The Mother Divine
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By Sudhir Ranjan Das Gupta
(Written in 1960, originally published in the earlier version of The Mother)

New Realism, pre-eminently scientific in temper, generally takes little interest in religion It is only in the works of a few of the New Realists that religion gets its due consideration; and we think that it is most consistently and systematically dealt with only in the stupendous work of Alexander's Space, Time and Deity. The chapter entitled 'Deity'1 is a speculative master-piece which, in its own way, gathers up within itself, all the richness and freshness of- a religion. And any reader, whatever be his creed and faith, cannot help getting himself enwrapped by all that is said therein, although after-thought may reveal. Points here and there, which do not quite fit in with the general scheme of religion. Here also, as in others, Alexander's position is both of contrast and compromise. He rejects what he deems unnecessary and puts into his theory all that are found congenial to it and it is why we find in his Religion a combination of heterogeneities the mysticism of the Idealists,workable fancy of the Pragmatists the abstraction of Russell and lastly the conservation of values of Bpaulding.3 Like the Absolute of the Idealists, the God of Alexander is an all-comprehensive reality. The universe is not anything outside Him and yet He is not totally lost in it. The difference is that whereas for the Idealists the Absolute is the only eternal self-existent reality, the god-hood in God of Alexander has yet to be born. It is always an ideal ever to follow but never to realise for its realisation negates either the process of emergence or the highest supremacy and perfection of God. So as an Ideal, the Deity has always to be approximated and it is only in the striving for, and not in the realisation of, the ideal that the highest consummation of religious sentiments has to be fulfilled. It is a common fact of experience that a thing, however captivating from a distance, loses much of its glamour and sanctity soon after it comes within the reach of man. Distance, physical or mental, has always a romance about it. The non-actuality and yet the workability of the notion of Deity which rouses the strongest religious fervour in man naturally gives it a colour of pragmatism. But "the God of the new realists is not the nominalistic, humanistic working hypothesis of pragmatism." Deity has its root in reality itself. Nature, as of necessity, is rushing towards it. The more she advances the more she gets her inner propensities acbualised, and the more strongly does she feel the attraction for the ideal. Time is infinite, so also the quest is infinite and at every step ahead, there is more and more light. So, in a sense, the deity seems to possess greater actuality. Opposed to it, pragmatic religion is a man-made or social formula changeable in its entirety so as to suit a new social order. It has its existence in social utility and in itself is only diaphanous.

In a sense Alexander's religion is one with that of Bertrand Russell.   Both stress the non-Deity is the highest quality and the possessor of deity is God but deity is often used in the sense of God.   In the narrower sense, each higher quality is a deity to its next lower level.

He defines God as the totality of all values. For Russell the objects of religious sentiments are the eternal truths in the subsistential realm, where things are immune from the ravages of time. This is the religion of a thinker whose business, as a religionist, is to suppress his personal fears and hopes in short, his emotional life and to surrender himself absolutely to the grim determinism of the material.  "To abandon the struggle for private happiness, to expel all eagerness for temporally. desire, to burn with passion for eternal things ​this is emancipation and this is the freeman's worship."
But this surrender is no passive renunciation, "for not by renouncing alone can we build a temple for the worship of our ideals. Haunting foreshadowing’s of the temple appear in the realm of imagination, in music, in architecture, in the untroubled kingdom of reason, and in the golden sun-set, magic of lyrics, where beauty shines and glows, remote from the touch of sorrow, remote from the fear of change, remote from the failures and disenchantments of the world of fact"

For Alexander as well, deity is not in the existential realm. Equally it is not a subsistential reality. Deity is yet to be born. And unlike Russell, Alexander opines that not only clear thinking but the whole of being consisting of cognition, emotion and volition has to be employed in the worship of deity

In the same breath, he agrees and disagrees with Spaulding on the question of the nature of God. For him values are not anything apart from God; all is in Him and He is in all and yet He surpasses all.   He disagrees with Spaulding when the latter identifies God merely with values and asserts that "God is the totality of values both existent and subsistent or "God is value, the active 'living' principle of the conservation of values and of their efficiency"3. It contradicts some fundamental tenets of religion. It brings limitation on God. There are features of reality wholly independent of God and these are, according to Spaulding, non-value entities such as, space, time, atoms, evil, ugliness, etc

Thus, there is little hope of the ultimate success of God or goodness, when God is only a collection of values in a world in which dis-values are as real as values. Mr. M. R. Cohen has rightly remarked that, "the realist lives in a world in which there are all sorts of possibilities of which only a small number succeed in becoming actual, and where all our Gods and goods may meet with defeat"

In Alexander's religion, God is not a limited being. He is the whole universe plus the tendency towards deity. He is infinite consisting of infinite space-time with its infinite levels of emergences making eternal progress towards deity. Alexander, however makes some allowances for weaker people, who cannot go above polytheism, and consistently with the idea that each higher Quality is, as it were, a deity to the lower level he transports himself "in thought to the next level of existence, that of deity, to imagine a finite being with that quality, a God of polytheistic system or what we have called an angel"

In analogy with ourselves, we may say that in the superior finite which has deity, the immediate basis of deity

3.​See Mysticism and Logic, P. 55.
4.​Ibid. P. 52,
5.​The New Rationalism, P. 517,
6.​See Ibid, P. 518
7.​Philosophical Review, Vol. XXV, F. 382
8.​See S. T. D-. Vol. U, P. 354

is something of the nature of mind, "just as the immediate basis of our mind is, life"9. But it is not the whole of truth. Deity, in its proper sense, is always ahead and eludes realisation. So, in sense the polytheistic gods are no gods and they are only superior to man- We may better call them angels.

This leads us to a fuller study of Alexander's religion. Leaving aside consideration of Deity' as a metaphysical entity in the general scheme of the theory of emergence as propounded by Prof. Alexander, let us for the present discuss about what the professor actually means by religion which as he says is, a tie between God and man.    At the outset Alexander differs from Spinoza in respect of his theory of intellectual love of God, according to which the knowledge of God precedes love for Him; whereas for Alexander, "unless the religious passions were already lit, it is hard to see how the intellectual love would rise above a supreme intellectual satisfaction, and this is not the religion but the scientific satisfaction"

Emotion precedes cognition.   Love precedes knowledge of the beloved.    We feel and do before we know. We do not know an object first. Before we respond, it is almost meaningless to us.    In responding to it, we   know   the attributes   it possesses.    "The Child we love is presented to us as a small and perhaps helpless human being, bat we cognise it as lovable in the caresses and tender care which it elicits from us by the instinctive reaction"

This knowledge of object comes as a sequence to sentiment.  Thus, it is not that because there is God there are fear, reverence and love for Him, but because there are sentiments and because there is a dominant feeling of going out towards something not ourselves and greater and higher than ourselves with which we are in communion, a feeling whose object is not that of any of these subsidiaries or suggesting emotions, nor of any combination of them,"

That there is God. Food is food only because there is appetite for it.   In the absence of the latter, the former is only a flavourless substance. The object of religious sentiment is   thus God who, though not tangible as either the child or the food, is yet not a mere imagination. The whole process of the universe aims at him and verily through the, process of emergence, it has been making approximation towards Him.   In us the religious appetite is stirred up directly by the impact of the world with its tendency towards deity.    The universe in its upward tendency acts upon our organism and we, as conscious beings, feel it and make a response to this tendency which is religion. Besides, this universal objective necessity, human consciousness, as the highest empirical quality yet known, feels within itself the need of this higher quality just as it feels in specific parts of the organism specific emotions or appetite such as hunger, thirst etc    "In either case it is the world in its nisus forward that grips the finite co native complex which is fitted to it. It excites religion in us and we, in turn, feel the need of ife".13

Though absent in the actual present, God as the possessor of the deity is the highest reality inasmuch as He comprises within Himself both actuality and ideality. As space-time with its finite complexes, He is actual and as deity He is ideal.   And the future ideality is no less real than the living present. Bather it possesses greater perfection and hence reality which the nisus, latent in emergence, aims at. As such, deity as in future, most energetically makes itself felt in our minds and "draws them towards itself and satisfies them." No question as to how a future quality can affect human mind can arise here, for clairvoyance too unmistakably proves that there are persons, though not all persona, who can foresee the future.

After proving the reality of God both on speculative and sentimental ground, which in religion always supplement each other, Alexander next proceeds to show how far his God satisfies all the criteria of religion. As a quality different from and ahead of mind, He is greater than man. He is universal and infinite, for He is the possessor of infinite space-time with different levels of emergences plus the infinite deity as soul, which space-time is ever aiming at through different grades of perfection. Alexander here tries to satisfy both pantheism and theism, though his conception of God cannot be strictly referable to either of them. As deity which does not permeate space-time, He is transcendent and theistic. As God who is inclusive of space-time as body plus deity as soul, He is imminent and pantheistic. "God is imminent in respect of His body and IB transcendent in respect of His deity."1* If any choice, however, is to be made, Alexander is for theism for, he believes, it is answerable to all the longings and curiosities of a religious mind. It is, besides, more in consonance with the general trend of his thought.

As regards creativity in God, he speaks of God as a creator when he identifies Him with the previous cosmical stages and finally with space-time but, truly speaking, as the universe tending towards deity, He is simply created. The first and the most important criterion of religion is the fatherhood of God. Fatherhood at human level and at animal level too presupposes both unity and difference. The child and the father are equally independent beings and yet there is mutual dependence or reciprocity. The former springs out of the latter and feels a sense of dependence on him. The latter too is a father only in relation to the former and fulfils himself by caressing and fondling him or her. Apparently, the case seems to be the reverse in Alexander's religion, for deity comes next to mind and next to still higher qualities that will emerge in course of the process of emergence. The possessor of deity is God who is till now non-existent. It therefore appears, as the matter now stands, that the children come prior to the father. Alexander avows that it is after all a figurative representation. He wants to get out of the impasse by identifying God not with deity alone but with the universe in its nisus towards deity. God is the totality of the universe, and deity makes us think of 'Him' under the figure of a father. When we are aware of our 'continuity with the whole in its divine quality', and when we know that 'God gathers up for us in His person the whole infinite world to which we belong, we surrender ourselves in trust to Him as we do to our earthly father'.

Again, the dependence of man on God does not mean the absence of his existence as a being, although his being is as evanescent and temporary as any of the emergent’s is in the all-engulfing vortex of the matrix of space-time in its onward rush towards deity. The loss of self-identity in the race that subsists, though the individual comes and goes, is an apt instance of how one sacrifices oneself for the many and finally helps creation of a tradition in the preparation of the deity. In this sense, both God and man are independent of each other as the earthly father and sons are. There exists a relation of love on the one hand, help on the other. God as mere deity minus space-time complexes "is the divine individual, awfully removed from man, with a quality which man does not possess and who yet does not so much engulf as fulfill man, standing by him as a helper and sustaining him as a father."