Page images

What is Religion ?—“The first step toward a clear understanding of religion is to distinguish carefully between religion and religions. Religion is the root, the source, the parent of religions. It bears about the same relation to the various religions as a genus to its species. A definition which applies only to one religion is no more a definition of religion than the definition of a particular person is a definition of the genus homo."

Theologians and certain ethnologists have defined religion in terms of belief. We may readily admit that belief is an element in religion, as a more or less specific belief is an element in all religions; but when we define religion as a specific belief for instance, the belief in God, in immortality, or in spiritual beings -we not only recognize an intellectual element, belief, but we make religion synonomous with a particular form of belief. Others, among whom are Professor Ward and Mr. Henry Rutgers Marshall, make restraint an element in religion. This point is well taken, but, judged from its origin and function, religion cannot be correctly defined as a particular form of restraint any more than it can be correctly defined as a particular form of belief. Religion and morality are two genetically distinct phenomena. Morality implies not merely restraint, but social and conventional restraint, and may be based upon public opinion and social conventions as well as upon religious beliefs. A definition of religion in terms of a special form of action or conduct is as erroneous as a definition in terms of belief, and yet we must admit that action, like belief, is an element in religion.

The feeling of impatience which the human mind experiences before the forces of nature, and out of which all religious ideas, however complex, are derived, has been fixed upon by some writers as the essence of, or the essential element in, religion. But such persons do not contend that religion is identical with feeling. In every religious act the whole personality is present. Why, then, should we define religion in terms of feeling, when feeling, like belief and action, is merely an element in religion?

The result of the discussion thus far may be summed up in the following proposition: "Religion manifests itself in belief, feeling, and action, and these three elements are present whether we consider it ethnographically as a social device or psychologically as a phenomenon of the individual consciousness. A correct definition of religion must then depend upon the relation and relative importance of these three elements." Now, the relation in the individual consciousness, and the relative importance of perception, feeling, and the conative impulse, are questions of psychology. It is to this science, and not to theology or ethnology, therefore, that we must look for a final definition of religion. But when we turn to psychology it seems to estop us from identifying religion with the perceptive, the affective, or the conative element, and to demand a form of definition which will include them all. Such a demand may be met, perhaps, by defining religion in terms of desire, or, better, effective desire. But desire for what? Given the perception of a power manifesting itself in the world and a feeling of dependence upon it, an inevitable result will be the desire of the individual to be in right or personally advantageous relations to that power. Conscious religious activity is always in obedience to this desire. We may suggest, then, as a tentative definition of religion, the following: "Religion is the effective desire to be in right relations to the power manifesting itself in the universe.”

If the definition here given is approximately correct, it is of tactical advantage to those who argue that religion is a permanent reality. For, though science may attack and destroy particular forms of belief, religion is unassailable; the roots of religion, imbedded in the soil of man's nature, will not be touched, and new beliefs will spring up to take the place of the old. Again, accepting the above definition of religion, we must regard more people as religious than are usually so regarded. Any man who recognizes, and desires to be in right relations to, "an Infinite and Eternal Energy from which all things proceed," without claiming to know the ultimate nature of that energy, is religious. It does not follow, however, that all men are religious. It is conceivable that the recognition of a mysterious power in the world, apparently outside of ourselves, may not be followed by an effective desire to be in right relations with that power.

"Finally, if religion has been correctly defined, it is not something which has been revealed to one people and withheld from another. It springs up naturally as

an element in the nature of man. It is not dependent upon the accuracy of his thought. It appears in the dawn of intelligence in the savage, who sees God in the clouds and hears him in the wind, and manifests itself in every age and among every people — in the philosopher, who seeks to harmonize his life with what he regards as the eternal and unchanging spirit of the universe, as well as in the saint, who looks upon the Lord as a very present help in time of trouble. Science is its handmaid, winnowing the chaff from the beliefs it has produced. The present demand is for recognition of the stability of religion, and the fearless and unsparing criticism of prevailing theological conceptions."—IRA A. HOWERTH, International Journal of Ethics, January, 1903.

T. J. R.

Insurance against Enforced Idleness through Workingmen's Syndicates. The object of a trade union is in part to study the interests of the trade, to discuss the conditions of work, to study the application of labor laws, and to encourage professional education. No small amount of success has been achieved in these directions, but success cannot be complete nor assured so long as the unions do not provide some security against and in case of enforced idleness. It has been said that out-of-work benefits ought to form the base of trades unions. To insure the workman against idleness would serve the interests of industry, would tend to ameliorate the condition of the working class, and would assist in maintaining the social peace.

Among the causes of idleness on the part of workingmen are the new inventions, often operated by a woman or a child; the sudden closing down or the completion of some great undertaking; the change of seasons, making work in some trades impossible; overproduction, political crises, abuse of credit, war, and strikes. Any provision that will help to avoid such unhappy events, and that would mitigate their evils when present, must certainly be worthy the attention of our officials and of the labor unions. Especially should this receive attention when the demoralizing influence of idleness is taken account of.

As means to prevent enforced idleness may be cited especially: (1) the recognition of the right to work, (2) the intensification of production, (3) the development of professional education, (4) charities, and (5) insurance. Of these, insurance is the most practical. It respects the dignity of the workingman; it cultivates his foresight, his saving. The other remedies are based on a social error; but, especially, they have proved ineffective or uneconomical.

Who should provide this insurance? Should it be the state? Some attempts have been made in Germany, in France, and in Switzerland. They failed. Should it be banks? When tried at Hamburg this failed. Fraternal or mutual insurance is the best form. Such an organization facilitates (1) the classification of risks, (2) efficiency of control, (3) the re-employment of those enforcedly idle, and (4) the best equalization of the work. Experience confirms this position.

We would suggest some things necessary to the practical working of an out-ofwork-fund organization: (1) Payment from such fund should be only on account of being out of work. The fund should not be used to insure against sickness, accident, old age, or lack of employment caused by the change of seasons. (2) The idleness must not have been provoked by the laborer. If he loses his place on account of bad conduct, laziness, or unjustifiable insubordination, he loses his rights to any indemnity from the out-of-work benefit. But should he be forced to quit work because of an unjust diminution of his wages, or because of continuous vexation by his employer or his fellow-workmen, he would be justly entitled to a share in the benefit fund. Such regulations, instead of encouraging strikes, would be strongly conducive to industrial peace. (3) The indemnity from the out-of-work benefit should be appreciably less than the wages, so as to encourage seeking re-employment; and the premiums paid by any member should be regulated, not only by the amount of the indemnity such member should receive in case of enforced idleness, but also by the coefficient of risk of his being thus thrown out of employment in his trade. (4) The privilege of the indemnity should not be extended until sufficient time should have passed from the time of discharge to allow investigation so as to prevent fraud. (5) A minimum age limit of perhaps sixteen years, and a maximum limit of about fifty years, should be determined upon for members. (6) Transference of membership

from one trade benefit to another should be provided for, and when the change to another trade has become more than merely temporary, the credit for premiums already made should be transferred to the out-of-work benefit fund of the trade to which the worker has gone. (7) There should be gradation of "benefit" groups from local groups with their local treasuries to one central society with its general treasury. (8) The state should give such a workingman's organization legal recognition and standing. This was done in Belgium by the law of March 31, 1898.M. L'ABBÉ E. VOSSEN, "L'assurance contre le chômage involontaire par les syndicats ouvriers," in La réforme sociale, January, 1903. T. J. R.

The Law of Future Specific' and Social Efficiency.—One of the most striking, and yet at the same time one of the least observed, facts about specific action is the pre-eminence of the specific as such. The individual is secondary to the species. Instincts, which are characteristically the grand trunk line of transmission and continuity in the lower orders or the zoological series, are peculiar and very important in this, that they are always, in their origin and bloom, for the benefit of the species to which the animal may belong which possesses the instinct. They are of benefit to the individual only secondarily, in so far as that individual may be of benefit to the species. The instincts of self-preservation and sexual love play subservient rôles in the paramountcy of the species. Duration of life in the individuals of any species is determined by the advantage to the species, and not by that of the individuals.

Individual provision and prevision is increased, corrected, and enlarged in scope by social or state provision. Taxation is being remodeled on this basis. Municipal improvements bear the imprint of the paternal. Large projects, such as transisthmian canals, national irrigation, transcontinental railroads, subsidizing a merchant marine, protection of growing industries, all bear witness of the fact that the nations are now doing consciously what formerly they did in more or less haphazard fashion. Many sociologists manifest their alarm at the decreasing birth rate throughout the world. But when it is remembered that the individual is not so hopelessly isolated as formerly; that he is provided by tradition with the lessons of the past, with a rich store of extra-organic apparatus; that he is supported on all hands by social institutions; when it is considered that civilization in the last analysis is a sum total of adaptations whereby the forces of nature are utilized by man for the greater safety of the species-it may be that the members of the small family may acquire and accomplish more than the family of larger members. In man, art, religion, and science are in the long run, directly or indirectly, means for more certain perpetuation of the species and the more certain welfare of the same.

This universal organic and social process explains many features of great interest in the various fields of human activity. In law we view the gradual surrender of so-called individual rights to the rights of the state, the growth of freedom, etc., the development of the individual in order that the service of the whole may be increased by the strength of the constituent parts, the subordination of individual caprice to collective wisdom as seen in representative gatherings of all kinds, the predominance of self-sacrifice in the great ethical and religious movements of the world, life insurance, city sanitation, and the many acts of public philanthropy.

The beyond-man, as the child of the future, is the goal and sanction of social effort. In securing the greatest happiness or welfare of the greatest number we now see that the " greatest number" refers not so much to the majority now living as to that still greater maiority-the unborn. Society is not composed of those now living; it represents the living as the servants of posterity. And yet we see such writers as Huxley, Spencer, and others so thoroughly saturated with idea of competition, laissez-faire, and struggle for existence that they lose sight, very largely, if not wholly, of the great racial struggle for future social efficiency.- ARTHUR ÁLLIN, “The Law of Future Specific and Social Efficiency," in Journal of Pedagogy, December, 1902.

1 The term "specific" obviously refers here to species.

T. J. R.

[blocks in formation]

ORGANIC and superorganic processes are the same in principle, but different in method. Social evolution obeys the same general laws as organic evolution, but the mode of operation in each is so unlike that the general identity is difficult to recognize. So great is this difference that, in discussing the latter, biological terminology may be avoided and only sociological and anthropological terminology employed. The terms "differentiation" and "integration," however, though chiefly used in biological discussions, belong as properly to the other sciences and cannot well be dispensed with.

In the present state of science all considerations of man that involve his origin and development must necessarily start from the biological standpoint. The fundamental truth that man is a species of animal may be taken as established. It is therefore the human species, Homo sapiens, with which both the anthropologist and the sociologist have to deal. This species has descended from more remote animal ancestors in the same way that all other species now constituting the fauna of the globe have reached their present state. Whether it be Pithecanthropus or Homosimius that forms the latest link in the chain that leads back to Dryopithecus and earlier true simian forms is the taxonomic problem of the biologist. The anthropologist, and 'From the Annales de l'institut international de sociologie, Vol. IX (1903), pp.


especially the sociologist, are concerned with the genus Homo and with what has taken place since that genus acquired its full standing as such.

Biologists are now practically unanimous in maintaining that every distinct species has developed through descent with modification under conditions that combined to produce that particular form. Such conditions can only exist in a definite and more or less limited territorial area. Each species is thus usually confined to such an area. If it has a wider distribution, the form is correspondingly varied, indicating dispersion subsequent to the time at which it attained its specific character at some one point or limited area. That this was the case with man is as certain as it is with other species. The idea once quite prevalent, even among leading biologists, that the same species could originate at different times and places has disappeared along with the conception of special creation upon which it was based, and the theoteleogical views that formerly prevailed. It is negatived by the admission of a phylogenetic connection with ancestral forms, since, under the infinitely varied conditions by which every new form is produced, the chances are infinity to one against the production of two identical species at different points. So much for the doctrine of polygenism which some anthropologists and sociologists have thought it necessary to revive and call in to explain certain phenomena presented by human races and human society. I shall endeavor to show that no such hypothesis is necessary.

Assuming, then, that man was developed upon some limited area presenting the conditions to the production of just such a being, we may gain a fairly clear conception of the nature of his early history. It must be remembered, however, that there does not now exist any race of men corresponding to the absolutely primitive type. The lowest races known to us are such as have for one reason or another remained for ages in an undeveloped state, but during all these ages they must of necessity have undergone profound modification. Many of them have fluctuated, having once belonged to far more developed types, and subsequently degenerated in adapting themselves to simpler or severer conditions of existence.

« PreviousContinue »