A review of Mens Creatrix: An Essay, by William Temple
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554 ] A review of Mens Creatrix: An Essay, by William Temple London: Macmillan, 1917. Pp. xiii + 367.1 The International Journal of Ethics, 27 (July 1917) 542-43 Mr. Temple wishes to demonstrate that philosophy, art, morality, education and politics all aim at a completion which they never of themselves reach,andthattheyfindthiscompletioninChristianity.Hesuppliesaccordingly a metaphysics, an aesthetics, a social and individual ethics, and a theology. This is a vast undertaking. As might be expected, Mr. Temple has not exactly shown us that all roads of human speculation lead to the Anglican Communion, but has shown, with great charm of style and lucidity of dialectic , how particular types of metaphysics, aesthetics, and ethics may be made to form a symmetrical whole with Christian theology. His book is thus a compendious Summa.2 He does not demonstrate that any form of philosophy leads to Christianity; he takes a particular type, absolute idealism , and shows that the idealistic absolute is a failure unless it can be identified with a personal Deity. Influenced by Mr. Bradley, he yet rejects his Absolute as unmoral and unmeaning.3 Similarly, he declares that the work of art points to “a perfect grasp of the entire Universe in all its extent of space and time by an Eternal Mind” to whom the whole history of the society of finite minds is present in the “moment eternal” of perfect intuition [126]. In discussing the nature of the State, Mr. Temple asserts that “the nations . . . need some society that may include themselves, whose basis shall be a common purpose . . . arising out of loyalty to an all-inclusive Kingdom and a common Master” [252]. And the problem of evil is stated in the form “What is the good of evil?” [262]. As for our struggle with sin we are told however that “the issue lies with Him, not with us” [290]. Unless He calls forth from our own hearts the response to His own love, we are helpless. There is much that is suggestive, and even cogent, in the course of the argument . But to agree with the author we must not only concede that “Intellect and Imagination, Science and Art, would reach their culmination in the apprehension and contemplation of the supreme principle of the universe [ 555 Review: Mens Creatrix adequately embodied or incarnate” [161] but that this culmination is found in Christianity. And might it not be maintained that religion, however poor our lives would be without it, is only one form of satisfaction among others, rather than the culminating satisfaction of all satisfactions? Mr. Temple says many wise things, by the way, especially in his chapter on Education.4 T. S. Eliot Notes 1. William Temple (1881-1944), educator and churchman, presently rector of St. James’s, Piccadilly, and editor of Challenge, rose to become Archbishop of Canterbury (1942-44). Mens Creatrix (The Creative Mind) was his first major theological treatise. 2. A reference to the Summa theologiae by Thomas Aquinas. 3. Bradley resists identification of God and the Absolute. “We may say that God is not God, till he has become all in all, and that a God which is all in all is not the God of religion. God is but an aspect, and that must mean but an appearance, of the Absolute” (A&R 448). 4. Temple, whose father had been headmaster of Rugby School, was known as a teacher and served as president of the Worker’s Educational Association (1909-24). He defended the study of the humanities against the rising insistence on specialization: “The aim of education is primarily spiritual, and there are three . . .primary aims . . . Goodness, Truth and Beauty . . . [cultivated as] ends in themselves” (241). ...