay and justification of all the highest aspirations and strivings of men. Thereafter, the ultimate reality was sought not in the sensuous world, as had been the case in early Greek philosophy, but in the supersensuous. The things of the spirit of man were placed above the things of the body. Spirit, not matter, was the eternal substance of things. This has been the contention of all idealistic philosophies down to the present day.
Aristotle did little to modify this doctrine, but he did much to work out its consequences in detail. It is far from my intention to attempt any critical summary of Aristotelian philosophy. This philosophy was in some respects the unique intellectual achievement of the race, and was the culmination of what was, perhaps, the race's supreme intellectual effort. Never was the human intellect so stirred as during the period spanned by the lives of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. A page of Aristotle's Metaphysics taken at random gives a bewildering impression of the almost desperate intellectual struggle of the Greek mind of his day. Aristotle's achievement was the complete organization of human science on the basis of a marvellously simplified conceptual apparatus. The scheme of things which he constructed on this basis was transmitted to posterity, and has become the web and tissue of our common knowledge, so that Aristotelianism is but another name for our modern common-sense. If, however, we look closely at the metaphysical character of Aristotelianism, we shall see that the system is determined by two fundamental influences : the habits of language and the requirements of abstract thought. We have already seen how the practical needs of mankind led to the analysis and reconstruction of experience, and how early Greek philosophy followed out these motives in the construction of the atomic theory. Aristotle, on the basis of results so reached, immensely extended and systematized the field of inquiry, and carried forward analysis and reconstruction under the stimulus of motives more purely intellectual. We know from the Metaphysics that Aristotle read early Greek philosophy as a more or less blind attempt to work out the notion of cause, and he saw in it a greater or less approximation to his own doctrine of the four conceptions of cause. It appeared to him naturally that early Greek philosophy was concerned especially with the material cause. Whereas if we take his system as a whole, it is evident that he placed the emphasis on the efficient cause, and his philosophy took the form of a system of development. But the notion of development itself presupposes that of formal cause and also that of final cause. The final cause in turn presupposed a universe complete and perfect in idea, in whole and in part ; and the formal cause, as original essence, by its own development, realized this ideal. To Aristotle, the Heraclitean flux was the process in which and by which essence developed its specific quality and its own proper form. The form, as end or terminus of movement, was also object of striving, and as such already present in its completeness as idea. It is obvious that we have here a carefully thought out attempt to give in biological terms a specific meaning to Plato's notions of expression and participation of the idea. In this view, the universe already and eternally exists, spread out to view, one and complete. Movement and change, birth, growth, decay and death, are merely transitions from point to point within this static whole. The world of variety and qualities thus dissolves into the changeless body of the Parmenidean " One," and we need to take only one step more to enter the mechanical world of pure mathematics. This outcome was made inevitable by the presuppositions of Early Greek philosophy which Aristotle, on the basis of language and common-sense, appropriated without criticism.
Early Greek philosophy, as we saw, began with the idea of a common background to the body of phenomena, and the term used to designate it was phusis? (nature). This notion of phusis as the material background of all the phenomena of the actual world was a permanent and, it would seem, an ineradicable achievement of human thought. It is the ultimate basis of all forms of materialism, and has its origin in the peculiar function of the intellect itself. It may take the form of Democritean atoms, or the centres of force of Boscovich, or a homogeneous ethereal medium. In all these forms it is the outcome of analysis which has its beginning in the ordinary operations of the intellect in practical life. Practical life demands stable objects, objects that remain self-identical, unchanged throughout any given operation; it achieves success by selecting or constructing such objects. All our intellectual operations primarily serve our practical life by discovering or by establishing order among such objects. The essence of this intellectual activity consists in detaching from the concrete life the character of permanence. In the course of time, this element of permanence is universalized and made the presupposition of all thought and the basis of all life. Thus universalized, it is what the Greeks called phusis, and what we call nature.
But the process of analysis and abstraction does not stop here. The element of permanence is individualized and located in a system of conceptual objects, giving rise to what we call the world of concepts, in Platonic language the world of ideas. The further the process of abstraction is carried, and the more the concepts are simplified, the nearer the approach to a mere system of relations in the homogeneous field of empty space. In other words, we are led by this process to a world which takes on more and more the character of a rigid mechanical system. This is precisely the result achieved by the human intellect in the development of Greek philosophy from Thales to Aristotle. Aristotle's God was the apotheosis of the element of permanence, the unchanging and the unmoved cause of the world. His universe was a static whole, already complete, in which succession and quality were reducible ultimately to bare moments, and time itself was only a one-dimensional and reversible way of taking points in the spread-out field of space. Any critical estimate of Aristotle's philosophy must do justice to the various and complicated human motives which everywhere pervade it, but we must look for the key in the aims and methods of his analysis. A pupil of Plato for twenty years, and, as a consequence, a master of dialectic and of historical movements, his gigantic intellect swept the field of nature and of experience with penetrating insight and marvelous comprehensiveness. He gathered up, sifted, and recast the results of human thinking even though already presented by the consummate genius of Plato. The outcome was determined by one single controlling conception, the conception of subject. This conception leads back to the lucres of early Greek philosophy, and now appears under the two-fold aspect of material cause and of essence ; the universal underlying background of phenomena; the substantia of the Latin ; what we English know as substance, the bearer of qualities, activities, changes ; in short, the subject of predicates. Whatever may be the metaphysical value of that which we call substance or thing, we are indebted to Aristotle for the clear and definite conception of it, and we do not have to look far for his motives and methods of procedure. We have seen that the world of practical life, with its concrete objects in all their variety and changes, falls a victim to the processes of analysis and abstraction which are demanded as the necessary conditions of practical success. Stability, plasticity, movability, divisibility, self-identity, and independence, are the properties which practical success demands and utilizes ; and these are precisely the characters which the intellect discovers, abstracts, and transforms into a conceptual world. No doubt these processes would go on under any conditions where the will and intellect could co-operate, but the supreme agency for promoting the accumulation, preservation, and organization of such experience is the faculty of speech and the use of language. But the development of language itself is due to the intellectual functions of attention, discrimination, selection—in a word, analysis and abstraction. Language is a very simple but effective means of preserving the results of these processes. When a character is once noticed and a name is given it, the name then serves to recall it and so preserve it. Language thus serves practical convenience and acquires practical importance. It is a shorthand method of reproducing and forecasting experience. But it is equally serviceable for intellectual purposes, both as a register and a shorthand method of thought. This dependence of intellect upon speech gradually develops a habit which is further cultivated by reading and writing. So that ordinary thought is in such wise symbolic that mere words are used in the place of conceptions, and systems of word-building become themselves objects of construction and reflection. The result is, we have in due course the science of grammar and that marvellous creation about which the science of grammar revolves the sentence. The sentence is the unique embodiment of conceptual thought. The subject represents the oneness and changelessness of the concept, and the predicate represents the various qualities and relations of the concept. The two simple elements of the sentence thus acquire metaphysical and logical value. Thought proceeds, as we have seen, by severing an observed character from the concrete experience in which it is found. This tree is green, that tree is green, and so on indefinitely. Here " tree " stands for the abiding background, and " green " for the constant character. We have various terms for designating this distinction. In grammar it is substantive and adjective ; in metaphysics it is thing and quality, substance and form, or substance and attribute ; in logic, subject and predicate, term and relation, subject and object. Now, observe that both subject and predicate are concepts, and the concepts are united by a third concept which we call a relation. The two concepts in this relation become subject and predicate, and constitute what we call a judgment. The judgment, expressed in words, is the sentence.
This analysis was required to emphasize the fact that thought proceeds with concepts, and language is the product of thought ; but thought itself has developed historically as the servant of practical life, and has been controlled by this use. Nevertheless, after having reached a certain stage of development, thought became itself the object of independent interest, and it may be said that Greek philosophy culminated in the triumph of this interest. In other words, Aristotle's logic was the characteristic achievement of Greek philosophy.
In the light of the foregoing discussion we are now able to see that the inevitable outcome of Aristotle's philosophy was empty formalism, a reduction of all concrete experience to abstract conceptions. His analysis of experience stopped with the identification of concepts, and his logic was a formal treatment of concepts in abstracto. It inhered in his undertaking that the further he went in the investigation and treatment of formal thought the further he left behind him both the concrete experience and the practical life from which he set out. This criticism, however, does not in the least depreciate the value of his achievement. It merely calls attention to its proper character and function in the development of philosophy. Nor does it ignore the fact that Aristotle's conception of reality was far richer than that which the logical outcome of his method indicated. We need to be reminded that Aristotle was not fully conscious of his task as metaphysician. He accepted in the main the results of Early Greek philosophy. He adopted without thoroughgoing criticism the presuppositions of ordinary thought and common-sense. He saw in language the natural, characteristic, and fundamental expression of reality, and in the sentence the fundamental constitution of reality. He overlooked the fact that thought is only one of the functions of life, and that it is subservient to life, that it springs out of concrete experience and is developed primarily out of purely practical interests. Under the requirements of practical and social life, it produces the elements of speech and the form of the sentence. In this way the sentence acquires metaphysical value, and for ordinary thought determines metaphysical theory. Aristotle unwittingly and uncritically took the grammarian's point of view, and made the structure of the sentence the basis of his metaphysics. His logic developed from this starting-point. The grammatical subject represented the ultimate reality, and the predicate represented the various states, qualities and activities of reality. This at once commits us to all the consequences of intellectualism, and in the end, as we have seen, to materialism.
Subsequent history shows how these consequences were brought out and adhered to. It is unnecessary to trace the course of the post-Aristotelian schools, or to point out that the Stoics and the Epicureans, working with Aristotelian conceptions, ended in constructing a purely mechanical universe. The one bright spot in the metaphysics of this period was that created by the transcendent genius of Plotinus, who for the first time in the history of philosophy subjected the nature of thought to systematic and penetrating criticism, and who made out clearly its instrumental and derivative character. As against Aristotle, he denied the ultimate reality of thought and affirmed that of feeling. Unfortunately, he had only Aristotelian terms and concepts to work with, and these were inadequate for the expression of his insight.
Scholasticism was a revival of Aristotelianism, and moved strictly within Aristotelian metaphysics. Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz had the advantage of the new scientific movement ; but they, too, accepted as fundamental the subject-predicate metaphysics of Aristotle, and endeavoured to build their systems upon it. Descartes made a deliberate attempt to turn his back on tradition and make a fresh start, but he very soon fell into the Aristotelian net. The self- assertive, self-certain ego which Augustine had made fundamental in metaphysics, Descartes cast into the mould of Aristotle's subject-predicate formula, and proceeded to develop his system in terms of Aristotelian logic and upon the lines of familiar tradition. His res cogitans and res extensa were simple reaffirmations of the old doctrine of substance ; and the two worlds, the spiritual and the material, were merely new editions of our familiar friends, the sensuous and the super-sensuous realms of Plato.
Spinoza developed the doctrine of substance in a more strictly systematic way, and for the first time brought out the intellectualistic and materialistic implications of that doctrine.
Leibniz, with the possible exception of Plotinus, the greatest metaphysician since Plato, made some significant alterations in the traditional conception of substance, and by his doctrine of monads freed it in a measure from materialistic implications. But even Leibniz, with all his genius for analysis and reconstruction, fell a victim to intellectualism. His monads turn out in the end to be little more than positions in space. His universe is one in which nothing ever really happens. The monad, and the universe which it reflects, are what they are, fixed and eternal. Nothing from the outside can affect or change the monad, and there is nothing in the universe which is not already in the monad. In other words, the ultimately real thing in the universe is the monad and its states, and these states are eternally self-identical and changeless. Whatever may be said of this outcome, Leibniz has the lasting credit of carrying out to the logical conclusion the fundamental conceptions which inhere in any subject-predicate philosophy taken as an ultimate metaphysic. Every philosophy which makes substance its fundamental category ends, as first Spinoza and after him Leibniz showed, in reducing the universe to states of this substance. The universe is, then, truly describable by propositions which express only analytical judgments. The so-called synthetic judgments are merely premature and provisional forms of thought, which are convenient for the time being, but which must in the end be set aside and replaced by the analytic. In other words, all characters, qualities, and properties which are expressed by predicates, inhere in the subject and are evolved from the subject. These characters, as such, exist eternally in the subject, and our universe falls back into a static, self-identical repose. This follows for the reason that both substance and quality are abstractions and, as such, are colourless, changeless, self-identical concepts. Such a universe is the product of abstraction, and was already prefigured in the first attempts of mankind to use intellectual processes in the service of practical life, where distinction, separation, analysis, and reconstruction are necessary for success.
We see from this rapid survey that philosophy chose from the first the intellectualistic trend, that Aristotle forged its fundamental conceptions, and that Spinoza and Leibniz worked these conceptions out to their logical consequences.
After Leibniz, philosophy either went off into psychological and epistemological excursions, or became severely self-critical. Criticism found its best expression in the Kantean episode. The constructive efforts of German idealism may occupy us later, as will also the more recent metaphysics of the present day.
It is now time to fix our attention upon a figure and a doctrine which appeared in the world's intellectual firmament almost without historical associations or historical introduction. The figure was that of Emanuel Swedenborg, and the doctrine was his doctrine of love.
In spite of his sudden and unique appearance upon the world's stage, however, Swedenborg had some historical relations which must be constantly borne in mind ; otherwise we are liable to misread him. The fact that he wrote in scholastic Latin puts him in the current of Aristotelian tradition, since, as we have seen, scholasticism is only Aristotle in mediaeval Christian dress. In using the language of scholasticism, Swedenborg naturally adopted the terms and conceptions of Aristotelian philosophy. This gives his language the superficial appearance of abstract conceptualism and almost mechanical dogmatism, which has misled many casual and especially unsympathetic readers. Nevertheless, we have here the key to his historical position, and it is necessary to acquire a competent knowledge both of scholasticism and of Aristotle as a preparation for reading him with critical accuracy.
A more direct relation to history is indicated by the fact that he was educated at Upsala during the period of the Cartesian controversy, and was thus brought under the spell of the revolutionary spirit, and imbued with the fresh intellectual impulses of the age. His frequent references to Aristotle, and his careful study of Wolf, suggest that he was at home in the earliest and latest phases of traditional philosophy ; but there is little indication that he ever subjected philosophy in whole or in part to systematic criticism. On the other hand, it seems to have been his habitual method to take the terms and conceptions as he found them, embedded in the language and thought of his day, and use them for his own purpose without caring to keep strictly to their historical meaning. So that in a general way we may consider Swedenborg's philosophy as resting, in language at least, rather freely upon the basis of scholasticism and common-sense understanding by common-sense the popularized results of previous philosophies. When, therefore, we approach the study of Swedenborg we must expect to meet the usual mechanical metaphors of ordinary speech and popular science, as well as the technical terms and conceptions of a highly refined philosophical vocabulary. At the same time we must be prepared to see a free use of these as instruments, and be ever careful to interpret them in the light of his own point of view and purpose.
Our rapid sketch of the history of philosophy has shown us that the notion of ultimate reality has followed two apparently diverse tendencies, the one ending in the atomic theory, and the other in a system of abstract ideas. Around the former have gathered all the interests of materialism, and around the latter the spiritual ideals and aspirations of civilized mankind. But the tendencies are really identical, for the atomic theory is only a convenient stopping-place in the process of analysis which, when carried out rigorously, ends in a system of mere positions in space, and this is precisely the outcome of pushing the analysis of ideas to the extreme. It is really due to misconception and confusion that idealistic and spiritual interests have centred about a conceptual world. Such a world is as far as possible removed from the actual spiritual world. The spiritual world, like the Kingdom of God, is within you. We must therefore turn our backs on any and every form of conceptual world whatsoever when we approach Swedenborg for his answer to the question : " What is ultimate reality ? "
Swedenborg's ultimate reality is in the strictest sense spiritual. His spiritual world was made known to him in concrete living experience. The Divine nature was revealed to him in the depths of religious feeling and intuition. The world of nature was to him a mirror of the Divine and the human. God was to him the perfect type of concrete life, equally removed from Stoic pantheism and from the transcendental, abstract wisdom of Aristotle. Ultimate reality was located by him not in a far-off conceptual region, but was directly sought in the infinite complexity, variety, and richness of experience as it comes.
Already, in the Principia, Swedenborg had come to see the futility of attempting to discover reality by processes of analysis. He saw that logical and mathematical entities carry you into a field where analysis breaks down, and where the complexities of life again assert themselves as the real background. Again, in the work, The Infinite, although the demands of reason are freely and fully conceded, rational analysis gives place in the end to the direct affirmation of personal life as the properly apprehensible reality. Later, in Divine Love and Wisdom. (229), we have the definite and explicit statement that analysis does not arrive at any simple entity such as the atom or ultimate particle, but discovers greater and greater complexity.
Indeed, throughout the period of his illumination Swedenborg consistently assigned to rationality as its true function the task of taking what was given to it in spiritual perception, and in this light establishing relations between the various kinds and degrees of life, especially between natural and spiritual life. According to him, the substantive element in life is not thought, but feeling ; the element to which we refer such functions as effort, striving, want, satisfaction, fulfilment, joy, and the like. Life in its first intention is, for reflection, that more or less undifferentiated mass of awareness, that sense of existence, of well-being, of efficiency, of fulness and wholeness which is the common background, source and fountain of all particulars, and of all development. Swedenborg sums up the situation and points us to the central and fundamental feature of experience in the opening number of Divine Love and Wisdom, by the simple formula, " Life is love." Swedenborg's doctrine of love is a new conception in the history of human thought, and philosophically it is the most important of all the fundamental conceptions which mankind has framed. All of his other great doctrines grow out of it, and it is destined to modify fundamentally the philosophy of the world.
In the opening number of Divine Love and Wisdom, and earlier in Arcana Coelestia, Swedenborg notes the distinguishing mark which separates experience into the twofold aspects of the immediate, unreflective, massive on the one hand, and the mediate, reflective, articulate on the other. The former he designates by the term love, and makes the critical observation that men have not known what love is, though they have known of its existence, as the use of the word itself testifies ; and he explains that men have not known what love is because, when they reflect upon it, they always observe some particular state or affection of love, some quality distinguished and selected, and so dissociated from the total mass ; or, as we shall say later, externalized and objectified ; but of the love in its immediacy and wholeness, no idea, mental image or representation can be formed. That love is life may be argued from the fact that the word can be used with the names of all the functions of life, as the love of eating, of music, of nature, of God, and so on indefinitely ; and, further, it is demonstrated by the simple experiment of taking away all the affections of love, and observing that the activities of life cease.
Swedenborg further remarks in criticism of the whole course of philosophy down to his own day, that for lack of knowing what love is men have made one or the other of two fundamental mistakes : maintaining either that thought is life or that action is life. The former is the view of Aristotelianism and in general of all forms of intellectualismin short, the view of traditional philosophy ; the latter, of all schools of materialism. Swedenborg corrects both of these philosophies by affirming that thought is the first effect of life, action the second effect. He goes on to make a distinction in the grades of thought, and says that, strictly speaking, the first effect of life is the thought or perception of ends. This is inmost thought, or the highest degree of thought, while thought of means and thought of results, of accomplished facts, are of relatively lower grade. This passage (Divine Love and Wisdom, No. 2) is important, not only because of its effective criticism of historic opinion, but because it gives us the key to Swedenborg's philosophical point of view and method. For there is implied in this statement his doctrine of end, cause and effecta doctrine which gives us the fundamental conceptions of his metaphysics (Divine Love and Wisdom, Nos. 167-7 2).
We have already seen that Scholasticism was the outcome of the recovery and appropriation of Greek thought as presented and transmitted in the works of Aristotle. We have also seen that Aristotle's fundamental conceptions centred about the notions of subject and predicate, or the notion of substance. The notion of substance also plays a large part in Swedenborg's philosophy. Ordinarily, he uses it in the familiar scholastic context, and, when treating it abstractedly, helps out his meaning by the regular scholastic terms, esse, ipsum, unicum, causa prima, and others. Aristotle, we remember, undertook to interpret Early Greek philosophy as a search for causes, and he reduced the conceptions of cause to four. But he finally resolved the notion of cause into that of substance. Nevertheless, he set out in the Metaphysics to show that prima philosophia, the highest and most complete stage of knowledge, is the knowledge of causes. This idea was transmitted to Scholasticism, and reappears variously in Swedenborg. But both the notion of substance and the notion of cause were used by him concretely in a way that gave them virtually a new meaning, and it is in his doctrine of love that he gives them this concrete meaning.
In the case of substance this is done most effectively, perhaps, in Divine Love and Wisdom, Nos. 40-46, where he identifies substance with love. The point of this teaching is not so much that love is substance as it is that substance is love. In other words, we are not to identify love with the abstract conceptual entity ordinarily termed substance, but rather we are to take the word substance with its whole meaning, and apply it to that concrete living experience which we know directly, immediately and intimately as love. This doctrine, so interpreted, constitutes a new epoch in the history of philosophy, for according to it we turn in our search for reality from the world of abstract conceptions at once to the actual, concrete world of living experience ; and this experience, in all its fulness and variety, we now call love. The whole body of Swedenborg's doctrine, and the philosophy contained in it, is literally an exposition of the nature of love. In this doctrine, love has many aspects ; psychological, moral, religious, theological and metaphysical. Our present purpose limits us specifically to the metaphysical. The proper starting-point for the treatment of this aspect is the development of love in the series of end, cause, and effect.
We saw that Aristotle, in treating substance as essence, constructed a theory of development wherein the two notions of cause, the formal and the final, played the chief roles. But Aristotle's method led him off into the consequences of abstract conceptual and mechanical analysis, where all life was in the end excluded.
Swedenborg adopts the notion of end, but keeps it concrete and living by conceiving it as a present state or affection of love. Any such present state, when made focal to attention and ipso facto objectified, carries with it the quality and meaning of the love from which it springs, and so is representative of the love. In other words, the love sees its own quality and meaning reflected, revealed, and existent in the state as in a specific instance. When the state or affection, with its quality and meaning, is taken as thus representative, the meaning suggests fulfilment, and this becomes an object of desire, striving, and anticipated satisfaction. The formation and existence of such states are characteristic of life. The process involves all those functions which correspond to the words awareness, consciousness, feeling, emotion, effort, striving, longing, change, activity, force, movement, and a host of others, which are all summed up in the word love. All these qualities lie behind the state and seek expression in it ; and it belongs to the intimate and constant nature of love to project and constitute such states. It is its creative function, a function of self-projection, generation, limitation, definition. To use a gross figure of speech, though one consecrated by Plotinus, love is the total mass of feeling or awareness which bubbles over in those forms of experience we call particular states or affections. To use a figure less materialistic, love is the body of spirit which possesses all the qualities it reveals, and these, as they emerge in distinct consciousness are observed, are identified as persistent or frequent, and are defined as uniform ; receive names, and so become fixed, established, and communicable features of experience. Such qualities come to view out of the depths of love unceasingly and with endless variety. Being present, living, self-conscious, self-identical affections of love, they are its self-representative images, in which the love sees its own longing for self-realization reproduced in the definite striving of the particular affection. In this relation, the affection presents to the love the opportunity for further fulfilment ; and as offering such fulfilment the affection is an end. The character of fulfilment is fundamental in the processes of life. Around it cluster innumerable functions which are, as it were, polarized with respect to it. The elements of desire, longing, striving, effort, and the like, are distinguished from those of satisfaction, contentment, enjoyment, realization, fulfilment, achievement, and so on. The latter are set over against and contrasted with the former. In this way the characters of nearness and remoteness arise as contrasting features of experience. Nearness means the feeling of intimacy and immediacy ; and these, as properties of the former group, are referred to the basic, undifferentiated total background which, in the language of our present discourse, we call the active, generating, particularizing love. This reference is made by such words as " I," " me," " subject," " subjective." On the other hand, the group of characters clustering about the element of fulfilment are more and more dissociated from the primary mass and consolidated into an independent group. The process here involved we denote variously by such words as " project," " externalize," " objectify " ; while of the group thus distinguished and set off, we use, among others, the words " objective " and " object." Meanwhile, all that we are really doing is simply observing the affections of love and making distinctions in its activities and functions.
One of these functions, inhering in the essence of love and co-extensive with its being, is the function variously termed seeing, perception, awareness, consciousness, thought, wisdom, and so on almost indefinitely. Love is throughout and always active and is possessed of this function in the whole and in every detail. It is that function whereby two states of love are mutually present to each other, and share each other's qualities, but at the same time preserve each their own self-identity and also their difference from each other. It is by virtue of this function of knowing, that the mysterious parting of experience into subjective and objective aspects takes place. The act of knowing is simple and original ; it cannot be reduced to lower terms ; but the very act itself generates those characters of contrast, otherness and remoteness, which we denote by the words objectivity and object.
With this conception of love let us return to the consideration of ends. An affection, projected and constituted an end with the characters of remoteness, self-identity, and relative independence, is a perceptive mass having perceptive relations with the total love of which it is a present, living, particular state. The total love sees in the end the fulfilment of its own purpose, and the end sees in the love the source of its own existence and the conditions of its own fulfilment. The total love strives to fill the end with its own immediate presence, satisfaction, and enjoyment ; the end strives to gather into itself all the insights, satisfactions, enjoyments, and activities of the love.
This situation is exemplified in the biological field by the behaviour of a unicellular organism, which is ever putting forth parts of its mass in the form of projections. Among the many various projections it selects one, and then gradually moves its whole mass into this terminus or end. This is the type of all movement in the organic world. The earthworm extends its forward extremity and then draws the rest of its body toward it, and in this way moves from place to place. More highly organized animals put forward certain parts called limbs, and then draw the body into the new position. In this way bodily movement is effected. But mental movement is precisely similar in type. The mind, spirit, love, projects a part of its mass in what we call an end. Then it moves into that end, and thus makes the end a new centre. This we call making progress, moving to a new position, or fulfilling a purpose. In the case of man, and presumably the higher animals, this mental motion is so co-ordinated with the bodily functions that it gives rise to bodily movement. In other words, the mind carries the body with it in the fulfilment of purposes. The behaviour of a simple cell is thus seen to be typical of the nature and movement of universal life, that is, of universal love. The word end is properly used for the terminus of this movement. In Swedenborg's language (Divine Love and Wisdom, No. 167) it is called an end because it is the end of this movement of the state of love.
We now pass to the second stage of the end. As a state to be reached, the end is an idea. It is, as we have seen, a particularized affection of love which has emerged and become disengaged from the immediacy of feeling by the act of attention, and thus set off from love. This whole process is summed up in the word objectify. Any state is objectified, made an object, by the mere fact of fixing attention upon it. It is thereby distinguished and selected from among the numberless constantly emerging states which occupy the conscious threshold. An idea, then, is a state of consciousness which is of the essence of love in that as a self-projection of the love it retains the qualities of the love ; in general, the qualities of feeling and perception. The love is therefore self- represented in the idea. But an idea tends to develop relations to other states of love, whether these be other ideas or mere vague feelings, or more pronounced states, such as emotions, longings, desires. Between the idea and all such states there is mutual reference and participation by virtue of their common ground in the love and their relation to the love as its self- representatives. The mutual relations between the idea and the love as exhibited in the totality of such mediating states constitute the field of articulate consciousness, or, to use the specific term, the field of love's wisdom. In fact, it is perhaps the most fundamental definition of wisdom to say that it is love's self-representative function ; for the field of this function is the system of ideas projected as perceptive units from the total love. When in this field one of these perceptive units is selected as, for the moment, or the occasion, the special embodiment of the meaning and purpose of love, this unit then becomes the vehicle of love's fulfilment, and as such is what we have called an end. But, evidently, in the passage to fulfilment, between the stage of want, desire, longing, striving, and that of satisfaction and achievement, there intervenes the field of ideas through which the love and the end co-operate in bringing about the fulfilment. The end selects within the field of ideas those which are referred to in its meaning and which seek embodiment in itself. The love with reference to the end chooses the same ideas as being contained within its purpose. At this stage the end exists as a system of ideas contained within a single purpose, and organized about the initial state whose meaning develops into this system. But this second stage of the end, or second end, is constituted of ideas which have the common feature of pointing to a situation in which the organization is complete, the meanings expressed, the desires fulfilled and the purpose achieved. The affection originally projected and constituted an end is now no longer felt merely as a state to be realized, but the conditions of realization are actually present, and the affection is concretely existent and active in its sought-for context and environment. The end, therefore, exists successively in three stages : (i) As present affection whose meaning points to a situation to be constructed by the group of ideas and affections in which the meaning would be fulfilled ; (2) As the system of ideas included within the meaning of the affection and pointing to the situation in which that meaning would be expressed ; (3) As the completely organized group wherein the affection and its system of ideas are concretely existent and active. In this concrete, active existence we have the fact of fulfilment.
If, now, we review this process, it is evident that the second stage arises, as a development of the first, in a context of elements which first come into the new relation by being selected as included within the meaning of the end ; in other words, the end is self- represented in them. But these states in which the end at this stage exists are themselves developed out of the concrete mass of the total love as its self- representatives. They therefore carry with them the qualities of the love seeking fulfilment in the end. This relation to fulfilment we call, in common speech, " means." Further, it is evident that it is the collection and grouping of these subsidiary ends with reference to fulfilment that produces the concrete situation which has been in view from the beginning. This third stage, then, is brought into existence by completing the process of fitting together the relatively dissociated and independent elements of the second stage into the organized context of the initial affection. The result is properly termed a product, and the efficiency of the process that leads to the result is expressed by the word cause. In ordinary language the relation between these stages, the second and third, is expressed by the terms cause and effect. The three stages may be designated respectively affection, idea, fact. Affection is the present, immediate element of feeling ; idea, the more or less dissociated elements to be grouped ; fact, the concrete existence of the affection in its new context, the completely organized group.
This is Swedenborg's doctrine of end, cause, and effect; and it is a doctrine which grows directly out of his conception of love. With this conception in mind, we see the full significance of such statements as : " There are three things that follow in order, called first end, middle end, and last end ; they are also called end, cause, and effect. These three must be in everything that it may be anything." (Divine Love and Wisdom, No. 167). Again (No. 168), " The end is everything in the cause and everything in the effect."
As these three stages of love grow out of its inmost and complete nature, they must belong to it universally.
The processes of self-projection, self-representation, and self-realization which we have found to be the essential characteristics of experience as we directly and most intimately know it in our own personal life, we assume to be characteristic of all experience. If we look at the universe in the light of this view, we see that it is in the strictest sense the process of love.
The processes of self-projection, self-representation and self-realization are everywhere going on. Assuming the truth of the nebular hypothesis, the planets of our solar system are in origin projected masses of the sun, and in the planets the activities of the sun are reproduced and continued. The earth is everywhere putting up from its mass the bodies of plants. Plants are forever reproducing themselves in the form of seeds ; likewise animals. In the mental or spiritual world we see the perpetual processes of putting forth ideas and realizing ideals or ends. " Production," " reproduction," " action," " creation," " life " are names for the processes of love. In short, the universe is love. This being the case, the background of the universe, its core, what we otherwise call its source, first cause, or prime substance, is the total love in its aspect and capacity of forming ends of numberless grades of comprehensiveness. The most comprehensive would be the self-represented idea of the universe itself, in which the full nature and whole purpose of the love would be expressed. The variety, order and subordination of ends point to that character of love which can be adequately expressed only in an infinite system, a system in which self-propagation or self- representation is the law. From this point of view love exhibits the character of an infinity of infinities. Among such infinities are the animal and plant series ; also such series as the rational and moral life. It is as a member of such series, and as constituting such series, that the individual is a proper function of the universe, and is related to the universe as a whole.
Among the more comprehensive grades of ends, we distinguish the relatively free and the relatively fixed. Self-projected states of love may preserve, according to their meaning and purpose, a separateness and independence which allows only a relatively free context, which is developed largely from its own self-active nature. We call this realm in general the spiritual world. In our personal finite life we have something analogous in what we call the ideal world. In either case the characteristic is self-developing freedom. The total life of the spiritual world is the expression of one purpose, the purpose, namely, to represent and realize particular states of love under relatively free conditions.
But the end thus constituted is pervaded with meanings which point to further fulfilment. The self-representative and self-realizing nature of love demands greater remoteness, i.e., otherness, on the part of its self-projected states. Such states are self- representative in the measure of their relatively independent self-activity. This purpose of love is further fulfilled in those self-identical centres which are organized in relatively stable groups. In this way a further comprehensive end is constituted, which has in view a compact organization of such centres and groups. This region we call the natural world. The natural world, then, is a second comprehensive end, differing from the end we have called the spiritual world by the fact that it is fulfilled under conditions of greater fixity and uniformity. Thus we have three grades of ends, or three degrees of existence : the divine, the spiritual, and the natural.
The divine is self-represented in the spiritual and, through the spiritual, in the natural. This is the relation of correspondence. It is self-realized in the spiritual and, through the spiritual, in the natural. This is influx. The spiritual and the natural are self-projections of the divine. This is creation.
It would take volumes to work out in detail the various aspects of this doctrine of love, but we all remember that remarkable section in Divine Love and Wisdom headed, " There are three things in the Lord which are the Lord : the Divine of Love, the Divine of Wisdom, and the Divine of Use." These three are correlated with the three degrees of ends ; or end. We have, in this statement, doctrine about the constitution of the personal life universally, and it is ' doctrine about the constitution of ultimate reality. ) According to it, ultimate reality is personal life, and ( personal life is love.
The latest phase of modern philosophy tends to this conclusion, and the best efforts of modern philosophy, notably those of Mr. F. H. Bradley here in Oxford, and Professor Royce over the sea in Harvard, may be read as partial expositions of Swedenborg's doctrine of love.