Recent works on the psychology of religion all recognise
that progress in this subject rias depended largely upon the
progress of psychologists in the sphere of instinct, emotion,
sentiment, and their derivatives. They fail to recognise the
great advances that psychology has made in the investigation
on the intellectual and rational aspects of the mental life.
It is the object of this thesis to show the incompleteness of
the former, and the necessity for supplementing these by a pro-per
appreciation of the higher aspects of man's nature.
Believing that the origin of religion has been wrongly sought
in the instinctive side of man's personality, we have set oubselves
the task of seeking a more satisfactory explanation.
Our thesis is that in the course of evolution a point is reached,
the highest stage yet attained, where there emerges a new capacity,
a capacity for directing life by means other than those
necessary to meet the present situation. It is this capacity
that makes man what he is. This capacity enables him to $et
his own course instead of, as in the case of animal behaviour,
having it set for him by circumstances. This is only possible
in so far as man can rid himself of the shackles of instinct.
We find that in the course of evolution the life of the plant
is restricted by position. The animal is not shackled to one
point in space. Space is not a determinant of its existence,
but a means to its higher life. The animal is in its turn
shackled by its instincts and physical nature and its existence
depends on its-successful adaptation to its environment. For
man, the physical nature is no longer a determinant of his conduct,
but is reduced to a means for attaining an end other than
that _Set. . by the environment. This new capacity,which
emerges in the evolutionary process when man appears, can best
be characterised as the capacity to set an end for himself.
The animal meets the situation, man can create a situation.
Behaviour: is the highest term that can be employed to characterise
the activity of animals. Lisa's ac ivity may take the
form of conduct; it can be directed by an ideal, by a conception
of a better condition than the present, and this may pass
into a purpose to attain the ideal. We are here at the budding
point of Man's creative or spiritual activity, of culture, which
ultimately takes the form of knowledge for its own sake, art,
morality, and religion. The characteristic of all these experiences
is that they are not dependent on the actual and
present, on the'heretand' now: The biologiíal categories..Qf
adjustment and adaptation are no longer applicable, The
dialectic of evolution has carried us beyond these,ta_.a stage
where self -initiated ends determine life, just as life itself
is differentiated from the inorganic world by the characteristic
of self- initiated movement. When viewed from the stage
out of which man has risen, the chief characteristic of the new
conce7ption is freedom, and what we are doing is to translate,
into evolutionar _.terms, the interpretation of man which
Kant from the metaphysical standpoint reached. The synthetic
acLLdty of mind, which, he maintained, man possessed,and which
lifted him out of the causally determined concatenation of
natural events,is just what we should call the creative capacity
of man which is the source of knowledge, art, morality, religion.
In our view the same emergence in the course of evolution gives
us culture, morality, art and religiön; they are but different
appects or forms which the same activity has taken. Thus if we
can find how one originates,we have the method by which we may
discover the origin of the others. We must trace how nature
frees man from the shackles of instinct to allow for the emergence
of this new self- directing power. This is the negative side of
our task. positively,we must try to observe the emergence of
the new capacity and its influence on man's religious life.