Note I - (ON CHAPTER IV)
following extract from a recent publication puts the question of the soul in another way,
and perhaps, will give us some idea of the trend of modern Western thought regarding it.
The phrase religious insight is in itself vague. Is it not possible to give the phrase
a definite content without departing from the critical attitude? One may be helped to such
a definition by asking oneself what element has tended to fall out of the life of the
modern man with the decline of the traditional disciplines. According to Mr. Walter
Lippmann, the conviction the modern man has lost is that "there is an immortal
essence presiding like a king over his appetites." But why abandon the affirmation of
such an "essence" or higher will, to the mere traditionalist? Why not affirm it
first of all as a psychological fact, one of the immediate data of consciousness, a
perception so primordial that, compared with it, the deterministic denials of man's moral
freedom are only a metaphysical dream? One would thus be in a position to perform a swift
flanking movement on the behaviorists and other naturalistic psychologists who are to be
regarded at present as among the chief enemies of human nature. One might at the same time
be in a fair way to escape from the modernist dilemma and become a thorough-going and
complete modern. 
The philosophers have often debated the question of the priority of will or intellect
in man. The quality of will that I am discussing and that rightly deserves to be accounted
super-rational, has, however, been associated in traditional Christianity not primarily
with man's will, but with God's will in the form of grace. The theologians have indulged
in many unprofitable subtleties apropos of grace. One cannot afford, however, as has been
the modern tendency, to discard the psychological truth of the doctrine along with these
subtleties. The higher will must simply be accepted as a mystery that may be studied in
its practical effects, but that, in its ultimate nature, is incapable of formulation.
Herein the higher will is not peculiar. "All things," according to the
scholastic maxim, "end in a mystery." The man of science is increasingly willing
to grant that the reality behind the phenomena he is studying not only eludes him, but
must in the nature of the case ever elude him. He no longer holds, for example, as his
more dogmatic forbears of the nineteenth century incline to do, that the mechanistic
hypothesis, valuable as it has proved itself to be as a laboratory technique, is
absolutely true; its truth is, he admits, relative and provisional.
The person who declines to turn the higher will to account until he is sure he has
grasped its ultimate nature is very much on a level with the man who should refuse to make
practical use of electrical energy until he is certain he has an impeccable theory of
electricity. Negatively one may say of the higher will, without overstepping the critical
attitude, that it is not the absolute, nor again the categorical imperative; not the
organic and still less the mechanical; finally, not the "ideal" in the current
sense of that term. Positively one may define it as the higher immediacy that is known in
its relation to the lower immediacy - the merely temperamental  man with his
impressions and emotions and expansive desires - as a power of vital control. Failure to
exercise this control is the spiritual indolence that is for both Christian and Buddhist a
chief source, if not the chief source, of evil. Though Aristotle, after the Greek fashion,
gives the primacy not to will but to mind, the power of which I have been speaking is
surely related to his "energy of soul," the form of activity distinct from a
mere outer working, deemed by him appropriate for the life of leisure that he proposes as
the goal of a liberal education... The energy of soul that has served on the humanistic
level for mediation appears on the religious level in the form of meditation. Religion may
of course mean a great deal more than meditation. At the same time humanistic mediation
that has the support of meditation may correctly be said to have a religious background.
Mediation and meditation are after all only different stages in the same ascending
"path" and should not be arbitrarily separated.
Article: Humanism: An Essay on Definition by Irving Babbitt, pp. 39-41.
From Humanism and America: Essays on the Outlook of Modern Civilization,
edited by Norman Foerster.