Arnold and God

By Ruth apRoberts

University of California Press





Carlyle said a man’s religion is the chief thing about him.

Arnold’s (MA) work on religion has been avoided.  People don’t like religion. 

But religion gives us our best window on his literary criticism and the urgency for his education, politics and ‘culture’ programs.


MA got his sense of the wholeness of culture from German Historicism, of which Darwinian evolution may be perceived as a part.


The Higher Criticism was a recognition of development in religion; the great doctrine of Bildung, which recognized our ever incomplete development.  And we must develop our powers harmoniously. 


Viii Historicism and Bildung ultimately imply the philosophy of Bildung – and they both imply the philosophy of fictions.


We are each simply links between the past and future.



Page 1

The Gypsy Scholar shows that our efforts are not in vain.  It’s source is Joseph Glanvill’s The Vanity of Dogmatizing.  This is a theme for MA.

MA seeks to refute the evangelicals with sweet reason.

MA’s career is remarkably consistent thematically – his poetry through to his religious work have the same themes.


2 – Here apRoberts wants to look at one strand: vocation.  Many of his poems are about the role of the poet.


It is true that it distorts our reading of the poems to just see them as harbingers of the future.  BUT, it also harms our understanding of his work to not integrate it and know the ending .


MA’s poems chronicle the ‘main movement of mind’ during his time and this has become our reality: we are no longer religious and have nothing to replace it.


3 – This has led to an “advancing tide of irrationalism, surging around and threatening our bulwarks of Hellenism.


MA thought there’d be ever more rationalism, he didn’t see this – though he more analyses his time and does not make certain prognosis, as a rule.


4 - In his poem resignation he sees God in culture, or that which does not cease.


5 – Even the young MA cries out against literalism. All religions fulfill a deep human need.


6 – ApRoberts is developing a theme of ecumenicalism, that I do not see.  His remarks on Islam are biting.


apRoberts thinks MA adopts more of a “Victorian sage voice” than other poets. 


7 – Early poetic bits show the nature of his mission: 1) the obligation to serve society and 2) the service is to be through combining the office of the poet with seer, prophet, or priest. And, 3) the poet-priest’s sphere of activity, poetry and religion, seem to be undifferentiated.


apRoberts calls this the poetry-religion continuum. Its agency is the broad church, its agents are the clerisy (example: Thomas Arnold – poet, scholar, teacher, clergyman), and its model might be Rubgy itself, and later Oxford.


8 – Symbolism, in both ancient and recent times is recognized as common to religion and poetry.


Susanne Langer has called us ‘the symbolizing animal.’


10 – Glanvill was an oxford man, but joined the Cambridge Platonists, who were anti-Calvanist and the precursors of the Broad Church of the nineteenth century.  


11 - Glanvill had a strong sense of the limitations of reason.  Basil Willey says Glanvill created the phrase the “climate of opinions.”


12 – Though skeptical, Glanvill says in philosophy he is a seeker.


13 – The withdrawal theme is frequent in Arnold’s poetry.  The Scholar-Gipsy’s withdrawal may be taken as a withdrawal into poetry itself, whereby one acquires a lore, and builds the strength to become a force in society.


14 – Glanvill was a cleric, that is, one whose business was religion.  And, apRoberts thinks we need to look at Arnold as one who makes his business religion too.


15 – Having trouble reaching his audience, apRoberts thinks with the Thyrsis MA turns to ironic prose, with its distancing.


16 – In reference to Empedocles, apRoberts writes, herein, with ‘”all the wisdom of his race’ invokes the tradition, which Arnold understands as “steadying” and benign, potent against the “multitudinous” of modern intellectual life.”


17 – “He fables, yet speaks truth!” Empedocles exclaims in an ecstasy of literary criticism.


18 – Arnold, in his mood of rejection, castigated the poem Empedocles as part of the enervating modern ‘dialogue of the mind with itself.’


19 – Yet in Empedocles’ last apology he seems to say he dies a hero in the “life of mind” as the Victorians called it.


19 – Callicles is to Empedocles as art is to science, religion to theology, literature as to dogma.


The last word is Callicles’, and it is a hymn, connecting religion and poetry.


20 – apRoberts says she sees MA’s religious mission as paramount.  “For all his cool Tyrian irony he felt himself, with a rather Miltonic arrogance perhaps, to be rejustifying the ways of God to man.”


In 1876, MA published an essay called, “A Psychological Parallel.”  (21) the parallel in the title is between St. Paul and the Platonists.  


Herein MA writes “The noblest races are those which know how to make the most serious uses of poetry.”  MAs mission: “his literary theory would appear to be handmaiden to his main vocation: to revalidate religious texts, and to regain the joy whose grounds are true.”



Page 22


Robert Browning’s father told him the story of the Illiad when he was a five years old. Later Friedrich August Wolf, in 1795, showed the Illiad was not true. 


24 - He wrote a poem on this Higher Criticism (of the Bible) and seems to say “the pity of it.”


25 – Browning and Arnold’s friendship seem to have been deep and sympathetic.


26 – Vico’s cyclical theory, such as Herder’s, takes on a spiral movement, implying a slow eddying progress.  The early stages of society use unexamined  symbols and metaphors, or myths. Homer and the Bible are examples.


They are taken literally at first, then later they become thought of as symbolic, yet invaluable to teaching us about ourselves morally in regards to one another and eternity.


Herder’s central principle is ‘Entwicklung’ (usually translated as ‘development’).


27 – “higher criticism” in its 19th century sense, is usually said to start with Johann Gottfried Eichhorn.  In 1787he wrote that people have been reading the bible with no sense of its place in history or the peculiarity of its language.


Higher Criticism is also traced the books called “backgrounds” in Victorian literature.


28 – People say MA’s scholarship on religion has been superseded.  apROberts says ‘no’ it has hardly been noticed.  And, it isn’t largely factual, it is interpretive.


29 – HIGHER criticism involves generalized criticism, via philosophy, and theology, genre, anthropology, archaeology, etc.  It is removed.    LOWER involves linguistic evidence.


But there is another sense of ‘HIGHER’ as more evolved. 


30 – This is the wider Viconian stages-of-civilization sense, which sometimes “presupposes a kind of Darwinism.”


31 – Everyone remembers the medieval tradition of the fourfold exegesis: literal (historical), allegorical, moral and analogical (mystical). 


Bacon and Descartes raised questions about the Bible’s authority as they said reason must be the ‘ultimate’ criterion.’


32 – Higher Criticism is a many – fathered thing.   But for Arnold studies it is Spinoza. Spinoza’s tractus’ is essential background to the Germans – Herder, Goethe, and Hegel.”  But his influence on MA is direct and early.


To master Spinoza is to half-master MA’s religious teaching. 


The French pioneers of Higher Criticism do not directly influence, it seems, MA.


36 – There was probably some hostility to ‘rationalism’ due to its association with the French Revolution. 


But it was different in Germany.  They were secular, but the motive force in them was often Protestant pietism.   And, here, biblical criticism flourished.


37 – Carlyle wrote that Shakespeare was truer than reality itself, since unmixed reality bodied forth in them under more expressive symbols.


This new German learning has Goethe for its greatest exemplar, but the most influential to Carlyle and Arnold (somewhat through Carlyle) is Johan Gottfried von Herder.


38 – Herder has a philosophy called “entwicklung” which becomes Carlyle’s ‘eternal growth,’ Arnold’s ‘becoming,’ and Browning’s ‘development.’


39 – But throughout this, Herder is barely acknowledged, while Carlyle receives praise. 


40 – This may due to what Harold Bloom called “anxiety of influence.”


The culmination of the Enlightenment in Germany was in the court of Frederick the Great.  This made the cimate that gave us Lessing, Kant, Herder, Goethe, Schiller and the Humbolts. 


Lessing, one of the first neo-Spinozists, questioned conventional scholarship and spoke against dogma.


Johann Georg Hamann (1730 – 88) held that there was no thought apart from language.  The proper human mode is the language of intuitive reason – (possibly a prototype for Arnold’s ‘imaginative reason.’)


41 – Such is the language of the Bible; God is “the poet at the beginning of days.”


One of the remarkable things about Herder is how reminiscent of Vico he appears to be. 


MA is very reminiscent of Vico.


42 – MA read Herder’s 2-volume Ideas Toward the Philosophy of History repeatedly.


Like Goethe, Herder combines a broad knowledge of science with his humanism.  He shows man in his largest context, cosmic and biological, as a creature developed from lower forms (anticipating Darwin). 


Just as every man is unique, so is every society.


43 – The historian must rid himself of his own perspective and sympathetically enter other cultures’ ‘fortgang’ or progress.   The corresponding phenomenon for individuals is ‘bildung.’ This ruling concept originates with Herder and characterizes the whole German movement.


Bildung is the “willed harmonious development in the individual of all aspects of the human – as distinct from animal – potential, which Herder calls Humanitat.”


Herder, copied verbatim by Arnold wrote “Every beast attains what his organization can attain; man only reaches it not, because his end is so high, so extensive, so infinite.”


44 - Herder also, copied by MA, wrote, “Horrible is the view that finds in the revolutions of the earth only rack and ruin, ever beginnings without ends, eddyings of fate without lasting design.  The chain of development alone makes out this rubble a whole, in which indeed individual human forms pass away, but the human spirit lives, immortal and prevailing.”


The chain of bildung or culture here represents his vision of the new firm view, the saving, sense-making principle.


45 - From memory, MA quoted Herder, “It is culture [bildung] alone which binds together the generations which live one after the other as men who see [but] one day, and it is in culture [bildung] that the solidarity of mankind is to be sought, since in it the strivings of all men coincide.”


We’re all bound in humanitat.   Religion, then, as well as all other aspects of man, share in the perpetual becoming.  Herder believed that literary culture was the most precious product of a society and that it created society in a way that Isaiah Berlin called expressionism.


46 – Herder’s greatest educational act was awakening young Goethe from a complacent Rococo irrationalism to become Germany’s greatest poet.


48 – Schiller proposes that there are certain individuals, ‘schone seelen, ‘beautiful souls’ in whom inclination and duty are in harmony.


49 – Goethe also feared dogmatic interpretations of the Bible.  He wrote, “I am convinced the Bible becomes even more beautiful the more one understands it; that is, the more one gets insight to see that every word, . . .


50 – Eichhorn and Herder establish the custom (MA follows) of referring to the Bible as “oriental.”


51 – Schleiermacher sees the Bible as emotional, and thus joins the Spinozist-Arnoldian – Jamesian line that takes experience as paramount.


53 – Michael Timko argues that Victorianism is distinct from Romanticism – and whatver it is that we’re embarked upon now.   Where the Romantic asserted his subjective sense of self, the Victorian questions his identity and even questions the possibility of knowing his identity. 


Second, the Victorian wanted to distance himself from nature; the Romantic wished to identify with it.  Victorians thought nature red in tooth and claw.


Carlyle says, “Close thy Byron, open thy Goethe!  For sake the “dandy of sorrows” and “know what thou canst work at.”


54 – Darwin’s Descent of Man is really the ascent of man into higher and higher forms (which will need a Higher Criticism).  The Victorian way is to develop away from the Beast, and in Arnold’s case, this meant into the State as the collective ‘best self.’



Page 56


In terms of the domestic influences on Arnold’s religious thought, Coleridge comes first.


57 - Though the Wordsworths were intimate friends.  They presided over Matthew’s holiday haunts.


The New Higher criticism had its first great spokesman in Coleridge’s Constitution of Church and State (1830).   This set a direction of thought, that Matthew Arnold’s father, Thomas Arnold (TA), and MA developed.


Coleridge’s vision of church and state related in an association of duties becomes for TA a vision of church and state as virtually identical.   MA has to deal with the practical implications.


Coleridge comes up with ‘clerisy’ as the guardians and disseminators of both religion and education.  MA’s developing idea of ‘culture’ or poetry-religion constitute the unified field action of such clerisy.


Arnold recognizes that Coleridge affirms the value of the Bible by the one sure test – the experimental.  In the Bible there is more that (58) finds me than I have experienced in all other books put together.”


58 – Coleridge says “Faith is allegiance of the moral nature to Universal Reason, or the will of God.”


59 – Stanley writes of the beauty of the Bible and the evil of Bibliolatry.   Both reject narrow illogical interpretations with the fullness of spiritual meaning of  the figurative interpretations.


60 – All other books are only valuable to the extent that they help illuminate the Bible.


61 – TA was the prime formative element on MA.


TA was one of the Oxford “noetics;’ The term implied TA’s principles: unquestionable piety combined with a secure faith in the power of reason to determine the nature and operation of Christianity, and a refusal to consider that piety and reason could be at odds.


62 – MA’s emphasis on 1) experience and 2) conduct are clearly of paternal lineage.   At Rugby TA combined in himself the office of teacher and chaplain.


TA’s biblical hermeneutics are bound up with a passion for history.


From Vico’s the new science TA got the driving sense that the study of the human past is a form of collective self-understanding.  TA appropriated the essential Viconian paradigm, the cycle that all societies go through: from the bestial age to the barbaric age, in which poetry and religion are merged (for poetry is the earliest form of utterance; man sings before he speaks, uses metaphors before technical terms); to the heroic, or aristocratic age, in which families (63)  unite into tribes and write their myths, their “poetic” wisdom (such was the Homeric age); to the age of “man,” where all recognize themselves as equal – aristocracy becomes outworn and as reason and intellect spread, philosophy conquers poetry and religion.


64 – The ViconianHerderian developmental philosophy of history envisages the childhood of a culture as a time when man sees events in mythic terms, when history, law, and religion are alike, poetry.


65 – TA was what was in theological circles called a liberal.   That is he looked for the kernel of truth.


66 – MA said he was the only necessary man who had the necessary culture for it.


TA had a ‘steamroller style’ wherein he said the distinction between spiritual and secular is “utterly without foundation.”


In TA’s developmental mode, the Church first has no form; then institutions evolve depending on the adherence to the forms; in the 3rd, the forms wither away and a ‘foolish zeal’ holds the husks together.


But TA does not see the resurrection as figurative.


67 - TA recognized Carlyle’s Historicism, but missed the radicalism of his thought.  MA saw how Historicism needed a retailored, nonsupernatural Christianity.  For MA, Carlyle’s religious thought became a phase on man’s way towards restabilization.


68 – 74 – List many friends of TA and domestic influences of MA.


74 – TA’s sudden death in 1842 came as a heavy blow to all the Broad Church circle.


75 – TA was unwavering that reason would guide us right.  Cardinal Newman sees rather the limits of reason and insists upon a leap of faith. MA is cool but still retains the paternal faith that reason and Christianity are not at odds.


76 – Die Kette der Bildung” “the chains or links of culture, without which the spectacle of history is unintelligible and insupportable, is a phrase MA marked with double emphasis in his copy of Herder’s Ideen.


77 – Max Muller (MA’s friend) wrote England had only 2 universities and clubs and societies that all the same people go to.  Know this and “you will understand that England hangs more closely together and knows itself better than any country in Europe.”


79 – The web that succeeded MA includes “Humphry Ward-Huxley- Leslie Stephen- and Virginia Woolf.  They show the characteristic homogeneity of England’s class culture.



Page 80

The songs of Callicles, in Empedocles, constitute a counter-movement to Empedocles’ despair.


81 – Herein is a wisdom different from Empedocles: a life close to nature, a poetic nostalgia, an invocation of the mythic and heroic, a serene acceptance of the Gods and the cosmic order and of something lasting, a touch of immortality.


This chapter traces the development of MA’s educational thought which is not different from his religious thought.


MA didn’t refuse to reprint Empedocles because it was antique but because it was too modern. Empedocles has passed the mythic and heroic, aristocratic age and so is in Vico’s 3rd stage, the ‘modern’ phase – hence the enervating ‘dialogue of the mind with itself’ like that of Hamlet and Faust.


82 – Art transcends time as it appeals to elementary feelings.  The ancients have nothing local and casual, but are accessible to us now.


Their secret is that they turn to myth, to their own prehistory.  Arnold recounts the old mythic story wherein Dionysus invented theater and this created a sense of immortal beauty.


If we follow MA’s logic, it seems the task of education is to provide the memory with an outline of the ‘wisdom of the race.’


83 – Contact with the ancients provides men “a steadying and composing effect upon their judgments, not of literary works only, but of men and events in general.”


The preface to the 1853 version ends with a dedication to what Herder called “die Kette der Bildung, ‘the chain of culture.’


“Let us not bewilder our successors; let us transmit to them the practice of poetry, with its boundaries and wholesome regulative laws, under which excellent works may again, perhaps, at some future time, be produced, not yet fallen into oblifion through our neglect, not yet condemned and cancelled by the influence of their eternal enemy, caprice.”


Caprice is MA’s word for the Victorian absurd.


84 – One skeptical response to this teaching of myth came from J. S. Mill, who said this is the religion of the ‘savages.’


85 – When Carlyle speaks of God he says he is speaking ‘the ancient dialect.”


86 – The 1853 preface had some loose ends that apRoberts now wishes to look at.


“On the modern element in Literature” was MA’s first lecture as Prof of Poetry in Oxford in 1857.  When he prints it in 1869 he says it may serve “to give some notion of the Hellenic spirit and its works, and of their significance in the history of evolution of the human spirit in general.”


He develops thereby the Viconian-Herderian historicism broached in the preface. Cultures, lke individuals, transform themselves. “Modern” phases – the age of Pericles in Greece, the age of (87) Virgil and Horace in Rome, and the present time in England – are compared, tested on the degree to which bildung takes place.


87 - The Greeks, in their ‘modern’ period produced the most adequate literature.  It delivered man by via bringing him into “possession of the general ideas which are the law of this vast multitude of facts.”


The goal is “the intellectual maturity of man himself; the tendency to observe facts with a critical spirit; to search for their law, not to wander among them at random; to judge by the rule of reason, not by the impulse of prejudice or caprice.”


In our own 20th century ‘modern’’ age, “If we have not indeed relapsed into the naēve and bloody barbarism of a pre-Vico I phase” apRoberts writes, “we doubt whether there can be general ideas or laws.”


88 – MA says the works of Pindar, Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Aristophanes are more adequate for us moderns than Homer, even.   Greek paideia prefigures bildung.


In “on translating Homer’ MA turns to a vital issue in the cause of transmitting bildung and democratic education; translation. 


89 – In France and Germany, the best minds have played a part in shaping the systems of public education – a situation very unlike that in England.


Walcott went so far to say that after the horrible 1850s, MA’s trip to the continent marked a great spiritual rebirth for him.


90 – MA related the German ideal to the New Testament – a distinction – to have recognized in Christ the ideal of Bildung.


91 – In Paul’s acceptance of human limitations the never ending process towards perfection, “reaching forth unto those things which are before.”


The essay, “Democracy” concludes “Perfection will never be reached; but to recognize a period of transformation when it comes, and to adapt themselves honestly and rationally to its laws, is perhaps the nearest approach to perfection of which men and nations are capable.”


The Great Obstacle to public ed in England was, of course, the religious one.  In France schools were either Protestant, Catholic or Jewish or common. 


92 – Rather than watered down, MA thought the French system right. 


MA’s first ed book was on primary education The Popular Education of France (1861) the second mission did higher ed, Schools and Universities on the Continent (1868).  And in 1863 – 4 he published “A French Eton.”


94 – In this writing he reaffirms bildung and says that language conditions culture.  “Each language expresses the world perceived, conceived, and felt, differently.”


95 – Humbolt wrote about the ideas and feelings of paganism in India.  The Greek effort to intellectualize everything was their divine achievement.


Herein, he embraced Humbolt’s thoughts on Greek paideia.


96 – Humboldt embodies the Arnoldian paradigm: retirement, withdrawal into oneself or the region of ideas, and return to man, to society, with something of value.  Not just an ideal, this was the fact of Humboldt’s life.


97 – One must continually change oneself, renew, become young, in order not to stultify. 


98 – Just as Humboldt, prime apostle of Herder’s Humanitat turned from self-development to his work in the state so does MA now turn to a more public career.


He thought it was a joy to be modified by a foreign influence. And, this is only a joy to a man whose center is fully established.  Through this he makes growth in perfection, enlarges his being and fills gaps in it; he unlearns old prejudice and learns new excellences; he makes advance towards inward light and freedom. Societies may use this means of perfection as well as individuals.


100 – “The thing is not to let the schools and universities go on in a drowsy and impotent routine; the thing is, to raise the culture of the nation ever higher and higher by their means,” Was a Humboldt motto.


Humboldt spent a year and a half at the head of the Education Department.


MA said a great teacher takes as little in the lesson as possible. The main part is to be borne by the learners.


101 – The French university has no liberty, and the English universities have no science; the German university has both.


The German universities seek to encourage love study and science for their own sakes.


Rather than to make a good citizen, the schools should enable a man to know himself and the world.


102 – The study of letters is the study of human force, of human freedom and activity; the study of nature is the study of human limits and passivity.


Humanities inculcates freedom in the sense of religious consciousness and morality.  This is a displacement of authority from the Church towards education, towards the University.


103 – The freedom of the university allows you to exercise your distinctive humanity.  Education is the most practical poetry; without it, literature or poetry – and myth and religion that accrete to them – cannot happen.  Bildung makes free.



Page 104


What surprised everyone when Arnold’s notebooks were published in 1952 was how much of it was primarily religious.


105 – While TA was perhaps oppressively consistent, MA was complicated.  MA did not join medieval Christianity by a leap of faith, as Newman did, nor did he dismiss it as the positivists did.


106 – In 1868 the infant Basil died, then Tommy died at 16; then in 1872 William ‘Budge” died at age 18.


After 1865 the number of entries for each year increases, and we may assume that the meditative habit in him grows.


107 – In his notebooks we see many gems.


“The true felicity and beatitude of man consists in wisdom alone, and in true knowledge.


108 – “I do not call prayer a choice and arrangement of words aimed at the sky, but [rather] a communion of thought with the ideal of light and of infinite perfections.”


“In general, the great men of antiquity were poor.  Today, everyone fails in this respect; one no longer knows how to live abstemiously.”


109 – “Man is truly a combination of eternity and time; the more he attaches himself to temporal things and reposes there, the farther he moves from eternal things.”


110 – “The essential end of art is to raise man above vulgar life, and awaken in him the feeling of his celestial origin . . . the man who takes life seriously and uses his activity in the pursuit of a generous end – there is the religious man.”


111 – I owe everything to poetry, for there is no other name to give the sum total of my thoughts.  Poetry is interpretive both by having natural magic in it and moral profundity.


112 – As with Carlyle’s natural supernaturalism, we do not have the science to explain how the great literary texts have the power to move us. That is why the phrase ‘natural magic.’


113 – In his essay on Eugenie de Guerin, MA again refers to the ‘schone seele, one whose inclinations are naturally in accord with virtue.


The essay on Heinrich Heine is uncomfortable.  Heine sees himself as a liberator.  He puts the standard inside of everyman.  But Goethe says “nothing could really be more subversive.”


115 – It appears that the least anthropomorphic member of the trinity is the more developed.  Heine helped MA see the Old Testament as a quary for metaphors.


Carlyle had already used the term “Philistine” in the Arnoldian sense, but Heine suggests the possibility of exploiting it on a grand cultural diagnosis scale as referring to the enemies of bildung – of culture.


MA is interested in Heine’s Jewishness.


116 – Happiness is not a reward for the afterlife; but here and now in the practice of virtue.  The organizing anti-random power of virtue; and the progressiveness of ‘always be making way.’


Humankind needs a mode other than the abstract, one that is easier for the intellect and more able to move behavior: religion supplies this emotion. 


117 – Christianity tends to lean on reward for virtue: Marcus Aurelius says no, it is a reward for conforming to your nature.  Aurelius achieves something of a religious emotion, a tender sentiment which is less joy than resignation.


118 – This gives this prosecutor of Christians an affinity for Christianity.


119 – MA celebrates Joubert’s wit and his rejection of religious theory for experience.  “The only happy people in the world are the good man, the sage, and the saint; but the saint is happier than either of the others, so much is man by his nature formed for sanctity.”


This very much accords with Herder’s idea of Humanitat.  “It is true that animals can hardly be good.  How much less can they be sages and still less saints.  It may be the best way to think about mankind, that man alone is capable of both moral and intellectual development and best realizes himself by pursuing it.


120 – Joubert anticipates MA’s dislike of machinery: “Let your cry be for free souls rather even than for free men.”


121 – Greater and lesser writers all have the same work: a criticism of life – MA concludes his Joubert essay.


MA tells us that our critic is our friend, “Difficulty obliges us to an intimate acquaintance with our object, and compels us to consider it in all relations.  It will not suffer us to be superficial.”


Colenso said certain sums in the Bible didn’t add up so the whole thing was invalidated.


122 – Spinoza was the best corrective to these misleading naivetes.


MA said ‘religious books come within the jurisdiction of literary criticism so far as they effect general culture.”


123 – Colenso’s work helped neither the instructed few nor the many.


The instructed few knew of what he wrote, and the many could not get Spinoza.


124 – Few are natural born thinkers.  For them, criticism is good; For the rest, religion.


125 – MA pointed out that Protestantism swept away the Pope’s infallibility: he often aligns with those who take things literally against the Catholic church to get them to his side.


But someday, MA hopes, religious life will have harmonized all the new thought with itself, will be able to use it freely.


126 – This is a curious fact. Arnold was a rationalist but his poetry does seem to work.


A question: What intellectual definition of the death of Christ has yet succeeded in placing it, for the religious life, in so true an aspect as .  . . “O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.”


The prophets are not like Christ, in communion with the mind of God or intellectuals: they excel in representing by figures. Moses saw God and saw him as angry and jealous.


127 – The sum of prophetic revelation is: believe in God and lead a good life.  The election of the Jews was a temporal thing; when the Jewish state fell the election was over, and Christ proclaims this universal law.


To love God as our neighbor is the precept of divine law and written in our hearts.  But reason tells us that miracles are impossible and to think them possible is to dishonor God.


128 – “Spinoza was an intellectual.  But, his whole soul was filed with the desire of love and knowledge of God and of that only.”


MA describes how Spinoza says letters are perishable.  To believe in them is impious.


130 – St. Francis receiving the stigmata is too much for the Protestant MA.  MA sees in Heine’s career the defect of the sensual.


131 – The Greek poetry satisfies the religious sense and the intellect.  Check Oepidus Rex: “Oh! That my lot may lead me in the path of Holy innocence of word and deed, the path which august law ordains . . . The power of God is mighty  in them, and groweth not old.”


Arnold ads “Let St. Francis, - nay, or Luther either, - beat that!”


MA challenges all, the medieval saint and the reform hero, the literary man and the holy man.  He is to be a champion of poetry without sect.


MA praised Newman’s urbanity, though Newman himself would have undervalued it.   For MA it was an important part of the soul’s health.


132 – ‘The Function of Criticism at the Present Time’ has been much studied, but looking at it with a religious eye gives us new insight.  Its ‘disinterestedness’ conflicts with its mission of ‘propagation.’ Both art-for-arts sake and social activists claim it as an ancestor.   As critical theory, the essay is strained.


133 – If religion has an interest in morality, then criticism has a religious function. 


Everyone of the people MA reviews in his criticism is a kind of saint, except Heine who gets taken to task for it.   


The essays are very moral.  And, the preface is added later (1865) that adds some playful answers with a defense of vivacity, “The last sparkle of flame before we all go into the dark . . . , the drab of the earnest, prosaic, practical, austerely literal future.”  That of the Benthamite. 


134 – And the collection ends with a prose-poem praising Oxford, where there are seekers.  One still hears the enchantment of natural magic.


135 – In his Celtic literature essays there is a romance of trying though all is lost.  That book provided the impetus for the Irish Renaissance.


136 – The essay on Celtic lit posits two Herderian axioms: “By the forms of its language a nation expresses its very self.”  And to know a people, you must know them by the very best way in which they express themselves – their literature.


MA doesn’t like two kinds of scholarship: that kind by which anything can mean anything; and that which we call reductive – material stripping. 


137 – In regards to the Celtic work, MA says to disprove literal historicity, does not negate the value of writings.  This is the principle evoked in his Bible criticism too.



Page 138


138 – Culture and Anarchy is about bildung.  The motto is “be ye therefore more perfect!”


“Culture – or bildung – is a ‘study of perfection,’ and where Arnold first defines it in ‘Sweetness and Light’ he says it combines ‘the scientific passion for pure knowledge’ with the ‘moral and social passion for doing good.’”


He seeks to render an intelligent being yet more intelligent.


139 – Bishop Wilson is frequently invoked by Arnold and is a presiding muse over Culture and Anarchy and Literature and Dogma.


Wilson calls Christ “our pattern.”


The overlap of secular culture with religion that marks Culture and Anarchy has its first serious treatment with Carlyle, who writes, “Literature is but a branch of Religion and always participates in its character.”


140 – Germans think what makes man capable of expression is chiefly language, so his being is dependent on language or poetry. 


Berlin writes, “words do not just refer, they are also precipitates of (141) an activity in which the human form of consciousness comes to be . . . This is one of Herder’s great seminal ideas.”


141 – While the standard Enlightenment view is that art teaches by imitation, the new expressionist view is that art externalizes profound feelings and thereby completes and extends human existence.


The artist is now seen as a creator.


“Language and art are the modes of communication with nature, with one’s fellow man, with God.  Religion and poetry, then, become, as in (141) Arnold, inseparable.”


142 – For Schiller “man recovers his unity in the aesthetic dimension.”  Hence the doctrine of schone seele, hence the joy of Beethoven’s 9th, that joy that Arnold feels man is entitled to by the urgency of this need.


Carlyle had cautiously made Literature a branch of religion; Arnold, taking fuller possession of the Herderian thought, really assumes their codeterminancy, using the word ‘culture’ to indicate the whole.


143 – Many have looked at Culture and Anarchy’s relation to current affairs, but not to bildung.  But, MA writes, “Not a having and a resting, but a growing and a becoming, is the character of perfection as culture conceives it; and here, too, it coincides with religion.”


The idea of beauty and intelligence (sweetness and light) which is the dominant idea of poetry, is destined to transform and govern the other moral, religious idea – where poetry and religion are one.


The love of beauty will lead us back to intelligence and the harmoniously developing whole.  Culutre rejects machinery and rejects system – Benthamism, Comtism, Jacobinism – and works towards an ideal of perfection for all.


146 – The opening essay of can is a challenge to renew religion.

The 2nd essay, “Doing as One Likes denounces freedom as a goal.  Freedom is machinery, the assertion of personal liberty, but not a goal – and it leads to anarchy.


Arnold modifies Viconian cyclical historicism into two phases: the aristocratic period of contraction and the democratic period of expansion.


A modern age like ours, (Arnold’s) stands between, developing towards democracy, and in the instability of change, there is a risk of reversion to anarchic bestiality; instead of a harmonious expansion, through culture, of democracy.


We must get past class.  As classes we are “separate, personal, at war.” “But by our best self we are united, impersonal, at harmony.”  And “this is the very self which culture, or the study of perfection, seeks to develop in us.”

The famous chapter on Barbarians, Philistines, Populace” presents the possibility of that something better in each class uniting to constitute the State, our collective ‘best self.’


147 – The warring sects put their trust in interested leaders. We need a disinterested broad church that encompasses St. Paul and Plato.


The next essay, “Hebraism and Hellenism” diagonses 19th century England.  The term Hebraism teases Puritans as it shows the Jewish base of their religion, inviting a larger view of Christianity.


148 – Both Hebraism and Hellenism seek the same aim: man’s perfection or salvation.


The chapter “Porro Unum Est Necessarium” denies that any one thing or party can solve our problems.   


149 – MA presumably knew Goethe’s “He who knows one language knows none.” Muller said the same of religions.


“Our Liberal Practitioners” argues “The State is of the religion of all its citizens without the fanaticism of any of them.” The broad church’s leadership will unite all in devotion – sans sectarianism.


“Man worships best, therefore, with community; he philosophizes best alone.”


150 – The preface to C and A is written last, so it is a retrospective.   In it he writes, “What is alone and always sacred and binding for man is the making progress toward his total perfection.”



It was Jewish and Greek, early Christianity.  But Constantine placed the human spirit, in contact with the main current of human life.


151 – Development could then proceed in harmony.  Now it cannot as science and faith pull in different directions.  Constantine’s act was justified in its fruits: great Catholic and Protestant men.


MA wants culture “By which alone man is enabled to rescue his life from thralldom to the passing moment and to his bodily senses, to ennoble it, and make it eternal.”


152 – In this period Saint-Beuve dies.  MA says he is an ideal for he is consistently a scientist, a naturalist.


Arnold says we need not an English voice, a French or American one, but a European voice.


153 – Writing on Senacour MA says he felt the bare and bleak spiritual atmosphere into which he was born.  He is a victim of the zeitgeist.  The religious need was for him, (as for all humankind) “a passion for order and harmony.”


And here he writes what is to become the headnote to Literature and Dogma.


154 -  “May we not say that the tendency to order forms an essential part of our propensities, our instinct, just like the tendency to self-preservation, or to the reproduction of the species?  . . . Insasmuch as man had this feeling of order planted in him, inasmuch as it was his nature, the right course would have been to try and make every individual man sensible and obedient to it.”


But now leaders seek to control people by means of supernatural hopes, misleading intelligence and debasing the soul.


Christianity, at a time when intelligence is spreading is offering nothing more than absurd fables.


155 – Oberman gives a versified history of Christianity: the corrupt sensation-seeking Roman world into which comes the gospel of Christ like a draught to slake a thirst.  The message of inwardness, the word found in one’s own soul.


But now he is dead!


Man must recognize the fables for what they are: dogma constructed by theologians. 

156 – The whole ‘Obermann Once More’ poem stands as a preface to Arnold’s religious books, his great effort to determine order, the alternative to anarchy.



Page 157


In coming to religion, MA was coming to the center of contemporary concerns.  These were hot topics battled out in public.


The center theme of this work, “The strongest part of our religion today is its unconscious poetry.”


158 – This is in the last part of C n A to be written, the preface; and St. Paul and Protestantism comes shortly thereafter.


Arnold’s very broad sense of the word ‘religion’ comes, in part, from his father, TA, who had taken over a good deal of the new German theory.  He was not concerned with religious discrepancy.  He didn’t even see how connected his Higher Criticism and supernaturalism were.


MA wished to take a new anthropological view, what distinguishes the human race from animals is our capacity for religion.


Herder wrote, “This is how philosophy proceeds, and the firs and last philosophy has always been religion . . . Thou [O, God] hast exalted man.”


159 – German philosophy shaped French religious theory more dynamically than English.


The Enlightenment thinkers considered religion an error of the mind.


160 – But for poetry the idea is everything; the rest is a world of illusion.


As a school official, a social critic, a literary (161) critic, MA feels called to mediate to the people the future of their cultural heritage of the art-religion continuum.


161 – Again, he called for a “European” voice, not an American one.  A Europeanness that would move us towards yet something larger.


The new learning of the 19th, with comparative anthropology and philology turned easily to comparative religion, trying to be objective and disinterested.


Max Muller in his science of religion (1870) notes that language is the necessary condition of every mental activity, religion not excluded. He envisions a parallel science of religion and of language.


162 – Muller observed that the Hebrew language did not arrive at a level of abstraction, but worked in metaphors.


163 – James did experience, and so Muller’s new science of religion flourished as a field of psychology.


Jews therefore elicited curiosity. 


Higher criticism, in its most elemental level, reminded people that the Bible is a translation.


At the same time there evolved a fresh cultural self-consciousness in Judaism itself as represented by Moses Mendelssohn.


164 – His friend Lessing wrote the book Nathan the Wise (1779), which created a romantic Judeophilia. 


165 – Then there was MA’s friend, Lady Rothschilds.  He wrote, “What women these Jewesses are! With a force which seems to triple (166) that of the woman of our Western and Northern races.”


166 – The English Rothschilds remained devoutly orthodox while sympathetic and friendly to Anglicanism.


In his assignment to inspect nonconformist schools, he inspected the Jewish Free School. 


167 – Lady de Rothschild, like MA, made a list of books to read and read them. She kept a notebook with extracts.


Rachel the actress won MA’s heart and his continental itineraries matched hers.   He wrote:


168 – In her, like us, there clashed contending powers,

Germany, France, Christ, Moses, Athens, Rome.


MA’s writing on Heine and Spinoza also took interest in their Jewishness.


169 - People compared Hillel and Jesus, and how the “golden germs” of Judaism shaped Christianity.  


170 – TA believed Jews should be barred from citizenship.


171 – England’s consciousness of Judaism was most extended, perhaps, by Disraeli.  He wrote  a trilogy, the idea of which is that social problems multiply because English life is not motivated by any great principle rooted in the religion of the past.


In the book, the hero goes to the Holy Land to elucidate “the Great Asian Mystery” and to gain divine direction for Europe.


172 - In his book we learn that “the equality of man can only be accomplished by the sovereignty of God.”


173 – It popularizes orientalism. Both languages and religions, by their transformations evolve into more and more refined and spiritualized forms.


174 – The books’ hero finds himself at home, as an English gentleman, wherever he is.  Disraeli himself converted to Anglicanism.


175 – Litrature and Dogma opens with a playful referenc to Disraeli’s latest novel, Lothair.


Religion is the great Victorian subject.



Page 176


Arnold turned to specific religious writing when he was 46, in 1869, after his sons Basil and Tommy had died.


His notebooks are full of religious quotes on those days. 


177 – That is not to say that he put aside his urbanity, his wit, and zest for the world, but there is a side of him which can be called ‘devout.’


178 – MA thinks “Dissent is divisive and debilitating in the spiritual life of the nation.”


Puritanism’s very reason for existing, its reason for breaking from the Anglican church, is a misinterpretation of St. Paul.


They have a Calvinist reading wherein there is the machinery of covenants and bargains, which is very businessman like.


179 – To know the bible one must know history, language, conventions, Hebrew, Greek, and English.


180 – Paul bends his thoughts and writing to appeal to his Jewish audiences at times.  He is, MA is stressing, an author. 


MA takes what he calls a ‘scientific’ interpretation of Paul.


181 - Being born again is a psychological state that can, as being in love indeed transform the world for us – make us die to sin.


182 – “He that keepeth the law, happy is he” is in proverbs.


183 – Paul is probably more fundamentalist than MA would have him.


184 – MA ends his Paul essay with the thought that “Science . . . will gradually serve to conquer the materialism of popular religion.”


While this didn’t happen, the scientific study of religion has flourished.   


185 – But much of it is sectarian. MAs invitation to literary study of the Bible seems largely unaccepted.


186 – The literary analysis is a triumphal idea.  Taking a Herder line, the Anglican Church is of all churches, the one best suited to the reality of historical process, not existing for special opinions but proceeding by development. It has shown freedom of mind as regards doctrine, unlike the Puritans.


This leaves room for more development.


Separation leads to a watchful jealousy rather than love, joy and peace.


Moral corruption was the reason for the reformation. There is no real reason against an ultimate “general union of Christiandom.”


It is a good vessel as it “maintained connexion with the past,” and so holds the best promise for the future.


These essays are peppered with the word ‘development,’ a clue to their Herderian base.  Even MA’s interpretation is a stage of development from the zeitgeist.


187 – The Puritans see no development.  Though they are beginning to feel the breath of the Zeit-Geist.  He ties the essence of Christianity to Bildung and the Christian idea of perfection towards which our new or un-ordinary self progresses.


One footnotes quotes Goethe, “Religion itself, like time, like life and knowledge, is engaged in a constant process of advance and evolution.”



Page 188


Three epigraphs start Literature and Dogma (LD).


1)     “May not the tendency to conduct form an essential part of our inclinations, of our instincts, like the tendency to self-preservation, to reproduction of the species?” is a quote from Senacour.


Conduct is an odd translation.  It is what rescues us from a capricious universe.


189 - Another from Butler anticipates German developmentalism:


2)     The Bible is not yet understood.  If this is to be, it will require the continuance and progress of learning and liberty, by particular persons attending to, comparing, and pursuing intimations scattered up and down it.


Then Edmund Burke:


3)     A great change will come and then people who resist it will seem perverse.

We must move with the time-spirit and his enemies are ‘perverse’ and ‘obstinate.’


MA is insightful in finding English anticipations of German thought and thus making the English feel comfortable. 


Paul looked at the New Testament, here we go to the whole bible.  So we start with Paul and move to the term God.


190 – By no means a term of science or exact knowledge, but a term of poetry and eloquence. . . . a literary term.”  He calls him ‘the moral and intelligent governor of the universe.”


How do we get this from the Bible?  Plain men do it, because, the object of religion is conduct.  Righteousness is a word found everywhere in the Bible.   The apparent division between morality and religion is wrong.


191 – The words ethical and religion both mean practical.  Religious meaning it in a higher degree.  And, the antithesis to both is theoretical.


Religion is ethics heightened, morality touched by emotion.   He writes this after growing impatient with Butler for taking terms as realities.


He wishes to use terms as others use them.  To get to it he gives us two columns, wherein the left is maxims and the right is religion.


192 - ‘We all want to live honestly, but cannot’ is Greek.  ‘O wretched man that I am , who shall deliver me from the body of death!’ Is Biblical.


193 – Some sayings from the Bible are not religious as they are not metaphorical.  Then he takes a scientific statement, “earth an oblate spheroid’ and sets it against Wordsworth’s metaphor ‘earth the mighty mother.’ This shows poetry and religion to have the same ground, metaphor.


This shows his method is ‘scientific, experimental.’  We test it on our psyches.  We feel its emotive power, its power to move us.


194 – These phrases don’t lose power when we find out they are ‘not true.’


How does one get to feel about anything, anyhow?  By staying our thought upon it, by having it perpetually in our minds.


We raise ourselves out of the flux by staying upon one thing, making order in the chaos of one’s impressions. “By attending to his life, man found it had a scope beyond the wants of the present moment.”


195 – The more men attend to the momentary self, the more they are distracted from morality.  The Hebrews were not occupied with the ¼ of ourselves not about conduct – that of theory or dogma.


We see that we have a moral nature that does not come from ourselves.  Thus, God is the ‘not ourselves.’ Arnold translates God as ‘that which endures or goes on.’


196 – This is learned by Moses in discussion.  This is anthropomorphic.  This is like the Herderian principle of ‘the common people, the folk, make poetry.’


197 – For Israel, MA says, the need to prais the not ourselves came from gratitude for righteousness, and so Israel posited the Eternal. “righteousness, order, conduct, is for Israel at once the source of all man’s happiness, and at the same time the very essence of the eternal.”


“If the object of consciousness is not one to be fully grasped, the language of figure will work better than the language of literal fact and science.  The language of science will fall short.” apRoberts writes.  [Unless we mean Darwinian morals – I add.]


198 – She ties the ‘law of being’ to Herder, but MA ties it to Darwin.   Herder wrote, “Man is organized toward” cerain capacities, toward reason, art, and language.


199 – With Israel, religion replaced morality.  

Tennyson was repulsed at this ‘ratiocination’ “Matthew Arnold – ‘Something outside of us that makes for righteousness’ – ugh!”  But that is the point the language of science is barren.


MA chafes at the old deist distinction between natural religion and religion revealed.


200 – MA says we must attend to the Bible’s words.  He is thus revalidating the Bible by means of literary criticism.  


Arnold, many have written, “can be called Christian only insofar as one allows nonsupernatural Christianity as possible.”


201 – In chapter two we see Israel gone and the rewards of righteousness seem absurd, so the idea of the afterlife begins.


202 – In chapter 3 he looks at Jesus’ inwardness.  He personalizes religion and it impacts his followers.  When he did not come back, the over belief grew. Proof was given in the form of miracles.


The proof from prophecy and miracles are chapters 4 and 5.  They dismiss miracles. It is natural for people to want an afterlife.


203 – This emphasis on miracles will lead to disillusionment. But, Christianity is the most solid of realities, and Christianity the greatest stroke ever made for man’s perfection.


We must turn to the Jews for righteousness just as we turn to the Greeks for art of Newton for physics.


204 – He makes the point to Protestants that Catholic miracles are no more believable than the original miracles.


Jesus cautioned against the belief in proof via supernatural happenings.


205 – Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe!


206 – MA says Jesus is the master of language.  MA says Jesus had ‘inwardness’ and ‘unceasing movement.’  These are the method and secret of bildung – movement towards humanitat.


207 – This involves necrosis or ‘dying to the things of this world.’  It was animal impulse or higher thought.  Conquering self is freedom.


208 – By paralleling this with Goethe’s method, he makes it natural and scientific.


Also, style is the essence of religion and Jesus was sweet and mild.  He had sweet reasonableness, (the second word mixing with the Enlightenment).


209 – Faith is clinging to our higher selves.  Overbelief is good for going higher, but, we learn iin the next chapter, we must be ready to speak of science too.


210 – 212 – She defends MA against critics of his half-faith, lack of poetic sensibility and such.  Meanwhile the literary establishment has failed to look at the Bible as literature.


213 – This is because both theologians and atheist literary critics are made nervous by MA.   He suspects the Talmudists have done to Judaism what the Christians have done to Christianity.


MA probably wouldn’t have liked the Hasid revival as he wasn’t an ecstatic type.


214 – Dogmatists still mess us up.  MA says the motor is “the conscious ardent sensation of personal love” to Jesus.


215 – The stylish poem-in-prose that is the Conclusion of L n D reconnects the ¾ of life that is conduct back to the one quarter that is intellect.   


The misapprehension of the Bible comes from the want of science and culture. 


“For the total man, therefore, the truer conception of God is as ‘the Eternal Power, not ourselves, by which all things fulfill the law of their being’; by which, therefore, we fulfil the law of our being so far as our being is aesthetic and intellective, as well as so far as it is moral.”



Page 216


Metaphor is central to MA.  It can remake the world, ravish the mind and quite possibly affect conduct.


It is implied in the literal versus the poetic – two levels of language.


The literal gives us theories, treatises, theology, dogma full-blown; the metaphorical mode give us myth, ritual, epic, all the ‘stories’ of culture.  They are made up and man makes himself by his culture.


Much is fictive; even (217) the historian must select his details and put them in a perspective skewed by his own time and self.  The wave particle duality has humbled us. Since MA’s time, the sphere of the literal has shrunken.  Even scientific descriptions are metaphorical – we now suppose.


One reason MA remains so current is that he anticipates all of this. He declares himself ‘incapable of system.’


218 – Celtic Lore, the Bible, Homer all are pragmatic; they make ourselves and our culture, giving meaning and stability to life.  To recognize them as fictive is to no means deprecate them.


As per the historicist view, certain myths function at certain stages of development and will give way to others in other stages.  For MA all is in process and provisional.


Metaphor is the smallest element of myth, the myth-eme.  God too is a metaphor.


219 – So great that the idea of God enters into the head of such a savage and vicious beast as man.


MA will exploit the fictiveness of both myth and metaphor, into new possibilities for a greater culture that embraces all art as well as religion.   Analogy itself is a form of metaphor. 


Aristotle saw metaphor as decorative and not be overdone.  Medieval saw the world as the book of God. Now MA wishes to make it all. 


220 – Glanvill is the source for much of MA’s insight. Lowth too, who looks at the two languages of Sententious and Parabolic.


221 – Vico is the pioneer of the expressionist, envisaging man making his world by symbols, myth, and fable.


Poesis replaces mimesis; we do not wish to sue poetry to think aloud.  Herder connects metaphor with the beginning of speech itself.  He sees metaphors as the distinctly human mode.


These ideas were also appearing among the English Romantics 


But, Historicism and developmentalism ask, If I am but one part in one phase of evolving cycles of society, how is it with me?


222 – Subjectivism.  Of the Victorians, apRoberts thinks MA most develops this subjectivism.   If Wordsworth is self-conscious; ma is conscious of being self-conscious.


In Germany in the 1780s Goethe and Herder were together.  Geothe collected sculls.  Herder’s Ideen traces cosmological and biological history. Carl Sagan and Herder both talk of the childhood of species. Sagan gives us the idea of the ‘extra-somatic knowledge: information stored outside of our bodies.”


223 – Herder and Sagan expect more complicated forms of consciousness in the future.


Carlyle is aware of the new self-consciousness, but considers it a sort of disease.  Buthe soaks in metaphors:  “It is in and through symbols that man, consciously or unconsciously, lives, works, and has his being.”  Symbols replace God for Carlyle.  Highest of all Symbols are those wherein the Artist or Poet has risen to a prophet, and all men can recognize a present God, and (224) worship the same: I mean religious Symbols.” 


224 – Jesus has been our highest symbol.  But symbols can get old so we need new symbols and that is the role of the poet.   


Man makes his religion and yet Carlyle is awed by his Natural Supernaturalism.


MA took this in as an adolescent.


Carlyle’s “Hero as Divinity” is very important to L n D.


225 – Carlyle’s tracing of Odin’s history is much like MA’s of Jesus.


Carlyle says “For the whole Past, as I keep repeating, is the possession of the Present.  To which religion do you adhere?  All three.


226 – Muller says the whole dictionary of ancient religions is metaphor.


Since thre are many languages, we recognize the word as provisional and relative.


For example, in the bible we have the ‘word’ but in actual translation, it likely means ‘name.’  But logos combines the sense of word with reason. 


These are good times for metaphors, today, but if we look then the metaphors we use to explain metaphors are also metaphors too.


227 – Jesus uses and exalts in metaphors often.


228 – Metaphors are shared – bound to man’s sociability. They are means by which we express or create ourselves as members of a culture  This is not reductive, he thinks metaphors our most precious possession.


It leads to Susanne Langer’s theory of man as a symbolizing anima: making symbols in art, music, religion and literature fulfills our humanness.


MA is not only against literalism, he is for fictions. This is part of his refusal to systematize.


229 – It is hardly to be expected of MA that he should exploit his discovery in theory and proceed to invent William James, Susanne Langer, Wittgenstein, Logical Positivism and such.


You can see how his thought leads to the Logical Positivists, his impulse to eliminate metaphysics for the realm of the verifiable – his destruction of dogma.


230 – Sidney said, “The poet never lieth because the poet never affirmeth.”


As an analogy for bildung, MA fastened on Keat’s “negative capabilities’ description of Shakespeare’s talent in his notebooks.  This eschews dogma.


It is no wonder that he does this in revulsion to fatiguing literal sectarianism.


231 – Now she will look at the theory of fictions that developed out of the German bildung complex.  Nietzsche more than any other came to terms with the new relativity of the century, and he proposed that truth is constrictive.   


Bentham, in an early phase, said, “To language, then – to language alone – it is that fictitious entities owe their existence; their impossible, yet indispensible existence.”


But Hans Vaihinger was much more interested in evolution and the mind’s survival power. F. A. Lange said, “Man needs to supplement reality by an ideal world of his own creation”; Viahinger expanded this to science, metaphysics, theology, social ideals, and morality.   


232 – Fictions help.  In math, impossible numbers; in sociology, the social construct; in physics the atom. In life, God.


Mind, is difficult to explain.  It comes via experience and intuition that creates a harmony that reason cannot explain.  Senseless questions are explained by looking backwards at their psychological orientation.  People who don’t work to make the world better are not good.  Religion then becomes a mode of behavior not the acceptance of theoretical views.  He holds that the striving toward the Kingdom of God is what matters, not the achieving it.


Here is the sea of more or less change that German historicism cast MA into. Here is bildung as a series of hypothesis about our time and culture, cultivating our ‘negative capability’ and our language, metaphors, myths or fictions.  “For the days of Israel are innumerable . . . culture must not fail to keep its flexibility and to give to its judgments a passing and provisional character.”  His idea of adequacy nicely represents value as a provisional and nonabsolute.


233 – MA mediates not a view of the world, but a habit of the mind.  Religion is amatter of conduct, shaped by the direction of the movement towards perfection, of which the kingdom of god is a metaphor.”  We are improved by moving towards the goal as if it existed.  With this we look at the need that the myth answered.


“The not-ourselves which makes for righteousness is the result of such research, representing the experience that imperiously demanded expression, an invention, a noble fiction, a personification – God.” apRoberts writes.


Wallace Stevens is the poet that continues this line. He writes of God as the ‘Supreme Fiction.”


234 – Kermode extends fiction theory to include literary fictions, such as “plots.”  We hear tick tick tick and make it tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.  Thus we see from genesis to the revelations or big bang to . . .


Bultmann says “Myth is the expression of man’s conviction that the origin and purpose of the world in which he lives are to be sought not within it but beyond it.”


Rather than decorative, metaphors are at the center of religious studies. Thus the main line of scholarly biblical criticism today is Arnoldian.


It is to life as a model is to science.  It allows us to see ‘as if’.  


236 – But with all metaphors, more is communicated than the words can literally say.  What the more is, is the difficulty.  They are active, lending energy; they are concise; they are appropriate; they accommodate the audience; they make an ethos.


Wayne Booth says, we care most for the metaphors that constitute our selves and societies. The quality of any culture will in part be measured both by the quality of the metaphors it induces and the quality of the judges of metaphor that it educates.”  We must have metaphors that enlarge us.  Finally, Booth says, “Metaphor . . . is not a means to other ends but one of the main ends of life, sharing metaphors becomes one of the experiences we live for.”


237 – The Bible and other metaphors help, rather than rival each other.


238 – Perhaps metaphors use both sides of our brains whereas non-fiction only uses one.



Page 239


240 – As we have made God in our own image, he has returned the compliment – we are made in his image.


241 – MA dismisses proofs of God and says, but says that the German Biblical criticism has too much “rigour and vigour” and make religion an absurdity.


Greeks had religious poetry; but the Hebrews tied it directly to conduct and so survived.  For Jews literature became religion.


The implication is that literature can become religion for us again.


242 – Moral order developed, and they ripened in man, as “the Spirit of God brooding over chaos, moving silently upon the human deep.”


For a Herderian, Darwin holds no terrors. He sees it and raises the development.


“Liturgy,” Arnold proposes, has its origin “in the stirrings we call aesthetic.” In virtue we feel more alive, in lack of virtue we are less stable, less real, less existent.


Proverbs, “As the whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no mre, but the righteous is an everlasting foundation.  As righteousness tendeth to life, so he that pursueth evil pursueth it to his own death.”


243 - The rest of the Arnold and God is technical. He talks of the differences in the books and when and how John was written and to what purpose.  And, his scholarship is current and his line has become the main line of biblical interpretation.


244 – The book of Job and Isaiah are the most beautiful and J.S. Mill or Utilitarians could never write them.  Style and art are part of the meaning.   MA meant to translate both, but only did Isaiah and then for school children, as they get no contact with worthy letters and then think letters not worthy.


245 – 7 discuss the details of translation. 


247 – In the introduction he discusses the need for joy.


248 – Herein we look at the preface to Isaiah. The history of the human spirit, we learn, takes us out of the vertigo of our own contemporary ‘multitudinousness.”


249 – The Bible is greater poetry than Shakespeare (yet still poetry) and Hebrew translates better than Greek or Italian. 


249 – 256 goes detail by detail over the translation.  In the end, we learn that Arnold’s is the more immediate and dramatic.



Page 257


MA’s ‘Last Essays on Church and Religion” (1876) tell of the Church of England and its great men.


258 – He says the Church of England is not a private sect but a national institution.  “A great national society for the promotion of what is commonly called goodness, and for promoting it through the most effectual means possible, the only means which are really and truly effectual for the object: through the means of the Christian religion and of the Bible.”


He argues that if Christianity does not stand ready to fill the spiritual needs of humankind, all sorts of evil superstition will rush in to fill the vacuum.


The Church will prevail by fidelity to reason (259) and by stressing goodness.


259 – apRoberts also discusses a speech on Burials.  But, more importantly of the last essys is “A Psychological Parallel.” 


260 – In it he discusses the “atmosphere of belief” around the belief of witchcraft.  


261 – He forgives greats for believing in witchcraft as it was in the very atmosphere they breathed. But even they had a real, practical side.  John Smith writes that sin is a demon. The same theologian notes when people love God they love “something that hath the name of God put upon it, without any clear or distinct apprehension of him.”


262 – It is clear that MA loves Smith’s demythologizing.  And this is the same as Paul, who, as a man of his time, believed in literal raising from the dead.  And, when Jesus’ own figurative understanding was overlaid by Paul’s literal, this too was climate of opinion.


263 – The noblest races are those who know how to make use of poetry.  We cannot dispense with a liturgy hallowed by centuries. We can feel and use it.



These words have power “by having been on the tongue of our forefathers for two thousand years and on our own tongue ever since we were born.  As such, then, we can feel them, even when we no longer take them literally; while as approximations to a profound truth, we can use them.”


He ends the parallel essay with translations of the New Testament, which he is more qualified to do.


264 - He reminds us that Jesus said the kingdom of God is within you.  And, Jesus is not literally a Sheppard.


265 – The very last essay he wrote on religion is the preface to Last Essays on Church and Religion.  It too shows religion and literature as being continuous.


266 – In it he notes that modern science says all  our passions come down to reproduction and survival.  Christianity answers with virtues of chastity and charity.


He quotes Jewett, “The moral and intellectual are always dividing, yet they must be reunited.”



Page 267


Pureness and kindness are the two signal Christian virtues. This can stand as an emblem over MA’s literary career.


268 – Milton’s great style derives, partially from its being moral. Milton’s virtue is not kindness, but pureness.  And, MA’s insight on Milton is thus taking into account moral evaluations, which is the domain of religion.  His religious thought and lit criticism play off of each other.


Herein we’ll look at a few later plays that touch upon religion.


Calling the martyrdom of Hassan and Hussein a passion play is daring and competitive.  It speaks to an increasing spread in tolerance that MA sees.


269 – In it he recounts the history of the split of Islam into Shiah and Suni sects and the martyrdom of Hassan and Hussein, the grandsons of Mohammed, which is celebrated by the Shiite.


He ascribes their actions to the “urgent wants of human nature.”  MA says, apRoberts summarizes, “the Bible is superior to the Koran, and Christianity superior to Islam,” but  the passion plays still show a mildness and self-sacrifice. 


He says that if even this inferior religion has a place for mildness and self-sacrifice, how much better the religion to which they are central!? 


MA writes as if Christianity were later and more developed than Islam.


The George Sand essay (1877) is next.


270 – She has freed herself, like him, by rejecting the orthodox, literal, anthropomorphic God.  Her doing this is somewhat “a restitution of allegiance to the true divinity.”


The French are different, but equality runs through all of MA’s work; equality will come via bildung.


271 – Literature and Science (1882) is much anthologized.  It talks of human nature as needing to satisfy “the sense for conduct, the sense for beauty.”  There is a strong demand to have “religion and poetry” in man . . to rejoice in it.


TS Elliot was pissed that MA wanted to replace religion with culture.  We especially need humane studies in the age of science.


Here she digresses to the statement pairings in L n D and says we don’t need to believe, we can feel the difference between religious statements and others.


She ends with his statement that our hairy quadruped ancestor was inclined towards Greek.


“A Comment on Christmas” (1885) talks of the legend of the miraculous birth of Plato!  Because, Plato didn’t found a religion, the legend died. Jesus founded and Paul established Christianity, so that legend lived on.


Christianity is for purity and charity; France is weak on purity and England, charity.  This goes into a talk of the need to spread economic equality via charity.  As such it celebrates Anglican charity workers in the East End.


273 – In A Friend of God ,MA notes that sin is against nature.


274 – MA was determined not to give up bildung in old age.


275 – He chastises the Buddhist Amiel for futile Buddhism that led to the (275) paralysis of indeterminacy.  But he likes Amiel’s appreciation of the critic.


275 – But Amiel failed in discipline.  In these pages we see “produce! Produce! And “Work is my sore burden, but it is also my great resource,” as discipline and output are celebrated.


276 – Tolstoy liked MA and especially his religious works. He called L n D a favorite.


277 – People don’t like MA’s neglect of the novel. But he read quite a few and his essay on “Count Leo Tolstoi” launched Tolstoy’s reputation in England.  MA usually didn’t write about contemporary art, but did so with Tolstoy as he had religious ideas.


278 – MA loves Anna Karenine and this makes a problem for MA as English people do not approve of people getting so carried away by their passions.  She keeps our respect somehow.


He says that Tostoy never succumbed to French lubricity.  And he notes that a character’s conversion will give him meaning of being good.


279 – Tolstoy wrote an autobiography in which he spoke of his conversion and said “Moral life is the gift of God.”


MA likes Tolstoy’s religious ideas except that Christianity can be packed into a set of commandments. Therein, Tolstoy falls into dogma.  One who goes into dogma runs the risk of being self-righteous.  In the continual flux of human development, we must made do with the provisional as we try to be good.


280 – apRoberts sees the impact of L n D in Tolstoy’s novel Resurrection.


Finally, apRoberts says, the question of Arnold and God is no other than the question of Arnold and fictions. The German development meant we had to forgo truths and the provisional.


281 – Even the propositions of science are provisional: the uncertainty principle and relativity.  We must keep striving.  “A hypothesis must not be a creed but a policy, which we adopt temporarily as the best basis for the next stage of investigation,” apRoberts writes.


The best hypothesis or fiction is one that best fits the present sense of the way things are and best meets our need for action: pragmatic and adequate.


MA best works out these ideas in his work on religion. Literature is invulnerable because it acknowledges its fictionality.   Bildung is the mode that best suits this relative, becoming and wills perpetual cultivation of distinctly human capacities.

Arnold’s culture then, embracing Bildung, subsumes all human activities: Science, politics, art, literature, and religion. Herderian expressions of human constructs.  Poetry is the mode of the provisional or of fictions; it is the human way of survival.


It will prevail, “Currency and supremacy are insured to it, not indeed by the world’s deliberate and conscious choice, but by something far deeper,- by the instinct of self-preservation in humanity.”