The Perception of the Infinite

from Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion (1878)
  • Jon R. Stone


How is it that we have a religion? This is a question which has not been asked for the first time in these latter days, but it is, nevertheless, a question which sounds startling even to ears that have been hardened by the din of many battles, fought for the conquest of truth. How it is that we exist, how it is that we perceive, how it is that we form concepts, how it is that we compare percepts and concepts, add and subtract, multiply and divide them—all these are problems with which everybody is more or less familiar, from the days in which he first opened the pages of Plato or Aristotle, of Hume or Kant. Sensation, perception, imagination, reasoning, everything in fact which exists in our own consciousness, has had to defend the right and reason of its existence; but the question, Why we believe, why we are, or imagine we are conscious of things which we can neither perceive with our senses, nor conceive with our reason—a question, it would seem more natural to ask than any other—has but seldom received, even from the greatest philosophers, that attention which it so fully deserves.


Ordinary Meaning Amental Faculty Divine Command Religious Knowledge Negative Concept 
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  1. 17.
    One of the first who pointed out the uncertainty of the foundation on which Kant attempted to reconstruct religion, in the widest sense of the word, was Wyttenbach, Opusc. ii, p. 190. See Prantl, Sitzungsberichte der philos. philolog. und historischen Classe der K. B. Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1877, p. 284.Google Scholar
  2. 21.
    See Victor von Strauss, “Bezeichnung der Farben Blau und Grün im Chinesischen Alterthum,” in the Zeitschrift der D.M. G., 1879, p. 502.Google Scholar

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© Jon R. Stone 2002

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  • Jon R. Stone

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