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Money-Kyrle, R. (1927). Reality. A New Correlation of Science and Religion: By Burnett Hillman Streeter. (Macmillan & Co., Ltd. Pp.350. Price 8 s. 6 d.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 8:433-435.

(1927). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 8:433-435

Reality. A New Correlation of Science and Religion: By Burnett Hillman Streeter. (Macmillan & Co., Ltd. Pp.350. Price 8 s. 6 d.)

Review by:
R. Money-Kyrle

The feeling of reality or unreality attaching to ideas is largely conative. Originally what is pleasant is accepted; what is painful is ignored. Later by a complicated process, which Freud and Ferenzi are beginning to explain, the possibility of painful experience recurring and of pleasant experience failing to recur is recognised; but induction is never wholly freed from the influence of predilection. The real romances of our lives are in the past, not in the future; we shall not love again as we did in infancy, nor be loved as we then imagined that we were. That these relationships are over, never to return, that we were disillusioned in proportion to the intensity of our demands, and that our own wilfulness contributed not a little to their imperfection, are facts which are hard to face. The memory of these romances is obliterated and they are regarded as unreal, but since they are too important to be given up something as perfect but more enduring is expected in the future. The belief that somewhere and sometime either in this world or the next we shall experience the perfect love is a fantasy that none escape. The romances of youth, the belief in the soul or in God and the delusions of insanity are refusals to renounce the past. They differ in the strength of this refusal and in the fixation which they project. Religion would seem to be the classical example of such delusion, for whether it is naïve anthropomorphic superstition or subtle metaphysic it is dictated by the same will to falsehood, the refusal to accept unpleasant truth. At a time when life is replete with substitutes for its losses this attitude is not difficult to overcome, but to discard it permanently demands an arrogance greater than the dread of loneliness.

Canon Streeter's book is an example of ingenuity of argument in the service of the will to prove the world other than it is. Although he was once for a short time agnostic, it is clear that his will to believe is the dominant passion of his life. That God exists; that He is good; and that something resurrects from suffering nobly born, are axioms for his theory of reality. Anything in science or philosophy which can be made to seem compatible with these preconceptions he accepts, but that which too obviously conflicts is utterly rejected.


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