Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/161

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tortion of insight begins very near home. It is hard to understand the minds of children unless we retain unusual plasticity and capacity to play; men and women do not really understand each other, what rules between them being not so much sympathy as habitual trust, idealisation, or satire; foreigners’ minds are pure enigmas, and those attributed to animals are a grotesque compound of Æsop and physiology. When we come to religion the ineptitude of all the feelings attributed to nature or the gods is so egregious that a sober critic can look to such fables only for a pathetic expression of human sentiment and need; while, even apart from the gods, each religion itself is quite unintelligible to infidels who have never followed its worship sympathetically or learned by contagion the human meaning of its sanctions and formulas. Hence the stupidity and want of insight commonly shown in what calls itself the history of religions. We hear, for instance, that Greek religion was frivolous, because its mystic awe and momentous practical and poetic truths escape the Christian historian accustomed to a catechism and a religious morality; and similarly Catholic piety seems to the Protestant an aesthetic indulgence, a religion appealing to sense, because such is the only emotion its externals can awaken in him, unused as he is to a supernatural economy reaching down into the incidents and affections of daily life.

Language is an artificial means of establishing