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Brink, L. (1914). The Meaning of God in Human Experience. a Philosophic Study in Religion. By William Ernest Hocking, Ph.D., Yale University. Yale University Press.. Psychoanal. Rev., 1(4):472-479.

(1914). Psychoanalytic Review, 1(4):472-479

Book Reviews

The Meaning of God in Human Experience. a Philosophic Study in Religion. By William Ernest Hocking, Ph.D., Yale University. Yale University Press.

Review by:
L. Brink

This book is a profound enquiry into the nature of religion and its value to human experience. The study is divided into six parts. The first part enquires briefly and at once into the nature of religion whether it is found in intellect or in feeling and then what its worth as revealed in its most evident effects. This nature may itself best be studied by examining its fruits in the world. The effects of religion, however, in human history, productive as it has been of peace and war, of nation building and nation destroying are too contradictory to make it possible to know it by its utility. It is not so well in its utility as in its fruitfulness as “the fertile parent” of all the arts of human life and society, producing them and maintaining them, by a letting-in process or osmosis between the human soul and the Whole beyond.

In an individual a religious attitude is easily recognized, as if an invisible relation to an objective Reality give him a freedom and originality, even while exerting over him a compelling power, which make him a universal authority. He possesses already the source of worth and certainty, which possession marks religion as “anticipated attainment” of that which is the goal of his slower striving. The disposition or attitude of mind which this involves lies not in knowledge but in feeling.

Here then is the second part of the discussion, the relation of idea and feeling in religion. Religion has seemed to transcend all idea of it, therefore men look for further foundation than idea for faith. Comparatively and historically considered religion seems to spring from something beyond idea, which judgments of religion are the products not of religious instinct alone but even of “an acquired scientific instinct” in which, too, we are led to feeling as the root of religion. In the realms of the various sciences consciousness or feeling seems to be given a higher place than facts.

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