E. Belfort Bax

A Free Fantasia on Things Divine and Human

(October 1888)

E. Belfort Bax, A Free Fantasia on Things Divine and Human, To-day, October 1888, pp.101-113.
Republished in The Ethics of Socialism, pp.189-210.
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Our theme is “God,” and his “works,” a subject not exactly new and not exactly true but possessing a perennial interest with a certain order of mind up to date. The first point to determine is what the word “God” connotes for us. A favourite device for justifying the employment of the word is to whittle it down into meaning the correlate of the feeling of awe, of immensity and incomprehensibility with which the universe, or the problems of life and knowledge inspire most of us? The “God” we are now concerned with is not this hypostasised incomprehensibility, and we cannot discover any justification, popular or historical, for a use of the word, in such a sense. Without going in detail into the philosophical senses of the term, all of which have as their first object that of being a shield against the charge of heterodoxy, we may briefly recall the Spinozistic substance – God-nature, or the sum total of all Reality. In itself this was as preposterous a perversion of the word as could well be found, and led naturally to the persistent misunderstanding of Spinoza. But it is connected with the popular usage with which we are here dealing, in so far as there is a natural and unconscious tendency, apart from any theory, to personify the nature of things in general, and we might add to damn the nature of things as thus personified, for the real object of objugatory phraseology, when not a human personality, is generally, in foro conscientiae, this very personified nature of things to which the objugators, when in an elevated frame of mind, and pressed on the subject of theism would apply the phrase “God.” The popular formularised theory of God, and one unconsciously adopted in a refined form by many theists who profess to repudiate it, is that of a demiurge, the creator, producer, artificer and general director of all things and this is the connotation which ninety-nine out of a hundred persons in the present day connect with the word “God.” It is the connotation which obtains in all the great “ethical religions” of the world (Christianity, Judaism, Islamism, &c.) as well as in a more limited sense, though not so often, in the old nature-cults. But at all events one thing is to me clear, as established at once by history and popular usage, to wit, that the word “God” must always imply a personality; that God must always be a person in the fullest sense of the word – otherwise he is no God. No one thought of making him anything else (i.e., of excluding the notion of personality) until Spinoza, who was followed after an interval by the German post-Kantian thinkers in whose wake came a crowd of literateurs and heterodox sentimentalists, until in the present day among the elite of culture the word is emptied of any significance whatever. This exordium is necessary, as when we use the word God here, we mean a personality, and as the fullest and only personality, properly speaking, of which we have any conception is the human, this being the only sense we can attach to the word, we mean in accordance with popular personality, a conception in some way analogous to the human in kind, however differing in degree. As such we exclude all mere objectivised incomprehensibilities all “sort of a something;” those fraudulent simulacra of the divinity, as they have nothing whatever to do with the question of Theism. Pantheism, we may observe, in the ordinary sense of the word, we take to be the formulated expression among cultivated persons of the anthropomorphic or personified nature of things in general, before spoken of as an instinctive theory with most men.

There is a traditional prejudice that Monotheism is a great advance in nobleness of conception on Polytheism. This is based apparently on the belief that though you can’t have too much of God yet you can have too many of him. The Monotheist looks down with lofty contempt on the Polytheist as a being of inferior, not to say depraved conceptions. Now, seriously, we would really like to know in what consists the superiority of Monotheism over Polytheism? If we are to assume the existence of extra-natural personality at all what is there superior in the notion of one irresponsible despot reigning in a solitary, and as one would think, somewhat dreary grandeur to that of a society of extra-natural beings equal among themselves, or a hierarchy of such beings each, having an appointed status and function culminating, if you will, in a supreme intelligence, but not directly subordinated to its will or caprice. The first of these last-mentioned conceptions generally corresponds to the earlier period of Polytheism, the second to the later, but either of them to my mind offer a more cheerful and agreeable theory of the universe than that of the demiurge seated all alone on high. In the first place the sense of friendship with and nearness to the unseen being is infinitely greater. The god is felt to have a peculiarly intimate and direct relation to his votary. Though powerful he is not omnipotent, his system of action is limited, but within that sphere, and as far as his power extends his worshippers are under his direct protection. It all is very well to say that the same feeling obtains with the devout Monotheist who believes in the “fatherhood of God,” but as a matter of fact it does not, as is proved historically by the circumstance that the great Monotheistic religions have been unable to maintain their Monotheism unimpaired. Thus the immediate object of the Catholic’s devotion is not the Christian God but his tutelary saint or the Virgin. Even the Protestant shows his want of appreciation of Monotheism by preferring in his meditations and devotions the definite human personality embodied in his conception of Jesus to the lofty but vague one of the Omnipotent demiurge. The Oriental similarly finds relief from his invocations of Allah in doing homage to some departed dervish of local renown. Then again, owing to the absence of the notion of Omnipotence, and in general even that of creation, the difficulties connected with the existence of evil which beset the Monotheist at every turn are entirely obviated on a Pagan theory of the universe. The Pagan had no need to resort to subterfuges in order to exculpate his divinity or to seek to explain away what refuses to be explained away, for his god was not necessarily a demiurge, and he admitted among his society or hierarchy of supernatural beings some which were avowedly evil, and he did not postulate any absolute power in the rest to hold these in check. So that there is no necessary or even apparent contradiction between his religion and the facts of life. His god was his “patron” who would exert his powers to protect him but who is not all-powerful, and, therefore, not accountable for any and every evil which might befall him. As against this, Monotheism postulates a god who is sponsor for every atrocity in nature and its laws. The only consolation the Monotheist has is in persuading himself that to use a popular metaphor “it will all come out in the washing.” His theistic faith pays him with hills realisable in an indefinite futurity. The evil is real; the “good” which is to he “the final goal of ill” is, to say the least, hyperbolically ideal.

But says the Monotheist “you would then conceive nature as without an all-pervading mind? What can be sublimer than the thought of the universe as the work of one supreme intelligence, &c., &c. We venture to think that our Monotheistic friend here confounds sublimity with mere abstractness. That Monotheism implies a larger and more abstract generalisation than Polytheism is out of question, but that sublimity is necessarily involved in this increased scope is not altogether out of question. If barrenness and abstraction mean sublimity then Monotheism is sublime – “if not, not.” For what is gained in extension is lost in fertility of conception. The god of Monotheism, though far removed from humanity, is barren and dull as compared with the more concrete inhabitants of Olympus, of the Pantheon, of the city or of the domestic hearth, of the ancient world. Hence the difficulty already pointed out of Monotheistic creeds maintaining their principle intact.

But the strangest claim of all on the part of the Monotheist is that there is anything edifying in the notion of nature as having been consciously produced by a mind. Yet this is often put forward as an added charm, nay, an indispensable adjunct to the full aesthetic appreciation of nature. On this principle the singing of a mechanical nightingale ought to be infinitely more enjoyable than that of a real one, since the former it must be admitted, even by the “natural theologians,” is much more obviously the product of conscious intelligence than the latter. But it seems to the present writer that what gives the charm to the contemplation of nature – to the glittering summer sea, the forest glade in the twilight, the Alpine sunrise, etc., etc., is precisely the absence of mind – of the design or conscious intention of an artificer. We irresistibly impute to the whole of nature a naive life of its own, of impulse and feeling, a spontaneity as it were. But the moment you introduce your “divine artificer” nature becomes mechanical, and the poetry of nature is destroyed. The fact is one may have too much of “consummate wisdom.” “Consummate wisdom” may become consummately boresome to us weak mortals. So far from nature without God being dead, it becomes not merely dead but mechanical the moment it leads up to a “divine author.” Probably the most thorough-going Monotheist that has ever lived was the eighteenth century deist, and he, though full of sentiment of a certain order, was assuredly also the most thorough-going Philistine in matters of aesthetics that the world has ever seen.

Now let us take the conventional natural theological apologetics. One of the great aims of “natural theology” is to string together a number of natural facts which can be twisted into an argument for benevolent design in nature. Some of these are naturally of the most trivial character, as may be seen by reference to any work on natural theology. But has it never suggested itself to the natural theologian that an equal number of facts might be adduced in favour of a theory of malevolent design and yet another set which would bring the character of the Demiurge and regulator of mundane affairs out in that of a Spottgeist, a Rübezahl, full of mischief and schoolboy tricks? To deal with the latter aspect of the case first.

We will put ourselves in the position of the theologian and see everything in God, that is, everything as though it happened by design, and trace the experience of the average (as opposed to the exceptionally “lucky”) man. One of his earliest objects of conscious interest is bread and jam, and that object sometimes drops out of his childish fingers on to the floor. There being no apparent reason why it should fall on one side rather than another, one would naturally suppose in accordance with the theory of probabilities that in a long series of cases it would fall equally on the jammed and on the non-jammed surface. But does it? Ask any child whether on almost every occasion it does not fall on the jammed surface? Myself, I know this phenomenon early attracted my attention. Now here, on theological principles is clearly a case of Providence. A playful disposition of Providence which amuses itself at the infant’s expense. As the average human being grows up he finds the same principle holds. Nine out of every ten “coincidences,” coincide the wrong way for him. We will enumerate a few instances in point, which will be familiar with most people and which are admitted by all those I have questioned on the subject. There is no apparent causation involved in any of them. They are in the true sense of the word coincidences, and yet they do not seem to follow the law of probabilities. If we admit a Providence at all, therefore, they would seem to fall within the scope of Providence or a Supernatural Will, which directs human affairs. Among the common occurrences of life referred to, is something of this sort; (1) a particular thing, a letter, a book, or whatnot, otherwise constantly obtruding itself on one’s notice is impossible to be found when urgently wanted. This everyone must have noticed as an almost invariable occurrence. Again every one must have observed the following: (2) He is generally at home say on a certain day, but on one occasion for the first time in a twelve-month, happens to be out. A friend whom he has not seen for a long time, happens to call that very day, on important business. (3) After repeated experience that letters forwarded by the Post Office from some old address contain nothing but worthless circulars or suchlike postal flotsam and jetsam, one refuses to receive any more, only to learn that the next missive, i.e., the first one refused, had contained a cheque or postal order for a large sum. (4) Again one is searching for a particular house in a street, say No.361, one carefully watches the odd numbers, as they progress from 1 onwards till one arrives at 350 What follows 350 is not 361 but 363, or perhaps a blank wall or a hoarding. No one has heard of 361, till at last after infinite time and labour spent one discovers that No.361 has been pulled down, or that it is up some corner or bend of the street, the existence of which no one would have ever guessed. This has occurred so often in my experience that I am now surprised if on some rare occasion the number I am in search of, follows in the natural order. Now, here is a most striking apparent violation of the law of probabilities the normal chances being some hundreds to one as against the actual occurrence. (7) The case of the persistently winning man and the persistently losing man, in games of chance, no uncommon one, seems almost irresistibly to suggest a “hand unseen” so utterly inexplicable is it on any theory of probabilities. (6) It is a trite observation that married couples who earnestly desire children have the greatest difficulty in acquiring them, while those who do not want them endeavour in vain to dam the surging influx.

I conclude the few cases mentioned, out of the innumerable instances of which life is made up, of coincidences which seem to violate the theory of probabilities in a sense adverse to ones interest or convenience, with one which may seem to be grotesque but which in spite of its triviality is significant. On putting on a pair of boots one instinctively raises one’s foot as one picks up one of the boots. I have calculated that nineteen times out of twenty the foot raised is the opposite to the boot picked up. Thus if the right foot be raised the left boot will be lifted and vice versa.

Now if theologians were really in earnest with their “evidences” they might find in these “coincidences” a mine of plausibility in favour of the theory of a superintending providence. But as a matter of fact they ignore an argument which would appeal far more powerfully to many persons than far-fetched attempts to prove benevolent design in Nature, for the simple reason that though it might lead many to believe in the existence of a deity, it would make the deity appear in a ridiculous light. Instead of the glorified metropolitan police magistrate of the churches, who stands upon his dignity and has a rooted aversion to any chaff at his expense, Providence would cone out as a knavish sprite, a veritable poltergeist made up of mischievous and ill-natured pranks.

We now come to the point as to the benevolent intention, the wonderful adaptation of means to good ends, alleged by theologians to exist in Nature. Here again it is easy enough to read design into natural forms and processes if one is determined to do so. But I maintain that for every instance of apparently beneficent design in Nature there are two of malevolent design. I do not propose here to go into the cruelty, the wanton pain and destruction which enters into the scheme of Nature as an essential element in that scheme, the strong animal preserving itself at the expense of the weaker, the existence of parasitism, etc., etc. This has been often and ably done before, and this, of course, constitutes the gravamen of the indictment of Theism. But I wish to point out two cases of apparently elaborately organised design in Nature to ends which are not precisely beneficent. Take the nerves of the teeth and face, the complicated network which connects the lower wisdom teeth with the temples. Now here is an exquisite piece of workmanship beautifully adapted to an end – to wit, the production and perpetuation of neuralgia. It is through this arrangement that the tortures of neuralgia are rendered possible, and the arrangement has no other visible purpose. Of course, I am aware that the champion of Nature, driven hard, is quite capable of alleging that he thinks neuralgia rather a good thing. In answer to this I need only say I write for the majority of men who have no argument to subserve and who do not think so. The mere existence of nerves in teeth can but be viewed from the teleological stand-point, as an institution designed for the exclusive purpose of producing toothache, for there is no conceivable reason why the means of the mastication should not have been furnished out-side the nervous system, like the hoof of animals, the nails or the hair. The only answer that can be given to this is that it was not and therefore it could not be, which though otherwise valid is from the present standpoint merely a begging of the question. Yet again, take the disease of rabies. The animals among which this disease originates are dogs and those of a cognate race whose weapon of offence and defence is their teeth, that is to say, precisely that class of animals by whom a disease transmissable through the saliva would be most readily communicated both to other animals and to human beings. Were rabies a disease affecting sheep, oxen or even horses or pigs or indeed any non-canine animal, the danger of contagion would be infinitely reduced, since with no other animal is the biting instinct developed as with the so-called “friend of man.”

The Esquimaux always speak of the Polar bear with reverence, out of fear lest the beast which they credit with supernatural power should resent any slight cast upon him. We are inclined to think a relic of this class of superstition is at the bottom of the apologetic attitude of the ordinary man towards Nature. We all know the indignation real or feigned with which the aforesaid ordinary man of “natural religion” greets any suggestion that Nature is not perfect. His zeal for the honour and glory of the author of Nature finds vent under such circumstances commonly in irrelevant rudeness to his interlocutor. Thus, he will tell the latter he supposes he thinks he could have arranged things better – its a pity he hadn’t the doing of them &c. &c., all of which may be very true but does not in the least exonerate the creator for having arranged them badly. From this point of view when our friend has ordered a pair of shoes and finds that they don’t fit him, that they have nails left protruding, or that they are otherwise so ill-constructed that after half-an-hour’s walking the epidermis has disappeared from the most salient portions of his foot, let him by no means blame the shoemaker, lest the shoemaker retort “its a pity you didn’t make your own shoes.” Naturally the rejoinder of him of the wounded foot would be, “If I were a shoemaker I would undertake to make better shoes than you do, but as I am a tailor (a candlestick maker or what not) I don’t profess to make shoes at all.” Similarly, the impugner of the creative excellence, may fairly retort on its rude apologist, “ I have never been brought up to the demiurgic profession, but if I had and had had the disposal of the amount of power which is displayed in Nature, I should regard it as a discredit not to have turned out something better.”

But, as we said, the ordinary man has a lurking superstitious dread of offending Nature and God, and so tries to persuade himself, like Dr. Pangloss, that everything is, on the whole, for the best in the best possible of worlds. The professed Theist swells himself out to his largest possible dimensions on hearing such a criticism as we have attempted, and in indignant tones pompously declaims against “the finite intellect presuming to measure itself with the infinite.” The finite intellect when it produces results flattering to the demiurgic character, may, without hesitation, proceed to deal with these matters. Theists, and they sometimes have very finite intellects indeed, may descant with unction on the beneficence displayed in Nature, and on their conviction of everything being ordained for a good purpose. It is only when the result happens to be unfavourable to the pretensions of demiurgic wisdom or goodness that the argument from the finitude of the intellect comes into play. The Theist assumes all-wisdom and all-goodness in the ordering of the cosmos, and claims the right to support his assumption by arguments drawn from Nature. The worst he can say of the Anti-Theist (as we may call him) is that he traverses the original assumption with arguments of the same nature as those used in support of it. The contention of the Anti-Theist as we have stated is that the ordering of the cosmos does not display wisdom or goodness commensurate with the power visible in it (and his case against the Theist who claims perfect wisdom and perfect goodness is made out by a simple instance to the contrary) is perfectly justified from the anthropomorphic standpoint which the ordinary Theist occupies. The Theist cannot rebut the Anti-Theist argument which gives him the alternative of viewing the demiurge as either pre-eminently foolish or pre-eminently wicked.

Once we are outside the vicious circle of Theism the case is otherwise. The Pagan, although he, too, views the universe anthropomorphically, is not open to the above criticism, since the idea of conscious creation is absent or subordinate with him; and, besides, as already observed, his gods are limited each to his own sphere, they formed a society or hierarchy and are all subordinated to that special bogie of the Theist, an irresistible and impersonal Fate. Hence the Polytheist might constantly, and without any self-deception, worship his god as perfectly good in intention even if his acts fell short. Again, the Atheist who rejects entirely the notion of a personal demiurge (not as according to the common and convenient misrepresentation because he thinks he can prove the negative proposition, but because he finds the positive absurd and unsatisfactory as a theory of the universe) is in still better case since he does not read morality into nature at all. He does not postulate like the Theist, a benevolent demiurge nor like the Anti-Theist, a malevolent demiurge. Nature for him is neither moral nor immoral, but extra-moral. To the Atheist, nature is not like the works and deeds of men, the product of conscious willing intelligence, but the outcome of an immanent necessity. Below and beyond all actuality, reality or finitude, of things is presupposed the infinite potentiality, the Eternal Becoming involved in all experience; of which concrete consciousness with its time is the supreme expression, but which for this very reason can never be adequately manifested in any particular or actual consciousness, or in any particular or actual time. We try to fit the I or subject which we find posited as the core and root of all thinking and knowing, and we find we have merely got an object, a particular memory-synthesis, i.e., a particular body of thoughts or experiences which presupposes an infinity of other thoughts and experiences not expressed in them. We try to define or explain the undetermined nisus, or Becoming presupposed in all conscious action of the individual, and we find in any given case we have merely got a given determining motive or motives. So the Becoming, the necessity in nature, to which no beginning nor ending can be assigned, when we analyse it in any given case, resolves itself into a chain of modifications of matter in motion. This is the ultimate fact discernible in the world of space, that is, on the plane of external nature.

“Above the gods is fate.” If we accept the ancient Greek motto as translated into the terms of modern thought, we have no need to perplex ourselves with specially pleading the goodness of a hypothetical creator nor is there any point in damning the nature of things, although the apparent malice discernable in the ordering of the world does, it must be admitted, offer strong temptations to personify with a view to objurgation. If we personify we have Dieu l’ennemi. If we don’t personify we have no Dieu but then we have no ennemi. Supposing, then, we reject the demiurgic view as an ultimate theory of the universe and thus reject the Theistic theory are we driven to Pessimism? The true statement of the case as regards this point it seems to me is that Optimism and Pessimism are alike abstract and one-sided theories of teleology, just as the old dogmatic metaphysics and modern Empiricism or Agnosticism are one-sided and abstract theories of Human knowledge. Many persons are doubtless led to Pessimism, or at least Cynicism, by the reflection that the categories of Good and Evil, with the subordinate ones of knowledge, and ignorance, beauty and ugliness, are correlative, and therefore alike and equally, necessary and eternal, in the nature of things. But does such a reflection justify the attitude in question? Is the fable of the victory of Ormuzd over Arhiman therefore devoid of meaning? Can we no longer believe that “good shall fall – at last – far off – at last to all, and every winter change to Spring?” Perhaps not in the old sense, but not the less so in a sense. The metaphor of the light in which is no darkness may, it is true, cease to be apt when we reflect that such a light would be indistinguishable from darkness. The conception of an absolute happiness, an absolute knowledge and an absolute beauty, such namely, which exclude all further possible increase is obviously abstract and unreal and must be abandoned. A happiness, knowledge, beauty, which had no vista before it, which was static, would lose its character as such, as a very little reflection will show. The abstraction in question loses sight of the true nature of the concepts themselves. What shall we say then? What is the nature of these concepts? Shall good not be the final goal of ill? Our answer is the “good,” (i.e., happiness, knowledge, beauty,) partakes of the nature of all reality. It is essentially a process, an eternal Becoming which is never complete. Evil is always pre-supposed as an element by good, e.g., ignorance by knowledge, ugliness by beauty. Viewed universally and abstractedly the one of these concepts is as necessary as the other. This is true; but what is not true is that any particular or real evil shall not give way to good. The moment these things put on the vesture of reality or concreteness, the moment they are so particularised, the moment they have become embodied in this evil, they have become mortal. Every evil falling within human experience must pass away. All unknownness that has become definite must vanish in knowledge. The fact that it is known as unknown is the first step towards its extinction. The ugliness that is recognised as ugly is already doomed. All evils, physical, moral or aesthetic that are at any moment within the field of experience are in the nature of things transitory. What remains is the universal, abstract evil. The fallacy of the modern Agnostic consists in laying out an enclosure and saying, within is the unknowable, without is the knowable. Inasmuch as he can say this is the unknowable, he shows that he is not dealing with an unknowable. The unknown may always be with us, but any this unknown we may rest assured must one day cease to be unknown. You cannot formulate a problem as unknowable. The fact of your being able to formulate it is sufficient proof that it is not per se incapable of solution. I am here speaking, of course, of real problems and not such as have their origin in a misunderstanding or a false assumption.

Similarly with other kinds of evil, physical, moral, and social. The concrete realisation of evil in any given thing is the signal for its destruction. A physical fact no sooner assumes the character of an evil in consciousness than conscious energy is aroused against it, and sooner or later it disappears. As an illustration take epidemic disease. As soon as Zymosis loomed big as an evil in human consciousness the improved sanitary science began to arise which has found increasingly successful means of checking it with every prospect of its ultimate extinction. The recognition by a William Morris and a Burne Jones and others of the ugliness of modern English decoration has denoted the beginning of its end. But this is particularly noticeable in the moral and social sphere. Any institution, form of society, belief or practice, which man has become conscious of as evil has speedily disappeared. Three centuries ago, and more or less until the French Revolution, the evils of Feudalism filled the mental horizon of good and thoughtful men. It seemed to them that were the cruelties and abuses of the Feudal noble, the tyranny of priesthoods, the restrictions of the guild-system of local jurisdictions, and the unrestrained caprice of monarchs abolished or mitigated all would be well. Those evils have been all, at least mitigated, and some of them abolished. Earnest men to-day see another and totally different set of evils, and the fact of their seeing them as evil is one indication of their disappearance within a measurable distance of time.

But it may be said if “evil” as concrete or particularised is necessarily absorbed through the pressure of the evolutionary process, and thus passes away, is this not also true of its opposite. The good of to-day becomes the evil of to-morrow. The abolition of serfage and chattel slavery paves the way for wage-slavery. As a matter of fact the case is not precisely the same. The “good” in any evolutionary process is always the last term in that process, is its telos or end. The evil which that “good” may engender or which may ensue is the beginning of a new process, or a phase of an incomplete process which in its turn is absorbed in another “good,” organically higher than the preceding. Again, taking the evolution of human society in illustration and speaking as a Socialist, I should say a co-operative social state, in which use was for each and possession for all, in which the powers of nature employed for the common advantage, the maximum of production with the minimum of labour; a society of equals interpenetrated by a true culture, a culture not an exotic adjunct to, but an intrinsic element in, everyday life; a society in which superstition while regarded with interest and even affection as an historical phenomenon had ceased to be operative as a thought-factor – such a society I should say is the end, telos or “ultimate good” of human evolution regarded as one process from its beginnings in the darkness of pre-historic ages till the realisation of that society. All the evils we now see around us will then have disappeared for ever, every good we can even imagine for human society will then be realised never again to be completely lost. Mankind will be happier than ever before. For an indefinite period there will be no consciousness of anything but satisfaction. Sooner or later, however, we cannot doubt that new needs and new longings of which we now can have not the remotest conception will dawn on the horizon of consciousness which will indicate the beginning of a new process opening up the vista of a still higher “good” or telos and so on, till maybe our time-consciousness itself shall enter upon a completely new phase. If the above be admitted it will thus be seen that supposing we could fix an end to all things in time, a final stage to evolution, optimism would in a measure be justified for the “last things” would be the embodiment of the highest “good.” The final state of willing and conscious beings would be that of absolute happiness. It is because we cannot fix this terminus ad quem, either in the logical process or its temporal manifestation that we cannot pronounce for optimism. All that analysis of this process discloses to us is an infinite spiral ascent. We have to do with no mere circle continuously returning in upon itself but with a movement which never touches the same actual spot twice, though it continuously recurs to one analogically the same. All concrete evil, etc., passes away never to return and the issue of the process of which it forms part is a relative “good” (happiness, knowledge, etc.). That a new cycle follows also embodying the category of evil in another shape, need not trouble us since we know that here also the final result must be similar, and that the end of every cycle is the good.”

E. Belfort Bax


Last updated on 14.1.2006