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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, and that they find this completion in Christianity. He supplies accordingly 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 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

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