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It is not easy to find a principle of division which will yield a perfectly satisfactory classification of systems which we yet readily recognise as presenting distinct types of world-view. The deepest ground of division, undoubtedly, is that which divides systems according as they do or do not recognise a spiritual principle at the basis of the universe. But when, by the aid of this principle, we have put certain systems on the one side, and certain systems on the other, it does not carry us much further. We must, therefore, either content ourselves with a simple catalogue, or try some other method. In the earliest attempts at a world-view many elements are mixed up together—religious, rational, and ethical impulses, poetic personification of nature, the mythological tendency, etc., and classification is impossible. The “Weltanschauung” at this stage is rude, tentative, imperfect, and goes little further than seeking an origin of some kind for the existing state of things, and connecting the different parts of nature and of human life in some definite way with particular gods. The interest felt in the soul and its fates enlarge this “Weltanschauung” to embrace a world of the unseen (Sheol, Amenti, etc.). Of reflective “Weltanschauungen,” as these appear in history, we may roughly distinguish—

I. The Phenomenalistic and Agnostic—which refuse all inquiry into causes, and would confine themselves strictly to the laws of phenomena. The only pure type of this class which I know is the Comtist or Positivist, which contents itself with a subjective 368synthesis.862862A more extreme type of view still is the denial of the reality of the world altogether—Acosmism. (Mr. Spencer’s system, though called Agnostic, is really a system of Monism, and falls into the third class. See Lecture III.)

II. The Atomistic and Materialistic (Atheistic). The systems of Democritus, Epicurus, Lucretius, and materialistic systems generally, are of this class. As no spiritual principle is recognised, the unity can only be sought in a highest law of the elements—in the order of the universe—in the way in which things cohere. (But many modern systems of Materialism, again, are really monisms, e.g., Haeckel, Strauss.)

III. Pantheistic systems—and these constitute a vast family with a great variety of forms. Here the universe is conceived as dependent on a first principle or power, but one within itself, of which it is simply the necessary unfolding, and with which, in essence, it is identical. The systems differ according to the view taken of the nature of this principle, and of the law of its evolution. The principle may be conceived of:

1. Predominatingly as physical—in which case the system is allied to Materialism (Materialistic Pantheism).

2. As the vital principle of an organism (Hylozoistic).

3. As an intelligent world-soul (Stoicism—analogous to fire).

4. Metaphysically—as Being (Eleatics), Substance (Spinoza), etc.

5. Spiritually—as impersonal Reason, or Spirit (Hegel), or Will (Schopenhauer, etc.).

Thus, while on its lower side Pantheism is indistinguishable from Materialism and Atheism, on its higher side it approaches, and often nearly merges into, Theism (as with the Neo-Hegelians).

IV. Systems which recognise a spiritual, self-conscious Cause of the universe. Here belong:

1. Deism—which views God predominatingly as Creator, but denies present communication and Revelation, and practically separates God from the world.863863On the definition of terms, cf. Lipsius’s Dogmatik, pp. 88, 89; and Flint’s Anti-Theistic Theories, pp. 339, 441–445.

2. Theism—which views God as the Living Creator, Immanent Cause, and Moral Ruler of the world and of man.

3. Christian Trinitarianism—a higher form of Theism. [The division of systems as Optimistic and Pessimistic has reference to another standpoint—not to the first principle of the system, hut to its ethical character and end. As combined with the others, it would form a cross-division.]

There is yet another division of types of world-view (equally important for our subject), based, not on their objective character, but on the mental attitude of the observer, and on the activities employed in their formation- Three main types of world-view may be here distinguished, answering to three distinct standpoints of the human spirit, from each of which a “Weltanschauung” necessarily results. These are:


1. The “Scientific”—in which the standpoint of the observer is in the objective world, and things are viewed, as it were, wholly from without. Abstraction is made from the thinking mind, and only external relations (co-existence, succession, cause and effect, resemblance, etc.) are regarded. The means employed are observation and induction, and the end is the discovery of laws, and ultimately of a highest law, under which all particular phenomena may be subsumed.

2. The “Philosophical”—which precisely inverts this relation. The standpoint here is the thinking Ego, and things are regarded from within in their relations to thought and knowledge. It starts from the side of the thinking mind, as science from the side of the world as known, in abstraction from the mind knowing it. From the philosophical standpoint the world assumes a very different aspect from that which it presents to empirical science, or to the ordinary irreflective observer. All higher philosophy may be described as an attempt to conclude in some way from the unity of reason to the unity of things. The resultant world-view will assume two forms, according as the point of departure is from the theoretical or the practical reason: (1) a theoretical (as in the Absolutist attempts to deduce all things from a principle given through pure thought); (2) a moral (e.g. the Kantian).

3. The “Religious”—which views everything from the standpoint of the consciousness of dependence upon God, and refers all back to God. It starts from the practical relation in which man stands to God as dependent on Him, and desiring His help, support, and furtherance in the aims of his life (natural, moral, distinctively religious aims). The nature of the religious “Weltanschauung” and its relation to theoretic knowledge is discussed later.

At no time, however, can these points of view be kept perfectly distinct, and the claim of either science or philosophy to produce a self-sufficing world-view must he pronounced untenable. Insensibly, even in the pursuit of science, the standpoint changes from science to philosophy; but this, in turn, cannot dispense with the material which the sciences and the history of religions furnish to it; and it is equally unable, out of its own resources, to produce an adequate and satisfying world-view. It cannot therefore take the place of religion, or furnish a “Weltanschauung” satisfying to the religious consciousness. It is a well-recognised truth that philosophy has founded systems and schools, but never religions.864864“A religion,” says Reville, “may become historical, but no philosophy has ever founded a religion possessing true historical power.”—History of Religions, p. 22 (Eng. trans.) cf. Strauss, Der alte und der neue Glaube, p. 103 Hartmann, Religionsphilosophie, p. 23; A. Dorner, Das menschl. Erkennen, p. 239. The religious world-view is better capable of independent existence than the others, for here at least the mind is in union with the deepest principle of all. But that principle needs to develop itself, and in practice it is found that religion also is largely influenced in the 370construction of its world-views by the state of scientific knowledge and the philosophy of the time. The Indian religious systems are metaphysical throughout. The early Greek fathers of the Church were largely influenced by Platonism; the mediaeval schoolmen by Aristotelianism; modern theologians by Kant, Hegel, etc. The type of world-view freest from all trace of foreign influence is that found in the Old Testament, and completed in the New. This unique character belongs to it as the religion of Revelation.

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