Sunday, December 5, 2010

An observation by Vinet that strikes at the "symbolism" defense of idols

Alexander Vinet:
One thought which allows itself to be penetrated by another is no true thought. A system which receives all systems favourably is not one itself, but rather, whatever the appearance it puts on and the claims it urges, a negation of all system. A religion which does not deduce its character from its object, but its object from its character, cannot pretend to the name of religion. Involuntary impressions, an involuntary state of the soul, point out no distinct object, and may be produced by objects the most different. The unknown and obscure object of these various emotions may take such or such a given name, but the name does not make the object. Under the undefined name of God, it is perhaps in the universe that I believe, in my sensations, in myself. Everything reduces itself to shadows, to mere appearances, in this religious syncretism. There, where everything is symbol, where the object always escapes, the object itself becomes a symbol, and God is only another name for the universe. And, moreover, while defining nothing, and consequently allowing everything, one does not fail to exclude; one excludes by this very manner of allowing, for positive doctrines will not be treated thus; they consent, indeed, to be denied, but not to be reduced to the value of pure forms; it is the very politeness shown them that wounds, and this species of intellectual toleration accorded them offends them more than enmity.