Issues of Life
HENRY NELSON WIEMAN
Chaper VIII: Personality
PERSONALITY is that which communicates and hence which shares experience. Such being the case, a single isolated personality is impossible. To be sure, a Robinson Crusoe can live in isolatioul but he could never have developed into a personality without association with other individuals which were personalities or which could develop into personalities along with him. This conclusion follows from the fact that personality is that which communicates. Communication is impossible unless there are at least two, so that they can express themselves to one another and understand one another.
HOW PERSONALITY DEVELOPS
But if personality is that which communicates, personality develops along with communication. The difference between communication and the mutually adaptive reactions of two organisms was described in Chapter III. Communication requires symbols while mutually adaptive reactions require only signs. The difference between sign and symbol was illustrated in Chapter III by the two ways in which a man may shake his fist. In one case he is actually fighting, in the
other case he is symbolizing a fight, hence not fighting, but communicating by means of a symbol.
The story of the development of personality is the story of the development of symbols and communication. Language represents our most elaborate system of symbols. When the organism in its interaction with the environment develops symbols and begins to communicate, it becomes a personality.
What is it about the human organism and its interaction with the environment which gives rise to communication and personality when other animal organisms do not develop any such characteristics? We shall try to list some of these features of the human organism and its interaction with environment which show why this kind of organism may develop personality while others do not. We shall not attempt to be thorough and accurate. The scientific investigation of this problem must be left to the experts in this field. Our analysis is designed merely to clarify what we mean by the development of personality rather than to try to give a scientific description of the genesis of it.
We are not so much interested in how the individual child develops into a personality. With communicating personalities all about him that is not so difficult. But the chief problem is to understand how personality could develop in the first place. That is to say, how could communi-
cation develop out of organic reactions which were mutually adaptive, but not communicative? For the development of personality, we repeat, is identical with the development of communication.
The first feature to note about the human organism is the big brain and complex nervous system. Then there is the formation of the human mouth and tongue which makes possible a great variety and multiplicity of vocalization. The great importance of this lies in the fact that these diversified sounds can serve as symbols. It is diffleult to see how any great speed and diversification in the formation of symbols could be possible without such a tongue and mouth and the easy and varied sounds they produce.
These physiological characteristics provide favorable conditions, but they do not contribute anything positive toward the development of personality. For the great divide between animal and human, as we noted before, is the transition from sign to symbol. How can this transition be accomplished? How can signs be torn loose from the particular concrete situation in which they are embedded and be used to represent systems of relations in the abstract? That is the great problem. That alone can give rise to personality.
A physiological characteristic promoting that end is the hand and opposed thumb we find in
man. This makes possible the dexterity and variety of manipulation required for tool making. As soon as anything is used as a tool we are well on the road to symbolized meaning. A tool is not organically embedded in any particular situation. It can be put into different situations, used by different people, and made to produce different consequences. Thus it becomes a sign which is detachable from any particular concrete situation and hence a kind of symbol.
Another characteristic of the human leading to the development of symbols is the complex and unspecialized nature of the organs of the human body which, together with the complex -nervous system, gives rise to a great variety and plasticity of response. This makes conflict of responses almost unavoidable. Now, such conflict is very important in promoting the use of symbols, for such conflict makes us aware of certain characteristics in the total situation which seem to be opposed and mutually exclusive of one another. This mutual exclusiveness of two or more characteristics both pertaining to the same situation is on the border line of abstraction. If one set of characteristics excludes another, then it is easy to think of that set in abstraction from the other. If such a set in abstraction can be represented by a symbol, we have meaning that can be communicated.
The human organism seems to be endowed with many minor units of behavior that are
loosely organized and not bound down to any one single biological function. Thus the way is opened to indefinite reconstruction and progressive development of human response, which further favors the development of many diverse meanings. These free impulses, released from any established biological routine, provide conflict, wonder, curiosity, and that modification of response which meaningful behavior carries with it.
There is the further notable fact of prolonged infancy and the relative undeveloped state of the human infant, making possible a great amount of learning and artificial remaking according to the requirements of an historic culture. But we must hasten to mention what we believe to be the most important factor in the development of symbols and consequently of personality.
This most important factor is another consequence of the prolonged helplessness of the human infant, but it is the effect of this helplessness upon the adults and not merely the possibility of rich development which it provides for the infant. Because of this helplessness of their offspring the parents and other members of the family are compelled to live together for long periods of time in most intimate and complicated association. This long-continued intimacy and delicacy of co-operation, combined with human powers of vocalization and the other conditions we have mentioned, must develop signal-
ing to such a high degree and under such circumstances as to lead to, symbols.
Consider an example of the kind of social interaction which might be most likely to lead from signaling and sign meaning to communication and symbolized meaning. Suppose I gather pebbles and hand them to another, he throws them to a third and the third catches them and puts them into a basket. Then we change places, I take the part of throwing and the others shift accordingly. Thus each learns the order of events as they transpire relative to each separate position. Consequently, when another assumes the rble which I now fill and I take his position, his behavior may become for me something more than a sign of how I must adjust my conduct in adaptation to his. I have previously held his position and entered into the order of events from that standpoint. Hence I may read in his behavior the order of events as this order is implicated in his behavior. When I do this his behavior is no longer a mere sign stimulating me to make appropriate motions in adaptation to him. It becomes a symbol which represents a course of behavior which is not involved merely in my own situation and viewpoint. Rather, his behavior represents a total system. of relations which is common to us all and into which anyone may enter who desires to play a part in the game. As soon as I am able thus to grasp a system of relations which applies indifferently to each and
all, I have reached the level of communication and personality. When this happens the behavior of another, including the sounds he emits, can be more than signs stimulating me to make anticipatory adjustments to what will happen next. Now these sounds and other behavior can communicate to me a system of relations which we can all share in common. Thus we are able to develop a community, to share meanings, to build up by progressive integration an ever more elaborate and comprehensive systemof relations by which to control the course of events and to experience more of the fullness of the world. Thus the individual can escape from the prison house of his own organism and the bearing of the immediate concrete situation upon his own body. Now he can view the world from a standpoint which is not peculiar to himself, but which can be assumed by anyone who is able to communicate with him about the matter. Thus it is a viewpoint which can be shared in common. And, what is equally important, this point of vantage can be made to command a survey and a control of more of the world progressively, because different individuals and successive generations can improve it and hand it on to the next with this added scope.
This organized co-operation in which human organisms learn to communicate, which we have illustrated by the throwing of pebbles, is forced upon the group of human adults by the
necessity of caring for the young. All living organisms must co-operate more or less, but none is required to co-operate in such a complex and delicate operation, requiring such reconstructions of the system, as human adults in caring for their young. Thus the prolonged helplessness of the human infant, with the required organization and reorganization of adult cooperation, might well have been the chief factor in causing interaction between human organism and environment to pass over into the form of symbolic representation, or communication, thus producing personality, spirituality, and all human greatness.
Whether our description is a correct portrayal of how it all happened, may be questioned, but we contend that communication is what transforms a mere animal into a personality. The fruits of communication with symbols are: truth and the quest and prizing of truth, personal affection and the cultivation and enjoyment of affection, beauty and the appreciation and creation of beauty, political organization and economic exchange. These are also the distinctive marks of personality. Hence communication is what makes personality.
WHAT IS THE VALUE OF PERSONALITY?
The next question we must ask concerning personality is, What constitutes its value? It is common to say that personality constitutes the
greatest value we know. It seems to us more accurate to say that personality is one component in that structure which constitutes greatest value. Our reason for saying this is that personality as a structure cannot stand alone. As we have seen, a personality cannot develop by itself. The interaction between organism and environment can develop into a personality only when there are two or more such organisms interacting with the physical world and with one another by means of symbols. The fact that personality essentially involves communication would seem to demonstrate this. After a personality has been developed, it may be isolated from other personalities so far as concerns physical proximity; but if this, isolation is too long continued and is complete, so that all communication with other personalities is impossible, the personality shrivels. It becomes less and less of a personality. The individual approximates more and more to the status of a mere animal. And all the values which we have listed as the values associated with personality and meaning sink and fade.
So we say it is not any single individual personality that constitutes greatest value, but, rather, that order in which personality is one essential component and which fosters and develops personality. Thus the highest possible value, so far as we can see, would necessarily involve the most complete development of person-
ality. But in no case would that value consist solely in personality, but, rather, in an association of communicating personalities along with physical conditions and symbols. Personality would be one factor, but not the whole.
So we believe it is better to say, not that personality is the greatest value, but, rather, that personality is a necessary component in the greatest value. The great value of personality, then, lies not in the fact that it is an end in itself, for it is not an end in itself. Rather, its great value lies in the fact that it is a means to an end. It is a means to the end of greatest value not in the sense of being outside of that greatest value, but, rather, in being one essential factor which must enter in to make it up. The greatest value is an association of personalities communicating with one another by way of physical conditions and symbols, and thus achieving truth, beauty, art, personal affection, moral goodness, and all the other great values. The greatest value, then, is not a personality, for a personality is an impossible abstraction. It is, rather, a society of personalities in which each personality as a member of the society makes the maximum contribution of which he is capable to that total structure which constitutes the supreme good. In this sense the value of personality lies in being a means and not in being an end, even though Immanuel Kant affirmed the opposite.
Take, for example, that which is considered one of the greatest of values, personal affection. Plainly, personal affection is not a personality. It is an association of personalities. It is that kind of association of personalities in which physical conditions and meanings are so adjusted with respect to two or more living organisms that there can be communication, mutual understanding, and integration of visions, mutual intensilleation of joys and mutual assuagement of sorrows and a common cause to serve. This structure constituting the value of personal affection is experienced by the personalities. But what each personality experiences is not merely himself. Neither is it merely the other personality. On the contrary, it is the total structure constituted by their association and involving physical conditions, meanings, and living organisms.
Hence the value of personal affection cannot be identified with personality, however indispensable personality may be to it. While personality is indispensable, it is no more indispensable' than the physical conditions, the organisms, and the meanings. Indeed, personality is, we repeat, an impossible abstraction without these, just as a smile is impossible without a face.
What has been said about the value of personal affection is true of all the other great values associated with personality. In no case can they be identified with personality. Person-
ality is simply one factor which enters into the total complex which constitutes them.
GOD VERSUS PERSONALITY
With this understanding of personality let us return to the question, Is God a personality? Perhaps all who entertain the idea of God will agree that God must be the supreme good or the greatest value. But we have seen that the greatest value cannot be a personality. Therefore God cannot be a personality. But please take note: We deny personality to God not because he has less value than personality, but precisely for the opposite reason. We deny personality to God because he must have greater value than any personality can ever have. A personality, as we have said, cannot stand alone. It is a mere abstraction. The greatest value is an association of communicating personalities together with all the highest undiscovered possibilities involved in such an association, to be actualized in the future.
As a matter of fact, this is what ancient Christian tradition has always affirmed in the doctrine of the Trinity. We do -not want to resurrect the doctrine of the Trinity in its primitive form, nor, for that matter, in any form. We merely refer to it to point out that this recognition that personality is not the highest value is not something new in our Christian tradition. Many have spoken as though Christianity has always
claimed that personality constitutes the greatest value. We cannot find that such is the case, not even in the case of Jesus. The kingdom of God was for him the greatest value in the form of possible existeum But the kingdom of God was not a personality. It was an association of communicating personalities. It could not exist without personalities. It could not even be a recognizable possibility of existence without personalities in existence. But it was not a personality. It was a structure made up of living organisms, physical conditions, and meanings. A kingdom of God which did not involve physical conditions, living organisms, and meanings is nowhere suggested by Jesus.
So we conclude that if God constitutes the greatest value, he cannot be a personality.
What, then, is God? Is he that possible structure of existence which constitutes the greatest value in the form of an ideal? No, for there is something which has even greater value than that possible structure of existence called the supreme ideal. This something having greater value includes the ideal, but is more. It is that order of actual and possible structures of existence which includes that ultimate consummation which Jesus called the kingdom of God. It is not the total cosmic order. It is not the order of nature, taking nature in its totality. It is that order of structures of value, actual and possible, which will ultimately issue in the realiza-
tion of the greatest value when we rightly conform to its requirements. That is what God is. He is not merely a possibility. He is an order which includes both a part of actuality and a part of possibility. He is an order which is partially actualized in existence.
Some will object to applying the word "order" to God. Itsounds so cold and barren. But that is due to the psychological connotation of the word. Some words are warm and vibrant with emotion because of the associations they carry. Other words are not. In worship and exhortation and in that thought and communication in which we are trying to develop certain personal attitudes these warm and glowing words should be used. Any others would be out of place. But when we are trying to get the most adequate concept we can of the truth, these glowing words of emotion are just as much out of place as the other kind are in love and worship. When they are introduced into the labor of intellectual inquiry, they confuse and befuddle. And inasmuch as they do,thus lead our thinking astray they lead us into error which in the end will drive out our love and worship. Therefore, for thesake of love and worship, we must be able to use at the proper time and place these cold words with steely sharp edges that can cut their way through tangled confusion. That person who facetiously suggests that we address God in prayer as, "O thou order of structures of exist-
ence constituting value, present in the process of existence and including possibilities yet to be experienced as values, hallowed be thy name," may be funny or he may not. But in any case, he has missed the whole point of definition. He is trying to pray to a definition, which is plainly a hopeless confusion of thought. Such a person may be an excellent personal leader as a man among men, but he is not a competent thinker. He does not know how to distinguish between a definition and the reality defined.
Various arguments are advanced to justify the claim that God is a personality. One runs like this. I want a God with whom I can have fellowship, with whom I can share my sorrows and troubles as with a friend, with whom I can talk and who, perhaps, will talk with me. If God is not a personality who can give me this kind of fellowship, he is nothing to me. As a God he is worthless.
Anyone who makes such a statement as that is revealing the cloven hoof of a godless religion. Instead of subordinating his own desires to the end of discovering what in actual fact does constitute the greatest value, he takes the opposite course. He sets up his own desire as a model and then insists that God must be made in the image of that desire or else abdicate the status of God. Suppose one set up his uncultivated desires as standard for judgiug the literary merit of the works of Shakespeare. He finds
that the jingles of the neighbor across the street satisfy his desire, but that Shakespeare, to his taste, is worthless. Therefore, these jingles are great literature while the works of Shakespeare are not.
Anyone who sets up his own uncultivated desire as standard of value for poetry or for good society or for the kind of person to have as a friend or for any other kind of value including God, is setting up a false standard. The greatest value must be that which we can experience as greatest value; but the desires which can find satisfaction in greatest value must be cultivated and disciplined and developed by criticism and by experimentation and by prolonged and ripened experience. Whatever God truly is, that he is; and anyone who refuses to consider anything as God save that which he happens most to desire, is the devotee of an idol because he is not even seeking for that which truly does constitute theorder of value in devotion to which all men can find community and oneness of life. If God is a person who can talk with us, so he is; but the fact that I happen to desire that kind of a God is no evidence at all that God is truly of that sort.
Another argument advanced for personality of God is that only with such a God can we have personal relations. This alsoseems to be setting up our own personal preference as standard of what God must be. But it brings up a very im-
portant point which must be considered on its own merits.
What is meant by personal relations with God? Does this argument mean that if God is not a personality, we cannot find in God the kind of response we find in a personality? In one sense that statement is true, but in that sense it is a mere tautology. It is merely saying that if God is not a personality, he is not a personality. But if it means that we get no response from God, or if it means that the response we get from God is not as worthful as the response of a personality, then it is mistaken. For we do get response from God, and the kind of response we get from God far exceeds the value of any response which any personality could make. When we as personalities conform to the requirements of this order throuilt which and in which the highest possibilities of value are realized, the world leaps forward toward the highest value. This kind of response constitutes far greater value than the personal comfort and consolation we might receive from a mere personality. It may not be what we want, but if it is not, may it not be because our wants are selfish and childish? To be mature means to lose our personal self-centered wants in devotion to the highest value that reality can offer.
Another claim put forward for personality in God is very different. It is scarcely an argument at all, yet it is often heard. It comes from
the ecclesiastic and runs something like this: What you say about high devotion and forgetting yourself in the service of a cause may be all very true for the highly cultivated and rare individual. But the great mass of people cannot rise to that level. They cannot respond to a God such as you propose. It is the warm fellowship of a fatherly personality that they want, and if you do not give them that, you cannot do anything with them.
This, we repeat, is scarcely an argument. Of course we cannot construct a God to serve the needs of the common man. God is what he is. If the common man does not respond to God as he is, then shall we say, So much the worse for God, or, So much the worse for the common man? But we do not think it is necessary to say either one. It is not true that the common man is incapable of devotion to a cause in which personalities are subordinated rather than served. A great war is not a worthy cause, but in every great war we see common men by the thousand and the million rise up in self-dedication to a cause which they do not understand, but which they believe to be worthy of supreme deVotion. The common retort is that they do it for the sake of wife and children and other personalities that are dear to, them. But that is not true. They are willing to sacrifice wife, children, home and all, if the cause seems to them to be of vast import. Of course they know that they are serving
something in which personalities are involved and doubtless believe that posterity will profit by their sacrifice. But these personalities are not intimate personal associates. They are simply a part of the order for which they live and die. Therefore we believe this plea for personality in God in order to awaken religious response in the common. man is a libel on the common man.
The various arguments put forward to justify belief in the personality of God cannot all be considered here. We have mentioned the above more to suggest what is involved than to try to meet all the claims that might be put forth.
The real point of the whole issue is this: Man must find something greater than personality to serve. God is that something greater. The greatness of personality lies in the fact that it can serve that order of existence and possibility in which are found the greatest values that can ever be achieved. God is precisely that order. That order includes, personalities, but is more than personality. Personalities together with symbolized meanings and communication are essential to the maximum realization of that order which is God and which constitutes the greatest value. That order is personal, if by that one means personalities are involved in it. But that is all that can be meant. Perhaps that is all that is needed to satisfy the craving of any human heart. But the craving of the human
heart cannot be taken as standard for judging what God must be. If we did take such a standard, opium would be God for some craving human hearts, and bloody vengeance for others.
One last objection we must consider to the use of our word order as applied to God. Order seems to suggest something passive, inefficacious, that does nothing. But here, again, we believe, we have merely the psychological association of a word. As a matter of fact, there is nothing we can specify which is not an order. A personality is an order. So are a government and a pebble on the beach. Force, power, change, cannot be specified except by the order they assume. There is a process, a flux, a perpetual transition which Whit0head calls creativity. But this process of existence assumes various orders. When it does assume any one definite order, that order has power to do things and to make a difference because it is an order of change. That is the only way in which anything ever is done, namely, by some order which is exemplified in the process of existence. Therefore, order is not powerless or inefficacious when and in so far as it is the order of existence. [Whitehead claims that God as order of possibility is also efficacious.] The order of value is not the only order of existence, but is one order of existence and as such has power to do things just as any order of existence has. Hence God as an order is a power. He brings things to pass.
How pervasive and dominant throughout the whole process of existence may be this order constituting value we cannot here say. But it is far more extensive than any personality is or could be.
God is the personality-producing process of the universe, to use the expression of Shailer Mathews. But he is not himself a personality. God sustains and develops personality because God is that ordered process which generates the greatest possible value; and personalities seem to be indispensable components of the greatest values. But personality is not the goal or end of this order which is God. Rather, personality seems to be a necessary incident in the actualization of highest values.
It will be pointed out that we have occasionally referred to God as "he" and "him" and "himself." Why use the personal pronoun if God is not a personality? Our reply is that we do not always use the personal pronoun. We often use the word "it." But the reason we do somefline& use the personal pronoun is because "it?' suggests something less than personality, such as sticks and stones. To use a word which suggests error, is to deceive. Thus "it" applied to God becomes deceptive. But so also the personal pronoun is likewise deceptive. What word, then, shall we use? Let him who can solve that problem cast the first stone. That order which is God demands such a different state of exist-
ence than the one in which we now live that our very language needs to be changed. As a matter of fact, it is constantly being changed.
We first refer to God as an order and then as a process. Is there not an inconsistency there? No. Every order of existence is the order of some process and every process which can be described is the exemplification of some order. A process which was not also an order would be chaos. God is an order which is partially exemplified in the present process of existence. But most orders require much more than the present momentary state of existence to exemplify them. That order which constitutes a score of music, for example, requires several minutes to be embodied in existence. The order which constitutes a personality requires more time. A political order may require several centuries to work itself out in existence. That order of value which we call God may require much longer. Hence we cannot find God merely by looking at the present state of existence. The past and present must be observed and the future must be anticipated. As a matter of fact, this is what all scientific investigation does.
Is it possible to Pray to God if he is of the sort we have indicated? That depends on what one means by prayer. If by prayer I mean the power of words to persuade God to do things,
then prayer is futile and foolish. But if by prayer I mean the power of a certain attitude of the personality to so affect that order of interconnected physical conditions, biological organisms, and communicating personalities which yields the greatest values so that things happen for the good which would not otherwise occur, then prayer is efficacious and very important. Prayer does not consist primarily in movements of the larynx and vibrations of the air. It consists. in a certain disposition of the personality. Any attitude or disposition of the personality is prayer if it is. deliberately directed to that order which is God to the end of bringing about some good thing. Deliberately to readjust the attitudes of the personality so that they may better fit into the order of God and thus bring about some desired and beneficent result, generally requires the use of words, that is, movements of the larynx and vibrations of the air. But these latter do not constitute the prayer. They could occur without any prayer at all. One might utter the words of the most devout prayer that was ever breathed and yet not be praying at all. It is the attitude of the personality which is the prayer, and not the words.
With this understanding of the nature of prayer the whole question of the power of prayer to bring about observable results in the objective world boils down to this: Does an attitude of the personality deliberately established to meet
the requirements of that order which is God have power to make the objective observable world different? Our reply is: It certainly does. Anyone can try it and observe the consequences. For example, I find myself working with a group of men at the offi-ce. At some time of solitary worshipful meditation I consider that group in its hearings upon that order of the world which makes for greatest values. Then I examine my own attitudes toward them and toward the order of physical conditions, biological organisms, and communicating personalities which is God. I see where some attitude of mine can be improved. I use words to express and establish this improved attitude toward the group as factors in the total order of value which is God. The words are incidental. The prayer is in the attitude. Perhaps the attitude is one of meekness, sympathy, and good will toward the order of God as it enters into this group. If my attitude is the needed attitude, I shall be able to observe a change in that group and in the whole appearance of the office. The order of God will become more potent and pervasive, in that office. By order of God we mean the order of community which leads to the highest values. Thus God answers my prayer. Prayer is efficacious. The objective world in some definite and observable way is changed for the good by the intervention of God. The intervention of God means the fuller entry into our present existence of that
order of community which leads to the greatest values.
Consider another example. Suppose I am in ill health. There is an ordered process which heals and builds up the organism, which knits the bones and cleanses the tissues and makes for health. This biological process must not be identified with God. But when this biological process is so related to physical conditions and communicating personalities as to sustain and promote the greatest possible values, this interrelationship is the order which is, God. Therefore, the biological process of health under certain conditions and in certain connections with many other factors does enter in to make up that order which is God. In ill health, then, one may retire for prayer and seek out that order of interrelationship between biological process of the organism, the needs of other personalities, the important tasks to be done and, in short, endeavor to grasp as well as he can what are the requirements of the order of greatest value. Then he can seek to establish in himself that attitude which, so far as may be, will meet those requirements. Sometimes these requirements may demand a sacrifice of health. Or, again, one may not be able to get any adequate notion of what may be the requirements of the order of greatest value in the complex situation in which he is placed. If he comes to that conclusion after earnest search and thought, he will simply yield
himself to that order in an attitude of complete devotion, not knowing what its requirements are, and will do something experimentally, the best he knows. But that attitude of devotion will be his prayer, and it will lead him on to search and act, with poise and indestructible courage. Searching out the way of life in such an attitude has observable results, and those results are of very marked value, even when health fails and death ensues. The world is made better by such prayer. On the other hand, however, one is far more likely to find the way to meet the requirements of health in such an attitude than in any other.
Prayer consists in the deliberate outreach of my personality after that order of value which is God. It does not consist in the words that I vocalize. If this outreach achieves better personal adjustment to the order of God, things will begin to happen for the good as they did not and could not as long as my attitude did not meet the requirements of this order. Therefore prayer is not only efficacious, but supremely important if God be of the character we have represented him to be.
If a man is intelligent and correctly informed, there is nothing that can arouse in him such passionate searching as the endeavor to find and fit his personality into this order in the processof the world which leads to the greatest values. This searching and this finding is religion.
But this order of God is like the fire that burns and the torrent that destroys. For its fuller entry into our existence will necessitate the destruction of our present way of life with the institutions, ideals, cravings, satisfactions and beliefs that sustain it. We can find our way to the higher order only through the flames of destruction and transformation.
The present status of human existence must be destroyed, and it surely will be. Either its destruction will be the fuller entry into existence of that order which yields the greatest possible value through communication or else it will mark the relapse of human existence to the plane of animal living where mutual adaptation of organic responses without community of mind is the dominant goal of endeavor. There must be decision one way or the other.
There is zest and joy in striving to satisfy the cravings of the organism without regard to anything else. There is zest and joy, however bloody may be the way. Also there is zest and joy in striving to satisfy the needs of personality through communication and the boundless extension of community. But there can be no zest and joy when we strive to do both in such a way that each blocks the other. The way of the beast and the way of personality both sustain a drive of life which will not flag nor fail. Suicide will not be practiced if life be given over completely to either. But suicide, despair, and boredom
haunt the life that will not give itself in complete abandon to one or the other. The duality. that stultifies all passion and compulsive lure because it will not choose and be made over into the single nature that is chosen, is the way of death.
In this No Man's Land where we now dwell, which is neither beast nor personality, neither efficient organic adaptation nor profound mutual understanding, neither lust untrammeled nor love abounding, neither ruthless fulfillment of organic need nor unbounded extension of community, in such a state pessimism, cynicism, ennui, fatigue, and discouragement are bound to mount like an ash heap higher and higher while the little blaze we call life will sink to ail ember. We must decide between these two ways of life and dedicate ourselves irrevocably to one or the other, no matter what the cost. Otherwise neither the joy of life which the beasts possess nor the joy of unrestrained community through communication can be ours.
Destruction of our present order (or disorder) is inevitable. It is only a question of what the destruction will bring forth. Will it bring to dominance the order of the biological organism, subordinating everything to organic adaptation, or will it bring to dominance theorder of personality, subordinating everything to communication and community? It must be one or the other. The present duality of orders, striving
to keep both dominant, may continue for a few thousand years. But eventually one or the other must prevail, one or the other be made subordinate. This is one of the supreme issues of life both for each individual and for the race. We must decide for community, communication, and personality or else for that mutual organic adaptation displayed by the ants and bees which satisfies all biological craving, but excludes that kind of communication which distinguishes personality. For us there can be no middle ground between these two alternatives. In our present state we are vacillating between the two. But this vacillation cannot continue. We must go one way or the other. And either way we go will require a reconstruction of our existence so radical that it will rend and crush unless it is very, very slow.
Prayer at its best is the deliberate establishment of those attitudes of personality through which the order of Grod can possess the world. It produces objective and observable consequences which can be noted.