Page images

who has long lived in China, tells us that the whole social system in China is based on the Family Council and Tribunal.

The incidents of the Family Council, he writes, which assembles at stated periods, are roughly as follows:

The Father and Mother. appear in the family assembly, attended by their family. The names of the predecessors of the family are first recalled individually to the recollection of the family.

• Food is then presented to their memory as a token of duties performed by those present, in consequence of duties performed by those departed, and as a pledge for the conduct of those to come.

The food, the result of a typical reward for duties perforined, is then eaten, with portions laid aside for those in need.

This is the first part. In the second, the father, seated between his wife and the eldest of the family, opens the Books of Record.

These family books, which every Chinese family must keep, render unnecessary State interference or control, and are considered as legal documents.

One contains matter relating to civil life, births, marriages, deaths, &c. ; the others, the family judgments, records and biographies of the dead, their Wills, &c.

The necessary records having been entered, the book containing historical record is opened, and the life and action of those departed commented on. The minds of all being steadied by such reflections, the meeting becomes a council, and balances its affairs, enquiring first into obligations outside the family, and then to those relating to the interior

management. The family would consider itself dishonoured were occasion given of right of demand for State or outside interference. Lastly, misdemeanours are enquired into: the accused is at once separated from others present, for trial, or, if information has to be obtained or proofs collected, he is remanded to the next or to a special meeting.

Conceive the training in this method for every child. This is the paternal authority-an authority based only on judgment and method, and therefore acting with a power and a love that we cannot understand.

Thus is to be seen the base of the union of administrative and judicial functions in the same hands.

“This method of judicial sifting of evidence before action, is to be universally found at the origin of all religion and government, and is the source of the method of knowledge, and only by such a process can the family protection exist and prosper.

* Confucius says of this method :

""He who understands the ceremonies of the offerings to Heaven and Earth, and the meaning of the several offerings to ancestors, would find the government of a kingdom as easy as to look into the palm of his hand.”

A belief in ancestral spirits, therefore, may easily become the foundation of a system of morality, or, at all events, of law. With the Chinese, Filial Piety or reverence for parents and ancestors has been recognised from the earliest times as the root of all religion and government. The Hsiâo King or 'Classic of Filia] Piety' is one of their most sacred books ?.

* See Sacred Books of the East, vol. iii.

Moral Influence of Psychological Deities. Whether we can ascribe a similar moral influence to psychological religion also, is more difficult to say. It has certainly developed into some kind of religion in India, where meditation on the self within us and the recognition of its true relation to the Supreme Self forms to the present day the highest stage that can be reached by the faithful. In other countries that highest stage is generally divided from religion, properly so called, and handed over to the philosopher and the mystic. But apart from that, we often see isolated germs of psychological thought fall on religious and moral soil, and develop into mythology and even worship.

Temple to Mens. In Rome, for instance, we read that about the time of the battle on Lake Thrasymene, or, according to others, one hundred years later, a temple was built to Mens, Mind, in order that the Roman citizens might always be of good mind?. There were other temples dedicated to Pietas, filial piety, Pudicitia, chastity, Virtus, manliness, Spes, hope, Fides, faithfulness. And not only were these deities worshipped in temples, but such were, for a time at least, their power and influence that Regulus would rather die than break his fides or his troth. At a later time, during the Second Punic War, Hannibal allowed ten Roman soldiers to proceed to Rome on their word of honour. Eight only returned, but the other two were declared infamous by the Roman Censors, and such was then still the power of public

1 Ovid, Fast. vi. 241; Liv. xxii. 9 and 10; Cic. N. D. ii. 22 ; Leg. ii. 11; Hartung, Religion der Römer, ii. 262.

opinion that both are said to have committed suicide, because no one would treat them any longer as Roman citizens.

Eros and Psyche. In Greece also some traces may be discovered of psychological mythology, if not of religion. The best known instance is that of Eros and Psyche, Love and Soul. In the form in which that legend is presented to us by Apuleius it is, no doubt, modern-nearly as modern in conception as on the frescoes of the Farnesina Palace. But it contains old elements-how old, it is difficult to say, considering how freely even men like Socrates still claimed the right of inventing or modifying a myth, if it helped to teach some philosophical lesson.

Conscience. And even in our own language there are survivals of psychological mythology and morality. There is a well-known line quoted from Menander, Monost. 654:

BooTots maotv | cove_oncus eos, • To all mortals conscience is a god.'

It is not difficult to understand what Menander (342-290 B. C.) really meant by this verse, but it is a curious verse for several reasons, and in particular because ouvelònois is not the common word for conscience in classical Greek, though it is the recognised term in the New Testament.

In classical Greek ouveíồnous means consciousness rather than conscience, and the question we have to answer first is how such words as σύνοιδα and συνείδησις, from meaning to be conscious or cognisant, came to mean to be conscientious. The psychological process seems to have been something like this. In primitive times a man might often do what seemed wrong to others, but not to himself. In that case, he himself would hardly remember what he had done. If asked, he would not be conscious of having, for instance, taken an apple from a garden, because he was in the habit of doing so and saw no harm in it. If, however, he had once been told by others that he ought not to take an apple which belonged to some one else, or even if some unexplained instinct had told him that in taking it away he was doing what was disapproved by others or dangerous to himself, then he would be conscious of his act, and his consciousness of having done an act which by some authority or other had been judged to be wrong, would gradually become what we call a conscience.

Again, if two confederates had committed a criminal act, they would, if cross-examined, appear as ouVELÒÓTES, as knowing what they had done, and thus ouverdós would assume the meaning of an accomplice. Even in our courts of law a man is said to look conscious, that is, guilty, and this conscious look would again be the outer manifestation of what we now call conscience. Thus conscience came to be a recognised name of what was originally a consciousness or a knowledge, however acquired, of what was right and wrong.

But this was not the only name by which this wellknown state of feeling could be apprehended, and to say that, because there is in Sanskrit no word corresponding to conscience, therefore the Hindus did not know what conscience means, is absurd. Socrates did not use the word ovveíònous, but when he spoke of

« PreviousContinue »