Sie sind auf Seite 1von 106

STATICRELIGION

THEspectacleofwhatreligionshavebeeninthepast,of
whatcertainreligionsstillaretoday,isindeedhumiliating
forhumanintelligence.Whatafarragooferrorandfolly!
Experiencemayindeedsay"thatisfalse",andreasoning"that
isabsurd".Humanityonlyclingsallthemoretothatabsurdity
andthaterror.Andifthiswereall!Butreligionhasbeen
knowntoenjoinimmorality,toprescribecrime.Thecruder
itis,themoreactualspaceitoccupiesintheJjfeofapeppte.
Whatitwillhavetosharelaterwithscience,art,philosophy,
itdemandsandobtainsatfirstforitselfalone.Andthatis
indeedamatterforsurprise,seeingthatwebeganbydefining
manasanintelligentbeing.

Ourbewildermentincreaseswhenweseethatthemostcrass
superstitionhassolongbeenauniversalfact.Indeeditstill
survives.Wefindinthepast,wecouldfindtoday,human
societieswithneithersciencenorartnorphilosophy.But!
therehasneverbeenasocietywithoutreligion.

Whatshouldbethenourconfusion,Werewetocompare
ourselveswithanimalsonthispoint!Itishighlyprobable
thatanimalsareunacquaintedwithsuperstition.Weknow
butlittleofwhatgoesoninmindsnotourownbut,since
religiousfeelinggenerallyfindsexpressioninattitudesor
inacts,weshouldcertainlybemadeawarebysomesign,if
animalswerecapableofareligioussense.Butthereisnothing
forit,factsmustbefaced.Homosapiens,theonlycreature
endowedwithreason,isalsotheonlycreaturetopinits
existencetothingsunreasonable.

Peopletalk,indeed,ofa"primitivementality",as,for
example,todaythatoftheinferiorraces,andindaysgone
bythatofhumanityingeneral,atwhosedoortheresponsi
bilityforsuperstitionshouldbelaid.Ifthismeansthemere

83


84STATICRELIGIONCH.

groupingofcertainwaysofthinkingunderonecommon
heading,andthenotingof^certainconnectinglinksbetween
them,thatisindeedusefulandunexceptionableworkuseful
inthatitmarksoff#fieldofethnologicalandpsychological
studieswhichareofthegreatestinterestunexceptionable
sinceitdoesnomorethanestablishtheexistenceofcertain
beliefsandcertainpracticesinahumanitylesscivilizedthan
ourown.ItistothisthatM.LevyBruhlhasapparently
confinedhimselfinhisremarkableworksandparticularly
inthelaterones.Butthisleavesuntouchedthequestionas
tohowbeliefsandpracticeswhichareanythingbutreason
ablecouldhavebeen,andstillare,acceptedbyreasonable
beings.Wecannotrefrainfromseekingananswertothis
question.Whetherhewillorno,thereaderofM.Levy
Bruhl'sadmirablebookswilldrawfromthemtheconclusion
thathumanintelligencehasgonethroughaprocessofevolu
tion,thatnaturallogichasnotalwaysbeenthesame,that
"primitivementality"correspondstoadifferentfundamental
structure,whichwassupplantedbyourown,andwhichis
onlyfoundtodayamongbackwardpeoples.Butthisisan
admissionthathabitsofmindacquiredbyindividualsin
thecourseofcenturiescanhavebecomehereditary,modify
ingnatureandgivinganewmentalitytothespecies.There
isnothingmorequestionable.Evensupposingthatahabit
formedbyparentsisevertransmittedtothechild,itisarare
occurrence,duetoaccidentalcoincidenceofawholecon
courseofcircumstances:itwillgiverisetonomodification
ofthespecies.Butthen,sincethestructureofthemind
remainsthesame,theexperienceacquiredbysuccessive
generations,depositedinthesocialenvironment,andgiven
backtoeachofusbythesesurroundings,shouldsufficeto
explainwhywedonotthinklikeuncivilizedman,whyman
ofbygonedayswasdifferentfrommanoftoday.Themind
worksjustthesameinbothcases,butitmaynotbeworking
onthesamematerial,becausetheneedsofsocietyarescarcely
likelytobethesameintheonecaseasintheother.Ourown
investigationswilllndeedleadustothisconclusion.Without

anticipatingit,letusmerelysaythattheobservationof

iiOFABSURDITYINTHEREASONINGBEING85

"primitivebeings"inevitablyraisesthequestionofthe
psychologicaloriginofsuperstition,andthatthegeneral
structureofhumanthoughttheobservationthereforeof
civilizedmanofthepresentdaywillappeartoustosupply
sufficientdataforthesolutionoftheproblem.

Weshallhavemuchthesamethingtosaywhenwecome
to"collective"insteadof"primitive"mentality.According
toEmileDurkheim,thereisnoneedtotryandfindout
whythosethingswhichsuchorsuchareligionaskusto
believe"appearsodisconcertingtoindividualminds.This
issimplybecausetherepresentationofthosethingsby1
religionisnottheworkoftheseminds,butthatofthecol
lectivemind.Nowitisnaturalthatthismentalityshouldsee1
realitydifferentlyfromourownmind,sinceitisofanother
nature.Societyhasitsownmodeofexistencepeculiarto
it,andthereforeitsownmodeofthinking."xSofaraswe
areconcerned,weshallreadilyadmittheexistenceofcollect
iverepresentations,depositedininstitutions,languageand
customs.Togethertheyconstituteasocialintelligencewhich
isthecomplementofindividualintelligences.Butwefailto
seewhythesetwomentalitiesshouldclash,andwhyone
shouldbeliableto"disconcert"theother.Experienceteaches
nothingofthekind,andsociologyappearstoustoaffordno
groundsforthesupposition.Ifweheldtheviewthatnature
stoppedshortattheindividual,thatsocietyistheresultof
anaccidentoraconvention,wecouldpushtheargument
toitsconclusionandmaintainthatthisconjunctionofin
dividuals,similartothatofprimaryelementsunitedina
chemicalcombination,hasgivenbirthtoacollectiveintelli
gence,certainrepresentationsofwhichwillbepuzzlingto
theindividualmind.Butnowadaysnobodyattributesan
accidentalorcontractualorigintosociety.Ifsociologyisopen
tocriticism,itwouldratherbethatitleanstoomuchthe

otherway:certainofitsexponentstendtoregardthe
individualasanabstraction,andthesocialbodyastheonly
reality.Butinthatcase,howcoulditbethatthecollective
mentalityisnotprefiguredintheindividualmentality?How
1Anniesociologique,vol.ii.pp.29sqq.

86STATICRELIGIONCH.

canweimaginethatnature,havingmademana"political
animal",sodisposedhumanintelligencethatitfeelsoutofits
elementwhenitthinks"politically"?Forourpart,webelieve
thatinthestudyoftheindividualonecanneveroverestimate
thefactthattheindividualwasmeantforsociety.Because
ithasnotsufficientlytakenthisintoaccount,psychologyhas
madesuchmeagreprogressincertaindirections.Iamnot
speakingofthebenefittobederivedfromanintensivestudy
ofcertainabnormalormorbidstates,implyingamongthe
membersofacommunity,asamongthebeesinahive,an
invisibleanastomosis:awayfromthehive,thebeepines
awayanddiesisolatedfromsocietyorsharinginsufficiently
initsactivities,mansuffersfromasimilarmaladyverylittle
studieduptonow,calledlistlessnesswhenisolationis
prolonged,asinsolitaryconfinement,characteristicmental
troublesappear.Thesephenomenawouldwelldeserveto
haveaseparateaccountopenedfortheminthebooksof
psychologywhencloseditwouldshowahandsomeprofit.
Butthisisnotputtingitstronglyenough.Thefutureofa
sciencedependsonthewayitfirstdissectsitsobject.Ifit
hashadthelucktocutalongthelinesofthenaturaljoints,
likePlato'sgoodcook,thenumberof"cuts"isoflittle
mattervasthecuttingupintopieceswillhavepreparedthe
wayfortheanalysisintoelements,weshallbefinallyin
possessionofasimplifiedrepresentationofthewhole.Our
psychologistsdonotsufficientlyrealizethiswhentheyshrink
frommakingsubdivisions.Forinstance,theypostulatecertain
generalfacultiesofperception,interpretation,comprehension,
withoutenquiringwhetherthemechanismsthatcomeinto
playarenotdifferent,accordingasthefacultiesapplyto

personsorthings,oraccordingastheintelligenceisimmersed
ornotinthesocialenvironment.Andyetthemassofman
kindhasalreadysketchedoutthisdistinction,andhaseven
recordeditinlanguage:alongsideofthesenseswhichinform
usaboutthingsitputscommonsense,whichbearsonour
intercoursewithpeople.Wecannothelpobservingthat,a
mann^J^afirstratemjtheimto
orasubtlepsychologist,asfarasselfanalysisgoes,andyet

iiOFABSURDITYIN*THEREASONINGBEING87

completelymisunderstandtheactionsof,otherjnen,mis

calculateRisown'aflcf"^^

his'i^<fftltiHffingsrEe,inaword,lackingincommonsense!

f*.*v*iiiriUAy*\^tf*'i'Mi>M>^****.***>>.<w<ltt..***.*.*..*.^.'

ThdTtfionomaniaofpersecution,ormorepreciselyofmisinter
pretation,istheretoprovethat.commonsensemaybecome
impairedwhilethereasoningfacultiesremainintact.The
gravityofthismalady,itsobstinateresistancetoalltreatment,
thefactthattheearlysymptomsaregenerallytobedetected
intheremotestpastofthesufferer,everythingwouldseem
toindicatethatwehavehereaprofoundcongenitalpsychic
insufficiency,andonethatisclearlydefined.Commonsense,
then,orasitmightbecalled,socialsense,isinnateinnormal
man,likethefacultyofspeech,whichalsoimpliesthe
existenceofsocietyandwhichisnonethelessprefiguredin
individualorganisms.Itisindeedhardtoadmitthatnature,
whichplacedsociallifeattheextremitiesofthetwogreat
linesofevolutionendingrespectively4i>thehymenopterae
andinman,whileregulatingbeforehandthedetailedactivity
ofeveryantintheanthill,shouldhaveneglectedtogiveman
anyguidingprinciples,howevergeneral,forthecoordination
ofhisconductwiththatofhisfellowmen.Humansocieties
doubtlessdifferfrominsectsocietiesinthattheyleaveyun

determinedtheactionsoftheindividual,andindeedthose
ofthecollectivityalso.Butthisisequivalenttosayingthat
itistheactionswhicharepreordainedintheinsect'snature,
andthatinmanitisthefacultyalone.Thefacultyisnone
thelessthere,beingsoorganizedintheindividualthatitmay
functioninsociety.Howthenshouldtherebeasocial
mentalitysupervening,asifitwereanadditionalfactor,and
liableto"disconcert"theindividualmentality?Howcould
thefirstfailtobepresentinthesecond?Theproblemwhich
westated,andwhichconsistsinascertaininghowabsurd
superst
r

Wesaidtftait,thoughwemaypersistinspeakingofprimitive
mentality,theproblem*nonethelessbearsonthepsychology
ofthemanoftoday.Weshalladdthat,thoughwemay
^persistinspeakingofcollectiverepresentations,thequestion

88STATICRELIGIONCH.

nonethelessconcernsthepsychologyoftheindividual
man.

Butdoesnotthedifficultyliepreciselyinthefactthatour
psychologyisnotsufficientlyconcernedwiththesubdivision
ofitssubjectinaccordancewiththelineslaiddownby
nature?Therepresentationswhichproducesuperstitions
possessthecommoncharacteristicofbeingphantasmic.
Psychologyrelatesthemtoageneralfaculty,imagination.It
willalsoplaceunderthesameheadingthediscoveriesand
inventionsofscienceandtheachievementsofart.Butwhy
shouldwegrouptogethersuchdifferentthings,givethem
thesamenameandthussuggesttheideaofamutualrelation
ship?Wedosomerelyforconvenienceofspeechandforthe
entirelynegativereasonthatthesevariousactivitiesareneither
perception,normemory,norlogicaloperationsofthemind.

Letusthenagreetogroupphantasmicrepresentations
separately,andtocall"mythmaking",or"fiction",theact
whichproducesthem.Thiswillbeafirststeptowardsthe
solutionoftheproblem.Letusnowremarkthatpsychology,
whenitsplitsuptheactivitiesofthemindintooperations,
doesnottakeenoughpainstofindoutthespecificpurpose
ofeachofthem.Andthisispreciselywhythesubdivision
isalltooofteninadequateorartificial.Doubtlessjjj^ncall
dreamandphilosophize,butfirstofallhemustlivethereis
nodoubtthatourpsychicalstructureoriginatesintheneces
sityofpreservinganddevelopingsocialandindividuallife.
Ifpsychologydoesnotmakethisconsiderationitsguiding
principle,itwillinevitablydistortitsobject.Whatshouldwe
sayofascientistwhodealtwiththeanatomyoforgansand
thehistologyoftissueswithouttroublingabouttheiruse?
Hewouldriskmakingerroneousdivisionsanderroneous
groupings.Iffunctionisonlycomprehensiblefromstructure,
themainlinesofastructurearenottobediscernedwithout
someideaofitsfunction.Wemustnotthereforeconsider
themindasbeingwhatitis"fornoparticularreason,just
forthefunofthething".Wemustnotsay:itsstructurebeing
such,ithasderivedthisorthat^advantagefromit.The
advantageitderivesfromitsstructureis,onthecontrary,the

iiTHEMYTHMAKINGFUNCTION89

factorwhichmusthavedeterminedthelatterinanycase
thatistheclueforanyresearch.Letustake,then,inthe
vaguelyanddoubtlessartificiallydefinedrealmofimagina
tion,thenatural"cut"whichwehavecalledmythmaking
andseetowhatuseitisnaturallyput.Tothisfacultyaredue
thenovel,thedrama,mythologytogetherwithallthatpre
cededit.Butthen,therehavenotalwaysbeennovelistsand
dramatists,whereashumanityhasneversubsistedwith
outreligion.Verylikely,therefore,poetryandfantasyof
allkindsappearedasextras,benefitingfromthefactthat
themindknewhowtomakemyths,butreligioniswhat
accountsforthemythmakingfunction:facultystandingto

religionintherelationshipofeffectandnotofcause.Some
need,individualperhaps,socialinanycase,musthave
requiredfromthemindthistypeofmentalactivity.Letusask
whatthisneedwas.Itmustbenotedthatfiction,whenithas
thepowertomoveus,resemblesanincipienthallucination:
itcanthwartourjudgmentandreason,whicharethestrictly
intellectualfaculties.Nowwhatwouldnaturehavedone,after
creatingintelligentbeings,ifshehadwantedtoguardagainst
certaindangersofintellectualactivitywithoutcompromising
thefutureofintelligence?Observationsuppliesuswiththe
answer.Today,inthefullefflorescenceofscientificdevelop
ment,Weseethefinestargumentsintheworldcometogrief
inthefaceofasingleexperiment:nothingcanresistfacts.
Sothatifintelligencewastobekeptattheoutsetfromsliding
downaslopewhichwasdangeroustotheindividualand
society,itcouldonlybebythestatementofapparentfacts,
bytheghostsoffactsfailingrealexperience,acounterfeitof,
experiencehadtobeconjuredup.Afiction,ifitsimageis
vividandinsistent,mayindeedmasqueradeasperception
andin'thatwaypreventormodifyaction.Asystematically
falseexperience,confrontingtheintelligence,mayindeedstop
itpushingtoofartheconclusionsitdeducesfromatrue
'experience.Iti$insomesuchfashionthatnaturehaspro
ceeded.Andthatbeingso,weshouldnotbesurprisedto
findthatintelligencewajjpervaded,assoonasformed,by
superstition,thatanessentiallyintelligentbeingisnaturally

9oSTATICRELIGIONCH.

superstitious,andthatintelligentcreaturesaretheonly
superstitiousbeings.

Itistruethatthisraisesnewquestions.Wemusten
quiremorecarefullywhatistheutilityofthemythmaking
function,andwhatdangernaturehadtocontendwith.With
outexploringthispointyet,wemustnotethatthehumanmind
maybeintherightorinthewrong,butthatineithercase,
whateverdirectionithastaken,itgoesstraightahead:from

oneconclusiontoanother,fromoneanalysistoanother,it
plungesdeeperintoerror,justasitmayproceedfurtherand
furtheralongthepathoftruth.Weareonlyacquaintedwith
humanityasalreadyevolved,forthe"primitives"weobserve
todayareasoldasweare,andthedocumentsuponwhich
thehistoryofreligionworksbelongtoarelativelyrecentpast.
1Sotheimmensevarietyofbeliefswithwhichwehavetodeal
istheresultofalengthyprocessofproliferation.Fromtheir
absurdityorstrangenesswemaydoubtlessconcludethat
thereisacertaintendencytowardsthestrangeortheabsurd
intheworkingofacertainfunctionofthemindbutthese
characteristicsareprobablythusaccentuatedsimplybecause
theoperationhasgonesofar:ifwetakeintoconsideration
thedirectionalone,weshallbelesssurprisedattheirrational
elementsinthetendency,andwemaybeabletograspits
utility.Whoknowsindeediftheerrorsintowhichthis
tendencyledarenotthedistortions,atthetimebeneficialto
thespecies,ofatruthdestinedtobelaterrevealedtocertain
individuals?Butthisisnotall.Asecondquestionarises,
whichmustinfactbeansweredfirst:whatistheoriginof
thistendency?Isitconnectedwithothermanifestationsof
life?Wespokeofanintentionofnatureitwasametaphor,
asconvenientinpsychologyasitisinbiologywethusstressed
thefactthatthecontrivancewithwhichweweredealing
servedtheinterestseitheroftheindividualorthespecies.
Buttheexpressionisvague,andforthesakeofclaritywe
shouldsaythatthetendencyunderconsiderationisanin
stinct,wereitnotthatitispreciselyintheplaceofaninstinct
thatthesephantasmicimagesariseinthemind.Theyplaya
partwhichmighthavedevolvedoninstinct,andwhichwould

iiMYTHMAKINGANDLIFE91

actuallydosoinabeingdevoidofintelligence.Letussay,
forthetimebeing,thatitisavirtualinstinct,meaningthat
attheextremityofanotherlineofevolution,ininsectsocieties,
wefindinstinctautomaticallyinducingabehaviourcom
parable,initsutility,tothebehaviourwhichissuggestedto

man,abeingbothintelligentandfree,bythesewellnigh
hallucinatoryimages.Butinthusalludingtodivergentand
complementarydevelopments,whicharesupposedtohave
led,ontheonehand,torealinstincts,ontheothertovirtual
instincts,arewenotputtingforwardaspecificviewofthe
evolutionoflife?

Suchisindeedthewiderproblemraisedbyoursecond
question.Itwasimplicitlycontainedinthefirst.Howisit
possibletorelatetoavitalneedthosefictionswhichconfront
andsometimesthwartourintelligence,ifwehavenotascer
tainedthefundamentaldemandsoflife?Weshallfindlater
thissameproblemagaininastillmoreexplicitform,when
aquestionariseswhichwecannotavoid,thequestionofhow
religionhassurvivedthedangerwhichbroughtitintobeing.
How,insteadofdyingout,itsimplybecametransformed?
Whydoesitstillliveon,thoughsciencehascometofillthe
gap,dangerousindeed,leftbetweentheformandthematter
ofintelligence?Mayitnotbethatunderlyingtheneedfor
stability,whichliferevealsinthatstop,orratherthatmarking
timeonthesamespot,whichdenotesthepreservationofthe
species,therei^somedemandjpraforwardmovement,some
remnantofanimpuTse,"tpwit,avitalimpetus?Butthetwo
first'questions'will'sufficeforthepresent.Theybothbring
usbacktotheconsiderationswehavealreadysubmittedon
theevolutionoflife.Theseconsiderationswerebynomeans
hypothetical,assomeapparentlyhavethought.Inspeaking
ofa"vitalimpetus"andacreativeevolution,wewerekeeping
ascloseaswecouldtoactualexperience.Thisiswhatmany
are*beginningtorealize,sincepositivescience,merelyby
abandoningcertaintheoreticalideasorgivingthemoutas
merehypotheses,isdrawingnearertoourviews.Inap
propriatingthem,itwouldonlybeenteringintoitsown
again.

92STATICRELIGIONCH.

Letusthengobackoverafewoftheoutstandingfeatures

oflife,andemphasizethedistinctlyempiricalcharacterofour
conceptionofthe"vitalimpetus".Weaskedwhetherthe
phenomenaoflifecouldberesolvedintophysicaland
chemicalfacts?Whenthephysiologistaffirmssuchathing,
hemeans,consciouslyorunconsciously,thatthebusinessof
physiologyistobringoutwhateverisphysicalandchemical
inthevital,thatitisimpossibletosaywhenthesearchwill
end,andthat,therefore,hemustproceedasthoughthe
searchwerenevertohaveanendthatthisistheonlyway
togoforward.Heisthusonlylayingdowntherulesofa
methodheisnotstatingafact.Letusthenkeeptoexperi
ence:weshallsayandmorethanonebiologistacknowledges
itthatscienceisasfaraseverfromaphysicochemical
explanationoflife.Thatiswhatwestated,tobeginwith,
whenspeakingofavitalimpetus.Now,lifebeinggiven
asafact,howarewetopictureitsevolution?Somemay
maintainthatthepassagefromonespeciestoanotherwas
accomplishedbyaseriesofvariations,allofthemaccidental,
beingpreservedbyselectionandfixedbyheredity.Butifwe
reflectontheenormousnumberofvariations,coordinate
withandcomplementarytooneanother,whichmusttake
placeinorderthattheorganismshallbenefitbythemoreven
merelynotbeinjured,wewonderhoweachoneofthem,
takenseparately,canbepreservedbyselectionandwaitfor
otherswhicharetocompleteit.Byitself,oneofthese
variationsismoreoftenthannotuselessitmayevenhamper
orparalysethefunction.Sothatininvokingacombination
ofchancewithchance,inattributingtonospecialcausethe
directiontakenbylifewhichisevolving,biologyappliesa
prioritheprincipleofeconomy,whichfindsfavourwith
positivescience,butbynomeansestablishesafact,andat
oncecomesupagainstinsurmountabledifficulties.Thisin
adequacyofDarwinismisthesecondpointwebroughtout
whenwespokeofthevitalimpetus:toatheoryweopposeda
fact,wepointedoutthattheevolutionoflifeoccurredin
certaindefinitedirections.Now,arethesedirectionsimposed
onlifebytheconditionsinwhichitevolves?Thiswould

iiTHEVITALIMPETUS93

amounttoadmittingthatthemodificationsundergoneby
the,individualarehandeddowntohisdescendants,atleast
regularlyenoughtoensure,forinstance,thegradualcom
plicationofanorganaccomplishingthesamefunctionwith
evergreaterprecision.Buttheheredityofacquiredcharac
teristicsisdebatable,and,evensupposingthatitisobserved,
exceptionalonceagainitisapriori,andinordertomeet
theneedsoftheargument,thatitistakentobeoperating
regularly.Letusattributethisregulartransmissibilityto
theinnate:weshallconformtoexperienceandweshall
saythatitisnotthemechanicalactionofexternalcauses,
butaninwardimpulsethatpassesfromgermtogermthrough
individuals,thatcarrieslifeinagivendirection,towardsan
everhighercomplexity.Suchisthethirdideatobeevokedby
theimageofthevitalimpetus.Letusgofurther.Whenone
speaksoftheprogressofanorganismoranorganadapting
itselftomorecomplexconditions,onemeans,moreoften
thannot,thatthecomplexityofconditionsimposesitsform
onlife,asthemoulddoesontheclay:thusalone,onesays,
isamechanical,thatisascientific,explanationobtainable.
But,afteraffordingoneselfthesatisfactionofinterpreting
adaptationingeneralinthisway,onereasonsineachpar
ticularcaseasiftheadaptationweresomethingquitedifferent
asindeeditisasifitweretheoriginalsolution,foundby
life,oftheproblemsetbyexternalconditions.Andthis
facultyofresolvingproblemsisleftunexplained.Byintro
ducingatthispoint"impetus"wedidnotprofferanexplan
ationeitherbut,insteadofsystematicallyrejectingitin
generalwhileresortingtoitontheslyineachparticularcase,
webroughtoutthismysteriouscharacteroftheoperation
oflife.Butdidwedonothingtofathomthemystery?Ifthe
marvellouscoordinationofthepartswiththewholecannot
beexplainedintermsofmechanics,yetitdoesnotdemand,
inouropinion,tobetreatedasfinality.Thesamething
which,seenfromoutside,canbedecomposedintoaninfinity
ofpartscoordinatedwithoneanother,mayperhapsappear,
ifrealizedfrominside,anundividedact:justasamovement
ofthehand,whichwefeeltobeindivisible,isperceivedfrom

94STATICRELIGIONCH.

outsideasacurvedefinablebyanequation,thatistosay,as
aseriesofpointsinfiniteinnumber,adjacentonetotheother,
andallobeyingoneandthesamelaw.Inevokingtheimage
ofanimpetus,wewishedtosuggestthisfifthidea,andeven
somethingmore:whereouranalysis,whichremainsout
side,findspositiveelementsineverincreasingnumbers
elementswhichstrikeusforthatveryreasonasmoreand
moremarvellouslycoordinatewithoneanother^intuition,
transferringitselftotheinside,wouldbeconfrontednot
withfactorsthatarebeingcombined,butwithobstacles
thatarebeingcircumvented.Aninvisiblehandthrust
throughaheapofironfilingswouldmerelybrushaside
theresistanceencountered,buttheverysimplicityofthis
act,seenfromthepointofviewoftheresistance,would
appearasanalignment,madeinadeliberateorder,ofthe
filingsthemselves.Nowistherenothingtobesaidcon
cerningthisactandtheresistanceitencounters?Iflife
cannotberesolvedintophysicalandchemicalfacts,itoper
atesinthemannerofaspecialcause,addedontowhat
weordinarilycallmatter,matterinthiscasebeingbothan
instrumentandanobstacle.Itdivideswhatitdefines.We
mayconjecturethatadivisionofthiskindisresponsiblefor
themultiplicityofthegreatlinesofvitalevolution.Butwe
therebyobtainasuggestionastothemeansofpreparingand
verifyingtheintuitionwewouldfainhaveoflife.Ifwesee
twoorthreebiglinesofevolutionrunningfreelyforward,
alongsideotherlineswhichendinablindroad,andifalong
eachoftheselinesanessentialcharacteristicdevelopsmdre
andmore,wemayconjecturethatthevitalimpulsebegan
bypossessingthesecharacteristicsinastateofreciprocal
implication:instinctandintelligence,whichreachtheircul
minatingpointattheextremitiesofthetwoprincipallines
ofanimalevolution,mustthereforebetakenonewiththe
other,beforetheirseparation:notcombinedintoone,but
oneinthebeginning,instinctandintelligencebeingthen

mereviews,takenfromtwodifferentpoints,ofthatsimple
reality.Suchare,sincewehavebeguntonumberthem,the
sixth,seventhandeighthideaswhicharetobeevokedbythe

iiTHEVITALIMPETUS95

ideaofavitalimpetus.Andeventhenwehavenotmentioned,
saveperhapsbyimplication,theessentialone,namelythe
impossibilityofforecastingtheformswhichlifecreatesin
theirentiretybydiscontinuousleaps,allalongthelinesof
itsevolution.Whetheryouembracethedoctrineofpure
mechanismorthatofpurefinality,ineithercasethecreations
oflifearesupposedtobepredetermined,thefuturebeing
deduciblefromthepresentbyacalculation,ordesigned
withinitasanidea,timebeingthusunavailing.Pure
experiencesuggestsnothingofthesort."Neitherimpul
sionnorattraction"seemstobeitsmotto.Nowitisjust
somethingofthiskindthatanimpetuscansuggest,whilst
itcanalso,bytheindivisibilityofwhatisfeltinternallyand
thedivisibilitytoinfinityofwhatisexternallyperceived,
givetheideaofthatrealandeffectivedurationwhichisthe
essentialattributeoflife.Suchweretheideaswecon
densedintotheimageofthe"vitalimpetus".Toneglect
them,ashasbeentoooftendone,istofindoneselfcon
frontedbyanemptyconcept,likethatofthepure"willto
live",andbyabarrentheoryofmetaphysics.Bytakingthem
intoaccount,wehaveanideafullofmatter,obtainedempiric
ally,capableofguidingourinvestigations,whichwillbroadly
sumupwhatweknowofthevitalprocessandwillalsobring
outwhatisstillunknown.

Fromthisstandpoint,evolutionappearsasaseriesof
suddenleaps,andthevariationconstitutingthenewspecies
asmadeupofamultitudeofdifferencescompletingone
another,andemergingalltogetherintheorganismformed
fromthegerm.Touseagainthesamecomparison,itislike
thesuddenmovementofthehandplungedamongtheiron
filingsandcausinganinstantaneousreadjustmentofthemall.

Now,ifthetransformationtakesplaceinvariousrepresenta
tivesofthesamespecies,itmaynotbeequallysuccessfulinall
cases.Itmaywellbethattheappearanceofthehumanspecies
wasduetoseveralleapsinthesamedirection,takingplace
hereandthereinapreviousspeciesandthusresultinginsome
whatdifferenttypesofhumanityeachtypewouldthencorre
spondtoasuccessfulattempt,inthesensethatthemultiple

96STATICRELIGIONCH.

variationscharacterisingeachoneareperfectlycoordinate
withoneanotherbuttheymightnotbeequalinquality,
theleapsnothavingcoveredthesamedistanceineverycase.
They,nonetheless,mighthavealltakenplaceinthesame
direction.Wecouldsay,whilstrefrainingfromfixingany
anthropomorphicsensetotheword,thattheycorrespondto
oneandthesameintentionoflife.

Now,whetherthehumanspeciessprangornotfromone
stock,whetherwehavetodealwithasingletypeofhumanity
orwithseveral,whichcannotbereducedtoacommon
denominator,itisoflittleconsequencemankindalwayspre
sentstwoessentialcharacteristics,intelligenceandsociability.
But,fromourstandpoint,thesefeaturestakeonaspecial
meaning.Theyarenolongeramatterforthepsychologist
andthesociologistonly.Theycall,firstofall,forabio
logicalinterpretation.Intelligenceandsociabilitymustbe
giventheirproperplacebackinthegeneralevolutionof
life.

Totakesociabilityfirst,wefinditinitsfinishedformatthe
twoculminatingpointsofevolution,inthehymenopterous
insects,suchastheantsandbees,andinman.Asamere
tendency,itisfoundeverywhereinnature.Somebiologists
havegonesofarastosaythattheindividualisalreadya
society:theprotozoa,formedfromasinglecell,itissuggested,
constitutedaggregateswhich,comingtogetherintheirturn,
producedaggregatesofaggregatesandthusthemostwidely

differentiatedorganismsoriginatedintheassociationsof
elementaryorganismsbarelydifferentiatedfromoneanother.
Thisisobviouslyanexaggeration"polyzoism"isanexcep
tionalandabnormaloccurrence.Butitisnonethelessafact
thatthingstakeplaceinahigherorganismasifthecellshad
joinedtogethertosharetheworkbetweenthem.Thebent
towardsthesocialform,foundinsomanyspecies,istherefore
evidentintheverystructureofanyofitsmembers.But,once
more,thisismerelyatendencyandifwewishtodealwith
fullycompletesocieties,clearcutorganizationsofdistinct
individuals,wemusttakethetwoperfecttypesofassociation
representedbyasocietyofinsectsandahumansociety,the

iiSOCIALSIGNIFICANCEOFMYTHMAKING97

oneimmutable,1theothersubjecttochangetheoneinstinc
tive,theotherintelligentthefirstsimilartoanorganism
whoseelementsonlyexistintheinterestofthewhole,the
secondleavingsowideamargintotheindividualthatwe
cannottellwhethertheorganismwasmadeforthemorthey
fortheorganism.OfthetwoconditionslaiddownbyComte,
"order"and"progress",theinsectchoseorderonly,whereas
theaimofatleastasectionofhumanityisprogress,some
timesexclusiveoforder,andalwaysduetoindividual
initiative.Thesetwofinishedtypesofsociallifearethenthe
counterpartofeachotherandmutuallycomplementary.But
thesamecouldbesaidofinstinctandintelligence,which
characterizethemrespectively.Whengiventheirplaceagain
intheevolutionoflife,theyappear,asitwere,twodivergent
andcomplementaryactivities.

Weshallnotgooveragainwhatwehavestatedinaformer
work.Letusmerelyrecallthefactthatlifeisacertaineffort
toobtaincertainthingsfromrawmatter,andthatinstinct
andintelligence,takenintheirfinishedstate,aretwodistinct
meansofutilizingatoolforthisobjectinthefirstcase,the
toolispartofthelivingcreatureintheother,itisanin
organicinstrumentwhichmanhashadtoinvent,makeand

learntohandle.Grantthefactofutilization,stillmorethe
factoffabrication,andthen,mostofall,thefactofinvention,
andyouwillfindoneaftertheotheralltheelementsof
intelligence,foritspurposeexplainsitsstructure.Butwe
mustnotforgetthattherestillhangsroundtheedgeofin
telligenceafringeofinstinct,andthatinthedepthsof
instincttherestillsurvivegleamsofintelligence.Wemay
conjecturethattheywereoriginallyinvolvedinoneanother
andthat,ifwewentfarenoughbackintothepast,weshould
findinstinctsthatarenearertointelligencethanthoseofour
insects,andanintelligenceclosertoinstinctthanthatofour
vertebrates.Thetwoactivities,whichbeganbymutualinter
penetration,hadtopartcompanyinordertogrowbutsome

1Itgoeswithoutsayingthattheimmutabilityisnotabsolutebut
essential.Itexistsinprinciple,butinfactadmitsofvariationsonthe
themeonceposited.

98STATICRELIGIONCH.

thingoftheonehasremainedattachedtotheother.Indeed
thesamethingcouldbesaidofalltheimportantmanifesta
tionsoflife.Inmostcaseseachreveals,frequentlyina
rudimentary,latent,orvirtualstate,theessentialcharacter
isticsofmostofthe'othermanifestations.

Ifwestudy,then,attheterminalpointofoneofthegreat
effortsofnature,theseessentiallyintelligentandpartially
freegroupsofbeingswhichconstitutehumansocieties,we
mustnotlosesightoftheotherterminalpointofevolution,
thesocietiesswayedbypureinstinct,inwhichtheindividual
blindlyservestheinterestsofthecommunity.Thiscom
parisonwillneverjustifyfirmconclusionsbutitmaysuggest
interpretations.Ifsocietiesaretobefoundatthetwo
principalterminalpointsoftheevolutionarymovement,and
iftheindividualorganismisconstructedonaplanwhich
foreshadowsthatonwhichsocietiesareorganized,thismeans
thatlifeisacoordinationofdisciplinedelementsamong

whichtheworkisdividedinfact,thatthesocialunderlies
thevital.If,inthosesocietieswithwhichindividualorgan
ismsarealreadyidentifiable,theconstituentpartmustbe
readytosacrificeitselfforthewhole,ifthisisstillsoin
thosesocietiesofsocietieswhichform,attheendofone
ofthetwogreatlinesofevolution,thehiveandtheant
hill,andlastly,ifthisresultisobtainedbyinstinctwhich
isbutanextensionofnature'sworkoforganization,this
meansthatnatureismoreconcernedwithsocietythanwith
theindividual.Ifthatisnolongerthecasewithman,this
meansthattheinventiveeffortmanifestedthroughoutthe
domainoflifebythecreationofnewspecieshasfoundin
humanityalonethemeansofcontinuingitsactivitythrough
individuals,onwhomtherehasdevolved,alongwithin
telligence,thefacultyofinitiative,independenceandliberty.
Ifintelligencenowthreatenstobreakupsocialcohesion
atcertainpoints,aridassumingthatsocietyistogoon,
theremustbeacounterpoise,atthesepoints,tointelli
gence.Ifthiscounterpoisecannotbeinstinctitself,forthe
veryreasonthatitsplacehasbeentakenbyintelligence,the
sameeffectmustbeproducedbyavirtualityofinstinct,or,if

iiSOCIALSIGNIFICANCEOFMYTHMAKING99

youpreferit,bytheresidueofinstinctwhichsurvivesonthe
fringeofintelligence:itcannotexercisedirectaction,but,
sinceintelligenceworksonrepresentations,itwillcallup
"imaginary"ones,whichwillholdtheirownagainstthe
representationofrealityandwillsucceed,throughtheagency
ofintelligenceitself,incounteractingtheworkofintelli
gence.Thiswouldbetheexplanationofthemythmaking
faculty.Thoughindeeditplaysasocialrole,itmustalsoserve
theindividual,whomasoftenasnotitistotheinterest
ofsocietytofavour.Wemaythereforepresumethatinits
originalandelementaryformitbringsaddedstrengthtothe
individual.Butbeforecomingtothesecondpoint,letus
considerthefirst.

Amongthefactscollectedby"psychicalresearch",we
noticedsomeyearsagothefollowingcase.Aladywasonthe
upperfloorofanhotel.Asshewantedtogodownstairs,she
walkedoutontothelanding.Thegateprovidedforthelift
happenedtobeopen.Asthegatewassocontrivedastobe
openonlyiftheliftwerestoppedatthatfloor,shenaturally
thoughttheliftwasthereandrushedforwardtotakeit.Allof
asuddenshefeltherselfflungbackwardsthemanentrusted
withtheworkingofthelifthadjustappearedandwaspushing
herbackontothelanding.Atthispointsheemergedfrom
herfitofabstraction.Shewasamazedtoseethatneitherman
norliftwerethere.Themechanismbeingoutoforder,itwas
possibleforthegatetobeopenatherfloor,thoughthelift
wstsstilldownbelow.Shehadbeenabouttoflingherselfinto
thegapingvoidamiraculoushallucinationhadsavedher
life.Needwesaythatthemiracleiseasilyexplained?The
ladyhadreasonedcorrectlyonarealfact,forthegatewas
reallyopenandthereforetheliftshouldhavebeenatthat
floor.Themeresightoftheemptyshaftwouldhavebeen
enoughtoshowherhermistakebutitwouldhavebeentoo
late,theactionconsequentuponthecorrectreasoningbeing
alreadyunderway.Itwasthenthattheinstinctiveorsom
nambulisticself,whichunderliesthereasoningpersonality,
cameintoaction.Ithadseenthedanger,ithadtoactatonce.

iooSTATICRELIGIONCH.

Instantlyithadthrownherbodybackwards,atthesametime
inducinginaflashthefictitious,hallucinatoryperceptionthe
bestfittedtoevokeandexplaintheapparentlyunjustified
movement.

Letusimaginethenaprimitivehumanityandrudimentary
societies.Itwouldbeasimplematterfornaturetoensurethe
requisitecohesionwithinthegroupsshewouldonlyhaveto
endowmanwiththeappropriateinstincts.Thisshedidfor
thebeehiveandtheanthill.Andwithcompletesuccess:
heretheindividuallivesforthecommunityalone.Indeedher

taskwasaneasyone,sincesheonlyhadtofollowherusual
methodinstinctisindeedcoextensivewithlife,andsocial
instinct,asfoundininsects,isnothingmorethanthespirit
ofsubordinationandcoordinationanimatingthecellsand
tissuesandorgansofalllivingbodies.Butitisnolonger
towardsameredevelopmentofinstinct,itistowardsanex
pansionofintelligence,thatthevitalimpulseoftheverte
bratetends.Whentheendofthemovementisattainedin
man,instinctisnotabolished,itiseclipsedallthatremains
ofitisadimpenumbraaboutthecentre,nowfullyillumin
atedorratherinitselfluminous,towit,intelligence.Hence
forthreflexionwillenabletheindividualtoinvent,and
societytoprogress.Butifsocietyistoprogress,itmustfirst
ofallbeabletomaintainitself.Inventionmeansinitiative,
andanappealtoindividualinitiativestraightawayinvolves
theriskofendangeringsocialdiscipline.Whatifthein
dividualdivertshisreflexionfromtheobjectforwhichitwas
designed,Imeanfromthetasktobeperformed,theimprove
mentorrenovationtobeundertaken,andfocusesiton
himself,ontheconstraintimposedonhimbysociallife,on
thesacrificehemakestothecommunity?Ifhewereaslave
ofinstinct,liketheantandthebee,hewouldremainintent
onthepurelyexternalobjecttobeattainedhewouldhave
automatically,somnambulistically,workedforthespecies.
Endowedwithintelligence,rousedtothought,hewillturn
tohimselfandthinkonlyofleadingapleasantlife.Formal
reasoningwoulddoubtlessshowhimthathefurthershisown
interestbypromotingthehappinessofothersbutittakes

iiSOCIALSIGNIFICANCEOFMYTHMAKING101

centuriesofculturetoproduceautilitariansuchasJohn
StuartMill,andStuartMillhasnotconvincedallphilos
ophers,letalonethemassofmankind.Thetruthisthat
intelligencewouldcounselegoismfirst.Theintelligentbeing
willrushinthatdirectionifthereisnothingtostophim.But
natureisonthewatch.Justnow,beforetheopengatea
guardianappeared,tobarthewayanddrivebackthetres

passer.Sonowsomeprotectivedeityofthecitywillbethere
toforbid,threaten,punish.Intelligenceisguidedinfactby
presentperceptionsorbythatmoreorlessvividresidueof
perceptioncalledrecollection.Sinceinstinctnolongerexists
exceptasamerevestigeorvirtuality,sinceitisnotstrong
enoughtoincitetoactionorpreventit,itmustarousean
illusoryperception,oratleastacounterfeitofrecollectionso
clearandstrikingthatintelligencewillcometoadecision
accordingly.Lookedatfromthisfirstpointofview,religionis
thenadefensivereactionofnatureagainstthedissolventpower
ofintelligence.

Butthisonlygivesusafigurativesymbolizationofwhat
actuallyoccurs.Forthesakeofgreaterclearness,wehave
supposedinsocietyasuddenrevoltoftheindividual,andin
theindividualimaginationthesuddenapparitionofagodto
preventorforbid.Thingsdoubtlesstakethisdramaticform
atgiventimesandforacertainperiodinahumanityalready
wellalongtheroadtocivilization.Butrealityonlydevelops
towardstheprecisionofdramabyintensificationofthe
essentialandeliminationofthesuperfluous.Indeedin
humangroups,justastheymayhavecomefromthehandsof
nature,thedistinctionbetweenwhatdoesandwhatdoesnot
affectthecohesionofthegroupisnotsoclear,thecon
sequencesofanactaccomplishedbytheindividualdonot
appearsostrictlyindividual,theforceofinhibitionwhich
arisesattheveryinstantwhentheactisonthepointofbeing
accomplishedisnotsocompletelyincarnatedinaperson.
Letusdwellonthesethreepoints.

Insocietiessuchasourstherearecustomsandlaws.The
lawsaredoubtlessoftenstabilizedcustoms:butacustom
onlybecomesalawwhenitisofparticular,recognizableand

102STATICRELIGIONCH.

definablevaluethenitstandsoutfromamongtheothers.
Thedistinctionisthereforeclearbetweentheessentialand

theaccidental:wehave,ontheonehand,whatismerely
custom,ontheother,whatislegal,orevenmoral,obligation.
Thiscannotbesoinlessadvancedsocietieswherewefind
onlycustoms,someofthemjustifiedbyarealneed,mostof
themduetomereaccident,ortoanirrationalextensionof
theformer.Hereallcustomarythingsareperforceobligatory,
sincesocialsolidarity,notbeingcondensedintolaws,andstill
lessintoprinciples,isdilutedintoanacceptancebyalland
sundryofthesecustoms.Everythinghabitualtothemembers
ofthegroup,everythingthatsocietyexpectsfromindividuals,
isjboundtotakeonareligiouscharacter,jfitistruethatthe
observanceofcustom,andthatalone,attachesmantoother
men,andthusdetacheshimfromhimself.Letusnote,bythe
way,thatthequestionoftherelationbetweenmoralityand
religionisthusgreatlysimplifiedwhenweconsiderrudiment
arysocieties.Primitivereligionscanonlybecallednon
moral,orindifferenttomorality,ifwetakereligionasitwas
inthebeginningandcompareitwithmoralitysuchasit
becamelateron.Originallythewholeofmoralityiscustom
andasreligionforbidsanydeparturefromcustom,morality
iscoextensivewithreligion.Itwouldthereforebevainto
raisetheobjectionthatreligiousprohibitionshavenotalways
dealtwiththingsthatstrikeustodayasimmoraloranti
social.Primitivereligion,takenfromourfirststandpoint,is
aprecautionagainstthedangermanruns,assoonashethinks
atall,ofthinkingofhimselfalone.Itistherefore,aswestated
above,adefensivereactionofnatureagainstintelligence.

Ontheotherhand,theideaofindividualregpnn&hilityis
bynomeanssosimpleasmightbesupposed.Itimplies
arelativelY_absJtractrepresentationoftheactivityofthe,in
dividual,whichistakentobeindependentbecauseithas
beenisolatedfromsocial,activity*Butthesolidaritybetween
themembefsTofHiegroupissuchatfirstthatallareboundto
feelthattheysharetosomedegreeinthelapseofanysingle
one,atleastinsuchcasesastheyconsiderserious:moralevil,
ifwecanusethetermatthisstage,isregardedmuchthe

iiSOCIALSIGNIFICANCEOFMYTHMAKING103

sameasaphysicalevilspreadingfromonepersontoanother,
untilitcontaminatesthewholesociety.Sothat,ifanavenging
powerdoesarise,itwillbetocastigatesocietyasawhole,
withoutmakingitsweightfeltonlyatthespotfromwhich
theevilsprang:thepictureofJusticepursuingthecriminal
isrelativelymodern,andwehavesimplifiedmatterstoomuch
inshowingtheindividualchecked,onthevergeofbreaking
thesocialbond,bythereligiousfearofapunishmentwhich
wouldfallonhimalone,ftisnonethelesstruethatthings
tendtoassumethisform,andthattheyassumeitmoreand
moredistinctlyasreligion,determiningitsownfeatures,
becomesmorefranklymythological.Themythwillindeed
alwaysbeartracesofitsoriginitwillneverclearlydistinguish
betweenthephysicalorderandthemoralorsocialorder,
betweenintentionalorderlinessduetotheobedienceofallto
alawandtheorderlinessmanifestedinthecourseofnature.
Themis,goddessofhumanjustice,isthemotherofthe
Seasons('lpai)andofA/*??,whorepresentsthephysical
lawaswellasthemorallaw.Eventodaywehavehardlyrid
ourselvesofthisconfusiontracesofitlingerinourlanguage.
Moralsandmorality,regularityandregulation,uniformity
defactoanduniformitydejureareineachcasebothexpressed
inmuchthesameway.Doesnottheword"order"signify
bothsystemandcommand?

Lastly,wespokeofagod,arisingtpprohibit,toprevent,to
punish*Thatmeanspresumablythatthemoralforce,from
whichtheresistancesprings,andeven,ifneedbe,thevenge
ance,isincarnatedinaperson.Thatitthustendsnaturally
toassume,intheeyesofman,ahumanform,thereisno
doubt.Butifmythologyisaproductofnature,itisalate
product,likeflowerbearingplants,andthebeginningsof
religionweremoremodest.Acarefulstudyofwhatoccursin
ourconsciousnessshowsusthatanintentionalresistance,and
evenavengeance,atfirststrikeusasselfsufficiententities
forthemtobeclothedwithadefinitebody,likethatofa
vigilantandavengingdeity,isalreadyaluxurythemyth
makingfunctionoftheminddoubtlessonlyworkswith

artisticpleasureonconceptionsthusarrayed,butitdoesnot

104STATICRELIGIONCH.

formthemallatonceitbeginsbytakingthemintheir
nakedness.Weshallhavetoemphasizethispoint,whichhas
notsufficientlyengagedtheattentionofpsychologists.There
isnoproofthatthe.childwhoknockshisheadagainstthe
table,andhitsback,looksonthetableasaperson.Indeed
thisinterpretationisfarfrombeingacceptedbyallpsychol
ogiststoday.Butinthiscase,afterattributingtoomuchto
mythologicalexplanation,theynowdonotgofarenough
whentheysupposethatthechildsimplygiveswaytoan
impulsetohit,causedbyanger.Thetruthisthatbetweenthe
identificationofthetablewithapersonandtheperception
ofthetableasaninanimateobject,thereliesanintermediate
representationwhichisneitherthatofathingnorofa
personitistheimageoftheactaccomplishedbythetable
instriking,or,betterstill,theimageoftheactofstriking,
bringingwithitlikeluggageborneonitsbackthetable
whichstandsbehind.Theactofstrikingisanelementof
personality,butnotyetacompletepersonality.Thefencer
whoseesthebuttonofhisadversary'sfoilcomingathim
knowsthatitisthemovementofthepointwhichhasdrawn
thefoilforward,thatitisthefoilthathasdrawnthearmfor
ward,thatitisthearmthatstretchedoutthebodybystretch
ingoutitself:hecanonlylungeproperly,andgiveadirect
thrustinstantaneously,fromthetimehefeelsthingsinthis
order.Toreversetheirorderistoreconstruct,andsoto
philosophize:inanycaseitisbringingtolighttheimplicit,
insteadofbeingcontentwithwhatactionpureandsimple
requires,withwhatisdirectlyperceivedandreallyprimitive.
Whenwereadasignboard"Trespasserswillbeprosecuted",
webeginbyperceivingtheprohibitionitstandsoutclearlyit
isonlybehindit,intheshadow,thatwehaveavisionofthe
constablelyinginwaittoreportus.Inthesameway,the
thesocialorderfirststandout,just
etheyarealreadymorethanmerewords

theyresist*andpress,andpush,hutthedivinitywJxoforbids,
andwhojyasscreenedbythem,willonlyappearlater,asthe
workofthemythmakingfunctionbecomescomplete.We
mustnotbesurprised,therefore,ifwemeetwithprohibitions

iiFRAGMENTARYPERSONIFICATION105

inuncivilizedcommunities,whicharesemiphysical,semi
moralrestraintsoncertainindividualactstl^object^occupy
ingJl^jGfi&&^aJkjjJL^res*st?n??w^kecaNe^Boffi
"sacred"and"4aagesau&"roncethesetwodefiniteideasare
constituted,andwhenthedistinctionisclearlymadebetween
aphysicalforceofrepulsionandamoralinhibitionuptill
then,itpossessesthetwopropertiesfusedintooneitistaboo^
tousethePolynesiantermmadefamiliartousbytKescience
ofreligions.Didprimitivehumanityconceivethetabooin
thesamewayasthe"primitiveraces'*oftoday?Letusfirst
agreeonthemeaningofthewords.Therewouldbenosuch
thingasprimitivehumanity,ifthespecieshadbeenformed
byimperceptibletransitionsatnogivenmomentwouldman
haveemergedfromtheanimalstatebutthisisanarbitrary
hypothesis,whichcomesupagainstsomanyimprobabilities
andrestsonsuchambiguitiesthatwebelieveittobeunten
able1byfollowingtheclueoffactsandanalogies,wearefar
morelikelytoarriveatadiscontinuousevolution,proceedingby
bounds,obtainingateachstoppingplaceacombination,per
fectofitskind,liketheshiftingfiguresthatfollowoneanother
inakaleidoscopethereisthenatypeofprimitivehumanity,
eventhoughthehumanspeciesmayhavebeenformedby
variousleapsconvergingfromvariouspointsandnotall
comingequallyneartoarealizationofthetype.Ontheother
hand,theprimitivesoulwouldescapeusentirelytodayif
therehadbeenhereditarytransmissionofacquiredhabits.
Ourmoralnature,takeninitsrawstate,wouldthendiffer
radicallyfromthatofourremotestancestors.Butagainitis

undertheinfluenceofpreconceivedideas,andtosatisfythe
demandsofatheory,thatonespeaksofhereditaryhabitand,
aboveall,thatonebelievesinatransmissionregularenough
tobringaboutatransformation.Thetruthisthat,ifciviliza
tionhasprofoundlymodifiedman,itisbyaccumulatingin
hissocialsurroundings,asinareservoir,thehabitsand
knowledgewhichsocietypoursintotheindividualateach
newgeneration.Scratchthe,surface,aboiish^verythingwe
owetoaneducationwhichisperpetualandunceasing,and

SeeCreativeEvolution,chaps,i.andii.

106STATICRELIGIONCH.

youfindinthedepthofournatureprimitivehumanity,or
somethingverynearit.Arethe"primitive"peopleswe
pfcservetodaytheimageofthathumanity?Itishardlyprob
Jable,sincenatureis.overlaid,intheircaseaswell,byalayer
iofhabitswhichthesocialsurroundingshavepreservedin
ordertodepositthemineachindividual.Butthereisreason
tobelievethatthisJtayerJ_snotsothickasincivilizedman,
andthatitallowsnaturetoshowmoreclearlythroughit.
Themultiplicationofhabitsthroughouttheagesmustin
theircasehaveoccurredinadifferentway,alongthesurface,
bypassingfromoneofthemtoanothersimplybecause
theylookedalike,oronaccountofsomeotheraccidental
cause,whereastheprogressoftechnicalskill,ofknowledge,
inawordofcivilization,takesplaceoverfairlyconsiderable
periodsinoneandthesamedirection,vertically,bysuper
imposedoranastomoticvariations,resultingthereforeindeep
transformations,andnotmerelyinsurfacecomplications.
Hence,itiseasytoseehowfarwemayregardasabsolutely
primitivethenotionoftaboowhichwefindamongthe
"primitive"peoplesoftoday.Evensupposingthatitsome
howappearedinahumanityfreshfromthehandsofnature,
itdidnotapplytothesamethingsasnow,nor,probably,to
somanythings.Eachtaboomusthavebeenaprohibitionin
whichsocietyhadawelldefinedinterest.Irrationalfromthe

pointofviewoftheindividual,sinceitsuddenlychecked
intelligentactivitywithoutresortingtointelligence,itwas
rationalinasmuchasitwasintheinterestsofthesociety
andthespecies.Hence,sexualintercourse,forexample,
wassatisfactorilyregulatedbytaboos.Butpreciselybecause
noappealhadbeenmadetoindividualintelligence,because
theobjectwaseventothwartit,intelligence,seizingupon
theideaoftaboo,musthaveextendeditarbitrarilyinall
directions,bychanceassociationofideas,withouttroubling
aboutwhatwemightcalljthe.,Qriginalintentionofnature.
Thus,admittingthattaboohasalwaysbeenwhatitistoday,
itprobablydidnotapplytosomanythings,norleadtosuch
absurdconsequences.Buthasitkeptitsoriginalform?The
intelUgenc^ol/'prinutiys"peoplesisnotessentiallydifferent

iiASSURANCEAGAINSTDISORGANIZATION107

fromourownitmusthaveatendency,likeours,toconvert
thedynamicintothestatic,andsolidifyactionsintothings.
Wemaypresumethenthat,underitsinfluence,theprohibi
tionshavetakenuptheirabodeinsidethethingstowhich
theyapplied:theywerenothingbutresistancesopposedto
tendencies,but,asatendencyhasforthemostpartan
object,itwasfromtheobject,andasifdwellingwithinit,
thattheresistanceappearedtocome,havingbecomeinthis
wayanattributeofitssubstance.Instagnantsocietiesthis
solidificationisanaccomplishedfact.Itwasperhapsless
complete,itwasinanycasetemporary,inwhatonemight
callmobilesocieties,whereintelligencewasboundintheend
toperceivebehindtheprohibitionaperson.

Wehavebeendealingwiththefirstfunctionofreligion,
thatjwhichdirectly_concernsjocialpregfirv^tmnNowletus
cometotheother.Oncemoreweshallseeitworkingforthe
goodofsociety,butindirectly,bystimulatingandguiding
individualactivities.Weshallindeedfinditsworkmore
complex,andweshallbeobligedtocataloguetheformsit
takes.Butthereisnodangeroflosingourwayinthissearch,

forwehavetheclueinourhands.Wemustalwaysremember
thatthesphereoflifeisessentiallythatofinstinctthatalong
acertainlineofevolutioninstincthastosomeextentmade
roomforintelligencethatthismayleadtoadisturbanceof
lifethatnature,insuchcircumstances,hasnootherresource
thantosetupintelligenceagainstintelligence.Theintellec
tualrepresentationwhichthusrestoresthebalancetonature's
advantageisofareligiousorder.Letustakethesimplestcase
first.

Animalsdonotknowthattheymustdie.Doubtlesssome
ofthemmakethedistinctionbetweenthelivingandthe
deadwemeanbythisthatthesightofadeadcreatureand
ofalivingonedoesnotproduceinthemthesamereactions,
thesamemovements,thesameattitudesthisdoesnotimply
thattheyhaveageneralideaofdeath,anymorethanthey
haveoflife,oranygeneralideawhatsoever,atleastinthe
senseofamentalpictureandnotsimplyamovementofthe
body.Ananimalwill"shamdead"toescapefromanenemy

io8STATICRELIGIONCH.

butitiswewhodefinehisattitudethussofarasheiscon
cerned,hedoesnotstirbecausehefeelsthatbymoving
hewouldexciteoragainattractattentionandinviteattack,
becausemovementevokesmovement.Casesofanimalsuicide
havebeenreported,itistrue:evenadmittingthisasanactual
fact,thereisavastdifferencebetweendoingwhatmust
resultindeathandknowingthattheresultisgoingtobe
deathtoperformanaction,evenonethatiswellcontrived
andappropriate,isonething,toforecasttheoutcomeofit
isanother.Butevensupposethatananimalhasthenotionof
death.Hecertainlydoesnotrealizethatheisboundtodie,
thathemustdieanaturaldeathifhedoesnotdieaviolent
one.Thiswouldrequireaseriesofobservationsofother
animals,thenasynthesis,lastly,aprocessofgeneralization
whichalreadysavoursofscience.Evensupposingthatthe
animalcouldcontrivetomakeanysucheffort,itwouldbe

forsomethingworthwhilenownothingcouldbemoreuseless
tohimthantoknowthathemustdie.Itismoretohisinterest
nottoknowit.Butmanknowshewilldie.Allotherliving
creatures,clingingtolife,aresimplycarriedalongbyitsim
petus.Althoughtheydonotcontemplatethemselvessubspecie
aeterniytheirconfidence,beingaperpetualencroachmentofthe
presentonthefuture,isthetranslationofsuchcontempla
tionintofeeling.Butwithmanreflexionappears,andconse
quentlythefacultyofobservingwithnoviewtoimmediate
utility,ofcomparingwithoneanotherobservationsthatare
temporarilydisinterested,inshort,ofdeducingandgeneral
izing.Seeingthateverylivingthingabouthimendsbydying,
heisconvincedthathewilldietoo.Nature,inendowing
himwithintelligence,mustinevitablyleadhimtothiscon
clusion.Butthisconvictioncutsathwarttheforwardmove
mentofnature.Iftheimpetusoflifeturnsallotherliving
creaturesawayfromtheimageofdeath,sothethoughtof
deathmustslowdowninmanthemovementoflife.Itmay
laterfinditsappropriatesettinginaphilosophywhichends
inraisinghumanityaboveitsownlevelandincreasingits
powersofaction.Butitisatfirstadepressingthought,and
wouldbemoredepressingstill,ifman,whilecertainthathe

iiASSURANCEAGAINSTDEPRESSION109

mustdie,werenotignorantofthedateofhisdeath.Death
isindeedboundtocome,butasweareconstantlybecoming
awarethatitdoesnotcome,thecontinuedrepetitionofthe
negativeexperiencecondensesintoabarelyconsciousdoubt,
whichdiminishestheeffectofthereasonedcertainty.Itis
nonethelesstruethatthecertaintyofdeath,arisingatthe
sametimeasreflexioninaworldoflivingcreaturescon
structedtothinkonlyofliving,runscountertonature's
intention.Nature,then,looksasifitisgoingtostumbleover
theobstaclewhichshehasplacedonherownpath.Butshe
recoversherselfatonce.Totheideaofinevitabledeathshe
opposestheimageofacontinuationoflifeafterdeaththis
image,flungbyherintothefieldofintelligence,wherethe

ideaofdeathhasjustbecomeinstalled,straightensevery
thingoutagain.1Thisneutralizingoftheideabytheimage
simplyexpressestheequilibriumofnature,savingherself
fromslipping.Wearethereforeagainconfrontedherewith
thatparticularinterplayofimagesandideaswhichwefound,
characteristicofreligioninitsbeginnings.Lookedatfrom
thissecondstandpoint,religionisadefensivereactionofnature
againsttherepresentation,byintelligence,oftheinevitability
ofdeath.

Inthisreactionsocietyisasmuchconcernedasthe
individual.Notonlybecauseitprofitsfromtheindividual
effort,andbecausethisefforthasamorefarreachingeffect
whentheideaofanendingdoesnotintervenetothwartits
impetus,butalsoandaboveallbecausesocietyitselfneeds
stabilityandduration.Asocietyalreadycivilizedissupported
bylaws,byinstitutions,evenbybuildingsconstructedto
defytheravagesoftimebutpunitivesocieties.aresimply
"builtupofhumanbeings":whatwouldbecomeoftheir
authorityifpeopledidnotbelieveintheenduringcharacterof
theindividualitiesofwhichtheyarecomposed?Itistherefore
essentialthatthedeadshouldremainpresent.Ancestor

1Itgoeswithoutsayingthattheimageishallucinatoryonlyinthe
shapeitassumesintheeyesofprimitiveman.Asregardsthegeneral
questionofsurvival,wehavestatedourideasinformerworksweshall
recurtotheminthepresentbook.SeeChapterIII.pp.225sqq.and
ChapterIV.p.273274.

noSTATICRELIGIONCH.

worshipwillcomelater.Thedeadwillthenbecloserto
gods.Butforthistohappentheremustbegods,atleastin
embryotheremustbeadefiniteformofworshipthemind
musthavedeliberatelyturnedtowardsmythology.Inits
beginning,intelligencesimplyseesthedeadasminglingwith
thelivinginasocietytowhichtheycanstilldogoodorill.
Inwhatformdoesitconceivetheirsurvival?Wemustnot

forgetthatwearesearchinginthedepthsofthesoul,by
meansofintrospection,fortheconstituentelementsofprimi
tivereligion.Itmaybethatnosingleoneoftheseelements
hasevermanifesteditselfexternallyinanunadulteratedstate,
thatitwouldhaveimmediatelycomeupagainstsimple
elements,ofthesameorigin,withwhichitwillhaveamal
gamated,oritmayevenhavebeenseizedupon,eitheralone
orwithothers,tobeusedasrawmaterialforthenever
endingworkofthemythmakingfunction.Thustherearein
existencecertainthemes,somesimple,somecomplex,sup
pliedbynatureand,ontheotherhand,wehavethecountless
variationsplayeduponthembyhumanfancy.Tothese
themesdoubtlessmaybetracedbackthefundamentalbeliefs
metwithalmosteverywherebythescienceofreligions.As
tothevariationsonthethemes,theyarethemythsandeven
thetheoreticalconceptions,withtheirendlessdiversifications
accordingtotimeandplace.Thereisnoquestionbutthat
thesimplethemewehavejustindicatedcombinesimmediately
withotherstoproduce,priortothemythsandthetheories,
theprimitiverepresentationofthesoul.Buthasitanydefinite
shapeoutsidethiscombination?Ifthequestionarises,itis
becauseourpresentdayideaofasoullivingonafterthe
bodyoverlaystheimage,whichpresentsitselftotheim
mediateconsciousness,ofthebodyabletoliveonafterits
death.Yetthisimagedoesexist,andittakesbutaslight
efforttorecallit.Itisnothingmorethanthevisualimageof
thebodydetachedfromthetactileimage.Wehavegotinto
thehabitofconsideringthefirstasinseparablefromthe
second,asashadoworeffectofthelatter.Theprogressof
knowledgeisallinthatdirection.Forcontemporaryscience
thebodyisessentiallywhatitistothetouchithasadefinite

iiTHEMESOFPRACTICALMYTHMAKINGin

formanddimension,independentofourselvesitoccupies
agivenpositioninspaceandcannotchangeitwithouttaking
timetooccupysuccessivelytheinterveningpositionsthe
visualimageofitwouldinthatcasebeaphenomenonwhose

variationswemustconstantlyrectifybyrecoursetothe
tactileimagethelatterwouldbethethingitself,theother
wouldmerelyindicateitspresence.Buttheimmediate
impressionisnothingofthekind.Amindnotonitsguard
willputthevisualimageandthetactileimageonthesame
plane,willattributetothemthesamereality,andwill
assume^themtoberelativelyindependentofoneanother.
The"primitive"manhasonlytostoopoverapooltoseehis
bodyjustasitreallyappears,detachedfromthetactilebody.
Ofcoursethebodyhecantouchisalsoabodyhecansee
thisprovesthattheouterenvelopeofthebody,whichcon
stitutestheseenbody,canbecomedualandthatoneofthe
twosemblancesstayswiththetactilebody.Butthefact
remainsthatthereisabodywhichisdetachablefromtheone
hecantouch,amereshellofabody,devoidofweight,which
hasmovedinatricetotheplacewhereheseesit.Thereis
doubtlessnothingaboutthatbodytoinclineustobelieve
thatitlivesonafterdeath.Butifwebeginbylayingdown
theprinciplethattheremustbesomethingthatdoesliveon,
itwillobviouslybethatbodyandnottheother,forthebody
wecantouchisstillpresent,itliesmotionlessandspeedily
decays,whereasthevisibleenvelopemayhaveslippedaway
somewhereorotherandremainedalive.Theideathatmen
liveonasshadesorphantomsisthereforequitenatural.It
musthavepreceded,webelieve,themoreelaborateideaof
aprinciplebreathinglifeintothebodythis'breathitself
hasgraduallybecomespiritualizedintothesoul.Itistrue
thattheghostlyenvelopeofthebodyseemsincapable,by
itself,ofexertingapressureonhumanevents,andyetit
mustexertone,sinceitistheyearningaftercontinued
actionthathasledtothebeliefinanafterlife.Butherea
newelementsupervenes.

Weshallnotyetdefinethisotherelementarytendency.It
isasnaturalasthetwopreceedingones.Itislikewisea

ii2STATICRELIGIONCH.

defensivereactionofnature.Weshallhavetobeenquiring
whenceitcomes.Forthepresentweshallonlyconsiderwhat
comesofit.Itbecomesintheendtherepresentationofa
forcediffusedthroughoutthewholeofnatureanddistributed
amongindividualobjectsandbeings.Inthescienceof
religionsthisemanationisgenerallyreportedtobeprimitive.
WehearofthePolynesianmana,whosecounterpartisfound
elsewhereunderdifferentnames:thewakandaoftheSioux,
thearendaoftheIroquois,thepantangoftheMalays,etc.
Accordingtosome,themanaisauniversalprincipleoflife,
constitutinginparticular,touseourownlanguage,thesub
stanceofsouls.Accordingtoothers,itisratheranewforce
supervening,suchasthesoul,orindeedanythingelse,might
wellassimilate,butwhichdoesnotbelongessentiallytothe
soul.Durkheim,whoapparentlyreasonsalongthefirsthypo
thesis,holdsthatthemanasuppliesthetotemicprincipleby
whichthemembersoftheclancommunetogetherthesoul
isthusregardedasbeingadirectindividualizationofthe
"totem"andtoshareinthemanathroughthisagency.Itis
notourbusinesstodecidebetweenthesedifferentinter
pretations.Speakinggenerally,wehesitatetoconsideras
primitive,meaningnatural,anotionwhichweshouldnot
todayformnaturally.Weareoftheopinionthatwhatwas
onceprimitivehasnotceasedtobeso,eventhoughaneffort
ofselfscrutinymaybenecessarytorediscoverit.Butin
whatevershapewetakethismentalimagewhichwearenow
considering,weshallhavenoobjectiontoadmittingthatthe
ideaofasourceofpoweruponwhichanimatebeings,artd
evenaconsiderablenumberofinanimateobjects,candraw,
isoneofthefirstideasthemindencounterswhenfollowing
acertaintendency,anaturalandprimaryone,whichweshall
definealittlefurtheron.Letusthentakethisforgranted.
Manisnowprovidedwithwhathewillcalllaterasoul.
Willthissoulsurvivethebody?Thereisnoreasontosuppose
soifweconsiderthesoulalone.Thereisnoreasontobelieve
thatapowersuchasthemanashouldlastlongerthanthe
bodyinwhichitdwells.Butifwehavestartedbyassuming
theprinciplethattheghostlyformofthebodypersists,there


nPRIMITIVETHEMES113

isnothingtopreventouralsoleavinginittheprinciplewhich
endowedthebodywiththestrengthtoact.Theresultwill
beanactiveandeffectiveshadecapableofinfluencing
humanevents.Suchseemsindeedtobetheprimitivecon
ceptionofsurvival.

Theinfluencethusexertedwouldnot,indeed,begreat,
ifitwerenotthatthesoulideauniteswiththespiritidea.
Thistoocomesfromanothernaturaltendencywhichwe
shallalsohavetodefine.Letustakeitalsoforgrantedand
notethatexchangeswilloccurbetweenthetwoideas.The
spiritssupposedtobepresenteverywhereinnaturewould
notsocloselyresemblethehumanformifsoulswerenot
alreadydepictedinthisshape.Ontheirside,thesoulsdetached
fromthebodywouldbewithoutinfluenceonnaturalpheno
menaiftheywerenotofthesameorderasthespiritsand
moreorlesscapableoftakingtheirplaceamongthem.The
deadarethengoingtobecomepersonstobereckonedwith.
Theycandoharm.Theymaydogood.Theyhaveattheir
disposal,uptoacertainpoint,whatwecalltheforcesof
nature.Inbothaliteralandafigurativesensetheycausethe

rainandthefineweather.Peoplewilleschewwhatmight

nWHr*i'f**"'*a'''v~""""~~"*"*.**

irritatethem.Theywillsparenopainstosecuretheircon
fidence.Theywillthinkofcountlesswaysofwinningthem
6ver,ofbuyingtheirfavour,evenofoutwittingthem.Once
startedonthisroad,thereishardlyanyabsurditymtowluch
intelligencemaynotstumble.Themythmakingfunction
\v6rkswellenoughbyitselfalone:whatwillitnotdowhen
itisspurredonbyfearandnecessity!Toavertadangeror
tosecureafavourthelivingarereadytoofferanythingthey
fancythedeadmanmaywant.Theywillgosofarasthe
cuttingoffofheads,ifthatmaybepleasinginhissight.
Missionarystoriesarefullofdetailedaccountsofsuchthings.

Childishandmonstrousindeed,therethelistofsimilar
practicesindulgedinbyhumanstupidityisinterminable.
Lookingatthem,andatthemonly,weshouldbetempted
toabominatehumanity.Butwemustnotforgetthatthe
primitivesoftodayorofyesterdayhavelivedasmany
centuriesaswehave,havehadplentyoftimetoexaggerate

ii4STATICRELIGIONCH.

andtoaggravate,asitwere,thepossibleirrationalitiescon
tainedinelementarytendencies,naturalenoughthoughthey
be.Thetrueprimitiveswereprobablymorereasonable,if
theykepttothetendencyanditsimmediateeffects.Every
thingchanges,and,aswehavesaidabove,thechangewill
takeplaceinbreadthifnotindepth.Therearesocieties
whichprogressprobablythoseonwhomunfavourablecon
ditionsoflifehaveforcedacertainefforttolive,andwhich
havethenconsented,atrareintervals,toincreasetheireffort
inordertofollowapioneer,aninventor,amanofgenius.
Thechangeishereanincreaseofintensitythedirection
remainsrelativelyunchangedtheprogressistowardsan
everhigherefficiency.Thereare,ontheotherhand,societies
thatkeeptotheiroriginallevel,whichisinevitablysomewhat
low.As,nevertheless,theydochange,theretakesplacewithin
themnotthatintensificationwhichwouldbeaqualitative
progress,butamultiplicationoranexaggerationofthe
primitivestateofthings:invention,ifwecanstillusethe
word,nolongerrequiresaneffort.Fromabeliefanswering
toacertainneedtheyhavepassedtosomenewbeliefwhich
resemblestheformeroutwardly,whichaccentuatesoneor
anotherofitssuperficialcharacteristics,butwhichnolonger
servesanypurpose.Thenceforth,markingtime,theycease
lesslypileupadditionsandamplifications.Throughthe
doubleeffectofrepetitionandexaggerationtheirrational
passesintotherealmoftheabsurd,andthestrangeintothe
realmofthemonstrous.Thesesuccessiveextensionsmustalso
havebeenduetoindividualsbutheretherewasnolongerany
needforintellectualsuperioritytoinvent,ortoacceptthein

vention.Thelogicofabsurditywasenough,thatlogicwhich
leadsthemindeverfurtherandfurtherastraytowardswilder
andwilderconsequences,whenitstartsoutfromastrangeidea
withoutrelatingittosourceswhichcouldexplainitsstrange
nessandcheckitsproliferation.Wehaveallcomeacross
oneofthoseveryunited,selfsatisfiedfamilies,whokeep
themselvestothemselves,becausetheyareshyorsuper
cilious.Itisnotunusualtonoticecertainquainthabitsamong
them,aversionsorsuperstitions,whichmightbecomeserious

iiASSURANCEAGAINSTTHEUNFORESEEABLE115

iftheyweretogoonfermentinginaclosedvessel.Eachone
ofthesesingularitieshasitsparticularorigin.Itwassome
ideawhichoccurredtooneoranotherofthefamily,andwhich
theothershavetakenontrust.Itmaybeawalktheytook
oneSundayandtookagainthenextSunday,andwhichthen
becameasettledthingeverySundayoftheyear:ifthey
shouldhavethemisfortunetomissitonce,goodnessknows
whatwouldhappen.Inordertorepeat,toimitate,tofollow
blindly,wehaveonlytorelaxitiscriticismthatdemandsan
effort.Nowtakeafewhundredcenturiesinsteadofafew
yearsmagnifyenormouslyallthelittlefoiblesofafamily
livinginisolation:youwillhavenodifficultyinimagining
whatmusthaveoccurredinprimitivesocietieswhichhave
remainedselfcentredandselfsatisfied,insteadofopening
windowsontotheoutsideworld,ofdispersingthefoul
vapoursastheygatheredaboutthem,andofmakingaconstant
efforttobroadentheirhorizon.

Wehavejustdefinedabovetwoessentialfunctionsof
religionand,inthecourseofouranalysis,wehavemetwith
primarytendencieswhichappeartoprovideanexplanation
ofthegeneralformsassumedbyreligion.Wenowpassto
thestudyofthesegeneralforms,theseprimarytendencies.
Ourmethodwillstillremainthesame.Wepostulateacertain
instinctiveactivitythen,callingintoplayintelligence,wetry
todiscoverwhetheritleadstoadangerousdisturbanceifit

does,thebalancewillprobablyberestoredthroughrepre
sentationsevokedbyinstinctwithinthedisturbingintelli
genceifsuchrepresentationsexist,theyareprimaryreligious
ideas.Forexample,thevitalimpulseknowsnothingofdeath.
Butletintelligencespringtolifeunderpressurefromthis
impulse,andupcomestheideaoftheinevitabilityofdeath:
torestoretolifeitsimpetus,anopposingrepresentationwill
startup,andfromitwillemergetheprimitivebeliefscon
cerningdeath.But,thoughdeathbethegreatestaccidentof
all,yettohowmanyotheraccidentsisnotlifeexposed!Does
nottheveryapplicationofintelligencetolifeopenthedoor
totheunforeseenandletinthefeelingofrisk?Ananimalis
sureofitself.Initscasenothingintervenesbetweenaim

n6STATICRELIGIONCH.

andact.Ifitspreyisthere,theanimalpouncesuponit.If
itisamatteroflyinginwait,itswaitingisaforestallingof
theactandwillform,withtheaccomplishmentofit,an
undividedwhole.Iftheultimateobjectiveisremote,asin
thecaseofthebeebuildingthehive,itisanobjectiveof
whichtheanimalisunawareitonlyseestheimmediate
object,andtheleapittakesisexactlycoextensivewith
theactithastoaccomplish.Butitistheveryessenceof
intelligencetocoordinatemeanswithaviewtoaremote
end,andtoundertakewhatitdoesnotfeelabsolutelysureof
carryingout.Betweenwhatitdoesandtheresultitwantsto
attainthereismoreoftenthannot,^.bothinspaceandin
time,anintervalwhichleavesampleroomforaccident.It
begins,and,toenableittofinish,circumstances,aswesay,
mustlendtheiraid.Itmayindeedbefullyconsciousofthis
marginoftheunexpected.Thesavage,whenshootinghis
arrow,doesnotknowifitwillstriketheobjectatwhichhe
aimed:wehavenothere,asinthecaseoftheanimalwithits
prey,continuitybetweengestureandresultagapappears,
exposedtoaccident,attractingtheunexpected.Doubtless
thisshouldnotbesointheory.Intelligenceisconstitutedtoact
mechanicallyonmatteritthuspostulatesauniversalmechan

ismandconceivesvirtuallyacompletesciencewhichwould
makeitpossibletoforesee,attheveryinstantwhentheaction
islaunched,everythingitislikelytocomeupagainstbefore
reachingitsgoal.Butitispartoftheveryessenceofsuch
anidealthatitisneverfulfilled,andthatitcanattheutmost
serveasastimulustotheworkoftheintelligence.Infact,
humanintelligencemustconfineitselftoverylimitedaction
onamaterialaboutwhichitknowsverylittle.Butthevital
impulseisthere,brookingnodelay,admittingnoobstacle.
Itignorestheaccidental,theunforeseen,inawordthein
determinatewhichliesalongitspathitadvancesbyleaps
andbounds,seeingonlytheendinview,devouringthespace
between.Andyetitisnecessarythatintelligenceshouldhave
cognizanceofthisanticipation.Arepresentationwillaccord
inglyarise,thatoffavourablepowersoverridingoroccupying
theplaceofthenaturalcausesandcontinuingintoactionsor

iiASSURANCEAGAINSTTHEUNFORESEEABLE117

dainedbythem,inaccordancewithourwishes,theenterprise
startedonnaturallines.Wehavesetamechanismgoing,
thisisthebeginningweshallfindamechanismagaininthe
realizationofthedesiredeffect,thatistheend:betweenthe
twotheremusthavebeeninsertedasupramechanical
guaranteeofsuccess.True,ifwethusimaginefriendly
powersinterestedinoursuccess,thelogicofintelligencewill
requirethatwepostulateantagonisticcauses,unfriendly
powers,toexplainourfailure.Thislastbeliefwill,afterall,
haveitspracticalutilityitwillindirectlystimulateour
activitybyinducingustobecircumspect.Butthisisderiva
tion,Imightalmostsaydecadence.Therepresentationofa
hinderingforceisscarcelyalaterdevelopmentthanthatofa
helpingforceifthelatterisnatural,theformerisitsim
mediateconsequencebutitisboundtoproliferate,above
allinstagnantsocietiessuchasthosewhichwenowcall
primitive,wherebeliefsmultiplyindefinitelybymeansof
analogieswithoutanyregardfortheirorigin.Thevital
impulseisoptimistic.Allthereligiousrepresentations

whichherearisedirectlyfromitmightthenbedefinedin
thesameway:theyaredefensivereactionsofnatureagainst
therepresentation,bytheintelligence,ofadepressingmargin
oftheunexpectedbetweentheinitiativetakenandtheeffect
desired.

Anyoneofuscantrytheexperimentifhepleaseshewill
seesuperstitionsstartupbeforehisveryeyesfromthewill
towin.Stakeasumofmoneyonanumberatrouletteand
waittilltheballisneartheendofitsgyrationsjustasitis
perhapscoming,inspiteofallitshesitations,tothenumber
youhavechosen,yourhandgoesouttopushit,andthento
stopithereitisyourownwill,projectedoutsideofyourself,
whichistofillupthegapbetweenthedecisionithastaken
andtheresultitexpects,thuseliminatingchance.Nowgo
regularlytothegamingrooms,lethabittakethelead,your
handsoongivesupitsmovementyourwillshrinksbackinto
itsplacebut,asitretires,anentityslipsin,emanatingfrom
itanddelegatedbyit:thisisluck,atransfigurationofthewill
towin.Luckisnotacompletepersonalityitrequiresmore

ii8STATICRELIGIONCH.

thanthistomakeadivinity.Butithascertainelementsof
divinity,justenoughtomakeyourelyonit.

Itistosomesuchpowerasthisthatthesavageappealsin
orderthathisarrowmayreachitsmark.Skipoverthestages
ofalongevolution:youwillcometothetutelarygodsofthe
city,whosefunctionistobringvictorytoitswarriors.

Butnotethatinallcasesitisbyrationalmeans,itisby
complyingwithmechanicalsequencesofcauseandeffectthat
thingsaresetgoing.Wejjeginby^doingwhatdependson
Qjirselyesitisjonlywhenwefeelthatitnolongerlieswithus
tohelpourselvesthatwehaverecoursetoextramechanical
power,evenifattheoutset,sincewebelieveditpresent,
weinvokeditsassistance:weinnowiseimagineweare

fKefeByexcusedfromtakingaction.Butwhatmightwell
misleadthepsychologisthereisthefactthatthesecond
causalityistheonlyonewemention.Wesaynothingabout
thefirst,becauseitistakenforgranted.Itgovernstheacts
weaccomplishwithmatterasourinstrumentweactand
livethebeliefthatwehaveinitwhatwouldbetheuseof
translatingitintowordsandmakingtheideaexplicit?This
wouldonlyhavevalueifwealreadyhadasciencecapableof
usingittoadvantage.Butofthesecondcausalityitisworth
whiletothink,becausewefindinitatleastanencouragement
andanincentive.Weresciencetosupplytheuncivilizedman
withacontrivanceensuringtohimthemathematicalcertainty
ofhittingthemark,hewouldabidebythatmechanical
causality(supposing,ofcourse,thathecouldinstantlydoaway
withinveteratehabitsofthought).Intheabsenceofthat
science,hisactiongetsallthereistobegotoutofmechanical
causality,sincehedrawshisbowandtakeshisaimbuthis
thoughtinclinesrathertowardstheextramechanicalcause
whichistodirectthearrowwhereitshouldgo,because,
failingtheweaponwhichwouldmakehimsureofhitting
themark,hisfaithinthiscausalitywillgivehimtheself
confidencewhichenableshimtotakebetteraim.

Humanactivityoperatesamongeventsonwhichithasa
certaininfluence,butonwhichitisalsodependent.These
eventsaretosomeextentforeseeable,and,toagreater

iiONCHANCE119

extent,unforeseeable.Sinceourscienceisconstantlyextend
ingthefieldofourprevision,weconceiveitasendingina
perfectscienceinwhichtheunforeseeablewouldceaseto
exist.Thisiswhy,tothereflectivethoughtofacivilizedman
(weshallseethatthecasedoesnotapplytohisspontaneous
representations),thesamemechanicalconcatenationofcause
andeffectwithwhichhecomesincontactwhendealingwith
thingsmustextendtothewholeuniverse.Hedoesnotadmit
thatthesystemofexplanationwhichisappropriatetophysical

eventsoverwhichhehassomecontroloughttomakeroom,
whenheventuresfurther,foranentirelydifferentsystem,
namelythesystemheappliesinsociallifewhenheattributes
togoodorbad,friendlyorhostileintentionsthebehaviour
ofothermentowardshim.Ifhedoesso,itisunwittinglyhe
wouldnotowntoit.Buttheuncivilizedman,whohasathis
disposalnothingbutaninelasticscienceexactlyproportionate
totheactionheexertsonmatter,cannotprojectintothe
realmoftheunforeseeableanexpectantsciencecapableof
embracingitcompletelyandatonceopeningupwidevistasto
hisambition.Ratherthanloseheart,heextendstothisrealm
thesystemofexplanationheusesinhisintercoursewithother
menhewillexpecttomeettherewithfriendlyforces,hewill
alsothinkhimselfexposedtomalignantinfluencesinanycase
hewillnotbedealingwithaworldcompletelyalientohim.
True,ifgoodandevilgeniiaretopresideoverthesuccessive
phasesoftheoperationheperformsonmatter,theywillthere
byappeartohaveexertedaninfluenceoverthatactionfromthe
verybeginning.Soourindividualwillspeakasthoughhein
nowayrelied,evenforthatpartoftheoperationwhichishis
owndoing,uponthemechanicalsequenceofcauseandeffect.
Butifhedidnot,inthiscase,believeinamechanicalsequence,
weshouldnotseehim,assoonasheacts,doexactlywhatis
necessarytosetthingsgoingmechanically.Now,whether
wearedealingwithsavagesorwithcivilizedpeople,ifwe
wantreallytoknowwhatisinaman'smind,wemustrefer
towhathedoesandnottowhathesays.

Inhisextremelyinterestingandinstructivebookson
"primitivementality",M.LevyBruhlemphasizestheindif

120STATICRELIGIONCH.

ferenceofthismentalitytoproximateorphysicalcauses,the
factthatitimmediatelyturnsto"mysticcauses"."Ourdaily
activity",hesays,"impliesunruffled,perfectconfidenceinthe
invariabilityofnatural4aws.Theattitudeofmindinprimitive
manisverydifferent.Tohimthenatureamidwhichhelives

presentsitselfunderanentirelydifferentaspect.Allthings
andallcreaturesthereinareinvolvedinanetworkofmystic
participationsandexclusions".1Andalittlefurtheron:"The
variableelementincollectiverepresentationsistheoccult
forcetowhichtheillnessorthedeathwhichhasoccurredis
attributed:nowawitchdoctoristheculprit,nowthespirit
ofadeadman,nowmoreorlessdefiniteorindividualized
forces...theelementwhichremainsrecognizable,wemight
almostsayidentical,isthepreestablishedlinkbetweenill
nessanddeath,ontheonehand,andaninvisiblepower,on
theother".2Theauthorbringsvariousconfirmatoryreports
bymissionariesandtravellerstosupportthisidea,andquotes
themostcuriousexamples.

Butonepointstrikesusatonce:namely,thatinallthe
casesinstanced,theeffectreported,whichisattributedby
primitivemantoanoccultcause,isaneventconcerningman,
moreparticularlyanaccidenttoaman,morespecifically
stillaman'sdeathorillness.Thereisneveranyquestionof
actionbytheinanimateontheinanimate(saveincasesofa
phenomenon,meteorologicalorother,affecting,sotospeak,
man'sinterests).Wearenottoldthattheprimitivemanwho
seesatreebendinginthewindortheshinglerolledupbya
wave,oreventhedustraisedbyhisfoot,imaginestheinter
ventionofanythingmorethanwhatwecallmechanical
causality.Theconstantrelationbetweentheantecedentand
theconsequent,bothofwhichheperceives,cannotfailto
impresshim:itsatisfieshiminthiscase,and,sofaraswe
know,hedoesnotheresuperimpose,muchlesssubstitute,a
"mystic"causality.Letusgofurther,leavingasidethose
physicalfactsofwhichprimitivemanisanimpassivespec
tator:canwenotsayofhimalso,thathis"dailyactivity

1LaMentalityprimitive(Paris,1922),pp.17,18.
2Ibid.,p.24.

iiONCHANCE121

impliesperfectconfidenceintheinvariabilityofnaturallaws"?
Withoutthisconfidence,hewouldnotrelyonthecurrentof
therivertocarryhiscanoe,noronthebendingofhisbowto
shoothisarrow,onhishatchettocutintothetrunk,onhis
teethtobite,onhislegstowalk.Itispossiblethathedoes
notexplicitlypicturethisnaturalcausalitytohimselfhehas
nointerestindoingso,beingneitheraphysicistnoraphilos
opherbuthehasfaithinitandbaseshisactivityuponit.
Letusgofurtherstill.Whentheprimitivemanturnstoa
mysticcausefortheexplanationofdeath,illnessoranyother
accident,whatexactlyistheprocessthathegoesthrough?
Hesees,forinstance,thatamanhasbeenkilledbyafrag
mentofrockdislodgedduringagale.Doeshedenythatthe
rockwasalreadysplit,thatthewindloosenedthestone,that
theblowcrackedtheskull?Obviouslynot.Henotes,aswedo,
theoperationoftheseproximatecauses.Whythendoeshe
bringina"mysticcause",suchasthewillofaspiritorwitch
doctor,tosetitupastheprincipalcause?Letuslookcloser:
weshallseethatwhattheprimitivemanexplainsherebya
"supernatural"causeisnotthephysicaleffect,itisitshuman
significance,itisitsimportancetoman,andmoreespecially
toaparticularman,theonewhowascrushedbythestone.
Thereisnothingillogical,consequentlynothing"prelogical"
orevenanythingwhichevincesan"imperviousnesstoex
perience",inthebeliefthatacauseshouldbeproportionate
toitseffect,that,oncehavingadmittedthecrackintherock,
thedirectionandforceofthewindpurelyphysicalthings
whichtakenoaccountofhumanitythereremainstobe
explainedthisfact,somomentoustous,thedeathofaman.
Theeffectiscontainedpreeminentlyinthecause,astheold
philosophersusedtoputitandiftheeffecthasaconsiderable
humansignificance,thecausemusthaveatleastanequal
significanceitisinanycaseofthesameorder:itisan
intention.Thatthescientifichabitofthemindbreaksitof
thismannerofreasoningisbeyonddoubt.Butitisanatural
oneitlingersonincivilizedman,andmanifestsitselfevery
timetheopposingforcedoesnotintervene.Wedrewatten
tiontothefactthatthegambler,placinghisstakesona

122STATICRELIGIONCH.

numberatroulette,willattributehissuccessorfailuretogood
orbadluck,thatistosaytoafavourableorunfavourable
intention.Thiswillnothinderhimfromexplainingbynatural
causeseverythingthatoccursbetweenthemomentofputting
onhismoneyandthemomentwhentheballstopsbuttothe
mechanicalcausalityhewillsuperadd,attheendofthe
process,asemivoluntarychoicethatmayserveasacounter
parttohisown:thusthefinaleffectwillbeofthesame
importanceandthesameorderasthefirstcause,whichwas
alsoachoice.Andwegraspthepracticaloriginofthisvery
logicalreasoningwhenweseethegamblermakeamovement
withhishandasthoughtostoptheball:heisepitomizinghis
willtowin,andtheresistancetothiswill,intheformofgood
orbadluck,inordertofeelthepresenceofahostileorfriendly
power,andthusgiveitsfullinteresttothegame.Butmore
strikingstillistheresemblancebetweenthementalityofthe
civilizedandoftheprimitivemanwhendealingwithfacts
suchasthosewehavejusthadinview:death,illness,serious
accident.AnofficerwhotookpartintheGreatWartoldus
healwaysnoticedthatthemendreadedthebulletsmorethan
theshells,althoughartilleryfirewasfarmoredeadly.The
reasonisthatwithbulletswefeelweareaimedatandeachof
us,inspiteofhimself,reasonsasfollows:"Toproducethe
effect,whichwouldmeansomuchtome,ofdeathora
seriouswound,theremustbeacauseofequalimportance,
theremustbeintent".Asoldierwho,asithappened,had
beenhitbyasplinterfromashell,toldusthathisfirstimpulse
hadbeentoexclaim:"Howsilly!"Thatthisfragmentof
shell,projectedbyapurelymechanicalcause,andwhich
mightjustaswellhavestruckanybody,ornobody,should
neverthelesshavecomeandstruckhim,himandnotsome
bodyelse,appearedtohisnaturalintelligenceillogical.By
introducingtheideaof"badluck",hewouldhavedemon
stratedmoreclearlystillthekinshipofthisspontaneous
intelligencewiththeprimitivementality.Arepresentation

richinmatter,liketheideaofawitchdoctororaspirit,
mustdoubtlessrelinquishthegreaterpartofitscontentto
becomethenotionof"badluck"yetitsubsists,itisnot

iiONCHANCE123

completelyemptiedconsequentlythetwomentalitiesarenot
sowidelydifferentfromeachother.

Theextremelyvariedexamplesof"primitivementality"
whichM.LevyBruhlhasaccumulatedinhisworkscanbe
groupedunderacertainnumberofheadings.Themost
numerousarethosewhichshow,accordingtotheauthor,
thatprimitivemanobstinatelyrefusestoadmittheexistence
ofchance.Ifastonefallsandcrushesapasserby,itwasan
evilspiritthatdislodgedit:thereisnochanceaboutit.Ifa
manisdraggedoutofhiscanoebyanalligator,itis
becausehewasbewitched:thereisnochanceaboutit.Ifa
warrioriskilledorwoundedbylancethrust,itisbecausehe
wasnotinastatetoparrytheblow,aspellhasbeencastupon
him:thereisnochanceaboutit.1Theformularecurssooften
inM.LevyBruhl'swritingsthatitmaybeconsideredas
summinguponeofthemaincharacteristicsofprimitive
mentality.But,tothateminentphilosopherweshallsay,when
youreproachprimitivemanwithnotbelievinginchance,
oratleastwhenyoustateittobeacharacteristictraitofhis
mentalitythathedoesnotbelieveinit,areyounotadmitting
theexistenceofchance,andinadmittingitareyouquite
surethatyouarenotrelapsingintothatprimitivementality
youcriticize,whichatalleventsyouareatgreatpainsto
distinguishradicallyfromyourown?Idon'tmean,ofcourse,
thatyoumakeofchanceanactiveforce.Butifitwerefor
youamerenothing,youwouldnotmentionit.Youwould
considerthewordasnonexistent,aswellasthethingitself.
Butthewordexists,andyouuseit,anditstandsforsome
thingtoyou,asindeeditdoestoallofus.Letusaskourselves
whatitreallyrepresents.Ahugetile,wrenchedoffbythe
wind,fallsandkillsapasserby.Wesayitwasbychance.

Shouldwesaythesameifthetilehadmerelycrashedonto
theground?Perhaps,butitwouldthenbebecausewewere
vaguelythinkingofamanwhomighthavebeenthere,or
because,forsomereasonorother,thatparticularspoton
thepavementwasofspecialinteresttous,sothatthetile

1SeeinparticularLaMentaliUprimitive,pp.28,36,45,etc.cf.Les
Fonctionsmentalesdanslessorit6sinffrieures,p.73.

124STATICKJfcJLrlLrlUJNCH.

seemedtohavespeciallyselectedittofallupon.Inbothcases
chanceintervenesonlybecausesomehumaninterestisat
stake,andbecausethingshappenedasthoughmanhadbeen
takenintoaccount,eitherwithaviewofdoinghimaservice,
ormorelikelywiththeintentionofdoinghimaninjury.1Think
onlyofthewindwrenchingoffthetile,ofthetilefallingon
thepavement,ofthecrashofthetileontheground:yousee
nothingbutmechanism,theelementofchancevanishes.For
ittointerveneitisindispensablethat,theeffecthavinga
humansignificance,thissignificanceshouldreactuponthe
causeandcolourit,sotospeak,withhumanity.Chanceis
thenmechanismbehavingasthoughpossessinganintention.
Itmayperhapsbesaidthatpreciselybecauseweusetheword
whenthingsoccurasiftherehasbeenintention,wedonot
supposethattherehasbeenrealintention,wearerecognizing,
onthecontrary,thateverythingiscapableofmechanicalex
planation.Andthiswouldbeverytrueifweweredealingwith
nothingbutreflective,fullyconsciousthought.Butunderlying
itisaspontaneous,semiconsciousthought,whichsuper
imposesonthemechanicalsequenceofcauseandeffectsome
thingtotallydifferent,notindeedtoaccountforthefallingof
thetile,buttoexplainwhyitsfallingshouldcoincidewiththe
passingbeneathitofaman,whyitshouldhavechosenjust
thatverymomenttofall.Theelementofchoiceorintention
isasrestrictedaspossibleitrecedesasreflexiontriestograsp
ititiselusive,nay,evanescent,butifitwerenonexistentwe
shouldspeakonlyofmechanism,therewouldbenoquestion

ofchance.Chanceisthereforeanintentionemptiedofits
content.Itisnothingmorethanamereshadow,buttheshape
isthereevenifthematterisnot.Havewehereoneofthose
representationswhichwecall"trulyprimitive",formedspon
taneouslybyhumanityinobediencetoanaturaltendency?
Notquite.Howeverspontaneousitmaybe,theideaofchance
onlyreachesourconsciousnessafterhavingfirstpassed
throughthelayerofaccumulatedexperienceswhichsociety

1Wedevelopedthisconceptionofchanceinacourseoflecturesdelivered
attheCollegedeFrancein1898,inconnectionwiththeIlcpl
ofAlexanderofAphrodisia.

iiONCHANCE125

depositswithinusfromthedayitfirstteachesustospeak.
Itisinthecourseofthispassagethatitbecomesemptied,
sinceanincreasinglymechanisticsciencedrivesoutofit
whatpurposefulnessitcontained.Weshouldthereforehave
tofillitagain,giveitabody,ifwewantedtoreconstitutethe
originalrepresentation.Thephantomofanintentionwould
thenbecomealivingintention.Ontheotherhand,weshould
nowhavetogivethislivingintentionfartoomuchcontent,
overballastitwithmatter,toobtainthemalignantorbene
ficententitiespresentinthemindsofnoncivilizedmen.It
cannotbesaidtoooften:thesesuperstitionsusuallyimplya
magnifying,athickening,infineanelementofcaricature.They
denote,moreoftenthannot,thatthemeanshasbecome
detachedfromitsend.Abeliefwhichbeginsbybeinguseful,
aspurtothewill,hasbeendivertedfromtheobjecttowhich
itoweditsexistencetonewobjectswhereitisnolongerof
anyuse,whereitmightevenbecomedangerous.Having
multipliedlazilythroughasuperficialimitationofitself,it
willnowhavetheeffectofencouraginglaziness.Yetwemust
notgotoofar.Itisseldomthatprimitivemanfeelsjustified
bythatbeliefinnottakingaction.Thenativesofthe
Cameroonslayalltheblameonthewitchdoctorifoneof
theirtribeisdevouredbyacrocodilebutM.LevyBruhl,

whoreportsthefact,adds,fromtheevidenceofatraveller,
thatcrocodileshardlyeverattackmaninthatcountry.1
Wemayrestassuredthatwherecrocodilesarehabitually
dangerousthenativeavoidsgoingintothewaterjustaswe
do:heretheanimalisfeared,witchcraftorno.Itisnonethe
lesstruethattopassfromthe"primitivementality"tostatesof
mindwhichmightwellbeourown,wehavemoreoftenthan
nottodotwothings.Firstwehavetomakeacleansweepofall
ourscience.Thenwemustabandonourselvestoacertain
laziness,turnasidefromanexplanationwhichwesurmise
tobemorereasonable,butwhichwouldcallforagreater
effortofintelligenceand,aboveall,ofwill.Inmanycases
oneoftheseprocessesisenoughinotherswemustcombine
thetwo.

1LaMentaliteprimitive,p.38.

126STATICRELIGIONCH.

Letustakeforinstanceoneofthemostinterestingchapters
inM.LevyBruhPsbooks,theonedealingwiththefirst
impressionsproducedonprimitivemanbyourfirearms,our
writing,ourbooks,inawordeverythingwehavetogivehim.
Wefindthisimpressiondisconcertingatfirst.Weshould
indeedbetemptedtoattributeittoamentalitydifferentfrom
ourown.Butthemorewebanishfromourmindsthescience
wehavegradually,almostunconsciously,acquired,themore
naturalthe"primitive"explanationappears.Herewehave
peoplebeforewhomatravelleropensabook,andwhoare
toldthatthebookgivesinformation.Theyconcludethatthe
bookspeaks,andthatbyputtingittotheireartheywillhear
asound.Buttolookforanythingelseinamanunacquainted
withourcivilizationwouldbetoexpectfromhimanintelli
gencefargreaterthanthatofmostofus,greatereventhan
exceptionalintelligence,greatereventhangenius:itwould
meanwantinghimtoreinventtheartofwriting.Forifhe
couldimaginethepossibilityofdepictingwordsonasheetof
paperhewouldpossesstheprincipleofalphabetic,ormore

generallyphonetic,writinghewouldstraightawayhave
reachedapointwhichcivilizedmanhasonlyreachedbya
longaccumulationoftheeffortsofagreatnumberofexcep
tionalmen.Letusnotthentalkofmindsdifferentfromour
own.Letussimplysaythattheyareignorantofwhatwehave
learnt.

Therearealso,weadded,caseswhereignoranceiscoupled
withanaversiontoeffort.Thosewouldbetheonesgrouped
byM.L^vyBruhlunderthetitleof"ingratitudeofthesick".
PrimitivemenwhohavebeentreatedbyEuropeandoctors
arenotinanywaygratefulnay,more,theyexpectpayment
fromthedoctor,asifitweretheywhohaddonehimaservice.
Buthavingnonotionofourmedicalscience,noideathatitis
asciencecoupledwithanart,seeingmoreoverthatthedoctor
isfarfromalwayscuringhispatient,andfinallyconsidering
thathecertainlygiveshistimeandhistrouble,howcanthey
helpthinkingthatthedoctorhassomeinterest,unknownto
them,inwhathedoes?Andwhy,insteadofstrivingtoshake
offtheirignorance,shouldtheynotadoptquitenaturally

iiPERSISTENCEOFTHEPRIMITIVEMIND127

theinterpretationwhichfirstoccurstotheirminds,andfrom
whichtheycanprofit?IputthisquestiontotheauthorofLa
Mentaliteprimitive,andIshallevokearecollection,avery
ancientone,thoughscarcelyolderthanouroldfriendship.
IwasalittleboyandIhadbadteeth.Therewasnothingfor
itbuttotakemenowandagaintothedentist,whoatonce
showednomercytotheoffendingtooth,hepulleditout
relentlessly.Betweenyouandme,ithardlyhurtatall,forthe
teethinquestionwouldhavecomeoutoftheirownaccord
butIwasnosoonerseatedinthedentist'schairthanIsetup
abloodcurdlingyell,fortheprincipleofthething.My
familyatlastfoundoutawaytomakemekeepquiet.The
dentist,takingcaretomakeanoiseaboutit,woulddropa
fiftycentimespieceintotheglassfromwhichIwastorinse
outmymouth(asepticismwasunknowninthosefaroffdays),

thepurchasingpowerofthissumbeingatthattimeten
sticksofbarleysugar.Imusthavebeensixorseven,andwas
nostupiderthanmostboys.Iwascertainlycapableofgues
singthatthiswasaputupjobbetweenthedentistandmy
familytobribemeintosilence,andthattheyconspired
togetherformyparticulargood.Butitwouldhaveneededa
slightefforttothink,andIpreferrednottomakeit,perhaps
fromlaziness,perhapssoasnottochangemyattitudeto
wardsamanagainstwhommytoothwasindeedbared.SoI
simplywentonnotthinking,andtheideaIwasboundto
formofthedentistthenstoodoutautomaticallyinmymind
inlettersoffire.Clearlyhewasamanwholoveddrawing
teeth,andhewasevenreadytopayforthisthesumofhalfa
franc.

Butletusclosethisparenthesisandsumupwhatwehave
said.Attheoriginofthebeliefswehavebeenstudyingwe
havefoundadefensivereactionofnatureagainstadis
couragementwhosesourceistobefoundinintelligence.This
reactionarouseswithinintelligenceitselfimagesandideas
whichholdincheckthedepressingrepresentationorprevent
itfrommaterializing.Entitiesthenappearwhicharenot
necessarilycompletepersonalities:itsufficesthattheypossess
intentionsoreventhattheycoincidewiththem.Beliefthen

i28STATICRELIGIONCH.

meansessentiallyconfidencetheoriginalsourceisnotfear,
butanassuranceagainstfear.And,ontheotherhand,the
beliefdoesnotnecessarilybeginbytakingapersonasits
objectitiscontentwithapartialanthropomorphism.These
arethetwopointswhichstrikeuswhenweconsiderthe
naturalattitudeofmantowardsafutureaboutwhichhe
thinks,preciselybecauseheisintelligent,andatwhichhe
wouldtakefrightbecauseoftheunforeseeableelements
hefindsinit,werehetoconfinehimselftotherepresentation
ofitsuppliedbyintelligencealone.Butsucharealsothetwo
pointswenoteincaseswherewearedealingnotwiththe

futurebutwiththepresent,andwheremanistheplaything
offorcesimmeasurablygreaterthanhisownstrength.Such
arethegreatcatastrophes:anearthquake,aflood,atornado.
Averyoldtheoryattributedtheoriginofreligiontothefear
inspiredbynatureinsuchcases.Primusinorbedeosfecit
timor.Sciencehasgonetoofarinrejectingthatentirelythe
emotionfeltbyamaninthepresenceofnaturecertainly
countsforsomethingintheoriginofreligions.But,werepeat,
religionislessafearthanareactionagainstfear,anditisnot,
initsbeginnings,abeliefindeities.Itwillnotbeoutofplace
toputthisstatementtoadoubletest,whichwillnotonlycon
firmourprecedinganalysis,butwillenableustogetamore
precisenotionofthoseentitiesofwhichwehavesaidthat
theycontainanelementofpersonalitywithoutbeingpersons.
Outofthemmaygrowthegodsofmythology,anditwillbe
throughaprocessofenrichment.Buttheseentitiescould,by
aprocessofimpoverishment,aseasilyyieldthatimpersonal
forcewhichprimitiveman,wearetold,seesunderlyingall
things.Letusthenfollowourusualmethod.Letusaskour
ownconsciousness,divestedoftheacquired,restoredtoits
originalsimplicity,howitreactstoanaggressionofnature.
Theobservationofone'sownselfisaverydifficultmatter
insuchacase,owingtothesuddennesswithwhichgrave
eventsoccurandindeedtheoccasionsarerarewhenitcan
bedonethoroughly.Butcertainbygoneimpressionsofwhich
wehaveonlypreservedadimrecollection,andwhichbesides
werealreadysuperficialandvagueatthetime,willperhaps

iiPERSISTENCEOFTHEPRIMITIVEMIND129

becomemoredistinct,andassumeaclearershape,ifwecom
pletethembytheobservationsmadeonhimselfbyamaster
ofpsychologicalscience.WilliamJameshappenedtobein
CaliforniaduringtheterribleearthquakeofApril1906,which
destroyedpartofSanFrancisco.Hereiswhathewroteon
thesubject:

"WhenIdepartedfromHarvardforStanfordUniversity

lastDecember,almostthelastgoodbyeIgotwasthatofmy
oldCalifornianfriendB.'Ihopethey'llgiveyouatouchof
earthquakewhileyou'rethere,sothatyoumayalsobecome
acquaintedwiththatCalifornianinstitution.'

"Accordingly,when,lyingawakeatabouthalfpastfiveon
themorningofApril18inmylittle'flat'onthecampusof
Stanford,Ifeltthebedbegintowaggle,myfirstconscious
nesswasoneofgleefulrecognitionofthenatureofthe
movement.'ByJove,'Isaidtomyself,'here'sB.'soldearth
quake,afterall'!Andthen,asitwentcrescendoy'Andajolly
goodoneitis,too!'Isaid....

"Thethingwasover,asIunderstandtheLickObservatory
tohavedeclared,infortyeightseconds.Tomeitfeltasif
aboutthatlengthoftime,althoughIhaveheardotherssay
thatitseemedtothemlonger.Inmycasesensationand
emotionweresostrongthatlittlethought,andnoreflexion
orvolition,werepossibleintheshorttimeconsumedbythe
phenomenon.

"Theemotionconsistedwhollyofgleeandadmiration
glee*atthevividnesswhichsuchanabstractideaorverbal
termas'earthquake'couldputonwhentranslatedintosen
siblerealityandverifiedconcretelyandadmirationatthe
wayinwhichthefraillittlewoodenhousecouldholditself
togetherinspiteofsuchashaking.Ifeltnotracewhateverof
fearitwaspuredelightandwelcome.

"'Goit',Ialmostcriedaloud,'andgoitstronger?...

"AssoonasIcouldthink,Idiscernedretrospectively
certainpeculiarwaysinwhichmyconsciousnesshadtaken
inthephenomenon.Thesewayswerequitespontaneous,
and,sotospeak,inevitableandirresistible.

i3oSTATICRELIGIONCH.

"First,Ipersonifiedtheearthquakeasapermanentin
dividualentity.ItwastheearthquakeofmyfriendB.'s
augury,whichhadbeenlyinglowandholdingitselfback
duringalltheinterveningmonthsinorder,onthatlustrous
Aprilmorning,toinvademyroomandenergizethe
moreintenselyandtriumphantly.Itcame,moreover,
directlytome.Itstoleinbehindmyback,andonceinside
theroomhadmealltoitself,andcouldmanifestitself
convincingly.Animusandintentwerenevermorepresent
inanyhumanaction,nordidanyhumanactivityever
moredefinitelypointbacktoalivingagentasitssource
andorigin.

"AllwhomIconsultedonthepointagreedastothis
featureintheirexperience.'Itexpressedintention','Itwas
vicious','Itwasbentondestruction','Itwantedtoshowits
power',orwhatnot.Tomeitwantedsimplytomanifestthe
fullmeaningofitsname.Butwhatwasthis'It'?Tosome,
apparently,avaguedemoniacpowertomeanindividualized
being,B.'searthquake,namely.

"Oneinformantinterpreteditastheendoftheworldand
thebeginningofthefinaljudgment.ThiswasaladyinSan
FranciscoHotel,whodidnotthinkofitsbeinganearthquake
tillaftershehadgotintothestreetandsomeonehadex
plainedittoher.Shetoldmethatthetheologicalinterpreta
tionhadkeptfearfromhermind,andmadehertakethe
shakingcalmly.For'science',whenthetensionsintheearth's
crustsreachthebreakingpointandstratafallintoanaltered
equilibrium,earthquakeissimplythecollectivenameofall
thecracksandshakingsanddisturbancesthathappen.They
aretheearthquake.Butformetheearthquakewasthecause
ofthedisturbances,andtheperceptionofitasalivingagent
wasirresistible.Ithadanoverpoweringdramaticconvincing
ness.

"Irealizenowbetterthaneverhowinevitableweremen's
earliermythologicalversionsofsuchcatastrophes,andhow
artificialandagainstthegrainofourspontaneousperceiving
arethelaterhabitsintowhichscienceeducatesus.Itwas

simplyimpossibleforuntutoredmentotakeearthquakes

nPERSISTENCEOFTHEPRIMITIVEMIND131

intotheirmindsasanythingbutsupernaturalwarningsor
retributions."1

ThefirstthingwenoticeisthatWilliamJamesspeaksof
theearthquakeasan"individualbeing"henotesthathe
personifiedtheearthquake"asapermanentindividual
entity".Buthedoesnotsaythattherewasbeitgodor
demonanintegralpersonality,capableofavarietyof
actions,ofwhichtheearthquakewasoneparticularmani
festation.Onthecontrary,theentityinquestionisthe
phenomenonitself,regardedaspermanentitsmanifestation
conveysitswholeessenceitsuniquefunctionistobean
earthquakethereisasoul,butthatsoulissimplytheintention
pervadingtheact.2Iftheauthortellsusthat"neverdid
humanactivitymoredefinitelypointbacktoalivingagent
asitssourceandorigin"hemeansbythisthattheintentand
theanimusseemedtobelongtotheearthquakeinthesame
wayastheactsperformedbyalivingagentseemtobelongto
theagentwhileheremains,sotospeak,behindthem.But
thatthelivingagentisinthiscasetheearthquakeitself,that
itpossessesnootheractivity,nootherproperty,thatcon
sequentlywhatitiscoincideswithwhatitdoes,isborne
outbythewholeaccount.Anentityofthiskind,whose
beingandappearanceareone,whichisindistinguishable
fromagivenactandwhoseintentionisimmanentinthat
actitself,beingbutthedesignandtheconsciousmeaning
ofit,ispreciselywhatwehavebeencallinganelementof
per'sonality.

Thereisnowanotherpointwhichcannotfailtostrikeus.
TheSanFranciscoearthquakewasaterriblecatastrophe.
ButtoWilliamJames,findinghimselfsuddenlyfacetoface
withthedanger,itappearsratherassomethingmischievous
whichinvitesfamiliarity."ByJove,here'stheoldEarth

quake!"Andotherpeoplepresenthadthesameimpression.
Theearthquakewas"wicked"ithadamindofitsown,"it

1WilliamJames,MemoriesandStudies,pp.209214.QuotedbyH.M.
KalleninWhyReligion?(NewYork),1927.

8"Animusandintentwerenevermorepresentinanyhumanaction."

i32STATICRELIGIONCH.

wasbentondestruction".Thatisjustthewaywespeakofa
youngscapegracewithwhomwemaynothavebrokenentirely.
Butthefearthatparalysesisthefearbornofthethought
thatblindandoverwhelmingforcesareabouttocrushusto
pulpunconsciously.Thusdoesthematerialworldappearto
intelligencepureandsimple.Thescientificconceptionofthe
earthquake,alludedtobyWilliamJamesinthelastlines,is
likelytobethemostdangerousofall,solongasscience,which
givesusaclearperceptionoftheperil,hasnotsuppliedus
withmeansofescapingit.Tocounteractthisscientificcon
ception,andmoregenerallythementalpicturewhichithas
endowedwithgreaterprecision,therecomesadefensivere
actioninthepresenceofagraveandsuddenperil.Thedis
turbanceswithwhichwehavetodeal,eachofthementirely
mechanical'combineintoanEvent,whichresemblesahuman
being,possiblya"badlot"butnonethelessoneofus.Heis
notanoutsider.Acertaincomradeshipispossiblebetween
us.Thissufficestodispelfright,orrathertopreventit
arising.Generallyspeaking,frighthasitsuses,likeallother
feelings.Ananimaltowhomfearisunknownmighthaveno
ideaofflyingorresistingitwouldsoonsuccumbinthe
struggleforlife.Thisexplainstheexistenceofafeelingsuch
asfear.Itisintelligibletoothatfearshouldbeinproportion
todanger.Butitisafeelingwhichpullsusup,turnsusaside
orpushesusbacC:Ttisessentiallyinhibitive.Whentheperil
isgreat,whenthefearisnearingitsparoxysmandalmost
paralysing,adefensivereactionofnatureoccurstocounteract
theemotion,whichwasalsonatural.Ourfacultyoffeeling

couldcertainlynotbechanged,itremainswhatitwasbut
intelligence,impelledbyinstinct,transformingthesituation,
evokesthereassuringimage.ItlendstotheEventaunity
andanindividualitywhichmakeofitamischievous,maybea
malignantbeing,butstilloneofourselves,withsomething
sociableandhumanaboutit.

Iaskthereadertosearchhismemory.UnlessIammuch
mistaken,hewillfindaconfirmationofWilliamJames's
analysis.Ishallatanyratetakethelibertyofrecallingoneor
tworecollectionsofmyown.Thefirstgoesbacktothefaroff

iiPERSISTENCEOFTHEPRIMITIVEMIND133

days,sinceIwasveryyoungatthetimeandwentinfor
sports,particularlyriding.Nowonefineday,havingjust
encounteredontheroadthatmostfantasticofapparitions,a
cyclistperchedonatallvelocipede,myhorsetookfrightand
bolted.Thatthismighthappen,thatinsuchcasestherewere
certainthingsIshoulddo,oratleasttrytodo,Iknewas
wellasanypupilintheridingschool.ButIhadneverthought
ofthepossibilityotherwisethaninanabstractform.Thatthe
accidentshouldactuallyoccur,atagivenpointintimeand
space,thatitshouldhappentomeratherthantosomeone
else,struckmeasimplyingapreferenceformepersonally.
Whothenhadchosenme?Itwasnotthehorse.Itwasno
completebeing,whateveritwas,goodorevilgenius.Itwas
theoccurrenceitself,anindividualwithnobodyofitsown,
foritwasnothingbutacombinationofcircumstances,but
ithadasoul,averyelementaryone,hardlydistinguishable
fromtheintentionapparentlymanifestedbycircumstances.
Itfollowedmeinmywildgallop,mischievouslywatchingto
seehowIshouldmanage.Andmy.oneideawastoshowit
whatIcoulddo.IfIfeltnofear,itwaspreciselybecausemy
wholemindwascentredonthisoneideaandalso,perhaps,
becausethemaliceofmystrangecompaniondidnotpreclude
^"certaingoodfellowship.Ihaveoftenthoughtofthislittle
incident,andsaidtomyselfthatnaturecouldnothave

conceivedanybetterpsychicalmechanismthanthis,ifshe
intended,whileendowinguswithfearasasalutaryemotion,
topreserveusfromitincaseswherewehadbestnotgive
waytoit.

Ihavejustcitedacasewherethe"goodfellowship"nature
oftheAccidentisthemoststrikingthingaboutit.Hereis
anothercase,whichperhapsbringsoutmoredistinctlystill
itsunity,itsindividuality,theclearnesswithwhichitcarves
itselfoutaplaceinthecontinuityofthereal.Whilestilla
boy,in1871,onthemorrowoftheFrancoPrussianWar,I
had,likeallpeopleofmygeneration,consideredanotherwar
tobeimminentduringthetwelveorfifteenyearsthatfollowed.
Lateronthatwarappearedasatonceprobableandimpos
sible:acomplexandcontradictoryidea,whichlastedright

i34STATICRELIGIONCH.

downtothefatalday.Indeeditcalledupnoimagetoour
minds,beyonditsverbalexpression.Itkeptitsabstract
characterrightdowntothoseterriblehourswhentheconflict
becameobviouslyinevitable,downtotheverylastminute,
whilewewerestillhopingagainsthope.Butwhen,on
August4,1914,IopenedtheMatinnewspaperandreadin
greatheadlines:"GermanyDeclaresWaronFrance",Isud
denlyfeltaninvisiblepresencewhichallthepasthadprepared
andforetold,asashadowmayprecedethebodythatcastsit.
Itwasasthoughsomecreatureoflegend,havingescaped
fromthebookinwhichitsstorywastold,hadquietlytaken
possessionoftheroom.True,Iwasnotdealingwithacom
pletepersonality.Therewasonlyenoughofittoproducea
certaineffect.Ithadbideditstimeandnowunceremoni
ouslyittookitsseatlikeoneofthefamily.Itwastointervene
justatthismoment,inthisplace,thatithadbeenvaguely
interlinkedwithmylifehistory.Tothestagingofthisscene,
theroomwithitsfurniture,thepaperuponthetable,myself
standinginfrontofit,theeventpervadingeverynookand
cranny,fortythreeyearsofvagueforebodinghadallbeen

leadingup.HorrorstruckasIwas,andthoughIfeltawar,
evenavictoriouswar,tobeacatastrophe,Iexperiencedwhat
WilliamJamesexpresses,afeelingofadmirationforthe
smoothnessofthetransitionfromtheabstracttothecon
crete:whowouldhavethoughtthatsoterribleaneventuality
couldmakeitsentranceintorealitywithsolittledisturbance?
Theimpressionofthisfacilitywaspredominantaboveall
else.Onreflexion,onerealizesthat,ifnatureintendedto
opposeadefensivereactionagainstfear,andpreventa
paralysisofthewillbroughtaboutbyanoverintelligent
representationofacataclysmentailingendlessconsequences,
shewouldcreatebetweenusandtheeventsimplified,trans
mutedintoarudimentarypersonality,justthisveryfamiliarity
whichputsusatourease,relievesthestrain,anddisposesus
quitesimplytodoourduty.

Wemustsearchforthesefleetingimpressions,whichare
immediatelyblottedoutbyreflexion,ifwewanttofindsome
vestigeofwhatmayhavebeenfeltbyourremotestancestors.

iiPERSISTENCEOFTHEPRIMITIVEMIND135

Weshouldnothesitatetodoso,ifwewerenotimbuedwith
thepreconceivedideathatthemoralandintellectualacquisi
tionsofhumanity,incorporatedinthesubstanceofindividual
organisms,havecomedowntousthroughheredity.Inthat
caseweshouldbeborntotallydifferentfromwhatour
ancestorswere.Buthereditydoesnotpossessthisvirtue.It
cannotmakenaturaltendenciesoutofhabitscontractedfrom
generationtogeneration.Ifithadanyholdonhabit,itwould
haveaveryslightone,accidentallyandexceptionallyithas
probablynoneatall.Thenaturalis,then,todaywhatithas
alwaysbeen.True,thingshappenasifithadbeentrans
formed,sinceallthatsocietyhasacquiredoverlaysit,since
societymouldsindividualsbymeansofaneducationthat
goesonwithoutabreakfromthehouroftheirbirth.Butlet
asuddenshockparalysethesesuperficialactivities,letthe
lightinwhichtheyworkbeextinguishedforamoment:at

oncethenaturalreappears,likethechangelessstarinthe
night.Thepsychologistwhowantstogobacktowhatis
primitivemustseekaftertheseoutofthewayexperiences.
Forallthat,hewillnotletgohisguidingthread,hewillnot
forgetthatnatureisutilitarian,andthateveryinstincthasits
functionthoseinstinctswhichwemightcallintellectualare
defensivereactionsagainsttheexaggeratedlyandaboveall
theprematurelyintelligentelementinintelligence.Butthe
twomethodswillhelpeachother:theoneservingratherfor
research,theotherforverification.Itisourpride,atwofold
pride,whichgenerallymakesusshyatthem.Wewantman
tobebornsuperiortowhatheusedtobe,asiftruemeritdid
notlieineffort,asthoughaspeciesinwhicheachindividual
hastoriseabovehimselfbyalaboriousassimilationofallthe
pastwerenot,tosaytheleast,onaparwithaspeciesinwhich
eachgenerationwouldberaisedinitsentiretytoahigher
levelthantheprecedingonesbytheautomaticplayof
heredity!Butthereisyetanotherpride,thatofintelligence,
whichwillnotadmititsoriginalsubordinationtobiological
necessities.Noonewouldstudyacell,atissue,anorgan,
withoutcaringaboutitsfunctioninthefieldofpsychology
itself,noonewouldconsiderhehadfullyaccountedforan

I36STATICRELIGIONCH.

instinctunlesshehadconnecteditwithsomeneedofthe
speciesbutonceyoucometointelligence,farewellnature!
farewelllife!Intelligenceisassumedtobewhatitis"forno
particularreason,forthefunofthething".Asifitalsodidnot
primarilycorrespondtovitalneeds!Itsoriginalbusinessisto
resolveproblemssimilartothoseresolvedbyinstinct,though
indeedbyaverydifferentmethod,whichensuresprogress
andwhichcannotbeappliedunlessitbe,intheory,com
pletelyindependentofnature.Butthisindependenceis
limitedinfact:itceasesattheexactmomentwhenintelligence
woulddefeatitsownobjectbyinjuringsomevitalinterest.
Intelligenceistheninevitablykeptunderobservationbyin
stinct,orratherbylife,thecommonoriginofinstinctand

intelligence.Thisisjustwhatwemeanwhenwespeakof
intellectualinstinctswearethendealingwithrepresenta
tionsformednaturallybyintelligence,bywayofsafeguarding
itself,throughcertainbeliefs,againstcertaindangersofknow
ledge.Sucharethenthetendencies,sucharetheexperiences
psychologymustbearinmind,ifitwantstogetbacktothe
fountainhead.

Thestudyoftheuncivilizedwillbenonethelessvaluable.
Wehavesaid,andwecannotrepeatittoooften:theyareas
farfromthebeginningofthingsasweare,buttheyhave
inventedless.Sotheyhavehadtoapplythesameknowledge
incountlessdifferentwaystheirshasperforcebeenaprocess
ofexaggeration,caricature,inaword,distortion,ratherthan
radicaltransformation.Butwhetheritbeamatteroftrans
formationoroneofdistortion,theoriginalformsubsists,
merelycoveredoverbytheacquiredinbothcases,therefore,
thepsychologistinsearchoforiginswillhavethesamekind
ofefforttomake,buttheroadmaybeshorterinthesecond
casethaninthefirst.Thisiswhatwilloccurespeciallywhen
wecometofindsimilarbeliefsamongpeoplesbetweenwhom
therecanhavebeennopossiblecommunication.These
beliefsarenotnecessarilyprimitive,buttheyhaveverylikely
comestraightfromoneofthosefundamentaltendencies
whichaneffortofintrospectionwouldenableustodiscover
withinourselves.Theymaythenputusinthewayofthis

iiPERSISTENCEOFTHEPRIMITIVEMIND137

discovery,andguidethatintrospectionwhichwilllaterserve
toexplainthem.

Wehavealwaystogobacktothesequestionsofmethod
ifwedonotwishtogoastrayinoursearch.Attheturning
pointwhichwehavereachedwestandparticularlyinneed
ofthem.Forwearedealingwithnothinglessthanthe
reactionsofmantohisperceptionofthings,ofevents,ofthe
universeingeneral.Thatintelligenceismadetoutilize

matter,todominatethings,tomasterevents,thereisno
doubt.Thatitspowerisindirectproportiontoitsknowledge
isnolesscertain.Butthisscienceisinthebeginningvery
limitedverysmallindeedistheportionoftheuniversal
mechanismthatitembraces,ofthespaceandtimeoverwhich
ithascontrol.Whatabouttherest?Lefttoitself,intelligence
wouldsimplyrealizeitsignorancemanwouldfeelhimself
lostinimmensity.Butinstinctisonthewatch.Tothestrictly
scientificknowledgewhichgoeswithtechnicalprogress,oris
impliedinit,instinctadds,forallthosethingswhichare
beyondourscope,thebeliefinpowersthataresupposedto
takemanintoaccount.Theuniverseisthuspeopledwith
intentionswhichare,itistrue,fleetingandvariabletheonly
purelymechanicalareaissupposedtobethatwithinwhich
weactmechanically.Thisareaexpandswiththeadvance
ofcivilization:thewholeuniverseendsbyappearingasa
mechanismtoanintelligencewhichconceivestheidealvision
ofacompletescience.Wehavereachedthisstage,andit
takes,today,avigorousetfortofintrospectiontorediscover
theoriginalbeliefswhichoursciencecoversoverwithallit
knowsandhopestoknow.But,assoonaswegetatthem,we
seehowtheyaretobeexplainedbythejointworkingofin
telligenceandinstinct,howtheymusthavecorresponded
:oavitalinterest.Turningthentouncivilizedman,weverify
tfhatwehaveobservedinourselves:butinhiscasethebelief
sswollen,exaggerated,multiplied:insteadofreceding,as
tdoeswithcivilizedman,inthefaceoftheprogressof
science,itoverflowsintotheareareservedtomechanical
iction,andoverlaysactivitieswhichoughttoprecludeit.
Thisbringsustoanessentialpoint.Ithasbeenassertedthat

138STATICRELIGIONCH.

religionbeganasmagic.Magichasalsobeenconsideredas
aforerunnerofscience.Ifweconfineourselvestopsychology,
aswehavedone,ifwereconstitute,byaneffortofintro
spection,thenaturalreactionofmantohisperceptionof
things,wefindthat,whilemagicandreligionareakin,there

isnothingincommonbetweenmagicandscience.

Wehaveindeedjustseenthatprimitiveintelligencedivides
itsexperienceintotwoseparateparts.Thereis,ontheone
side,thatwhichobeystheactionofthehandorthetool,that
whichcanbeforeseenandreliedon:thispartoftheuniverse
isconceivedphysically,untilsuchtimeasitisconceived
mathematicallyitappearsasaconcatenationofcausesand
effects,inanycaseitistreatedassuchnomatterifthiscon
ceptionbeindistinct,orbarelyconsciousitmayneverbe
expressedbutinordertoknowwhatintelligencethinks
implicitly,weneedonlylookatwhatitdoes.Then,onthe
otherhand,thereisthatpartofexperienceuponwhichhomo
faberfeelshehasentirelylosthisgrip.Thispartistreatedno
longerphysically,butmorally.Sincewecanexertnopower
overit,wehopeitwillexertsomepowerinourbehoof.Thus
naturebecomesinsuchacaseimpregnatedwithhumanity.
Butshewillacquirethishumanqualityonlyasfarasis
necessary.Indefaultofpower,wemusthaveconfidence.For
ustofeelcomfortable,theeventwhichsinglesitselfout
beforeoureyesfromthemassofrealitymustappearanimated
withapurpose.Thatwillbeindeedournaturalandoriginal
conviction.Butweshallnotstopthere.Itisnotenoughfor
ustohavenothingtofear,wewouldfainhavesomethingto
hopeforaswell.Iftheeventisnotutterlydevoidoffeeling,
canwenotmanagetoinfluenceit?Willitnotallowitselfto
beconvincedorconstrained?Thiswillbedifficultifitre
mainswhatitis,atransientintention,arudimentarysoul
itwouldnothavepersonalityenoughtohearkentoour
prayers,itwouldhavetoomuchtobeatourbeckandcall.
Butourmindcaneasilyimpelitinonedirectionortheother.
Forthepressureofinstincthasgivenrise,withinintelli
gence,tothatformofimaginationwhichisthemythmaking
function.Mythmakinghasbuttofollowitsowncoursein

iiONMAGICINGENERAL139

ordertofashion,outoftheelementarypersonalitieslooming

upattheoutset,godsthatassumemoreandmoreexaltedform
likethoseofmythology,ordeitiesevermoredegraded,suchas
merespirits,orevenforceswhichretainonlyoneproperty
fromtheirpsychologicalorigin,thatofnotbeingpurely
mechanical,andofcomplyingwithourwishes,ofbending
toourwill.Thefirstandseconddirectionsarethoseof
religion,thethirdthatofmagic.Letusbeginwiththelatter.
Therehasbeenagreatdealofdiscussionaboutthenotion
ofmanawhichwasbroughtoutsomeyearsagobyCodrington
inhisfamousbookontheMelanesians,andaboutitsequiv
alent,orrathersomethinganalogoustoit,supposedtoexist
amongotherprimitives:suchastheorendaoftheIroquois,
thewahandaoftheSioux,etc.Allthesewordsseemtocon
noteaforcepresentthroughoutnature,aforceofwhichsome
ifnotallthingsaresaidtopartakeindifferentdegrees.From
thistothehypothesisofaprimitivephilosophytakingform
inthehumanmindattheverydawnofthoughtthereisbut
astep.Someauthoritieshaveindeedsupposedthattheminds
ofthenoncivilizedwereobsessedbyavaguekindofpan
theism.Butitisveryunlikelythathumanitystartsfromsuch
generalandabstractnotions.Beforeanymancanphilosophize
hemustlive.Scholarsandphilosophersaretoomuchinclined
tobelievethatthemindworksinallmenaswiththem,for
thesheerloveofthinking.Thetruthisthatitsaimisaction,
andthat,iftherereallyisanyphilosophytobefoundinthe
uncivilizedman,itiscertainlyactionratherthanthoughtit
isimpliedinawholegroupofoperationswhichareusefulor
consideredassuchitonlyemergesfromthem,itonlyex
pressesitselfinwordsandtheyareinevitablyveryvague
fortheconvenienceofaction.MM.HubertandMauss,in
theirveryinterestingTheoriegeneratedelamagie>havemade
outastrongcaseforthebeliefinmagicbeinginseparable
fromtheconceptionofthemana.Accordingtothemit
wouldappearthatthisbeliefderivesfromthatconception.
Isitnotjusttheotherwayround?Itdoesnotstrikeusas
probablethattherepresentationcorrespondingtosuch
termsasmana,orenda,etc.,wasformedfirstandthatmagic

i4oSTATICRELIGIONCH.

originatedthence.Quitethecontrary,itisbecauseman
believedinmagic,becausehepractisedit,thathemusthave
representedthingstohimselfinthisway:hismagicappar
entlyworked,andhedidbutexplain,orratherexpress,its
success.Now,thatheshouldhavebegunatoncetopractise
magiciseasytounderstandherealizedatoncethatthe
limitsofhisnormalinfluenceovertheoutsideworldwere
soonreached,andhecouldnotresignhimselftogoingno
further.Sohecarriedonthemovement,and,sincethe
movementcouldnotbyitselfsecurethedesiredresult,
naturemustneedstakethetaskinhand.Itcouldonlybe
soifmatterwere,sotospeak,magnetized,ifitturnedofits
ownaccordtowardsman,toundertakehiserrandsandcarry
outhisorders.Matterremainednonethelessamenable,as
weshouldsaytoday,tophysicallawsthishadtobeso,for
thesakeofthemechanicalholduponit.Butitwas,besides,
impregnatedwithhumanity,Imeanchargedwithaforce
capableofenteringintohumandesigns.Mancouldturnthis
tendencytoadvantagesoastoextendhisactionfurtherthan
physicallawspermitted.Wecaneasilyconvinceourselves
ofthisifweconsiderthemagicalrecipes,andtheconcep
tionsofmatterwhichmadeitpossibletoimagineconfusedly
thatmagiccouldsucceed.

Theoperationshaveoftenbeendescribed,butasthe
applicationsofcertaintheoreticalprinciplessuchas"like
actsonlike","thepartstandsforthewhole",etc.Thatthese
formulaecanservetoclassifymagicalprocessesthereisno
doubt.Butitinnowisefollowsthatmagicaloperationsare
derivedfromthem.Ifprimitiveintelligencehadbegunby
conceivingprinciples,itwouldverysoonhavecapitulated
beforetheevidenceofexperience,whichwouldhaveproved
themerroneous.Buthereagainitmerelytranslatesinto
aconceptionwhatwassuggestedbyaninstinct.Toputit
moreclearly,thereisalogicofthebody,anextensionof
desire,whichcomesintoplaylongbeforeintelligencehas
foundaconceptualformforit.Take,forinstance,a"primi
tive"manwhowantstokillhisenemy:thatenemy,however,

isfarawayitisimpossibletogetathim.Nomatter!Our

iiONMAGICINGENERAL141

manisinaragehegoesthroughthemotionsofpouncingon
theabsentman.Oncestartedhegoesontothebitterend
hesqueezeshisfingersroundtheneckofthevictimhethinks
hehasholdof,orwantstohaveholdof,andthrottleshim.
Butheknowsverywellthattheresultisnotcomplete.He
hasdoneeverythingthathehimselfcoulddo:hedemands
thatthingsshoulddotherest.Theywillnotdoitmechanic
ally.Theywillnotyieldtoaphysicalnecessity,aswhenour
manstampedontheearth,movedhisarmsorlegs,inaword,
obtainedfrommatterreactionscorrespondingtohisactions.
Thereforehewantsmatter,notonlytobeobligedtogive
backmechanicallywhatitreceives,butalsotopossessthe
facultyoffulfillingdesiresandobeyingorders.Therewillbe
nothingimpossibleinthisifnaturealreadytendsofherown
accordtotakemanintoaccount.Itwillsufficethatthesame
complianceshownbycertaineventsshouldalsobefoundin
things.Thelatterwillthenbemoreorlesschargedwithsub
missivenessandpotency:theywillholdatourdisposala
powerwhichyieldstothedesiresofman,andofwhichman
mayavailhimself.Wordssuchasmana,wakonda,etc.,express
thisforce,andatthesametimetheprestigesurroundingit.You
willnotfindthesameprecisemeaningforallofthem,ifyou
arelookingforprecisemeanings,buttheyallcorrespondto
thesamevagueidea.Theyexpressthatwhichcausesthings
tolendthemselvestotheoperationsofmagic.Astothese
operationsthemselves,wehavejustdeterminedtheirnature.
Theybegintheactwhichmancannotfinish.Theygothrough
themotionswhichalonecouldnotproducethedesiredeffect,
butwhichwillachieveit,ifthemanconcernedknowshow
toprevailuponthegoodwillofthings.

Magicistheninnateinman,beingbuttheoutwardpro
jectionofadesirewhichfillstheheart.Ifithasappeared
artificial,ifithasbeenreducedtosuperficialassociationsof

ideas,itisbecauseithasbeenstudiedinprocesseswhich
wereespeciallydevisedtorelievethemagicianfromputting
hisheartandsoulintothem,andtoenablehimtoobtainthe
sameresultwithoutthesameeffort.Anactorstudyinghis
partreallyandtrulylivestheemotionhehastoexpresshe

i42STATICRELIGIONCH.

notesthegesturesandinflectionstowhichitgivesriselater,
whenfacingthepublic,hewillonlyproducetheinflectionand
thegesture,hecanaffordtodispensewiththeemotion.Itis
thesamewithmagic.The"laws"whichhavebeenfoundfor
ittellusnothingofthenaturalimpulsefromwhichitsprang.
Theyareonlyaformulafortheexpedientswhichlazinesshas
suggestedtotheoriginalmagicbywayofselfimitation.

Itarisesfirstofall,wearetold,fromthefactthat"like
begetslike".Thereisnoapparentreasonwhyhumanity
shouldbeginbypositingsoabstractandarbitraryalaw.But
itisunderstandablethatafterhavinggoneinstinctively
throughthemotionsofflinginghimselfonhisabsentenemy,
afterhavingconvincedhimselfthathisanger,projectedinto
spaceandconveyedforwardbysomeobligingmatter,will
proceedtoaccomplishtheactbegun,amanshouldwantto
obtainthesameeffectwithouthavingtoworkhimselfup
intothesamestate.Hewillthereforegothroughtheprocess
againincoldblood.Thatveryaction,describedinhiswrath,
whichheperformedwhenhethoughthewaslockinghis
fingersabouthisenemy'sthroat,hewillreproducebymeans
ofareadymademodel,adummywhoseoutlineshewill
merelyhavetogoover.Itisthusthathewillpractisehoodoo.
Thepuppetheusesneednotevenresemblehisenemy,since
itsonlyfunctionistoensurethattheactisrepeatedexactly
asbefore.Suchseemstobethepsychologicaloriginofa
principletobeexpressedinsomesuchformulaas"likeis
equivalenttolike"or,betterstill,inmorepreciseterms,"the
staticcanreplacethedynamicwhenittracesthepatternof
thelatter".Inthisultimateform,reminiscentofitsorigin,

theprinciplewouldnotlenditselftoindefiniteextension.
Butinthefirstformitpermitsofthebeliefthatitispossible
toaffectadistantobjectthroughtheintermediaryofanear
objectbearingthemerestsuperficialresemblancetoit.It
neednotevenbeexplicitlystatedorformulated.Merely
impliedinanalmostinstinctiveprocess,itenablesthisnatural
magictoproliferateindefinitely.

Magicpracticesarereferredtoyetotherlaws:"itispos
sibletoinfluenceabeingorathingbyactingonsomething

iiONMAGICINGENERAL143

ithastouched","thepartisvalidforthewhole",etc.But
thepsychologicaloriginremainsthesame.Theessentialis
alwaystorepeatintranquillity,withtheconvictionthatitis
efficacious,theactwhichhasgivenaquasihallucinatory
impressionofitsefficacywhenperformedinamomentof
excitement.Intimeofdrought,thesorcererisaskedtopro
ducetherain.Ifhewereactuallytoputhiswholesoulinto
thetask,hewould,byaneffortofimagination,raisehimself
uptothecloud,hewouldbelievethathefelthimselfcleaving
itasunder,andscatteringitinraindrops.Buthewillfindit
simplertosupposehehasnearlycomebacktoearthagain,
andthentopouroutalittlewaterthisminutefractionofthe
eventwillproduceitinitsentirety,iftheeffortwhichwould
havehadtobelaunchedfromearthtoheavenfindssome
thingtotakeitsplace,andiftheintermediarymatterismore
orlesschargedasitwerewithpositiveornegativeelec
tricitywithasemiphysicalorsemimoralreadinesstoserve
ortothwartman.Thisamountstosayingthatthereexistsa
verysimplenaturalmagic,reducibletoasmallnumberof
practices.Itisreflexionuponthesepractices,orperhapsthe
meretranslationintowords,whichhasmadeitpossiblefor
themtomultiplyineverydirectionandtoabsorballsuper
stitionsaswell,becausetheformulaalwaysgoesbeyondthe
factwhichitexpresses.

Magicthenseemstoustoresolveitselfintotwoelements:
thedesiretoactonathing,evenonthatwhichisoutofreach,
andtheideathatthingsarecharged,orcanbecharged,with
whatweshouldcallhumanfluid.Wemustreverttothefirst
pointtodrawthecomparisonbetweenmagicandscience,and
tothesecondtoshowtheconnexionofmagicwithreligion.

Thattherehavebeencaseswheremagichasaccidentally
beenofservicetoscienceisnotimpossible:mattercannot
bemanipulatedwithoutsomebenefitaccruingfromit.But
eventhen,toutilizeanobservationorsimplytonoteit,
theremustbesomepropensityforscientificresearch.Now
themomentsuchisthecaseyouareturningyourbackon
magic.Itisindeedeasytodefinescience,sinceithasalways
workedinthesamedirection.Itmeasuresandcalculateswith

144STATICRELIGIONCH.

aviewtoanticipationandaction.Itfirstsupposes,thenveri
fies,thattheuniverseisgovernedbymathematicallaws.In
aword,allprogressinscienceconsistsinawiderknowledge
andaricherutilizationoftheuniversalmechanism.This
progress,moreover,isaccomplishedbyaneffortofourintel
ligence,whichisdesignedtoguideouractionuponthings,
andwhosestructuremustthereforebemodelledonthe
mathematicalframeworkoftheuniverse.Althoughweare
calledupontoactonlyonthethingsaboutus,andthough
suchwastheprimitiveintentionofthefunctionofintelli
gence,yet,sincethemechanismoftheuniverseispresentin
eachofitsparts,itwasabsolutelynecessarythatmanshould
bebornwithanintelligencevirtuallycapableofembracing
thewholematerialworld.Itisthesamewiththeworkingof
themindaswiththefacultyofsight:theeyetoowasonly
meanttorevealtousobjectsonwhichwecanactbutjust
asnaturecouldonlyobtaintherequisitedegreeofvisionwith
anapparatuswhoseeffectgoesbyonditsobject(sincewecan
seethestars,whilewehavenocontroloverthem),inthe
samewayshenecessarilyhadtogiveus,alongwiththefaculty

ofunderstandingthematterwehavetodealwith,avirtual
knowledgeoftherest,andthenolessvirtualpowerofutiliz
ingit.True,itisafarcry,inthiscase,fromthevirtualtothe
actual.Alleffectiveprogress,intherealmofknowledgeas
inthatofaction,hasdemandedthepersistenteffortofoneor
severalsuperiormen.Therewas,eachtime,creation,which
naturehaddoubtlessmadepossibleinthatsheendowedus
withanintelligencewhoseformoutstripsitsmatter,but*one
whichwent,sotospeak,beyondwhatnaturehadintended.
Man'sphysicalandmoralstructureseemedindeedtodestine
himforamorehumbleexistence.Hisinstinctiveresistance
toinnovationsisaproof.Theinertiaofhumanityhasnever
fielded,saveundertheimpulsionofgenius.Inaword,science
demandsatwofoldeffort,thatofafewmentofindsomenew
thingandthatofalltheotherstoadoptitandadaptthem
selvestoit.Asocietymaybecalledcivilizedwhenyoufind
nitsuchapowertoleadandwillingnesstobeled.Thesecond
:onditionisindeedmoredifficultoffulfilmentthanthefirst.

nMAGICANDSCIENCE145

Whatwaslackingamongtheuncivilizedwasprobablynot
theexceptionalman(thereseemstobenoreasonwhynature
shouldnothavehadalwaysandeverywheresuchfitsof
abstraction)butthechanceforsuchamantoshowhis
superiority,andthereadinessofothermentofollowhim.
Onceasocietyisalreadyontheroadtocivilization,thepros
pectofamereincreaseofwellbeingwilldoubtlesssufficeto
overcomeitsingrainedhabits.Buttogetitontothisroad,
tostartitintomotionthefirsttime,requiresagreatdeal
more:perhapsthemenaceofextermination,suchasthat
createdbythediscoveryofanewweaponbyanenemytribe.
Thosesocietieswhichhaveremainedmoreorless"primi
tive"areprobablythosethathavehadnoneighbours,more
generallystillthoseforwhomlifehasbeentooeasy.They
werenotcalledupontomaketheinitialeffort.Subsequently,
itwastoolatethesocietycouldnotadvance,evenifitwanted
to,becauseitwascontaminatedbytheproductsofitsown

laziness.Theseproductsarepreciselythepracticesofmagic,
atleastinasmuchastheyareexcessiveandallencroaching.
Formagicisthereverseofscience.Solongastheinertia
oftheenvironmentdoesnotcauseittoproliferate,ithasits
functiontoperform.Ittemporarilycalmstheuneasinessof
anintelligencewhoseformexceedsitssubstance,whichis
vaguelyawareofitsignoranceandrealizesthedangerofit,
whichdivines,outsidetheverysmallcircleinwhichaction
issureofitseffect,wheretheimmediatefutureispredictable
andwithinwhichthereforesciencealreadyprevails,avast
areaoftheunpredictablesuchasmaywelldiscourageaction.
Andyetactitmust.Magicthenstepsin,asanimmediate
effectofthevitalimpulse.Asmanwidenshisknowledge
througheffort,itwillgraduallyrecede.Meanwhile,asmagicis
apparentlysuccessful(forthefailureofamagicalprocesscan
alwaysbeattributedtothesuccessofsomecountermagic)it
producesthesamemoraleffectasscience.Butthisisitsonly
featureincommonwithscience,fromwhichitisseparated
bythewholedistancebetweenwishingandwilling.Farfrom
pavingthewayforscience,assomehavemaintained,ithas
beenthegreatobstacleagainstwhichmethodicalknowledge

146STATICRELIGIONCH.

hashadtocontend.Civilizedmanisabeinginwhomin
cipientscience,implicitinthedailyround,hasbeenableto
encroach,thankstoaneveractivewill,onthatmagicwhich
wasoccupyingtherestofthefield.Noncivilizedmanis,on
thecontrary,onewho,disdainingeffort,hasallowedmagic
toinvadetherealmofincipientscience,tooverlayit,and
concealit,eventothepointofmakingusbelieveinaprimi
tivementalitydevoidofallrealscience.Moreover,oncein
possession,itplaysthousandsofvariationsuponitsown
themes,beingmoreprolificthanscience,sinceitsinventions
arepurefantasyandcostnoeffort.Lettherebenotalk,then,
ofaneraofmagicfollowedbyaneraofscience.Letussay
thatscienceandmagicarebothnatural,thattheyhavealways
coexisted,thatourscienceisverymuchmoreextensivethan

thatofourremoteancestors,butthatthelattermusthave
beenmuchlessgiventomagicthanthenoncivilizedmanof
today.Wehaveremained,atbottom,whattheywere.Driven
backbyscience,theinclinationtowardsmagicstillsurvives,
andbidesitstime.Letourattentiontosciencerelaxforone
instant,andmagicwillatoncecomerushingbackintoour
civilizedsociety,justasadesire,repressedinourwaking
hours,takesadvantageofthelightestsleeptofindsatisfaction
inadream.

Thereremainsthentheproblemoftherelationshipbetween
magicandreligion.Everythingdepends,obviously,onthe
meaningofthislastterm.Thephilosopherstudiesforthe
mostpartathingtowhichcommonsensehasalreadygiven
aname.Manmayonlyhavegotaglimpseofitandthat
glimpsemayhavebeendeceptiveitmayhavebeenjumbled
upwithotherthings,fromwhichitmustbeisolated.It
mayevenhavebeensegregatedfromrealityasawhole
merelyforconvenienceofspeech,andsonoteffectivelycon
stitute,anentity,lendingitselftoindependentstudy.Herein
liesthegreatinferiorityofphilosophycomparedtomathe
maticsandeventonaturalsciences.Itsstartingpointmust
bethecuttingupofrealitybyspeechadivisionanddis
tributionwhichisperhapsentirelyrelativetotheneedsof
thecity:philosophytoooftenignoresthisorigin,andpro

iiMAGICANDRELIGION147

ceedslikeageographerwho,inordertodiscriminatebetween
thedifferentregionsoftheglobeandindicatethephysical
connectionsbetweenthem,shouldtakeitintohisheadtogo
bythefrontiersestablishedbytreaties.Inthestudywehave
undertaken,wehaveguardedagainstthisdangerbypassing
directlyfromtheword"religion"andeverythingitembracesin
virtueofapossiblyartificialdisgregationofthings,toacertain
functionofthemindwhichcanbedirectlyobserved,without
consideringthedistributionoftherealintoconceptscorre
spondingtowords.Inouranalysisoftheoperationsofthis

functionwehavesuccessivelyrediscoveredseveralofthe
meaningsgiventothewordreligion.Continuingourstudy,
weshallfindothershadesofmeaning,andwemayaddone
ortwonewones.Itwillthenbeplainlydemonstratedthat
thistimethewordembracesareality:arealitywhich,itis
true,willsomewhatoverstep,upwardsanddownwards,the
limitsoftheusualsignificanceoftheword.Butweshallthen
graspitinitself,initsstructureandinitsprinciple,asoften
happenswhenwerelatetoaphysiologicalfunction,such
asdigestion,agreatnumberoffactsobservedindifferent
partsoftheorganism,andevendiscovertherebynewfacts.
Ifwelookatthematterfromthisangle,magicisevidently
partofreligion.Imean,ofcourse,thelowertypeofreligion,
theonewithwhichwehavebeendealinguptonow.But
magic,incommonwiththisreligion,generallyspeaking,
representsaprecautionofnaturetomeetcertaindangers
encounteredbytheintelligentbeing.Now,itispossibleto
followanotherline,tostartfromthevariousordinaryinter
pretationsofthewordreligion,comparethem,andextract
therefromanaveragemeaning:inthiswayweshallhave
solvedadictionaryquestionratherthanaphilosophical
problembutnomatter,solongaswerealizewhatweare
about,anddonotimagine(aconstantillusionofphilosophers)
thatwehaveobtainedtheessenceofathingwhenwehave
agreedupontheconventionalmeaningoftheword.Letus
thensetoutalltheacceptationsoftheword,likethecolours
ofthespectrumorthenotesinascale:weshallfind,some
whereaboutthemiddle,atanequaldistancefromthetwo

148STATICRELIGIONCH.

extremities,theadorationofgodstowhommenpray.It
goeswithoutsayingthatreligionthusconceivedisopposed
tomagic.Thelatterisessentiallyselfish,theformeradmits
ofandevendemandsdisinterestedness.Theoneclaimsto
compelthecomplianceofnature,theotherimploresthe
favourofthegod.Aboveall,magicworksinanenvironment
whichissemiphysicalandsemimoralthemagician,atall

events,isnotdealingwithapersonwhereasonthecontrary
itisfromthepersonalityofthegodthatreligiondrawsits
greatestefficacy.Grantedthatprimitiveintelligencethinks
itperceivesaroundit,inphenomenaandinevents,elements
ofpersonalityratherthancompletepersonalities,religion,as
wehavejustunderstoodit,willultimatelyreinforcethese
elementstotheextentofcompletelypersonifyingthem,
whereasmagiclooksuponthemasdebased,dissolved,asit
were,inamaterialworldinwhichtheirefficacycanbetapped.
Magicandreligion,then,gotheirseparateways,having
startedfromacommonorigin,andtherecanbenoquestionof
derivingreligionfrommagic:theyarecontemporaneous.Itis
understandable,however,thatthereshouldbesomethingof
theonehoveringroundtheother,thatsomemagiclingers
inreligion,andstillmore,somereligioninmagic.Weknow
thatthemagiciansometimesworksthroughthemedium
ofspirits,thatistosayofbeingrelativelyindividualized,
butwhichdonotpossessthecompletepersonalitynorthe
eminentdignityofgods.Ontheotherhand,incantationmay
partakeofbothcommandandprayer.

Thehistoryofreligionshaslongregardedthebeliefin
spiritsasprimitiveandexplanatoryofalltherest.Aseach
oneofushashissoul,asubtleressencethanthatofthebody,
so,innature,everythingwassaidtohavebeenanimated,tobe
accompaniedbyavaguelyspiritualentity.Spiritsoncehaving
beenadmitted,humanitypassed,soitissaid,frombelief
toadoration:henceanaturalphilosophy,animism,from
whichreligionsprang.Tothishypothesisanothertheory
isapparentlypreferredtoday.Ina"preanimist"or"ani
matist"phase,humanityissupposedtohaveimaginedan
impersonalforce,suchasthePolynesianmana,presentinthe

iiBELIEFINSPIRITS149

whole,unequallydistributedbetweenthepartsthespirits
comeinlater.Ifouranalysesarecorrect,whatwasfirstcon
ceivedwasneitheranimpersonalforcenorspiritsalready

individualized:mansimplyattributedpurposetothingsand
events,asifnaturehadeyeseverywherewhichshefocused
onman.Thatthisisanoriginaltendency,wecanallverify
whenasuddenshockarousestheprimitivemandormant
withinusall.Whatwefeelinthesecasesisthesensationof
anefficientpresencethenatureofthispresenceisoflittle
consequence,theessentialpointisitsefficiency:themoment
thereisanyregardforus,eveniftheintentionisnotgood,
webegintocountforsomethingintheuniverse.Thatis
whatexperiencetellsus.But,evenbeforeweconsultex
perience,itwouldseemhighlyunlikelythathumanityshould
havebegunbytheoreticalviewsofanysortorkind.Weshall
sayitoverandoveragain:beforemancanphilosophizeman
mustliveitisfromavitalnecessitythattheprimevalten
denciesandconvictionsmusthaveoriginated.Toconnect
religionwithasystemofideas,withalogicora"prelogic",
istoturnourremoteancestorsintointellectuals,and
intellectualssuchasweoughttobeingreaternumbers
ourselves,forweoftenseethefinesttheoriessuccumbingto
passionandinterestandonlyholdinggoodinourhoursof
speculativethought,whereasancientreligionspervadedthe
wholeoflife.Thetruthisthatreligion,beingcoextensive
withourspecie,'must"beaneffectofourstructure.Wehave
justnowconnecteditwithafundamentalexperiencebut
thatexperiencewassuchthatwehadaninklingofitbefore
encounteringitinanycaseitisquiteeasilyexplainedwhenit
hasbeenencounteredallwehavetodoistoputmanback
amonglivingthingsasawhole,andpsychologyintobiology.
For,lookatanyotheranimal.Itavailsitselfofeverythingit
findsuseful.Doesitactuallybelieveitselftobethecentreof
theworld?Probablynot,forithasnoconceptionoftheworld
assuch,and,besides,ithasnottheslightestinclinationto
speculate.Butsinceitonlysees,oratleastonlytakesnoteof
whatcansatisfyitsneeds,sincethingsexistforitonlyinso
farasitmakesuseofthem,itobviouslybehavesasthough

iSoSTATICRELIGIONCH.

everythinginnaturewerecombinedsolelywithaviewtoits
wellbeingandintheinterestofitsspecies.Suchisitsconvic
tion,notintellectualized,butlived,aconvictionwhichsus
tainstheanimalandisindistinguishablefromitsefforttolive.
Youbringreflexionintoplay,however,andthisconviction
willvanishmanwillperceivehimself,willthinkofhim
selfasaspeckintheimmensityoftheuniverse.Hewould
feellost,iftheefforttolivedidnotatonceprojectinto
hisintelligence,intotheveryplacethatthisperceptionand
thisreflexionwereabouttooccupy,theopposingimageof
thingsandeventsturningtowardsmanwhetherwellorill
disposed,acertainintentionofhisenvironmentfollowshim
theneverywhere,justasthemoonseemstorunwithhimwhen
heruns.Ifitbegood,hewillrelyonit.Ifitbodesharm,he
willtrytoavertitseffects.Inanycase,itmeansthathehas
beentakenintoaccount.Hereishotheory,noroomforthe
arbitrary.Thisconvictionisforceduponhim,therebeingno
philosophyaboutit,butavitalimpulsion.

Inlikemanner,ifindeeditsplitsandevolvesintotwo
divergentdirections,ontheonehandtowardsbeliefin
spiritsalreadyindividualized,andontheothertowardsthe
ideaofanimpersonalessence,thatisnotonaccountofany
theory:suchreasoningleadstocontroversy,permitsofdoubt,
givesrisetodoctrines,whichmayexertaninfluenceoncon
duct,butwhichdonotimpingeuponalltheincidentsof
existence,andcouldnotpossiblybecometheguidingforcesof
lifeasawhole.Thetruthisthatoncetheconvictionisfirmly
implantedinthewill,thelatterimpelsitinthesedirections
whichareopenalready,orwhichopenoutbeforeitatthe
pointsofleastresistanceallalongthepathofitseffort.Itwill
utilizeineverypossiblewaytheintentionwhichitfeelsto
bepresent,eitherbytakingthephysicaleffectivenesswhich
theintentionpossesses,exaggeratingitsmaterialityandthen
tryingtomasteritbyforce,orbyapproachingitfromthe
moralside,byimpellingit,onthecontrary,ihthedirection
ofapersonalitytobewonoverbyprayer.Itis,then,fromthe
demandsofanefficientmagicthattherearoseaconception
suchasmana,animpoverishmentoramaterializationofthe

iiBELIEFINSPIRITS151

originalbelief:anditisthedesiretoobtainfavoursthatdrew
fromthesamebelief,intheoppositedirection,spiritsand
gods.Neitherhastheimpersonalevolvedtowardstheper
sonal,norhavepurepersonalitiesbeenpositedattheout
set:but,outofsomeintermediatething,intendedratherto
sustainthewillthantoinformtheintelligence,therehave
emergedthroughdissociation,downwardsandupwards,the
forcesthatliebeneaththeweightofmagic,andthegods
towardswhomthevoiceofhumanprayerisraised.

Onthefirstpointwehavemadeouropinionclear.We
shouldhaveaheavytaskifwehadtodealatlengthwiththe
second.Thegradualevolutionofreligiontowardsgodsof
increasinglymarkedpersonality,whoaremoreandmore
definitelyinterrelatedorwhotendtobecomemergedintoa
singledeity,correspondstothefirstofthetwogreatadvances
ofhumanitytowardscivilization.Itwentonuntiltheday
whenthereligiousspiritturnedfromtheoutwardtothein
ward,fromthestatictothedynamic,byachangeoffront
similartothatperformedbypureintelligencewhenitpassed
overfromthestudyoffinitemagnitudestothedifferential
calculus.Thislastchangewasdoubtlessthedecisiveone:
transformationsoftheindividualbecamepossible,likethose
thathaveproducedthesuccessivespeciesintheorganized
worldprogresscouldthenceforthconsistinthecreationof
newqualities,andnotaspreviouslyinamereincreasein
sizeinsteadofmerelytakingwhatlifehadtogive,justwhere
itwas,atthepointreached,thevitalmovementwasnowgoing
tobecarriedforward.Weshalldealwiththisreligion,an
entirelyinwardone,inthenextchapter.Weshallseethat
itsustainsmanbytheverymovementitimpartstohim,
placinghim,asitdoes,backinthecreativeimpetus,andnot
ashithertothroughimaginativerepresentationsintendedto
reconcileinhimtheactivityofthepartswiththeimmobility
ofthewhole.Butweshallalsoseethatreligiousdynamism
needsstaticreligionforitsexpressionanddiffusion.Itis

thereforecomprehensiblethatthelattershouldholdfirst
placeinthehistoryofreligions.Itisnotourbusiness,we
repeat,tofollowstaticreligionthroughtheimmensevariety

iS2STATICRELIGIONCH.

ofitsmanifestations.Itwillsufficetoindicatetheprincipal
onesandbringouttheconnexionbetweenthem.

Letusstartthenfromtheideathatthereareintentions
inherentinthings:thisbringsusatoncetotherepresentation
ofspirits.Theyarethevagueentitiesdwelling,forinstance,
insprings,riversandfountains.Eachspiritisboundtothe
spotwhereitmanifestsitself.Thisfeaturealreadydis
tinguishesitfromadivinityproper,whichwillbeable,while
remainingindivisible,toapportionitselfbetweenvarious
places,andtoholdswayovereverythingbelongingtoone
andthesamegenus.Thisdivinitywillbearanameitwill
haveitsownparticularshape,itsclearlydefinedpersonality,
whereasthecountlessspiritsofthewoodsandfountainsare
copiesofonemodelandcould,atmost,saywithHorace:
nosnurnerussumus.Lateron,whenreligionhasattained
totheheightofthoseexaltedpersonages,thegods,itmay
[wellconjureupspiritsintheirimage,suchspiritswillbe
'minordeitiesandtheywillthenappeartohavealwaysbeen
feo.Butthisismerelyaretroactiveeffect.Itprobablytooka
longtime,inGreece,forthespiritofaspringtobecomea
gracefulnymph,andthespiritofthewoodahamadryad.In
thebeginning,thespiritofthespringmusthavebeenthe
springitself,aspossessingabeneficentvirtueforman.To
putitmoreclearly,thatbeneficentaction,initseverpresent
aspect,wasthespirit.Itwouldbeanerrorinsuchacaseto
regardasanabstractideaImeananideaextractedfrom
thingsbyanintellectualefforttherepresentationoftheact
andofitscontinuation.Itisadatumprovideddirectlybythe
senses.Ourphilosophyandourlanguagefirstpositthesub
stanceandsurrounditwithattributes,andthenmakesuch
andsuchactsarisetherefromlikeemanations.Butwecannot

toooftenrepeatthattheactionmaybeforthcomingfirstand
beselfsufficient,especiallyincaseswheremanisparticularly
concerned.Suchistheactofsupplyinguswithdrink:itcan
belocalizedinathing,andtheninapersonbutithasitsown
independentexistenceandiftheprocessgoesonindefinitely,
itsverypersistencewillsetitupastheanimatingspiritofthe
springatwhichwedrink,whilstthespring,detachedfrom

iiDEFERENCEPAIDTOANIMALS153

thefunctionwhichitperforms,willrelapsethemorecom
pletelyintothestateofathingpureandsimple.Itistrue
thatthesoulsofthedeadnaturallyenoughjoinwiththe
spiritsthoughdetachedfromtheirbodies,theyhavenotyet
renouncedtheirpersonality.Inminglingwiththespiritsthey
inevitablycolourthemand,bythehueswithwhichthey
tingethem,pavethewayforthemtobecomepersons.Thus,
bydifferentbutconvergingpaths,thespiritswillbeadvanc
ingtowardsacompletepersonality.Butintheelemental
formwhichtheyfirstpossess,theyfulfilsonaturalaneed
thatwemustnotbesurprisedtofindthebeliefinspirits
underlyingallancientreligions.Wespokeofthepartit
playedamongtheGreeks:afterbeingtheirprimitivereligion,
sofaraswecanjudgebytheMyceneancivilization,it
remainedthepopularreligion.ItwasthebasisoftheRoman
religionevenafterthemostgenerousprovisionhadbeen
madeforthegreaterdivinitiesimportedfromGreeceorelse
where:thelarfamiliaris,whowasthespiritofthehouse,was
alwaystoretainitsimportance.WiththeRomansaswiththe
Greeks,thegoddesscalledHestiaorVestamusthavebegun
asnothingmorethantheflameonthehearth,consideredin
itsfunction,Imeaninitsbeneficentintention.Supposewe
leaveclassicalantiquityandturntoIndia,andChinaand
Japan:everywhereweshallfindthisbeliefinspiritsweare
toldthateventodayitconstitutes(withancestorworship,
whichisverycloselyakintoit)theessentialelementof
Chinesereligion.Becauseitisuniversal,itwaseasyto
belifcvethatitwasoriginal.Letusatleastnotethatitisnot

veryfarremovedfromtheoriginalstate,andthatthehuman
mindnaturallypassesthroughthisbeliefbeforeattainingto
theadorationofthegods.

Itmightwellstopatanintermediatestage.Weare
alludingtothecultofanimals,sowidespreadamongpast
humanitythatsomepeoplehaveconsidereditasstillmore
naturalthantheadorationofthegodsinhumanshape.We
findit,fulloflifeandtenacity,holdingitsownevenin
countrieswheremanalreadyrepresentsthegodsinhisown
image.ItsurvivedthusrightuptotheendinancientEgypt.

iS4STATICRELIGIONCH.

Sometimesthegodthathasemergedfromtheanimalform
refusestocastitoffentirelyhishumanbodyiscrownedby
ananimal'shead.Suchthingsappeartodayverysurprising.
Thisismainlybecausemanhasbecomeendowedinoureyes
withanoutstandingdignity.Weregardintelligenceashis
maincharacteristic,andweknowthatthereisnosuperiority
whichintelligencecannotconferonus,noinferiorityfor
whichitcannotcompensate.Itwasnotsointhedaysbefore
intelligencehadproveditsworth.Itsactualinventionswere
toofewforitsboundlesspotentialitiesofinventiontobe
apparenttheweaponsandtoolswithwhichitsuppliedman
couldhardlystandcomparisonwiththosetheanimalin
heritedfromnature.Evenreflexionitself,thesecretofman's
strength,mightlooklikeweakness,foritisthesourceof
indecision,whereasthereactionofananimal,whenitistruly
instinctive,isinstantaneousandunfailing.Eventhefactthat
itlacksthepowerofspeechhasservedtheanimalbysur
roundingitwithahaloofmystery.Itssilence,moreover,can
passforcontempt,asthoughithadsomethingbettertodo
thantoconversewithus.Allthisexplainswhyhumanity
shouldhavefeltnoaversiontoanimalworship.Buthowhas
itcomeabout?Wemustnotethatitisforsomespecific

qualitythattheanimalisadored.InancientEgyptthebull
representedstrengthinbattlethelioness,destructionthe
vulture,socarefulofheryoung,motherhood.Nowitwould
beincomprehensiblethatanimalsshouldbecometheobject
ofacultifmanhadbegunbybelievinginspirits.Butifman
didnotfirsthaverecoursetobeings,buttobeneficentor
malevolentactionsregardedaspermanent,itisnaturalthat
afterhavinggainedcontrolofactions,heshouldhavewanted
togetholdofqualitiesthesequalitiesseemedtobepresent,
unalloyed,inanimals,whoseactivityissimple,invariably
consistentandapparentlysetinonedirection.Theadoration
ofanimalswasnot,then,theprimitivephaseofreligionbut
onemergingfromthatphase,manhadthechoicebetween
thecultofspiritsandthatofanimals.

Justasthenatureofananimalseemstobeconcentrated
inonesinglequality,soitwouldseemthatitsindividuality

iiTOTEMISM155

mergesintoatype.Torecognizeamanistodistinguishhim
fromothermenbuttorecognizeananimalisusuallyto
identifythespeciestowhichitbelongs:thatistheparticular
characterofourinterestineachcaseconsequentlyinthe
firstcaseourperceptionseizesontheindividualcharacter
istics,whereasinthelatteritnearlyalwaysignoresthem.An
animal,forallitissomethingconcreteandindividual,never
thelessstandsforthasessentiallyaquality,essentiallyalsoa
species.Ofthesetwostrikingfeaturesthefirst,aswehave
justseen,largelyexplainsthecultofanimals.Thesecond
wouldaccounttoacertainextent,webelieve,forthatstrange
thing,totemism.Thisisnottheplacetostudythequestion:
wecannot,however,refrainfromsayingawordaboutthe
subject,foriftotemismisnotanimalworship,itnevertheless
impliesthatmantreatsananimal,orevenavegetablespecies,
sometimesamereinanimateobject,withadeferencewhich
isnotwithoutsomeresemblancetoreligion.Letustakethe
commonestcase,thatofananimal,aratorakangaroo,for

example,whichservesasa"totem",thatistosayapatron,
forawholeclan.Themoststrikingthingisthatthemembers
oftheclanasserttheyareonewithittheyarerats,theyare
kangaroos.True,itremainstobeseeninwhatsensetheyuse
theword.Toconcludestraightawaythatthereisaspecific
logic,peculiarto"primitiveman"andexemptfromtheprin
cipleofcontradiction,wouldbesomewhatoverhasty.Our
verb"tobe"carriesmeaningsthatwehavedifficultyin
definingforallourcivilization:howcanwereconstitutethe
meaninggivenbyaprimitivemaninsuchandsuchacaseto
asimilarword,evenwhenhesuppliesuswithexplanations?
Theseexplanationswouldonlypossessanelementofpre
cisionifhewereaphilosopher,andeventhenweshouldhave
toknowallthefineshadesofhislanguagetounderstandthem.
Thinkoftheopinionhe,onhisside,wouldhaveofusand
ourpowersofobservationandreasoning,ofourcommon
sense,ifheknewthatthegreatestofourmoralistshassaid
"manisareedthatthinks".1Andbesides,doesheconverse

1"L'hommen'estqu'unroseau,leplusfaibledelanature,maisc'est
unroseaupensant"(PASCAL).

iS6STATICRELIGIONCH.

withhistotem?Doeshetreatitasaman?Notethatweare
alwaysbeingbroughtbacktothesamepoint:toknowwhat
isgoingoninthemindofaprimitiveman,orevenofacivilized
man,wemuststudywhathedoesatleastascloselyaswhathe
says.Now,iftheprimitivemandoesnotidentifyhimself
withhistotem,doeshesimplytakeitasanemblem?This
wouldbegoingtoofartheotherway:eveniftotemismisnot
atthebasisofthepoliticalorganizationofnoncivilized
people,asDurkheimwouldhaveit,itoccupiestoolargea
placeintheirexistenceforustoseeinitmerelyameansof
designatingtheclan.Thetruthmustliesomewherehalfway
betweenthesetwoextremeexplanations.Letusoffer,simply
asahypothesis,theinterpretationtowhichwemightbeled
byourprinciples.Thataclanissaidtobesuchorsuchan

animal,offersnogroundfordeductionbutthattwoclans
withinthesametribemustnecessarilybetwodifferent
animalsisfarmoreenlightening.Letussuppose,indeed,
thatitisdesiredtoindicatethesetwoclansasconstituting
twospecies,inthebiologicalsenseoftheword:howisthisto
bemanagedincaseswherethelanguageisnotyetinstinct
withscienceandphilosophy?Theindividualcharacteristics
ofananimaldonotcatchourattentiontheanimalisper
ceived,wesaid,asaspecies.Toexpressthefactthattwo
clansconstitutetwodifferentspecies,thenameofoneanimal
willbegiventoone,thatofanothertotheother.Eachofthese
designations,takensingly,isnomorethanalabel:taken
togethertheyareequivalenttoanaffirmation.Theyindicate
infactthatthetwoclansareofdifferentblood.Whyisthis?
Iftotemismistobefound,asweareassureditis,invarious
partsoftheglobeamongcommunitieswhichcanhaveheld
nopossiblecommunicationwithoneanother,itmustcorre
spondtoacommonneedofthesecommunities,avital
necessity.Infactweknowthattheclansintowhichthetribe
isdividedareoftenexogamous:inotherwords,marriages
arecontractedbetweenmembersofdifferentclans,butnot
withinoneclan.Itwasevenbelievedforalongtimethatthis
wasagenerallaw,andthattotemismalwaysimpliedexo
gamy.Letussupposethatthiswassoatthebeginning,and

iiTOTEMISM157

thatinmanycasesexogamyfelloutofuselateron.Itiseasy
tounderstandthatitisintheinterestsofnaturetoprevent
themembersofatribefromhabituallyintermarrying,the
finalresultinaclosedsocietysuchasthisbeingunions
betweennearrelations:theracewouldverysoondegenerate.
Aninstinct,overlaidbyquitedifferenthabitsassoonasit
ceasestobeuseful,willpredisposethetribetosplitupinto
clans,withinwhichmarriagewillbeforbidden.Thisinstinct,
asamatteroffact,willattainitsobjectbyatoncecausinga
feelingofrelationshipbetweenmembersofthesameclan,
andbetweenclanandclanafeelingofbeingasforeignas

possibletoeachother,foritsmodusoperandi,whichwecan
seeworkinginoursocietiesaswell,istodiminishthesexual
attractionbetweenmenandwomenwholivetogetherorwho
knowtheyarerelated.1Howthenwillthemembersoftwo
differentclansconvincethemselves,andexpressthefact,that
theyarenotofthesameblood?Theywillgetintothehabit
ofsayingthattheyarenotofthesamespecies.Sothen,when
theydeclarethattheyconstitutetwoanimalspecies,itisnot
ontheanimality,butonthedualitythattheylaythestress.
Atleastitmusthavebeensointhebeginning.Wemustin
deedadmitthatwearedealingheremerelywiththeprobable,
nottosaywiththepurelypossible.Weonlywanttoapply,to
averycontroversialproblem,themethodwhichappearsto
usasthesurestgenerally.Startingfromabiologicalnecessity,
wesearchforthecorrespondingneedinthelivingcreature.
Ifthisneeddoesnotactuallycreatearealandactiveinstinct,
itconjuresup,bymeansofwhatwecallavirtualorlatent
instinct,animaginativerepresentationwhichdetermines
conductinthesamewayasinstinctwouldhavedone.Atthe
basisoftotemismtheremaywellbearepresentationofthis
sort.2

Butletusclosethisparenthesis,openedforanobject,of

1See,onthissubject,Westermarck,HistoryofHumanMarriage
(London,1901),pp.290sqq.

2Theideathattheclasstakesitsdescentfromthetotemanimalan
ideawhichM.VanGennepemphasizesinhisinterestingworkonL'Etat
actuelduprdblkmetotemique(Paris,1920)mayquitewellbegraftedon
totherepresentationwehaveindicated.

i58STATICRELIGIONCH.

whichitmaybesaidthatitdeservedbettertreatment.We
weredealingwithspirits.Webelievethat,togetatthevery
essenceofreligionandunderstandthehistoryofmankind,
onemustneedspassatoncefromthestaticandouterreligion,

withwhichwehavebeendealinguptonow,tothatdynamic,
innerreligionwhichweshalldiscussinthenextchapter.
Thefirstwasdesignedtowardoffthedangerstowhich
intelligencemightexposemanitwasinfraintellectual.Let
usaddthatitwasnatural,forthehumanspeciesmarksa
certainstageinthevitalevolution:itwasherethatatagiven
momenttheforwardmovementstoppedmanwasthen
positedasawhole,with,therefore,hisintelligence,withthe
dangersthisintelligencemightinvolve,withthemythmaking
functiondesignedtocopewiththemmagicandelementary
animism,itallappearedasanunbrokenwhole,itallcorre
spondedexactlytotheneedsoftheindividualandofsociety,
theoneandtheotherlimitedintheirambitions,suchas
natureintendedthem.Later,andbyaneffortwhichmight
easilyneverhavebeenmade,manwrenchedhimselffree
fromthismotionofhisonhisownaxis.Heplungedanew
intothecurrentofevolution,atthesametimecarryingit
forward.Herewasdynamicreligion,coupleddoubtlesswith
higherintellectuality,butdistinctfromit.Thefirstform
ofreligionhadbeeninfraintellectualweknowwhy.The
second,forreasonswhichweshallindicate,wassupraintel
lectual.Bycontrastingthemfromtheoutset,weshallbest
understandthem.Forthesetwoextremereligionsarealone
essentialandpure.Theintermediateforms,whichdeveloped
inantiquecivilizations,couldonlyleadthephilosophyof
religionastray,iftheyinducedthebeliefthatmanpassed
fromoneextremitytotheotherbytheroadofgradualperfec
tion:doubtlessanaturalerror,explainedbythefactthatstatic
religionhastosomeextentlingeredonintodynamicreligion,
Buttheseintermediateformshaveoccupiedsolargeaplace
intheknownhistoryofhumanitythatwecannotbutdwell
onthem.Forourpartweseeinthemnothingabsolutelynew,
nothingcomparabletodynamicreligion,nothingbutvaria
tionsonthetwofoldthemeofelementaryanimismandmagic:

iiBELIEFINGODS159

abeliefinspirits,afterall,hasalwaysremainedthebasisof

popularreligion.Butfromthemythmakingfaculty,which
hadelaboratedit,thereissued,throughalaterdevelopment,
amythologyroundwhichtheregrewupaliterature,an
art,institutions,inaword,theessentialelementsofantique
civilization.Letusdiscuss,then,thatmythologywithoutever
losingsightofthatwhichwasitsstartingpoint,andwhichis
stillvisiblethroughit.

Thetransitionfromspiritstogodsmaybegradual,the
differenceisnonethelessstriking.Thegodisaperson.
Hehashisqualities,hisdefects,hischaracter.Hebearsa
name.Hestandsindefiniterelationshiptoothergods.He
fulfilsimportantfunctions,and,aboveall,heisaloneinful
fillingthem.Onthecontrary,therearethousandsofdifferent
spirits,scatteredfarandwideoverthecountry,alldoingthe
sameworktheyaredescribedbyacommonname,andthis
namemay,incertaincases,notevenpossessasingularform:
manesandpenates,totakeonlytheseexamples,areLatin
wordsonlyfoundintheplural.Ifthetrueoriginalreligious
representationisthatofan"effectivepresence",ofanact
ratherthanofapersonorathing,beliefinspiritsliesvery
closeindeedtothoseoriginsthegodsonlyappearlater,when
thesubstantiality,pureandsimple,ofthespiritsrises,inone
ortheotherofthem,tothelevelofapersonality.Thesegods
aresuperaddedtothespirits,butdonotreplacethem.The
cultofspiritsremains,asweKavesaid,thebasisofpopular
religion.Themoreenlightenedpartofthenationwillnone
thelesspreferthegods,anditmaybesaidthatprogress
towardspolytheismisanadvancetowardscivilization.

Itisuselesstoseekforarhythmoralawinthisadvance.
Itisessentiallycapricious.Fromamongthecountlessspirits
weseesomelocaldeityspringup,modestatfirst,growing
withthecity,andfinallyadoptedbythewholenation.But
otherevolutionsarealsopossible.Itisindeedrareforthe
evolutiontoendinanythinglikefinality.Howeverexalted
thegodmaybe,hisdivinitybynomeansimpliesimmutability.
Onthecontrary,theyaretheprincipalgodsofantique
religionsthathaveundergonethegreatestchanges,enriching

i6oSTATICRELIGIONCH.

themselveswithnewattributesbytheabsorptionofother
gods,andthusincreasingtheirownsubstance.InEgypt,for
example,thesungodRe,atfirstanobjectofsupremeador
ation,absorbsother.divinities,assimilatesthemorcouples
himselftothem,amalgamateswiththegreatThebangod,
Ammon,forminginthiscaseAmmonRe.ThusMarduk,
thegodofBabylon,appropriatestheattributesofBel,the
highgodofNippur.ThusseveralAssyriangodsaremerged
intothemightygoddessIshtar.Butnoevolutionisricher
thanthatofZeus,thesovereigngodofGreece.Afterhaving
begunprobablyasthegodworshippedonthemountain
tops,holdingswayovertheclouds,andtherain,andthe
thunder,hehasaddedtowhatwemightcallhismeteorological
functionscertainsocialattributeswhichbecomemoreand
morecomplexandheendsbybeingthetutelarygodofall
socialgroups,fromthefamilytothestate.Itbecameneces
sarytoplaceafterhisnamethemostvariedepithetstodis
tinguishallthelinesofhisactivity:Xenios,whenhewatched
overtheobservancesofhospitalityHorkios,whenhepre
sidedovertheswearingofoathsHikesios,whenheprotected
thesupplicantsGenethlios,whenhewasinvokedfora
marriage,etc.Theevolutionisgenerallyslowandnatural
butitcanberapidalso,andbeeffectedartificiallyunderthe
veryeyesoftheworshippers.ThedivinitiesofOlympusdate
fromtheHomericpoems,whichdidnotperhapscreatethem,
butinwhichtheyweregiventheformsandtheattributes
underwhichweknowthem,andwhichcoordinatedand
SroupedthemunderZeus,theprocessthistimebeingrather
oneofsimplificationthanofcomplication.Theywerenone
thelessacceptedbytheGreeks,thoughthelatterknewthe
circumstancesandalmostthedateoftheirbirth.Butthere
wasnoneedtocallinthegeniusofthepoetsaprince's
decreesufficedtomakeandunmakegods.Withoutgoing
intothedetailsofsuchinterventions,letusmerelyrecallthe
mostradicalofthemall,thatofthePharaohwhotookthe
nameofIknaton:heabolishedthegodsofEgyptinfavour

ofoneamongthem,andsucceededingettingthissortof
monotheismaccepteduntilthetimeofhisdeath.Weknow,

iiBELIEFINGODS161

moreover,thatthePharaohsthemselvessharedinthedivin
ity.Fromthemostremoteantiquitytheystyledthemselves
"sonsofRe".AndtheEgyptiantraditionoftreatingthe
sovereignasagodwascontinuedunderthePtolemies.Itwas
notconfinedtoEgypt.WemeetwithitinSyriaunderthe
Seleucides,inChina,inJapan,wheretheEmperorreceives
divinehonoursduringhislifetimeandbecomesagodafter
hisdeath,andlastlyinRome,wheretheSenatedeified
JuliusCaesar,beforeAugustus,Claudius,Vespasian,Titus,
Nerva,andfinallyalltheEmperorsrosetotherankofgods.
Doubtlesstheadorationofthesovereignisnottakenequally
seriouslyeverywhere.Thereisagreatdistance,forexample,
betweenthedivinityofaRomanEmperorandthatofa
Pharaoh.Thelatteriscloselyrelatedtothedivinityofthe
chiefinprimitivesocietiesitisperhapsconnectedwiththe
ideaofaspecialfluid,oramagicpower,supposedtoreside
inthesovereign,whereasthedivinityconferredonCaesar
wasacaseofmeretoadyism,beingutilizedlaterbyAugustus
asaninstrumentumregni.Andyetthehalfscepticalattitude
mingledwiththeadorationoftheEmperorsremained,in
Rome,aprerogativeofcultivatedmindsitdidnotextendto
thepeopleitcertainlydidnotspreadtotheprovinces.This
meansthatthegodsofantiquitycouldbeborn,die,betrans
formedatthewhimofmanorbycircumstances,andthat
paganfaithwaslimitlessinitscompliance.

Preciselybecausemen'sfancyandfortuitouscircumstances
haveplayedsolargeapartintheirgenesis,thegodscannotbe
fittedintoahardandfastclassification.Themostwecando
istobringoutafewmaintrendsofmythologicalfantasyand
evenso,nosingleonehasbeenbyanymeansregularly
followed.Asgodswereforthemostpartsetuptoservea
usefulpurpose,itisnaturalthatfunctionsshouldbegenerally

attributedtothem,andthatinmanycasestheideaofa
particularfunctionshouldhavepredominated.Thisiswhat
occurredinRome,andithasmadeitpossibletosaythatthe
specializationofgodswascharacteristicofRomanreligion.
ForthesowingtherewasSaturnforthefloweringoffruit
trees,Florafortheripeningoffruit,Pomona.Theguardian

162STATICRELIGIONCH.

shipofthedoorwasattributedtoJanus,thatofthehearthto
Vesta.Ratherthanattributetothesamegodamultiplicity
ofinterrelatedfunctions,itpreferredtosetupdistinctgods,
contenttogivethemthesamenamewithvaryingepithets.
TherewasVenusVictrix,VenusFelix,VenusGenetrix.
JupiterhimselfwasFulgur,Feretrius,Stator,Victor,Opti
musMaximusandthesewere,uptoacertainpoint,distinct
theyweremilestonesalongtheroad,fromJupiter,dispenser
ofrainorsunshine,toJupiter,protectorofthestateinpeace
andwar.Butthesametendencyisexhibitedeverywherein
varyingdegrees.Eversincemanbegantocultivatethesoil,
therehavebeengodstowatchovertheharvest,todispense
heat,toensuretheregularityoftheseasons.Theseagricultural
functionsmusthavebeencharacteristicofsomeofthemost
ancientdeities,eventhoughtheyhavebeenlostsightof,as
theevolutionofthegodmadehimacomplexpersonality,
overlaidwithalonghistory.ThusOsiris,therichestfigure
intheEgyptianPantheon,seemstohavebeenatfirstthegod
ofvegetation.Thiswastheprimitivefunctionvestedinthe
AdonisoftheGreeks.ItwasalsothatofNisaba,inBaby
lonia,whoheldswayoverthecorncropsbeforeshebecame
thegoddessofScience.Inthefirstrankofthedivinitiesof
IndiafigureIndraandAgni.ToIndramanowedtherain
andthestormsbeneficentforthesoiltoAgni,fire,andthe
protectionofthedomestichearthandhereagainthediversity
offunctionsgoeswithadifferenceofcharacter,Indrabeing
distinguishedbyhisstrength,Agnibyhiswisdom.Themost
exaltedfunctionisindeedthatofVaruna,whopresidesover
theuniversalorderofthings.WefindintheShintoreligion,

inJapan,theearthgoddess,thegoddessofharvests,thegods
thatwatchoverthemountains,thetrees,etc.Butnodivinity
ofthistypehassomarkedandcompleteapersonalityasthe
DemeteroftheGreeksshetooisagoddessofthesoiland
harvests,butshealsocaresforthedead,towhomshegivesa
placeofabode,besidespresiding,underthenameofThesmo
phoros,overfamilyandsociallife.Thereyouhavethemost
conspicuousdevelopmentofthegodmakingfantasy.

Byendowingthemwithfunctions,however,itattributes

iiMYTHOLOGICALFANTASY163

tothemasovereigntywhichquitenaturallyassumesaterri
torialform.Thegodsaresupposedtosharetheuniverse
betweenthem.AccordingtotheVedicpoemstheirvarious
spheresofinfluenceareheaven,earthandthemiddleair.
IntheBabyloniancosmologytheskyistherealmofAnu,the
earththatofBelinthedepthsoftheseadwellsEa.The
GreeksdividedtheworldbetweenZeus,godofheavenand
earth,Poseidon,godoftheseas,andHades,towhombelonged
theinfernalregions.Theserealmsaremarkedoutbynature
herself.Nowthesun,moonandstarsarenolessdistinctin
outlinetheyareindividualizedbytheirshapeaswellasby
theirmovements,whichappeartodependonthemselvesone
ofthemisthedispenseroflifeherebelow,andtheothers,
eventhoughtheybenotequallypowerful,mustnonetheless
beofthesamenaturesointhemalsowefindthestuffof
gods.ItisinAssyriathatthebeliefinthedivinityofthe
heavenlybodiesassumedthemostsystematicform.Butthe
worshipofthesunandalsooftheskyistobefoundmoreor
lesseverywhere:intheShintoreligionofJapan,wherethe
goddessofthesunissetupassovereign,with,underher,a
moongodandastargodintheprimitiveEgyptianreligion,
wherethemoonandtheskyareconsideredasgodsalongside
thesun,whoistheirlordintheVedicreligion,whereMitra
(identicalwiththeIranianMithra,whoisasundeity)has
attributeswhichwouldbeappropriatetoagodofsunorlight

intheancientChinesereligion,wherethesunisapersonal
godlastly,amongtheGreeksthemselves,whereHeliosis
oneofthemostancientgods.AmongtheIndoGermanic
peoples,ingeneral,theskyhasbeentheobjectofaspecial
cult.UnderthenameofDyaus,Zeus,Jupiter,Ziu,sucha
godiscommontoVedicIndia,theGreeksandRomansand
theTeutons,thoughonlyinGreeceandRomeishekingof
thegods,likethecelestialdeityoftheMongolsinChina.
Hereespeciallywenotethetendenciesoftheveryancient
gods,entrustedinthebeginningwithentirelymaterialtasks,
toenrichthemselves,astheygrowolder,withmoralattributes.
InSouthernBabyloniathesun,whoisallseeing,hasbecome
theguardianofrightandjusticehereceivesthetitleof

164STATICRELIGIONCH.

"judge".TheVedicMitraisthechampionoftruthandright
hegivesvictorytotherighteouscause.AndtheEgyptian
Osiris,whohasbecomeonewiththesungodafterhaving
beenthegodofvegetation,hasendedbybeingthegreat
judge,mercifulandjust,whoreignsoverthelandofthe
dead.

Allthesegodsarecloselyconnectedwiththings.Butthere
areothersoftenthesameonesseenfromadifferentangle
thataredefinedbytheirconnexionwithpersonsorgroups.
Arewetoconsiderasagodthepersonalgeniusordaemonof
aparticularindividual?TheRomangeniuswasnumen>not
deus\ithadneithershapenornameitwasveryneartothat
mere"effectivepresence"whichwehaveseentobethe
primitiveandessentialelementofdivinity.Thepersonality
ofthelarfamiliarisywhowatchedoverthefamily,wasscarcely
moremarked.Butthebiggerthegroup,thestrongeritsright
toarealgod.InEgypt,forexample,eachoftheprimitive
citieshaditsdivineguardian.Andthesegodsweredistin
guishedonefromtheotherpreciselybytheirconnexionwith
thisorthatcommunitytocallthem"HeofEdfu","Heof
Nekkeb",wasclearenough.Butinmostcasestheywere

deitieswhoexistedbeforethegroup,andwhomthelatterhad
adopted.Thiswasthecase,inEgyptitself,forAmonRe,
godofThebes.ItwasthesameinBabylonia,wherethecity
ofUrhasasitsgoddessthemoon,thecityofUrukthe
planetVenus.ItwasthesameinGreece,whereDemeter
wasparticularlyathomeinEleusis,AtheneontheAcropolis,
ArtemisinArcadia.Oftenprotectorsandprotectedstoodor
felltogetherthegodsofacitygainedbytheaggrandisement
ofthatcity.Warthusbecameastrugglebetweenrivaldeities.
Thelattermightindeedcometoterms,andthegodsofthe
conqueredpeoplethenenteredthepantheonofthevictor.
Butthetruthisthatthecityortheempireontheonehand,
anditstutelarygodsontheother,formedanundefined
partnership,whichmusthavevariedindefinitelyincharacter.

Nevertheless,itisforourownconveniencethatwethus
defineandclassifythegodsoffable.Nolawgovernedtheir
birth,anymorethantheirdevelopmentinthiscasehumanity

iiMYTHMAKINGANDLITERATURE165

hasgivenfreeplaytoitsinstinctformythmaking.Doubtless
thisinstinctdoesnotgoveryfarwhenlefttoitself,butit
progressesunceasinglyifoneispleasedtoexerciseit.The
differencesareverygreat,onthispoint,betweenthemyth
ologiesofdifferentpeoples.Classicalantiquityshowsusan
exampleofthisopposition:Romanmythologyispoor,that
oftheGreekssuperabundant.ThegodsofancientRome
coincidewiththefunctionswithwhichtheyareclothedand
arethus,sotospeak,immobilizedinthem.Theybarely
possessabody,Imeananimaginableshape.Theyarebarely
gods.OnthecontraryeachgodofancientGreecehashis
physiognomy,hischaracter,hishistory.Hemovesabout,does
thingsquiteoutsidethemereperformanceofhisfunctions.
Hisadventuresaretold,hisinterventioninouraffairsde
scribed.Helendshimselftoeveryfancyoftheartistandthe
poet.Hewouldbe,moreaccurately,acharacterinanovel,if
itwerenotthathehadapowergreaterthanthatofmortal

manandtheprivilege,atleastincertaincases,ofinterfering
withtheregularworkingofthelawsofnature.Inaword,
themythmakingfunctionofthemindhasinthefirstcase
stoppedshort,inthesecondithascontinueditswork.Butit
remainsthesamefunction.Itwillresume,ifneedbe,the
interruptedwork.Thisiswhathappenedwiththeintroduction
ofGreekliterature,andmoregenerallyofGreekideas,into
Rome.WeknowhowtheRomansidentifiedsomeoftheir
godswiththoseofHellas,thusendowingthemwithamore
markedpersonality,andchangingthemfromimmobilityto
movement.

Wehavesaidofthismythmakingfunctionthatitwould
bewrongtodefineitasavariantofimagination.Thislast
wordhasasomewhatnegativemeaning.Wecallimaginative
anyconcreterepresentationwhichisneitherperceptionnor
memory.Sincesuchrepresentationsdepictneitherapresent
objectnorapastthing,theyareallconsideredinthesame
lightbycommonsenseandgiventhesamenameinordinary
speech.Butthepsychologistmustnotforthatreasongroup
theminthesamecategory,orconnectthemwiththesame
function.Letusthenleaveasideimagination,whichisbut

166STATICRELIGIONCH.

aword,andconsideraveryclearlydefinedfacultyofthe
mind,thatofcreatingpersonalitieswhosestorieswerelate
toourselves.Itissingularlyvividinnovelistsanddramatists.
Therearesomeamongthemwhobecomereallyobsessedby
theirheroitishewhocontrolsthem,nottheywhocontrol
himtheyevenhavedifficultyingettingridofhimwhenthey
havefinishedtheirplayortheirnovel.Thesewritersarenot
necessarilythosewhoseworkisofthehighestqualitybut,
betterthanothers,theyenableustoputourfingeronthe
existence,atleastinsomeofus,ofaspecialfacultyofvolun
taryhallucination.Intruth,itisfound,tosomedegree,in
everyone.Itisveryvividinchildren.Wefindachildkeeping
upadailyintercoursewithsomeimaginaryperson,whose

namehecangive,whoseimpressionsabouteveryincidentof
thedayhecanrepeattoyou.Butthesamefacultycomes
intoplayinthosewho,withoutcreatingfictitiousbeingsfor
themselves,areasinterestedinfictionsasinrealthings.
Whatsightistheremoreamazingthanthatofatheatre
audienceintears?Weshallbetoldthattheplayisbeing
performedbyactorsandthathumanbeingsoffleshand
bloodareonthestage.Agreed,butwecanbealmostas
completely"gripped"bythenovelwearereading,and
sympathizejustaskeenlywiththepeoplewhosestoryis
beingtoldus.Howisitthatpsychologistshavenotbeen
struckbythemysteriouselementinsuchafacultyasthis?
Theanswerwillbethatallourfacultiesaremysterious,
inasmuchasweareignorantoftheinnermechanismof
them.True,butthisisnoquestionofmechanicalrecon
struction,weareentitledtoaskforapsychologicalexplana
tion.Andtheexplanationisthesameinpsychologyasin
biology:theexistenceofafunctionisaccountedfor,whenwe
haveshownhowandwhyitisnecessarytolife.Nownovelists
anddramatistsarecertainlynotnecessitiesthemythmaking
facultyingeneraldoesnotcorrespondtoavitalneed.Butlet
ussupposethatononeparticularpoint,whenutilizedfora
givenobject,thisfunctionbeindispensabletotheexistence
ofindividualsaswellasofsocieties:wecaneasilyunderstand
that,whiledesignedforthiswork,forwhichitisindispens

iiMYTHMAKINGANDLITERATURE167

able,itshouldbefurtheremployed,sinceitisstillthere,for
mereamusement.Asamatteroffact,wepassquiteeasily
fromthenoveloftodaytomoreorlessancienttales,to
legends,tofolklore,andfromfolkloretomythology,whichis
notthesamething,butwhichwasdevelopedinthesameway
mythology,initsturn,merelydevelopsthepersonalitiesof
thegodsintoastory,andthislastcreationisbuttheexten
sionofanotherandsimplerone,thatofthe"semipersonal
powers"or"efficientpresences"whichare,webelieve,atthe
originofreligion.Herewegetatwhatwehaveshowntobe

afundamentaldemandoflife:thisdemandhascalledinto
beingthemythmakingfacultythemythmakingfunctionis
thustobededucedfromtheconditionsofexistenceofthe
humanspecies.Withoutgoingbackoverwhatwehavealready
statedatgreatlength,letusrecallthat,intherealmoflife,
whatappearsunderanalysistobeaninfinitelycomplex
presentsitselftointuitionasanundividedact.Theactmight
quitewellnothavebeenperformedbut,ifitisperformed,
thenithas,inonestride,gotacrossalltheobstacles.These
obstacles,eachoneofwhichraisedupanother,constitutean
endlessmultiplicity,anditispreciselywiththeremoval,one
aftertheother,ofalltheseobstaclesthatouranalysishasto
deal.Totryandexplaineachoftheseprocessesofelimina
tionbytheprecedingonewouldbegoingthewrongwayto
worktheyarealltobeexplainedbyonesingleoperation,
whichistheactitselfinitssimplicity.Thustheundivided
movementofthearrowtriumphsatonesweepoverthe
innumerableobstacleswhichourperception,assistedby
Zeno'sreasoning,thinksitdetectsintheimmobilityof
thepointsmakingupthelineofflight.Thus,too,theun
dividedactofvision,bythemerefactofsucceeding,over
comesatastrokethousandsandthousandsofobstacles
thisactofcircumventioniswhatisapparenttoourpercep
tionandtoourscienceinthemultiplicityofcellsconstituting
theeye,theintricatenessofourvisualapparatus,inshort,
theendlessseriesofmechanismswhichareatworkinthe
processofseeing.Positinthesamewaythehumanspecies,
thatistosaythesuddenleapbywhichlifeinitsevolution

i68STATICRELIGIONCH.

cametoman,bothindividualandsocial,youwillthenbe
positingatoolcontrivingintelligenceandconsequentlyan
effortwhichisboundtogoon,ofitsownmomentum,beyond
themeretoolmakiugoperationforwhichitwasintended
andthiscreatesadanger.Ifthehumanspeciesdoesexist,
itisbecausetheveryactwhichpositedmanwithhistool
contrivingintelligence,withthenecessarycontinuationof

hisintellectualeffort,andthedangerarisingfromsucha
continuation,begotthemythmakingfunction.Thelatter
wasnot,then,purposedbynatureandyetitsprangup
naturally.If,indeed,weaddittoalltheotherpsychical
functions,wefindthatthesumtotalexpressesinamultiple
formtheindivisibleactbywhichlifeleaptonwardstoman,
fromthatrungoftheladderatwhichithadstopped.

Butletuslookmorecloselyintothereasonwhythemyth
makingfunctionimposesitsinventionswithexceptional
forcewhenworkingintherealmofreligion.There,without
anydoubt,itisathomeitismadeforthecreationofspirits
andgodsbutsinceitcontinuesitsmythmakingworkelse
where,wemustaskwhy,thoughoperatinginthesameway,
itnolongercommandsthesamecredence.Wemayfindtwo
reasonsforthis.

Thefirstisthat,wherereligionisconcerned,theadherence
ofeachindividualisreinforcedbytheadherenceofall.Even
inthetheatre,thespectator'sreadyacceptanceofthedrama
tist'ssuggestionsissingularlyincreasedbytheattentionand
theinterestofthesocietyinwhichhefindshimself.Butin
thiscasewehaveasocietyjustthesizeofthehall,and
enduringonlyjustaslongastheplaylasts:whatifthe
individualbeliefissupported,confirmedbyawholepeople,
andifitrestsbothonthepastandonthepresent?Whatif
thegodissungbypoets,ifhedwellsintemples,ifheis
portrayedbyart?Solongasexperimentalscienceisnot
firmlyestablished,therewillbenosurerguaranteeofthe
truththanuniversalassent.Nay,truthwillasarulebethis
veryassent.Wemaynote,bytheway,thatthisisoneofthe
causesofintolerance.Themanwhodoesnotacceptthe
commonbeliefpreventsit,whilehedissents,frombeing

iiONTHEEXISTENCEOFGODS169

utterlytrue.Truthwillonlyregainitsentiretyifheretracts
ordisappears.


Wedonotmeantosaythatreligiousbeliefcanneverhave
been,eveninpolytheism,anindividualbelief.EachRoman
hadageniusattachedtohispersonbutheonlybelievedso
firmlyinhisgeniusbecauseeveryotherRomanhadhisown
genius,andbecausehisfaith,personalonthispoint,was
guaranteedtohimbyauniversalfaith.Wedonotmeanto
sayeitherthatreligionhaseverbeensocialinessencerather
thanindividual:wehave,indeed,seenthatthemythmaking
function,innateintheindividual,hasasitsfirstobjectthe
consolidationofsocietybutweknowthatitisalsointended
tosupporttheindividualhimself,andthat,moreover,suchis
theinterestofsociety.Asamatteroffact,theindividualand
societyareimpliedineachother:individualsmakeupsociety
bytheirgroupingtogethersocietyshapesanentiresideof
theindividualbybeingprefiguredineachoneofthem.The
individualandsocietythusconditioneachother,circlewise.
Thecircle,intendedbynature,wasbrokenbymantheday
hebecameabletogetbackintothecreativeimpetus,and
impelhumannatureforwardinsteadoflettingitrevolveon
onespot.Fromthatdaytheredatesanessentiallyindividual
religion,onethathasbecomethereby,itistrue,morepro
foundlysocial.Butweshallreverttothispoint.Letusonly
saythattheguaranteebroughtbysocietytoindividualbelief,
inthematterofreligion,wouldsufficeinitselftoputthese
inventionsofthemythmakingfunctioninauniqueposition.

Biitwemustbearyetanotherthinginmind.Wehaveseen
howtheancientswitness,unconcerned,thebirthofthisor
thatgod.Thenceforththeywouldbelieveinhimastheydid
inalltheothers.Thiswouldbeincredible,ifwesupposed
thattheexistenceoftheirgodswasofthesamenatureto
thefiiastheobjectstheysawandtouched:Itwasreal,but
witharealitythatyethingedinsomedegreeonthehuman
will.

Thegodsofpagancivilizationareindeeddistinguishable
fromolderentities,elves,gnomes,spirits,whichpopular
beliefneveractuallyabandoned.Thelatterwerethealmost

i7oSTATICRELIGIONCH.

directproductofthatmythmakingfacultywhichisnatural
tousandtheywerenaturallyadopted,justastheyhadbeen
naturallyproduced.Theyconformedexactlytotheneedfrom
whichtheysprang.Butmythology,whichisanamplification
ofprimitiveactivity,extendsbeyondthisneedinalldirec
tions.Theintervalitleavesbetweenthisneedanditselfis
filledwithamatterinthechoiceofwhichhumanfancyhasa
largeshare,andthisaffectstheassentaccordedtoit.Itis
alwaysthesamefacultyintervening,anditobtainsforits
inventions,asawhole,thesamecredence.Buteachinvention,
takenseparately,isacceptedwiththereservationthatanother
wouldhavebeenpossible.Thepantheonexists,independent
ofman,butonmandependstheplacingofagodinit,and
thebestowalofexistenceonthatdeity.Suchanattitudeof
minddoesindeedsurpriseustoday.Yetwelapseintoit
ourselvesincertaindreams,wherewecanintroduce,ata
certainmoment,theincidentwedesire:thusapartcomes
intobeingthroughus,whilstthewholehasitsownexistence
independentofus.Injustthesamewayitcouldbesaidthat
eachdistinctgodiscontingent,whereasthegodsasawhole,
orratherthegodheadingeneral,isnecessary.Ifwewereto
delveintothispoint,bypushinglogicfurtherthandidthe
ancients,weshouldfindthattherehasneverbeenany
absolutepluralismotherthanthebeliefinspirits,andthat
polytheism,strictlyspeaking,alongwithitsmythology,
impliesalatentmonotheism,inwhichthemultipledeities
existonlysecondarily,asrepresentativesofthedivine.

Buttheancientswouldhaveheldsuchconsiderationstobe
unessential,suchaswouldonlybeimportantifreligion
belongedtotherealmofknowledgeorcontemplation.Inthat
caseamythologicaltalecouldbetreatedlikeahistorical
narrative,andintheonecaseasintheotherthequestion
ofauthenticitymightarise.Butthetruthisthatthereisno

possiblecomparisonbetweenthem,becausetheyarenotof
thesameorder.Historyisknowledge,religionismainly
action:itonlyconcernsknowledge,aswehaverepeatedover
andoveragain,insofarasanintellectualrepresentationis
neededtowardoffthedangersofacertainintellectuality.

iiONTHEEXISTENCEOFGODS171

Toconsiderthisrepresentationapart,tocriticizeitasa
representation,wouldbetoforgetthatitformsanamalgam
withtheaccompanyingaction.Wecommitjustsuchanerror
whenweaskourselveshowitisthatgreatmindscanhave
acceptedthetissueofchildishimaginings,nay,absurdities,
whichmadeuptheirreligion.Themovementsofaswimmer
wouldappearjustassillyandridiculoustoanyoneforgetting
thatthewateristhere,thatthiswatersustainstheswimmer,
andthattheman'smovements,theresistanceoftheliquid,
thecurrentoftheriver,mustbetakenalltogetherasan
undividedwhole.

Religionsuppliesstrengthanddiscipline.'Forthatreason'
regularlyrepeatedexercisesarenecessary,likethosewhose
automatismendsbyinstillingintothebodyofthesoldier
theconfidencehewillneedinthehourofdanger.Thismeans
thatthereisnoreligionwithoutritesandceremonies.The
religiousrepresentationisaboveallanoccasionforthese
religiousacts.Theydoubtlessemanatefrombelief,butthey
atoncereactonitandstrengthenit:ifgodsexist,theymust
havetheirworshipbutsincethereis\vorship,thentheremust
begods.Thissolidarityofthegodwiththehomagepaid
himmakesofreligioustruthathingapart,havingnocommon
measurewithspeculativetruth,anddepending,uptoacer
tainpoint,onman.

Itispreciselytowardsthetighteningupofthissolidarity
thatritesandceremoniestend.Onemightdilateonthemat
length.Weshallmerelytouchonthetwoprincipalones,
sacrificeandprayer.


^"Tn'tliereligionwhichweshallcalldynamic,verbalexpres
sionisimmaterialtoprayer,anelevationofthesoulthatcar
dispensewithspeech.Initslowestform,ontheotherhanc,
itwasnotunliketheincantationsofmagicitthenaimed,'
notatcompellingthewillofthegodsandaboveallofthe
spirits,atleastatcapturingtheirgoodwill.Prayer,asundei
stoodinpolytheism,generallyfindsitsplacehalfwaybetwee:i
thesetwoextremities.Nodoubtantiquityhituponadmirabl\
formsofprayer,inwhichtherewasmanifestedanaspiratioi
ofthesoultoimprovement.Butthesewereexceptionsand,

172STATICRELIGIONCH.

asitwere,anticipationsofapurerreligiousbelief.Poly
theismmoregenerallyimposesonprayerastereotypedform,
withthelatentideathatitisnotonlythesignificanceofthe
phrasing,butalsothesequenceofthewords,togetherwith
alltheaccompanyinggestures,whichimparttoititsefficacy.
Wemayevensaythatthemorepolytheismevolves,themore
particularitbecomesonthispointtheagencyofapriest
becomesmoreandmoreindispensabletoensuretheschool
ingofthebeliever.Howcanwefailtoseethatthishabitof
prolongingtheideaofthegod,onceevoked,throughpre
scribedwordsandsetattitudes,endowshisimagewitha
higherobjectivity?Wehaveshownelsewherethatwhatcon
stitutestherealityofaperception,whatdistinguishesitfrom
afigmentoftheimagination,is,aboveall,thewholegroup
ofincipientmovementswhichitcommunicatestothebody,
andwhichcompletethisperceptionbytheautomaticbegin
ningsofanaction.Movementsofthiskindmaydevelop
owingtosomeothercause:buttheiractualitywillflowback
justthesametowardstherepresentationthatproducedthem,
andwillpracticallyconvertitintoathing.

Astosacrifice,itwas,doubtless,tobeginwith,anoffering
madewithaviewtobuyingthefavourofthegod,orturning
asidehiswrath.Ifso,thegreaterthecostandthemore

valuablethethingsacrificed,themoreacceptableitwaslikely
tobe.Thisisprobablytheexplanation,atleastinpart,ofthe
customofhumansacrifice,acustomtobefoundinmost
ancientreligions,perhapsinall,couldwetracethemback
farenough.Thereisnolimittotheextentoferror,orof
horror,towhichlogicmaylead,whenitisappliedtomatters
notpertainingtopureintelligence.Butthereissomething
elseinsacrifice:otherwisetherewouldbenoexplainingwhy
theofferinghadtobeanimalorvegetable,nearlyalways
animal.Tobeginwith,itisgenerallyagreedthatsacrifice
originatedinarepastofwhichthegodandhisworshippers
weresupposedtopartakeincommon.Next,aboveall,there
wasaspecialvirtueinblood.Astheprincipleoflife,itgave
thegodstrength,andenabledhimthebettertohelpman,and
perhapsalso(butthiswasabarelyconsciousidea)itensured

iiGENERALFUNCTIONOFSTATICRELIGION173

tohimamoresubstantialexistence.Itwas,likeprayer,alink
betweenmanandthedeity.

Thuspolytheismwithitsmythologyhadthetwofoldeffect
ofexaltingmoreandmoretheinvisiblepowerswithwhich
manissurrounded,andofputtingmanineverclosercontact
withthem.Beingcoextensivewiththeancientcivilizations,
itbattenedoneverythingtheyproduced,havinginspired
literatureandart,whenceitreceivedstillmorethanitgave.
Thismeansthatreligiousfeeling,inantiquity,wasmadeup
ofmanyelements,varyingfrompeopletopeople,butwhich
haveallgroupedthemselvesroundanoriginalnucleus.We
haveconcentratedonthisnucleus,becausewewishedtobring
outthespecificallyreligiouselementinantiquereligions.To
someofthem,thoseofIndiaandPersia,aphilosophyhas
beensuperadded.Butphilosophyandreligionalwaysremain
distinct.Moreoftenthannot,indeed,philosophyonlycomes
intoexistencetosatisfymorecultivatedmindsreligionlives
on,amongthepeople,inthewaywehavedescribed.Even
inthosecaseswherethetwoaremingled,theelementskeep

theirindividuality:religionwillhavemomentswhenitis
inclinedtospeculate,philosophywillnotshunallideaof
actionbutthefirstwillnonethelessremainessentially
action,thesecond,aboveall,thought.Inthosecaseswhere
religionreallybecamephilosophyamongtheancients,it
ratherdiscouragedaction,andrenouncedwhatithadcome
intotheworldtoaccomplish.Wasitstillreligion?Wemay
attributewhatmeaningweliketowords,solongaswedefine
theirmeaningfirstbutitwouldbeamistaketodosowhen
wehappentobedealingwithawordwhichcorrespondsto
anaturalcuttingupofcontinuousreality:themostwecan
dothenistoexcludefromtheextensionofthetermsuchor
suchathingwhichhadbecomeaccidentallyincludedinit.
Suchisthecasewithreligion.Wehaveshownhowthisname
isordinarilyappliedtorepresentationsdirectedtowards
action,andcalledforthbynatureforaclearlydefinedpur
poseitmaybethatexceptionally,andforobviousreasons,
themeaningofthewordhasbeenextendedsoastoinclude
someotherobjectreligionmustnonethelessbedefined

i74STATICRELIGIONCH.

inconformitywithwhatwehavecalledtheintentionof
nature.

Wehaveexplainedmorethanoncewhatismeantinthis
casebyintention.Wehavealsodweltatlengthinthischapter
onthefunctionthatnaturehasassignedtoreligion.Magic,
animalorspiritworship,worshipofgods,mythology,super
stitionsofallkinds,seemverycomplex,ifwetakethem
oneatatime.But,takenalltogether,theymakeupawhole
whichisextremelysimple.

Manistheonlyanimalwhoseactionsareuncertain,who
hesitates,gropesaboutandlaysplansinthehopeofsuccess
andthefearoffailure.Heisaloneinrealizingthatheis
subjecttoillness,aloneinknowingthathemustdie.The
restofnaturegoesonitsexpandingcourseinabsolutetran

quillity.Althoughplantsandanimalsarethesportofchance,
theyrelyonthepassinghourastheywouldoneternity.We
drinkinsomethingofthisunshakableconfidenceduringa
countrywalk,fromwhichwereturnquietedandsoothed.But
thisisnotsayingenough.Ofallthecreaturesthatlivein
society,manalonecanswervefromthesociallinebygiving
waytoselfishpreoccupationswhenthecommongoodisat
stakeinallothersocietiestheinterestsoftheindividualare
inexorablycoordinatewithandsubordinatetothegeneral
interest.Thistwofoldshortcominginmanisthepricepaid
forintelligence.Mao^cannotexert.lus,facultyofthought
withoutimagininganuncertainfuture,whichrouseshisfears
andhishopes.Hecannotthinkaboutwhatnaturedemands
ofhim,insofarasshehasmadeasocialbeingofhim,with
outsayingtohimselfthathemightoftenfinditmoreprofit
abletoignoreothersandtothinkofhimselfalone.Inboth
casestherewouldbeabreakofthenormal,naturalorderof
things.Andyetitwasnaturewhoordainedintelligence,who
placeditattheendofoneofthetwogreatlinesofevolution
asacounterparttothehighestformofinstinct,whichisthe
terminalpointoftheother.Itisimpossiblethatsheshould
nothavetakentheprecautiontoseethataconditionoforder,
havingbeendisturbedeversoslightlybyintelligence,should
tendtoreestablishitselfautomatically.Asamatteroffact,

iiGENERALFUNCTIONOFSTATICRELIGION175

themythmakingfunction,whichbelongstointelligence,and
whichyetisnotpureintelligence,haspreciselythisobject.
Itsroleistoelaboratethatreligionwehavebeendealing
withuptonow,thatwhichwecallstatic,andofwhichwe
shouldsaythatitwasnaturalreligion,"ifThetermwerenot
usedinanothersense.Wehavethenonlytosumupwhatwe
havesaidtodefinethisreligioninclearterms.Itisadefensive
reactionofnatureagainstwhatmightbedepressingforthe
individual,anddissolventforsociety,intheexerciseofintelligence.
Letusconcludewithtworemarks,toforestalltwomis
understandings.Whenwesaythatoneofthefunctionsof

religion,asitwas^ordainedbynature,isto.maintainsocial
life,wedonotmeanbythisthatthereshouldbesolidarity
betweensuchareligionandmorality.Historyiswitnessto
thecontrary.Tosinhasalwaysbeentooffendthedeitybut
thedeityhasbynomeansalwaysbeenoffendedbyimmorality
orevencrimetherehavebeencaseswherehehasprescribed
them.True,humanityseemsingeneraltohavewishedits
godstobegoodithasoftenplacedthedifferentvirtuesunder
theirpatronageitmayevenbethatthecoincidencewepointed
outbetweenoriginalmoralityandprimevalreligion,both
alikerudimentary,hasleftinthedepthsofthehumansoul
thevagueidealofamoredevelopedmoralityandanorganized
religiondependenttheoneontheother.Itisnonetheless
truethatmoralityhastakendefiniteshapealongitsownlines,
thatreligionshaveevolvedalongtheirs,andthatmenhave
alwaysacceptedtheirgodsfromtraditionwithoutasking
themforacertificateofgoodconduct,norexpectingthemto
guaranteethemoralorder.Butadistinctionmustbedrawn
betweensocialobligationsofaverygeneralcharacter,without
whichnolifeincommonwouldbepossible,andtheparticular
concretesocialtiewhichcausesthemembersofaparticular
socialcommunitytobeintentonitspreservation.Thefirst
havelittlebylittleemergedfromtheconfusedbackground
ofcustomswhichwehavefoundattheoutsettheyhave
emergedthroughpurificationandsimplification,through
abstractionandgeneralization,toformasocialmorality.But
whatbindstogetherthemembersofagivensocietyistradi

176STATICRELIGIONCH.

'tion,theneedandthedeterminationtodefendthegroup
againstothergroupsandtosetitaboveeverything.Topre
serve,totightenthisbondisincontestablyoneaimofthe
religionwehavefoundtobenaturalitiscommontothe
membersofagroup,itassociatesthemintimatelywitheach
otherinritesandceremonies,itdisfhiguishesthegroupfrom
othergroups,itguaranteesthesuccessofthecommonenter
priseandisanassuranceagainstthecommondanger.The

factthatreligion,suchasitissuedfromthehandsofnature,
hassimultaneouslyfulfilled,tousethelanguageoftheday,
thetwofunctionsmoralandnational,appearstousunques
tionable,forthesetwofunctionswereinevitablyundifferenti
atedinrudimentarysocietieswherecustomexistedalone.
Butthatsocieties,astheydeveloped,shouldhavecarried
religionwiththemintheseconddirection,willbeeasily
understoodbyreferencetowhatwehavejustexplained.In
fact,theconclusionmighthavebeenreachedimmediately
consideringthatthehumansocieties,attheendofoneofthe
greatlinesofbiologicalevolution,formthecounterpartto
themostperfectlydevelopedanimalsocieties,placedatthe
extremityoftheothergreatline,andthatthemythmaking
function,thoughnotaninstinct,playsinhumansocietiesa
partexactlycorrespondingtothatofinstinctintheseanimal
societies.

Oursecondremark,whichwemightwellrefrainfrom
makingafterallwehavesooftenrepeated,concernsthemean
ingwegivetothe"intentionofnature",anexpressionwe
haveusedinspeakingof"naturalreligion".Asamatterof
fact,weweredealinglesswiththisreligionitselfthanwith
theeffectitproduced.Thereisanimpetusoflifewhichrushes
throughmatterandwrestsfromitwhatitcan,forthatvery
reasondispersingitselfonitsway.Attheextremityofthe
twomainlinesofevolutionthusestablishedlieintelligence
andinstinct.Preciselybecauseintelligenceisasuccess,as
indeedinstinctistoo,itcannotbepositedwithouttheac
companimentofatendencytoeliminateanyobstacletothe
productionofitsfulleffect.Thistendencyformswithintel
ligence,aswithallpresupposedbyintelligence,anundivided

nGENERALFUNCTIONOFSTATICRELIGION177

whole,whichbecomesdivisiblewhencomingwithinthescope
ofourfacultywhichisentirelyrelativetotheintelligence
itselfofperceptionandanalysis.Letusreverttowhathas
beensaidabouttheeyeandsight.Wehavetheactofseeing,

whichissimple,andwehaveaninfinityofelements,andof
reciprocalactionsoftheseelementsoneachother,bymeans
ofwhichtheanatomistandthephysiologistreconstitutethat
simpleact.Elementsandactionsexpressanalyticallyandso
tospeaknegatively,beingresistancesopposedtoresistances,
theindivisibleact,alonepositive,whichnaturehaseffectively
obtained.Inthesamewaytheanxietiesofman,castupon
thisearth,andthetemptationstheindividualmayhaveto
puthisinterestsbeforethoseofthecommunityanxieties
andtemptationswhicharepeculiartoanintelligentbeing
couldlendthemselvestoendlessenumeration.Indefinite
innumberalsoaretheformsofsuperstition,orratherof
staticreligion,whichresisttheseresistances.Butthecom
plexityvanishesifweplacemanbackinnatureasawhole,if
weconsiderthatintelligenceisapttobeanobstacletothe
serenitywefindeverywhereelse,andthattheobstaclemust
besurmounted,thebalancerestored.Regardedfromthis
pointofview,whichisthatofagenesisandnolongerthatof
ananalysis,alltheelementsofdisquietandweaknessentailed
intheapplicationofintelligencetolife,withallthepeace
broughtbyreligions,becomeaperfectlysimplething.Unrest
andmythmakingcounteractandnullifyeachother.Inthe
eyesofagod,lookingdownfromabove,thewholewould
appearindivisible,liketheperfectconfidenceofflowersun
foldingtothespring.

.CHAPTERIII

DYNAMICRELIGION

LETuscastaglancebackwardatLife,thislifewhichwehad
previouslyfollowedinitsdevelopmentuptothepointwhere
religionwasdestinedtoemergefromit.Agreatcurrentof
creativeenergyisprecipitatedintomatter,towrestfromit
whatitcan.Atmostpoints,remember,itcarnetoastop
thesestopsareequivalent,inoureyes,tothephenomenaof
somanylivingspecies,thatistosay,oforganismsinwhich
ourperception,beingessentiallyanalyticalandsynthetic,dis

tinguishesamultitudeofelementscombiningtofulfilamulti
tudeoffunctionsyettheworkoforganizationwasbutthe
stepitself,asimpleact,likethemakingofafootprint,which
instantlycausesamyriadgrainsofsandtocohereandform
apattern.Alongoneoftheselines,theonealongwhichit
succeededingoingfurthest,wemighthavethoughtthatthis
vitalenergy,carryingthebestofitselfwithit,wouldgo
straightonbutitswervedinward,andthewholecircle
reformed:certaincreaturesemergedwhoseactivityranin
definitelyinthesamecircle,whoseorganswerereadymade
instrumentsandleftnoroomfortheceaselesslyrenewed
inventionoftools,whoseconsciousnesslapsedintothe
somnambulismofinstinctinsteadofbracingitselfandrevital
izingitselfintoreflectivethought.Suchistheconditionof
theindividualinthoseinsectsocietieswhereorganizationis
highlyperfected,buttheeffectofitissheerautomatism.

Thecreativeeffortprogressedsuccessfullyonlyalongthat
lineofevolutionwhichendedinman.Initspassagethrough
matter,consciousnessassumedinthatcase,asitwerefrom
amould,theshapeoftoolmakingintelligence.Andinven
tion,whichcarriesreflexionwithit,wasatlibertytodevelop.

Butintelligencewasnotwithoutitsdangers.Uptothat
point,alllivingcreatureshaddrunkgreedilyofthecupof