Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Meaning of God in Human Experience

[The following is a passage from The Meaning of God in Human Experience: A Philosophic Study of Religion (1912) by William Ernest Hocking. A smaller excerpt from this passage was quoted by Iqbal in the first lecture of The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam (1930-34).]

Religious passion, at length, is the best illustration of all this: for this is the mark of religious passion, that a specific view of the whole makes conscious connection with one's practical ultimata. The “deepest of all inborn impulses,” says Professor Pratt, “is the ‘instinct for self-preservation’”: and what is to set that impulse trembling? “a belief in the impossibility of real annihilation.” Belief founded on what? founded back on the instinct itself? doomed then to death and silence. Founded on vision perhaps? If ever upon the stupid day-length time-span of any self, or saint either, some vision breaks to roll his life and ours into new channels, it can only be because that vision admits into his soul some trooping invasion of the concrete fulness of eternity. Such vision doubtless means sub- conscious readiness, and subconscious resonance too, but the expansion of unused air-cells does not argue that we have ceased now to breathe the outer air: the very opposite!

No. The so-called wisdom of feeling is of the same stuff and substance with other wisdom, positive, objective, belonging to our world of ideas. The religious vista is large and open: in integral continuity with the field-lines of our overt existence (not narrowly caught by peering up back-chimney-flues of consciousness). Whatever is thus continuous with the real known in idea is itself known in idea, not otherwise. There are vague ideas, and unfinished ideas, uncertain predicates, qualities only dimly divined known most certainly by their difference from others, their negative bearing but none of this haze and floating outline affects the intent and category of the scene-contents. Whatever is, or can be, predicate of idea is itself idea-stuff, whether or not yet successfully defined and connected.


  1. Greetings,

    Thank you very much for this quote.

    I sense that Mr. Hocking would be very comfortable with the philosophical understanding of a melioristic overcoming of obstacles in the process of (wo)man becoming the fullest possible (wo)man.

    This passage speaks strongly to me of the single fabric of the real and ideal.

    All good wishes,


  2. The Meaning Of God In Human Experience.
    Philosophers have written about this topic,according to how they perceive God as it relates to Philosophy.I am not a Philosopher and I did not study the subject,therefore I am not in a position to discuss it Philosophically.I however think as I belong to the human race,I have my own view as to what it means to me.
    All the religions have their own name for God e.g. Allah,Ishwar,God to name a few.I refer to God as Allah.From the time I started to understand about Allah,I was always cautioned by my parents and other relatives that I must treat people as well as I want to be treated.
    Usually I try to follow the teaching as much as I can,there are times I don't,maybe I feel so on so is not nice to me,why must I be nice.
    Then the thought that I am not in this world permanently,some day I will face Allah and I will be punished for my bad behaviour.It makes me apologize to Allah.
    To me believing in God is to believe in religion,which teaches me what is right and what is not.
    To me this is the meaning of God,He is the creator of the universe,to Him no one is different,we are God's supreme creation and we should always remember, that our deeds good and bad will be judged accordingly.
    I should pray regularly,help anyone as much as I can,I should not talk about other people behind their back and there are a lot of negative things I should not be doing.These are some of the things.When I talk about God and what it means,I have to think about Religion and what I learn from it.I have written some of the things that I understand about the Meaning of God.

  3. William Ernest Hocking's,The meaning of God In Human Experience.Iqbal had quoted a smaller excerpt
    From Hocking's passage may have been,how he perceived God in his experience.I have read some of Iqbal's writings,prose and poetry and have come to the conclusion,Iqbal was a very religious man and he seems to direct every ones attention to religion and God.
    In one of his poems he asks God to give the heart of the Muslim enough will and power so that they would come out of the effects of slavery and win back what they have lost.