The Mutual Dependence of Thought and Action

The Mutual Dependence of Thought and Action

October 7, 2018 0 By Felso

We have perhaps sufficiently shown that religion never exists apart from conduct. Just as all religion involves thought, as every religion teaches doctrine and a true religion teaches true doctrine, so all religion involves conduct ; and whereas a good religion teaches good conduct, a bad religion teaches bad.

And further, just as we found that all knowledge was already in essence religious, so we must now say that all morality is already religious ; for, as we have seen, morality properly understood already shows in itself the freedom, the autonomy and devotion, of religion. It seems, therefore, that religion is not a simple but a complex thing, containing two (or, for all we yet know, more) different elements. It is necessary that we should do something towards determining the relation of these elements to one another.

If they are really separate ingredients of a compound, then religion is merely the name for a life which contains both thought and action side by side ; it is no third thing over and above these, but simply the one plus the other.

Such a conclusion really negates the conception of religion altogether ; for the different independent elements of which it is composed are capable of complete analysis and description each by itself, and there is no whole (religion) but only parts (thought, action).

As a means of approach to this difficulty, it would be well to ask whether it is necessary that the two elements should always coexist ; or whether they are alternative modes of operation which can only exist one at a time, so that to speak of a kind of consciousness which unites the two, as we maintain that religion does, is meaningless.