Modern Philosophy by Santayana George

By Santayana George

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One of the most notable points in M. Benda's analysis is his insistence on the leap involved in passing from infinite Being to any particular fact or system of facts; and again the leap involved in passing, when the converted spirit "returns to God", from specific animal interests−−no matter how generous, social, or altruistic these interests may be−−to absolute renunciation and sympathy with the absolute. " And certainly, if we regarded infinite Being as a cosmological medium−−say, empty space and time−−there would be a miraculous break, an unaccountable new beginning, if that glassy expanse was suddenly wrinkled by something called energy.

Such a notion would hopelessly destroy that coherence in thought to which M. Benda aspires. The infinite cannot be selective; it cannot possess a particular structure (such, for instance, as the Trinity) nor a particular quality (such as goodness). It cannot exert power or give direction. Nothing can be responsible for the world except the world itself. It has created, or is creating, itself perpetually by its own arbitrary act, by a groundless self−assertion which may be called (somewhat metaphorically) will, or even original sin: the original sin of existence, particularity, selfishness, or separation from God.

He will live henceforth in a truer and more serene sympathy with nature than is possible to rival natural beings. Natural beings are perpetually struggling to live only, and not to die; so that their will is in hopeless rebellion against the divine decrees which they must obey notwithstanding. The spiritual man, on the contrary, in so far as he has already passed intellectually into the eternal world, no longer endures unwillingly the continual death involved in living, or the final death involved in having been born.

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