Instinct and reason
n essay concerning the relation of instinct to reason, with some special study of the nature of religion
From the introduction
The writing of this book was first undertaken because I wished to present the conception of Religion, which will be found below. In attempting to make my argument convincing I have found it necessary to deal with questions which did not at first appear to relate to the subject I wished to discuss, and that study, of Religion, thus appears as a subsidiary part of the broader treatment of Instinct and Reason; the reader will readily perceive, however, that it still remains the most important and most interesting matter considered.
It has long seemed to me evident that activities which are so universal in man as are those which express our religious life, cannot fail to be of significance in relation to our biological development, especially as these activities have persisted for so many ages in the human race.
I have, therefore, attempted to outline a theory which will account for the existence of religious activities, and which will explain their biological import. In order to present this clearly, I have thought it best 1 I find the views here presented in their main outlines in my notes under the date of 1885. to make a special study of Instinct, to which the second division of the book is devoted, to show the relation of religious activities to instinctive activities in general.
This study of Instinct naturally leads to the study of Impulse in division III., and this turns our thought to a consideration of the nature of moral standards which we all acknowledge to be most closely related to religious activities.
In like manner the study of Reason, while natural in connection with the study of Instinct, has also its appropriateness in connection with the consideration of the nature of religion. I have not attempted to enter fully into discussions concerning the genesis of religious customs and beliefs, a field which has perhaps been already sufficiently explored; I have touched upon such discussions only so far as has seemed to me necessary in order to bring into clear relief the facts relating to the function of religion in the development of man.
at first, intended to devote a separate division of the book to a study of the relation of religion to belief, but this I find unnecessary to the completeness of the argument, and I have therefore abandoned it for the present at least; those who read with care will perceive, I imagine, that if the doctrines here presented be accepted, such acceptance will in no way militate against the importance of the beliefs which are attached to religious expressions.
I have some hope that apart from their relation to religious problems the considerations concerning Instinct and reason may not be without value to the psychologist.
A large proportion of the subjects considered are, however, of such general interest, and are by common agreement of such profound importance, that I have attempted to discuss them, so far as possible, without having recourse to the technicalities of psychology; such distinctly psychological discussions as are necessary to the argument I have therefore reserved for consideration in separate chapters, which the reader will easily recognise by their titles
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