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London: Macmillan, 1917. Pp. xviii+ 219. 1

The International Journal of Ethics, 27 (July 1917) 543

Mr. Collingwood has conceived a task very similar to that of Mr. Temple ( Mens Creatrix)–the necessary completion of philosophy in religion. 2 He holds, however, that philosophy and religion are in reality the same thing; for even a materialistic philosophy, firmly held, may be a man’s religion. He proposes then “to treat the Christian creed not as dogma but as a critical solution of a philosophical problem” [xiii].

Mr. Collingwood is successful at least to this extent, that granted the historical facts of Christianity, a most efficient philosophy can be built upon them. It is true that history and philosophy, as Mr. Collingwood contends, are interdependent. But philosophy depends upon the whole course of history, not upon any particular signal and unique facts; and its freedom of interpretation is limited only by its obligation to exclude nothing. Religion, on the other hand, or at least the Christian religion, depends upon one important fact. Philosophy may show, if it can, the meaning of the statement that Jesus was the son of God. But Christianity–orthodox Christianity–must base itself upon a unique fact: that Jesus was born of a virgin: a proposition which is either true or false, its terms having a fixed meaning. It seems therefore insufficient to claim, what seems to be the extent of Mr. Collingwood’s historical demands, that Jesus was an historical person.

Mr. Collingwood attacks the problem of evil by conceiving of God “not as imposing his will on the world from without, but as himself sharing in all the experiences of other minds” [125]. “God is the absolute good will” [142]. Mr. Collingwood admits that the universe is a totality only in posse. One is tempted to ask whether the omnipotence and absolute good will of God are also in posse. 3

The philosophical interpretation of the Incarnation, of the Atonement, and of Miracle, are extremely well handled.

t. s. eliot

Published By:   Johns Hopkins University Press